Hop On! Hop Off!

IMG_14845-970x545.jpgThe Comet (a.k.a. Soda Cap Connector) is covenient way to peruse Columbia

By Deena C. Bouknight

Have you seen the buses around town painted retro blue with pink accents? This is Columbia’s novel transit system aimed at moving from tired to trendy with regard to public in-city transportation. Whether visiting the capital city for the first time, getting a feel for the area’s main roads and routes, commuting to work or school, or enjoying time at one of the many restaurants, shops, or sites, The Comet – also known as Soda Cap Connector – offers a comfortable and enjoyable ride.

The nickname, Soda Cap Connector, comes from the play on “cola town” as the shortened name for Columbia. And then there is the Soda City market, which has become a hub of activity every Saturday on Main Street. Included in The Comet’s logo design is a starBusSign that represents the stars on the South Carolina State House capitol building. Throughout town are large soda cap shaped signs, painted the same retro blue as The Comet buses, that tout the Soda Cap Connector logo; these signs indicate transit stops, and underneath is listed information about where the bus is scheduled to stop next.

Besides clean, comfortable, air-conditioned or heated (depending on weather), and graphically appealing, The Comet offers users real-time bus locators through its app, which can be downloaded on a smartphone or tablet. Users also have access to free WiFi, and there is space for bikes. Plus, catchthecomet.org has easy-to-understand information on how to read the schedule and find the best route.

The Comet stops at such points of interest as the South Carolina State Museum, the University of South Carolina, the Columbia Museum of Art, Five Points, area universities, and more. An entire route takes about 20 minutes, with stops every few minutes. Passengers can pick up colorful maps that include routes and times.

Prices are from $1.50 for a one-time regular fare to $3.00 to ride all day. A 31-day pass is $40.00. Half-priced passes are available to those who qualify; criteria includes disabilities, veterans, seniors over 65, and those on Medicare. (Anyone interested in a half pass must make an appointment at the Lowell C. Spires Jr. Regional Transit Authority at 3613 Lucius Road.) And, children 15 years old and younger ride The Comet for free.

To pay a fare, either have exact change when entering The Comet or purchases passes at the customer service desk of the North Main Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Other options include buying tickets at the Transit Center on the corner of Sumter and Laurel Street or on the Catch the COMET smartphone app.

Touted on The Comet website is this statement: “It’s out with the old and in with the new. And when we say new, we mean everything. Just see for yourself. The totally new COMET. It’s gonna be one heck of a ride.”



Meet the Farmer Happy Hour.

Motor Supply - by Forrest Clonts - May 2013 (3)
Photography by Forrest Clonts Studio

By Abigail Thielke

Get excited farm-to-fork foodies… Today’s the day — the kickoff to Motor Supply Co. Bistro’s 8th Annual Harvest Week (June 16-21)! Join friends and local farmers at the Meet the Farmer Happy Hour from 5:30 — 7:00 p.m. Head Barman Josh Streetman will debut his eccentrically delicious Harvest Week Cocktail List for guests to enjoy while mingling with local farmers. Each cocktail is specially designed to highlight the flavors and ingredients of each farm, and to complement the dishes coming out of the kitchen.

Motor Supply - by Forrest Clonts - May 2013 (39) copy
Photography by Forrest Clonts Studio

Harvest Week features an all-local, farm-focused dinner menu of artfully crafted dishes honoring fresh S.C. ingredients and the farmers behind them, as well as a limited edition Harvest Week Cocktail List. Motor Supply hosts Harvest Week annually to celebrate the restaurant’s year-round relationships with small, local and sustainable Midlands farms.

Photography by Molly Harrell
Photography by Molly Harrell

As a little preview into the week, below you will find Executive Chef Wes Fulmer’s 13 featured purveyors and menu teasers.

Harvest Week 2015 Featured Suppliers and Specialties

Untitled design
Photography by Forrest Clonts Studio

Diners can expect to see a twist on a ravioli entrée, free-range chicken dish, Manchester Farms’ quail appetizer, crispy pork belly small plate and more. Fresh strawberries from Lever Farms and peaches from Watsonia Farms will also star on the dessert menu.

Photography by Molly Harrell

We’ll meet you at Motor for the daily-changing lunch, dinner and brunch menus (and fabulous cocktail list).

Photography by Molly Harrel

Sylvan’s Jewelers Renovation Sale.

By Abigail Thielke

We’re called Cola Town {Curated} for a reason!

Sylvans2-a61ad8fcSylvan’s Jewelers, a name synonymous with fine jewelry and timepieces in the city of Columbia since 1897, will renovate the interior of its historic location at 1500 Main Street this summer. In preparation, the firm is marking the start of construction with a brief multi-million dollar sale. The Sylvan’s Jewelers Renovation Sale opens to the public on Friday, May 1st at 10:00 am. Be there or be square.

According to Lane Schiffman, co-owner of Sylvan’s Jewelers, the store will have a modern, sophisticated look designed with respect to the architecture of the 1865 National Landmark building. “The renovation will open up the store to bring in more natural light. The floor plans will be reconfigured to add an additional 65-linear-feet of case lines to accommodate additional jewelry and watch brands and a new Rolex boutique.” When it’s complete, the new Sylvan’s will offer amenities designed to enhance every aspect of the client experience in store.

To prepare for the sale, the Schiffman’s have reviewed the inventory in all of their companies to identify the merchandise to be offered in the sale: fine diamond jewelry, fabulous colored-gemstone jewels, silver, 18K gold and platinum designer pieces and a collection of fine Swiss timepieces. The entire collection is offered for immediate sale during the Renovation Sale event. As an added enhancement, some of the jewelry and watch brands represented in the sale collection are not currently available in the Columbia market.

“We timed the sale just before Mother’s Day and the graduation season to give our clients opportunities to find gifts for the special people in their lives at extraordinary prices that would otherwise not be possible,” continued Schiffman.

Sylvan’s Jewelers represents fine jewelry collections such as John Hardy, Mikimoto, Charles Krypell, Hearts On Fire, Marco Bicego, Roberto Coin, Forevermark Fire & Ice Cut Diamonds, Grainger McKoy, Memoire, Martin Flyer, Precision Set and SUNA Brothers. Swiss timepiece brands include Ball Watch, Raymond Weil, Luminox, and Michele.

Here’s a quick history lesson. Gustaf and Johannes Sylvan opened their first store in the middle of the 1500 block of Main Street in 1897. In 1905, they moved to the Second Empire Building on the corner of Main and Hampton Streets, where the company is headquartered today. The first large building to be constructed in Columbia after General Sherman’s troops torched the city in 1865; the Sylvan’s Building is a national landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Sylvan’s Jewelers Renovation Sale will take place at 1500 Main Street. See y’all there!

Visit sylvans.com to take a look at their beautiful pieces.

701 CCA Columbia Open Studios.

By Abigail Thielke

701 CCA Columbia Open Studios by Forrest Clonts - HIGH RES (10)

In just a few weeks, 701 Center for Contemporary Art presents the 5th anniversary of Columbia Open Studios: a free, self-led driving tour of artists’ working studios spanning the City of Columbia, Richland and Lexington Counties, showcasing the Midlands’ brilliant visual art community. This weekend-long tour allows the public to meet and interact with the artists in a variety of unique studio environments. And even more, it’s FREE! …Sounds like a great weekend outing to me!

View map here.

Preview party at 701 Whaley April 9, 7-9 p.m.

Saturday, April 11: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, April 12: 12-6 p.m.

Visit www.columbiaopenstudios.org for more information.

Meet the New Artists: 


  • Ron Hagell
    • He’s a digital artist who works with photography, film and light installations, often mixing media.
    • He’s known for his narrative and directorial work in film, working with entities from PBS to Lifetime.
    • Born & raised in Camden; came back to Columbia to be with family.
    • He loves including digital aspects in works because he says peoples’ perspectives on a piece of art are already so different, and adding a digital aspect changes peoples’ perspectives even more so.
    • He’s taught film & photography at University of London and screenwriting at RISD. He has an MFA from Columbia University.
    • He currently teaches screenwriting at Tapp’s Art Center, and is a leader for the Master Acting Track at Trustus.
    • He’s taught acting classes at local Columbia high schools, and wants to start teaching more at other high schools and colleges.
    • Currently has an exhibit up in Camden — an interactive war-time set, based on his time as an Army officer in Vietnam, in which people can take photo booth-type photos.
    • He’ll open up his home studio in the Rosewood neighborhood during Columbia Open Studios to show various works (hopefully, he says, including the interactive photo booth).
    • His attached work is called Berlin Bike — a digital photographic project about the historical status of Berlin in the modern world.


  • Jeremy Butler
    • He’s a sculptor
    • Process: Sculpts in clay, then paints sculptures in powder bronze, then covers them in paper or another flammable material, then lights them on fire to bake the clay from the inside and add a bronze sheen. Pretty cool.
    • He’ll be super hands-on during Open Studios — tourgoers can sculpt with him and see his step-by-step process in his studio in Northeast Columbia.
    • Born in Liverpool, England
    • His love of sports and art is combined and portrayed in his work — tourgoers will see skiers, mermaids, basketball players. He also does quirky things like a sculpture of Britney Spears’ torso.

Sean McGuinness

  • Sean McGuiness
    • Known as “That Godzilla Guy”
    • Blends Godzilla toys with classic works of art and local photographs, like Godzilla at Busted Plug Plaza.
    • Did a “Monsters on Main” series.
    • Makes political, anti-pollution works as well.
    • Has worked with kids’ art therapy where children created art that represented their “monsters” (fears, sadness, etc.).
    • Wants to include custom works for kids during Open Studios called “Godzoodles,” where they’ll tell him what they want their Godzilla to be doing and he’ll live-sketch it; they’ll get to leave with an original work.
    • His studio is in an old military base from the 1940s in West Columbia.


  • Dave Robbins 
    • Painter who mainly works with acrylic; sometimes oils
    • He’s in the new artist-in-residence program at Gallery West in West Columbia.
    • He’ll set up an easel in Gallery West’s outside courtyard and be live-painting during the weekend so tourgoers can see his process.
    • Has been featured in local galleries and in Motor Supply’s in-restuarant gallery


  • Henry Foster 
    • He is an oil and acrylic painter who enjoys zoomed-in nature settings; pointing out the small, beautiful things in nature that people often miss.
    • Motto is “hey guys, look at this”
    • He’ll be live-painting throughout the weekend.
    • His studio is in an old, historic house that is now split up into multiple apartments in the North Main neighborhood; he lives among other artists there.

  • MariePowellMarie Powell 
    • Marie is a mosaic artist who hand-cuts glass, pieces of pottery and other interesting materials to then rearrange and combine into mosaic works using “direct method.”
    • She started making mosaics as a hobby after she was inspired in Italy; now it’s been about 10 years since she completed her first piece.
    • Makes custom mosaics by order
    • She’ll have a half-finished piece on display so tourgoers can see her working. She’ll also have finished works on display.
    • Her studio is located in her home above her garage in Northeast Columbia.


  • Khris Coolidge 
    • He’s an oil painter who dabbles in acrylic and collages.
    • His studio is above the Oops store in Five Points; on a hall with fellow artists, so it’ll be a cool destination for tourgoers.
    • He’ll display finished pieces throughout his studio and in the hallways
    • He’s also been featured in Motor Supply’s “Eat With Art” program, curated by Anastasia Chernoff.