“When the world went full tilt with the COVID-19 pandemic, our President Sarah Volker felt as though we needed to do something for our membership. It had to be something that would keep them engaged with the organization, but also creative in their own work,” said Joy Dunigan, second vice president of the Arts on the Coast.


It was this sentiment that inspired the Arts on the Coast to create their Virtual Art Show. By adapting their gallery into an online format, artists within this organization have been able to continue to show and sell their work despite the limitations of COVID-19 and social distancing.


Arts on the Coast is a non-profit dedicated to cultivating a space for the arts in southeast Georgia. They work to promote artists located in Richmond Hill, Bryan County, and neighboring communities such as Savannah, Pooler, Effingham,Tybee, Liberty and McIntosh counties. They’ve even hosted artists from as far south as Brunswsick and Darien.


“Arts on the Coast serves as a great starting point for artists young and old, experienced or novice… It’s perfect for those looking to indulge their passion and interest in the arts,” Dunigan said. “It is by far one of the most welcoming organizations I know of. It’s the perfect place for artists to surround themselves with like-minded individuals.”


Arts on the Coast originally began as a mission to create more visibility for local artists and their work in coastal Georgia.


“Arts on the Coast technically started in 2005, when myself, Patricia Harper Mathews (fellow member and Arts on the Coast Secretary), her sister Kathy Hatcher and some other artists went on a retreat at the R.J. Reynolds Mansion on Sapelo Island,” Dunigan said. “On the last day, we all asked ourselves why there was not an arts organization in Richmond Hill. We all agreed it should be called Arts on the Coast. It was a year or so later that it was founded, and headed by Barbara Estes — and the rest is history. What you see today is the result of a good foundation supported by passionate, dedicated artists wanting to do good things and keep the arts at the forefront of the community.”


In order to keep moving that mission forward in the midst of a pandemic, the idea for the virtual art show was introduced.


“We thought that a virtual art show on the website would be a great place to start and we intend to keep that rolling for their benefit through the end of the year,” Dunigan said. “So far, the show has been very well received, and artists have generated new leads and sold work.”


The show provides a virtual gallery experience which allows you to enjoy and purchase art while practicing social distancing. Viewers can expect to see an array of mediums and styles of art that display our coastal Georgian habitat and community.


“The main purpose was to keep artists, current Arts on the Coast members engaged with the organization, inspired and creative in their own work,” Dunigan said. “We wanted to do what we could to help them sell some work if it was at all possible. The hardest part was acknowledging that online is not a replacement for seeing the artwork in person. It’s just not the same. But, considering the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a really great solution to keeping art in front of an audience.”


The Virtual Art Show is currently up and available on the Arts on the Coast website. For those interested in viewing the show, you can access it by visiting https://artsonthecoast.org/virtual-art-show.


“Simply put — the show features a really dynamic and very good group of artists. It is an opportunity for our communities to catch a glimpse of some very good work, created by artists that are pretty serious about what they do,” says Dunigan.