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Sasee Gets Personal with Samantha Spalti, Gallery Director & Studio 8 Art Group: Sunset River Gallery

Q: What led you to become the Gallery Director of Sunset River Gallery?
“I joined the gallery after it changed hands last Summer. The new owner, Larry Johnson, and I share a love of art history and fine contemporary art. We have a shared vision of where the gallery will go in the coming years. One of the most important things is to maintain its involvement with the local community.”

Q: What does art mean to you and why do you think it’s important to be shared?
“Art is everything to me – and I don’t just mean the fine contemporary art like Wolf Kahn and Ida Rittenberg Kohlmeyer that we sell in the gallery. I include our amateur Paint & Party classes, Mimic the Masters, and other events, too. Art is more than just a painting that you may or may not understand. Art is an action. Art is creation. Art belongs to everyone. One of my main goals as Gallery Director is to make art accessible to everyone. The Studio 8 artists, whose work we’re featuring this month, are a great example. As individuals, they stand alone as talented award-winning artists. But as a group, they come together as super ambassadors of art, love, and life! The laughter that bursts out of the classroom when they’re there is contagious. That’s probably why so many gallery visitors can’t resist checking them out, and Studio 8 makes it clear they welcome the visits.”

Q: Who is Studio 8 Art Group?
“We’ve been painting and laughing together since 2020. Seven women and one lone male voice – Rachel Sunnell, Judi Moore, Vicki Neilon, Brenda Riggins, Barbara Kohn, Linda Karaskevicus, Linda Hester, and Donn McCrary. Our goals are to grow as individuals and artists as well as continue to support each other through thick and thin as we share our life experiences. We’re also committed to paying back. Last year, it was one of our members, Vicki, who spearheaded the gallery’s benefit, Prayers for Ukraine, an art show and sale that donated 100% of sales to Project Hope/Crisis in Ukraine.”

Q: In what ways do y’all like to “Spice Up Your Life”?
“We meet every Tuesday at Sunset River Gallery to paint together and share new ideas and art techniques. For us, art isn’t a competitive sport. Instead, although we maintain our individuality as artists, we happily share our knowledge. We also share our lives. Donn lives at the harbor in North Myrtle Beach and always regales us with his nautical adventures (which sometimes take place at the local watering hole). We love to travel and can’t wait to share stories with each other. We all love music, too, and come out for the gallery’s Third Thursday Jazz Night as often as we can. And don’t get us started talking about our kids and grandkids!”

Q: What upcoming event details would you like to share with Sasee readers?
“The gallery is featuring the group in an upcoming show, Diversity by Studio 8, which includes several pieces by each of us and really demonstrates our artistic diversity. Thanks in part to the support of the group, we often experiment with different media and techniques. We also came together as a group to sponsor the gallery’s Hearts & Art benefit for Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, which provides hospice, palliative and grief care for residents of nearby counties in both North and South Carolina. The event, which includes live music, great hors d’oeuvres, and a fine art silent auction, is being held at the gallery on June 2nd.”

Sunset River Gallery
910.575.5999 • 10283 Beach Dr. SW. • Calabash, NC • www.sunsetrivergallery.com

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