Archive for the ‘Art Tours’ Category

After All This Time – A Shopping Trip to Seagrove, NC, To The Celebration Of Seagrove Potters

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

It’s been a long time since I first went to Seagrove, NC, and came home with pottery to add to our pottery collection, but on Nov. 20, 2015, Linda and I were headed to the Gala evening of the 8th Celebration of Seagrove Potters in Seagrove. It’s about a 4 1/2 – 5 hour trip north so Linda managed to get a little sleep after working a 12 hour shift Thursday night. By the time we got to the Gala, she was working on a lot of hours with little sleep. That’s how bad she wanted to go on this trip.

The other nice thing about this trip was that we planned an overnight stay in Asheboro, NC, about 12 miles north of Seagrove so we wouldn’t have to make the trip home another 4 1/2 – 5 hours after the Gala. This also gave us the opportunity to visit the Celebration on Saturday – with the masses – and then drive home during daylight hours.

We met up with Zelda Ravenel, our Super Blog Guru & Graphics person, who came down from Western Virginia to join us at the Gala and Celebration. She was just our Blog Guru, but after recovering our blog Carolina Arts Unleashed, which had been corrupted and then wiped out by our Internet server, I added Super to her title. This was her first trip into the world of Seagrove pottery. And, you wouldn’t be reading this blog I’ve written on for years without the recovery Zelda made happen

We arrived at Historic Luck’s Cannery in Seagrove, official home of the Celebration of the Seagrove Potters, just before the 6pm opening, after we passed the entrance – as did many other drivers in the dark (more lighting please). When we walked in the door there was a very long line of serious looking pottery collectors. I mean these people came to bid on the rare one-of-a-kind collaborative works created by Seagrove potters being auctioned and to have first chance to buy from over 75 local potters before the hordes arrived on Saturday and Sunday. And, I’m sure like me, they were also there to enjoy the food, drink and live music being offered by Bold Music. The food was fantastic as was the music, but I was the driver – so only one drink.

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The men calling the numbers. Frank Neef standing to the back. Photo by Zelda Ravenel

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A view of the bidding crowd.

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Another view of the bidding crowd.

When the auction was over, those folks, made up of highly competitive collectors, bid $8,150 on these collaborative works. Unlike some art auction fundraisers, these folks bid more than the normal value of similar works due to the fact that there wouldn’t be any other works like the ones offered. Most art auction fundraisers attract folks looking to pay under market prices for works donated. They don’t seem to grasp the intention of fundraisers. And Seagrove potters are asked to donate to a lot of fundraisers throughout the area and the state of North Carolina – all the time. It’s nice to see the public respond so well to a fundraiser which benefits their own community.

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One of the works being auctioned by Frank Neef and Paul Ray. Neef was also acting as emcee for the auction and he worked on several other collaborative works being auctioned.

The live auction itself is well worth the admission of the Gala as some of the items saw some heated bidding which resulted in final figures that were staggering, but great for the potters and for the audience to witness.

During breakfast Saturday morning at the hotel we stayed we realized that most of the other folks at the hotel were at the Gala and a few were still talking about their luck in being the winning bidder at the Gala auction. The auction was the buzz of the morning and most, like us, were headed back for more pottery buying.

But before we get to Saturday and leave the Gala it should be mentioned that the Gala was also the best time to meet or catch up with all the Seagrove potters as some keep their potteries open on Saturday for folks who also want to visit the potteries where they can see more works by their favorite potters. After all, they can only bring so much to their booths at the cannery. So Friday night was also a great time for me to catch up with potters who I may interact with on Facebook and by e-mail but haven’t seen face-to-face in awhile. And for me, that’s the main reason for returning to Seagrove. I love the pottery they make, but I care more about keeping the friendship of some of those potters in my collection.  That’s always been one of the main incentives for doing Carolina Arts – the artists, art administrators, gallery owners, and others working in the visual art community in the Carolinas. I’m not getting rich doing an arts publication, but I’ve been enriched by the people I have met and many I have yet to meet. As strange as it seems, some of the best people I’ve never met, are good friends and one day I might meet them. Of course maybe one of the reasons we’re friends is that we haven’t met yet. I have to think about that one.

And just to remind you that I’m not getting too mushy in my old age – some of the worst people I’ve met or know are also in this same art community. Not so much the Seagrove community, but the Carolina art community. Some would stab you in the back for a fistful of dollars in funding.

OK – let’s get back to Saturday morning, Oct. 21, 2015, the first day of the 8th Annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters.

We learned at the Friday night Gala that Mark Heywood would be at their gallery at Whynot Pottery, while Meredith Heywood would be working at the Celebration. They are just one of many pottery husband and wife teams in Seagrove. After Zelda had enjoyed the Friday night Gala I wanted her to see one of the actual potteries – where the magic happens. Once we got in the shop she started taking photos of works she knew would fit into some of her friends home decor, but the highlight of this visit came when we visited the studio and Mark gave us a real tour of the process involved. Linda and I have seen it before but there is always something new to see or learn and in this case find a gem along the way.

Mark was showing us some things about glazes and pointed to a small jar which had a blue glaze they used to do in the past but had to stop as it didn’t work well with the new firing technique they liked – it turned that blue glaze a muddy gray. As he went on about some other parts of the process I could see that Linda couldn’t keep her hands off that little jar. After about ten more minutes of Linda admiring that jar I told Mark he better sell her that jar so we could get on with the tour or we would be here all day. Zelda was just eating it all up. It is an amazing process of turning clay into fine art objects or beautiful functional ware. I promised her I’d take her to One Eared Cow Glass in Columbia, SC, one day, to see the Cowboys make amazing works out of molten sand.

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That sweet little jar from Whynot Pottery.

After Whynot, I figured it was time to get back to the cannery – by now the first shift of the crowd might be moving on and we might find a parking space. And just as we got there cars were coming out – heading to pottery festival number 2 or out to individual potteries around Seagrove. We found a not too far out of the way parking space and as we walked in we ran info folks carrying several plastic bags in each hand full of pottery, headed to their cars. The funniest scene I saw that day was a very small woman leading a very large young man carrying a very large pot – bigger than she was – probably to see if he was going to be able to fit it into her car.

Now this was my fourth trip to a Celebration of Seagrove Potters, and the last two were not great in one respect. Due to our financial situation during the last two visits I had to watch other happy folks carry those bags of pottery and I wasn’t going to be carrying any. I was on a Shoestring Publishing Company budget – which was gas and food money. This time I didn’t have to go home empty handed. I can tell you this – there is nothing more frustrating than looking at one fabulous work after another – all reasonably priced and not being able to make any of them yours. I also felt bad as many of the potters knew I had a pottery collection. All I could think was that they were thinking that I didn’t see anything I liked, when it was a case of my eyes were filled with – I want that, and that and that too. It’s not a great feeling.

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Here’s another work we purchased during the event from Keith Martindale Pottery.

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And this one from Potts pottery is now in our collection. For info call 336/873-9660. Looks like we had a thing for blue during this trip.

Once we got in it was the usual mob scene. Linda had seen it before, but Zelda was wide eyed – there were a lot of people moving like a river from booth to booth. We got there just in time for Eck McCanless’ (Eck McCanless Pottery) demo which Zelda wanted to see how he got all those different clays to blend together in what seemed like a controlled manner. She had seen the finished products the night before. The demos are really something to watch. The potters work their magic with such ease right before your eyes that it seems like a trick that must involve some sleight of hand – like putting a slab of clay on the wheel – distracting the crowd and then pulling a finished piece from under the table.

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Eck McCanless of Eck McCanless Pottery doing a demo on Saturday. Photo by Zelda Ravenel.

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One result from the Eck McCanless demo. Photo by Zelda Ravenel.

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A view of finished works – carved agateware from Eck McCanless Pottery. Photo from Eck McCanless Pottery.

At lunch time I got to have my all time favorite – a box of flavorful veggies and noodles from Pacific Rim Noodles from Asheboro, NC. I’ve had their lunch offering every time I’ve gone and hope to every time I go in the future. I always ask for extra veggies and I get them. My mouth is drooling right now.

After getting that warm feeling in my tummy, it was time to make one more round and see what more was going to go home with us. We found a couple to more works that we made ours, but I still had to hold off on a few things – mostly because I waited too long to get what I wanted. Next time I’ll know to do all my shopping at the Gala.

Soon it was time to head home. Zelda had a good time and I think she’d look forward to going again. Linda and I had a good time – we were tired – she was really tired from a couple of days without a lot of sleep. Zelda headed back to Western Virginia and we headed back to South Carolina. The ride home was good – we listened to Clemson win another football game and had a great dinner in Florence, SC.

I’ve got some images of pottery we saw, pottery we now own, and a few of the events, but none of them can come close to the experience of being there. I could have taken more, but… And, that’s what all this is about. I go to these events I write about because I enjoy them and hope others will too, once they learn about them. I’m not trying to share my experience through words and pictures – I’m not that good of a writer or photographer to even come close to doing that. Believe me, you’re being short changed if that’s what you’re trying to do by reading this. I want you to go yourself. They’re going to have another Celebration next year the weekend before Thanksgiving (that’s Nov. 18-20, 2016). Make plans now – especially if you’re going to stay in Asheboro – their hotels fill up fast with pottery lovers from all over the Carolinas and beyond. I’m not going to tell anyone when I’m going again. I want to make sure I’ll be getting all the pots I want at the Gala next time.

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Works from Frank Neef Pottery.

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Face mug from Luck’s Ware pottery. For info call 336/879-3261.

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Works from Ray Pottery. My next purchase from Seagrove will be from this pottery.

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Tile from Snowhill Pottery & Tileworks. For info call 336/301-6681.

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Works from Studio Touya.

Of course you don’t have to wait another year, some of the potteries will be having special Christmas events next weekend on Dec. 12, 2015 – visit (www.discoverSeagrove.com) for details. And, on Apr. 16-17, 2016, you can attend the 8th annual Celebration of Spring in Seagrove, for kiln openings and a studio tours of individual potteries. Did someone say road trip? And if you’re not one for crowds – you can plan your own trip anytime – just check the Discover Seagrove website to make sure folks will be open as some potteries kind of slow down or even shut down during the winter months.

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Tile from Whynot Pottery.

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This is a photo of tiles at the Whynot Pottery’s booth. The giraffe in the top row is a product of Acacia Art Tiles, a project of Meredith Heywood and her sister Lee Lewis who has passed away. Meredith is producing the giraffe tiles using an image her sister designed to keep a part of that partnership alive. There’s one there in row two and row three. What a great way to remember someone.

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A large pot from Ben Owen Pottery.

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Works from Bulldog Pottery.

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Works from JLK Jewelry at Jugtown.

The great thing about the Fall Celebration of Seagrove Potters is that it brings a lot of the area’s potters together in one place like a pottery mall. You don’t have to travel so far to see lots of different kinds of pottery, shop for the price that’s right for you, and meet the potters. If you’re looking for more of an adventure, the Spring Kiln Openings are for you. Traveling around the rolling lush hills of the Seagrove area is nice and you get the see the pottery operations. It’s your choice, but it’s a choice you should make. Don’t sit around reading about other people’s trips.

P.S. I was listening to Don Henley’s new CD, Cass County while writing most of this. It fit right in with my feelings about Seagrove – the center of pottery in the Carolinas. You know Henley – he’s one of those Eagles who has a sharp tongue about modern life, but is just an old Texas country boy.

Oh, and I’ve got one more thing to add. I’ve included a photo of what is NOT the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove. This used to be called the Museum of North Carolina Traditional Pottery, which is not really much of a museum – it’s more like a store with pottery on metal shelves. I thought the pottery wars were over in Seagrove but I guess some are still fighting. They renamed this place trying to confuse people looking for the real Pottery Center. Here’s a photo of how it looks. I hope you notice the difference.

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This is NOT the NC Pottery Center in Seagrove, NC

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This IS the one and only NC Pottery Center in Seagrove, NC – don’t be fooled.

Celebration of Spring in Seagrove, NC, by Area Potters Takes Place on Apr. 18 and 19, 2015

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Editor’s Note: We covered this event in our April 2015 issue – we just forgot to include the ad associated with it. That’s about the worst thing you can do as a commercial publication, as it means we don’t get paid for an ad we left out. We apologize to the potters of Seagrove, but we’re trying to make up for it as much as we can.

Here’s the ad we forgot to include:

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Here’s the article we published about the event.

Please join Seagrove, NC, Potters this year for our largest Celebration of Spring in Seagrove on Apr. 18 and 19, 2015. Forty three member shops will be offering an array of new work from over 70 potters and special events in the shops this year. This is the perfect weekend to get out, shake off the winter blues and come find some treasures to take home with you.

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Work from Blue Hen Pottery

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Work from Bulldog Pottery

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Works from Caldwell Hohl Artworks

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Work by Dean & Martin Pottery

Participating this year are: Avery Pottery & Tileworks, Ben Owen Pottery Inc., Blue Hen Pottery, Bulldog Pottery, Cady Clay Works, Caldwell Hohl Artworks, Chad Brown Pottery, Chris Luther Pottery, Crystal King Pottery, Daniel and Kate Johnston Pottery, David Stuempfle Pottery, Dean & Martin Pottery, DirtWorks Pottery, Donna Craven Pottery, Eck McCanless Pottery, From the Ground Up Pottery, Great White Oak Gallery, Hickory Hill Pottery, JLK Jewelry at Jugtown, Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery, Jugtown Pottery, Keith Martindale Pottery, King’s Pottery, Latham’s Pottery, Luck’s Ware, Matthew Kelly Pottery, McNeill’s Pottery, Michele Hastings Pottery & Jeff Brown, Nichols Pottery, O’Quinn Pottery, Pottery by Frank Neef, Pottery Junction, Pottery Road Studio & Gallery/Walton’s, Potts Pottery, Ray Pottery, Rockhouse Pottery, Seagrove Stoneware, Smith Pottery, Studio Touya, Thomas Pottery, Tom Gray Pottery, Triple C Pottery, and Turn & Burn.

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Work from JLK Jewelry at Jugtown

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Work from Keith Martindale Pottery

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Work from Studio Touya

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Work from Tom Gray Pottery

The Spring Guide can be downloaded from our website (www.discoverseagrove.com) and includes a map, shop hours and listing of the participating shops. You can also go to Facebook to see who is participating at (www.Facebook.com/CelebrationofSeagrovePotters) and link to the individual artists for more information.

You will also be able to participate in a chance to win a gift certificate for $150 that can be used at one of the participating Celebration of Spring shops. Pick up a card at one of the shops (or download it from our website) and get it stamped in 6 different shops and mail it back to us by May 15, 2015. Qualifying cards will be entered into the drawing, which will take place the weekend of May 23, 2015.

For further information check our NC Commercial Gallery listings for individual potteries or visit (www.discoverseagrove.com).

A Trip to Lancaster, SC, the Red Rose City, for the 2014 Lancaster County Ag + Arts Tour, Which Took Place June 21-22, 2014

Monday, June 30th, 2014

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Back in the day, when I was delivering printed copies of Carolina Arts, one of my nightly routes was from Bonneau, SC, to Manning, SC, to Sumter, SC, to Camden, SC, to Lancaster, SC, to Rock Hill, SC, then to Columbia, SC, Orangeburg, SC, and back home to Bonneau. My only drop in Lancaster was at The Springs House Gallery, home of the Lancaster County Council of Arts (http://www.lccarts.net). Because this was a night time delivery I never got to see the inside of that facility. But, because of limited time, on this trip we traveled to I-26 to Columbia, where we picked up I-77 and then took exit 55 to Hwy. 200 headed to Lancaster.

As we got closer to Lancaster I told Linda, my better half, that I wasn’t sure I’d know how to get around as I didn’t travel this way in the past. As it turned out, Hwy. 200 ran right into Hwy. 521, my old route. And once we hit Main Street it all came flooding back to me. Our first stop would be at The Springs House Gallery where the publicity we helped distribute through Carolina Arts, was the place to pick up a “Passport” for the Tour. Imagine that, after all these years I was going to see the inside of that building, which like the name says – was a house, once owned by Colonel Leroy Springs that was converted into Lancaster’s City Hall in the 1950′s. Leroy Springs played a major role in the industrial development of Lancaster and the surrounding area.

I have to add this as editor of Carolina Arts, that like in the movie Cool Hand Luke, that between the Arts Council and Carolina Arts – we have a failure to communicate. I’ve tried to encourage the folks at the Arts Council to inform us of the exhibits they present in a timely fashion – meaning by deadline. Even when they did make our deadline, they acted like we were charging them by the word. And, you should know by now we don’t charge a cent to include people’s press releases about exhibits taking place in the Carolinas.

As usual when making one of these trips I go as just another person going to an art event, sometimes I’ll introduce myself to get info from someone, but most times I don’t – I want to see things and hear things unfiltered for the press. When we walked into the facility that lack of communication was staring me right in the face. On view was the traveling exhibit of the “South Carolina Watermedia Society’s 36th Annual Exhibition”. We had no clue this exhibit would be there. All I expected was to see a photo exhibit that took a few months to figure out it would still be up during the Ag + Art Tour.

It didn’t take 2 seconds before Linda said, “I know what you’re thinking”. She knows one of my pet peeves when it comes to exhibits is works of art in group or juried shows that are not identified. None of the works had identification tags. Now, this traveling exhibit is organized by the SC Watermedia Society and administered through the Traveling Exhibits Program at the SC State Museum in Columbia, SC. I was pretty steamed as I started looking at a lot of great works by SC artists, but couldn’t tell who made some of the works. By now I can recognize a lot of the Society’s member’s style to have a pretty good guess as to who they were and where they were from.

Some of that steam was released when I eventually found  a stack of the exhibition catalogues the SC Watermedia Society provided. This was helpful in identifying works, but also led to another problem with the Lancaster County Council of Arts. As I went through the catalogue I noticed three paintings that were supposed to be included in the traveling exhibit that were not on display, and I looked throughout the exhibit area several times trying to find them. When I asked the person on duty that day they first said that those three works had problems with their frames – they said they were “flimsy”. I knew that wouldn’t be the case unless they were damaged in transit to or from one of the other facilities it was shown in. But I didn’t buy that and as I continued to stare back at that person, they eventually said they ran out of room for those three. I’m not sure that was the case either. Most works were on the walls, and a few were on easel stands.

In some ways I was sure they did have a room problem. The photo exhibit I mentioned was in one small room – some were hanging on walls and some on a wire mesh stand, but a good number of works were stacked on one another in a pile. I won’t say much about this exhibit other than it reminded me of a little league team where everyone gets a ribbon for participation – literally.

It was time to leave the The Springs House Gallery. After we got home later that evening and I loaded my photos taken that day onto my computer, I realized that I didn’t take any photos at that facility. I was not surprized.

Some would say I shouldn’t be so hard on small town art facilities, but they are getting state funding and corporate funding to do much better than what I see sometimes and other small towns do excellent work in presenting exhibitions. This is 2014 not 1950. And, sometimes if someone doesn’t complain – nothing ever changes or improves.

Now it was time to head to one of the two main reasons we made this trip. I wanted to visit Bob Doster’s Backstreet Studio (www.bobdoster.com), the studio/gallery space of who I think is one of the hardest working artists in SC – up there with Susan Lenz, and Jane Allen Nodine. Those three are showing works everywhere across the Carolinas, and in Lancaster, Bob Doster is “the man”. You could see his work everywhere we went – from business signs to metal benches on Main Street, to large sculptures in public spaces. Not to mention his works can be found in galleries all over SC. We also wanted to meet with Cherry Doster, his wife who keeps us informed of what is going on in the greater Lancaster area. Some folks in Lancaster are trying to make it a regional hub for arts and culture, and Cherry is part of that group and they have become supporters of Carolina Arts, so anything we can do to help them – we will do it.

So Bob Doster’s Backstreet Studio is located on Gay Street, the same street as The Springs House Gallery, but on the East side of Main Street. If you drove by it you might guess it’s an arts place by it’s funky exterior. The buildings used to be a pool hall, where only the men of Lancaster hung out – well, some men. Once you’re inside you might first think it was some kind of bohemian cafe or something with all the tables and chairs inside and all the art along the walls. The table and chairs are used for art classes offered there. There’s a kind of backyard open space where part of the building’s roof caved in and the Dosters have filled it in with what would remind you of a Japanese Koi pond and garden, but there are plenty of Bob Doster’s works scattered around. I bet the place looks great during evening events held there.

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A view of a section of a wall in the outside courtyard.

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Nothing is left untouched here.

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Looks like one of my Facebook profile images.

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I get this.

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The studio also features works by many other artists.

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Did you notice that Verner Award – it is well deserved.

Linda and I checked the place out and I took a few photos before we introduced ourselves to Cherry Doster, who we have talked to on the phone and exchanged e-mails with during the last year or two. She then went and got Bob who was trying to work in his studio next door. That’s right he was trying to work during an event. And, as it usually goes, Cherry and Linda talked and Bob and I talked. Later in the car, on the drive home, we tried to exchange notes on what was said, but I know that never works well. A month or two later when a certain subject comes up one of us or the other will bring up part of those conversations we had that day. And, one of us will be sure to say, “Well I didn’t know that”.

Photos I took of some of Doster’s small metal sculptures didn’t come out to well, due to backlight, a photography term that describes why when you’re taking a photo of something inside against a lighter background – in this case a wall of windows. I should have known better, but my photography days were long behind me. Plus I was taking photo with my iPhone – which hasn’t replaced real cameras – yet. You can see much better images on his website mentioned above.

Just as we were about to leave to our next stop I mentioned something about seeing a plasma cutter in a photo on Facebook and that led to a tour of Doster’s work space. This was the highlight of the tour – at least for me.

If anything I have learned in my 27 years of doing this paper is that if I ever had a notion of trying my own hand at art – I’d be a painter. I love pottery, glass, and metal sculpture, but if you saw the equipment it takes to work in those mediums – you might pick painter too. Doster’s studio reminded me of my father and his brothers back in Michigan. They all liked to tinker with big machines that did things with wood and metal. As a kid they were all off limits to me and when I was older, I was a 1,000 miles away in South Carolina. My father and his brothers would have drooled over some of Doster’s equipment – especially the plasma cutters, of which one was connected to a computer. My relatives were pretty creative in their shops, but it’s impossible to wonder what they could have done with a computer to work out their design ideas.

I did get use of a band saw, which I didn’t think my father knew about, but he must have known. That band saw made me the hit of the neighborhood, as I was able to make some great wooden swords and guns with that saw. I was an arms dealer at the age of twelve.

OK, the next spot was number two on my bucket list for the day – the Native American Studies Center (http://usclancaster.sc.edu/nas/index.html) run by the University of South Carolina @ Lancaster. They have the largest collection of Catawba Indian pottery in existence and much more. It was just around the block on Main Street. This facility opened in 2012, and I’ve been wanting to visit since then, but could never work out the right timing. I’ve gone up I-77 several times into North Carolina, but on the way back it was always after hours or on a Sunday or holiday.

This is a great facility and learning center. I took a few pictures inside, but I have to admit that as a Mid-West boy who played his fare share of “Cowboys and Indians”, I suffered from that old movie saying that if you take a picture of an Indian, you would be stealing his spirit. Also, I wasn’t sure if I should call them Indians or Native Americans. Well, I know better, but I picked up a handy little guild while we were there titled, “CultureCard – A Guide to Build Cultural Awareness – American Indian and Alaska Native”. This title confused me a little more, but inside it provides a lot of dos and don’ts on how to act – that is if you want to be respectful or as some say politically correct – as if that’s a bad thing. I know I’m not always politically correct when it comes to some folks in South Carolina, who don’t worry about spending much time on being anything else but.

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Local Native Americans were on hand to offer their art to visitors.

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More of the same.

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A showcase of just a part of their pottery collection.

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“Yei East Female,” Sand Painting, by JL Begay, unknown date, Navajo, sand and pigment. A recent addition to the Native American Studies Special Collection, on view in the Duke Energy Gallery.

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“Adult Ribbon Dress,” by Stephanie Betancourt, unknown date, Seneca, fabric. A recent addition to the Native American Studies Special Collection, on view in the Duke Energy Gallery.

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A view of some of the research area.

I also spent some time lobbying about getting more info about the Center, it’s pottery collection, public activities, and the exhibits they present with a few staff members. I hope Carolina Arts will be featuring more info and photos about the arts being produced by today’s Native Americans living in the Carolinas. I know we will have something in our August 2014 issue as the McKissick Museum at USC in Columbia will be presenting an exhibit about Native American artists of the Southeast.

Next, we had lunch, pumping money into the Lancaster County’s economy. After all that’s what most of these events are about – building tourism. On our way out as we were paying our bill I flashed the Ag + Art Tour “passport” program and told them that’s why we were in Lancaster today. They had never heard of the Tour, which surprised me at first, but thinking about it later – I know folks in Charleston and North Charleston who have never been to any of the area’s beaches or have put their toe in the Atlantic Ocean. Some folks never enjoy what their hometown has to offer which is sad, but much of it is due to habit and economic circumstances.

Now as far as the Ag part of this Tour goes, being just one generation removed from dairy farmers in Michigan and spending many Summers on that farm I wasn’t as interested in traveling out to those stops on the Tour, but there was one stop I wanted to make given our time frame and that was the Benford Brewery (www.benfordbrewing.com), South Carolina’s only agriculturally operated craft beer producer. I’m not sure we would have found the place without the use of the GPS locator on the iPhone. And, when we drove up – there was a sign made by Bob Doster. And, apparently a lot of other folks were interested in visiting the brewery, as there were cars coming and going all while we were there. This was a popular stop as they were giving out 2oz. samples of two of the beers they produce. They were also selling keg pump handles made by none other than Bob Doster.

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Sign by Bob Doster – surprize!

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There’s lots of beer in those containers.

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Just another view of the beer.

My first question was, what makes them the only agriculturally operated craft beer producer, and it came down to the fact that they are on a farm and feed the by-product of the process to their cows. At the time it was only one happy cow and it was explained that due to the drought in the West – cows are hard to come by these days. If anybody knows of some cows for sale, get in contact with this brewery.

It was very interesting getting the story of craft brewing, and how it all works, which is a boom business these days all across America.

On the way back to downtown Lancaster I remembered that I had forgotten to check out the new sculptures of Bob Doster’s that had been installed recently in the Red Rose Park, which was right across from the Native American Studies Center on Main Street, but we went in the back door when we went there. So we stopped there to check them out and take a few photos. A small Native American garden was there too.

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Sign by guess who.

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Work by Bob Doster

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The Native American garden display.

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Another view of a work by Bob Doster. The installation was not finished yet, so there were no ID tags yet.

On the way back to the car I noticed another stop on the Tour, Chastain’s Studio Lofts (www.chastainsstudiolofts.com), a little further down Main Street. I think I had heard of this place before, probably in a press release about another event in Lancaster, but we had no details about it and so it wasn’t listed in our gallery listing in Carolina Arts – so it was off our radar. So we walked over to check it out.

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Signs by Bob Doster.

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A view of part of the gallery.

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There is quite a variety of works on view.

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A view as you walk in the space.

The name of this place doesn’t do it justice. Upon entering it looked to be a regular gallery space – well it didn’t look too much like most gallery spaces, but it looked very interesting. Later I found out they are not open regular gallery hours and perhaps the name is more fitting to their operation – working studios and a place for classes and demonstrations. Maybe once Lancaster moves further down the road in becoming that arts and cultural center of the region it will justify more hours open as a gallery. But I would guess they are open during most of the events Lancaster is producing to bring in tourist and locals of the region. And, by the way, we now have them listed in our gallery listings.

There were two other art venues on the Tour, Gallery 102 and Mahaffee Studios, which we didn’t get to visit, but our departure time was up and a nasty looking storm seemed to be heading toward Lancaster from the direction of Charlotte, NC. So we hit the road.

There were actually four counties that participated in the 2014 Ag + Art Tour – Chester, Fairfield, Lancaster, and York, and maybe by next year’s Tour there will be more. It’s a lot of area to cover so if you do it once and like it, these tours could provide an endless supply of travel opportunities to discover South Carolina’s agricultural facilities and arts in some of our rural areas of the state.

For further information about the Ag + Art Tour visit (www.agandarttour.com).