Tucked on a street in the Monaghan Mill Community is a historic, grand house that has become a light-drenched, collaborative space for working artists. These residents describe The White Whale Studios and Gallery as a positive place, a refuge of sorts—safe yet energizing, raw and real, and, ultimately, beautiful.
“Working here is joyful,” says Caroline Lott, owner and resident artist who specializes in illustrations and portraiture.
“Artists are excited to be with each other, supporting one another’s work,” adds Kate Landishaw, resident artist who focuses on lyrical abstractions. “Our work is not cohesive, but our energy together is quite cohesive.”
Lott and her husband purchased the house after seeing a tarp outside with “for sale” hand- painted in red. Serendipitous, perhaps, as what Lott thought merely a revitalization project evolved into an arts studio.
“We purchased the house right when the economy began to downturn,” says Lott. “It was an especially hard time for working artists. We decided as artists, we weren’t going to get stuck in this economy. We were going to work, against the odds, doing what we are called to do, much like the determined white whale outwitting Captain Ahab in Moby Dick.’”
The space’s energy contributes to the work being done inside. Originally a teacher’s boarding house built in 1890, the home has gone through many iterations: a mill worker boarding house, a boxing training facility, a bed and breakfast. The house had been abandoned for 30 years when the Lotts turned it into The White Whale.
“People come in, fall in love, and don’t ever want to leave,” says Emily Jeffords, who is perhaps best known for her pastel landscapes and for being the resident social media guru.
The house, the art, the ideas, each individual . . . it’s like a living organism that’s constantly changing and growing.”
The White Whale started with three artists. Today, the facilities house nine, including, in addition to Lott, Landishaw, and Jeffords: Allie and Levi Monday, a wife-husband photography team; Sarah Lyons, who works in fine art and graphic design; Julie Dodds, floral artist; Craig King, who specializes in portraiture; and Jacki Newell, known for her paintings of Greenville.
“Our work does not compete and that’s very important for a working studio,” says Lott. “Because of this, we support and promote one another.”
Recently, The White Whale artists have begun hosting “creative lunches” on the second Tuesday of the month, wherein members of the Greenville creative community gather, share ideas, converse, and gain inspiration from one another. The lunches typically bring together 30–40 diverse creatives, with attendees ranging from teen to elderly, from visual artist to graphic artist.
“It’s an exciting mix of people from all types of creative backgrounds,” says Levi Monday. “We’d love to see this idea spread and The White Whale become a microcosm of the potential collaboration of creatives all over Greenville.”
“I think there can be a lot of fear when it comes to collaborating with others,” says Allie Monday. “But, the spirit here is inviting, energizing, and honest.”
The artists want to extend this positive reach of The White Whale, whether through community outreach or simply by folks visiting the studios and gallery.
“We want The White Whale to be accessible to people,” says Dodds. “So they can be inspired; so they, too, can experience the joy of this space.”
While You’re Here // Green thumbs meet music junkies at the Sans Souci Community Garden. The garden, which is tended by Sans Souci residents, is also the site of a monthly outdoor concert series that runs through the fall. Keep an eye on these garden concerts—the series already has an impressive roster of alums including Angela Easterling, Darby Wilcox, Saul Conrad, and Tonight’s Noise.
12 Ethelridge Dr, Greenville. For more information, facebook.com/ sanssoucicommunitygarden
Working Lunch // White Whale Studios opens the second Tuesday of each month to offer “creative lunches,” open to anyone interested in discussing work, sharing ideas, and generally communing with fellow creatives. Second Tuesday of each month at The White Whale, 401 Smythe St, Greenville.
For more information, email email@example.com