Sumter for the Artsy Fartsy Newcomer.

Yesterday I recieved a tweet from a recent transplant to Sumter's Shaw Air Force Base asking where he might find some fun, creative people and things around his new neighborhood. Well, if I do say so myself, I think he's asked the right spinster!

Growing up is an artsy lady in Sumter, I must admit that I did spend my fair share of time learning the real ins and outs of the wal mart, shopping at the excellent thrift shops, going to the movies, and making dance videos, I did manage to fit in the odd bit of culture here and there. Not all of it, though, was confined to the Sumter city limits. So grab your keys, friends. You're going on some fun trips!

In Sumter:
1. Sumter Little Theatre:
          While this was where I spend quite a bit of my time in high school, the Little Theatre is a great place to meet other creative and fun adults while collaborating on a production. You don't even have to act to be involved. The Little Theatre always needs people to help with props, sets, stage managing, and many other theatrical posts. Not quite ready to participate for an entire show? Warm yourself up by catching a few of their shows. You're sure to meet some fun people at intermission.

2. Sumter County Gallery of Art:
          The Sumter Gallery of art has a fairly new facility and is now conveniently located right next to the Sumter Little Theater. Over the summer, The Sumter Gallery of Art offers a summer arts camp for kids, and at the end of the summer, there's a great show of all the kids' best works! However, if you're looking for something a little more mature, you can catch the Sumter Artists' Guild Show, happening now until August 29th.

3. Notable Local Artists to check out:
          - Grainger McKoy - Carver of incredible birds. One of his pieces is on display in Swan Lake and Iris Gardens
          - Ray Davenport - An incredibly realistic painter, owner of chickens, and one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

4. University of South Carolina Sumter Continuing Education:
          You might think this is for old people, but they have some pretty cool looking classes in there. For one thing, you can learn how to do the Carolina Shag, which is a must for living in South Carolina. Not a dancer? You can learn about fishing, jewelry making, sewing, painting, cake decorating, photography, and even dog obedience. There are bound to be at least a few interesting people in these classes.   For a complete list of Fall 2013 offerings, click here!

6. Stanley Welch Clothiers:
          Before you go out on the town, you might consider stopping by Stanley's. The staff is friendly, and the shop is a gem unique to Sumter, Sc. With in house alterations and the expert advice of Stanley, himself, you'll be dressed to impress. Whenever my brother-in-law wants to look nice, he always says he's going to wear his "stanleys."

5. The Sumter Opera House:
          The Sumter Opera House is one of the iconic buildings on Sumter's Main Street. If you like old movies, then the Sumter Opera House has something for you! On Friday nights, they show oldies like The Outsiders, Curse of the Pink Panther, and Smokey and the Bandit III. I mean...what more could you want?

Well...I think this is a good segue. Just 45 minutes from the Sumter city limits is the State Capitol, Columbia, SC. While Downtown Columbia does house the State legislature and government, it also houses the University of South Carolina. It's a nice mix. So let's get to the things you might want to check out in Columbia:

1. The Whig:
          This underground bar and eatery has a cool, dark feel to it, and on tuesdays they serve cheap and delicious tacos. You're sure to find some creative (if slightly hip) people here.

2. The Nickelodeon:
          To my understanding, the Nick has moved locations to something a bit more luxurious than what it was when I was in college. Here you'll find independent films, sometimes film festivals, and sometimes older movies as well. It's a cool theater near a university that offers a Master's Degree in Film Studies. I like to think this influences the entertainment choices for the Nick's patrons.

3. Immaculate Consumption:
          This is a lunch spot and isn't open on the weekend. However, if you ever get the chance, I say GO! The pasta salad is to die for, and the turkey apple sandwich is so good. There's an upstairs and a downstairs, and it's just a cool place. And a delicious place.

4. Columbia Museum of Art:
          Every city needs an art museum, and Columbia has a pretty good one. They have visiting exhibitions, and there's a permanent collection as well. I'd be lying if I said I'd been more recently than in the past three years, but last I went, there were some pretty awesome sculptures in there. It's worth a trip. And sometimes they show movies out front on a giant screen. For a list of their cool events, Click here.

5. Barnes and Noble:
          There are two in Columbia, in case you get the hankering to go to a reading or a book signing.


Sumter and Columbia will be the closest to Shaw, but Charleston is always excellent. However, if you want to know more about Charleston, I may have to leave such a post to the lovely spinster Leah, as she now calls the holy city her home.

I hope this has given you a little kick start! At the very least, go have yourself some tacos at the Whig on Tuesday!

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