"Oyé Studios: A Transformative Journey of Artistic Excellence and Community Support"
If you’ve followed along on my artistic journey for a while, you may be familiar with Oyé Studios, if not, let me fill you in. Oyé is an old church situated in the historic North Main neighborhood of Greenville, SC. Over 4 years ago, the charming building, a home to so many Greenvillian’s memories and stories, was on the market. There was only time standing between its destruction, a developer and condo after condo. In efforts to protect their cherished street, the neighbors voiced their sadness and concern. Enter a magical duo of husband and wife teams - Rey Alfonso, Patricia De Leon and Signe and Genna Grushovenko.
Both Duos, with art careers totaling over 40 years combined, recognized Greenville’s growing need for affordable studios and the church’s potential for a creative space. But not any creative space, a space selectively curated with a family of full time artists. Artists committed to facing journey as a career rather than a hobby. They wanted to create a space where their creative processes would not be disturbed - a space that would ultimately serve as a safe haven for artists to simply…work. To do that, the space, they decided, needed to be closed to the public.
So that’s what they did. They snatched the church up as it were red foreclosure and got to work bringing their vision to life. They rolled up their sleeves and in true artist form, they reimagined and refreshed the church while maintaining her character and charm. They created 8 private studio spaces and turned the nave of the church into a studio that Rey and Genna, two old pals, would share. The choir loft, my now office, was brought back to life with dazzling gothic pendants that were rescued from a church in Chattanooga and filled with custom stain glass by an artist friend of theirs. The railings of stairwells were replaced with removable metal wire so artists wouldn’t find themselves stuck schlepping canvases and panels to and fro. Truly no detail was missed.
2 years ago, I was in need of a new studio and office. I’d been working solo for years in my own space scarred from collaborative work environments that proved to be not so “collaborative.” When my friend and fellow artist, Glory Day Loflin, mentioned there was a potential opening at Oyé and she had gotten the green light from the founders to talk to me, I was in shock. You see, this is a group of artists I would call the “OGs” of the art community here. They are staples and aside from being staples, they are SUCCESSFUL and have built incredible businesses by channeling their gifts. I was honored but beyond intimidated.
The thing was, I was on a tight deadline to get out of my prior space and I was newly pregnant. The reason that detail is even relevant is because I was beyond ill. For 10 months straight I vomited so the thought of even moving…well, killed me. After meeting Rey for a quick tour, I said “I’ll take it” - partly b/c I was too tired and nauseous to go find anything else.
What I didn’t know was that the words “I’ll take it” didn’t just come w/ a space to paint and an office. It came with a family. It came with mentors. It came with a built in support system professionally and personally. And if I’m being totally honest, at first, I was wary and waiting for the competitive nature of these humans to surface. I was waiting to see how they they guarded and protected their processes and secrets….but, it never happened.
This happened instead. Bowlfuls of guavas from Rey and Patricia left at my door, a Cuban aid to nausea. Invitations to weekly taco 🌮 lunches. Bear hugs from Genna. Business advice from Signe. Encouragement notes from Jessica Field. Pregnancy guidance from Michelle Jardines. A never failing ear to listen from Everett King.iHot breakfast pastries and coffee chats from Glory Day Loflin. A calming presence in Taylor Adams oh and a deep sense of comfort from Christopher Rico as I worked late into the nights that first year - it always made me feel better knowing he was upstairs working.
Places like Oyé, and the artists that comprise it, are unicorns 🦄 that the world 🌎 needs more of. In my 2 years here, I have morphed and shaped more as a human and an artist, than I have in my 9.5 years of my art career. Those changes, both in my work, my mind and my perspectives on art, are a direct result of the mentorship, education, support and family that came when I signed my lease here.
This Saturday, October 21st from 12 - 2 pm, we will be opening our doors for the first of the ONLY two shows we have all year long. I would like to encourage you to not only come to witness the inspiration and magic yourself but to come on a mission to purchase artwork. By purchasing from one of these 10 incredible humans you are doing so much more than filling your walls, you are saying YES to places like this existing in your communities and the world. You are saying YES to the question “Does art even matter?”
YOU are saying YES to the existence of magical places like Oyé Studios.