Like many of life’s most satisfying accomplishments, the new Studio B Marketplace in Bluffton began as a dream.
“I first wanted an antique mall,” said owner and proprietor Pam Gabso, a 1996 transplant from Schenectady, N.Y. “All those booths with different things in each one.”
She and her husband, Chris Billman, whom she met here, have long been fans of poking around such establishments, looking for vintage furniture to repurpose.
Though Gabso’s new venture is not an antique mall, Studio B Marketplace does feature individual spaces where 25 artists display their works. Visitors will find oil and acrylic paintings, fine art photography, jewelry, textiles, sculpture, pottery and more.
Gabso pays homage to her love for antiques by including a few pieces around the space. She and Billman also continue to collect “old furniture” to upcycle, repurpose or paint and sell.
In fact, a sizable portion of her business has involved a particular style of painting. Gabso and Billman discovered chalk paint years ago while searching for a vintage vanity.
This type of paint produces a velvety, matte finish on wood, thanks to a chalky additive. There are many brands and colors. Gabso said she tried them all and finally has settled on Van Gogh Fossil Paint, the brand she now carries at Studio B.
Impressed and enchanted with the effect of the paint on wood, Gabso said she “painted everything in the house – chairs, tables, desks. There was stuff everywhere, driving my husband crazy.”
As she scoured yard sales and thrift stores for more things to paint, their home became her workroom. Eventually, “Chris told me I’d better get out of the house and get a studio,” she said. So she found a small space at Salty Fare Village on Hilton Head Island and moved her artistic operations there.
It was called Studio B, her husband said, because Studio A was home.
As artist friends came to visit, many asked if she would accept their work as well. She did, and soon had to move to a larger space, this one on Old Wild Horse Road.
Again, as artists’ interest grew, Gabso knew she would need a larger space.
Her dream of an antique mall must have kicked in, and it occurred to her that she could use the same concept, but with artists renting their own space.
When she first looked into the windows at her new location at 1476 Fording Island Road, next door to Mulberry Street Trattoria, she knew she had found her new home.
With high ceilings and natural light streaming through large windows, Studio B Marketplace is an inviting, bright and airy space with an atmosphere of calm. “The artists love it here,” Gabso said. “Sometimes the artists will come in and work. They just want to be here.”
Gabso will feature different artists each month, with wine and cheese receptions to celebrate each one. In addition, she teaches workshops in chalk painting techniques, for groups of one to four. She provides all materials, including the wood piece to paint, plus refreshments.
Studio B Marketplace is definitely a dream come true, Gabso said. “I’m very lucky.”
Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 843-290-7010 or find Studio B Marketplace on Facebook.