A Trip to See Several Exhibits in the Pee Dee Area of South Carolina in July 2014 – Part I

July 15th, 2014

On a day when it was thundering and lightening around the lake here in Bonneau, SC, I decided to head over to the Pee Dee area of South Carolina, to see a few exhibits on view in Lake City, SC, and Florence, SC, just an hour’s drive north on Hwy. 52 (Lake City is one hour away). If the computer had to be unplugged, why not go somewhere else where the weather is not so angry.

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The Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, is presenting “Upcycled: The Art of Reclaimed Objects”, an exhibition on view through Aug. 23, 2014. The exhibit features works by Natalie Abrams (Charlotte, NC), Patz and Mike Fowle (Hartsville, SC), Randy Gachet (Birmingham, AL), Jordan Morris (West Columbia, SC), Greg Mueller (Spartanburg, SC), and Amelia Sherritt (Seattle, WA), the show explores the ways in which post consumer products can be upcycled into intriguing works of fine art.

I’m doing this blog post in parts to keep it from being so long. Part I is about the exhibit at the Jones-Carter Gallery and a few other notable items related to Lake City.

When you walk in the door you are confronted by a large work by Randy Gachet entitled, “Repercussions”, 2008, made of reclaimed rubber tire, steel wire, and acrylic mirror. Gachet explains that in the 1990′s he started noticing that the rubber tire remnants seen along the roads were beginning to take forms in his mind – crow wings, tortise shells, and alligator hides. I’ve seen a few of those alligator hides along the road in my travels. “Repercussions” reminds me of a group of turtles in a pond with the ripples of water emitting from their shells. I’m not sure what function the mirrors served as I couldn’t see any effect from them.

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In “Carbon Plume”, 2011, a work of reclaimed rubber tire, concrete, and steel, I first thought the work depicted some kind of tree, but once I read the ID card provided I easily could see the jet black plumes rising from burning oil fields in Iraq, first seen on CNN. Gachet offers the following statement about this piece, “The rubber tire fragments in the piece were all collected along interstate highways in the Birmingham, AL, area where I live. The perpetual whir and rush of semi-trucks and automobiles implicate the voracious engines of production and consumption that hurtle them as I scavenge the highways for the detritus left behind. The resulting form is both graceful and sinister.” After reading that I kind of wished it was some kind of tree, but then I couldn’t think of any happy story lines involving trees and rubber tires.

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Up close look

After reading that statement it was hard to think of this exhibition as representing the ever amazing imagination of artists to make works out of junk and stuff we throw away or consume in our daily lives in America. After all we are the great consumers of the world. It’s a good thing the next works I zeroed in on were by Patz and Mike Fowle. Although their works are more whimsical – they are no less a statements on the great mountains of discarded objects we create in America.

Although this is a group show, it is clear when you get there that Mike and Patz Fowle seized the opportunity to provide many examples of how they use repurposed consumer goods – mostly, in this exhibit, discarded children’s toys. They provide 11 of the 20 works in this exhibition.

The largest piece in the show is “Post-Consumer Aquarium”, 2014, made of repurposed children’s toys, plastic and metal wire. Many of the fish-like creatures are made from plastic toys and toy parts – part of the millions of pounds of plastic produced each year in America which will last longer in boxes stacked in closets and attics or in our landfills for decades longer than they were enjoyed by a child. But now a few of those toys make up parts of artworks.

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I have to say that the toys we bought our son are getting a lot of reuse by his children. We kept them all, but they won’t last another generation. His boys are rough on toys.

In another work by the Fowles, “Recycled Red Bird”, 1994, made of found bed springs, steel, sheet metal, and a glass insulator, shows that the couple also makes repurposed works from more industrial and consumer waste. They found the bed springs while exploring the Sand Hills area of South Carolina in a pile of construction debris – not in a landfill, but thrown or dumped out in the open.

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These three characters produced out of the Fowle’s imagination represent colorful members of a contemporary community of cast-offs including: “Blow Hard”, 2010 (L); “Fast Food”, 2010 (C); and “Tough Love”, 2010, all made of found post-consumer products.

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“Fu-Man Shoe, Jr.”, 2012, made of a found shoe, rusted metal, and doll parts, was created by Patz Fowle. She offered this statement about the piece, “When I held this little canvas shoe in my hand it made me think of the journey it had taken prior to me finding it. So, I felt compelled to give it a face that had experienced many journeys with facial features of rusted metal and the eyeballs of a forgotten doll who had seen it all.”

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I first saw one of Patz and Mike Fowle’s plastic planets at an exhibit at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. It was an amazing piece of plastic toys, toy characters, and toy parts inside a vary large ball in plastic wrap. As you examine this “planet” up close you can recognize toys from your time frame and toys from every generation there after. “Plastic Planet Redux”, 2014, by the Fowles, also includes repurposed plastic and electronic children’s toys, tape, and wheels. I took a couple of detailed images of toy characters that have been popular in our household – throughout several generations.

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One more of the cast-off characters offered by the Fowles is “The Walk”, 2010, made of found post-consumer products. It represents a scene many of us are used to – walking a pet. The character walking the pet has that look of – “Come-on, we don’t have all day”.

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Jordan Morris of West Columbia, SC, offered one work entitled. “The State of Things Series”, 2014, including four works: “Origins”, 2014, made of wood and glass; “Destruction”, 2014, made of sawdust, wood and glass; “Information”, 2014, made of newspaper, wood and glass; and “Creation”, 2014, made of paperback books, wood and glass. Most of the wood and glass represented the shadowbox cases holding the materials contained inside.

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Morris offered this sentence in his statement on this work: “Each shadowbox contains what was once a living thing in four different forms, inviting one to consider the drastic changes that our world has been through since the advent of computers”. I didn’t get that and what was said in the rest of the statement confused me even further.

What I saw looking at these four boxes was a box of cut wooden logs, a box of sawdust, a box of shredded paper, and a box of designed objects made out of paper. Each representing the progression from trees to paper and then an interesting looking design made of paper. As someone who has taken a printed publication to an online publication, I see a lot of trees being saved by computers and the Internet. But that’s my point of view. Morris also says he pines for a return to simpler times when we were not bombarded by “waves of information” in the age of electronic media. I felt the same way when I walked into a library -way before computers came along. There has always been more information than most of us could digest – there’s nothing new there.

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“Origins”

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“Destruction”

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“Information”

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“Creation”

I thought it was interesting that Morris was the only artist in this exhibit who did not provide information about himself for the press release sent out to promote this exhibition. He could have sent a letter by snail mail, but he didn’t. Perhaps it is his own problems with today’s digital media that he describes in his statement, but I didn’t see how the works he presented would lead anyone looking at the work and reading his statement to come to the conclusion he provided.

Of course there have been times when an artist has provided a statement – several pages long describing a work of art, yet I never saw what they described when looking at the work. And, I wasn’t alone in my feelings. All I can do is apologize for not getting his point. I’m sure it’s me and my lack of higher arts education.

Amelia Sherritt, of Seattle, WA, offers works made of the foil covering the corks of wine bottles. The work “Autumn Gold”, 2013, contains hundreds, if not thousands of wine foils. Sherritt states, “By re-purposing these foils, I am able to make what would normally be thrown away into something long lasting and beautiful”. And, I bet it’s a lot of fun emptying those bottles of wine, although I’m sure she has an army of wine drinkers saving those foils for her.

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Sherritt also offers, “Moss Study”, 2012. It got me wondering how many different colors are offered on all the different makes of wine out there and whether she would have to reach out to other countries for certain colors – adding travel into the process of making art. I think this artist has found the perfect materials to make her art.

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Well that’s enough – you need to go see this exhibit yourself and see if these works bum you out over America’s wasteful habits or amazes you in the endless imagination of artists – or both.

The next exhibition at the Jones-Carter Gallery will be “Francisco de Goya: Los Caprichos”, on view from Sept. 20, 2014, through Jan. 3, 2015. How many small towns can host a major exhibit of works by Goya? This gallery is a place worth visiting.

It should be noted that several of these artists had participated in the two ArtFields competitions that took place in Lake City. The folks at the Jones-Carter Gallery not only keep an eye out for potential exhibitors, but they also curate some parts of the display – so they get a good look at what’s out there. Some names from those competitions are recycled when organizing exhibitions. That’s another intangible result of getting into ArtFields, much like our selection of cover art for our June 2014 issue of “Carolina Arts”, which turned out to be one of our most popular covers – if not the most popular. I first saw that artist’s work at ArtFields. So, just making the cut at ArtFields can lead to many unknown opportunities. Exposure is “King” in the visual arts. And, it’s something to think about when artists are thinking about re-entering this competition or thinking about entering it for the first time. There is more at stake than winning one of the top prizes.

I also want to warn artists who might think that Darla Moore just might buy their over priced artwork – she’s loaded right. She didn’t get that money by overpaying for things. More work was sold the first year before artists learned she bought work that first year and jacked up their prices the second year. One artist just out of college put $100,000 on their work. I hope they were embarrassed. Moore is not the only person looking to buy works at ArtFields – so don’t price yourself out of a sale. You might also scare off a gallery owner who was thinking of representing your work in their gallery, but your price was out of reason.

It also should be noted that on this trip I learned that ArtFields will be under new management in 2015. The Community Museum Society which operates the Jones-Carter Gallery will now manage ArtFields. ArtFields will be in the good hands of Ray McBride and his team of capable folks in 2015 and I think you’ll notice many changes in how the event is handled and promoted. We’ll have more about that later.

You can read a press release about this exhibit on Page 29 and 30 of our July 2014 issue of “Carolina Arts” found at (www.carolinaarts.com).

The Jones-Carter Gallery is located at 105 Henry Street in Lake City, SC, next to The Bean Market. Admission is free at the Jones-Carter Gallery and large groups are encouraged to call ahead. The gallery is open Tue.-Fri., 10am-6pm and Sat., 11am-5pm. For further information contact Hannah L. Davis, Gallery and Exhibitions Manager, by calling 843/374-1505 or visit (www.jonescartergallery.com).

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Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail Folks Have Been Busy Installing New Quilt Blocks Throughout Upstate SC

July 7th, 2014

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The “Summer Winds” quilt block is located at the Pendleton Branch Library of the Anderson County Library System, 650 South Mechanic, Pendleton, SC. “Summer Winds” is a quilt block sponsored by Greeta G. Peden who has made the cloth quilt pattern numerous times as gifts for family and friends. She keeps using this creative block because of the different ways it is perceived. Some see fish, some see flowers, while others just notice the geometry involved. She loves it because she sees something different every time she makes it. Barbara Brackman’s “Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns” attributes the block to Nancy Page, a syndicated column written by Florence LaGanke for mail order patterns that ran in numerous periodicals c.a. 1925 to 1940.

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Peden currently resides in Pendleton, SC, and has a truly unique relationship with the Pendleton Public Library itself. She has been meeting on Mondays and Thursdays with her Sit and Sew Group of fellow quilters for several years there. Peden learned to sew on a machine in her home economics class taught by Sister Antonio Marie in the 1950s. She didn’t begin quilting until age 67 and is a self-proclaimed “late” bloomer.

Pendleton’s first library was founded in 1811 as the Pendleton Circulating Library. Its building and collection were incorporated into the Pendleton Male Academy in 1825. The Academy was located on Queen Street, where the Anderson County School District Four offices are today.

In 1860, a Guard House was erected on Pendleton’s Village Green on the site of the former jail house. In 1911, a one-story annex was added. In 1916, Miss Sallie Trescott established a public library on the ground level. Upstairs housed the town’s police department. Trescott served as librarian until her death in 1944. Her personal book collection was transferred to the Clemson College Library.

The small library continued to serve Pendleton and residents in Pickens, Oconee and Anderson counties, with Helen George serving as librarian for over 22 years. In 1978, the Anderson County Library System built a 1,500 square foot library on Micasa Drive. This had remained the branch library’s site until construction of the new 12,000 sq. ft. building at 650 South Mechanic Street.

The new library is able to house 75,000 volumes and other materials. There’s expanded space for up to 30 computers, tutoring areas, and a 75-seat meeting room. The building was designed by the Greenville architectural firm of Craig, Gaulden and Davis, which designed the Anderson County Library System’s Main Library. Estimated cost of construction was $3 million.

The property on which the new Pendleton Branch Library stands was the site of a private residence as early as the 1830’s. In 1860, John Baylis Earle Sloan and his wife, Mollie Seaborne Sloan, established a home that became known as Tanglewood. The columns and ruins seen today are all that remain of the site, which was first destroyed by fire in 1908. It was a Piedmont plantation-style house, resting on tall piers and having large rooms.

The family re-built the home as a classical colonial revival mansion in 1910, reusing the columns in the new portico. Tanglewood stayed in the Sloan family for many years, until it was sold in the 1950’s to EB (Buckley) Hancock, who hoped it or the property could be used for a town library. The building again burned to the ground in 1970, though, leaving only the columns and chimneys and the property was eventually sold to John and Suzanne Morse.

In 2004, funds were allocated by Anderson County Council for the construction of a new Pendleton branch library of the Anderson County Library System. The Tanglewood property was purchased after negotiations with the Morses.

Groundbreaking for the library took place on Dec. 17, 2004. The grand opening was held January 14, 2007.

Westminster, SC, Adds to Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail

The old family home of Kenneth and Lynda King on Toccoa Highway is the display site for a “Butterfly” quilt block made originally by his mother, Marie Hardy King (1926 – 2010), the daughter of Tom and Myrtie Hardy. Marie was married to Vinton King and they had three children – Dorothy K. Dyar, Kenneth V. King, and David L. King; six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. In addition to taking care of a family, King worked at TGY until she retired.

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Growing up in Oconee County, it was King’s mother and grandmother who taught her how to quilt. She also loved to work in her garden, raising her favorite flowers, roses, and enjoyed putting up all the produce that she grew, feeding her family wonderful meals.

King created the “Butterfly” quilt pattern, making one for each of her children and grandchildren. She also helped her granddaughter make a “Dutch Doll” quilt. She was a member of Hopewell United Methodist Church.

Tamassee-Salem Middle High School Adds Third Quilt Panel to Quilt Trail

Tamassee-Salem Middle High School has added a third quilt panel to the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail. The quilt, called “Grandmother’s Choice”, was chosen by the faculty and staff to honor one of their students, Alayna Cobb as well as staff member James Poland for their bravery and perseverance in the midst of medical struggles. Cobb was diagnosed with cancer in November 2012, and Poland who had completed treatments for cancer was a real inspiration to her and to the students at Tamassee-Salem Middle High School (TSMHS).

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Alayna Cobb (c) with her parents

It was Cobb’s grandmother, Ruth Porter of Salem, SC, who with her sister Joyce Poore, made quilts for their six siblings as Christmas gifts. Porter quilted off and on for many years but she purchased this original quilt from the Tamassee DAR Thrift Store and then gave it to Cobb’s family. Since they don’t know the official name of the quilt pattern, they chose the name “Grandmother’s Choice”. As A Cobb told us, “I have always been a sentimental person. However, since my cancer diagnosis, I hold even little things sentimental. Before I completed my chemo treatments, I had some photos taken of me with my brother and cousins with Nana’s quilt. This quilt is very special to me.”

Marianne Jackson, the art teacher at TSMHS, used her Artist in Residence funds to sponsor this addition to the trail. As she told us, “Alayna was in the 7th grade when this quilt was chosen to be on the trail. She took the lead in choosing colors and working with her fellow students to replicate the design perfectly. She missed the first half of the 2013-14 school year due to her treatments, but when she returned, it was as if she’d never missed a day. She was one of the most hardworking and dedicated art students, putting her heart and soul into her work – something not all students do.

Cobb has been through a trauma most children could never dream of, but art helped her get through. She told me that if her wish for the Make A Wish Foundation was chosen, it would be to have an art studio built in her yard with all the fixings, materials and tools she would need to create, design and make art however she wished. “I have loved having Alayna as my student this year and look forward to having her in my classes in the years to come. It has been an honor to be a part of the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail and to watch my 7th and 8th graders participate to create a beautiful piece of history.”

This pattern is known as a patchwork, joining four squares of material to form a larger square. In its simplest form, the block is constructed for four plain squares of fabric. The four patch lends itself easily to endless variation because each of the squares may also be made up of numerous smaller pieces pieced together. “Grandmother Choice” is a fine example of a pattern variation.

Mountain Rest Baptist Church Adds to the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail

Mountain Rest Baptist Church is the site of a new addition to the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail. The Church activities building, located at 9915 Highlands Highway, Mountain Rest, SC, will soon bear a quilt block called “Bible Blocks”. The original quilt was made by Myrtle Childers of Heath Springs, Lancaster County, SC, for Pastor Randy Koon and his wife, Suzanne, in 1994. She was a member of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church which he pastored at that time.

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Childers was a self-taught quilter. She was 73, a widow with two sons and a retired nurse when she made the quilt as a love gift for the Koons. The pattern was chosen from “Biblical Blocks: Inspired Designs for Quilters” by Rosemary Makhan, because each element in the quilt has a Bible theme. Childers was nearly blind and had to sew the quilt using a large magnifying glass. The quilt was entirely hand stitched in squares on large embroidery hoops and pieced together over a period of three months. She traveled to a cloth store in Charlotte, NC, to find cloth that matched the picture in the pattern book she used to make the quilt.

Reverend Koon told us, “It is one of our most prized possessions and is kept on an antique sleigh bed in our guestroom which was also a gift from Mrs. Childers.” He has pastored four churches in North Carolina and South Carolina and became the pastor of Mountain Rest Baptist Church in September of 2002. He has two children – a son, Daniel, who is a pastor in Murfreesboro, TN, and a daughter, Elizabeth Sturkie, who is a pastor’s wife in Donalds, SC. The Koons have six grandchildren.

The quilt block is being sponsored by the SASSY Ladies Mission organization of Mountain Rest Baptist Church.  The church had its early beginnings as the Double Springs Union Church and meetings were held in an old school building. Ten acres of land were given in the cause of religion for the consideration of $3. Although the land was given in 1858, it was not recorded until 1868. Originally, the church was a union of Methodists and Baptists with itinerant preachers conducting the services, alternating the material used for Sunday school between the two denominational publishing houses. In 1942, the membership nearly doubled from 16 members to 30 members with 12 baptisms and two additions by letter.

The Deacons, with support from the membership, realized the need for a separate place of worship that they might assemble in complete freedom according to the dictates of their conscience. The Baptists appointed a committee to build a separate place of worship, and a building plot was donated on the same highway a short distance away on Chattooga Ridge Road in August 1947. Most of the materials and work to build the church were donated by the members. The church was completed and dedicated on May 27, 1951. It was renamed the Mountain Rest Baptist Church in 1975 in order to tie the church more closely to the community it serves.

The Church relocated to its present site on Highlands Highway in1982, and completed their activities building in 2010. The old Union Church continues to operate as Double Springs Methodist Church.

For more information and pictures, click on (www.uhqt.org) or e-mail to (info@uhqt.org).

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The July 2014 Issue of “Carolina Arts” is Now Ready to Download

July 1st, 2014

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The July 2014 issue of Carolina Arts is up on our website at (www.carolinaarts.com) – all 63 pages of it.

Last month Linda presented the paper with an option to download the paper in a side by side spread or single page format. Single page dowloads were about double the amount for side by side format – which was good as a good amount of people desired one or the other. We’re here to please all we can so we’ll continue offering you the choice of two ways to download the paper:

For single page format use this link (http://www.carolinaarts.com/714/714carolinaarts-sp.pdf).

For side by side page format use this link (http://www.carolinaarts.com/714/714carolinaarts-dp.pdf).

So download that PDF and dig in – it makes for good reading and shows that you have lots of opportunities to enjoy the visual arts in the Carolinas this month. And, don’t forget to find a way to thank our advertisers – they make the paper possible.

And help us spread the paper around by sending these links to your friends.

If you want to get something in the August issue – send it now or as soon as you can. Don’t wait till the July 24 deadline – or you could be left out. It happens.

Thanks – Tom and Linda Starland
Carolina Arts
843/825-3408
info@carolinaarts.com

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A Trip to Lancaster, SC, the Red Rose City, for the 2014 Lancaster County Ag + Arts Tour, Which Took Place June 21-22, 2014

June 30th, 2014

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Back in the day, when I was delivering printed copies of Carolina Arts, one of my nightly routes was from Bonneau, SC, to Manning, SC, to Sumter, SC, to Camden, SC, to Lancaster, SC, to Rock Hill, SC, then to Columbia, SC, Orangeburg, SC, and back home to Bonneau. My only drop in Lancaster was at The Springs House Gallery, home of the Lancaster County Council of Arts (http://www.lccarts.net). Because this was a night time delivery I never got to see the inside of that facility. But, because of limited time, on this trip we traveled to I-26 to Columbia, where we picked up I-77 and then took exit 55 to Hwy. 200 headed to Lancaster.

As we got closer to Lancaster I told Linda, my better half, that I wasn’t sure I’d know how to get around as I didn’t travel this way in the past. As it turned out, Hwy. 200 ran right into Hwy. 521, my old route. And once we hit Main Street it all came flooding back to me. Our first stop would be at The Springs House Gallery where the publicity we helped distribute through Carolina Arts, was the place to pick up a “Passport” for the Tour. Imagine that, after all these years I was going to see the inside of that building, which like the name says – was a house, once owned by Colonel Leroy Springs that was converted into Lancaster’s City Hall in the 1950′s. Leroy Springs played a major role in the industrial development of Lancaster and the surrounding area.

I have to add this as editor of Carolina Arts, that like in the movie Cool Hand Luke, that between the Arts Council and Carolina Arts – we have a failure to communicate. I’ve tried to encourage the folks at the Arts Council to inform us of the exhibits they present in a timely fashion – meaning by deadline. Even when they did make our deadline, they acted like we were charging them by the word. And, you should know by now we don’t charge a cent to include people’s press releases about exhibits taking place in the Carolinas.

As usual when making one of these trips I go as just another person going to an art event, sometimes I’ll introduce myself to get info from someone, but most times I don’t – I want to see things and hear things unfiltered for the press. When we walked into the facility that lack of communication was staring me right in the face. On view was the traveling exhibit of the “South Carolina Watermedia Society’s 36th Annual Exhibition”. We had no clue this exhibit would be there. All I expected was to see a photo exhibit that took a few months to figure out it would still be up during the Ag + Art Tour.

It didn’t take 2 seconds before Linda said, “I know what you’re thinking”. She knows one of my pet peeves when it comes to exhibits is works of art in group or juried shows that are not identified. None of the works had identification tags. Now, this traveling exhibit is organized by the SC Watermedia Society and administered through the Traveling Exhibits Program at the SC State Museum in Columbia, SC. I was pretty steamed as I started looking at a lot of great works by SC artists, but couldn’t tell who made some of the works. By now I can recognize a lot of the Society’s member’s style to have a pretty good guess as to who they were and where they were from.

Some of that steam was released when I eventually found  a stack of the exhibition catalogues the SC Watermedia Society provided. This was helpful in identifying works, but also led to another problem with the Lancaster County Council of Arts. As I went through the catalogue I noticed three paintings that were supposed to be included in the traveling exhibit that were not on display, and I looked throughout the exhibit area several times trying to find them. When I asked the person on duty that day they first said that those three works had problems with their frames – they said they were “flimsy”. I knew that wouldn’t be the case unless they were damaged in transit to or from one of the other facilities it was shown in. But I didn’t buy that and as I continued to stare back at that person, they eventually said they ran out of room for those three. I’m not sure that was the case either. Most works were on the walls, and a few were on easel stands.

In some ways I was sure they did have a room problem. The photo exhibit I mentioned was in one small room – some were hanging on walls and some on a wire mesh stand, but a good number of works were stacked on one another in a pile. I won’t say much about this exhibit other than it reminded me of a little league team where everyone gets a ribbon for participation – literally.

It was time to leave the The Springs House Gallery. After we got home later that evening and I loaded my photos taken that day onto my computer, I realized that I didn’t take any photos at that facility. I was not surprized.

Some would say I shouldn’t be so hard on small town art facilities, but they are getting state funding and corporate funding to do much better than what I see sometimes and other small towns do excellent work in presenting exhibitions. This is 2014 not 1950. And, sometimes if someone doesn’t complain – nothing ever changes or improves.

Now it was time to head to one of the two main reasons we made this trip. I wanted to visit Bob Doster’s Backstreet Studio (www.bobdoster.com), the studio/gallery space of who I think is one of the hardest working artists in SC – up there with Susan Lenz, and Jane Allen Nodine. Those three are showing works everywhere across the Carolinas, and in Lancaster, Bob Doster is “the man”. You could see his work everywhere we went – from business signs to metal benches on Main Street, to large sculptures in public spaces. Not to mention his works can be found in galleries all over SC. We also wanted to meet with Cherry Doster, his wife who keeps us informed of what is going on in the greater Lancaster area. Some folks in Lancaster are trying to make it a regional hub for arts and culture, and Cherry is part of that group and they have become supporters of Carolina Arts, so anything we can do to help them – we will do it.

So Bob Doster’s Backstreet Studio is located on Gay Street, the same street as The Springs House Gallery, but on the East side of Main Street. If you drove by it you might guess it’s an arts place by it’s funky exterior. The buildings used to be a pool hall, where only the men of Lancaster hung out – well, some men. Once you’re inside you might first think it was some kind of bohemian cafe or something with all the tables and chairs inside and all the art along the walls. The table and chairs are used for art classes offered there. There’s a kind of backyard open space where part of the building’s roof caved in and the Dosters have filled it in with what would remind you of a Japanese Koi pond and garden, but there are plenty of Bob Doster’s works scattered around. I bet the place looks great during evening events held there.

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A view of a section of a wall in the outside courtyard.

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Nothing is left untouched here.

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Looks like one of my Facebook profile images.

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I get this.

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The studio also features works by many other artists.

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Did you notice that Verner Award – it is well deserved.

Linda and I checked the place out and I took a few photos before we introduced ourselves to Cherry Doster, who we have talked to on the phone and exchanged e-mails with during the last year or two. She then went and got Bob who was trying to work in his studio next door. That’s right he was trying to work during an event. And, as it usually goes, Cherry and Linda talked and Bob and I talked. Later in the car, on the drive home, we tried to exchange notes on what was said, but I know that never works well. A month or two later when a certain subject comes up one of us or the other will bring up part of those conversations we had that day. And, one of us will be sure to say, “Well I didn’t know that”.

Photos I took of some of Doster’s small metal sculptures didn’t come out to well, due to backlight, a photography term that describes why when you’re taking a photo of something inside against a lighter background – in this case a wall of windows. I should have known better, but my photography days were long behind me. Plus I was taking photo with my iPhone – which hasn’t replaced real cameras – yet. You can see much better images on his website mentioned above.

Just as we were about to leave to our next stop I mentioned something about seeing a plasma cutter in a photo on Facebook and that led to a tour of Doster’s work space. This was the highlight of the tour – at least for me.

If anything I have learned in my 27 years of doing this paper is that if I ever had a notion of trying my own hand at art – I’d be a painter. I love pottery, glass, and metal sculpture, but if you saw the equipment it takes to work in those mediums – you might pick painter too. Doster’s studio reminded me of my father and his brothers back in Michigan. They all liked to tinker with big machines that did things with wood and metal. As a kid they were all off limits to me and when I was older, I was a 1,000 miles away in South Carolina. My father and his brothers would have drooled over some of Doster’s equipment – especially the plasma cutters, of which one was connected to a computer. My relatives were pretty creative in their shops, but it’s impossible to wonder what they could have done with a computer to work out their design ideas.

I did get use of a band saw, which I didn’t think my father knew about, but he must have known. That band saw made me the hit of the neighborhood, as I was able to make some great wooden swords and guns with that saw. I was an arms dealer at the age of twelve.

OK, the next spot was number two on my bucket list for the day – the Native American Studies Center (http://usclancaster.sc.edu/nas/index.html) run by the University of South Carolina @ Lancaster. They have the largest collection of Catawba Indian pottery in existence and much more. It was just around the block on Main Street. This facility opened in 2012, and I’ve been wanting to visit since then, but could never work out the right timing. I’ve gone up I-77 several times into North Carolina, but on the way back it was always after hours or on a Sunday or holiday.

This is a great facility and learning center. I took a few pictures inside, but I have to admit that as a Mid-West boy who played his fare share of “Cowboys and Indians”, I suffered from that old movie saying that if you take a picture of an Indian, you would be stealing his spirit. Also, I wasn’t sure if I should call them Indians or Native Americans. Well, I know better, but I picked up a handy little guild while we were there titled, “CultureCard – A Guide to Build Cultural Awareness – American Indian and Alaska Native”. This title confused me a little more, but inside it provides a lot of dos and don’ts on how to act – that is if you want to be respectful or as some say politically correct – as if that’s a bad thing. I know I’m not always politically correct when it comes to some folks in South Carolina, who don’t worry about spending much time on being anything else but.

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Local Native Americans were on hand to offer their art to visitors.

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More of the same.

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A showcase of just a part of their pottery collection.

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“Yei East Female,” Sand Painting, by JL Begay, unknown date, Navajo, sand and pigment. A recent addition to the Native American Studies Special Collection, on view in the Duke Energy Gallery.

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“Adult Ribbon Dress,” by Stephanie Betancourt, unknown date, Seneca, fabric. A recent addition to the Native American Studies Special Collection, on view in the Duke Energy Gallery.

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A view of some of the research area.

I also spent some time lobbying about getting more info about the Center, it’s pottery collection, public activities, and the exhibits they present with a few staff members. I hope Carolina Arts will be featuring more info and photos about the arts being produced by today’s Native Americans living in the Carolinas. I know we will have something in our August 2014 issue as the McKissick Museum at USC in Columbia will be presenting an exhibit about Native American artists of the Southeast.

Next, we had lunch, pumping money into the Lancaster County’s economy. After all that’s what most of these events are about – building tourism. On our way out as we were paying our bill I flashed the Ag + Art Tour “passport” program and told them that’s why we were in Lancaster today. They had never heard of the Tour, which surprised me at first, but thinking about it later – I know folks in Charleston and North Charleston who have never been to any of the area’s beaches or have put their toe in the Atlantic Ocean. Some folks never enjoy what their hometown has to offer which is sad, but much of it is due to habit and economic circumstances.

Now as far as the Ag part of this Tour goes, being just one generation removed from dairy farmers in Michigan and spending many Summers on that farm I wasn’t as interested in traveling out to those stops on the Tour, but there was one stop I wanted to make given our time frame and that was the Benford Brewery (www.benfordbrewing.com), South Carolina’s only agriculturally operated craft beer producer. I’m not sure we would have found the place without the use of the GPS locator on the iPhone. And, when we drove up – there was a sign made by Bob Doster. And, apparently a lot of other folks were interested in visiting the brewery, as there were cars coming and going all while we were there. This was a popular stop as they were giving out 2oz. samples of two of the beers they produce. They were also selling keg pump handles made by none other than Bob Doster.

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Sign by Bob Doster – surprize!

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There’s lots of beer in those containers.

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Just another view of the beer.

My first question was, what makes them the only agriculturally operated craft beer producer, and it came down to the fact that they are on a farm and feed the by-product of the process to their cows. At the time it was only one happy cow and it was explained that due to the drought in the West – cows are hard to come by these days. If anybody knows of some cows for sale, get in contact with this brewery.

It was very interesting getting the story of craft brewing, and how it all works, which is a boom business these days all across America.

On the way back to downtown Lancaster I remembered that I had forgotten to check out the new sculptures of Bob Doster’s that had been installed recently in the Red Rose Park, which was right across from the Native American Studies Center on Main Street, but we went in the back door when we went there. So we stopped there to check them out and take a few photos. A small Native American garden was there too.

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Sign by guess who.

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Work by Bob Doster

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The Native American garden display.

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Another view of a work by Bob Doster. The installation was not finished yet, so there were no ID tags yet.

On the way back to the car I noticed another stop on the Tour, Chastain’s Studio Lofts (www.chastainsstudiolofts.com), a little further down Main Street. I think I had heard of this place before, probably in a press release about another event in Lancaster, but we had no details about it and so it wasn’t listed in our gallery listing in Carolina Arts – so it was off our radar. So we walked over to check it out.

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Signs by Bob Doster.

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A view of part of the gallery.

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There is quite a variety of works on view.

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A view as you walk in the space.

The name of this place doesn’t do it justice. Upon entering it looked to be a regular gallery space – well it didn’t look too much like most gallery spaces, but it looked very interesting. Later I found out they are not open regular gallery hours and perhaps the name is more fitting to their operation – working studios and a place for classes and demonstrations. Maybe once Lancaster moves further down the road in becoming that arts and cultural center of the region it will justify more hours open as a gallery. But I would guess they are open during most of the events Lancaster is producing to bring in tourist and locals of the region. And, by the way, we now have them listed in our gallery listings.

There were two other art venues on the Tour, Gallery 102 and Mahaffee Studios, which we didn’t get to visit, but our departure time was up and a nasty looking storm seemed to be heading toward Lancaster from the direction of Charlotte, NC. So we hit the road.

There were actually four counties that participated in the 2014 Ag + Art Tour – Chester, Fairfield, Lancaster, and York, and maybe by next year’s Tour there will be more. It’s a lot of area to cover so if you do it once and like it, these tours could provide an endless supply of travel opportunities to discover South Carolina’s agricultural facilities and arts in some of our rural areas of the state.

For further information about the Ag + Art Tour visit (www.agandarttour.com).

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Carolina Arts Has a New Facebook Post Queen

June 8th, 2014

On June 1, 2014, a week from today, I posted the notice that our June 2014 issue of “Carolina Arts” was up and ready to be downloaded from our website at (www.carolinaarts.com). Right away we started getting a bunch of “shares” of that post. It looked like we were heading to a new Facebook record (for us), but I didn’t want to say anything, as the last time I mentioned we were getting a lot of shares of a post – it died instantly. So mum was the word and I proceeded as we always do to share the post on my Facebook page every day for the next five days and leave the one up on the Carolina Arts’s Facebok page up. But by day three the existing record set by a cover by Jane Filer from the Chapel Hill, NC, area was broken – big time – by a cover by Wan Marsh of Charlotte, NC.

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Don’t be sad South Carolina artists – our most popular cover ever is one by Mary Whyte of Charleston, SC – one that no one will ever catch up to – I think. For almost two years after we launched that cover it would get thousands of downloads – every month. I mean like 10,000 downloads a year after it was first launched – month after month.
It finally faded to not much this year.

Wan Marsh’s cover reached 6,440 people on Facebook. The “Carolina Arts” Facebook page only had about 2,290 likes at the time. So a lot of folks were seeing this cover from the 114 shares that post got. Through that reach the post got 451 likes and 85 comments – most I couldn’t see as they were on other people’s Facebook pages.

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“Ancient Power” by Wan Marsh

I won’t know till the end of the month how many downloads the June issue will get, but it already looks like a down month – due to the beginning of Summer, so I don’t think the June issue will ever come close to the Mary Whyte launch month – not to mention all the downloads it got month after month – for a couple of years.

But Wan Marsh’s cover makes her our new Facebook Cover Queen.

Big single images seem to be the key, both Mary Whyte’s and Wan Marsh’s were single images where Jane Filer’s was three. And guys – were looking for that image that will give us a Facebook King.

Now here’s the trick. Some of our covers are dedicated to certain events, and we try to tie in a cover with an event – exhibition, festival, or something, but we occasionally just see a work and want it on our cover. Unfortunately there have been a few times when artists could not supply us with a large enough high res file of their work. A couple just couldn’t get it to us in time and we had to quickly find a substitute. So it takes an artist who is prepared when the call comes.

Plus it takes the right timing. We try to be fair to all areas of the two states we cover and at times I see something that would make a great cover, but it’s from an artist who is from the same city the last month’s cover came from. Drat!

A couple of month’s ago we had a popular cover from an artist who just happened to notice a call for cover images I put in one of the little spacers I add to fill pages when articles fall short of filling the page. It pays to read the whole paper.

And, we receive some images by artists who feel they are ready for a cover, but we don’t agree – at least not with what they sent us. And a few of those had no clue of what a high res image was. Any image we put in the paper needs to be at least 300dpi at the size we need it. A single image on our cover can be up to 10″ wide by 14″ tall – at 300dpi, that can call for a 30-40 megabyte file. Some people don’t understand you can’t just type in 300 where 72 dpi was.

So, I’m not saying I want artists to start sending me images left and right. I”M NOT SAYING THAT. I’m saying that some artists might just be able to fit the bill of matching location, timing, and having something that when put on our cover knocks viewer’s socks off – you might want to send us a look at what you have – in a small file. Otherwise we keep an eye out for possible images that we get in press releases, Facebook post, or exhibits we see. I first saw Wan Marsh’s image at the 2014 ArtFields competition. It didn’t win an award in Lake City, SC, but it made her Queen of Facebook Posts for “Carolina Arts” – for now.

And, in compliance to a future Federal law we give equal opportunity to all fine art mediums – including installations, as long as you can supply a decent image of them. I’m waiting for the first image we get where the artist also has a video of its creation. Now that would be something.

Maybe that would stop people from asking if we have a print version of the paper available. You couldn’t have an interactive cover image in a printed paper.

You can see more of Wan Marsh’s work at this link (http://wanmarshstudio.com/#home).

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The June 2014 Issue of “Carolina Arts” is Now Ready to Download

June 1st, 2014

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The June 2014 issue of Carolina Arts is up on our website at (www.carolinaarts.com) – all 60 pages of it.

Last month Linda presented the paper in a side by side spread for the first time and some of you responded that you liked the single page version better. We’re here to please all we can so this month we’re offering you the choice of two ways to download the paper right now:

For single page format use this link (http://www.carolinaarts.com/614/614carolinaarts-singlepgs.pdf).

For side by side page format use this link (http://www.carolinaarts.com/614/614carolinaarts-dblpgspreads.pdf).

So download that PDF and dig in – it makes for good reading and shows that you have lots of opportunities to enjoy the visual arts in the Carolinas this month. And, don’t forget to find a way to thank our advertisers – they make the paper possible.

And help us spread the paper around by sending these links to your friends.

If you want to get something in the July issue – send it now or as soon as you can. Don’t wait till the June 24 deadline – or you could be left out. It happens.

Thanks – Tom and Linda Starland
Carolina Arts
843/825-3408
info@carolinaarts.com

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ArtFields Redux 2014, A Look Back at Lake City, SC

May 15th, 2014

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What a difference a year makes. It will be really interesting to see what version this event shows up in next year. The first event was just a big juried art show with a bigger than normal cash prize for four of the 400 + artists who had one piece of their work on display throughout this small downtown area. Last year there were a few stumbles right out of the gate but overall the small town of Lake City, SC, did a great job pulling the event off and the merchants were delighted to see folks from around the region spending money inside their shops.

After last year’s event I offered some suggestions which I felt would make this event better. I think organizers listened to some of those suggestions, but others are still out there to be considered. Some took my suggestions for criticism, so I didn’t have much, if any, contact with folks who were happy to talk with me before the start of the event in 2013 – what I guess now was just an effort to get lots of publicity and support out of me. Long time followers know that I’m happy to give support, but it won’t come with sugar coating and a pledge to always agree with everything. I’m just not made that way.

I’m hopeful for this art competition and exhibition, but I won’t call it an epic arts festival until it becomes one. They can advertise the event any way they choose, but my advice is to tone it down a bit and wait to see if they earn such a description. They’re doing better than some bigger communities, but time will tell what this event should be called. Only in the world of television is a show a hit before anyone sees the first show or after just one episode.

So What About This Year’s Event?

I’ll say this again as I did last year, ArtFields missed the opportunity to educate the public and artists about the opportunity this event was offering through social media. I have no idea what effort they had in other states, but what media crossed my radar just never seemed to explain the event or the Lake City community other than to direct folks to check out their website for further info – which wasn’t updated very early after the first event. The event suffered from the big lull effect, and a little controversy in the judging process by going silent for much too long after the first event ended. That may be the case again this year, but it’s still early to tell. They have to promote this event all year long. There is lots of education to be done about the event and the community.

I hope the organizers have learned something this year about the media. What was big news one year is old news or no news the next year. Next to Florence, SC’s newspaper, “Carolina Arts” is presenting more text and photos about this event than anyone else – more than just a few weeks of the year. It may not all be positive and smiley faces, but it’s coverage not many other media outlets are giving this event. So my advice to organizers is that they will have to work harder at getting their message in the media or spend more time telling their story through social media. And, I’m not talking about the slick video they made this year after the event which makes ArtFields look more like a community party than an art event. What I saw in that video wouldn’t make me travel to check out ArtFields in Lake City, SC, from Miami, FL. People can have a good time anywhere.

First Impressions

My first impression of ArtFields 2014 came from the online gallery of selected artists. And that impression was that the SC Arts Commission had a hand in recruiting artists to enter this event. And then there was the shot heard throughout academia. The fact that last year’s top winner was Jim Arendt, an art professor at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, brought entries from art professors throughout the region and especially South Carolina. As I checked out the bios it looked like university and college art professors got the impression that they could win $50,000 just by entering their work. Installation artists had also gotten the message that these folks wanted to be more like ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI – which now awards $400,000 in cash.

When I finally stepped into The R.O.B., the large warehouse building turned into an art gallery, my impression was confirmed – this building looked like one of the SC Arts Commission’s “Triennial” shows. So, I’m sure they were more involved in this year’s event, giving artists their seal of approval to enter and making contacts to artists telling them they should enter this competition. Funny thing though, not too long ago the Arts Commission was sending out the word that they didn’t see much value in juried exhibits without themes that only showed one work by artists. What changed their mind? I guess they were trying to warm themselves up to Darla Moore – probably looking for funding for one of their pet projects.

Of course, none of these professors were winners of the awards so I’m not sure they will be back next year, of course they could be back in full force.

Hannah L. Davis, Gallery Director at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, was the curator of the works presented in The R.O.B., all 102 of them, which was no easy task with all the different kinds of works included there. She did a great job of laying the works out in that space. During the two days that I visited ArtFields I must have toured this facility at least six times. This venue would have been worth seeing if there was nothing else offered at ArtFields. It also showed that the event was headed in the right direction, but… and it’s a big but – it all depends on what is entered and how far ArtFields reaches into the visual art communities of the 12 states from which artists can enter this competition.

Another point about The R.O.B. worth mentioning is that last year I said they needed to get rest rooms in that building. I may have overlooked it last year, but this year they had the fanciest outdoor rest rooms I’ve ever used. They were air-conditioned, had running water, flowers (although probably plastic ones) and artwork on the walls. And, no lines on the days I was there.

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This year I got the opportunity to see more of the works being presented in the shops throughout Lake City. Some were no bigger than my bedroom. I think I saw about 90% of all works displayed in my two visits. I might have seen more except for a few basic problems – I had a May issue of “Carolina Arts” to finish, I like to talk with people in the visual art community and I ran into a lot of folks at ArtFields, even on a Monday and Thursday, and I don’t like trying to see works of art over people trying to eat their food in restaurants. Stepping into hair salons which emitted a certain smell didn’t bother me one bit, this paper got it’s beginnings in a broom closet inside a Charleston, SC, hair salon, but bothering people during their lunch or dinner is not something I like doing. I think it bothered a lot of other people and artists too, so I would recommend ArtFields rethinking that one.

I think most of the merchants did a great job of accommodating the artworks they selected to be in their shops and many were ready to act as tour guides. A few gave up more space than I might have as a business person and a few placed works in places too hard to get a good look at – most notably some were too high up the walls to even read the ID cards. I heard this complaint from a few artists as well, who say they won’t be returning next year. They may not enter the competition, but they have no way of knowing if they could even make the cut next year, so that complaint could be moot.

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This work by Hirona Matsuda took up a lot of space at M & D Drug Company

Only a third of the folks who entered last year entered again this year, and ArtFields got about the same amount of entries (780), but I don’t think they can maintain that kind of turn over every year.

I know the idea behind ArtFields is to get people to come to Lake City and spend money, and to attract people to open new businesses there, but the organizers should never lose sight of the fact that it is a fine art event and they shouldn’t compromise the art in any situation over sales. An artist’s lounge with free snacks and drinks are not all it takes to keep artists happy. Believe me it takes much, much more. So keep that in mind.

I know this, I stepped into a lot of stores I wouldn’t even consider going into, even in downtown Charleston, to see what they had on display. So the overall concept works, but there has to be a happy medium between art and commerce.

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Lake City also looked a lot more green and flowery. So ArtFields has helped spruce up a town that probably looked pretty brown a few years ago. Of course I wouldn’t know as I had no reason to check it out before 2013, and I have driven through Lake City on Hwy 52 many a time headed to Florence, SC, and back again. I’m actually looking forward to staying there overnight sometime in the future. A new 57 room hotel will be open on Main Street before ArtFields 2015 opens.

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I had a great time riding the tour bus around Lake City and talking with the driver getting his impressions about this year compared to last year – sometimes riding when it was just me and the driver. Remember, I was there on a Monday and Thursday. Like they say – if you want to know what’s going on talk to a taxi driver, or in this case a bus driver. He was a great ambassador for Lake City. Shop owners, waitresses, and local reporters also gave me a better view of what was going on in many cases – much better than ArtFields’ staff members did. ArtFields runs a tight lipped ship in Lake City.

At some point while viewing art in the new shops on Main Street in Lake City I came up with what could be a subtitle to whatever I titled this blog. “Men of the Carolinas – Keep Your Women Away From Lake City, SC,” if you don’t, it’s going to cost you. Then I thought that would be a pretty chauvinistic thing to say, but it’s more a reflection of how this town has turned into a shopping haven – for mostly women and children. I just hope people come to Lake City throughout the rest of the year or some of these places might be closed by next year – unless their rent is being subsidized.

ArtFields hasn’t released any numbers yet on how many people they thought attended, how many registered to vote, how many people voted, and the number I’ve been waiting to hear since last year – how many votes the top winners received. So, I can’t say much about that. On a Monday and Thursday I couldn’t gage whether there were more people there than last year, but I did have several, of what I call Spoleto moments.

Sometimes in Charleston, SC, when the Spoleto Festival USA and the City’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival are going on it would take me 15 to 20 minutes to cross a street – the traffic was that bad. A few times on Main Street in Lake City, it took a good time to cross the street. Once I thought it would take forever, but a bus had to stop at the railroad tracks that cut Main Street in half, and it was just enough to cause a break in the traffic so I could cross. And that was on a Thursday.

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This image was part of The Inside Out Project – Local Matters, showing the faces of the people who are making this all happen in Lake City

Some Bullet Points

I received a number of calls and e-mails asking me how a  number of boxes making sounds was a visual artwork? This was referring to the top prize, “Sun Boxes Mach II,” by Craig Colorusso of Rogers, AR. This was one of my favorite pieces and I voted for it. I explained that as this competition goes on they will see even more borderline works that won’t look like a sculpture or painting in this competition and it won’t be long before an artist enters a performance piece where they stand somewhere and create their one work of art during the event where they are the artwork or something like that.

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“Sun Boxes Mach II,” by Craig Colorusso of Rogers, AR, not very visual

I also got asked how the jurors could select John Eric Riis’ work “Neoclassic Male and Female Tapestry” a diptych (meaning a two part work) and only buy have of it – the female part as the “second” juried “bonus” prize. I couldn’t answer that, but I think the fact that the work was priced at $50,000 and the award was for just $25,000 might tell you something about that.

In the case of Robert Snead, the artist who listed himself as from Charleston, SC, but now lives in New Orleans, LA, his work, “Family Dollar General Tree,” was listed as Not For Sale. I’m sure he didn’t turn his nose up to the “other” $25,000 Juror’s Choice award offered him. Or did he? Is listing a work NFS, ever really not for sale? Snead is from Charleston, but he doesn’t live their now, but I figure he did that to bank on attracting the local vote – for the People’s Choice award.

Which brings us to a trend which took place at ArtFields 2014, and that is “inflation”. A lot of artists heard that Darla Moore does some shopping during ArtFields, so many showed up with prices on works they only dream about at night. For a few, the big prices were their normal market price, but for many, they priced themselves out of making a sale or being selected (if that was a factor). What happens when a work is priced at $100,000 and the jurors want to make it the $50,000 prize? What does that say if the artist says I’ll take it and runs to the bank? What if the jurors pass it by and say too bad we can’t pick that one?

Let’s get real artists, ArtFields in not only an exhibition and a competition, but it is a sales opportunity. Darla Moore didn’t get rich overpaying for goods and services. Plus the odds are 22,000 to 1. There is only one Darla Moore and many more possible art buyers coming to see this exhibit. I didn’t know this and it wasn’t publicly promoted anywhere last year but apparently a lot of art was sold during the first ArtFields – something that should be promoted to the artists and the general public. I was told this year’s sales were down – I wonder why? While viewing this exhibit many others viewing the exhibit made funny remarks about the prices on the works. I hope artists get more realistic next year when it comes to pricing their works – for their own good.

The life-changing award of $50,000 is a lot for a top prize of a regular juried show. But for the type of artists ArtFields is hoping to attract to this event, it’s not that much money, especially when you have to give up your work if it is selected for one of the top awards. And, except for a few, it’s not going to be life-changing. If some of the artists had sold their works at the price they were asking – winning the top prize would have been a letdown. All works sold or that have a pending sale have to wait to see what the jurors pick first and it might not be too long before an artist turns down the top award to make a better sale.

Like I said last year – when dealing with artists you’ll find they are more complicated than the rest of us. They see things differently and it’s a good thing they do – most of the time.

Some artists told me they will keep trying to get into ArtFields – more for the exposure than the chance to win a top award. Some think the work they produce will never be selected by the jurors and they might be right, but they still want to be part of this event as they think one day it will be a major accomplishment to just get into the competition. There are other things to be gained by entering and getting it this exhibition. Our June 2014 issue of “Carolina Arts” will feature a work on the cover from ArtFields 2014. No big deal, but it’s something.

This year, there were 278 South Carolina artists accepted into ArtFields (64 from the Charleston area and 50 from the Columbia area) – 522 from SC sent in entries – that’s a 53% success ratio. Those numbers need to slow down in order for ArtFields to attract visitors from other states. I’m not saying the jurors have to limit how many works can be in the show from certain areas – the event needs to encourage more “excellent” works from the other 11 states. Eventually, down the road a ways, I think you could see that number shrink down to 50 – 100 from SC. And you’ll perhaps see 30 – 50 artists from each eligible state. That’s once the word gets out about the opportunities being offered artists by ArtFields. I was surprised how few were coming from North Carolina.

I heard that some locals were critical about the fact that only a few Lake City artists got in the event. I was surprised that a few I saw made the cut at all, and very soon the event might see fewer from the Pee Dee area of SC make the cut. Not that there isn’t talent in the Pee Dee, it’s just that the competition might get that rough. But, again it all depends on how well the event attracts top artists from other states. Maybe in the future there will be a side competition just open to local and regional artists – bigger than the Greater Lake City Artist Guild show presented at the ArtFields Gallery on Main Street. Remember the goal is to get outsiders – people who live far away from Lake City – to come to Lake City.

The new handout explaining ArtFields was an improvement, as was the 64 page competition catalog you only received once you registered to vote. That was a good idea, but I’m not sure it will help get people to register to vote and then actually vote. The numbers on that haven’t been released yet. The Artist’s Gallery on the ArtFields’ website is the most informative resource, offering larger images of artworks and artist’s bios.

A lot of education and promotion that ArtFields is a competition determined – mostly – by the public voting on their favorite works has to be done. I kept hearing the mantra from staff members that people keep telling them – they just want to look at the art – not vote on it. It’s tough turning some bystanders into participants.

The worst thing I heard at ArtFields was that folks from Hilton Head Island, SC, came this year to Lake City talking about the fact that they were thinking of launching their own Art??? – something. This would be a shame and dilute both events. This is what happened with the Art Walk craze – everyone has one now and nothing is special about them anymore.

What’s going to bring folks to Lake City in between ArtFields each year? Well, the Jones-Carter Gallery will help with that, offering excellent exhibits, and if someone could do a better job of publicity on what the ArtFields Gallery is offering – that would help too (and Saturday hours). A new commercial art learning center/gallery opened on Main Street six months ago, named Olio Studio – this will also help, but they’re going to need something more. Maybe an upscale concert series or music festival would help keep a spotlight on Lake City – bringing in upscale cultural visitors. But they’re going to need something to build tourism traffic in Lake City all year long.

Finally, I think ArtFields should consider pulling the event back into April and stay away from the month of May – too many other visual art events are taking place during the first part of May. I think it cost them in attendance and media coverage. I’d head more for the middle of April.

OK – that’s enough from me until the numbers come in, which I hope doesn’t take too long.

I posted a number of images of art on display at ArtFields on Facebook at Tom Starland.

If you want to learn more about ArtFields – as an artist or as a possible visitor – visit (www.artfieldssc.org) of keep up with “Carolina Arts” at (www.carolinaarts.com).

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A Visit to a Few Art Exhibits at the North Charleston Arts Festival Taking Place in North Charleston, SC

May 7th, 2014

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Every year I try and go see a couple of art exhibits presented during the annual North Charleston Arts Festival taking place throughout North Charleston, SC. This year was the 32nd version of the Festival. The shows I try to see are the annual “Judged Fine Art & Photography Exhibitions” and the “South Carolina Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Exhibit”, (the 13th) on view at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center and Charleston Area Convention Center in North Charleston. Both exhibits are on view through May 10, 2014. Hours of viewing are through May 9, from 9am-5pm and  May 10, from 9am-noon.

As of late, I go see these shows to see if any changes have taken place. In the case of the “South Carolina Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Exhibit” I’m looking to see if any new craft artists are in this exhibit. Many of the participants are the same each year – at least it seems that way. It’s hard to blame the North Charleston Arts Festival for this as they can’t make artists enter this exhibit. Why more craft artists don’t see this exhibit as a show to be in I’m not sure but we have many more excellent craft artists in SC then this show has attracted. The ArtFields competition in Lake City, SC, may have some impact since it has created a People’s Choice award of $12,500 for 3-D works, but “Palmetto Hands” has had this problem of “sameness” long before ArtFields came along.

One problem is that the City of North Charleston doesn’t get a lot of respect when it comes to the arts. A lot of that attitude is unfair, but some of it is earned. First, the city doesn’t have a decent space dedicated to showing art and second, is how they present it at this festival. Until these two factors change, I expect the exhibits will stay pretty much the same. I guess they would say they are doing the best they can with the resources they have and it’s hard to find fault with that. After all, they are offering artists opportunities that are hard to come by in SC.

Looking at the “Palmetto Hands” show, Matt Wilson, of Charleston, SC, a recent regular in this show presented four outstanding works and received the Best in Show award for one of his works titled “SC State Bird” – a mosquito. Most all involved recycled pieces of metal. These are all small sized works, a few years ago Wilson entered a full-size metal eagle. I agree his works were the highlight of this show.

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All four works by Matt Wilson

Speaking of metal works we have “Ascension,” by Bob Doster of Lancaster, SC – he’s Mr. metal in this state. And we have “Low on the Hog: Chitlin Cleaning Funnel,” made of silver and brass, by Michael Woodle of Conway, SC. I found the front end of this pig at the ArtFields 2014 exhibit in Lake City, SC. And, finishing the metal category we have “Rusted Rodent,” by Patz and Mike Fowle of Hartsville, SC. I think I have seen this guy’s cousin before – he looks familiar, but I’m sure all rodents in SC are inbred so that was no surprise.

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Work by Bob Doster

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Work by Michael Woodle

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Work by Patz and Mike Fowle

Other works that caught my eye:

“Birds of a Feather,” by Keller Lee of North Charleston, SC, with his fused glass work. This work was selected to be part of the Traveling Exhibit which will tour SC throughout the next year. I liked “Spring Returns,” by Deborah Appleby, with this clay plate.

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Work by Keller Lee

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Work by Deborah Appleby

“Open Segment Bowl,” by Kenny Teague is an amazing wooden bowl. I also offer an up close detail image of this work to show what it took to create this piece. Then we have “Volume Nine: Hobbies to Irrigation,” by Susan Lenz, of Columbia, SC. Lenz is also a regular fixture of “Palmetto Hands”, but you never know what she will enter. This is a mixed-media: altered book. I offer two views here as it is hard to see in one image. This work is also included in the Traveling Exhibit.

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Work by Kenny Teague

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Work by Susan Lenz

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There were a lot more interesting entries, but if I showed them all, you would have no reason to go see this exhibit, which I hope you will. If it seems I forgot to let you know where some of these artists are from in SC, it’s because that info wasn’t offered on the tags or in the exhibit handout.

Here’s my one image of the annual “Judged Fine Art & Photography Exhibitions” – mostly the fine art show. It is “Give and Take,” by Latasha R. Hollins.

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Work by Latasha R. Hollins

This exhibit is very hard to photograph, due to many reason, but my biggest problem is that I have gotten to an age where bending down below my waist or keeling on the floor to see the ID tag has come to the point where I might not be able to get back up and the point is I shouldn’t have to. Nor should anyone else, but it’s something viewers of this exhibit have had to deal with for years.

Sameness is also a problem here too. The greater Charleston, SC, area has a wealth of fine artists, but few choose to enter this show. Why is that? It’s the North Charleston factors I mentioned above and mostly the presentation of the work.

Finally, we have the work, “Happy,” by Amiri Geuka Farris of Bluffton, SC, winner of the 2014 North Charleston Arts Festival Design Competition, on view at the North Charleston City Gallery, located at the Charleston Area Convention Center, from May 2 – 31, 2014. This is an excellent exhibit to go see.

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Work by Amiri Geuka Farris

For further information contact the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department office by calling 843/740-5854 or visit (www.NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com) where you’ll find a complete schedule of events.

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The Results of the ArtFields 2014 Competition in Lake City, SC, Are In

May 4th, 2014

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The judges have spoken, after the people registered their votes and the winners have been announced. I voted for 26 works and 4 out of the 5 winners were on my list.

Top Prize of $50,000 goes to Craig Colorusso of Rogers, AR, for “Sun Boxes”. These wooden boxes are not much to look at, but what they do is amazing yet simple. My little video is not much but gives you a taste of what they do.

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Still image of “Sun Boxes” by Craig Colorusso of Rogers, AR

To hear the sound of the “Sun Boxes” visit this link if you have Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=633147016755717).

There was a surprise in the naming of the Juried Prize winner in that the judges picked two and ArtFields came up with the extra money to award two prizes – $25k each to Robert Snead of New Orleans, LA, for “Family Dollar General Tree,” and John Eric Riis of Atlanta, GA, for “Neoclassic Female Tapestry” (which was only half of the work displayed). Riis was featured last year in a major show at the Franklin G. Burroughs • Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, SC. Snead is a Charleston native, and one of the organizers of Redux Contemporary Art Center. I’ve included a few more detail shots of Snead’s piece. You can see more of Riis’ works in a blog I did at this link (http://carolinaarts.com/wordpress/2013/12/19/hurry-to-the-franklin-g-burroughs-simeon-b-chapin-art-museum-in-myrtle-beach-sc-to-see-the-exhibit-the-opulent-object-on-view-through-jan-5-2014/).

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“Family Dollar General Tree,” by Robert Snead of New Orleans, LA

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“Neoclassic Female Tapestry” by John Eric Riis of Atlanta, GA (which was only half of the work displayed – the female image)

The People’s Choice winners were, “Think” by Joshua Redfearn of Cheraw, SC, for 3-d and “Out of Bondage,” by Colin Quashie of Charleston, SC, for 2-d. You can check out a blog I did about Quashie’s exhibit at Redux back in 2012 at this link (http://carolinaarts.com/wordpress/2012/05/10/a-trip-to-charleston-sc-to-see-colin-quashies-exhibit-at-redux-and-the-french-quarter-art-walk/).

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“Think” by Joshua Redfearn of Cheraw, SC, for 3-d

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“Out of Bondage,” by Colin Quashie of Charleston, SC

There you have it – read em’ and weap or celebrate.

For further info visit (www.artfieldssc.org). The event is still taking place today, Sunday, May 4, 2014, from 1-6pm.

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The May 2014 Issue of “Carolina Arts” is Now Ready to Download

May 1st, 2014

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The May 2014 issue of Carolina Arts is up on our website at (www.carolinaarts.com) – all 80 pages of it.

Linda has done something different this month. She has put the paper in spreads so you will see two pages next to each other and will be able to turn pages two at a time. Let us know what you think of this new format.

Summer is not far off – we can feel the heat already, but it’s not too hot to have some ice tea, lemonade, or even some beer or wine, while enjoying this May issue.

The link is: (http://www.carolinaarts.com/514/514carolinaarts.pdf).

So download that PDF and dig in – it makes for good reading and shows that you have lots of opportunities to enjoy the visual arts in the Carolinas this month. And, don’t forget to find a way to thank our advertisers – they make the paper possible.

And help us spread the paper around by sending these links to your friends.

If you want to get something in the June issue – send it now or as soon as you can. Don’t wait till the May 24 deadline – or you could be left out. It happens.

Thanks – Tom and Linda Starland
Carolina Arts
843/825-3408
info@carolinaarts.com

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