Archive for the ‘Lake City SC Visual Arts’ Category

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

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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Up close look

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Origins”

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“Destruction”

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“Information”

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“Creation”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

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

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

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

So What About This Year’s Event?

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

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

First Impressions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Bullet Points

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last Chance to See the Works of Florence, SC, Native, William H. Johnson, on View at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

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Not too long ago I did another Pee Dee Two Fer trip where I went to the Artisan Outpost in Johnsonville, SC, held the first Saturday of the month and the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC, which is now open on Saturdays. The Artisan Outpost will be hosting another great gathering of artworks on Dec. 7, 2013, from 10am-6pm. This gathering is so popular – Santa is going to show up at this next event. But, for now I want to tell you about the exhibit at the Jones-Carter Gallery – time is running out to see it.

The Jones-Carter Gallery, located at 105 Henry Street in Lake City, next to The Bean Market, just a block off Main Street is presenting an exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), featuring rare paintings by Florence, South Carolina-native, William H. Johnson, from the collection of the James E. Lewis Museum at Morgan State University. An essential figure in modern American art, William H. Johnson (1901-1970) was a virtuoso skilled in various media and techniques, and produced thousands of works over a career that spanned decades, continents and genres.

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Ring Around the Rosey, by William H. Johnson, courtesy of Morgan State University.

William H. Johnson: An American Modern is on view at the Jones-Carter Gallery, a branch of the Community Museum Society, Inc., in Lake City, through Dec. 29, 2013. The Jones-Carter Gallery is the only South Carolina venue on the tour.  Developed by Morgan State University and SITES, the exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Henry Luce Foundation and Morgan State University Foundation Inc. Additional support is provided by Ford Motor Company Fund.

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Jitterbug, by William H. Johnson, courtesy of Morgan State University.

The pivotal stages of Johnson’s career as a modernist painter are assembled in this group of rarely seen paintings. Every step of his artistic development is conveyed – from his post-impressionist and expressionist works of the 1920s, to vibrant vernacular paintings from the end of his career in the 1940s, in which Johnson articulated his distinctive, unforgettable vision as an American modern artist.

Usually I’d be offering lots of photos of the exhibition, but there were so many restrictions on photography that all I have to show of the exhibit is the one shot I was allowed to take. I may have pushed the button on my iPhone, but I was placed in the only position allowed by the gallery staff. I could have taken more on the sly, but I know the restrictions are from the Smithsonian and I didn’t want to get the gallery in trouble or prevent future shows from the Smithsonian coming to Lake City. I’ve got two images from the press kit and I took several more of the surrounding area outside – which I think is just as important to Lake City’s progress in becoming a cultural destination.

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This photo doesn’t show you much of the exhibit, but it at least shows you there were others there viewing the exhibit while I was there.

The works in the exhibit and provided text tell an interesting story of this artist’s history. And being from the North originally – that’s right I’m one of those transplanted Yankees, I had to think when viewing these images how many other talented black artists had to leave the South to have a creative life and how many never made it out and just had to put that creativity aside. Frankly I’m not sure how easy it is to be an African American artist today. In some ways it seems that you can get more attention if you’re considered a folk-artist or visionary artist (untrained) than if you have a Masters degree in art. But like I always say to my old Yankee friends in describing what it’s like in good olde South Carolina – it’s 400 years of history – 20 years of progress, and it seems like the Tea Baggers are dragging us further back in time every day.

But then again, when you think about it Jasper Johns had to leave SC before he made it big in New York City. In this case Johnson left the United States to find fame and respect.

Go see this exhibit before it leaves South Carolina and if you haven’t been before you’ll be amazed that such a facility as the Jones-Carter Gallery is located in Lake City. Most other small towns in SC will have exhibit space in an old house or a converted bank – if they have any at all. This space is as good as any in bigger cities.

Now, lets talk about Lake City. Since my last trip to the Jones-Carter Gallery, SCDOT has placed many new signs directing you to the Jones-Carter Gallery making it easy to find coming into Lake City from any direction. I bet there are more signs in Lake City directing you to this gallery than there are in Charleston, SC, directing you to the Gibbes Museum of Art.

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View from across The Green

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The front door of the gallery

The gallery is located next to The Bean Market, another great facility for cultural events in Lake City and across from The Green, an open green space with a performance stage. There’s a sculpture by Alex Palkovich, from Florence, SC, there and this unique drinking fountain – designed for humans of all sizes and pets. Banners were up promoting the Johnson exhibit and new ones will probably flap in the wind for other exhibits and events in the future. The city is really serious about becoming a cultural destination and small details like this fountain will make the difference.

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A pet friendly drinking fountain

Lake City has big plans for transforming their city, but none of it will happen very fast unless people get up off their back sides and travel there to see and enjoy it all. It’s not a big trip from Charleston, Columbia, Florence and Myrtle Beach, and for those folks traveling further – they do have hotels and motels – like the ones people use to travel to your city.

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A view of The Green

Gallery hours are Tue. through Fri., from 10am to 6pm and Sat., from 11am to 5pm. Large groups are encouraged to call ahead.

And, don’t forget – ArtFields will return to Lake City from April 25 through May 4, 2014.

For additional information about William H. Johnson: An American Modern call the gallery at 843/374-1505 or visit (www.jonescartergallery.com).

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

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The tobacco plants had grown since the exhibit opening.

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

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

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

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

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Work by Sherry Dailey

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Work by Amy Smit

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

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

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

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Work by Amelia Rose Smith

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

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Work I liked better by Sherry Dailey.

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Work by Johnny Tanner I might have scored higher.

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

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Two works by Gingi Martin.

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

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

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Here’s a list of all the award winners:

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

PROFESSIONAL DIVISION:

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

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

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

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

NOVICE DIVISION:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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One of Jim Gleason’s creations.

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

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

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

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Alex Palkovich is the one not in costume.

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