Archive for the ‘Art Exhibitions’ Category

A New Way To Greenwood, SC, To See Some Art

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Back in the day, when I had to spend a week delivering Carolina Arts all over North and South Carolina, I would spend 12 – 16 hours a day driving in big circles around the two states. One route in South Carolina took me up I-26 to Columbia, then to Newberry, then Clinton, then to Spartanburg, over to Greenville, up to Seneca, back down to Clemson, then over to Pendleton, across I-85 into Anderson, on to Belton, then a long stretch to Greenwood, then down to Edgefield, down further to Aiken, then to Denmark, finally to St. George over to I-26 and back home to Bonneau on the shores of Lake Moultrie where the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing is. On a real ambitious day I would include Abbeville, McCormick and Barnwell. I remember even going to Union a couple of times. That was when I was acting like I was a missionary for the arts. Eventually I just took the paper to places where we got support from, which meant almost the entire left side of SC was being left out. They didn’t support our efforts – why should they see the paper? Now that we’re an electronic publication – anyone anywhere can download a copy – no delivery by me. And we cover anywhere in the Carolinas, as long as they send us info before our deadline. We just never heard form folks on that left side of the state.

In 2016, out of the blue we started getting some support from Greenwood and then Anderson. So when I decided I wanted to make a trip to Greenwood I had to look on a map to see how to get there directly from Bonneau. Of course it was get on I-26, it’s always I-26 it seems. Head through Columbia, up to Newberry and then take Hwy. 34 over to Greenwood. I don’t think I have ever been on Hwy. 34 in SC before, which was amazing as I feel like I’ve been on every road at one time or another. I noticed I’d be going through Ninety Six (a Revolutionary War town) which might be interesting.

I’ve never understood why SC is so into the Civil War when it is the Revolutionary War it should be proud of – it was won mostly in South Carolina.

Hwy. 34 is just a two lane highway and it is an up and down road. Most of the traffic was logging trucks. I never did see where they were coming from or where they were going to, but both drives in and out of Greenwood was one logging truck after another.

I left Bonneau just before 7am (it was 61 degrees) and got to Greenwood about 10:30am (it was about 68 degrees). It was like a Fall day in October. Remember, this was the 8th of June – June.

First stop was the Arts Center of Greenwood, at the Federal Building, 120 Main Street, in downtown Greenwood to check out the “11th Annual South Carolina Festival of Flowers Juried Art Show”. The weekend of June 2-4 was the SC Festival of Flowers’ 50th Anniversary, which I had hoped to attend, but too many other things got in the way. Also on view at the Arts Center was the “South Carolina Festival of Flowers Juried Youth Art Show,” featuring works by regional youth artists (K-12).

I’ve tried over several years to get the folks at the Arts Center of Greenwood to send us press releases about their exhibits with no success. They have a nice exhibit space and put on some interesting exhibits – why they are not interested in publicizing them is a mystery to me, but I got a few insights on my visit yesterday.

When I walked into the Arts Center and began viewing the exhibit, I was soon greeted by someone who was manning a front desk. I asked if there was a handout sheet giving info about the exhibit. She replied no. A short time later I asked if she could tell me who the juror was. She could not. By the time I had a third question about the exhibit, she offered to takes some notes and get me some answers when a staff member arrived. No one on staff was on site that morning? This is why you produce an information sheet for volunteers to hand out.

As I looked around the exhibit, I recognized some names, but there were many that I did not and it was soon clear that this was mostly a regional show of artists from the left side of the state. I’m not sure if that was a restriction of the exhibit, but I didn’t see many artists from other parts of the state. We have never received a call for entries about this exhibit, so my guess is not many artists knew about it.

By the time I got home I had an e-mail from Catherine S. Gaither, Facilities Director at the Arts Center of Greenwood. Her short note offered that they had 182 entries, 64 of those were accepted and the judge for the exhibit was Erin Glaze Nathanson.

So I was wrong – the woman who couldn’t help me with much info about the exhibit was Ms. Gaither, who is on staff at the Arts Center. So the staff doesn’t talk to each other much about what goes on in the Arts Center. But she did get me the info I wanted and that was better than most communications I’ve had in the past trying to get them to send me info about their exhibits.

617Greenwood-Arts-Center0.1Centered view of the Countybank Gallery

617Greenwood-AC-gallery-view-right4887View of the right side of the Countybank Gallery

617Greenwood-AC-Hallway-viewView of the Gallery Hall/Greenwood Capital

Erin Glaze Nathanson is from Charleston, she used to work at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park, another exhibit facility that doesn’t see much value in promoting their exhibits. They do a much better job at it now.

I later requested info on the winners of the competition and once I received this I figured that it was a state-wide opportunity, as their were award winners from Rock Hill and Charleston. I’ll include that info at the end of this post.

Well there could have been more artists from around the state who were part of the 182 entries, but didn’t get selected to be in the exhibit.

I’ll give the Arts Center credit for not having a judge from the region – Charleston is a long way from the left side of the state. But it might have been better to have a judge from outside the state for a state-wide competition.

So what about the exhibit?

Not knowing what was entered and seeing the 64 works selected to be on view, one third of the entries, there were some very good works on view and I didn’t walk away thinking out of all the works on display – how did the judge give awards to these works and not others. I think it would have been a hard job for any judge. The quality of the works were all at a high level, which isn’t always true of a juried show. I’ve included some images of works that caught my eye and the show in general, showing the exhibit space. Keep in mind some works that I liked may have been impossible to get a good image of so they are not included.

617Greenwood-AC-Elizabeth-Snipes-Rochester“Grounded” by Elizabeth Snipes-Rochester of Greenwood

617Grenwood-AC-Carey-Morton“Myth” by Carey Morton of Pendleton

617Greenwood-AC-Katelyn-Chapman“A Good Plenty” by Katelyn Chapman of Athens, GA – I guess the show was open to artists in Georgia too or they could be a student at one of the state colleges or universities.

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“Vessel No. 357″ by Lee Sipe of Columbia

617Greenwood-AC-Elaine-Quave“Hominid Asclepias Sp3″ by Elaine Quave of Greenville

We included info from the SC Festival of Flowers that the show would be up through June 27, but I found that on the Art Center’s website they say it will be up through the end of the month June 30, 2017. I’d call to make sure if you plan a visit. And, I recommend that you do make a visit to Greenwood to see this show and other things still on view during the month of June.

I’m not sure why the folks at the Arts Center are not interested in sending us info about their exhibits, why they are not interested in helping Greenwood attract more visitors, but the local tourism folks are. I do know it’s discouraging for SC’s B and C size cities to do much PR beyond their own backyard as the media in SC only sees three cities in SC – Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville. All other areas can only be mentioned when something bad happens there. I hope at some point they change their mind, but I didn’t see any info about any other exhibits planned for the Summer.

617Greenwood-AC-Kendell-Lusk“Pause” by Kendall Lusk of Belton – this was a small work 7″ x 5″ but it was as strong as the biggest work in the exhibit

617Greenwood-AC-Al-Byers“Untitled” by Al Beyer of Aiken

617Greenwood-AC-Kymberly-Day“The Girls Who Hang with Cattle” by Kymberly Day of Pendleton – this was the Best of Show winner

617Greenwood-AC-Deighton-Abrams“Self-Created Bliss/Everything True” by Deighton Abrams of Seneca

617Greenwood-AC-Doug-McAbee“Fred” by Doug McAbee of Laurens

Hours for the Arts Center are: Mon.-Fri., 10am-5pm and Sat., 9:30am-1:30pm. You can contact them by calling 864/388-7800 or visit (www.emeraldtriangle.us/arts-center), but you won’t really find much info there.

617Greenwood-AC-youth-gallery-viewView of the Calhoun Mays Reception Hall

Now while at the Arts Center I also took a look at the “South Carolina Festival of Flowers Juried Youth Art Show,” on display, but it will come down before I can get this posted. I’m always amazed at youth art shows as there are always a few works that don’t look like they were done by a student. There were a couple of works that reminded me of work by Jim Arendt, the winner of the first top prize at ArtFields – paintings made with different colored strips of denim. But my favorite works were a series of ink drawings. I took a few images but the works were all covered with shrink wrap, which is very reflective and that made it impossible to get good photos of them. There is another part of the story of these ink drawings later.

617Greenwood-youth-denim-Rachel-Holder“Blue Skies” by Rachel Holder, 8th grade, Brewer ACTS School – painting with denim

617Greenwood-youth-ink-Faith-McMann“Elated Elephants” Faith McMann, 10th grade, Clinton High School

617Greenwood-youth-pig-Samantha-Phillips“Pigskin” by Samantha Phillips, 8th grade, Brewer ACTS Magnet School – I thing a woodcut

My next stop was at Main & Maxwell, 210 Main Street, at the intersection of Main Street and Maxwell Avenue in Greenwood – just a few buildings down from the Arts Center on the same side of Main Street.

Main & Maxwell art gallery is celebrating its one year anniversary during June. The gallery, which is a converted bank building, specializes in local South Carolina artists, offers handcrafted art, pottery, jewelry, fiber and gifts for all occasions. It’s the kind of gallery where there is wall to wall art and is almost filled from floor to ceiling. You could spend hours in there looking and I’m sure if you came back a few hours later you would notice something you swear you didn’t see before. My eyes were bouncing from one place to another. All the work in the gallery was work from artists I’ve never seen before with a few exceptions.

617Main&Maxwell-Sandy-SingletaryPottery works by Sandy Singletary

617Main&Maxwell-Jim-BrinsonPainting by Jim Brinson

The owner of Main & Maxwell is Laura Bachinski, who is a ceramic artist herself, so the gallery carries a lot of pottery – mostly by other artists. There is some works by her there, but you know how that goes when an artist opens a gallery – their own work tends to take a backseat to everyone else’s work. But I heard they are soon to open a basement space and a kiln is in the gallery’s future. So Bachinski might have more occasion to make work at work, but…we’ll see. This basement will also add on room for classes and maybe even studio space.

617Main&Maxwell-Laura-BachinskiWorks by Laura Bachinski

There seems to be more jewelry on hand than I’ve seen in most art galleries. I’m glad Linda couldn’t make the trip – we’d still be there looking. But at the same time the place seemed full of paintings and other fine art craft items of all sorts and mediums – all really good stuff too. I know what you’re thinking – what else is he going to say about an advertiser? Well, I didn’t have to go. I could have gone in, looked around and left, but I didn’t – I wanted to know who all these talented artists were and where had they been in my thirty years of doing an arts publication.

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617Main&Maxwell-Elizabeth-Nason2Jewelry by Elizabeth Nason

One of my discoveries was a batch of ink drawings that looked a lot like those works I enjoyed in the youth art show at the Arts Center. These note cards and framed drawings were by Art by Phyllis Anne which had to be connected to the works at the youth show. I asked if they knew if she was the teacher of student work in the show and Bachinski said she was a teacher.

617Main&Maxwell-Phyllis-AnneWork by Phyllis Anne

617Greenwood-youth-ink-Faith-McMannWork by her student Faith McMann

You see another thing missing at the Arts Center was that they did not include the teacher’s name of the student’s work in the show, Most youth art shows do that to give credit to the teacher. I mean these kids didn’t just one day start making art like that on their own. They gave me the artist’s business card at the gallery and I later e-mailed her and found out she did teach those students.

Unlike the Arts Center, Main & Maxwell is doing everything they can to get people to come to Greenwood and see the works by regional arts and in many cases take them home with them.

Here’s some views of the gallery:

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Main & Maxwell is open Mon.-Sat., 10am-6pm. For further information call 864/223-6229 or visit (www.mainandmaxwell.com).

Time was running out on me and I had one more mission for this day and that was to get some images I could use in the future to promote Greenwood. Here’s a few.

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617Festival-of-Flowers-flowers2Of course you can’t have a Festival of Flowers without flowers

And here’s a few of the Signature Topiaries placed around the downtown area

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And, one more thing – if you can’t make it there this month to see these exhibits, Main & maxwell is always going to be open and on July 6-8, 2017, Uptown Greenwood will be presenting the Festival of Discovery – BBQ & Blues, including a BBQ competition, live Blues music on a main stage, an arts & crafts fair, and Kids Zone. For further info visit (www.festivalofdiscovery.com).

Here’s the results of the Juried Arts Show at the Arts Center of Greenwood:

Honorable Mention – “Myth” by Carey Morton (Pendleton, SC)

Honorable Mention – “Image of a Nude” by Jack Rookard (Central, SC)

Honorable Mention – “After A While, You Learn” by Lindsey Bargar (Rock Hill, SC)

Merit Award ($100) – “Pause” by Kendell Lusk (Belton, SC)

Merit Award ($100) – “Diminishing Connections 3” by Mary Cooke (Inman, SC)

Merit Award ($100) – “Tender Love & Care” by Haley Floyd (Central, SC)

Best of 3-D ($400) – “Hominid Asclepias Sp3” by Elaine Quave (Greenville, SC)

Arts Center Merit Award (1) ($100) – “A Good Plenty” by Katelyn Chapman (Athens, GA)

Arts Center Merit Award (2) ($100) – “Evelyn” by Chuck Keppler (Charleston, SC)

3rd Place ($300) – “Coil Form 2” by Spencer Bautista (Greenwood, SC)

A Visit to a New Art Space in North Charleston, SC, to See an Exhibit by Fletcher Williams III

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Last Tuesday, I was engaged in my now “If it’s Tuesday” I’ll be at a protest rally with fellow members of Indivisible Charleston at one of two offices for SC Congressional representatives, Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, as well as Representative Mark Sanford. What am I protesting? Well generally the fact that we have the most unqualified person in the history of the United States as President and that a day doesn’t go by when he does something damaging to the American citizens, our world image and the environment – as if the actions of Congress are not damaging enough. And if you feel like politics has nothing to do with the visual arts in the Carolinas – you’re naive. What’s happening in Washington, DC, has everything to do with the arts and artists – including health care for artists, public funding for artists and art institutions, whether anyone but the rich will have money to buy art, and on and on. Artists are not exempt from what effects the rest of Americans.

So after the rally in Mt. Pleasant at Sen. Graham’s and Rep. Sanford’s office I planned on stopping by the Historic Reynolds Avenue Fire Station, located at 2006 Reynolds Avenue, in North Charleston, SC, on my way home. Local sculptor and painter Fletcher Williams III is presenting “City Block”, a series of new work inspired by the North Charleston cityscape, on view through June 3, 2017. With the use of reclaimed wood, automotive paints, and various building materials, Williams has created three-dimensional works that symbolize the deconstruction and transformation of local neighborhoods. The exhibit is part of the visual arts offerings of the 2017 North Charleston Arts Fest (May 3 – 7, 2017) organized and presented by the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department. Hours at this exhibit space are, Tue., Thur., Fri., & Sat., 11am-4pm and Wed., 11am-7pm.

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Fletcher Williams III exhibit statement

Fletcher Williams III (b. 1987) was born in North Charleston, SC. He attended Charleston County School of the Arts for much of his secondary education. Upon graduation in 2005, he enrolled in two local colleges, Trident Technical College and College of Charleston, where he focused on drawing, painting, and graphic design. He later transferred to The Cooper Union: For the Advancement in Science in Art (NYC) where he received his BFA in 2010. Since then his work has been shown in notable institutions such as MoCada Museum (2016), McKissick Museum (2015), Mann-Simon Center (2016), San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art (2015). In 2015, Williams was named an Art Matters Grantee and an Alternate Roots Visual Arts Scholar.

Now I know when most people in the greater Charleston area hear the words “Reynolds Avenue” they envision in the words of President Trump – an area worst than a battleground in Afghanistan. But it’s not! Reynolds Avenue was once one of the major gateways on to the old Charleston Naval Yard. Thousands of workers from all points in the Charleston area used to work at the Naval Yard. There are still businesses open there and I felt no concern in parking my car and visiting this exhibit. The fire station has a lot of free parking at the rear of the building. Hours the facility is open are all during daylight hours – not 2am. So don’t let your unfounded fears keep you away from seeing this exhibit. Go with a group if that makes you feel better.

I’ve been admiring Williams’ works from afar up until this day. He has had shows in downtown Charleston, but it’s harder for me to get to Charleston these days than Mt. Pleasant and North Charleston. I’ve seen a lot of his work on Facebook. And from what I was seeing, Williams was a rare item in Charleston’s visual art community – he wasn’t making art that was oriented towards Charleston’s tourist market. The only connection there might me to tourism is his incorporation of the “Palmetto Rose” in his artwork. A “Palmetto Rose” is a rose made from a fron (long leaf) from the official SC State tree, the Palmetto tree, which Black youth sell to tourists throughout downtown Charleston.

517Fletcher-Williams-III-Bless-Those-Sittin'-High
“Bless Those Sittin’ High and Ridin’ Clean” by Fletcher Williams III, wood, automotive paint, metal flake, steel lath, 72 x 36 x 13 inch

One work in this show has the “Palmetto Rose” incorporated in it – making a link from his previous works to this exhibit, but most of the works in “City Block” which are constructed from reclaimed wood, automotive paints, and various building materials show three trends – the use of the cross, the use of colored light, and wood assembled in different directions.

One thing that seems to be true in all of Williams’ works is that he is a gifted carpenter. His use of reclaimed wood is very creative. Not to mention keeping these materials out of landfills or being burned adding more carbon to our air. See, everything is political.

517Fletcher-Williams-III-Stacked
“Stacked” by Fletcher Williams III, discarded wood, plywood, 70 x 64 x 4 inches

517Fletcher-Williams-III-Brace
“Brace” by Fletcher Williams III, discarded wood, plywood, shingle, 77 x 52 x 21 inches

517Fletcher-Williams-III-Surveilance-Station
“Surveillance Station” by Fletcher Williams III, discarded wood, steel lath, LED, 63 x 48 x 4 inches

There are just thirteen works in this exhibit and I only want to show a few to give you a taste of what you’ll see, as I want you to go see this exhibit. Williams deserves the attention and support of the art community and those interested in art. Don’t let a trip to North Charleston get in the way of that.

To let you know how important Williams’ works are and will be in the future, there was one work that had a red dot on it, meaning it had sold. I asked him if an individual had purchased it or if the City of North Charleston had purchased it to add to their art collection. He told me an artist and his wife had purchased it – named Juan Logan. It seemed Williams was not totally informed about this artist.

517Fletcher-Williams-III-Fresh-Linen-and-Royalty
“Fresh Linen and Royalty” by Fletcher Williams III, discarded wood, automotive paint, metal flake, steel lath, LED, 30 x 30 x 4 inches – SOLD

I grabbed this from Logan’s website (www.juanlogan.com): Born in Nashville, TN, Juan Logan now lives and works in Belmont, NC. Logan’s artworks address subjects relevant to the American experience. At once abstract and representational, his paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, and videos address the interconnections of race, place, and power. They make visible how hierarchical relations and social stereotypes shape individuals, institutions, and the material and mental landscapes of contemporary life. Logan has shown extensively nationally and internationally, has had numerous solo exhibitions, and executed many private and public commissions. He is married to curator Jonell Logan. Logan’s works can be found in private, corporate, and public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Gibbes Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Memphis Brooks Museum, the Zimmerli Museum of Art, and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. Most recently, his piece “Some Clouds are Darker” became part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Now I don’t want to make this all about Juan Logan, but when an artist of his reputation ends up at an exhibit at an old fire station in North Charleston and he purchases a work from an up and coming artist to add to his collection – that says something. I was impressed, but then I already liked the work Williams was producing, my pocketbook just doesn’t run as deep as this dynamic couple’s. But I felt good knowing we share the same opinion on the work we were seeing in this exhibit and of the artist’s future. Which leads me to the fact of asking – how long will Williams be able to stay in Charleston – a town not known for supporting creative and challenging artwork.

517Fletcher-Williams-III-talking-with-visitors
Williams talking with some gallery visitors

William Halsey and his wife Corrie McCallum made the decision to stay in Charleston and there is no doubt it cost them in the long run. They supplemented their income by teaching art. Charleston loses creative artists all the time who don’t give into the lure of creating works tourist will buy. I don’t blame the artists – many who are super talented and skilled at their art but who made at some point in their lives the decision to stick to subjects tourists will buy.

Go give this young artist the support he deserves – even if it’s just to go see his works. It might help him stay in Charleston and help carve out a second art market in Charleston for more than pretty images of the city and its environment. And I’m not knocking it as there is plenty of that work in my collection.

I was hoping to add a short movie of one of Williams’ works but I’ve yet to figure that out.

If you want to see a lot more of Williams’ work, which is diverse, check out his website at (www.fletcher3.com). You’ll see he’s not an idle artist.

For more info about the North Charleston Arts Fest call 843/740-5854 or visit (www.northcharlestonartsfest.com).

A Visit to the Ever Changing Charleston, SC, 3/11/17

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

I needed some postcards to send to someone in Washington, DC, that I hoped would be soon taking an extended vacation from politics, and what better place to get postcards but the tourist city of Charleston, SC. The city that seems to add a new construction crane every time I visit. So I figured to also make that trip a short business trip and visit a few galleries.

I’ve been wanting to visit Fabulon, A Center for Art and Education, located at 1017 Wappoo Road, in the West Ashley area of Charleston – between Hwy. 61 and Hwy. 17. They had just opened a new exhibit, “We The People”, an exhibit of artwork that makes you think, something not seen that often in Charleston. They had the opening a day before, but I don’t like seeing art in a crowd, so the day after was good for me.

This was a great show with art from local artists and many from outside the area. As usual I took a few images with my iPhone (I guess that’s less health insurance for me), but these works are best seen up close and personal. And as always works I include are not always the best or ones I want to talk about – they are the works I can get a decent image of. But I also like the ones I’m including.

First up is a photograph by Winston-Salem, NC, artist, Owens Daniels, who offered some images poking fun at the NC House Bill (HB2). This image titled “Citizen” was created in the style of American Gothic.

317Fabulon-Owens Daniels1

Next is “Life is A OK” by local artist, Caroline Self, who was/is Artist-in-Residence for The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department. Loved this work for it’s color and texture. I just can’t pass by a well executed abstract work.

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Kelly Burke, from the Baltimore, MD, area offered a couple of works from her ‘Reimagined American Flags” series. This work is titled “Don’t Lives Matter?” highlighting lives lost due to gun violence.

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Susan Irish, owner and manager of Fabulon, also had an interesting work in the exhibit that made a statement about Charleston, that only an outsider would understand – which I got right away, but I couldn’t get a good shot of it without my shadow all over it.

There are lots of interesting works in this exhibit, which will give you lots of reasons to think, but don’t miss the artistic skill in thinking of the message offered.

This last work wasn’t part of the “We The People” exhibit, but it caught my attention and of course it’s an abstract. It’s a work by Laura McRae-Hitchcock , who has recently moved from Charlotte, NC, to our community. So, besides the works in the show, there are also good works to see – and buy, on view by resident artists.

317Fabulon-Laura-McRae-Hitchcock

Fabulon may not be one of those high-end Charleston galleries, but it’s an example of all things good don’t always come in shiny packages, it’s also a working studio, classroom, and gathering center – there was a group of fiber artists on hand working away while I viewed the exhibit.

Well it was time to get my postcards which I found at Brittlebank Park on the Ashley River – not your usual place to get postcards, but I’m hoping you’ll be reading about and hearing about these special postcards on about March 16 or 17.

Next I stopped by Surface Craft Gallery, located at 49 John Street in downtown Charleston, my old stomping grounds when Linda (my better half) and I operated a custom photo processing lab on John Street and a short lived photography gallery – many years ago. I wanted to talk with Liv Antonecchia, owner, and get caught up on how the new group, Lowcountry Ceramic Artists, was coming along and see what new things they had in the shop.

Here are some works by Margaret K. Weinberg, who is part of the Cone 10 Studios in Charleston, which may be closing soon.

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Next are works by Batton Clayworks in Asheville, NC. They are the works with the carved texture. I love these unusual shapes.

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Here are a couple of fused glass works by Tanya Craig. These are incense holders, but I don’t remember seeing any that were so colorful – back in my days of burning incense. The last time I bought incense was about ten years ago just outside of Disney World in Florida, but when we got home – I couldn’t find them and to this day never have.

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This last shot is of a jar by Fred Prudhomme, another Cone 10 Studios artist. I shared a Facebook post that Surface Craft had made earlier in the week which attracted a lot of remarks about how beautiful the jar was but it would be much better if it was full of cookies and then milk got involved and than more comments about food were added, but when I saw this piece in person, it was much smaller than we all thought. It was about half the size of a cookie jar. I still like the jar, but man I was really disappointed that you wouldn’t be able to fit many cookies in it. Again – here was a case where art had effected my life once more – beauty and disappointment offered in the same object. Darn you artists.

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Surface Craft Gallery had become one of my favorite spots to see fine art crafts in Charleston. If you haven’t been there check it out.

Surface Craft Gallery will be opening a new exhibit, “Spring!”, a ceramics renewal show featuring local and national clay artisans in both functional and sculptural work, with an opening reception on Mar. 23, from 5-8pm. The show continues through Apr. 13, 2017. Work by Kelly Thiel will be featured in the show. She left us to live in Bend, OR, but now her work is returning to Charleston.

Well, it was time to head back home to Bonneau and as I drove out of Charleston down Meeting Street I just couldn’t believe how they are changing the skyline of Charleston – pretty soon you won’t be able to see the sky. So sad. I still love you Charleston, but now I know how the old timers felt and talked of their “lost” Charleston when I first got here in the mid 70s.

ArtFields in Lake City, SC, Loses Opportunity To Be Something Great

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

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It might be just my opinion and you can take it or leave it, but ArtFields is in sorry shape and in inexperienced hands. I’ve been putting off writing this commentary as I know you shouldn’t write something when you’re angry, but time is passing by and people have been waiting to see what I’d say about what happened at the end of ArtFields 2016. Four months have gone by and ArtFields has said nothing about the fact that now for the second year in a row it doesn’t have a director. What does it mean when your director resigns each year at the end of the event before a replacement can be trained as to what’s what? It’s not good.

Maybe ArtFields does have a new director but no announcement has been made. In fact in four months they have offered very little on their website or social media about what’s going on except that they will be doing it again in 2017. But they’re not alone – there has been little if any press in any media about ArtFields 2016. It’s a bad habit of theirs – going silent after the event is over, but maybe they have their reasons. No news might be the only good news they have.

I guess I could call them and see what’s up but I feel it would end up in a shouting match and I no longer trust anything they say anyway. Anything they have to say I want to see in writing or in official accounts. And, they have yet to answer the questions I had about the number of people who registered to vote in 2016 and the number of people who did vote. That was asked four months ago.

So here’s what I have to say for now and some photos of works I enjoyed seeing at ArtFields 2016.

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816artfields-farvan3“Bread and Circus,” by Diana Farfan Valente, Greenville, SC, ceramic & mixed media, $20,000/$2,000 each

My History With ArtFields

Sometime in the Spring of 2012, Karen Fowler, the first director of ArtFields contacted me to get my support for a new event they were going to be offering in Lake City, SC – a competition and exhibition of artworks from 12 Southeastern states in Lake City venues – in converted warehouses and local businesses, with $100,000 in cash awards that would be determined by voting by people who attended the event and a panel of qualified jurors. The top prize would be $50,000. The event was modeled after ArtPrize which takes place in Grand Rapids, MI.

My first reaction was how are you going to get artists to enter a competition/exhibition in Lake City, SC, and who will come see this exhibit? Lake City was in the middle of nowhere and I knew what nowhere is like because I live in Bonneau Beach, SC, just 52 miles from Lake City off Hwy. 52, which is in the middle of nowhere between Florence, SC, and Charleston, SC. A $100,000 in cash prizes will get the attention of artists – at first they’ll think it’s a typo – which many did, but it’s still going to be Lake City. Grand Rapids has 350,000 people living near by and it’s between Chicago and Detroit. Lake City on a good day has almost 7,000 residents.

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816artfields-joe-knotts5“Unarmed African-Americans Altered Portrait Heads,” by Joe Knotts, Shelby, NC, terra-cotta, slip & encaustic, $1,000 each (there were 26 heads)

I had traveled through Lake City hundreds of times while delivering our publication (back when it was printed) to areas in SC and NC. But, I never stopped to eat there or get gas and I never, ever wondered what was down Main Street in Lake City. I just never heard anything about it. I knew there was no visual art venue there so why should I be interested in stopping there.

I first mentioned ArtFields in my commentary in our July 2012 issue of Carolina Arts, ArtFields had also taken out a full page ad in that issue. From that day on I mentioned ArtFields a lot – more than any other event covered in our publication – in my commentary, on our blogs and social media. Over the next four years I spent more time in Lake City attending ArtFields events and exhibits at the Jones-Carter Gallery, which opened in Lake City with the beginning of ArtFields, than any other event. I invested a lot of time and money in ArtFields because I was hopeful that this event had potential. Carolina Arts started donating ads to the Jones-Carter Gallery to help draw attention to its exhibitions. By Sept. 2014 Carolina Arts was donating a 1/4 page ad to ArtFields every month in order to keep the event’s name out there all year long. We asked for nothing in return.

So, in May of 2016, just after the fourth ArtFields ended when I called to get some information from Hannah Davis, ArtFields’ current director about some results from that year and was told she resigned – I was shocked. I soon learned she was asked to resign with no other reason than that the event would be going in a different direction. What that direction was – no one seems to know, but for me, my anger has yet to subside and all I know is that I wouldn’t be going in what ever direction they were.

In my opinion, the fact that they put Hannah Davis, who was the director of the Jones-Carter Gallery and involved in every ArtFields, in charge, just months before the 2016 event was to take place – was finally a move in the right direction. The future was bright. So the fact that they would force her to resign after the 2016 event meant that the folks in Lake City were never going to make a go of this event other than it being an over-priced juried show of mostly local (SC) works.

That’s still good for SC’s artists, but too bad it will never be anything more than that. It all comes down to small town politics and a few very big egos.

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“Personal Universe,” by Helaine Schneider, Orlando, FL, clay, wood & speakers, $30,000

I’m not going to ask artists not to enter this event or tell people not to go see it, but I’m not going to be the event’s cheerleader anymore and I’m not going to help them justify or explain some of their mistakes or missteps. From now on let the folks in Lake City, who are so good at saying nothing, explain their actions. But I will point out some of their BS and there is a lot of it.

For example let’s take a look at a statement ArtFields offers on their website today. In my opinion they have a problem with “words”.

The South’s Most Engaging Art Festival and Competition

ArtFields® started in 2013 with a simple goal: honor the artists of the Southeast with a week’s worth of celebration and competition in the heart of a traditional Southern small town. With over $100,000 up for grabs, awarded based on the input of every visitor to ArtFields and a panel of judges made up of acclaimed artists and educators, the competition offers life-changing amounts of money to all artists in all media who live in the twelve Southeastern states. Over 400 masterpieces will be displayed in locally-owned venues, from renovated warehouses from the 1920’s to Smithsonian-qualified art galleries to upscale restaurants and start-up boutiques, in a mutual celebration of art and community. What was once one of South Carolina’s most prosperous agricultural communities now becomes a living art gallery as we continue to demonstrate the best of the Southeast and recognize the incredible talent we have to offer.

816artfields-lauren-woods“Maiden Voyage,” by Lauren Woods, Mobile, AL, oil on canvas, $15,000

I don’t know who writes this stuff but they have a real problem with numbers and words. It’s all over the top in describing the event. Making it hard for the event to live up to its promotion.

First – a nine day event is more than a week. Do they only want people to come for a week or do they think people will think nine days is too long?

Second – the $100,000 figure – they seem to always short change The Citizens Bank, a local bank which gives $10,000 for 10 awards of $1,000 for what are sometimes called Honorable Mention awards or Merit Awards depending on where you look on their website. Believe me artists feel differently about what they are called. And they always seem to forget they give another $1,000 to the winner of their Portrait Competition. So this figure should always be $111,000 in cash awards.

Third – ArtFields has yet to have very good participation from all 12 states. The bulk of the artists entering and on view are coming from South Carolina.

Fourth – “awarded based on the input of every visitor to ArtFields” ArtFields says about 20,000 go to their event but less than 7,000 register to vote and about half of them actually vote – so it is not based on the input of every visitor or is it. Maybe 7,000 is closer to the actual attendance. They can’t have it both ways.

Fifth – “the competition offers life-changing amounts of money to all artists”. This kind of statement could only come from small town folks who know little about the arts. $50,000 might seem like a lot of money to some folks, but many of the works on display have a price tag of $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 and more – artists who sell their works for that amount of money will be happy to win a $50,000 award, but I doubt it will change their lives. I’ve begged ArtFields to drop this statement, but they refuse. A $25,000 award would barely buy an artist a new van to drive their works to other exhibitions.

Sixth – “Over 400 masterpieces will be displayed” I don’t think there have ever been 400 works on display at any of the events in the past four years, much less “over” 400 and although many of the works are excellent, few are what most in the art world would call masterpieces. Masterpieces end up in Museums.

Seventh – “best of the Southeast”. This is a statement that many in the art world are guilty of stating. How can any event say this? In a juried show setting, all you can say is that these are the works our jury panel selected out of the entries we received. How do you get to saying it is a collection of the best of the Southeast without seeing all the other works produced in the Southeast? I’m sure when other artists hear that statement they just shake their heads – especially those who didn’t enter the competition.

I don’t know why people who organize these kinds of events always feel they have to overstate the facts. I don’t know why people can’t say – in this case – that we have a pretty big exhibit in a small town with works from artists from 12 states with big cash prizes. I’m sure a wordsmith can come up with a fancy way of saying that without overstating the facts. Cause people get mad when something doesn’t live up to its statements.

ArtFields has another problem with how they come up with their attendance figures. After the 2013 event ArtFields announced the results that a consulting firm in Columbia, SC, came up with: 22,000 visitors visited the festival, spending an average of $33. I don’t know how they could come up with that figure as attendance was free for most of the events. The Jones-Carter Gallery counts its visitors and they never saw over 7,000 during any ArtFields event. And, each year organizers would say that they saw an increase over the last year’s numbers, but numbers stated fluxuated from 22,000 to 20,000 from year to year. My bet would be it’s closer to 10,000, which is a good number for a small town like Lake City. The competition is based on the viewers voting for the works they like, but I don’t think too many more than 5,000 – 7,000 have ever registered to vote and less than half actually vote. The organizers have never offered exact numbers on how many votes the top winners received. It’s all a big secret.

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“A Sense of Community,” by Kathy Moore, Belton, SC, encaustic, found objects, ink, wire, & oil, $3,500

And, the big problem in getting this event to grow is that most of the people voting are from the region or South Carolina. That’s why most of the winners, not all, are from this same region or South Carolina. There is nothing wrong with that but it won’t help artists from the other 11 states enter when they don’t think they have a chance at winning. Entering ArtFields, delivering work there and coming to the event is not cheap for artists from outside the state.

And, I want it on record that if in 2017 they come up with a prize given in a drawing from the people who register to vote and actually vote – that was my idea as an incentive to get more people to vote. If they don’t do that – it’s just one of many suggestions I’ve offered to make the event better that are just ignored.

Artists also don’t like that the jurors selecting who will be in the competition and then the final jury panel deciding the cash awards are mostly from those 12 states. They want all jurors to come from outside those 12 states.

Staff members also seem to be challenged when it comes to working social media or any media for the matter. They can’t seem to fix the Jones-Carter Gallery website. It’s been broken for four months now. In the last four months they have posted very little on Facebook or on the blog on the ArtFields’ website. What’s the problem? Do they have nothing to say to encourage new artists to enter the competition or visitors to come see the exhibition or Lake City for that matter. I thought the idea behind ArtFields was to make Lake City an arts destination. If there is any art to see in Lake City when ArtFields isn’t taking place – who would know about it? The whole organization seems to only be active during ArtFields and then after that – they are either exhausted or don’t know what to do – and without someone at the helm who knows what they are doing – can you blame them.

Recruiting artists to participate is a real problem and the event’s retention rate (getting an artist to return to the competition year after year is terrible – except for SC artists). Having a poor retention rate doesn’t encourage other artists to enter.

Making sales of art during the event would make a lot of artists feel better about not winning an award, but ArtFields can’t seem to make that happen. They think letting the public know they can buy works would interfere with the jurors selection process. If the viewing public knew people were putting their names on a list to buy certain works it would encourage more sales. Works should be marked to let viewers know someone is interested in buyng it.

Artists would also like to see more of those “Merit Awards” of $1,000 to offset expenses in entering the competition. Hannah Davis was going to try and get more sponsors for these kind of awards, but I’m sure if ArtFields keeps ignoring The Citizens Bank and the money they have been putting up, they’ll have a hard time keeping them invested in ArtFields. Or would that detract from the idea that Darla Moore, the event’s patron saint, is putting up most of the money for this event?

OK, enough bad news. One of the highlights of ArtFields is the merchants who display most of the works in their shops, restaurants and boutiques. With a few exceptions, most of these folks go out of their way welcoming visitors, showing off the works they have on display, and working for votes for their artists. I wish the organizers of this event were as welcoming and truthful as these merchants are. The event would be a lot better off. I know some of the artists don’t like being in these venues, but they have a better chance at collecting votes in these venues compared to the more gallery like venues.

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816artfields-colin-quashie3“French Toile-Negro Toil,” by Colin Quashie, Charleston, SC, print on satin, $110/panel

Most of the folks in Lake City are friendly and helpful and I have always thought that one of the biggest selling points of getting people to ArtFields and Lake City would be using social media to tell their stories. I always enjoyed my visits there. But, I’m not sure they are as happy as some folks make them out to be as to how ArtFields is working.

There are a lot more things I could complain about and I probably will in time, but I’m sick of all the politics and lost potential. I had planned to take a broad look at ArtFields 2016 – which I thought was a pretty good event – as far as the art on display goes. It’s just too bad they had to ruin it all.

I think in 2016 participating artists were beginning to think about what they would enter in ArtFields instead of just entering anything the first couple of years. Top tier artists were beginning to enter and under the leadership of Hannah Davis many artists were looking forward to changes she knew needed to be made that were more artists friendly. Davis had dealt with a lot of these artists, people in the art community and she knew what their complaints were. We talked about a lot of changes she would like to make – if they ever let her really run things, but that was doubtful considering they didn’t make her the director until many things were set in stone and after pulling the event off in just three months – they ask her to resign.

The photos I’m including are just a few of the works I enjoyed seeing in the 2016 event. I took hundreds of photos and would have found a way to post them throughout the year leading up to 2017, but that won’t be happening. I apologize to the artists for that, but doing so would lend support to ArtFields and as I’ve said – I’m going in a different direction than they are. When someone discovers what that direction is – give me a call.

In the end, if ArtFields doesn’t like what I’m saying about their event and organization – you can thank Karen Fowler for inviting me in the door and now her husband Marion Fowler for his recent actions. When you have people who are “so” experienced in the arts as these two are at running things it’s no wonder ArtFields is just spinning its wheels. Back in 2012 if she didn’t know who I was and that I wouldn’t lie for them – shame on her. People who follow Carolina Arts know I’m going to say what I mean and not sugar coat it. Maybe one day I’ll hear from artists that ArtFields has gotten better and I should take another look. But, I understand Darla Moore is bored with ArtFields so I’m not sure it has much time left for that to happen.

What’s Going on in Lake City, SC?

Monday, July 18th, 2016

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Last week just before I was shutting down my computer for another thunderstorm coming through Bonneau Beach, the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing Company, I got a Facebook message from one of my “Facebook Friends” wondering what was going on in Lake City, SC? What they wanted to know was when was I going to be getting around to my follow up on the 2016 ArtFields event.

As to their direct question – I had no idea what if anything was going on in Lake City. I’m officially still waiting for answers to my questions I asked them on the day I learned that they had asked Hannah Davis to resign. I wanted to know the numbers on attendance and how many people registered to vote and then how many voted for the awards. Still no call back on those questions and I’ve been lead to believe I’ll never get that call because of my remarks about them dumping Hannah Davis as Director of ArtFields and the Jones-Carter Gallery.

Apparently I’m not entitled to answers to my questions or my opinions about their staff moves. Remember, their response to why they were asking Davis for her resignation was that ArtFields was going in a different direction. And, my response to that was, after four years of such musical chairs at leadership – whatever that direction was – it would be without me – one, if not their best cheerleader.

So, ArtFields, the Jones-Carter Gallery and Lake City have been off my radar, and most of everyone else’s radar for the last 3 months. I can hear the crickets chirping in Lake City all the way from here in Bonneau Beach.

In checking their social media and websites I didn’t find much that would bring anyone new to ArtFields or Lake City. They were making their usual effort – not much. After all the next ArtFields isn’t until April 2017. What’s the hurry?

With ArtFields’ poor retention rate for artists who entered one year but never enter again and one less cheerleader I would be a little concerned about taking so much time off before I started trying to get artists and visitors geared up for the next event.

But I did find something interesting on one of the websites – the Jones-Carter Gallery website. I want you to check this link out (http://www.jonescartergallery.com/contact/index.html). This page still shows Hannah Davis as Director of the Jones-Carter Gallery and gives an e-mail for her. Much like when I first called back in May to talk with Davis the person on the phone said she wasn’t in, but when I pressed a little further they told me she was no longer with ArtFields or the Jones-Carter Gallery – that she had resigned. And, I still say there is a big difference between resigning and being asked to resign.

Why is Davis still being listed as Director on the Jones-Carter Gallery website? Is it deception or incompetence?

In close inspection it seems the folks now running the Jones-Carter Gallery are unable to update their website info. Under Exhibitions they list their current exhibit as “MASTERWORKS The Artists of the South Carolina Cotton Trail” – an exhibit which ended on March 5, 2016. They have the wrong title for their current exhibit and who knows what else is wrong.

My experience is that when you see info that is not updated on a site you tend to ignore or mistrust everything else offered. Davis is still listed as the contact on the Artists page. There are only six pages on the site – how hard would it be to update the info? Out of the six pages four have incorrect info on them.

Now I’ll admit that the Carolina Arts website will have some incorrect info on it but we have thousands of pages on our site and the most current will have updated info. But none of them list staff members who no longer work for us.

I’m sure once the folks in Lake City hear about this post they will be scrambling to make the corrections – if they can – if they know how. So check it out now before they act.

It is my opinion that Hannah Davis was one of the few people who knew what she was doing at ArtFields and the Jones-Carter Gallery and this is just another example of who’s running things now that they have pushed her out.

As far as commenting on the 2016 ArtFields – I’m not ready for that just yet. I’m still cooling down from the news that they asked the future of ArtFields to resign just as it was getting good. I invested four years into ArtFields and it’s going to take time to get over it, but I will.

If you missed my first reaction to ArtFields’ 2016 blunder – here’s the link to my blog about ArtFields’ “letting go” of Hannah Davis (http://carolinaarts.com/wordpress/2016/05/16/wtf-artfields/).

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.

And Unplanned Trip to See a Couple of Exhibits Presented During the North Charleston Arts Fest in North Charleston, SC

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

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I had to go to North Charleston, SC, to give some blood for my next Doctor’s visit and after they were through sucking blood out of me I decided since I was half way there that I could go check out the “15th Annual South Carolina Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Competition & Exhibition” on view at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center & Convention Center Complex. The exhibit will be up through May 6, 2016. It’s part of the 34th North Charleston Arts Fest taking place throughout North Charleston through May 7, 2016. That’s this weekend so this little blog post has to be quick and dirty, well it’s not dirty, but that’s the saying.

I had gotten frustrated with the exhibits presented during the North Charleston Arts Fest, not because of the quality of the work, but mostly on how the works are presented. Take this craft show, it was being presented in Exhibit Hall A where the lights are about 30-40 feet up and they only had a third of the light turned on. Some works are shown in complete darkness. Sure your eyes adjust to the lack of light and my phone’s camera made adjustments, but they should have all the lights on during this exhibit.

I just choose a few things to photograph and it will be easy to see the problems of photographing behind class and in a big dark room.

516n-chas-art-fest-Tom-Boozer“Fellowship” by Tom Boozer of Yonges Island, SC, won Best of Show and will be in the Traveling Show.

516n-chas-art-fest-Patz-Fowle“Boot Scoot” by Patz Fowle of Hartsville, SC, won one of two special merit awards and will be in the Traveling Show.

516n-chas-art-fest-Tanya-Graig“Gameboard” by Tanya Craig of Charleston, SC

A description of this show follows: Fine craft artists from across the state will display inspiring objects in the media of clay, fiber, glass, metal, wood, and three-dimensional mixed media in this 15th annual juried competition and exhibition. Following the close of the exhibition, up to 25 works from the show will go on to tour the state through the South Carolina State Museum’s 2016/2017 Traveling Exhibitions Program. Selections for the exhibit, as well as the subsequent traveling show, were made by the juror, internationally exhibiting contemporary silversmith Kaminer Haislip.

516n-chas-art-fest-Janet-Kozachek“Rattle in Shape of a Cat” by Janet Kozachek of Orangeburg, SC

516n-chas-art-fest-Ron-Hodge“Patience” by Ron Hodge of Bluffton, SC

In viewing this exhibit I noticed something new right away. They have upgraded their signage giving much more info about the artist. I could now see where the artist was from in South Carolina and read some details about the artist. I’ve been nagging Marty Besancon, the Director of the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department about signage of the visual art exhibits and their placement for years – to the point that I said I would report on the shows if the signage stayed the same. But I always had to go look to see if anything changed.

Besancon has built this festival from a one-day event in Park Circle to now nine days offering nearly 200 events throughout the city. But I felt she was coasting when it came to these exhibits as nothing would change from year to year as to how they were presented.

Well, Besancon has retired and the new Director, Kyle Lahm has made some changes although only being on the job since Dec. 2015. And, I guess there has been a bit of a turnover in the Department’s staff too. Fresh blood, with new eyes may lead to more changes (improvements I hope).

I had vowed to not look at the Fine Art Show until the ID tags were moved from the bottom of the artworks to the top or the side where you could see them without having to crawl on the floor to read them, but one look at Bob Graham’s First Place ribbon for the Drawing category and I had to check it out. There were a lot of the same folks taking the ribbons – year after year and a few new entries. I’m still boycotting this exhibit, but I did photograph two images. One, Bob Graham’s First Place winning entry in Drawing and a surprise work by a long-time friend in the arts, Patsy Tidwell-Painton – one of the first supporters of, what was then Charleston Arts almost 30 years ago. I never forget our supporters.

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“Strike of an Eye” by Bob Graham of Mt, Pleasant, SC, won First Place for Drawing

516n-chas-art-fest-Patsy-Tudwell-Painton“R 2 D2’s Friend” by Patsy Tidwell-Painton of Charleston, SC

Hurry up and go see these shows if you’re interested – they’re only up through Friday, May 6, 2016.

For further information call the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at 843/740-5854, visit (http://www.northcharleston.org/Residents/Arts-and-Culture) or visit (http://northcharlestonartsfest.com/).

Officials Announce the Final Batch of Award Winners from the ArtFields© 2016 Competition in Lake City, SC

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

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Editor’s Note: The images provided here are from the ArtFields© website of the entries made. They do not all represent the final presentations in Lake City. I have some photos of final works on display, but to show them would not be fair to all the artists.

We have the final announcement of awards given at ArtFields© 2016, which took place from Apr. 22 – 30, 2016, in Lake City, SC.

The Roots Award which goes to an established artist was awarded to Aron Belka of New Orleans, LA. Belka will have an exhibit at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC, from Sept. 17, 2016 to Oct. 29, 2016.

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The Bloom Award which goes to an emerging artist was awarded to Meredith Dallas of Rock Hill, SC. Dallas will have an exhibit at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC, from Nov. 12, 2016 to Jan. 7, 2017.

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The Solo Exhibition Award presented by Florence Regional Arts Alliance was awarded to IlaSahai Prouty of Bakersville, NC. Prouty will have an exhibit at the Waters Gallery of The Florence Museum in Florence, SC, from June 28 to Oct. 2, 2016.

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Congratulations to Artfields© Portrait Contest 1st place $1,000 prize winner, Emmanuel Ogbonna.

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Congrats to all the winners, Hers’s looking forward to next year’s ArtFields© event.

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

Officials Announce the Winners of the ArtFields© 2016 Competition in Lake City, SC

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

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Editor’s Note: The images provided here are from the ArtFields© website of the entries made. They do not all represent the final presentations in Lake City. I have some photos of final works on display, but to show them would not be fair to all the artists.

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ArtFields© 2016 (Apr. 22-30, 2016) in Lake City, SC, has announced most of its winners from their forth competition including Charles Clary of Conway, SC, who was given the top $50,000 award for his work “Be Kind Rewind”. This award was selected by the jury panel from the top 50 works that received the most votes from those folks who came to Lake City to view the art, registered to vote and actually voted for the works they liked the most.

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Brent Pafford of Clemson, SC, was given the Jury Prize, of $25,000 for “Remember This As A Time Of Day”. This award was selected by the jury panel with no consideration of votes received.

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Aron Belka of New Orleans, LA, was given the 2-D People’s Choice award of $12,500 for “Contact Tracing”. This award was determined by receiving the most votes from those registered to vote.

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Jocelyn Chateauvert of Charleston, SC, was given the 3-D People’s Choice award of $12,500 for “Invasive Species”. Also determined by receiving the most votes by those registered to vote.

All of these works will join the ArtFields© collection, which can usually be seen at The Crossroads Inn, located on Main Street in Lake City.

The Citizens Bank of Lake City also provide ArtFields© with $10,000 for 10 Merit Awards which are selected by the jury panel without consideration of votes received.

The winners of the ArtFields© 2016 Merit Awards include:

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Susie Ganch of Richmond, VA, for “Drag (Diptych)”.

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Heather Mae Erickson of Sylvia, NC, for “American Values/Handmade in America”.

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Brad Williams of Myrtle Beach, SC, for “Of the Earth”.

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Colin Quashie of Charleston, SC, for “French Toile, Negro Toil”.

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Michael Logan Woodle of Conway, SC, for “Clabber Ladle”.

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Wanbli Hamilton Gamache of Fayetteville, AR, for “Excavations”.

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Logan Tanner of Huntsville, AL, for “Hog”.

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Ken Hamilton of Goose Creek, SC, for “E-Z Rest Motel”.

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Tyrone Geter of Elgin, SC, for “Mother Nature’s Last In-House Domestic Worker”.

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Stacy Rexrode of Chapel Hill, NC, for “Quasi-Delft Bequest”.

These awards were non-purchase awards and the artists got to keep their works.

I’ve also included an image with info about the jury panel.

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There are a few more awards to be announced and we’ll report on those ASAP.

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

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).