Past Comments

November Issue 2007
by Tom Starland

Perhaps Not Too Late

Depending on when you receive this - it might not be too late to participate in a few early events this month. One is the 2nd annual Charleston Art Auction, taking place Nov. 3, 2007, at the Renaissance Hotel in Charleston, SC. An Auction Preview is from 10am-7pm with the auction starting at 7:15pm.

The auction is part of the Charleston Fine Art Dealers' Association's 9th Fine Art Annual weekend (Nov. 2-4, 2007). For further info visit ( or (

Also in Greenville, SC, on Nov. 3 & 4, 2007, is the 6th annual Greenville Open Studios, a tour of 104 area artists' studios. For details about this event visit (

Of course you'll have more time to plan to attend the 14th annual Fall Studio Stroll of the River District Artists organization in Asheville, NC, taking place Nov. 10 & 11, 2007, 10am-6pm each day. There you can visit over 70 artists' studios located in the historic River Arts District along the French Broad River.

Needless to say, we want you to get out and see and do the things mentioned in this paper every month. We don't publish this paper to have you sit and read it on your couch at home - thinking about what will be in the next issue.

Seven Years Ago

It was in our Nov. 2000 issue when we first offered the commentary of Judith McGrath, an art reviewer and freelance writer from Western Australia. What seemed to be a strange offering back then has grown to be one of the most popular and insightful features of Carolina Arts. And, this month's subject is one which is of major interest to all involved in the visual art community of the Carolinas - reviews.

A long, long time ago in another galaxy... we once offered art reviews, but the shortage of knowledgeable writers, shortage of funding, shortage of space in the paper and multitude of pressure from artists to be reviewed ended our short stint at offering reviews. Yet, the reviews found in the archives of our website continue to be some of the most popular pages offered.

If we could somehow solve all these problems we might consider offering reviews again, but solving these problems is not as easy as a monthly paper. The problem of being timely is still the major hurdle to overcome. I still believe that there is little to be gained by offering reviews of shows people will not be able to see for themselves. Some argue that post-reviews will help build up a gallery's or artist's reputation, but covering a two-state area - not that many artists or galleries will get reviews that often to establish a useful pattern.

These days it seems that only institutions offer exhibits that last more then four to five weeks - with many commercial galleries offering exhibits which are only up for a matter of weeks - some only a week or two long - selling works off the wall as buyers appear. I don't want to review just institutional exhibitions.

One alternative to this problem is to shift the reviews to our companion website where we can be more timely. Reveiws could be posted within days of the time an exhibit is seen - giving readers much more time to respond. But, some people would have to get over the "printed" factor. I have noticed over the years the disappointment of folks on learning that what they sent us would only make the website version of the paper, not the printed version of the paper - which I frankly don't understand. More people see the web version of the paper - all over the world (200,000 a month) and we can offer more there because the cost of space is sooooo much less than the printed version of the paper. Color images could also support the reviews. We can't do that in the printed version of the paper at this point. And, like the reviews we offered in the past - these reviews would be archived on the site - so people can go back and look at old reviews, make links to the reviews, and search for reviews by artists or gallery.

If the website works as a home for reviews, that leaves the problem of finding a pool of knowledgeable folks who can write well and are willing to travel to areas to do reviews of exhibitions. At the same time we want people from all over the Carolinas as we don't want people reviewing shows in their own area - hopefully solving another problem of getting pressure from their friends in their own art community to review their shows.

The problem of funding these reviews will still be a financial burden as we know good people don't like to work for free or for just the fun of it - because it won't be so much fun as it will be work. Of course a third party sponsor(s) could perhaps be found to help underwrite these reviews. Anything is possible.

But the bottom line to me is being timely. Much like a movie review, I want to be able to go see if I agree with the review or not.

So - I guess I'm calling out to see if there are some folks who think they might be interested in writing reviews of exhibitions in other towns and cities than their own. If you think you might be one of these folks, e-mail me at ( If you know of someone - give them a nudge.

If you never see me mention this again - well it's because of the lack of reaction received. Then the matter can be put to rest.

On The Cover

This month we have an image from William Jameson. Not quite a fall image but as close as we can get. (See article in Feature Article section.)

Remember I mentioned before that I might not always mention our covers, but I thought this month's cover would give some insight into why we selected it. First, Jameson has been a long time supporter of our paper who now lives in Saluda, NC, but lived in the Charleston, SC, area for years - so he kind of represented both Carolinas. Second, the possibility of a cover was requested by two other supporters. Thirdly, Jameson was having an exhibition during this month. We like to tie in covers with exhibitions - but not always. And, fourthly, we knew people would enjoy seeing one of his works in vivid color. The fact that this all worked out at the same time - well that's a miracle.

Many times we have been offered or have seen images that we would love to put on the cover, but the timing wasn't right. They are currently booked through Feb. 2008. So it takes some planning to pull this off. But we're open to suggestions. Just keep in mind all the factors working in favor of this month's cover.

What's Your Name Worth?

Have you ever heard any of these names when someone is talking about an exhibition - Rudolph E. Lee Gallery, Elizabeth Stone Harper Gallery, Edward M. Smith Gallery, The Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery, Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery, Middleton McMillan Galleries, Elizabeth Dunlap Patrick Gallery, Frankie G. Weems Gallery, or Levi-Barnett Gallery. They are all names of art gallery spaces in the Carolinas.

Sometimes, over time, they become the Lee Gallery, Smith Gallery, or Weems Gallery, and sometimes they just get forgotten all together. There may still be a plaque or a sign placed somewhere on a wall, but over time - the people or families who gave money for those names get lost in the shuffle or just abandoned all together - some are resold. I think promises made should be promises kept. People either earned those names or paid good money for those names to be used and remembered.

There are many that have kept those promises and continue to honor these names and there are some that have no shame. I guess some feel that was yesterday's money - we need new money - so out with the old - in with the new - for now. What a shame.

I know if I gave some institution $100,000 to have a gallery space named - Thomas J. Starland Art Gallery - I would expect that that gallery would be called that - long after the deaths of myself and the members of every board after that. I would hope that no group of board members down the road would sell the name of my gallery to someone else - even if it was for $1,000,000. I mean a deal is a deal.

Please - no calls. I don't have $100 to give an institution for a brick outside their building.

Now in the case where an institution names a gallery in honor of someone and later wants to dis-honor them and honor someone else - I guess that's up to them. Where no money has been exchanged, I guess the only problem is in justification. It's just like changing administrations - one day the environment is important - next day big business rules. I guess it's up to us to make sure the right people are in charge.



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Copyright© 2007 by PSMG, Inc., which published Charleston Arts from July 1987 - Dec. 1994 and South Carolina Arts from Jan. 1995 - Dec. 1996. It also publishes Carolina Arts Online, Copyright© 2007 by PSMG, Inc. All rights reserved by PSMG, Inc. or by the authors of articles. Reproduction or use without written permission is strictly prohibited. Carolina Arts is available throughout North & South Carolina.