2019-01-11 / Front Page

Portfolio closes final chapter

Story and Photos by Cathy Cobbs

Commissioned paintings on display Commissioned paintings on display After more than three decades of collecting and selling beautiful art, crafts, pottery, and jewelry, Judith Roberts is shuttering the doors on her beloved business, Portfolio Art Gallery, which has been a staple in Five Points since 1980.

Roberts, a former art teacher at Creighton Middle School, among others, said although she loves the business, at 77 years old, she is ready to move on.

“If I signed another lease, I would have to extend it for several years, and I don’t want to still be doing this at 82,” she said. “We will be moving out of the gallery at the end of February.”

The gallery sells a huge variety of Americanmade items, including commissioned paintings, specialty clocks, clothing, glass art, sculpture, books tapestries, and fabrics— mostly from local and regional craftsmen who Roberts says have become like family to her.

Portfolio Art Gallery owner Judith Roberts Portfolio Art Gallery owner Judith Roberts “Many of the artists have become really great friends, as have my customers,” she said. “I will really miss that part.”

Roberts said she understands the minds of art collectors, having been one at an early age.

“As a little girl ( in Ohio), I would see the Ohio Wesleyan students throwing their art in the trash, and I would fish them out and take them home,” she recalled. “These items were my first art collections.”

Roberts said her early scavenging made her a good guide for those who came to her shop over the years, wanting to start collections but not knowing how to do it.

“I would tell them, ‘If you want to be a collector, I suggest you choose a specialty or theme in your collections.’ This is the first discussion we have when they come in and talk about buying art. The other important thing is to consider the integrity of the art,” she said.

View from the window of Porfolio Gallery View from the window of Porfolio Gallery Roberts has seen a variety of talent—from special education students dabbling in the arts for the first time to juried artists displaying their work. All of it, she said, has great elements.

“I always try to find something positive to say about their art,” she said.

Roberts has judged a variety of contests for many years, including the South Carolina State Fair, and has won some contests of her own, including being recognized as one of the top 100 Retailers of American Craft. She credits this noteriety for attracting artists who want to display in her shop.

“When people know about you across the county, the word gets around and passed on,” she said.

The word in Columbia is just as positive, especially from her customers.

Portfolio Art Gallery owner Judith Roberts Portfolio Art Gallery owner Judith Roberts “I absolutely LOVE this place,” wrote Charlotte Camp Ballenger on the gallery’s Facebook page. “They have such awesome, beautiful, unusual things. They are not priced so high you can’t buy something. They are very reasonable.

The people who work in there are so sweet and nice. I hate to tell people how cool this place is because I would love to keep it a secret for myself, but I just can’t do that. You will love it too!”

Portfolio Art Gallery, located at 2007 Devine Street, is open 11 a.m.–6 p. m., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday, and 1–3 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 803-256-2434.

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