Past Comments

November Issue 2003
by Tom Starland

Taking One For The Team

I had a lot of things to say this month about some burning issues that by next month will be cold as leftover pizza the next morning. Not that I'm past chewing on a piece of cold pizza, but there's just no space left to cover everything that tickles my fancy. That's what I get for waiting till the last minute to do my commentary and helping out some late comers.

The Road To Seagrove, NC

I can remember traveling to visit friends in Greensboro, NC. We'd head up old Hwy. 52 and drive toward Florence, SC, crossing I-95 wishing we would be traveling that "expressway" north. From 52 we'd get on an even smaller road and work our way through towns like Cheraw, Ellerbee, Biscoe, Seagrove and then - finally a bathroom break in Asheboro, NC. After that, we could make it to Greensboro. These days, once you get into North Carolina it's mostly 220 all the way to Greensboro. One day it might be Interstate 73-74. The 220 bypass was heaven sent for traveling, but it didn't do the folks in Seagrove any favors.

Back then, I didn't know what I was missing when I drove right through Seagrove, much like people who are driving by on 220 don't know they are passing, less than a mile or so, past an area that is home to over 100 potteries. Plus, they're missing a visit to the North Carolina Pottery Center - if they don't stop and smell the roses. I still prefer to travel 220, but I stop and visit Seagrove these days.

A visit to the Pottery Center would be worth the stop alone, but it would be a shame to pass up the adventure of finding all those potteries. Actually, until you drive out of Seagrove it's not much of an adventure at all - they're everywhere. Much like finding a gallery in downtown Charleston, SC - it's not hard. The only problem for the folks in Seagrove is getting people to stop.

What they need - (what you're hearing is Hell freezing over) - is a few billboards on 220. I know, I know - I hate billboards. They are the curse of the skies - visual pollution, but in this case - it's what's needed. I'm not talking about a "South of the Border" thing - I'm talking about one on either side of the road at the exit for the Pottery Center.

Unfortunately, in our current culture, billboards are how people learn what's just miles off the roads they travel.

There are billboards on 220 - just not any near the Seagrove area. I don't know why. There are a few of the usual Highway Department signs that announce the Pottery Center and area potteries, but that's the extent of information offered. It's not enough for the general public. They need more to respond to what they're missing.

I'm not sure why there are no billboards in the area - it might have something to do with Seagrove being a historical area, but a few nicely done billboards wouldn't destroy the historical ambiance of the area. Some local politician needs to earn his/her strips by talking with the Highway Department and help Seagrove. It doesn't matter where the help comes from - the county or state government, but Seagrove needs a little marketing help to get people to turn off 220.

Hopefully our cover article will give enough incentive for many of our readers to make a visit to Seagrove. The annual Pottery Festival would be a great starting point in discovering one of North Carolina's "best & worst" kept secrets.

A Few Good Art Auctions

As I have stated before - not all art auctions are bad. On Dec. 6, 2003, The Redux Contemporary Art Center in Charleston, SC, will borrow a unique idea from The Art Garage in Columbia, SC, and hold an art auction where bidding begins at $10. The Last Cheap Art Auction Ever! will begin promptly at 6pm. Contrary to what you might think - "How good could the art be, if the bidding starts at $10?" - believe me, the bidding doesn't usually stop there. The art is good so competing bidders have to learn their limits of desire, but many bidders walk away with bargains. The artists are donating their works for a worthy cause - art itself. Or, better yet, the idea of building an independent art center all by themselves. A non-profit art center that doesn't have to grovel for funding by chasing the latest fad mandated by government middlemen dispersing taxpayer dollars.

I understand there is another fundraising auction taking place on Nov. 13, 2003 at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston. We don't have any details, although I asked for them over a month ago. I'm told the event is meant to benefit the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. Many artists who have been associated with the Festival's visual art programs (no names provided) have stepped forward to offer works to be included in this auction. Here's a case of good intentions, but shoddy follow through. Look to your daily newspaper for last minute details.


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