Archive for the ‘Art Exhibitions’ Category

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.

317Fabulon-Caroline-Self

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.

317Fabulon-Kelly-Burke

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.

317surface-craft-Margaret-K.-Weinberg

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

317surface-craft-Batton-Clayworks-Asheville

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.

317surface-craft-Tanya-Craig

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.

317Surface-craft-Fren-Prudhomme

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

artFields-colorbands-and-logo

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.

816artfields-farvan1

816artfields-farvan2

816artfields-farvan2-1

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.

816artfields-joe-knotts1

816artfields-joe-knotts2

816artfields-joe-knotts3

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.

816artfields-Helaine-schneider1

816artfields-helaine-schneider2

816artfields-helaine-schneider3
“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.

816artfields-Kathy-Moore
“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.

816artfields-colin-quashie1

816artfields-colin-quashie2

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

jones-carter-gallery-logo

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

citygallerywaterfront

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.

716chas-city-gallery-gallery-scene

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.

716chas-city-gallery-couple-looking

“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.”

716chas-city-gallery--Dr.-Twiggs
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.

716chas-city-gallery-Twiggs-Film
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.

716chas-city-gallery-Twiggs-talk
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

north-charleston-arts-festival-logo

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.

516n-char-art-fest-Bob-Graham
“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

artFields-colorbands-and-logo

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.

516artfields-winners-Aron-Belka3

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.

516artfields-exhbit-bloom-Meredith-Dallas

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.

516artfields-exhibits-florence-IlsSahai-Prouty

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

516artfields-portrait-contest

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

artFields-colorbands-and-logo

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.

516artfields-winners-Charles-Clary1

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.

516artfields-winners-Brent-Pafford2

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.

516artfields-winners-Aron-Belka3

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.

516artfields-winners-Jocelyn-Chateauvert4

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:

516artfields-merit-Susie-Ganch5

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

516artfields-merit-Heather-Mae-Erickson6

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

516artfields-merit-Brad-Williams7

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

516artfields-merit-colin-Quashie8

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

516artfields-merit-Logan-woodle9

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

516artfields-merit-Wanbli-Hamilton-Gamache10

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

516artfields-merit-logan-tanner11

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

516artfields-merit-Ken-Kamilton12

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

516artfields-merit-Tyrone-Geter13

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

516artfields-merit-Stact-Rexrode14

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.

516artfields-jury-Panel

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.

416carolinaarts-cover

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.

416jen-ervin2
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.”

416jen-ervin3
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.

416jen-ervin4
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.

416jen-ervin5
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).

artFields-colorbands-and-logo

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.

416artfields2016-Bob-Doster
“Summer Wind 2″ by Bob Doster of Lancaster, SC.

416artfields2016-Gregory-Johnson
“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.

416artfields2016-jim-Boden
“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.

416artfields2016-Kara-Gunter
An interesting image by itself, but only a detail of a larger work.

416artfields2016-kara-Gunter2
‘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.

416artfields2016-Mark-Grote
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.

416artfields2016-Jocelyn-Chateavert1
Jocelyn Chateauvert of Charleston, SC, works on her installation, “Invasive Species” at the Jones-Carter Gallery.

416artfields2016-jocelyn-Chateauvert2
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.

416artfields2016-Murray-Sease
“Perfect Afternoon” by Murray Sease of Bluffton, SC.

416artfields2016-Murray-Sease2
Sease’s work is on display at one of the locations on Main Street in Lake City.

416artfields2016-Murray-Sease3
This is what it’s all about – getting people in the businesses of Lake City.

416artfields2016-Loren-Schwerd
“Wisp” by Loren Schwerd of New Oreleans, LA.

416artfields2016-Loren-Schwerd2
The same work in its merchant setting.

416artfields2016-loren-schwerd3
I’m always surprised by the personal tours you are given inside some stores of their ArtFields© entries.

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

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

See you there.

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

A Trip to Charleston, SC, to See an Exhibit by an Old Photography Friend – Mar. 4, 2016

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Back in our photography days, back when Linda and I ran a custom black & white photo processing business, a photography gallery, and a photography guild – we were in touch with the Charleston art photography community. It was a very talented and vibrant community. It was old school. Then came the digital age. Now we hardly know anyone calling themselves an art photographer today. We’re way out of the loop, except to what comes across our radar in doing Carolina Arts.

Like a lot of our old photography friends, we thought this would be the end of good photography, and soon we gave up the photo processing business for the desk top publishing business. Many of those photographers fought tooth and nail to hold on to the old ways of doing photography. Years later we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the digital age wondering why we resisted so long and trying to keep up with the constant changes and innovation.

Change is always hard, but change is good and in this case – change has been great.

So, when I got the notice that John Moore, one of those old photography friends was having an exhibit at Corrigan Gallery, located at 62 Queen Street in downtown Charleston, SC, I marked the date for the reception, Mar. 4, down on my calendar. That was also the day of the new Charleston Gallery Association’s Art Walk. My hopes were that I would be able to attend.

316corrigan-gallery-john-moore2
Work by John Moore

As things turned out something always happens which becomes a conflict with my plans, Linda had to work and that afternoon we had to have contact with our health insurance folks – never a good thing. The timing was not good as it would put me in Charleston after 5pm when the reception starts and because it was also Art Walk night – finding parking was going to be a challenge, which is an everyday challenge in Charleston. But I’m an old pro at finding space in Charleston to park and I had my lucky spots.

As I’m heading to Charleston I notice I’m almost out of gas and I determined that I would need to stop for gas before I got to Charleston or I would risk being able to get out of Charleston – another delay. So picture pulling into a gas station on Friday afternoon when most people got paid and would fill up their tanks for the weekend. The picture is of more delays.

316corrigan-gallery-john-moore3
Work by John Moore

When I finally got onto I-26, the traffic coming out of Charleston was a solid mass, from Charleston to Goose Creek and probably all the way to Summerville. I was glad I was heading into Charleston not out and it should be all cleared away by the time I was returning home. Traffic in downtown Charleston was busy with the Art Walk already going on and the search for parking was in full mode, but my first choice on an old reliable spot was empty.

When I die, I’m leaving a guide on how to find parking in Charleston to the highest bidder. The proceeds will go to the Carolina Arts Foundation, which will mean one of the grandsons had taken over the publication or it will go to the owner of any art photography gallery in Charleston.

316corrigan-gallery-john-moore4
Work by John Moore

I had come to Charleston to just see John Moore’s show, but anywhere you park in downtown Charleston you are going to pass several galleries getting to another – they’re everywhere. So I would stick my head in any I passed. The first I came across was Anglin-Smith Fine Art. It was packed – I mean wall to wall, so I moved toward Corrigan Gallery thinking things will clear out later on my way back to the car. I passed a new pottery gallery that was also packed. The streets were packed with people going and coming from galleries. I know this as that’s what they were talking about. That’s one of the interesting things about the Art Walks is listening to what people are talking about as you’re walking about from one gallery to the next.

When I got to Corrigan Gallery, which is not a big space, it was really packed and it took about 15 minutes once I got in to actually talk with John Moore. It was a little hard to see the work up close on the walls, but like hockey, you just have to be patient in muscling your way into position – eventually you get to the net. It was a little hard to take photos though.

316corrigan-gal-john-moore
That John Moore in the blue shirt.

It was a good thing that Moore’s show was my main objective for the evening as I could hardly turn around without bumping into an old friend from the old photography community, old and new art community friends, or the old Sierra Club group. It was good catching up with these folks as to what we’re all doing these days and how many grandchildren we all have. And, there’s nothing more I like than looking at art, but talking about art.

As far a photographers go, I just missed TR Richardson, but did talk with John Moore, Tom Blagden, Luke Platt, and Alan Jackson, who is doing more drawing these days than photography. In the non-photographer art group (oh yeah, these photographers are artists too) there was Linda Fantuzzo, Jenny Summerall (who is moving back to Charleston), Keller Lee, and Kris Westerson. Representing the old Sierra Club was Virginia Beach and Hayes Patterson.

316corrigan-gal-john-moore2

The exhibit, John Moore: 24 photographs, will be on view through Mar. 31, 2016. This display of abstract images is presented both individually and as a portfolio set in book form.

Some folks were saying that this exhibit was the best Moore has had and I guess I would agree with that, except for the fact that it’s been so long since his last one and way long after early exhibits, that it would be hard to judge, but the fact was – this was a great exhibit of new works and good to see his work being exhibited again in Charleston. I’ve always liked Moore’s art making.

316corrigan-gal-john-moore3

Moore is known as a nature photographer. I think of him as Mr. Tree and Mr. Rust. He seems to focus on trees in his landscapes, and the photographs of rust are also nature images – showing what nature does to metal. This show could be taken for a group of abstract paintings, which in the overall art world is the best thing that could happen for a photographer. The public and some in the art community have a bias against photography thinking it’s too easy and something that can be reproduced again and again. The cameras in phones didn’t help this thinking as everyone is a photographer now (as I’m taking my photos with my phone). So any photograph that doesn’t look like a photograph is good – unfortunately.

The funny thing is that some of the images of rusting metal are actually presented on metal, which is a not so new thing in the photography world. And, for Moore this exhibit gets away from one of an artist’s biggest hurdles in exhibiting their works – framing. The works on metal look great and are lighter than being in wooden frames. Having works offered in book form also avoids framing. Sorry framers – you are an added cost for artists presenting their works and most people buying art would prefer to have more control over how the artworks they buy will be framed.

Go see this show and see how photography and nature can compete with the best abstract painters. By all the red dots that were showing up on Moore’s works – others were in agreement with me.

Several times while I was at Corrigan Gallery I went outside to get a breath of fresh air and watch the crowd coming and going. I noticed across the street over at Atrium Art Gallery that an abstract painting was hanging in the window, so when I finally left Corrigan Gallery I strolled across the street to check out the painting in the window which lead me inside. They were featuring the paintings of Jim Pittman that could have gone along side Moore’s photographs.

316atriumartgallery-jim-pittman1
Work by Jim Pittman

A card I picked up stated that Pittman was a landscape painter based out of Colorado and coastal Virginia. I really liked his works. Not all abstracts cut the muster with me, but I could tell these were being made by a seasoned painter. As they say in The Fiddler – “if I was a rich man” – I would have loved to take a few of his paintings home with me. They wouldn’t fit into my collection of Carolina artists, but they would have fit in great with my abstract works.

316atrium-gal-jim-pittman1

316atrium-gal-jim-pittman2

While you’re going to see John Moore’s exhibit, don’t forget to go see Pittman’s works just across the street. I don’t know how long his works will be featured so don’t wait too long.

On the way back to the car as I got close to Anglin-Smith Fine Arts again it was still packed, but I squeezed in this time. The Smith clan of painters always presents an excellent display of works by Betty Anglin Smith and her triplets, Jennifer, Shannon, and Trip. I fully expect to see a third generation of painters from this clan.

I have many times admitted that I’m most often drawn to works by Shannon Smith Hughes, but this night it was Jennifer Smith Rogers who won the prize for gaining my attention. Her painting, Birds Eye View showed signs of a little loosening of her painting style toward abstraction. It was a slight change but enough to catch my eye. It’s not a competition and I don’t mean to cause any friction, but that painting was my favorite of this night.

316anglin-smith-jennifer
“Birds Eye View” by Jennifer Smith Rogers, oil on linen, 30″ x 60″

I talked with Betty a bit and she confirmed that they had been packed all night and with 10 minutes of official time left on the Art Walk there was no sign of the crowd letting up. She thought it was one of the best in the last few years.

I wouldn’t know about that as my best Art Walk days are long behind me. Over the years I’ve been on so many, but now it’s not my main interest. Back in the day when we had a printed publication that I had to deliver, I would deliver a stack of papers to every gallery during the day and then go to the Art Walk that evening and hit as least a dozen galleries. I was a much younger man back then.

I don’t know how the crowd was at all ends of the greater Charleston Gallery Association community, as it is a much larger area to cover from South of Broad to North of Calhoun Street, but in the old French Quarter core – it was packed.

But just remember folks, these galleries are open all week long and you’ll probably get a better look at the art when you’re not having to elbow your way into position. After all, hockey is a sport – not an art.

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

Monday, January 18th, 2016

artFields-colorbands-and-logo

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).