How Art School Can Transform Downtown Winnsboro

This painting of photo-like quality is the essence of Dru Blair’s work.

The face of downtown Winnsboro is on the cusp of a new era, an era of growth and revitalization that stands to spill over into the entire county and surrounding areas. Riding the first wave of that change is the proposed Blair College of Art, the offspring of Dru Blair’s Blair School of Art currently nestled in Fairfield County’s Blair community.

Blair, an internationally known artist, best known for his photorealistic paintings and portraits, began his career as a commercial illustrator in 1987 producing work for clients such as Budweiser, Continental Airlines, United Airlines and many others. In 1988 he won the National Airbrush Excellence Award, and in 1989 he produced his first aviation painting, “Power,” which remains the number one selling aviation print in the world. Other prints followed after the start of a publishing company, Blair Art Studios. In 1997 his skills with the airbrush and creating photorealistic paintings led him to open the Blair School of Art in his ancestral home of Blair. The school is dedicated to the advancement of realism in art and has trained thousands of artists from all over the world. In addition to teaching workshops at the Blair School of Art, Blair travels to teach in other countries, including Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Holland and the U.K., and has been featured in U.S and Japanese television shows.

Most recently Blair has joined with the Fairfield County Strategic Planning Committee for the Arts. In addition, Blair and his staff are actively working to found a private, not-for-profit, four-year-degree granting International Art College in Winnsboro. The Blair College of Art will be the only art college in the world dedicated to teach Photorealism and Classical Realism. Although Blair’s vision is to impact the entire art world, establishing an art college can have a great influence on a local and regional level. One of the missions of the Blair College of Art is to serve as a catalyst to help restore and revitalize Fairfield County by bringing 1,500 students from all corners of the world to downtown Winnsboro. Combining this with educators, staff and visitors will have a tremendous impact on development and prosperity of the region. Indeed, the College of Art could very well set off an avalanche of downtown development, as businesses designed to serve the art students and staff settle in along Congress Street.

As the project progresses, look in upcoming editions of The Voice as we continue to preview the coming Blair College of Art and its role in revitalizing Winnsboro and Fairfield County. Blair, meanwhile, will be speaking at the Blythewood Artists Guild at 100 McNulty St. in Blythewood on Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m.