Downtown Charleston art gallery evolution draws crowds, complaints

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It is the fusion of art and music. A place that caters to artistic expression on all levels. As it's drawing its largest crowds, Eye Level Art is also drawing complaints.

"My windows vibrate from the noise," says Joyce Barrett.

Barrett and her husband Bill live 50 yards from Eye Level Art and say the noise from their fusion art shows makes their house unlivable.

"I was very happy when I heard we were getting an art gallery in the neighborhood," says Bill Marjenhoff. "But the art gallery is turning into a bar."

The couple is hitting the streets around Eye Level Art collecting signatures for a petition trying to stop the gallery from obtaining their Beer and Wine License. They say if Eye Level is granted the license noise from bands playing there will get worse and Spring Street will turn into another bar district.

Eye Level Art owner Mike Elder disagrees.

"They're using the word wrong - you can go down King Street and you can find plenty of bars," says the owner. "I'm not a bar."

Elder says there's no set schedule when bands will play. The only rule is they have to end at 11, the same time Eye Level Art closes its doors.

"I've been zoned to operate in this manner so for one person to complain and to start attacking me. It just makes me stronger," says Elder.

But Barrett's petition continues to get longer.

"This is really the worse problem I've encountered," says the concerned citizen. "There was a crack dealer next door to me and while that was terrible at least I could sleep in my house when I wanted to."

Barrett plans on sending her petition to Columbia for review and hopes action will be taken. But in just a few short days, Elder will find out whether the beer and wine permit he applied for is approved.

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