Archive for the ‘Artist Opportunity’ Category

A Trip to Charleston, SC, When the Temps Were Over 100 Degrees to Pay Respect to a Gutsy Artist – Dr. Leo Twiggs

Friday, July 15th, 2016

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Last Friday, on July 8, 2016, I traveled down to Charleston, SC, from the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing Company in Bonneau, SC, to go to a reception for the exhibit, Requiem for Mother Emanuel, featuring nine works by Dr. Leo Twiggs, on view at the City Gallery at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Waterfront Park, through July 31, 2016. It was already 100 degrees when I left the house. Going to Charleston was the last thing I wanted to do that afternoon, but I had to. It was a matter of paying respect to an artist who well deserved it. Later on, the heat index would reach 110 and it felt like every bit of that and more.

I first met Dr. Twiggs at a special lunch set up by the Gibbes Museum of Art, back in the 90’s when they were showing an exhibit of photographs by W. Eugene Smith on his landmark photo essay, ‘Nurse Midwife’ Maude Callen, published in LIFE magazine in Dec. 1951. Back then I was still known as “somebody” in the Charleston photography community and I lived in Berkeley County where Maude Callen did her work. Dr. Twiggs was from St. Stephens, SC, in Berkeley County where Callan operated out of a small clinic.

I’ve never really talked with Dr. Twiggs since, but we have covered many an exhibit of his works throughout the years at institutional art spaces and commercial galleries in our publications South Carolina Arts and now Carolina Arts. In fact I loved every opportunity we got to show one of his works with the Confederate battle flag in it. I truly enjoy publishing works by a black man using that flag as a recurring symbol in his art.

And just like any day I go anywhere outside the area I live in, on Friday as I left to go to Charleston I had to drive past four Confederate flags flying in people’s front yards in my neighborhood.

I have no personal connection to the Civil War so it shouldn’t matter to me whether that flag flies anywhere, but I’ve grown to hate what it stands for today. Don’t give me that line about heritage – I’m not buying it. When I first arrived in SC I would often get asked which side my family was on – North or South. Being from Michigan, many assumed I was one of those carpetbaggin’ Yankees, but my relatives weren’t even in the US when the Civil War took place. They where trying to get out from under the boots of Russian Czars and British rulers and they didn’t make it out until after the turn of the century.

I’ve lived in South Carolina for 42 years and I never thought that the Confederate flag would come down off the SC State House grounds, much less the State House, but a stupid kid who thought he was a Johnny Reb who killed nine people while they were at a bible study class brought it down. Who would have thought that? Not me.

I’m not going to go into what’s behind Dr. Twiggs work or the work in this exhibit, the gallery has a film you can watch about that and a nice exhibit catalog which you can read his words on his work. You don’t need to hear my interpretation. But you should go see this exhibit.

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Here’s some information the gallery provided about this exhibition: Requiem for Mother Emanuel brings together nine new works by Leo Twiggs, created in commemoration of the nine victims who lost their lives on June 17, 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. A video produced exclusively for this exhibition will feature the personal commentary of Twiggs, who shares his artistic vision and gives tribute to the extreme grace displayed by the Mother Emanuel family.

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“This series has been the most difficult I have ever done,” says Leo Twiggs. “Some of the members of Mother Emanuel are close to my family. No series has been more painful or personal. I want people to look at my works and know that something tragic happened in a Church . . .  that a horrible thing happened in a Church that changed lives. My paintings are testimonies to the nine who were slain. But I also record another moment: our state’s greatest moment . . . a response that moved us from tragedy to redemption. For one shining moment we looked at each other not as different races but as human beings. From the City Gallery I can see the docks where the ships came in carrying my ancestors. Through the decades many of them worshiped at Mother Emanuel. Hopefully, we will not forget but will remember that moment that brought us all together.”

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Dr. Leo Twiggs (center)

One of the symbols that Twiggs has used in his paintings since the 1970’s is the Confederate Flag. The flag becomes a reoccurring symbol in the Requiem series as it is splashed across the surface of the Church. The flag morphs from a recognizable symbol to a disintegrating form that becomes a cross on a blood stained background and then changes to a cross with the red drained from it. The target and the symbol nine also appear in this series. There is a definite visual transition in the sixth painting as Twiggs recalls the afternoon he entered the Church and stood in front of the stained glass window.

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People watching the film about Dr. Twiggs and the making of this exhibit.

I also want to mention that this exhibit was made possible with the help of the Hampton III Gallery in Taylors, SC, (Greenville area) that is one of the galleries in SC which represents Dr. Twiggs’ work. Also, if you don’t live in the Charleston area or can’t get there in time to see this exhibit, that I understand it will be traveling to other parts of SC. Stay tuned into to Carolina Arts for more info on that.

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Dr. Twiggs giving a short talk at the reception.

As I mentioned in a Facebook post after attending the reception, the crowd there was a Who’s Who of the SC visual art community. The director of the SC Arts Commission and staff members where there, City of Charleston officials and staff members, institutional and commercial gallery owners and directors, artists, and other folks involved in the visual arts, as well as members of the Mother Emanuel family. They were all there to pay respect to one of SC’s most talented artist and one who was not afraid to use symbols of SC’s racial history in his works.

Now you can go and pay your respects to the artist and see the works he made in commemoration of the nine victims.

The City Gallery at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Waterfront Park is located at 34 Prioleau Street in downtown Charleston, SC, and gallery hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday, 10am until 6pm, Saturday and Sunday, noon until 5pm.

For more information and holiday closures, visit (http://citygalleryatwaterfrontpark.com) or call 843/958-6484.

The Results of ArtFields© 2016, the Art Exhibition and Competition that Takes Place in Lake City, SC, Jury Process

Monday, January 18th, 2016

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I wrote a blog post about my dislike of ArtFields© selecting locally connected people to jury in artists from the 12 Southeastern states eligible for entry into ArtFields©. You can find it at (http://carolinaarts.com/wordpress/2015/12/28/some-info-and-opinions-about-artfields-in-lake-city-sc/).

Two of the three members of the jury panel were:

Bradford R. Collins, PhD, Professor Art History, School of Visual and Design University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC.

David Houston, Director, Bo Bartlett Center, College of the Arts, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA,

Both have heavy connections to SC’s visual artists. What they left out of Houston’s description was that he was the former Visual Art Coordinator at the SC Arts Commission for many years.

The third juror was: Stephanie Mayer Heydt, PhD, Margaret and Terry Stent, Curator of American Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA.

And as I predicted, out of the 775 entries made, including having an extended deadline, 248 are from SC out of the 382 selected to show at ArtFields© 2016. This might be a good reason why so few artists are submitting entries from the other 11 states. But you can only select artists from the pool that enters and more artists from SC enter than any other state – by a long shot.

The full list of accepted artists can be viewed at (http://www.artfieldssc.org/artists/list-of-artfields-2016-accepted-artists/).

The breakdown of the states is as follows:
AL – 14
AR – 2
FL – 6
GA – 20
KY – 0
LA – 8
MS – 3
NC – 57
SC – 248
TN – 16
VA – 7
WV – 1

A total of 382

The number of entries from 2015 was 1,061, which also had an extended deadline. The entries for 2016 were 775 – 27% less than 2015 – that’s 286 less artists who entered last year.

The press release that announced the artists selected to participate in ArtFields© 2016 didn’t mention the fact that the entries – even with another extended deadline was 27% down from 2015. So I requested that info and received it promptly.

It’s not ArtFields©’ job or the agency they hired to help them with marketing to point out bad news and since they offered it as soon as I asked, they were not trying to hide it either. But this is a sign of several bad trends that ArtFields© will need to correct.

As I have mentioned before, an art competition organized by Elder Gallery in Charlotte, NC, called Carolina’s Got Art! seems to attract a large number of artists from just North and South Carolina – just under 1,000 for its 2015 event – with much less money being offered. The reasons for this are many, but I’m not going into this right now. But someone at ArtFields© could do themselves a big favor by inviting Larry Elder to Lake City as a consultant.

I’m still amazed at how few artists from NC are making it into the final selection of artists who will be on display. I don’t have a breakdown telling how many artists entered from each state, but I would assume that it’s close in relationship to how many got in the final cut. I did do a breakdown of those who got in and where they are from.

North Carolina is more developed as far as the visual arts go compared to South Carolina – more populated too, with more big cities and the number of artists who made the cut from these cities is shocking. Here they are from most to least:

Charlotte – 11
Asheville – 5
Wilmington – 5
Chapel Hill – 2
Raleigh – 1
Greensboro – 0
Durham – 0
Winston-Salem – 0

All of these cities have very large visual art communities and it’s hard for me to think that a $50,000 top cash award is not worth their effort to enter ArtFields©. There is a total of $110,000 in cash awards.

Winston-Salem calls themselves the “City of Arts and Innovation” – someone needs to tell them about ArtFields©.

So, what’s the problem – lack of marketing, entry process too hard, too many SC artists in the competition, regional jealousy, fact that top prize is also connected to a popular vote (a heavy advantage to SC artists), too far to deliver work or visit, Lake City just too small, lazy artists, etc.?

Think about it folks – Carolina’s Got Art! with a top award of $5,000 attracted just under 1,000 entries from 2 states and ArtFields© with a $50,000 top award attracts 775 entries from 12 states.

I don’t have hours and hours to go over this problem, much less the days and weeks it might take to really discover what the problem is – I have a publication to put out, but I like ArtFields© and I admire a small town in SC trying to revitalize their city by using the visual arts. I don’t have a clue as to how much work is going into this effort during the whole year or if this is just over their heads. The visual art community is not easy to understand or figure out. I’ve been trying to do that for almost 30 years and on a daily basis I have to scratch my head and wonder.

But I can figure out that something is wrong when a competition that involves artists from 12 states has only 2 artists from Arkansas and 8 from Louisiana – which both had top winners in previous events, and 0 from Kentucky.

Was there no news in Arkansas or Louisiana that they had an artist who won $50,000 at an art competition in South Carolina? That’s news here in SC – at least at Carolina Arts.

Now for the nit-picking part.

I’ve got a problem with the way people throw around numbers in the arts. Like when the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston used to say and got the media to keep repeating for years that it attracted over 100,000 people to Charleston, but usually only sells 60,000 tickets. It’s amazing how they do that. That’s a lot of free tickets given away or just make believe numbers that the media is to lazy to check out. That statement isn’t used much after I pointed out the ticket sales one year.

In the press release I received from Chernoff Newman, the marketing firm in Columbia, SC, ArtFields© hired, late in the season, to help them out, there were a few funny statements, The first was: “… the accepted artists will exhibit nearly 400 works of art,…” and a little later in the release it offers a statement from ArtFields© that says, “… the 2016 event will offer more than 400 pieces of world-class, southern art,…”. Doesn’t anyone edit these press releases. It’s got to be more or less – it can’t be both. And in 2015 and 2016 the actual number of artists on display was 383 and 382 more or less. So where does the 400 number come from?

On the list of artists selected from ArtFields© 2016 it had a statement in red which said, “Special Note: This list is subject to change”, which could make you wonder, but I know some artists don’t show up for some reason or another – really screwing other artists who were next on the cut-off list. Someone might show up with work that doesn’t represent what they submitted as an entry and be disqualified – again screwing other artists. And, I know I saw at least one artist who was listed as living in NC, but I think still lives in SC – it could be that kind of change. But for the 393 artists who didn’t make the cut – did this statement give them hope? I wonder. I don’t know if they call an artists in at the last minute, but even if they do they won’t be included in the promotional catalog.

Another little tidbit. I did check out the new list with the 2015 list of artists accepted. And, in checking just a little more than 10% of last years list (42 artists) 11, about 26%, got back in the competition. I’m not going to leap to the conclusion that 74% of last year’s artists didn’t make it in because that number could change drastically and some may not have re-entered. I kept hearing a lot of artists say they were one and done for various reasons. One being the fact that they were tired of seeing the deadline extended and others didn’t like the fact that local jurors were making the selections of who would be in and who would win cash awards. Turnover is OK – we don’t want to see the same people in the exhibit every year, but you would prefer that any turnover is due to having different jurors and the artists keep entering year after year because they think ArtFields© is a great opportunity. Some artists will always make the cut – they’re that good at what they do, but when good artists stop entering – that’s not good.

But, here’s the good news. From what I saw of the list and my knowledge of NC and SC artists who made the cut – it’s going to be another interesting show worth seeing. And, I can’t wait until March when we get to see the work these artists will be bringing to Lake City on ArtFields©’s online gallery.

To those artists who made the cut – congratulations. You will be seen and have the opportunity to win some money or an exhibit and untold intangible rewards. Someone might buy your work.

So what’s the purpose of this blog entry – history, observation, information and concern. I’m still a supporter of ArtFields© and I want it to succeed – regardless if they ever do another paid ad with us or not. It’s not that much money one way or another, but SC’s visual artists need something like this – even if too many from our state are included out of the 12 state field. I want ArtFields© to continue and improve.

ArtFields© 2016 takes place Apr. 22-30, 2016, in Lake City, SC. Make plans now to attend. For further info about all the activities that will take place, besides all the exhibited art, visit (www.artfieldssc.org).

Some Info and Opinions About ArtFields© in Lake City, SC

Monday, December 28th, 2015

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I’m a supporter of ArtFields©, the art exhibition and competition that takes place in Lake City, SC, a small town in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina. As far as the media goes, I’m one of their biggest supporter, but that doesn’t keep me from throwing in my 2 cents about what I think they’re doing wrong or could do better.

Right about the time they extended their deadline for its call for entries – a bad habit I wish they would get over – ArtFields© released info about the people who will be helping them select entries and then select the winners of the $110,000 in cash prizes. I support their call for entries, but will not let our readers of Carolina Arts and its related social media, know when they have extended their deadline for entries. It’s an insult for all those who made the original deadline. Letting in a few slackers in after the deadline is wrong.

It’s time that the people running ArtFields© understand that they need to work all year long to make their event successful and stop taking such long breaks after the event ends each year. They need to keep their foot on the gas peddle – marketing the event and encouraging artists to enter the event by deadline. If there is a problem with the entry process they need to fix it and ask artists what the problem is.

I also don’t agree with their selection of people who will be selecting entries and then selecting the winners – as most of them are from the states eligible for entries. These people know the work – by sight – of many of the people who enter and some of them probably called some of their artist friends and told them they should enter. This is another sign that the folks running ArtFields© don’t know much about the visual art community in general. No panelists or juror should be from any of the 12 states artists can enter from or have any connections to those states and the artists who live and work there.

Bradford R. Collins and David Houston are two very good examples of people who should not be in a position to select artists or determine awards. Their ties to artists in SC alone should have disqualified them from these positions. The results will be shown once the 400 are announced.

These important positions should be filled with arts professionals from the North West, Mid-West and North East of the US – folks as far away as possible from the Southeastern states.

The people ArtFields© selected smell too much like the SC Arts Commission – a group in my opinion ArtFields© should stay far away from if they want their event to grow and prosper. ArtFields© already suffers from a poor retention rate of people who entered one year but do not enter again. That’s a bad pattern making it hard to attract new entries each year – resulting in extended deadlines.

Also – this list of people making entry selections and award selections should be identified before entry time lines begin, not as selections are closing. Another bad habit of the SC Arts Commission, who once told me they do it that way so artists don’t threaten jurors to pick them or else. Or else what? Is that really a problem when it comes to juried shows? And, if it is – it’s just another good reason for selecting people outside – far outside the area of artists who can enter.

So here’s the 2016 list of Panelists and Jury Members

ArtFields© 2016

Panelists:

Bradford R. Collins, PhD, Professor Art History, School of Visual and Design University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC

Stephanie Mayer Heydt, PhD, Margaret and Terry Stent Curator of American Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA

David Houston, Director, Bo Bartlett Center, College of the Arts, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA

Jury Members:

Graham Boettcher, chief curator and The William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL. Boettcher was previously a curatorial fellow at the Yale University Art Gallery, and has held research fellowships at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and the Terra Foundation Summer Residency in Giverny, France.

Stephanie Cash, editor of BURNAWAY – The Voice of Art in the South magazine in Atlanta, GA. Cash contributes to such publications as Art in America, Photograph, and Modern Painters, and has also worked as a free-lance writer and editor for ArtsATL.com, Rizzoli, and Prestel publishers.

Kimberly Light, co-founder and partner of Connelly & Light Art Advising Firm, a full service art advisory, curatorial, collections management company based in LA and NYC.

Emily Smith, executive director of 1708 Gallery; a non-profit gallery committed to providing opportunities for artistic innovation for emerging and established artists and to expanding the understanding and appreciation of new art for the public. Smith, of Richmond, VA, was the Curatorial Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Leslie Umberger, a curator and art historian of American art, specializing in the work of folk, self-taught, and vernacular artists. In 2012 Umberger was appointed as inaugural Curator of Folk and Self-taught Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She is currently organizing a major retrospective for the Alabama artist Bill Traylor (1843-1949), which will open in the spring of 2018 in Washington, DC.

Crossing South Carolina’s Great Flood Plain to Go See Some Great Black and White Photographs of America at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

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The title of this blog post refers to the fact that in order for me to travel from Bonneau, SC, to Lake City, SC, – just an hour’s drive on Hwy. 52, I would have to cross over the Santee River and the Black River Swamp. This is no big deal when it’s dry but a month ago in October, 2015, when a low in the weather pattern across SC sucked all the rain out of Hurricane Joaquin and dumped it on SC – it wasn’t possible for a while. Hundreds of roads and bridges in SC were closed and unpassable. But by Oct. 30, the day I traveled to Lake City to see the exhibit, America the Beautiful: The Monumental Landscapes of Clyde Butcher, featuring 56 large-scale, black and white photographs, on view at the Jones-Carter Gallery, the roads were high and dry – way above the water. There were still signs along the road of the destruction the flooding left behind, but the roads were clear and the communities I passed were as busy as beehives. Most of SC is now open for business.

The Jones-Carter Gallery, located at 105 Henry Street, next to The Bean Market in Lake City, SC, will be presenting this exhibition until Jan. 2, 2016. You still have lots of time to go see it, but don’t put it off too long or the holidays will get in your way. The gallery will be closed Nov. 26-27 and Dec. 24-26, but they will be open New Year’s Day for those who don’t care to spend the day watching football.

America the Beautiful: The Monumental Landscapes of Clyde Butcher is a collection of photographs of the American landscape, spanning breathtaking sites across the United States, from the coast of Maine to the Badlands, to the Everglades and to the Great Smoky Mountains. The exhibition tour management is provided by Photographic Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA. And these folks did a great job, along with the staff of the Jones-Carter Gallery in presenting this exhibition. There are large identification boards – most are 8″ x 10″ in size and some are as large at 16″ x 20″ or larger. They were very informative, giving the locations where the images were taken, and info about how they were captured – without too much technical info. Photographers sometimes get too wrapped up in photo tech talk. The photographs themselves were big and beautiful. America never looked so beautiful.

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Moon over Tetons by Clyde Butcher. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

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Here a photo of Clyde Butcher making the image Moon over Tetons. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

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Here’s an example of the large ID boards.

I always say, “Take the Americans out of the American landscape and we look like the best place in the world”. I think Ansel Adams learned that too, and it looks like Clyde Butcher is no fool either. In fact, I think the message in these photographs is that we can keep these great places looking great if we just keep out of them. Viewing the exhibit is the best way for most Americans to see these spaces. Once mankind puts himself in the picture – it’s all down hill from there.  We all don’t need to experience these spaces in person. It’s best left to the professionals to go there and then tell their story. Oh it’s much better to see it in person close up, but we all don’t behave well in nature.

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El Capitan by Clyde Butcher. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

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Sand Dunes by Clyde Butcher. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

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Here’s a look at a couple of big images.

Some of the photographs offered are almost like standing where the photographer was standing – they’re that large. And Clyde Butcher is an old school photographer. He carries an 8″ x 10″ view camera around – through the woods, through the swamp, over the mountains and sand dunes. Sometimes he gets lucky and finds an image along the roadside. Then he just has to unpack his vehicle, but most of the time the best shoots are in remote places – in the early morning or late in the afternoon.

That’s one thing I don’t think the general public understands about photography. You know the folks who say. “I could have taken that if I just went there.” Most great photographs are made after lots of scouting trips to find locations, then you have to figure what time of year and what time of the day the light will be right, and if you’re lucky it won’t rain that day or be snowing – or maybe you’re waiting until it snows. Like most good things it’s about location, location, location and timing. So many photographers may take years to get the image they want and some people think they’ll just be able to walk up and take the shot. Most people can’t imagine waiting an hour for anything these days.

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Clyde Butch in sun rays in redwood forest. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

The other old school thing about the photographs in this exhibit is that they came out of a darkroom. Having spent 16 years in a black and white darkroom myself I know that was no easy trick – especially when you see the size of some of these images. Hannah Davis, the Gallery Director at the Jones-Carter Gallery, told me that Butcher is using some digital equipment now just to cut down on his wear and tear. After all,  he’s 74 years old and still working at capturing America’s beauty. Davis also informed me that Butcher, who has never spent time in South Carolina photographing, will soon be working in the Congaree National Park, working on a book for the National Park Service to show off our national parks.

I took a few pics of the way the gallery looked, which shows why I couldn’t take any of the individual photos. The glass, or more likely Plexiglas, covering the images was very reflective. It’s a good thing the gallery has some PR images they could send me to give you a better idea of how the images looked in person – they were spectacular. And, that’s the great thing about this exhibit, it’s easy to look at.

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Here’s a look down the first wall of images as you enter the exhibit.

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A view of the back wall of the exhibit.

This is the easiest kind of exhibit for anyone to look at. Yes, there is the message that we need to save these areas, but other than that – you see what you see. It’s pretty straight forward. The info blocks give you the where, how and why, but beyond that there’s nothing you need to figure out.

A lot of today’s photographers need to go see this exhibit and read all the info offered – especially the smart phone photographers. The subject matter may not be your cup of tea – not cutting edge enough, but the process is important. Good images just don’t happen – they are created or captured over time. The process should be slow and deliberate. Results should be studied before they are presented.

Go see this exhibit. Clyde Butcher has put a lot into making these images and most of you, including me, will never get to see these parts of America any other way. And, that’s a good and bad thing, but we can all make sure we hold on to these places for as long as we can and save many more for generations to come. That’s all about being a good citizen and paying the price of keeping some things instead of using everything up as fast as we can.

The Jones-Carter Gallery is a facility of the Community Museum Society in Lake City which also manages ArtFields©, a community based art exhibit and competition with $110,000 in cash prizes, which will take place Apr. 22 – 30, 2016. For further info about it visit (www.artfieldssc.org).

Admission is free at the Jones-Carter Gallery, as is parking, and there’s plenty of it. The gallery hours are: Tue.-Fri., 10am-6pm and Sat., 11am-5pm.

In conjunction with this exhibition, ART 101 at ONE will be offered on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, from 1-2pm. Meet us at The Inn at the Crossroads (128 W. Main Street) for a lunch and learn lecture series featuring a hand-crafted lunch box provided by The Crossroads Grill and a presentation by Gallery Manager, Hannah L. Davis. These bite-sized pieces of art appreciation are a fun way to get to know our current exhibits and learn more about some of your favorite artists! November’s lecture will be “From Ansel Adams to Edward Weston: American Photography Masters,” and will cover several of the most influential photographers in the US.

Art 101 at ONE is a program of ArtFields®. The above lecture series is presented in conjunction with the Jones-Carter Gallery’s exhibition, America the Beautiful: The Monumental Landscapes of Clyde Butcher. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased in advance at (www.artfieldssc.org). For more information about this program, please call the ArtFields office at 843/374-0180.

For further info about the exhibit, call Hannah L. Davis, Gallery Manager at 843/374-1505 or visit (www.jonescartergallery.com).

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

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

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

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

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

So What About This Year’s Event?

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

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

First Impressions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Bullet Points

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artists Be Smart – All Shinny New Things Are Not All Good

Monday, January 6th, 2014

If you’ve been on the internet looking at publications this holiday season you may have seen ads for a new online gallery with a slogan – Ugallery original art. original you. I’ve even see it on our Google Adsense ads on our website and blogs – of which we have no control.

After seeing it for the 50th time I clicked on the link to see what it was all about and essentially it was nothing new – an online gallery. Although it looks slicker than most and doing the most advertising than any I’ve seen it’s still like most online galleries – lots of pictures of a variety of art. The only difference is they boost of having the “top emerging artists” and the key word here is “emerging” – meaning artists who are not that popular yet. Which was true when I looked at the artist’s roster. I did not recognize any of the names I saw representing North or South Carolina. Which means they haven’t been exhibiting in galleries in the Carolinas. At least ones we’ve been covering.

Here’s their basic statement: “Here at Ugallery, we represent the top emerging artists from across North America and photographers from around the world. We’re passionate about our collection and our artists, and we are always looking for talented artists with positive attitudes to join our community. The application process is a quick one, and we’ll get back to you within one week to let you know if you’ve been accepted to the website. For more information on how we operate, be sure to read our Artist FAQ.”

Here’s a few of their FAQ’s that stood out to me:

One more thing – we charge a small non-refundable fee of $5 to apply to the website. Bummer, we know, but it helps us ensure that the artists who apply are serious and committed.

We split the sale of artwork 50/50 and we cover all of the costs of packaging and shipping the work.

We currently represent 450 artists.

UGallery has the exclusive right to the artwork displayed on the website. This prevents the risk of selling the same piece of art to two different parties. However, we encourage you to pursue physical gallery representation while exhibiting on our site. This increases the exposure of your work as well as of our gallery.

OK – if I were an artist those four answers to FAQ’s would give me second thoughts about applying to be the 451st artists in their roster. And when you take a look at some of those 450 artist’s work – you better hope you have something really different than what I saw to help you stand out. Besides I’m not sure how many people will look through that many different portfolios in this day of short attention spans. And, I bet after this media blitz their roster has doubled. They might just be making money off the $5 application fee. And, does $5 really make you serious and committed? That’s a laugh.

Ask yourself what are they doing for their 50% cut? Except tying up the rights to the works you send them. And what does that mean? Do they have the right to sell your images to be used in advertising or what? This media blitz won’t last forever and each time they run it – it will just increase their stable of artists – unless the turnover will be that great. Then you have to ask yourself why it there that much turnover?

The problem with most galleries – from an artist’s point of view is that they represent too many artists and don’t spend enough time promoting their work. Think about that 450 number now.

The one good thing I read about Ugallery is that you still hold onto your work. So you won’t get lost in some warehouse with thousands of works stacked up in it, but once you send the work off to their buyer (regardless if they pay for shipping) – will you get paid in the time frame they state? Your work is gone. And if you don’t – who do you call to find out about when you get paid and where is Ugallery anyway?

Sure this system may be good for some artists – emerging artists – but I hope “emerging” in this case doesn’t mean learning tough lessons about the art industry.

I’m just saying – be smart – ask questions – ask around.

I’ve got a question for Ugallery. How do you think that physical gallery is going to feel when they find out that you want their artists to stay with them while playing around with you at the same time? You’re not playing on an equal basis. Ugallery isn’t like a physical gallery in another city 300 miles away – paying overhead, local taxes, and greeting customers who come through the door.

The 2014 ArtFields Competition and Exhibition in Lake City, SC, is About to Start

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Before we start promoting this event, there are still a few unanswered questions about last year’s event and this upcoming event that you as an artist should be wondering about. Like what are they going to do differently?

A recent report tells us that 22,000 visitors attended the event – that’s an estimate as there where no ticket sales to base attendance on. Of those 22,000 visitors only 5,965 people registered to vote in the competition and only 2,443 votes were cast. Why did so few visitors want to participate in the vote – which is the core of the event and then why did less then half of the people who registered to participate actually cast a vote?

We still have not been offered how many votes the top winners received – with almost 400 possible works to be voted on did the winners get over 100 votes or maybe even over 500 votes? What does it take to win this competition?

As far as this year’s event goes – who are the judges for entry and who will make selections on the winners. Are they the same as last year, different or a mix?

What does “ONE” work really mean? Can it be an installation of a lot of works related to each other? Can it be a sculptural piece of 100 or 1000 pieces? Can the one work be a site specific installation that fills a whole room? I know a lot of artists who submitted one painting that was maybe 16″ x 20″ last year who were surprised when they saw some of the “one” works of art at last year’s event.

And finally, if you are interested in entering, I suggest you read the rules very carefully. It cost one person $25,000 last year by not understanding the rules or thinking they didn’t matter.

Just remember, I support this event and feel the folks in Lake City did a wonderful job on their first effort, but there is room for improvement. I have yet to hear anything about those issues.

Here’s the official call for entries:

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Starting Oct. 30, 2013, You Can Register for the 2014 ArtFields Competition and Exhibition in Lake City, SC

The 2014 ArtFields Competition and Exhibition takes place in Lake City, SC, from Apr. 25 through May 4, 2014.

Whether you’re an established or emerging artist, get ready to submit your artwork to the 2014 ArtFields Art Competition for a chance to win $100,000 in total cash prizes! The Call for Submissions will open October 30 and will close December 13, 2013 at (http://www.artfieldssc.org/artists/how-it-works/) that link will be closed until October 30.

Artists may only submit ONE piece of artwork to the competition, and there is a $25 non-refundable entry fee. Artists must reside in one of the 12 Southeastern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) for 6 consecutive months prior to the submission date. Eligible artists must be 18 years of age on or before the submission deadline of Friday, December 13, 2013. Artwork must have been completed within two years of the submission deadline of Friday, December 13, 2013, and artists may submit one 2-D or 3-D piece of artwork, including, but not limited to, painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, digital media, and installation art.

View the full entry rules at (http://www.artfieldssc.org/artists/rules/), information on prizes (see below) and artists FAQs (http://www.artfieldssc.org/artists/faqs/). If you’d like to get inspiration for the Competition, visit our online gallery of last year’s finalists at (www.artfieldssc.org).

For any art related questions, please e-mail to (ArtTeam@artfieldssc.org).

$100,000 in Prizes:

Prizes will be awarded in three amounts:

$50,000 – Top Prize awarded by a combination of visitors’ votes and a jury of visual arts professionals.

$25,000 – Juried Panel Prize awarded by a jury of visual arts professionals who will be present in Lake City, SC during ArtFields.

$12,500 – People’s Choice 2-Dimensional
$12,500 – People’s Choice 3-Dimensional

Each of the People’s Choice is determined by visitors’ votes throughout the ten-day artfest. Visitors will register in Lake City, SC, and vote for their favorite entries during ArtFields. Visitors may only vote once per entry.

For further info visit (www.artfieldssc.org).

Checking Out Another Cultural Offering in the Pee Dee in Johnsonville, SC

Monday, August 5th, 2013

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Linda and I made an early scamper up Hwy. 52 to Lake City, SC, and then to Johnsonville, SC – just 20 minutes to the east to check out the 2nd Artisan Outpost event at the old library building in Johnsonville. We had overbooked the day and needed to get back home early to entertain grandchildren. So we were going to be spending a little more time in the car than on the ground, but in the short hour we were there – we saw what it was all about and learned something too.

When we got to Lake City I took a short cut and Linda remarked that I was getting to know that town very well – as I should, as I think of it as the new Gateway to the Pee Dee. I won’t trademark that so the tourism folks are free to use it, but I guess if you’re coming from a different direction other than Bonneau, SC, headquarters of PSMG, Inc., who produce Carolina Arts, it doesn’t make much sense. So, it’s just my gateway to the Pee Dee. Of course if I ever find something worth seeing in Kingstree, SC, that could change.

But here’s a hint to Lake City. If you ever want me to stop in Lake City, as I’m passing through, you’re going to have to open something up on the weekend.

Anyway, we arrived in Johnsonville in about an hour and 20 minutes – a little early, before the event was scheduled to open but I’ve found that no one seems to mind if the press shows up early. We were welcomed by Jackie Stasney, an artist who makes jewelry and is also the driving force behind the Artisan Outpost.

I took some photos which are presented here, but they are not the best they could be. I was under some duress as to what I could accomplish in an hour. Can I talk to folks – something that tends to get me sidetracked and forget to take photos. If I just took photos it would make the artists nervous – thinking I was another artist who had no original ideas of his own – snapping pics to steal all their ideas. In the end, I got a look at everything, talked with a few folks and then ran into Jane Madden – who we have a long history with in sharing ideas in promoting the artists of the Pee Dee. So the serious talking began, but before I knew it Linda was acting as my walk-up alarm – which had gone off twice – when she just said, “we have to go!” And, go we did, but I do have some observations to share with those who care to read them.

First, if the Artisan Outpost event is to continue, and I think it will – they have had great success with the first two events (considering this last one was competing with tax-free weekend in SC) the city of Johnsonville would do well to invest in a couple of banners to drape across a few of the town’s crossroads announcing that the Artisan Outpost takes place on the first Saturday of the month. This would let everyone who passes through the area know about the event. That’s a small investment to help develop some cultural tourism. A few more signs like the one shown here placed where people need to turn to find the old library would also help.

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Although there is a great mix of items offered, all handmade, that you would normally find at flea markets, farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and even in fine art galleries – a few more items would really round things out. I think a local potter who makes functional wares would be an excellent addition to the Artisan Outpost offerings. This month they had a sweetgrass basket maker, Jennifer Mazyck, from Mt. Pleasant, SC, which brings up the idea of inviting one special artisan from outside the Pee Dee every event to give locals a look at something they may not see locally – to keep them coming back. After awhile seeing the same items offered – event after event, may grow stale for the folks who live in Johnsonville or nearby. A monthly invited guest artisan would shake things up and keep them fresh, but they may have already thought of this.

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Now it should be noted that in this eclectic mix, there were a few things you might not see at any of the afore mentioned venues – anywhere. Jim Gleason’s musical creations – made from recycled parts of musical instruments can’t be found just anywhere. I get around a lot but I’ve never run across baskets made from recycled magazines which Joyce McDaniel makes. And, the big unexpected find of the hour for me was John Siderio, who was offering knives, arrowheads and arrows all made from chipped stones and other natural items – like animal gut.

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Siderio who moved to South Carolina from Linden, TN, used to travel the craft fair circuit for 20 years, has just joined the Artisan Outpost group, and I found his display to be the most interesting – this day. I’m not even sure what you would call him – a flint worker, stone chipper, or what, but other than the stones (which come from all over the world) all or most of his items he said came from his back yard. He makes his items the way Native Americans did hundreds and thousands of years ago. And, like those Native Americans he uses everything offered from nature and wastes no part of anything.

While we were talking with him, Siderio demonstrated how you would break a chip off a rock, use natural tools to make a saw that could cut a tree branch or a tool to skin an animal. He loves his craft, loves talking about it and loves showing folks who would take the time – how it was done. You can’t do this with just any stone, but the chips he got off of those stones were like razor blades.

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I know some re-enactor folks who would love to shop at Siderio’s display. He doesn’t have a website, so there is no online shopping so you’ll have to go to Johnsonville’s first Saturday Artisan Outpost to see his hand-crafted items. If the zombie takeover ever comes John Siderio will be a survivor for sure. If you see yourself as a survivor – you might want to check out Siderio’s knives and arrow heads.

Jackie Stasney, with the help of Johnsonville city leaders, have created a wonderful event for locals and tourists alike which I feel will only get better and better as word gets out. Jane Madden who has assisted them in promoting the event is also one of the artisans offering silk scarves.

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I’m sure I’ll be back for a longer stay, and it sure would be nice to have something to check out in Lake City at the same time, but that will come in time. Before you know it SC will have a new heritage trail around the Pee Dee for folks to explore.

The next Artisan Outpost will take place on Sept. 7, 2013, from 11am to 5pm. And, if you go – don’t forget to pay your respects to General Francis Marion over at Venter’s Landing in Johnsonville where Alex Palkovich’s statue rests. It was men like Marion and other men from the Johnsonville area who saved us from having to get all excited about a royal baby being born. Oh wait, that happens now anyway. Why – I’m not sure.

For more information, to volunteer, or to participate, persons may contact Jackie Stasney at 843/621-1751 or visit the Artisan Outpost Facebook page at (https://www.facebook.com/artisanoutpostjohnsonvillesc).

Southeast’s Most Generous Art Festival, ArtFields Announces Artist Registration Schedule and Program Rules – Deadline Feb. 1, 2013

Friday, January 11th, 2013

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ArtFields invites emerging and established artists to compete for $100,000 in cash prizes from April 19 to 28, 2013, in Lake City, SC

Three artists who reside in any of a dozen Southeastern states will soon lay claim to career-changing cash prizes that honor their exceptional talents.

From April 19 to 28, 2013, this small town with a big heart will be home to an epic Southern artfest, as ArtFields blooms in its streets and fields.

The festival will be open to new works (2- and 3-dimensional art) from emerging and established artists residing in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. All will vie for the largest cash prizes in the Southeastern art world: Top Prize ($50,000), People’s Choice ($25,000) and Juried Panel Winner ($25,000).

Registration opens Jan. 7, 2013 at (http://www.artfieldssc.org), and will close Feb. 1, 2013. Artists will submit work digitally for consideration by an independent panel of visual arts professionals, who will determine selection. Registration requires a $25 fee, and artists are limited to one submission. Full residency requirements and other rules are available on the festival website.

Ultimately, more than 400 pieces will be selected and showcased throughout Lake City. Guests of the 10-day festival – and fans of the artists – will be encouraged to vote in-person for their favorite pieces. Votes cast by attendees will determine the People’s Choice Prize and be factored into the Top Prize.

In addition to the juried competition, ArtFields will offer a bumper crop of creative activities. Plans include an artist lecture series, a portrait competition, music concerts, a farmers’ market and much more.

Lake City boosters – led by the highly successful businesswoman, Darla Moore – have created ArtFields to celebrate the town’s rich history as a farming community. For generations, the fields yielded robust crops of strawberries and beans. Today, they are growing the largest art competition in the Southeast.

For information on sponsorship and participation opportunities, contact ArtFields at 843/374-0180 or visit (www.artfieldssc.org).

Want to Get Away from it All and Ham it up at the Same Time – the Carolina Renaissance Festival is Looking for You

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

This will be one of my goals – when I retire. Here’s a photo of one of my costumes for this festival.

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Here’s their press release:

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Renaissance Festival Auditions Underway – Your Chance To Act and Play!

The Carolina Renaissance Festival, a combination of outdoor theater, circus, arts and crafts fair, jousting tournament and feast, will hold open auditions on Wednesday, June 27th from 6:30 to 9pm and Saturday, June 30th from 9am – noon at Ballantyne Arts Center located at the 11318 North Community House Road, Charlotte, NC, (on the second floor).

In addition to the open auditions, the Renaissance Festival is also seeking to fill the following specific roles:

·       Adult male actors to fill the role of The Royal Guard.
·       Interactive Living Statues.
·       Variety performers (jugglers, circus skills, etc.).
·       Outgoing personalities to portray renaissance era villagers.

Professional and amateur opportunities are available. Prepared material, head shots, and resumes are appreciated but not required. Auditionees should be age 16 or older.  Contact 704/896-5555 or e-mail (Vreanie@royalfaires.com) to schedule an audition appointment. Additional information can be found at (www.RenFestInfo.com).

The 19th annual Renaissance Festival will be underway for seven weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, October 6 through November 18, 2012, on a 245 acre site minutes north of Charlotte, between Concord and Huntersville, at the junction of NC 73 and Poplar Tent Road