News Column

Celebrate Bluffton auctioning local painting to raise money for heritage trail app

June 9, 2014

By Matt McNab, The Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, S.C.)



June 09--To raise money for an app highlighting the history of Bluffton, a new organization is auctioning a painting that was created and donated by one of its board members.

Amiri Farris' "Gullah Trail" will be up for online bids until June 30. Proceeds from the sale will be used to help develop the Bluffton Heritage Trail app planned for release in the fall, Celebrate Bluffton executive director Carolyn Coppola said.

The painting has a retail value of about $5,000, Coppola said.

Farris, a Bluffton-based painter, said the work was inspired by the area's Gullah culture, with colors chosen to resemble those available in the early 1900s. The 48-by-60-inch painting depicts a Gullah woman carrying baskets in front of a house.

Farris said the painting took a week to complete. The Gullah culture that inspired the work is personal to him because his great-grandparents lived in Beaufort, Farris said.

The painting will be on display starting June 21 at the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island, part of an exhibit highlighting the artist's works on the history and culture of the Lowcountry.

Farris, a board member of Celebrate Bluffton, also designed the organization's logo, Coppola said.

The Heritage Trail app will include historic locations and other significant town history, Coppola said. It will be interactive, with photos, videos and narration. Coppola said the organization will hire two actors to complete the sections that require narration.

A prototype of the app is expected to be ready this summer, with six "stops" on the trail, among them the Garvin House in Bluffton. The finished product will be GPS-enabled, with points on the trail sorted by different themes. Coppola said the app will be self-guided by the user, rather than following a predetermined trail.

In addition to locations already selected for the app, Celebrate Bluffton is seeking ideas about other places to include, she said. The submissions can be anything of historical value -- a building, a family history, or even an old sports field. Celebrate Bluffton will research the submissions to determine whether they should be included.

"The stories in this town are beyond fascinating," she said. "Anyone can contribute and we'll research it. All we need is a story, but if you have photos or letters, we will just eat that up."

Coppola said the organization hopes to launch the app before the National Preservation Conference in Savannah in November, so it can show conference visitors the finished product.

Coppola hopes to expand the app beyond Bluffton and highlight historic areas throughout the Lowcountry.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

Related content: Bluffton gallery to feature works that focus on Gullah culture, Jan. 14, 2014

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Source: Island Packet (Hilton Head, SC)