May Issue 2005
by Tom Starland
Spoleto/Piccolo Time Again
Charleston, SC, will be a busy place for the visual arts during the next two months. Even before the twin festivals start we kick off May with the annual North Charleston Arts Festival and the visual art exhibits associated with it and then the annual Sculpture in the South exhibit takes place in Summerville, SC, - not too far north on I-26.
The non-profit side of the visual arts will be going all out - even the SC Arts Commission will be coming to town for Spoleto's opening to have a board meeting. (May 26-27, 2005 at Gibbes Museum of Art - it's open to the public!)
And I see that Ellen Dressler Moryl, director of the City of Charleston's Office of Cultural Affairs is offering us another "cutting edge" exhibition at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park before the Piccolo exhibits start. This one is, Helping Hands: An Artist's Debut Among Friends, featuring works by Patricia Manigualt, Manning Williams, Mary Walker, Rhett Thurman, Linda Fantuzzo, Sally Smith, John Michel, Bill Buggel, Kristi Ryba, and Daphne vom Baur, on view through May 15, 2005.
Last month we learned the SC Watercolor Society
was turned down by the City as their exhibit would feature art
that was not worthy of the space, yet here we have an exhibit
presenting a virtual beginner, surrounded by accomplished artists
from the community.
I just hope that when Moryl calls on visual artists again to donate works to raise funds for visual art programing by the City that they remember that their art may be good enough to raise money for the City or be shown in a park, but not good enough to exhibit in the City's top space.
The SC Watercolor Society presents one of the best exhibitions in the state - is the largest visual arts organization in the state - but is not good enough to be shown at the City's Waterfront Gallery. What a shame.
Don't get me wrong - there is nothing wrong with the art being shown at the City's space. This is not a question of good or bad art being presented. It's just that it seems the City of Charleston has caught the virus that the SC Arts Commission is spreading - that only some forms of art are worthy for exhibition, funding, and promotion in SC. It's a little myopic. And, since taxpayer dollars are being used to fund this policy - it's wrong.
But don't expect the "art police" to show up and haul these perpetrators off to cultural prison. As far as the State goes - no one cares to regulate the arts in SC. And, I wouldn't want to see someone like our esteemed Senator, John Graham Altman, ranting and raving about how the State should be funding more exhibits by artists like - that Thomas Kincade fellow - who paints those "purrrdy pictures".
No, the rest of us will just have to accept that the world is not a fair or just place and that the rich, powerful, and influential will always get their way - and be catered to by those in public positions - as they are always looking to cast favor.
Oh woe unto me and my brethren!
On To The Real World
May and June in Charleston is also a busy time for commercial galleries. It's a time when they too will be going all out - presenting major exhibitions. This year there seems to be a number of exhibits that will present the talents of artists from outside the area.
I'm not going to get into naming them all - we have a lot of articles about these shows, but there are a few I want to mention.
The Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art Gallery will present the exhibition, Museum Collected 20th Century Masters: Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, and Pierre Auguste Renoir, on view from May 6 - July 9. Presented in association with Timothy Yarger Fine Art of Beverly Hills, CA. Carolina Galleries will be offering the exhibit, Albert Handell and Anita West - Light & Landscape, featuring pastels by Albert Handell and oils by Anita West, who are both internationally acclaimed artists, living in Santa Fe, NM, on view from May 20 - June 10.
Eva Carter Gallery will be offering the exhibition, Natural Response - Works in Porcelain, featuring new works by ceramic artist, Maria White, on view from May 13 - June 10. White was with us for a while in Charleston, but now lives in California. The Sylvan Gallery is offering, At the Top of the World, Tibet Through the Eyes of Four Artists, featuring works by Scott Burdick, Huihan Liu, Weizhen Liang and Sue Lyon, who traveled to Tibet in 2004 to paint on location. This exhibit will be on view from May 6 - 31.
And, one of my favorites, Nina Liu and Friends will be presenting an exhibit of new photographic works by Michael Johnson, from Illinois, on view from May 6 - June 30.
There are a lot more exhibits and I know someone will feel slighted by not being mentioned, but this is just an example of what the commercial art community will be offering - tax free and admission free.
Congratulations To Carl Blair
Carl Blair has just received the Verner Award for Lifetime Achievement.
The Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award, the official Governor's Award for the Arts is SC's highest award for the arts. The SC Arts Commission and their buddies over at the SC Arts Foundation, tend to hand these out to folks with close ties to their way of thinking - party regulars, you might say, but in this case - Blair deserves the award - it was earned the old fashioned way - hard work and years of service.
Blair was the only SC Arts Commission board member who ever listen to what I had to say - and it may have cost him his seat on the board.
Some of the changes I asked for were eventually made - Blair gets the credit for them.
Yes, every once in a while the Verner Awards hit the right mark. But then, most of the time it's business as usual - like the one they just gave to their former director. Will everyone who works at the Arts Commission eventually get one?
The Lewis & Clark Gallery in Columbia,
SC, is showing works by Blair through May 27, 2005. You should
go see his work.
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