Archive for the ‘Florence SC Visual Arts’ Category

Once More I Ventured Into the Pee Dee Area of South Carolina to Get My Fine Art Fix

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

For at least five years, the Pee Dee area of South Carolina has been a source of frustration and hope in looking at the future of SC’s overall visual art community. Mostly concentrating on Florence and Lake City, SC, Florence represents the frustration and Lake City the hope. I’ve given both cities an unusual amount of my time and exposure in Carolina Arts and our social media network. And I feel at times that I’m holding the short end of the stick. And, besides all that exposure I find that I’m still having to fight to get info from this area about exhibitions being offered there. If this was school I’d have to give them an “F” in communications and promotions – with few exceptions.

In wondering why this is the situation, I bounce back and forth from my theory that they just don’t care, due to decades of a lack of respect for the area by the rest of South Carolina, or that they just don’t get it due to a lack of knowledge about promotion.

So, when I came across a notice that Jennifer Appleton Ervin or Jen Ervin was going to have an exhibit at the Waters Gallery of the Florence County Museum in April I knew we had our cover for our April issue. Since first seeing her work I’ve loved her imagery. And being an old black & white film processor I love black & white photography and I love the images Ervin makes of her daughters who take their images very seriously. Some might call them “posers”. Most people are afraid of having a camera pointed in their direction, I think they have learned to enjoy it or at least make the best of it. And one day they might even be famous due to one of these images.

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The exhibit is Along the River: The Polaroid Work of Jen Ervin, which will be on view through June 10, 2016, at the Waters Gallery which is located at 135 South Dargan Street, a separate building from the main facility of the Florence County Museum. This exhibition is presented by the Florence Regional Arts Alliance in conjunction with the Museum. A reception will be held on May 10, 2016, beginning at 6pm, during the Florence Regional Arts Alliance’s Arts Awards Presentations. On May 11, Ervin will give a gallery talk at 11am.

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Some examples of items found inside Ark Lodge.

The exhibit traces the stories, heritage and landscape of a southern family’s experiences within the Pee Dee, but I think the girls steal the show. The location where the images were made is called Ark Lodge, a cabin built in the 1940s by Ervin’s husband’s grandparents along the Little Pee Dee River.

Ervin states, “I was led to use Polaroid as medium because each image immediately becomes an object of experience that lends well to intimacy and family history.”

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One group of images in the exhibit.

Polaroid images in their original form have limitations, one is size and two a limited tonal range, but for a camera that was designed to take family images that you could see – almost instantly, the detail is very good. But like in all things, talented photographers can make exceptional images with the simplest of cameras. But, the good thing is small images make the viewer focus intensely.

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The three daughters together. Excuse the glare and reflections – this work was under glass.

Although the environment is a family cabin and people’s reactions to nature, the images presented are not family snapshots. I’m not saying the images were staged, the situations may have been planned and then the natural flow of things took place, but it would have been nice to see these young girls giggling in at least one image. At least I hope their days spent at the cabin are not that stoic. I’m sure they are not – girls will be girls.

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The camera and film used.

A short black & white film is offered in the gallery space on an Apple computer. The short film fills in the feel of the environment that still images just can’t capture. It was just enough to complete a picture of this remote area of South Carolina and how Ervin’s daughters enjoy and explore it.

Go see this exhibit and enjoy the richness of black & white photography, feel the flow of the river, and step back into a slower time.

If you go, you might also want to check out the exhibit, Arriving South, at the main Museum. It features a selection of paintings, prints, and drawings from the Florence County Museum’s existing permanent collection and the museum’s Wright Collection of Southern Art, on view through Feb. 26, 2017. The exhibition features the work of Thomas Hart Benton, William H. Johnson, Gilbert Gaul, Anna Heyward Taylor and Alfred Hutty.

The folks at the Museum haven’t sent us a press release about this exhibit yet, but I’m hoping this mention will have one coming soon or not. I’ve never been able to figure out how they expect to get people to come see their exhibits when they don’t promote them.

Admission to the Florence County Museum is free. Hours are: Tue.-Sat., 10am-5pm & Sun. 2-5pm, but only Tue.-Sat. at the Waters Gallery. For further information call the Museum at 843/676-1200 or visit (www.flocomuseum.org). Of course you might get more info by contacting the Florence Regional Arts Alliance by calling 843/407-3062 or by visiting (www.florenceartsalliance.org).

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The second half of my trip on this day was to get a sneak peak at the upcoming ArtFields© 2016 exhibit taking place in Lake City, SC, from Apr. 22 – 30, 2016 – so I could share that peek with you.

As I said in the past, I usually take two days to see ArtFields© and it doesn’t seem to be enough, but because of the dates of the event I can’t give it much more as we have a publication to turn out and our May issue is always a big one. So why not get an early look? I e-mailed Hannah Davis, the new director of ArtFields© but someone who has been there from the start, to see if this would be possible and she told me yes and that Friday and Saturday artists would be delivering work, but a lot of it was in place already. Friday would be the best day for me.

I went through Lake City in the morning on my way to Florence on that familiar path of Hwy. 52 north that I had taken many times before, but never stopping to see what was in Lake City beyond what I saw on Hwy. 52 until four years ago when they wanted me to come check out this new event called ArtFields©. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for ArtFields© I would have never traveled down Main Street, a place I now know quite well.

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“Summer Wind 2″ by Bob Doster of Lancaster, SC.

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“Caryatid” by Gregory Johnson of Cummins, GA.

My first look at ArtFields© 2016 confirmed my prediction that this year’s jurors would fill the ranks with a lot of university and college professors. If you put them on the jury panels don’t be surprised when they select a lot of their friends, contacts and works that looks like the kind of work they make. This is not so bad as it does guarantee a lot of interesting work, but these jury panels need to be more diverse, including commercial gallery owners who might select more work that the public is not only used to seeing in galleries but might actually purchase to show in their homes. After all, the visual art community is very diverse and it would be nice to see more fine art crafts at ArtFields©. Also, at least nine out of ten artists I have talked to at ArtFields© would like to see these jurors come from outside the 12 states included in the competition. They don’t like the thought of artists picking their friends for this competition.

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“Woman With Cuts” by Jim Boden of Hartsville, SC.

The other impression I’ve gotten is that artists entering this competition are falling into what I call the “Juried Show Syndrome” where they enter works they think the jurors will like. A lot of past winners at ArtFields© have been portraits or images of people, so this year we have a lot of entries by artists who may be known for doing other types of work but have entered works featuring people. I might be off base on this and I prefer to think that artists are using ArtFields© to present new works, but I’m seeing a lot of entries with names on them that I would have never expected to have produced them. We’ll see if others pick up on this pattern.

Over the years I’ve also been surprised at the work some artists enter – what I would call – not their best work. I would hope that artists will start to think of ArtFields© as an opportunity to put their best foot forward. It’s clear that some artists are already in the mode of planning their entries for the next ArtFields© the minute one ends. And those seem to be the most interesting entries.

Well, as things go with my visits to ArtFields©, I had a few great conversations with Hannah Davis about what it’s like to be in charge, with Patrick Parise a Columbia, SC, artist delivering his entry, and a few merchants on Main Street. People are excited to have ArtFields© start.

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An interesting image by itself, but only a detail of a larger work.

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‘Rising in Falling” by Kara Gunter of Lexington, SC.

I took a few photos of things that caught my eye, but since everything is not installed or even delivered yet I wouldn’t make any judgements on what I’m offering as being my favorites yet. Some I took because I knew who created them. Others I took because I didn’t have time to walk too far around town.

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Just part of an outdoor installation entitled “Sculpture Cakes” by Mark Grote of Covington, LA, on the grounds of the Lake City Public Library.

There were a couple of installations that were in the process of being created which I would return to ArtFields© alone just to see how they turned out. Some artists are going all out.

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Jocelyn Chateauvert of Charleston, SC, works on her installation, “Invasive Species” at the Jones-Carter Gallery.

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This image shows that Chateauvert has a long way to go before she is finished.

Under the category of new things learned, exhibition catalogs will now be available for the public to purchase. This is the second year ArtFields© has produced an exhibition catalog which was previously only available to artists who visited Lake City. Did you know that? If you’re an artist competing in ArtFields© but don’t come to Lake City by mailing your entry there and having in mailed back, you are missing out on a packet of goodies given to the artists who check in. This year they are printing enough to be able to sell them to the public along with other merchandise like T-Shirts and hats.

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“Perfect Afternoon” by Murray Sease of Bluffton, SC.

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Sease’s work is on display at one of the locations on Main Street in Lake City.

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This is what it’s all about – getting people in the businesses of Lake City.

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“Wisp” by Loren Schwerd of New Oreleans, LA.

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The same work in its merchant setting.

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I’m always surprised by the personal tours you are given inside some stores of their ArtFields© entries.

Food Trucks! There will be food trucks at ArtFields© this year. I think that is new. Thar creates more choices for folks who want to keep going on their quest to see all the art being offered.

Finally – go to Lake City, SC, between Apr. 22 – 30, 2016, register to vote, go look at art, eat something while you are there, do some shopping while looking at art in these downtown shops and stores, see more art and then vote – either while looking at art, after you’re finished looking at art, or at least when you get home before the deadline.

See you there.

For more information about ArtFields© 2016 visit (www.artfieldssc.org).

A Disappointing Trip to the Pee Dee Area of SC Turns Out OK with a Backup Plan

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Editor’s Note: I meant to finish this post and post it a few days after June 19, 2015, but I was angry and it’s not good to sit down and write something when you’re angry. So, I put it off and as usual things got in the way.

This trip started with a desire to go to the opening reception of the exhibit, Contemporary Canines: The Dog in Southern Art, on view through Aug. 15, 2015, at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC, home to the ArtFields© art competition. I don’t get to break away from the production of Carolina Arts that much, so when I go I try to make it a productive trip and see as much as I can. So, the plan was to go see the exhibit, Paintings by Mary Bentz Gilkerson, on view through Aug. 12, at the Hyman Fine Arts Gallery at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC, the exhibit, Legacy: The Ansel Adams Experience, featuring works by Tari Federer, Kathleen Kennebeck, Elizabeth Kinser, Julie Mixon and Allison Triplett, on view through June 28, in the Waters Gallery of the Florence County Museum, and the exhibit, Fantasy vs. Reality, featuring works by Jim Gleason and Lee Benoy, with works by Florence County art students, on view through June 25, at the Art Trail Gallery.

The plan was to go to Florence first, visit the three exhibits starting with Francis Marion University first (the farthest away) and then get back to Lake City in time for the reception. Keep in mind this was Friday, June 19, 2015.

I arrived at Francis Marion University about 2:30pm on a day when the heat index was well over 100 degrees. I’ve learned over the years that you can’t always pick your days to go see art when the weather is ideal. Besides, most of the time I’d be spending in nice cool exhibit spaces.

I knew something was wrong when my first view of the gallery space showed me a dark space and when I reached the door and it was locked, my first response was – #$@&. There was no note on the door as to why the space was closed. I went next door where I knew the administration office was for the art department at FMU but found no one around. I picked up a copy of “Artastic” a publication covering the art events of the Pee Dee from April – August, 2015. I looked up the exhibit hours for this space which stated the space would be open Mon.-Fri., from 8:30am-5pm. I was there at 2:30pm – well after someone would be closed for lunch. This was super frustrating.

I had hoped to give some exposure to Mary Gilkerson’s show as she is a reviewer of exhibits in SC and there isn’t anyone else to give her shows a review. A review by me wouldn’t be the same as getting one by someone qualified as she is to speak about art, but it would be something. I’m not sure I’ll get back to FMU before her show comes down. I’m not sure I’ll risk going back again, but if you’re in the area I highly suggest you go see this exhibit. Gilkerson is a skilled painter and I love her style of loose realism – meaning in my words – her works are kind of abstract but you can still recognize what she is depicting in her works. She’s a great colorist too. I strongly suggest you call FMU first to make sure they will be open this Summer at 843/661-1385. I hope someone answers your call.

So, I headed back to downtown Florence to the Waters Gallery which is in the old space the Art Trail Gallery used to be in on South Dargan Street. I got there about 3:30pm and to my dismay it was also closed. At this point I was ready to walk around the corner to where the Art Trail Gallery was now located and if it wasn’t open I was going to leave Florence and I didn’t know when I would be coming back. Hot weather is not pleasant to be out in but when it comes to gallery spaces hot weather is a good reason for people to visit them. When two institutions like Francis Marion University and the Florence County Museum don’t keep their posted hours – that’s bad, very bad. There is nothing that turns off gallery visitors more than walking up to a door that should be open and finding it closed – especially with no reason for that closure posted.

I later learned that it’s not clear who is responsible for the Waters Gallery these days, but things are very fluid in the Pee Dee when it comes to its growing art community. Things seem to change from visit to visit. I can understand growing pains, but I’m also not sure its not a problem of leadership and power struggles. I’ve been given the impression that there are too many people stirring the art pot in the Pee Dee. But, I’m not going to waste a lot of time here going into that.

Luckily when I walked over to the Art Trail Gallery and pushed on the door it opened.

The Fantasy vs. Reality, exhibit offered the most works by Jim Gleason that I’ve seen in one location. His creatures made of parts of musical instruments that have seen their better days as instruments are now living again as Gleason’s fantasy animals from his mind. And, his mind sees a lot more than most people would. I took a few images, but its really hard to capture these creatures in still photos. They are truly 3D and need to be seen that way.

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“I Am Your Future, Be Afraid” by Jim Gleason.

Lee Benoy offered the reality part of this exhibition with his black and white photographs of the Pee Dee’s rural areas. It’s hard to photograph images under glass so I just took a view from the side.

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Side shot of photographs.

Unfortunately this exhibit is no longer on view at the Art Trail Gallery, but I wasn’t in the best of moods while viewing this exhibit so I didn’t do it real justice in looking that closely and taking photos, in fact my attention drifted to works I usually don’t pay much attention to – student artworks that were also on display. In fact the handout about this exhibit at the Art Trail Gallery featured these works more than they did what I considered to be the main attraction – the works of Gleason and Benoy.

I had hoped to do this blog post much earlier than I have, but events in Charleston, SC, took my attention away and then it was time to produce the July 2015 issue of Carolina Arts.

The closure of the exhibits at FMU and the Waters Gallery left me with more time to view this student art and during that time the student’s work sort of captured the spotlight of the day. Of course there were many excellent works to come in the exhibit in Lake City, as you’ll see, but I found a few gems among the student works, beginning with a portrait by Ayle White, an 11th grader at West Florence High School. This young girl could be a working artist today, but I hope – if she wants – that she will continue with her art studies to enhance her skills. She’s already better than many adult artists I know who are doing portraits.

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Portriat by Ayle White.

Also, cudos go out to art teacher Mrs. Swinney-Carter at Williams Middle School for three prints by students Brittany Sehnke, Abigail Sansbury, and Kushbu Jivan that didn’t look like they were done by 7-8th graders.

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Print by Brittany Sehnke.

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Print by Abigail Sansbury.

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Print by Kushbu Jivan.

Anytime I do view an exhibit of student art I always find one or two works that stand out above all the others, but this exhibit had a number of works which could stand with an exhibit of works by adult artists – especially with professional help on presentation.

While standing at the front of the Art Trail Gallery looking out at the 100 + degrees waiting for me I noticed that there seemed to be works up over at Smart Phone Repair across the street, on the corner of West Evans and Irby. Smart Phone Repair had an art competition using old phone parts called Once A Part, Now Art. I guess the exhibit was still up – so they also got an unexpected viewing.

The deal with this competition was that artists who wanted to participate would pick up a similar bundle of old phone parts, left over from phone repairs and probably phones that couldn’t be repaired. Their challenge was to make those phone parts into art. Recycled art – art made from recovered materials that otherwise would be thrown away is a big thing these days.

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View of the whole exhibit.

This exhibit was supposed to come down in May, but the owners liked the reaction they were getting from the exhibit so it was still up. They were not sure how long it would still be up but it seems they’d like to keep some of the works on display and are also thinking of doing the competition again. So if you find yourself at the Art Trail Gallery, you might want to check out Smart Phone Repair to see if the works are still on display.

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“Discarded Image” by Minnemie Murphy was the First Place winner.

That’s the kind of thing that’s been happening in Florence’s developing arts district. Everyone wants to get in on the action being created by the arts. A lot of changes are taking place in the area. A Jazz Club has opened on West Evans and a new shop called E Interiors was about to open. I was hoping to have lunch at Box Car 9 Pizzeria, but it wasn’t open yet. They seem to be taking a long time to get open.

I also learned that the Art Trail Gallery will be on the move (again) back to Dargan Street in what everyone hopes will be its final resting place. More about that at a later time.

OK, it was time to head back to Lake City, to the Jones-Carter Gallery for the opening of Contemporary Canines: The Dog In Southern Art, featuring works by Diane Kilgore Condon, Craig Crawford, Mike Fowle, Patz Fowle, Elizabeth Graham, Janis Hibbs, and Alex Palkovich.

By 6pm in Lake City it was hotter than two rabbits screwin’ in a wool sock! My grand-pappy never said that – he was a dairy farmer from Michigan, it never got that hot there. I looked that Southern gem up on Google.

There was not a big crowd at the opening, which wasn’t a surprise considering the heat and the fact that the opening didn’t get a lot of promotion on social media – at least not on any I saw. I don’t know if they send out invitations or just hope people will show up. I was there right after 6 and I did see the Mayors of Lake City and Johnsonville there, but they left not to long after they arrived. They might of had other engagements to attend. I don’t think Mayor Riley in Charleston, SC, shows up at many exhibit opening. So they were more supportive than he is to the visual arts. But I doubt he misses many performances of the Symphony. I don’t blame him – he pays a lot for every performance, or at least the City of Charleston does. Well, correction – the taxpayers of Charleston do.

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View from the door looking into the crowd.

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View of Alex Palkovich with one of his sculptures.

The crowd was small, but it seemed to be made up of a lot of folks I wanted to talk with. I finally met Jane Madden’s (the original force behind the Art Trail Gallery) husband Michael for the first time in all these years.

I got to talk with a few of the artists, Patz & Mike Fowle and Janis Hobbs. And Janis Hobbs’ husband, David Hobbs, who is Chairman of the Board of the Art Trail Gallery in Florence. And, as is the case with most visits to the Pee Dee to view art – Alex Palkovich was there, who also has works on permanent display at the Art Trail Gallery. It was kind of an Art Trail Gallery day.

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View of Patz Fowle (l) with her creation for the exhibit and Hanna Davis (r) the Jones-Carter Gallery Director.

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Close up of “Squattin’ in High Cotton,” mixed media by Patz Fowle.

Anyone who follows my post on a regular basis knows that I like talking about art almost as much as looking at art – maybe more at times to the point of distraction. But finding out what is going on behind the scenes in the art community is as important as art itself when you’re the editor and publisher of an arts publication.

This exhibit wasn’t the most interesting (to me) I’ve attended at the Jones-Carter Gallery, but it wasn’t due to the lack of quality of art presented, it was probably more to due with the fact that not too long ago Lake City was filled with one of the best art exhibitions that I’ve seen in a long time – ArtFields@ 2015.

I’ll fully admit that I might have also been tainted by the fact that the day had turned sour, it was extremely hot, and I was frustrated on how ArtFields© has once again gone dark after one of its events. Going to an art exhibit when you’re in a bad mood probably isn’t a good idea if you want to be inspired. But, in my defense – it wasn’t my plan.

That’s what happened to me on one day, yet I’m still recommending anyone interested in what they see from photos I took or the gallery supplied – to go see this exhibit.

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“Clutch,” by Janis Hobbs.

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“Strays in the Field,” oil by Craig Crawford.

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“The Menace,” oil on panel by Diane Kilgore Condon, courtesy if ART Gallery, Columbia, SC

On July 25, from noon-4pm, you can bring your dog into the gallery to see the exhibit. All dogs must be vaccinated and leashed. And owners are responsible for pet clean-up. The Jones-Carter Gallery is also offering Yoga in the Gallery on July 30 and Aug. 16, 2015. Join them on those Thursdays at 6:30pm for a one-hour, beginner friendly class inside the Jones-Carter Gallery! Bring your mat, a towel, and a $5 donation. Walk-ins will be welcome, but space is limited. Call the gallery at 843/374-1505 to sign up today!

Well, that’s it on this trip. Let’s hope the next one is better – well seen under better conditions.

Traveling in the Pathways of Francis Marion Checking Out the Visual Arts in the Pee Dee Region of SC – Part II

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

I left off in Part I talking about the Hotel Florence on West Evans Street in Florence, SC. If you want to read what I wrote in Part I visit this link.

On the other side of the street across from the Hotel Florence, a half a block toward Irby Street, you’ll find the Art Trail Gallery, at 185 West Evans Street. This is the gallery’s second location and I understand that they will soon be on the move to a third location. You can’t say the arts in Florence are not doing its part for urban renewal – especially when it comes to the Art Trail Gallery. Where the Art Trail Gallery goes – so go folks looking for the arts in Florence.

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On this day they were showing Photofabulous 2015, a show that is an annual display of photography from the region. This year’s offering was a juried show, selected by Julie Mixon, an Assistant Professor of Photography at Francis Marion University. At the old gallery’s location on South Dargan Street I’ve see a few Photofabulous shows that were “you bring it and hang it kind of shows” and the type and quality of photography on view ranged from children and adults taking snapshots, some really funky images using some form of photography, and very good traditional photography. These shows were all over the place. I’ve been an advocate for more focused or themed shows to be shown at the Art Trail Gallery and last year the Florence Regional Arts Alliance presented one that focused on works produced by teachers and students associated with Francis Marion University. But, after viewing this juried photography exhibit I kind of wished a return to the wild and woolly photography shows.

Now, some of my opinion could have been determined by the fact that the gallery was transformed into a banquet hall, with tables and chairs filling the space making it a real challenge to see the works hanging on the wall. The Art Trail Gallery is a multi-use space after all, and it was just unfortunate to catch it at this time in this form, but there was something else about the exhibit. All the works were well done and presented very professionally, but there was no pop – no – what is that? or how did they do that? I’ve seen a lot of photography in my life, after all my background in the arts was in photography before I became a pimp for the visual arts, so I like to see things that I haven’t seen a million times before. I’ll admit that it is a very high bar to get over and maybe a little unfair to expect.

I don’t know if some of those funky photographers from older open shows didn’t enter or didn’t make the cut of this juror or what. I know there is less space in this version of the Art Trail Gallery. On South Dargan Street they used to hang hundreds and hundreds of photographs. Maybe some photographers don’t like taking the risk of getting in a juried show – a lot of artists are like that at some point in their careers. The general worry by these folks is that they might not win or won’t even get an award.

I didn’t take any photos at this gallery as it would have been impossible and most works were behind glass, so I can’t show you any examples of work on view. I also didn’t bother taking any general view shots as it would just look like a big room full of tables and chairs – and by the next day all that stuff might be gone. So when you go see it you will see a show totally different than the one I viewed. Well, it’s the same show but different circumstances.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t like anything I saw – I did. Here’s a list of a few images that stood out to me: Anne Baldwin’s “Keys to the Past”, Janet Leonard’s “First Bloom”, Suzanne Muldrow’s “Remnants of Spring”, Patricia Burkett’s “Stolen Moments” (who one first place at the exhibit with this work), and my personal favorite of the show, Susan Griggs’ “Maine Tidals” which showed a few totems of river stones against the backdrop of a rushing river.

I guess what I’m saying is that I found this show to be a little too tame after viewing The Pee Dee Regional Art Competition at the Waters Gallery of the Florence County Museum. If this was the only exhibit I viewed that day, I might have come away with a whole different feeling about it. But then again, none of us lives in a vacuum – we’re affected by what we ate for breakfast, the drive to where we were going, everything we saw along the way, not to mention the environment we grew up in. You’ll see a totally different show and that’s what this is all about – you going and seeing these exhibits yourself and making up your mind about what you saw. I’m just one person who goes and sees shows and gives his opinion.

While I was there, Uschi Jeffcoat, Director of the Florence Regional Arts Alliance, that now shares space with the Art Trail Gallery, introduced me to a couple of interns from Francis Marion University, who will be helping to expand the reach of the Alliance throughout the community. I know I said something to these two young men, but for the life of me all I can remember is “Yada, Yada, Yada” on my part. Jeffcoat has an exhibit of watercolors over at the The Clay Pot Coffee Shop, at 166 South Dargan Street, across from the Florence County Museum. Adolescence in Flight: Reflections Seen and Observed, which will be on view through Feb. 28, 2015.

While I was at the Art Trail Gallery I also ran into, or was spotted by Alex Palkovich, who seems to show up everywhere I go in the Pee Dee and he invited me over to his studio, just behind the Art Trail Gallery on Irby Street. His works also share the space at the Art Trail Gallery. It’s a major component of the gallery – worth the trip alone.

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Here’s an image of a small version of the statue by Palkovich which was on view at the first ArtFields© in Lake City, SC

Palkovich has a new project in mind for Charleston, SC’s Market area – a nine foot tall sculpture of a mid-century black woman with a basket of goods on her head – walking to the market. He’s been pretty successful getting his sculptures placed around the Pee Dee area, but Charleston is another world and one thing it is not known for is public sculptures.  But I’m not betting against Palkovich – he’s a real persuasive man.

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My next stop was the Doctors Bruce and Lee Foundation Library, located at 506 South Dargan Street. It’s a little further away from where the art district is but still very close. That’s where the FMU Artists Exhibit, is on view through Mar. 30, 2015. The exhibition features works from nine faculty and staff members from Francis Marion University’s Department of Fine Arts in the Dr. N. Lee Morris Gallery, located on the 2nd floor of the library. Mediums range from 3D art, ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, and mixed media.

Featured in this exhibition are works by Colleen A Critcher (1st place winner of The Pee Dee Regional Art Competition), Dr. Eaujung Chang, Julie S. Mixon (juror of the Photofabulous 2015 show and in the Pee Dee show), Douglas E. Gray (who has his ceramic works on display in three of the spaces I visited this trip and in the Pee Dee show), Gregory G. Fry (in the Pee Dee show), Dr. Howard J. Frye (in the Pee Dee show), Steven F. Gately, Walter W. Sallenger (in the Pee Dee show), and Lawrence P. Anderson (in the Pee Dee show).

The Dr. N. Lee Morris Gallery is a challenge to take photos in but I took a few anyway. But the work here is like an extension of The Pee Dee Regional Art Competition. My favorite work here was “Anticipation” by Dr. Howard J. Frye, a pen and ink work made in 2010. I always like everything I’ve seen by Douglas E. Gray, but there is a lot of good work here. So I would say that if you go see The Pee Dee Regional Art Competition you should follow it up by visiting this library exhibit.

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“What If… by Julie Mixon, 2013, white marble fresco image transfer

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“Anticipation” by Dr. Howard J. Frye at far left and photos by Walter W. Sallenger

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View of works by Gregory G. Fry on left wall, works by Julie Mixon on the other wall, and glass case with works by Douglas E. Gray

I think it is great that at least four major branch libraries, that I know of in SC, have art galleries in them – that’s Charleston, Columbia, Spartanburg and Florence. These warehouses of knowledge also think it is important to offer their visitors art on a regular basis. I love libraries and hope the public always supports them as one of the most important parts of our communities.

At this point we move on to Lake City, SC, to the Jones-Carter Gallery of the Community Museum Society Inc, at 105 Henry Street, next to The Bean Market. They are presenting The Sum of Many Parts: Quiltmakers in Contemporary America, featuring selections from a larger exhibit curated by Teresa Hollingsworth and Katy Malone of South Arts, Atlanta, GA. The exhibit will be on view through Mar. 7, 2015.

A larger, original version of this exhibit was conceived and sponsored by the United States Embassy, Beijing, and developed and managed by Arts Midwest and South Arts with additional assistance from the Great Lakes Quilt Center at Michigan State University. Titled The Sum of Many Parts: 25 Quiltmakers in 21st-Century America, the exhibit toured throughout China in 2012 and 2013.

This is just another example of the quality of exhibits the Jones-Carter Gallery is bringing to South Carolina. Here we have a display of contemporary quilts from the best fiber artists from throughout the US. They are acting like a big city art museum, but the admission is free – lucky us.

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I took one photo of an interactive quilt board where people can make their own quilt by using patches of fabric and attaching then in any pattern they like to a background. It’s fun to spend a few minutes putting something together and then you look a one of the quilts on display and wonder how many days or months did it take for the artists to put them together. It’s mind blowing when you look at the details of some of these works. The other photos presented were provided by Hannah L. Davis, the Gallery Manager.

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Caryl Bryer Fallert, “Fibonacci Series #8″, 2012, cotton, polyester, and bamboo batting, 30 x 30 inches, courtesy the artist.

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Linda M. Roy, “Subtle Sixties”, 2004, cotton, 81 x 81 inches, courtesy the artist.

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Alicia Avila, “Chicken Quilt”, 2013, cotton, 51 x 53 inches, front view, courtesy the artist.

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Alicia Avila, “Chicken Quilt”, 2013, cotton, 51 x 53 inches, back view, courtesy the artist.

It should also be noted that the exhibit includes a work by artists representing both the Carolinas. Not too shabby since the original exhibit featured quilts by only 25 artists.

The next show up at the Jones-Carter Gallery will be ArtFields© 2015, on view from Apr. 24 – May 2, 2015. So make your plans now for a big art visit to the Pee Dee, but don’t wait that long – you should go see the exhibits that are on view now.

While were talking about ArtFields©, I received a copy of the Annual Report from the Community Museum Society who now manages ArtFields© and here are some interesting numbers offered in the report. Here’s a breakdown of submissions state by state for 2014 in order from most to least: SC – 674, NC – 138, GA – 76, TN – 42, AL – 34, FL – 34, VA – 19, LA – 14, MS – 10, KY – 8, WV – 8, and AR – 4. It’s plain to see that the farther you get from Lake City the numbers drop off and it’s clear that North Carolina is under represented. The 2015 numbers haven’t been released yet but I hope they have improved as far as submissions from NC.

Traveling in the Pathways of Francis Marion Checking Out the Visual Arts in the Pee Dee Region of SC – Part I

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

On my most recent trip to the Pee Dee area in South Carolina, my list of exhibits and galleries to visit was larger than usual – so much was happening there in February. After I got back home I posted on Facebook that, “I pulled a Francis Marion today. I was in so many different places in the Pee Dee that if the British were chasing me they wouldn’t know if there was just one of me or hundreds of me roaming in and out of their lines.” And, this time I got all the words right. Making quick posts on Facebook can result in sloppy wording.

My travel list included two commercial galleries, two art spaces, a museum, and a library, but before I was finished I added a visit to an artist’s studio. Unlike other not-so-well planned trips to the Pee Dee, this time I made sure my first stop would be to the Lynda English Gallery-Studio. On two other occasions I had gotten there after they closed and ran out of time before I had to be somewhere else. But not this time.

The Lynda English Gallery-Studio, is located at 403 Second Loop Road in Florence, SC.  The gallery is known as “The Meeting Place for Art in Florence”. They have been there forever – long before Florence started developing an arts district in the downtown area. They feature works by local and regional artists in a variety of media, offer art supplies and teach art classes on a regular basis.

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A corner shot of the gallery, with painting of big flowers by Jackie Wukela.

When I arrived, Jackie Wukela, partner with Lynda English was talking with a possible future art student, English was not there. So I took a few pictures and looked around a bit. I couldn’t remember the last time I was in this space. It was back when I was delivering the printed paper, but we didn’t always include Florence in our deliveries as it was hard at times to get info out of the Florence area as to what was on exhibit there. It was kind of crazy as I was driving right past Florence to get to other areas that I delivered to every month, but in those days every extra stop added time to my already long trips. My feelings were if an area couldn’t bother to inform us about their exhibits – why take the paper there. So, the last time I was inside the gallery there was more gallery than classroom space, but there is still a lot of art on display.

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A selection of ceramic works by Douglas E. Gray, a Professor of Art at Francis Marion University.

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A selection of jewelry by Lynda English.

Once the prospective student was finished and left, Wukela and I dove into a number of subjects: the growth of the visual art community in Florence, ArtFields© in Lake City, and the new Florence County Museum. She knows a lot about what’s going on – her son is the Mayor of Florence. But, before long another customer arrived and I said I better move on – customers always come first. After 36 years in business I know that creed well.

My next stop was not too far away at The Purple House, home of The Earring Lady (Barbara Mellen), at 2717 Second Loop Road, where they were having a Valentine’s Day Colorific Event that weekend featuring works by The Earring Lady and Silks by Jane – Jane Madden that is.

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A selection of silk scarves by Jane Madden.

Madden was the person who called me, now many years ago, asking me to take another look at what was going on in Florence. Back then she was helping to develop the Art Trail Gallery, and eventually running it. Others have taken over but she is still involved in putting out the word on what is happening there. She is also one of our main helpers in getting the word out about Carolina Arts. Madden was also the first person to tip me off as to what was about to happen in Lake City, SC. She is a resource for a wealth of information.  She claims to have a job at Francis Marion University, but I can’t see how that could be true with all she does – don’t get me wrong, she’s putting in a full time work at FMU in a part time job. If the power grid ever goes down in SC – we just need to hook up to Jane.

Unfortunately, Madden had left The Purple House before I got there. I had seen the work of The Earring Lady and Madden’s scarves at various other shows so I didn’t stick around too long and I still had a long list of stops. Good thing Linda, my better half, wasn’t on this trip or we would still be there. If you like earrings and scarves – check this place out. The two artists seem to have a like mind when it comes to colors.

The Second Loop Road runs right into Palmetto Street that takes you right back into the heart of Florence’s developing arts district. My next stop was the Waters Gallery, which is not located in the main building of the Florence County Museum, but in the former location of the first Art Trail Gallery at 135 South Dargan Street. That’s were the 2015 Pee Dee Regional Art Competition exhibition was being presented. The exhibit is sponsored by Chick-fil-A and will be on view through Mar. 29, 2015. The 38 works on display were selected from a total of 172 submissions by Lese Corrigan, of Corrigan Gallery in Charleston, SC.

The space where the Art Trail Gallery used to be has been remodeled and the Waters Gallery pretty much takes up the space that used to be sculptor Alex Palkovich’s studio/gallery space. (I’ll have more on what Palkovich is up to these days in Part II). Corrigan selected what turned out to be an exhibit pretty much representing the college and university faculty of the Pee Dee including: Coker College in Hartsville, SC, Coastal Carolina Unversity in Conway, SC, and Francis Marion University in Florence. A few weeks earlier, after I received a press release about the artists who were selected for awards I called Corrigan to see if she knew what had happened and she asked me back who were the people I was talking about. She is not familiar with much of the Pee Dee visual art community – which made her a good judge for the exhibit.

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Here’s a bronze work by Townsend V. Holt of Florence titled “The Kiss”. I took this to also show a little of the gallery. But I wasn’t having too much luck so I’m showing some of the photos the Florence County Museum provided me.

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“December” by Yvette Cummings of Conway, SC, acrylic collage on canvas.

I would love to see all the works that were entered, but regardless, Corrigan selected a heck of an exhibition. The group selected represented a little over 20% of the group that entered the competition. Having seen a number of shows highlighting the works of the visual artists of the Pee Dee and not seeing a lot of names by some very good artists, just goes to show – the Pee Dee has a lot of talent. And, I agree with some of the people I talked with during this trip that it would have been nice to see a bigger show. The Florence County Museum has more space in that building. But like I always say about juried shows – you’re a winner by just making the cut, any awards after that is a bonus.

One thing I want to say about the exhibition is that Corrigan selected a painting, Sirens I, showing nudity by Jim Boden, who is an art professor at Coker College, for the second place award, and it is on view with all the rest of the works. My hat goes off to the folks at the Florence County Museum, Chick-fil-A,  and the overall Florence community for realizing that nudity in the arts in no big deal. Unfortunately it is in many other cities in SC and in some you wouldn’t think it would be so. I know a lot  of stories about what happens when a juror selects a work with nudity in it or an artist tries to enter a work with nudity in it. It’s a point that is essential for the development of any truly creative community – nudity is and always has been a big part of the arts. Another work in the show by Cat Taylor, who teaches art at Coastal Carolina University, titled The Genesis of Jihad, has religious connotations – a hot topic in today’s world.

Look folks, they’re serious about the arts in the Pee Dee – much more than folks who have had an abundance of it for a long time. I say that to let you know it is worth the trip to go see some of these exhibits. You might see some kinds of art you’re not going to see in your own area.

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“Sirens I” by Jim Boden of Hartsville, SC, oil on canvas.

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“The Genesis of Jihad” by Cat Taylor of Longs, SC, acrylic on canvas.

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“Obeast/GMO” by Mike & Patz Fowle of Hartsville, SC, mixed media encaustic.

Before I left the Museum complex, I went over to the Main building to check on one particular artwork hanging in the Museum’s lobby. And thankfully I found this sign.

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Sign identifying Manning Williams as the artist of the work hanging in the Florence County Museum lobby.

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“Bishop and the Egyptian Roach” by Manning Williams of Charleston, SC, acrylic (house paint) on canvas 12’ x 9’

This work of art has been hanging unidentified since the Museum opened back in Oct. 2014. I’ve complained about that twice in my blog and commentary and I’m very happy to report – as you can see – it is now identified. And, I’ve been told the other signs – or lack of signs identifying objects in the Museum and on its grounds are in the process of being made.

So, I’m happy to say that you should make a visit to the new Florence County Museum, located at 111 West Cheves Street, across the street from the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center. They have two wonderful exhibits on view including: William H. Johnson: New Beginnings, on view through Oct. 5, 2015, which features twenty one works from the life of Florence native, William Henry Johnson (1901-1970) selected from the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Florence Museum Board of Trustees, the Johnson Collection, and a private collector in Denmark and Selections-from-the-Wright-Collection-of-Southern-Art, on view through Jan. 1, 2016. This exhibition features thirty works from the Florence County Museum’s recently acquired Wright Collection of Southern Art. At its center is work by noted artists like Thomas Hart Benton, Alfred Hutty, Helen Hyde, Florence native artist, William Henry Johnson, Alice Huger Smith, Anna Heyward Taylor, Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, Palmer Schoppe, Mary Whyte, and Stephen Scott Young.

The Florence County Museum is a nice new facility – it still has that new car smell and admission is free. I always find plenty of free parking in the area and you can check out the show at the Waters Gallery, just around the corner.

And if you are there during the lunch or dinner time, there is a strip of restaurants on S. Dargan Street, right across from the Museum which offers a nice variety including: the Thia House, The Clay Pot Coffee Shop, 1031 American Grill, The Library, Dolce Vita, and Wholly Smokin BBQ. And if you want to make it an overnight stay, don’t forget that just around the corner on West Evans Street is Hotel Florence and Victor’s Bistro. I’ve stayed at Hotel Florence, thanks to the good folks at Florence Unlocked. It’s a great place to stay and there is plenty of art to see there. A new pizza shop is about to open across from the hotel. Things are opening up all the time in this new arts district.

OK I think this is a good place to stop. We have three more exhibits to talk about and a studio visit in Part II and I don’t want to wear anyone out.

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

Wednesday, July 23rd, 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 Florence, SC, and Lake City, SC, just an hour’s drive north on Hwy. 52. If the computer had to be unplugged, why not go somewhere else where the weather is not so angry.

Part I, about my visit to the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC, (home to the ArtFields event) can be seen at this link.

In Part II of this installment, I’m going to cover a subject I’ve talked about several times in the last few years, and that’s the growing arts district in downtown Florence, SC. It had been almost a year since my last trip to see an exhibit at the Art Trail Gallery and I was looking forward to seeing all the changes that had taken place during that time frame. I’ve also been waiting for almost six months to get a close look at the public art that was being installed in this district.

Downtown Florence, like many cities across America has a lot to work with as far as vacant buildings that can be rehabbed and buildings that will need to come down to make new open spaces and in the last 3-4 years I’ve been going there you could see signs of a makeover taking place.

So when I got to Florence after leaving Lake City, SC, I parked across from where the old Art Trail Gallery was on S. Dargan Street – where I knew Big Bleu Birdnanna, a towering sculpture by Mike and Patz Fowle was standing – the first piece of outdoor work to be placed in the new arts district by REdiscovering Downtown Florence, a division of the Florence Downtown Development Corporation.

I’ve seen photos of the big bird, but I wanted to see it myself before I reported about it. Once I got out of the car I could really see that a lot of work has been done since I was last in this area.

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Patz Fowle working on design of sculpture

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Installation

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Big Bleu Birdnanna today

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Another view

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Impressive sign for sculpture – any guess as to who made this?

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Many artists wish the sign for their sculpture ID sign was this good

After taking a few photos of Big Bleu Birdnanna, I followed a walkway to another open space that would lead me to the Art Trail Gallery on West Evans Street, but before I got there I discovered another open space which was totally changed since I was last in Florence. It was called the James Allen Plaza. I’m not sure who James Allen was but I’m sure he was someone important to downtown Florence or someone who gave them money to do this space. And, here I found the handiwork of Bob Doster, the man of metal, from Lancaster, SC. I’m telling you – his work is going to be everywhere someday.

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Sign for James Allen Plaza

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Here we see that Bob Doster has been here – it’s no surprise

Three of the pieces were influenced by students from local schools, including the Swallowtail Butterflies and Yellow Jasmine designed by Williams Middle School students. Doster works with a lot of school children all over the state helping them make sculptures.

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“Swallowtail Butterflies,” by Bob Doster with the help of Dredan Brown, Caroline Ham, Lyle Detalo, Marquise Brewer, Ryan Byrd, Hannah Culpeper, Rocye Anderson, and Haven Rector

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“Yellow Jasmine,” by Bob Doster with the help of Henry Frierson, Jazmyn Rowell, Caleb Farrell, Ciona Gray, Lilly Huiet, Hannah Rose Carter, and Ezra Smolen-Morton

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Unknown title, by Bob Doster, with the help of Lauren Bynum, Lelley Pierce, and Hannah Gandy, from unknown school

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Rendition of the City of Florence Seal, by Bob Doster

Here’s a little pitch for REdiscovering Downtown Florence:

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REdiscovering Downtown membership is similar to memberships other downtown groups have, but focuses just on public art rather than business promotion.

Arts and culture is a very important component of the downtown revitalization process and creating public art will make the area more inviting and encourage both locals and tourists to REdiscover the historic heart of our community.

With your support, public art will be purchased each year and be placed in downtown courtyards and all the streetscape of Evans and Dargan streets. The city of Florence is providing matching dollars for this project utilizing funds from the fees collected from Sundays alcohol sales. This means that every dollar you donate will leverage public funds to help grow art downtown.

For further info and to become a member visit (http://www.florencedowntown.com/arts-culture/rediscover/).

The rest of the time before the reception started for the exhibit at the Art Trail Gallery was spent walking around W. Evans Street and S. Dargan taking photos of some of the buildings which now hold new businesses and some that will soon hold new businesses – in Florence’s new arts district.

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Another open space on W. Evans Street

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Businesses on S. Dargan Street, near W. Evans Street

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More signs of change – building coming down near Irby and W. Evans Street

I understand the new Florence County Museum will be opening sometime in October of this year, and that will add another big cornerstone in that arts district.

Things are happening in South Carolina’s Pee Dee area.

Yes, Yes, Yet Another Trip Into the Heart of the Pee Dee in South Carolina to the Art Trail Gallery in Florence

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

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There was a time when it seemed like I was going to an opening reception for exhibits at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC – every other month. It didn’t actually happen that often, but it seemed like it as I wasn’t getting to much of anywhere else. Travel like I used to do has been hard to come by. That can be explained with three factors – I don’t have to physically deliver our paper anymore, extra gas money has been hard to come up with these days, and our son, his wife and their two children live with us now.

So going to the Pee Dee is easy for me. It’s not far away and I can get there and get out fast and be back home in no time at all. And make no mistake – I’m yearning to go to many other places – far and wide, but for now the quick and easy will have to do. And, I might get too travel farther once things settle in and it cools off a little in the Carolinas.

This latest trip was a multi stop trip which I enjoy most. Because the Art Trail Gallery reception for “Vulcraft-Nucor Visualicious 2013″ was being held on a Friday, I was able to check in at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC, before I headed further north on Hwy. 52 from Bonneau Beach, SC – headquarters of PSMG, Inc. and Shoestring Publishing Company which produces Carolina Arts.

At the Jones-Carter Gallery, operated by the Community Museum Society Inc, I checked in on the exhibit “agriART,” featuring works by Joshua Vaughan, Mark Conrardy, and an installation by Vassiliki Falkehag. While there I had the opportunity to catch up with Hannah L. Davis, Gallery Manager and Historic Preservation Coordinator for the Community Museum Society. She was also curator of this first exhibit at the new space in Lake City.

It should be noted that on the door was a change of hours from Mon.-Fri. to Tue.-Fri., 10am-6pm – a move in preparation for Saturday hours. Hopefully, soon visitors to the Pee Dee will be able to make a triple stop in Lake City, Johnsonville, and Florence on a Saturday art adventure.

It also should be noted that the “agriART,” exhibit will be closing earlier than scheduled on Aug. 19, 2013, for maintenance and renovation. If that seems a little early for a gallery space which has only been open a few months – I hope to have some good news about that soon.

Davis and I talked about a lot of things – how to grow tobacco plants inside a gallery, a visit to the gallery by the Lake City High School football team, and the fact that the gallery is seeing more outsiders than locals so far.

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The tobacco plants had grown since the exhibit opening.

The Jones-Carter Gallery is a beautiful space that will no doubt have an interesting and eventful future ahead of it. Right now it is the tip of the spear for all the cultural changes Lake City has planned. So, you better get there soon to be able to say you were there at the beginning.

For further information call 843/374-1500 or e-mail to (hdavis@cmslc.org). You can also like their Facebook page at (https://www.facebook.com/JonesCarterGallery).

Within 30 minutes I was parked less than 100 yards of the door of the Art Trail Gallery in downtown Florence at the corner of Irby and West Evans Streets – another reason I like going to the Pee Dee. Parking was free and there was plenty of it to go around.

This was my second visit to the new Art Trail Gallery at its new location, just around the corner from their old location on Dargan Street. But it was my first reception in the new space. The reception had already been going on an hour by the time I arrived and it was pretty lively inside. There was a good crowd on hand and people were enjoying the food and good conversation about the works on display. So I headed right in for my first walk though of all the works on display.

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Work by Sherry Dailey

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Work by Amy Smit

This new space has less wall space than the old location, but it is not small and it seems to be more set up for social networking. The first noticeable thing was that there was no lack of seating during the reception. Good news for older folks like me, who can stand only so long. Of course the gallery was also offering a free Jazz Night concert during this reception, so maybe all the seating was for that and other receptions might not offer all that seating, but here’s my open request for all receptions at all facilities – provide seating and lots of it.

On my first pass I was seeing some good works. There were some from artists I remember form exhibits at the old location and a good number of new names I didn’t remember or was seeing for the first time. I then started taking photos of those works that stood out to me. Works I wanted to show when I wrote this blog entry. There is no rhyme or reason for what I’m attracted to and over all I didn’t spot much that I didn’t feel should have been included in the Professional works. In the Novice works there were typical works that looked like they were made by beginners as well as a few who could have hung with the Pros.

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Just about as soon as I stopped taking photos the announcement of the award winners began. The judge for awards was Amelia Rose Smith, an artist I’ve known in Charleston, SC, for more years than either of us would want to admit. I love her work and the gallery had a good display of it – which was a nice touch so visitors could see that this judge knew her stuff.

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Work by Amelia Rose Smith

After the award ceremony was done I had selected five of the 15 artists she had selected for awards which was pretty good. There have been times when I didn’t like any of a judge’s selections and wondered if they were blind or what. Even when it came to individual selections by artists Smith and I liked different works by the same artist. Which just goes to show – everyone like different things. It’s nice to win an award, but it’s also not life or death if you’re not selected. Your day will come – all judges are different.

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Work I liked better by Sherry Dailey.

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Work by Johnny Tanner I might have scored higher.

I know the Art Trail Gallery has been more inclusive than exclusive – something the artists in the Pee Dee region need, but I hope one day as opportunities expand for displaying art arrives – as I’m sure they will in Florence, that the gallery offers some curated exhibits where artists are invited to show works that tell a story or explore a selected subject. It would be great if they get to a point when they can present a major show by one deserving artist who doesn’t have to share the walls with anyone. But, then the new Florence Museum of Art will be open soon right next to the old gallery location on Dargan Street.

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Two works by Gingi Martin.

There was plenty of food and beverages offered – which seems to be a tradition with the Art Trail Gallery, although I did have a meatball which seemed like I was getting my salt content for a year. Maybe I got the unlucky one that got an overdose, but all the rest of the food I tasted was great and plenty of other folks were eating lots of meatballs – so it might have been me. Hey, we’re lucky that any gallery these days serves anything at a reception – so I’m not complaining. And we all have to remember – it’s all about the art on display.

Eventually the Jazz band started playing and it got a little hard to talk and, since I still had to drive home, it was time for me to leave. One of these days I’m going to make an overnight stay in the Pee Dee so I can enjoy all that this new arts district has to offer.

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Here’s a list of all the award winners:

The Best of Show award was presented to Gingi Martin, for an oil painting entitled “The Elusive Peacock”.

PROFESSIONAL DIVISION:

First Place went to Pam Rhoads, for an oil painting titled “Jump For Joy”.

Second Place was awarded to Johnny Tanner for an acrylic painting entitled “Freedom Light”.

Third Place was given to Sherry Daily for an acrylic entitled “Serenity”.

Honorable Mentions were given to: Ann Page for a woodburning titled “Screech Owl”; Gaye Ham for a watercolor titled “Fruit Loops”; and Denny Stevenson for an oil painting titled “Untitled #5.

NOVICE DIVISION:

First Place was given to Amy Smit for an oil painting titled “Serving Together”.

Second Place was awarded to Patricia Emery for a pastel painting titled “Faced in Blue”.

Third Place went to Jessicah Kean for her work “Masked”.

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Again – work of Jessicah Kean I liked better. Works behind glass are hard to photograph.

Honorable Mentions were given to: Antoinette Ganim for her work titled “Pink Peace”; Gena Sallinger for her work titled “Peace”; and Jana Goss for her work titled “Peacock”.

The Gleason Emerging Artist Award was given to John Ainsworth for his wire work titled “Greeting In the Park”.

The Vulcraft-Nucor Award of Excellence was given to Patricia Emery for her colored pencil piece titled “Reflections of the Afternoon II”.

One last thing about the awards. It’s nice when local companies like Vulcraft-Nucor step up and provide support for exhibits and cash awards and it was really nice of Jim Gleason to step up and provide an Emerging Artist award, as it was not too long ago when he was a beginning artist looking for recognition and encouragement.

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One of Jim Gleason’s creations.

The Art Trail Gallery is located at 185 West Evans Street in downtown Florence and “Visualicious,” will remain on view through Sept. 7, 2013. Gallery hours are: Wed., 11am-6pm; Thur., 11am-3pm; Fri., 11am-6pm and Sat. 11am-3pm.

For further information call 843/673-0729, e-mail at (atg@art-trail-gallery.com) or visit (www.art-trail-gallery.com).

The Opening of the Jones-Carter Gallery – the Next Big Step in Making Lake City, SC, a Cultural Destination

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

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On Friday, June 21, 2013, (not June 26 as Jane Madden pointed out to me – we didn’t time travel) Linda and I made the 52 mile trip from Bonneau, SC, to Lake City, SC, to attend the opening of “agriART,” featuring works by Joshua Vaughan (photography), Mark Conrardy (paintings), and an installation based on tobacco by Vassiliki Falkehag, on view in the Community Museum Society’s new Jones-Carter Gallery, through Aug. 26, 2013.

I didn’t come to review the exhibit – I leave that up to viewers. I’m more interested in getting readers in the doors of exhibit spaces. This time I was smart and took photos early on before a lot of folks would be in the way of seeing the art displayed and didn’t start talking until later. I want you to go see this exhibit and this new art space in Lake City.

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It seems fitting that the Community Museum Society which covers art, agriculture, and history begin with an art show focused on agriculture. Joshua Vaughan offers photographs of rural farm communities in the Carolinas, while Mark Conrardy offers paintings of farm objects – mostly vintage tractors. Vassiliki Falkehag, who was an active member of the Charleston, SC, art community during the late 1980′s and early 1990′s offers a site specific installation focused on tobacco entitled, “Fields of Risk”.

Both Vaughan (from Greenville, NC) and Conrardy (from Columbia, SC) were participants in the first ArtFields event in Lake City, but Falkehag is like a blast from the past – Charleston’s past.

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When I first saw her name associated with this exhibit I wondered where she has been all these years. I did a Google search and there was very little there about her. She was part of a more creative time in Charleston when the City’s Office of Cultural Affairs was run by Diane Abby. It was a time when the visual arts in Charleston didn’t have to take a back seat to the performing arts – as it does now. Falkehag has been living, exhibiting and teaching in Sweden and now that she has retired is spending Summers back in Charleston. She visited ArtFields and made some connections with folks here and soon she was to be featured in an exhibit. That’s one of the other benefits of ArtFields besides large cash awards – being seen and making connections.

The new Jones-Carter Gallery is a wonderful space – big enough for showing lots of works by several artists at once – including installations. In talking with Ray McBride, Executive Director of the Community Museum Society and Hannah L. Davis, Curator of the Jones-Carter Gallery, we learned that they are working on bringing a major art exhibit to Lake City from the Smithsonian perhaps in the fall, but all the details are not worked out yet. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

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We also learned that the folks who produced ArtFields are getting ready for ArtFields 2014 and a few more big projects including a Children’s Museum and developing an artist’s colony – including apartments. The merchants of Lake City saw the impact ArtFields had on their businesses. I’m told some did a year’s worth of business during ArtFields, but they still haven’t adjusted to the fact that in order to develop a tourist market – they will have to open themselves up to more than a banker’s hours effort. The city will have to come alive on the weekends.

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Excuse the finger in the upper left corner. Once people start to fill the space it’s harder to take photos.

But, all good things take time. Opportunities are being missed in the aftermath of ArtFields, but those are lessons learned sometimes the hard way. I think they’re catching on fast in Lake City – at least I hope they are.

One example of that was a list of eating establishments in Lake City and the surrounding area provided by The Greater Lake City Chamber of Commerce found on the front counter at the gallery. And Linda and I had a meal in Lake City before we left town. So we want them to know these efforts are paying off.

Linda and I also had a chance to talk with the Mayor of Lake City, Lovith Anderson, Jr. and his wife, Willie Mae who were at the opening about ArtFields’ impact and future plans for the city. Karen Fowler, Executive Director of ArtFields was also there.

So, beside looking at art we also enjoyed a few hours of meaningful conversation about the art biz and making connections. But you can go just to see the exhibit and explore Lake City without the social networking or get on their mailing list for the next invite to the next opening.

One other special note worth mentioning. At the opening they were serving peach cobbler (from locally grown peaches) and ice cream. I didn’t know they were growing peaches in the Pee Dee, but then again there is so much most of us who live in South Carolina don’t know about the Pee Dee.

The Jones-Carter Gallery is located at 105 Henry Street in Lake City, next to The Bean Market, just a block off Main Street. It is open Mon.-Fri., 10am-6pm.

For further information about the Society or the Jones-Carter Gallery call 843/374-1500 or e-mail to (hdavis@cmslc.org). Dial them up on their newFacebook page and give them a “Like” to keep up with what’s happening there.

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Alex Palkovich is the one not in costume.

OK – Not to take the spotlight away from Lake City, but we also had a conversation with Alex Palkovich, the sculptor from Florence, SC, who was also in ArtFields and recently showcased in our coverage of the new Francis Marion statue in Johnsonville, SC – just 20 miles from Lake City. We talked about my recent trip to Florence’s growing art district, and he filled me in on a lot of exciting developments going on there. He claimed that since the 30 days that I visited I wouldn’t recognize the changes made, but what was more impressive was future plans he told us about that I can not mention here. Florence is putting the pedal to the metal on its arts district.

My Grande Tour of the Pee Dee Area of South Carolina – May 18, 2013

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Sorry for the delay – our June 2013 issue got in the way.

May 18, 2013, was one of those Saturdays where I could accomplish a number of things in one sweep of the Pee Dee area of SC. First up was a visit to downtown Lake City, SC, a month after the big ArtFields event to see what was going on as well as a visit to Moore Farms Botanical Garden, just outside of Lake City, which was having May Days – a tour of the Garden, a plant sale and a BBQ lunch.

Next was a trip to Venters Landing, just outside of Johnsonville, SC, about 20 miles east of Lake City where the town was celebrating its 100th anniversary with a dedication of a statue by Alex Palkovich (Florence, SC) of General Francis Marion – the Swamp Fox.

My final stop was the new location of the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, to see how that area – a new developing arts district in SC, was coming along. I hadn’t been there in some time.

Lake City A Month Later

If the goal of millionaire philanthropist Darla Moore is to remake Lake City into a destination for art lovers or whatever – she still has a lot of work ahead of her to get the town on board. I drove down Main Street twice, once at 9:30am and again at 4pm. And, as Dickens might say – this city was as dead as Jacob Marley. Both times, there were many more empty parking spaces than those with cars in them. Hardly anyone was walking the streets that just a month ago were filled with visitors. It looked like some event was going to happen at The Bean Market and on The Green, but later by 4pm – no one was in sight.

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Lake City is still working on banker’s hours – Mon.-Fri. which isn’t going to work if they want people to come there when most have time to go visiting – on the weekend. This is a chicken comes first before the egg moment. Lake City merchants will have to open their doors on the weekend giving tourists a reason to come. Only the retired have time to travel mid-week.

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I expected that this would be the case. The transformation of Lake City won’t happen overnight, but I hate to see them not take advantage of the buzz the ArtFields event generated. Of course that buzz had a bit of buzz-kill attached to it with the unfortunate news that they had to suspend the original People’s Choice winner and taking an agonizing week to name the new winner. But my trip wasn’t wasted. I learned from a flyer on the door of the Jones-Carter building that on June 21, 2013, the new Jones-Carter Gallery will present agriART, featuring an exhibit of works by Joshua Vaughan, Mark Conrardy, (both participated in ArtFields) and an installation by Vassiliki Falkehag, which will be on view through Aug. 26, 2013. I hope there will be Saturday hours and maybe even some on Sunday in the future, but for now it’s a Mon.-Fri. facility.

It’s been some time since I’ve seen or heard of anything from Vassiliki Falkehag who did an installation with tobacco seeds and plants – many years ago.

Moore Farms Botanical Garden

I’m an adventurous traveler, and I’ve done a lot of it in the past 30 years. Sometimes I’m very prepared and sometimes I just wing it. I wish I had prepared to find Moore Farms Botanical Garden. This was not one of my better efforts at finding someplace that I had never been to before. And, I’ll admit that most of my problems were my own fault. Firstly I did not check the location on Google Maps before I left home and secondly not knowing how to use my iPhone better, and being a man – not wanting to ask for directions.

In my defense I wasn’t getting much help from Lake City, which I would described as sign-challenged. One of the complaints I heard from many people attending ArtFields was how hard it was to find locations. And although Moore Farms Botanical Garden is a few miles outside of Lake City, I would expect that there would be signs helping visitors locate it, but I learned about that later. Not much was open in Lake City, but I eventually went to the Lake City Post Office and got the directions I needed.

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Grass and steel sculpture by Herb Parker

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Moore Farms Botanical Garden was the location of one of the invited installations presented during ArtFields so I assumed that it would be one of the attractions drawing folks to Lake City, but I’m not sure. When I got there one of the first things I asked was what their normal hours were and the person responded they are only open four times a year for special occasions like ArtFields and May Days, which was today. That’s too bad, as it would definitely be a draw to Lake City, but I later heard one of the staff tell someone that if they got together ten folks for a tour – they would open for them. This was a little hard to understand. If they will open for a group of ten, why not stay open, promote the place and perhaps see hundreds of folks during a weekend?

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Tourism is a bitch – be careful what you wish for, but if you want it you have to cater to it.

Moore Farms Botanical Garden is a great place, but the main problem might be that it is also one of Darla Moore’s homes. Not many people want to live inside an attraction. But you can learn more about what they offer to the public and how to book a tour for 10 on their website (http://www.moorefarmsbg.org/). I’ll let some photos do the rest of my talking.

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A side view of The Greenhouse – not where they grow plants, but a green building

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This is on the roof of The Green House

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Honoring the Swamp Fox in Johnsonville, SC

I did do my homework on Johnsonville, as I had never been there before and didn’t want to end up in Myrtle Beach, SC, before I realized I missed it or end up in the middle of some swamp – like the British.

I first learned about this statue of Francis Marion back in Jan. 2011, during one of my visits to the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, in a conversation with Alex Palkovich, the sculptor who shared space with the gallery and still does today in their new location. He told me a story about a small town in SC doing a big thing by honoring General Francis Marion with a statue at the site where he received his commission to lead the Williamsburgh Militia during the Revolutionary War at what was then called Witherspoon’s Ferry on the Lynches River.

You can read my first post about this project at this link.

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But today (May 18, 2013) was the long awaited dedication day. It was the main reason I was on this tour. You see, I really like Francis Marion, he’s a true American hero of the Revolutionary War – a war South Carolina should pay more attention to than one that didn’t turn out so well.

That’s Yankee talk to most here in the South, but as I’ve stated before, my ancestors didn’t have a stake in that war – they were too busy running from their English or Prussian overlords.

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Revolutionary War encampment

Besides, I had received an official invite to attend this event by Johnsonville Mayor Steve Dukes, who had come across my blog post about Palkovich and the Francis Marion statue. He was looking for someone outside of the Pee Dee to come to the event without much luck. You see, the media and most folks in the bigger cities in SC don’t care about much that isn’t going on it their cities. I was already planning on going so I was an easy invite.

May 18, 2013 was also the 100th anniversary of Johnsonville, so like many other small towns it was going to be a big event – to scale. Plus many of the folks who still live in the area are kin to the men who followed Marion through the swamps of the region giving the British nightmares.

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A project like this had a lot of help from a lot of groups and organizations so there were a lot of folks to thank and politicians on hand to give speeches on a hot day. Unfortunately or fortunately, part of the festivities included free helicopter rides which kept flying over the area about every 5 minutes and a train went by – just 100 yards away – so we didn’t have to hear much of what was being said by the politicians. Most people there, like me, wanted to see the Swamp Fox.

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Alex Palkovich with some of the re-enactors

The New Art Trail Gallery

From Johnsonville I headed to Florence, SC, on Hwy. 51 through another area I’ve never been to – going through Pamplico, SC. I’ve seen that name on highway signs many a time, but never had a reason to go there. It looked like a nice small southern town.

Florence is a town I’ve been to a lot. It’s just two hours away and I’ve passed through it or near it many a time going into North Carolina to deliver papers. Over the last two or three years I’ve been traveling to the Art Trail Gallery to see shows by regional artists. During the last year they moved to a new location which I had not been to, but that would end on this day. Unfortunately, they were getting ready to display a new exhibit,Photolicious, which is on view now through June 15, 2013. Many of the works were stacked up on the floor, so I did get to see most of what would be that exhibit. There are a lot of talented photographers in the Pee Dee.

This new space on West Evans Street is smaller than their first location on Dargan Street, but it’s still in an area which will be the growing arts district in Florence. Francis Marion University has a performing arts center in the area, a new Florence Museum is being built, and many buildings in the area are being redone, but walking on West Evans I smelled East Bay Street in Charleston, SC. It had that same old musty smell that East Bay had 35-40 years ago. Now it’s one of the hottest spots in Charleston. But, it’s going to take awhile before that smell disappears on West Evans. Some might say it’s the smell of revitalization.

But you could see work going on all over the area. A new  small park was there and people were working on another small landscaped area – dressing up the area. I took a few pictures.

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Some people ask me, “What’s with all this attention you’ve been giving the Pee Dee?” I’m sure the folks in the Pee Dee see it another way – more like what took someone so long to notice us, but in SC, traditionally there are only three cities – Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville/Spartanburg (which are two distinctly different cities). Not much else matters to most others who live in SC. But there’s a lot more to SC than meets most people’s eyes and ears.

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Soon to be the new Florence Museum

To me, the Pee Dee is the next growth area for the arts in South Carolina. It’s got a long way to go, but a lot of good folks are working hard to make it a place – you should go see. They’re hungry for respect and the recognition they haven’t been given for generations. And, it’s kind of in my backyard. Over the last 26 years I’ve seen lots of the other three areas of the State – my eye is looking for new areas to discover and promote.

So, keep an eye on Carolina Arts and we’ll let you know how things are going in the Pee Dee, and with luck it won’t be as hard as the British looking for the old Swamp Fox.

Some Events I Wish I Were Going to This Week in the Carolinas

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Unfortunately travel is not in my plans this week, which means I’m going to miss some of my favorite happenings including: Vista Lights in Columbia, SC; the Celebration of Seagrove Potters in Seagrove, NC; and the opening of the new Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC.

I would have racked up some miles, but I have done such a trip in the past many times. Gas prices are down and lower in some of these areas, but even though I can’t make any of these three favorites – you can. You don’t have to be a road warrior like me in doing all three, but there are many combinations that can be very satisfying – any one would be well worth your effort.

First up is the 27th Vista Lights celebration in the Congaree Vista area of Columbia, SC, on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, from 5-9pm. Kick off your holiday shopping and fun at this annual holiday street party! The entire Vista community will take part, with Gervais Street closed to traffic from Gadsden to Assembly streets, and Park and Lincoln closed from Lady to Senate.

Everyone loves a tree lighting and the Vista tree lighting promises to kick off the season! The traditional tree-lighting ceremony, will be held at 7pm. This year’s spectacular lighting will be hosted my Mayor Steve Benjamin. You will find the tree located on the corner of Lincoln and Gervais Street outside of the River Runner shop. There are many performances planned, but for me, it’s the visual art offerings that usually brings me to Vista Lights.

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Work by Wanda Steppe

City Art at 1224 Lincoln Street, just behind the River Runner where the tree is located, will offer the exhibit, Sticks and Stones, featuring an exhibit of works by artist/painter Wanda Steppe, on view through Dec. 23, 2012. See more info about more events taking place this evening by visiting (www.cityartonline.com).

if ART Gallery at 1223 Lincoln Street is offering the exhibit, 18/100 SOUTHERN ARTISTS: The if ART Contingency, on view through Nov. 17, 2012. The exhibit features works by 18 if ART artists included in the new book “100 Southern Artists”.

One Eared Cow Glass Gallery & Studio at 1001 Huger St., (just up the street from the old location) is a little ways from the center of activities, but worth the visit. The cowboys will be demonstrating glass blowing and you can pick from works that were featured this year at the “Four Seasons” display at the SC State Fair while items last. This is your opportunity to have an item associated with the largest display of hand-blown glass in SC or the Southeast. You can see that display on their website at (www.oneearedcow.com).

The Gallery at Nonnah’s at 928 Gervais Street will be offering the exhibit,Altered Cities: Melding Cityscapes with Landscapes, featuring works by Alicia Leeke, on view through Dec. 31, 2012. For more info visit (www.nonnahs.com).

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Work by Jeff Donavan and Susan Lenz of Vista Studios

Vista Studios/Gallery 80808 at 808 Lady Street, will present the exhibit,Season’s Harvest, featuring recent works by Vista Studios’ artists, on view through Nov. 27, 2012. Many of the artists will have their studios open so you can see where and how these artists create. See more about the activities there at (www.vistastudios80808.com).

Other art galleries in the area will be open, as well as many of the shops and businesses in the area. Vista Lights is free to the public and offers a great way to kick-off the holiday Season! Visitors are encouraged to arrive early, shop up an appetite and stay late. Just because the official celebration ends at 9pm doesn’t mean you can’t stay for some late-night entertainment and a nightcap. For more info visit (http://www.vistalightssc.com/about.aspx).

The 5th Annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters will be held indoors at the historic Luck’s Cannery, on NC 705, Pottery Highway, one half-mile south of the traffic light in Seagrove, NC, from Nov. 16 – 18, 2012. The weekend begins with the Celebration Gala on Friday, Nov. 16, from 6-9pm, which includes a catered reception, live music, and the collaborative works auction. The Celebration continues on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 9am-6pm, with a silent auction, from 1-3pm, and again opens on Sunday, Nov. 18, from 10am-4pm.

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Collaborative piece by Jugtown Pottery and JLK Jewelry

The Celebration is distinctive; it is a showcase of the pottery artists of Seagrove, an area that covers the three county corner region of Randolph, Moore and Montgomery counties in North Carolina. Over 100 Seagrove potters, from 64 shops, are participating this year.

Now a trip to Seagrove is always an adventure in that there is hardly a road that you can drive down where you won’t run into several potteries. The gently rolling hills and farms make a picturesque journey while finding the next shop on the map you picked up at the NC Pottery Center in downtown Seagrove. But, if you’re a die hard shopper who feels more at home in the local Mall – the Celebration is made for you. Many of the area’s potters will be found under one roof.

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Collaborative piece by Peder Wilhelm McCanless and Michael Mahan

And, if you’re a hard core pottery collector, the Friday Night Gala is where you want to be for the collaborative works auction, matching different potters in the area to work on a one-of-a-kind item.

Admission to the Friday night Gala is $40 in advance. Gala tickets and more info are available at (www.CelebrationofSeagrovePotters.com), admission on Sat. & Sun. is $5 at the door and children 12 and under are free. For more info on potters of the Seagrove community and other local events visit (www.DiscoverSeagrove.com).

Get this – there is another pottery festival taking place in Seagrove at the same time. That’s double the pottery fun.

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Also on Friday evening of Nov. 16, 2012, from 5:30-8pm, will be the opening reception of the 2012 Holiday Show at the Art Trail Gallery’s new location at 185 West Evans Street, just around the corner from their old location on Dargon Street in downtown Florence, SC. The reception is free and open to the public. The 2012 Holiday Show is considered “the place” to purchase unique holiday gifts for every person and budget.

Gallery hours for this show will be Tue.-Thur., from 11am-6pm and Sat., from 11am-4pm. The Holiday Show will be on display until Dec. 22, 2012. Please visit the Art Trail Gallery’s website for more information at (www.art-trail-gallery.com).

The Art Trail Gallery has been a sort of backyard project for me in supporting the efforts of Jane Madden, who kept the gallery going for so many years and the volunteers and artists who have made this gallery their own. It’s never easy moving and change is hard, but this show will celebrate a successful transition from old to new, reflecting the exciting future of Florence and the Pee Dee’s growing visual art community. I wish I could be there. Maybe you can be there for me?

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Armor-dillo, by Mike and Patz Fowle, First Place Award at 2012 Pee Dee Regional

And, if you’re traveling to Florence for that event, why not go early and visit the 2012 Pee Dee Regional Art Competition, on view through Dec. 16, 2012, at the Florence Museum of Art, Science and History, located at 558 Spruce Street. The Pee Dee Regional is the oldest continuing art competition in the state and is presented by the Florence Museum Board of Trustees.

You could also take in the Magic City Survey Art Competition, on view through Jan. 4, 2013, in the Dr. N. Lee Morris Gallery at the Doctors Bruce and Lee Foundation Library, located at 506 South Dargan Street in Florence. This juried exhibit features works created by artists from across the Pee Dee who followed the theme, “Southern Impressions-Depictions of Life in the South.”

Be assured that there are lots of other exciting and interesting visual art events taking place throughout the Carolinas during this same time frame, but these three were on my radar, but sometimes we never get to exercise our plans. I’m just saying this is what I was going to do – the publisher and editor of an arts newspaper for over 25 year. And, if you check out our Nov. 2012 issue of Carolina Arts you’ll soon see that if you can’t do any of these three – there is something you can attend somewhere near you. Now go do something.

My Second “Photofabulous” Exhibit at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

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Linda and I were lucky that we were not under a deadline, and she was off from the second job of taking 911 calls, to be able to attend the opening ofPhotofabulous 2012 at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, Friday, Mar. 16, 2012. The exhibit will be on view through Apr. 27, 2012.

We arrived about 45 minutes before the official opening and we were lucky that they let us in the door to have a first look before the crowd moved in and I would begin talking with folks. Look first – talk later is a good policy if you expect to make comments at some point. And, I usually would have posted these comments before now, but I was suffering from a weekend of yard work – not my favorite task in life.

Editor’s Note: I didn’t try to take any photos of the photos on display. That doesn’t work so good with my camera and the gallery’s lighting.

This is apparently the fourth photography exhibit the Art Trail Gallery has presented, but I’ve only seen the last two. My first impression comparing this show to last year’s show, was I felt there were less commercial photographers participating and less photos by children, but the exhibit was more organized by category. I think last year’s show held an edge on quality, but not by much. There are some knock-out images presented this year, but my impression is that last year was better.

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I learned later that one of the reasons for the difference was a loss of some of the display space which was used to present special exhibits within an exhibit last year. The number of entries were also limited and the show organizers didn’t beat the bushes as much as they did last year.

Also, a major factor in Art Trail Gallery exhibits – less photographers from the community stepped forward to help organize the exhibit. But the presentation of the exhibit and reception didn’t suffer with just a few folks doing all the work. Plus, nothing – nothing stops Jane Madden, the Queen of the Art Trail Gallery, from putting on a good show and reception. Great food was arriving from every direction – constantly.

The Art Trail Gallery is an all volunteer operation and each exhibit depends on the committee which comes together to pull it off. It’s one of the great things about this gallery and one of the problem areas.

Also, the Art Trail Gallery gives participants the responsibility to read and follow the instructions of participation or rules – which includes having works ready to hang for the length of the show and having works identified. Some folks had a few images I would have commented about in a very positive manner, but failed to identify themselves on their works. That’s too bad, but that’s what rules are for. That’s never a problem when it comes to a professional or a professionally acting person – they never miss an opportunity to take credit where credit is due and to promote for the future. Making people wonder or do an investigation to find out who made a photograph is never a good practice.

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Organizing the photos by categories was a great improvement. You got to see all the ribbon winners and could make your own judgements as to how you thought the official jurors did in their selections. I hardly ever agree with the judging of any exhibit, which I’m sure was the case with many of the photographers, and their relatives and friends. And, after all this is a free country we are all entitled to our own opinions. But, when it comes to judging a show of artworks I take my hat off to any judge for making the effort and I know the Professional Photographers of South Carolina have set rules for judging images. I also acknowledge that when giving awards they only have the images presented to work with. We can all say we’ve seen better or that we could have done better, but we or the others photographers we’re thinking of – didn’t enter. That’s a fact Jack – you can only make judgements from what is in front of you.

And I also know from my vast years of experience in the photography world in South Carolina – many photographers are the worst people at selecting their best images and many times people put images in the wrong categories, which was the case in this show. There were many images that didn’t win ribbons in the category entered, but would have maybe taken 1st or 2nd in another.

Take the Abstract Category, in my opinion there were only a few real abstracts entered and the best photographic abstract image in the building was a work by Ann Klein which wasn’t in Photofabulous 2012, but could be found in the Art Trail Gallery shop. And the best abstracts in the building are paintings by Jack Dowis in sculptor Alex Palkovich’s section of the building. But there were better abstracts in the exhibit – they just were not entered in the abstract category. My favorite out of the works in the category was Builder’s Choice by Amy Beane, who received a 2nd place ribbon.

I stood staring with a group of other folks at the entries in the Abstract category and we were all scratching our heads wondering how some of these images could be considered an abstract image. One participating photographer even said, “I know what category I’m going to enter next year.”

My history in photography might be considered “old school”. Linda and I ran a custom photo processing lab for 16 years and I grew up in Kodak’s heyday – long gone now, but I had to laugh when I came upon Jeff Smith’s photos in the Portrait category – which he claimed to be “un-retouched” images in an age of Photoshop, a useful method of enhancing images. Photoshopping is a dirty word to “old schoolers”.

Smith’s images were first class portraits. It was easy to see he was a professional, but I think his boast of offering images “un-retouched” diminished his images some and I bet the jurors thought so too, as he only received a 3rd place ribbon. Photographers who want to be considered artists need to get off that soapbox – the final result is all that matters. The final images most people saw by Ansel Adams were highly manipulated to get the final results – perhaps in the darkroom, but if Adams lived to use Photoshop, he would have gone to town with that program. Oh wow, did you hear that crack of lightening!

Speaking of black and white photography, my favorite B&W images were by Lee Benoy, who had five images in the Architecture category. He didn’t win a ribbon, but that’s OK – it’s all subjective. They were some pretty fine B&W’s in my opinion and pretty good architectural images too.

And, while we’re talking old school and Photoshop it’s worth mentioning that Susan Muldrow swept 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the Digital category. She really has no competition when it comes to digitally manipulating photographs in the Pee Dee. Last year when I first saw her images I asked – “This is a photograph?” Muldrow takes color images and then uses, I guess Photoshop, to transform those images to look like paintings – loosely abstract paintings. These images can be stunning and last year I commented that they would probably win awards as straight photos, which makes some ask – why do the manipulation? It would take a lot to explain this and I’m not saying this is why Muldrow uses this technique, but painters get more respect than photographers do. And, it really sets your images apart from other photographs.

I think the most images were entered in the Floral category. At least as many as were in the Landscape and Wildlife categories – always the most popular. There were a lot of good floral images here and a few more in the Macro and Still Life categories. My favorite here was an image of a Japanese Magnolia pod by Donna Goodman.

In the Wildlife category the 1st place ribbon winner was a really nice image of a black swan in black water by Jeff McJunkin. It would have been a toss up for 1st for me with an image of a snowy egret by Susanne Sasser. But the surprise was the 2nd place winner, Really Dirty…Martini, by Patz Fowle – the whim of the Pee Dee. Linda and I couldn’t figure it out with out help from Ann Klein, but it was an image of a fish (with the face of a snake), and fish waste at the bottom of a very large Martini glass. You have to keep a close eye on that Patz Fowle – she’ll inject humor in just about every situation. And, we’re all lucky for it.

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The Landscape category produced the Best of Show winner by Anne Baldwin, but it also had some of the most questionable images. Usually good images find a way of standing out among not so good images, but in this case the not so good really muddied the waters for me. There was one image by Dubravka Perry which I would have given an award for Place You Might Want To Live (During The Summer) category.  It was titled,Neuschwanstein, which I guess was in Germany or Austria. A scene of snow capped mountains with a lake in the valley with lush green forest all around. You could almost see Heidi’s grandfather’s cabin there. The image wasn’t anything special, but you’d have to try hard to take a bad picture of such a place, but I know that’s not true. I’ve seen plenty of bad pictures of great places so Perry did a good job of capturing the scene.

That’s my impressions of Photofabulous 2012, but you should go see this show and form your own opinions.

Linda and I had a discussion about looking at photo exhibits and how much photography we have seen in our lives wondering if we could really get excited about seeing anything anymore. I have to admit it takes a lot to get me  really excited or to knock my socks off, but it is possible.  I saw some images which I wish I could say – I took that.

I had a short discussion with a few of the exhibit’s organizers and made a pitch that it might be time to have a truly juried exhibit where just getting into the exhibit would be an accomplishment and then give awards. Yes, this would cut some people out, but it also would give them something to shoot for. When everything that shows up is included, it can make for a show that can make lots of folks happy, but leave them with an empty feeling of what did it mean? When it’s juried for entry – that means something right away. It also may be a reason some better photographers from a year ago didn’t enter this year. But that could have just been a space problem.

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Changes are coming to the Art Trail Gallery. The building has been sold and I hear improvements to the building are being planned. Maybe it’s also time to change the policy of all who come can hang their works on the wall. Some gallery spaces around the Carolinas have a once a year community show where all who show up can hang on the wall – first come, first served. I know the Art Trail Gallery has been focused on building participation, but perhaps it’s time to step it up a notch and be a bit more selective. We all need goals and accomplishments to shoot for to make us better at things. Maybe that time has come for this space – as long as people are willing to come forward and volunteer to make it happen.

It may also be time for the participants of these shows to pay an entry fee – like most of these kinds of exhibits.  Entry fees can also be a good source for cash awards which will also draw the best.

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It’s hard to visit this gallery without viewing the works of Alex Palkovich, here is AHA Moment.

For further information call Jane Madden at 843/673-0729 or visit (www.art-trail-gallery.com).