Cultural events like the Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival held at Huntington Beach State Park instill a sense of community on the Grand Strand. The annual juried art show celebrates artists across the country who make their way to Murrells Inlet for this three-day event.
Visitors are also treated to live beach music from local musicians and have an array of delicious offerings in the food court.
Atalaya Castle was the Ideal Artist’s Home and Studio
Held at the former home of philanthropists Archer and artist Anna Huntington, the artwork from over 100 artists across the country is displayed among the Moorish-style architecture of Atalaya (Atalaya means ‘Watchtower’ in Spanish) aptly named by Archer himself.
The focal point of the home, the 40 ft. watchtower commands attention at the center of the courtyard.
After Anna Huntington came down with tuberculosis in 1933, the couple sought the temperate climate and warmer temperatures of South Carolina to lessen her symptoms in the winter months as compared to their home state of New York.
The 40,000 sq. ft masonry home designed with 30 room and both an indoor and outdoor art studio. This allowed Anna Hyatt Huntington space to create life-size animal sculptures, many of which are now displayed in collections and museums throughout the country, including two sculptures of crouching jaguars at New York’s Bronx Zoo.
A collection of Huntington’s sculptures and studio equipment are on display at Brookgreen Garden.
The Huntington’s Summer home which took two years to build, was an added boost to the local economy during the Great Depression. Archer Huntington ensured that local workers had ample opportunity to assist in the project.
Finding Inspiration in Meeting and Talking with Artists
Each year, visitors flock to Atalaya Castle in hopes of discovering that perfect piece of artwork or handcrafted accessory.
Charlestonian Judy McSween’s abstract paintings emphasize color and texture. The rich purple and pink hues and familiar outdoor busy scenes struck me the most. My adult children,two of whom are artists themselves, spent a large amount of time perusing this booth in particular.
Contemporary artist Karen Lee Edgar’s stunning hand-rubbed charcoal works are so detailed they look like crisp photographs and her handcrafted whimsical cigar box guitars can be played both acoustically or electrically.
My seven-year-old was completely enthralled when Edgar played one of her guitars for us. “Creating art allows me to express my love and passion for people, music, nature and life. The creation of each piece is an emotional and spiritual experience for me.” says Edgar on her website.
Gainesville, Florida artist Leslie Peebles makes relief prints made from hand-drawn images carved from wood or linoleum that are then inked and printed on a 100-year-old Charles brand press. My family was inspired by and enjoyed learning about the tools Peebles used in her work.
Anna Huntington’s love and appreciation of art, Archer Huntington’s philanthropic nature, and the backdrop of 2,500 acre Huntington Beach State Park make for an ideal location for the Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival, an event they surely would have approved of.
The 2019 festival will be held September 27-29, 2019. Artist applications for the 2019 festival will be posted on the AtalayaFestival.com in February.