Stepping into the Art Cellar means being greeted with bold primary colors, pretty pastels, trinkets to take home and statement pieces to hang above mantels. It’s not just a place for artists to sell their wares, but also a home for art education and mentorship.
Lindsay Louise McPhail, the Art Cellar’s owner, wanted to be an artist and a teacher. She’s living the dream — just in a different venue than originally planned. These days you’ll find her in the back of the converted restaurant’s old kitchen in downtown Greenville throwing clay or teaching printmaking for ceramics. “I’ve always considered myself an artist,” she said. “I’ve always drawn and painted, and I’m always doing projects at home.”
After graduating from Clemson with a bachelor of fine arts in visual arts and working a few years, McPhail was planning to go through South Carolina’s Program for Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE) to go into a traditional K-12 classroom and teach art. But then an underground art gallery in downtown Greenville put up a “For Sale” sign. “I called the owner, and she said her husband was sick, and she could no longer care for him and the business,” she said.
McPhail acted fast. Without any formal business education, she quickly got together a deposit for the business, developed a business plan and dove into an adventure she’d never planned. “It’s hard to describe just how surreal it all feels. I just feel very lucky that I get to do art every day and pursue my passion.”
McPhail’s gallery was on South Main Street for two years before outgrowing the space and moving to North Main Street. Now across from Noma Square, she features more than 50 local artists in gallery space. In addition to offering monthly classes in painting or ceramics, McPhail’s business also houses three other artists-in-residence working in the studio.
The new space also gives artists more visibility than ever before with the new layout and the location, McPhail said.
“As an artist, the main thing you want is visibility, “she said. “Artists want to be working and creating in the studio. They may not have somewhere to display and sell, nor want to do it themselves. We provide that space downtown for them.”