Matt Thrift

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Rock Hill hosted its fourth annual Art Party last month, which featured a mix of performance art, live music, seminars, juried exhibitions, an art market and a portrait drawing competition.

Friday Arts Project, a nonprofit group that works to promote the arts, hosted the event Nov. 20-23 in and around the Old Town section of Rock Hill.

“I think the event celebrated our community well and invited others into see what the arts are like around (the Carolinas),” said Dennissa Young, communications and marketing manager for Friday Arts Project.

“We had more ticket sales than ever for our evening events,” said Young, who is also a video, relational and performance artist.

Mike Gentry — gallery manager for the Arts Council of York County, a sponsor of the Art Party — helped curate a performance expo, which evolved from past years to allow more interaction between the audience and the artists who were performing.

“I think it went very well,” Gentry said. “People were very engaged in contrast to a 40-minute performance where you sit there and you watch it and then you leave, people could go and experience a piece for 10 or 15 minutes and actually have a conversation there in the moment.”

Kirk Irwin, executive director of Friday Arts Project, said the Art Party started four years ago when the group was approached by local artist Harriet Goode, who asked about expanding upon her holiday sale event, which she had been hosting for a number of years.

“In a couple of months, we threw together a little festival and we had four sites downtown on Main Street here, from the Center for the Arts, Harriet’s place, stuff in the Gettys (Art) Center and we had one business participate which was Overhead Station at the time and that was our festival,” Irwin said.

The event has grown since then and this year multiple businesses partnered with Friday Arts Project for the weekend festival, including the Main Street Bottle Shop, Knowledge Perk, Joe’s Videos, Friends Books on Main and a number of Rock Hill’s breweries.

Another positive change this year involved the art market, according Maggie Claytor, a painter and photographer who is a senior at Winthrop University.

“In years prior, you would silently bid on pieces of work, but in this instance, you walk in and there are tons of tables that you could see different people’s art,” Claytor said. “It was cool, because you could actually connect the art that you were buying to the actual artist.”