Writer / Frieda Dowler . Photographer / James Eickman

When first asked to introduce Sali to the city of Greenwood, I imagined an influential grand dame of society who needed only a first name to be recognized. Upon meeting her, I discovered, although influential, she was friendly, approachable, unpretentious, and a collection of people who are members of SALI, an acronym for Southside Art League, Inc.

Art’s influence on societies and civilizations is evident by the numerous galleries and museums worldwide. Fifty years ago a group of artists decided to bring this influence to Greenwood.

The 59 charter members of SALI began meeting in 1964 in basements of churches and the back room of the firehouse. In 1990, they acquired property at 299 East Broadway in Greenwood and renovated two historic buildings for gallery, classroom and office. The exposed brick walls and arched windows are aesthetically suited for a community of creative people who encourage and support one another in artist efforts.

Off-Broadway Gallery
The Gallery building is open to the public 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday and is where members and invited guests display and sell their artwork. The three-room gallery is modest, granting the artwork full attention.

15836934099_2e8dcc13dd_zThe Front Gallery holds note cards, jewelry and other smaller works of art. The West Gallery is where members may display for three consecutive months. It is themed by the season and members have already reserved their space through 2015. The East Gallery displays a single artist’s collection with a reception to kick off the display the second Friday of the month from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. One time per quarter, a prominent nonmember artist may display in this gallery.

The Gallery is open to the public for appreciation or purchase. The price of the art depends on the notoriety of the artist, the demand for their work, the size and the type of frame around the piece. The range was $100 – $850 for original, one of a kind art, and compare it to purchasing custom jewelry for your walls.

Classroom and Workroom
The workroom and classroom get the most traffic. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, members and guests bring their materials into the workroom and create in a social setting. Lining the walls are masterpieces by member artists, which serve as inspiration. Two rows of back-to-back tables, dappled with dried paint, occupy the center of the room on which easels and supplies are placed.

This informal time is as much social as it is creative. Artists learn from one other and share important news of shows and contests to enter. Each placement in a show or contest allows them to build a resume and demand more for their art. Whether it be selling or teaching, not all members desire to make a business from their art. Some simply enjoy the comradery with a peer interest group.

Tables and easels also fill an adjoining room where classes and workshops are held for members and nonmembers. Whether the interest is watercolor, oil, pastel, acrylic or drawing, there is15835564578_be5487e440_z a class for adults and children. Schedules and times are listed on the website southsideartleague.org and are taught by members who have achieved some notoriety.

Art is an expressive therapy, benefiting participants in stress reduction, problem-solving, improved self-esteem and awareness. One need not be an expert artist to receive these benefits but by taking a class or workshop, even a beginner will be able to experience these rewards.

SALI is self-supporting and operates as a nonprofit organization. Funds come from individual memberships, corporate memberships, gallery dues, and classes and workshop fees. Each year, they sponsor a Student Show, Member’s Show and National Abstract Show that generate operational funds. Volunteer members take care of other responsibilities.

The mission of statement of SALI expands on their core values: “We believe that art enriches life. Therefore our mission is to encourage artists in their work and to promote appreciation of art in the community.”

Art often carries an air of exclusivity, but in reality, we all possess art in some form. We like to gaze on things that please us, even if it’s clipped from the funny papers. The thing that sets SALI apart is the type of appreciation the members have – and that is for original art. They strive to produce those results whether for their own likability or as an investment for others.

SALI is in fact a grand dame of Greenwood. She gives soul to our community. Art is more than what you see with the eye, it serves as inspiration to awaken imagination and possibility. She invites you to be included in this community of artists and contribute to that which you find inspiring.

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