Downtown Columbia's artist in the window

By Logan Smith - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Midlands artist is spending three months working and living in the window of a building in downtown Columbia, and he's doing it all for a local charity.

If you Walk by the Tapps Building on Main Street, you'll see the artist in the window. Since the beginning of January, the corner display has not just been Jamie Blackburn's studio but also his home. "It's an incredible experience," said Blackburn, "I mean so many things are being given to me creatively. It's changing my understanding of what's going on down here."

It's also changing his perspective on the city's homeless. "The men and women who actually live out here on the street are some of the nicest, most generous people on the planet," he said.

Blackburn isn't homeless, but he knows what it's like to lose your house after going through a foreclosure during the recession. "The loss of my home was an eye-opener," he said, "It was one of those things that could have stopped me in my tracks."

Instead, Blackburn has rebounded and recovered, And now he's giving back by donating all the proceeds from his three-month project to Habitat for Humanity. "It just makes me appreciate more this opportunity that I have to allow my work to raise money to build a house for someone," Blackburn said, "It means more to me than the art."

While the proceeds from Blackburn's project will go toward building a home for those less fortunate in the Midlands, it's also part of a larger project to turn the Tapps Building itself into a home for Midlands artists. "We want to build studios so that artists can come in and have a place to work and show off their work," said Blackburn.

It's also giving new energy to Main Street. "The revitalization of downtown Columbia, Main Street," he said, "It's so key that the creative energy of the artists flows out."

In a way, Blackburn's story echoes that of Main Street itself, unwilling to give up during struggles and now seeing new life.

Blackburn plans to auction off his work in March. For more information, click here.

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