Archive for the ‘Art News’ Category

The May 2013 Issue of Carolina Arts is Now Ready to Download

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013


The May 2013 issue of Carolina Arts is up on our website at ( – all 88 pages of it – a record number of pages. We also had another popular cover last month and I think this one is special too.

We ask that you help us bring the news about the Carolina visual art community to others by spreading the link for the download around to your e-mail lists and posting it on your Facebook page or “sharing” this post. Once people see all that is going on in the visual art community they will spread it around to their lists and on their Facebook pages. We started using Twitter so you can find us at ( Follow us and retweet our postings.

The link is: (

If you would like to get direct notice that our latest issue is ready to be downloaded you can send us an e-mail to ( to be placed on our mailing list.

So download that PDF and dig in – it makes for good reading and shows that you have lots of opportunities to enjoy the visual arts in the Carolinas. And, don’t forget to find a way to thank our advertisers – they make the paper possible.

Thanks – Tom and Linda Starland
Carolina Arts

Has Hell Frozen Over or What?

Monday, July 9th, 2012


As I post this entry today, the South Carolina Arts Commission has been shut down. Am I celebrating? I wish. Due to a fluke in the legislative calendar our Governor’s token veto to please her Tea Bagger friends has caused a closing of the Arts Commission – just as long as it takes the SC Legislature time to re-convene and override the token veto.

So for a week or a little longer, the SC Arts Commission will be shut down. Is this the end of the arts in South Carolina? Hardly – most won’t notice a difference. Sure, those folks who receive funding from the Arts Commission or hope to one day will cry and claim that this is the end of all arts in SC.

Am I against public funding for the arts? No! I never have been. I just don’t like the way the folks at the SC Arts Commission operate in what they say is their mission – to foster and support the arts in SC. It they did that, I’d be one of their biggest supporters. But they don’t do that – they never have. What they do is pick and choose who and what they want to support as if they know better and they manipulate others involved in the arts by pulling the strings of support in the form of funding. You do what they want, the way they tell you – or no funding for you.

What I’ve always wanted to see done with the SC Arts Commission is to have it torn down and rebuilt to be an agency that helps all in the arts. An agency that acts as a supporter not a dictator. An agency that doesn’t say we can’t because others don’t. An agency that is a true friend of the arts, not in many cases an enemy.

When I say I don’t care for them – don’t worry – the feeling is mutual. If they are still around the day we come to an end – they will be celebrating.

When people remark to us – thanks for all you do for the arts – I wonder how can that be true, what do they mean by that? How could we be helpful to the arts -we’re not sanctioned by the Arts Commission?

I mean think about it – when the state agency dealing with the arts won’t send us the press releases they send out to other media – because we might not agree with something in it or question something and dare to say so – that should show you we’re not helpful – we’re something to be avoided. Their policy is you’re either with them or against them. That’s a helpful attitude to have as a state agency. An agency created to serve the citizens of SC.

If it sounds like I want a piece of the pie or this is sour grapes as I can’t ever have a piece of the pie, you’re missing the point. We’ve existed for 25 years without their money and will for many more without it. Have there been things we could have accomplished with public funding – yes, and there are hundreds of projects that could also do wonders with public funding, but they won’t ever happen – while many more get funding and accomplish nothing more than supporting – supporters.

If you want an example of what I’m talking about, here’s one. Many years ago artists complained that there weren’t enough critical reviews being done in SC. There still aren’t. We talked with folks at the Arts Commission about setting up a program where they would pay writers directly for doing reviews that we would include in our paper – providing more reviews. They said this would not be possible as this would be a benefit to us – that we might profit from it. That is forbidden. I had to scratch my head in thinking how we would benefit – the paper is free, only the writers would be paid and we would have to cover the cost of the space we would be giving up in the paper that could otherwise be used to sell ads. How was I going to profit from that? We can’t afford to do this on our own – so nothing is accomplished toward solving this problem. Although they did do the same thing giving thousands of dollars to a publication coming out of Chicago to do the same thing – only not many people in SC ever saw that publication. But, that paper was a non-profit so it was OK to throw that money down the drain.

My point all along is that the majority of the successful parts of the greater art community lies in the commercial side of the arts. When you see surveys that talk about how many jobs are created and the economic impact of the arts – the majority of those figures are counted from businesses dealing in the arts – not non-profit arts groups. Non-profits in the arts generate few jobs and fewer profits. If they did, they wouldn’t be so worried about losing their meager public funding, which most of the time has to be matched by funding from other sources. Other sources who would probably give them funding – if they felt the group was serving the community.

No non-profit in SC exists solely on the money they receive from the SC Arts Commission.

But, the SC Arts Commission and the folks who do get funding from them would like you to believe that without the SC Arts Commission and the funding they provide to select groups – all arts in SC would shrivel up and die. That notion is so funny it hurts to think about it. Would we stop? No! Would art galleries close up? No! Would creative people stop creating? No! Would some people be out of a meal ticket? Yes! If the art welfare stopped coming – some folks would have to find something else to do. And, in most of those cases they would have to find something they are better at than what they are doing now to survive.

So, am I celebrating the Governor’s little victory over the SC Arts Commission? No, not at all. Will I lift a finger to help save them when they’re not really in jeopardy? No. Do I wish our state would do something better to help the arts and help our state profit more from a stronger cultural industry? Yes! Yes I do. Am I hopeful? No. In a couple of weeks we’ll all be back to the same old thing.  Yay, SC.

Scottsdale Art Auction in Scottsdale, AZ, Leads Western Art Sales With Over $16 Million

Friday, April 13th, 2012

What has this got to do with the Carolina visual art community? – you might ask. Well plenty.  Jack Morris, organizer of the Charleston Art Auction is also organizer and partner of the Scottsdale Art Auction. What happens in Scottsdale could happen in Charleston, SC, one day. So it’s related.


The largest crowd in history pressed auction prices to a new high for collectors of Western American art in the Scottsdale Art Auction sales room during two sessions on Saturday, March 31, 2012, in Scottsdale, AZ. When the hammer fell on the last of 392 lots offered, sales totaled over $16,250,000.00.

Top lot for the auction was a world record setting Howard Terpning oil,Captured Ponies (estimated at $400,000 to $600,000) that was fiercely contested by several bidders before it fetched $1,934,000 to a buyer on the telephone.  A Terpning oil earlier in the sale, Mystic Power of the War Shield, (estimated at $600,000 to $900,000) had broken the previous record when it sold for $1,710,000. By the end of the sale, six Howard Terpning oils and one drawing had achieved a total of $5,018,250.

Howard Terpning oil, Captured Ponies

The morning session was highlighted by Ron Riddick’s oil, The Blessing Dance, (estimated at $30,000 to $40,000) that brought a new record of $109,250 and a small oil, True Love, by Ray Swanson, (estimated at $3,500 to $5,000) that sold for $17,250. With 93% of the first session lots selling to an enthusiastic crowd the stage was set for an afternoon featuring works by the Taos Founders, Cowboy Artists of America and legendary paintings and sculpture by Russell, Remington and Frank Tenney Johnson.

Notable achievements included Frank Tenney Johnson’s oil, When all is Quiet, (estimated at $400,000 to $600,000) that sold for $575,000,Packin’ In, (estimated at $200,000 – $300,000) that brought $316,250 and an exceptional oil by W. Herbert Dunton, Roping a Wolf, (estimated at $250,000 – $350,000) that fetched $402,500.

Other lots of special interest featured Charles M. Russell’s oil, Indian Scout on Horseback, (estimated at $400,000 to $600,000) that reached $690,000, a Russell bronze, A Bronc Twister, (estimated at $125,000 – $175,000) that hammered for $258,750, the iconic Frederic Remington bronze, Bronco Buster, (estimated at $75,000 to $125,000) that brought $87,250 and a dramatic Herman Herzog, oil landscape, In the Yosemite Valley, (estimated at $40,000 to $60,000) that sold for $207,000.

Among contemporary Western masters, Tom Lovell stunned the crowd with Marking the Crossing, an oil (estimated at $125,000 – $200,000) that sold for $402,500, two wildlife oils by Bob Kuhn, Game Watchers, (estimated at $200,000 to $300,000) that brought $230,000 andRenewal, (estimated at $100,000 to $200,000) that sold for $115,000.  An important early oil by Tom Ryan done on the 6666 Ranch, Two More for Chow, (estimated at $40,000 to $60,000) fetched $69,000 and an impressive Western landscape by Clyde Aspevig set a new record for the artist when it hammered down at $99,250.

Tom Lovell’s Marking the Crossing, an oil

With 90% of the 392 lots sold, one hundred twenty-seven lots (32%) exceeded the high estimate and the total sale exceeded the total low estimates by 20%. Over 500 potential bidders in the room and a telephone bank of 10 operators kept auctioneer Troy Black on his toes for over six hours. Scottsdale Art Auction has clearly established  leadership among auction houses for American Western, sporting and wildlife art.

For a complete list of all sales results visit ( Sale date for 2013 has been set for Saturday, April 6th.

For further info contact Jack A. Morris, Jr. by calling 480/945-0225.

Taking a Look at Marketing Techniques in the Carolinas The Press Release

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012


This year we’re taking a detailed look at how the visual art community in the Carolinas is marketing itself. This is based on a piece I first posted atCarolina Arts Unleashed on Jan. 12, 2012. I borrowed a technique from comedian Jeff Foxworthy who tells his audience – “You might be a redneck if….”. I used the phrase, “You might be pretty bad at marketing when…”. You can see this post at this link.

There’s a lot to read and absorb here, but I think there is something here from which anyone can learn and a lot for some folks to learn. We offer it so people can do a better job, which will make our paper better to read and hopefully leads to more visitors and customers for all.

Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about a press release:

“A press release, news release, media release, press statement or video release is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy. Typically, they are mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, and/or television networks.”

I’ll go along with that with a few exceptions in this case. Don’t send us a fax (we unhooked it) and we’d rather receive info by e-mail than the regular mail. We are not accepting press releases through Facebook.

Without looking further at Wikipedia, I can tell you one thing a press release is not – it’s not a paid ad or paid advertising and the word ad has nothing to do with the words press release.

Also, I’m mostly interested in improving the press releases I receive, so we’re talking about a press release about a visual art exhibit or a visual art related event taking place in the Carolinas (North or South Carolina) for our monthly newspaper Carolina Arts or one of our other blogs, Carolina Arts News or Carolina Clay Resource Directory – each has their own area of focus. But this info should be good for other media outlets, but remember – they’re all different.

Which brings up one of the basic rules about press releases – know who you are sending them to. There is no reason to send a press release to someone who is not going to be interested in using it. A good example is the numerous press releases we get about exhibits taking place in California, New York or South Dakota. Those people could have saved their efforts by just looking at our name or our paper. Have you ever seen any articles in Carolina Arts about exhibits in South Dakota?

We also receive press releases from performing arts groups on a daily basis. They just don’t get it – we’re just visual arts unless the performing arts are involved with the visual arts.

So it’s well worth spending some time figuring out who is going to be receptive to your press release. That may involve reading the publication or calling to see if they would be interested in receiving your news. And, it won’t hurt finding out how and when they would like to receive it. It may only take a few minutes to find out when the deadline is, what format they would like to receive the press release in and where you should send it. You may even find out what they are really interested in – what gets them excited and what they are not interested in receiving.

Some people who think of themselves as “publicity” people like to just collect contacts – e-mail or mailing addresses. They don’t care where they come from or where they are going. They might even brag on the number they have on file, but for all they know 50 percent of them could be worthless and never see the light of day beyond a delete button or the trash can. It’s not a contest to see how many outlets you send your release to – it’s about how many outlets use the info you send.

And no matter what kind of list you have you should try to update it at least once a year. There has been a lot of turnover in the media in the last few years.

If you’re going to lose sleep at night worrying about whether your press release was received by the right person or at all, you can always ask for confirmation. If you sent it in the form of a letter – you can give your phone number or an e-mail address as a way for the receiver to get back in touch with you. If you sent it by e-mail – make sure you have a return e-mail address – one you read on a regular basis. Don’t worry if it’s a long distance call – the media should have that covered in one way or another.

If you don’t hear back about a confirmation request – give them a call to see if they got it after a few days. It doesn’t hurt and you’ll know if they got it or not – and make more personal contacts.

The Format

Speaking for Carolina Arts – don’t send your press release as a PDF or Tiff, which means you are just sending a picture of a press release that has to be further processed in order to use it. Just send it in plain text in the body of an e-mail so it can be easily copied and pasted into the files to be used. Why e-mail instead of a letter? What media outlet wants to spend time scanning or re-typing your letter?

Keep it simple. There is no need to send text in colors, fancy fonts, or in an eye-catching layout – we just want to copy and paste. Do not use all caps to make words or names seem more important. You don’t need to put words or sections in bold.

If you are sending photos do not imbed them in PDFs or in Tiffs of your press release. Send them as attachments and make sure you identify them. I hate nothing more than spending time requesting info about images sent in a return e-mail or phone call.

The W’s

You know about the who, what, where, when and why. At least I hope you do. They’re important in any good press release, but in some that I receive one or two is sometimes left out or overlooked. I’d add two more that are important, but not always possible – well written.

Including all the W’s are important but the why and well written may make the difference between having your press release just included or highlighted.

Your press release is competing with many more press release and space is always limited in some form or another. In our case, during any given month several hundred exhibits are being presented. That also means the public will have hundreds of exhibits to choose from – if they think going to an exhibit is worth their limited time. If you’re presenting your exhibit in a small community far from other urban centers you may have a captive audience, but who doesn’t need more visitors. And, I would think the number of visitors to an exhibit may have some relationship to the number of buyers or donors you will also attract.

To come up with your why, you might ask yourself a series of questions that the public might be asking themselves in deciding if they should go to your exhibit – if they see notice of it in the media.

What’s so special about this exhibit? Is it the annual exhibit by an artist who is a regular member of a gallery? Is it just the latest exhibit of new works by an artist’s owned gallery? Is it an exhibit of an artist who has not exhibited in ten years and shows a major new shift in direction by the artist? Is it an exhibit by a nationally known artist who has never been shown in your city? Or, is it an exhibit by a new group of emerging artists, which sometimes means ground floor prices? These are just a few examples of question people may ask themselves before deciding to go to an exhibit.

Remember, you or your group decided to give an artist or a group of artists an exhibition over many other artists – you must have had a reason. If your reason was that it was just their turn – coming up with the why may be very difficult.  But someone made the decision – they must have had a reason for their selection. Unfortunately, I read a lot of press release which offer no reason for why I should go see this exhibit.

Now just including the who, what, where, when and why, may not be enough to get your press release published or read by the public. Putting all those elements into a well written press release may also give you an advantage to reaching the top of the heap.

My expectations for receiving well written press releases has been lowered over the past 25 years, mostly because many of the folks sending these press releases: were just assigned the task, only send out a few in a year’s time, let the artist write the bulk of it, are unpaid and untrained, think “art speak” is the way to communicate to the public, perform the task at the last minute, don’t use spell-check, don’t let another person edit what they have written, don’t read back over what they have written, or any number of reasons.

We even deal with a few venues that think if they have to explain to you who the artist is, beyond providing their name – they’re not really interested in seeing you in their gallery. They may be some of the lucky few who deal with artists that are that important and have no problem selling the work they put on exhibition. If you’re one of those lucky people you wouldn’t have ever started reading this posting.

My question to those few would be – so, you’re not interested in educating or developing new customers? You’ve got them all in the palm of your hand?

To me, every press release is an opportunity to educate and inform the possible readers about your venue, the artist, the medium they work in, the works being presented in the exhibit, and why the reader should come see your exhibit over all others. Some people take advantage of that opportunity – many don’t.

One of the trends I’ve noticed over the last five to ten years is people using a charity as their why, by announcing that 5%, or 10% of proceeds from sales from an exhibit will go to a local charity. I really don’t care for this technique – mostly because of the lack of follow-up. We never seem to hear after the exhibit is over how much money was raised for the charity. I’m all for making donations to charities, but this seems to be a why open to all kinds of problems. And, now we have some galleries who don’t present exhibits without a charity announced as their partner – whether the charity knows it or not.

The use of the visual arts in raising money for charities is a subject too large to cover in this posting. There are good examples and just as many bad ones.

Let’s go over the other W’s in the who, what, where, when and why.

The who should include: who is sending the press release, who wrote it and can answer any questions about it, who is presenting the exhibit or event (gallery, organization, institution), and who the artist is or who the artists are. Make sure all names used are spelled the same each time they are used. Make sure you have a phone number (including area code), e-mail address, and a website address included.

Even if you have sent me a press release every month for the last 12 years, you shouldn’t make short cuts assuming I will always be here. Dark forces are amassing powers to take over any day – I might not always be here. And, if you’re sending your release out in bulk – other folks who were receiving your pr last month or even last week might not hold that job today. So, my point is don’t take things for granted that the people you are sending info to know certain details.

When it comes to the what – like an exhibit. An exhibit has a beginning and ending date and perhaps a reception date. If you just send a reception date, I don’t feel it’s an exhibit at all – it’s just a party for a few hours. I can’t use that in a monthly paper. If the event is a lecture – I want to know when it begins and when it is expected to end. I’m sure readers want to know how much time they will spent if they decide to attend the lecture. Just saying it starts at 7pm isn’t enough – especially if it will end at 7:30 or go on until 11pm.

It is also important for some folks to know if the artist will be at the reception or not.

The where should include the full address of the venue including any helpful locating factors. If your gallery or art center is across from the post office – that’s an important fact. It should be pointed out if you’re located on a second floor or where you are located if your venue is in a larger building shared by other businesses or offices. Also, for some folks it would be good to know if the venue is handicap accessible. And, don’t forget to say which state you are located – both NC and SC has their share of Beauforts, Greenvilles, Columbias, and Mt. Pleasants. Our readers come from all over the county and around the world. They shouldn’t have to do any detective work to find you.

The when, again, include dates and times your exhibit is open to the public. And, you better include the hours that you are there. It doesn’t take someone more than one time to show up during published hours and find the door locked to decide not to return. If you have an emergency – post it at the door and don’t expect people to forgive multiple emergencies. So, be very careful with the dates and times you provide in a press release. I don’t like people who state that their exhibit will be up until the middle of the next month – is that always the 15th? If I’m coming from the next city over 100 miles away I want to be sure before I leave the house and are you available to take my call to ask 24/7?

The why revisited. Here’s some whys that I don’t think hold water anymore if they ever did.

Artists who say they create because they have to. What artists don’t?

Artists who are recording the world often unseen or unnoticed in our fast paced life. Maybe there’s a reason we don’t notice certain things anymore.

Venues who guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you come see the exhibit. With that kind of challenge made I’m almost always disappointed.

Press releases that include how many pets live with the artist, their species and cute names. Do we really need to know that artists are people too? That they have spouses, children and pets – oh my!

I want to know why I should go see this exhibit. I’m sure readers do too. And, I want all the information I need to do that successfully. Is that too much to ask?

If someone was showing an exhibit of early watercolor landscapes painted by Jasper Johns when he was 19, never seen in public before – would you go? Would you go see it because it was works by Johns? Would you go because you wanted to see what kind of watercolor landscapes he would paint at age 19? Would you go to confirm to yourself that all artist may start out in a place far from where they end up? Or would the phrase – never seen in public before – be the determining factor for you.

One last point about press releases is when to send them. And first on my list is don’t send them to me until you have finished and checked everything in them at least twice and then let someone else read it.

I don’t have a lot of time to waste and I doubt other media outlets do either so I start processing a press release as soon as I get it so it can be ready to be put in the paper when I start to do the layout. Nothing gets my attention more than having to revise a piece I’ve already processed because someone discovered they got a name wrong, a date wrong, a time wrong or just left something out. By the third correction, you’re pr is slipping down the line to last place. And if you need to send a correction, don’t just make the correction and send your press release over again forcing me to re-process the whole thing again instead of making a simple correction.

As far as the Carolina Arts goes I hate to say it is ever too early to send a press release – unless changes and updates will have to be made. Get it to us by deadline, but there is no reason to wait for the exact day of the deadline if you can send it early. Sending it early gets you ahead of all those who take till the last minute to send theirs.

When it comes to the blogs like Carolina Arts News – sending a press release early can be a problem as we’ll only post it once and people tend to forget things that are posted months in advance. The exception to that rule is (Call for Entry) notices. For artists, these kinds of notices can never be too early.

Don’t send your same press release to the same media outlets once a week until the day of your event. We only need it once. If you’re worried about whether we received it, follow-up on it – don’t just keep sending it.

And, when it comes to organizations or groups – make sure only one person is sending press releases. I have received them from several different people – about the same exhibit – but you wouldn’t know it by reading them. This just causes more follow-up and delays in processing.

Over the years I have warned artists who are having exhibits at commercial galleries or non-profit institutions to not take it for granted that press releases about their exhibits will be sent out or received on time – even when people say they will take care of it.

There is nothing I hate more than getting that call after an issue has been published from an artist asking me if I received a press release about their exhibit and why I didn’t publish it. And, I have to explain – we didn’t get it or it would have been there. I warn them to call or e-mail well before our deadline to make sure everything is in place for them to get the publicity they are counting on.

I don’t like taking a press release from an artist directly – I feel the venue has that right and responsibility. There are some who don’t want to be included in our paper for one reason or another. (Another blog too big to get into here.) But, I would think it is your right as an artist to request a venue to send press releases where you would like.

And finally, one solid truth about Carolina Arts. If you’re one of our supporters, which would include advertisers or people who work hard at helping spread the paper around – you do get treated better than others. You may even get a call from us asking – don’t you have an exhibit coming up? We haven’t received a press release yet. I’ve even been known to help those folks out with their press releases to make sure they have all the right info in it. In a few rare cases I have even written press releases for supporters when they were short on time to make sure something got in on time. And, don’t tell anyone this, but there have been times when supporters lost track of time and sent us a press release after the deadline and it may have made it near the top of the list to go in the paper or on a blog.

Why such special treatment? If you haven’t figured it out yet – they make the paper and all we do possible. There is no money to be made by just having people send you press releases and publishing them. We’re not Facebook, WordPress, Twitter or Blogspot – who can sell your efforts to advertisers to make millions – we need direct advertisers to make it all work.

I hope reading this helps some folks. I know it made me feel better just writing it and getting it out there – in cyber space.

America’s College Museums Handbook and Directory, Second Edition – My 2 Cents Worth

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

The other day I got kind of a wrong number call, or more exact a call thinking that we were someone else – which came from someone who found something on the Carolina Arts website. It happens all the time. Someone does a Google search and finds an article about whom or what they were searching, and they call the number at the bottom of the page – not the number at the end of the article.

On this day it was a woman from Grey House Publishing looking for someone at one of the university or college art galleries in the Carolinas. I can’t remember which one, but it was someone we cover in the paper. Our conversation soon led to the fact that her publishing company had produced the second edition of the America’s College Museums Handbook & Directory. I told her I just included some info about art books in our December 2011 issue of Carolina Arts. Before I know it she’s getting my mailing address to send me a 30 day trial of a book which costs $185. I assured her I did not want to buy the book, but would take a look at it and maybe give my two cents on it in one of my blogs. So, here we are.


Here’s the description of the book found on the website of Grey House Publishing:

America’s College Museums Handbook & Directory, Second Edition

Published August 2011
Grey House Publishing
Dr. Victor J. Danilov
Softcover: 600 pages
ISBN: 1-59237-674-6/978-1-59237-674-2
Price: $185.00

The only resource of its kind, this work presents a comprehensive picture of over 1,700 museums and galleries in American colleges and universities.

This updated second edition includes data on 400 new facilities, more photos, new museum director contact information and four new indices to offer complete coverage of these important cultural facilities. It is an essential in-house reference tool for all campus museums and galleries and will be an important resource for academic and public libraries as well.

Students and their visitors may be surprised at the wealth and variety of culture readily available on their own campuses, and this guide makes the investigatory task easy.

Detailed introductory chapters offer an overview of the field, dealing with such aspects as history, mission, types, governance, staffing, collections, research, funding, exhibits, public programming, attendance, marketing and much more.

The Updated Directory of Organizations, with data on over 400 new facilities with more photos and new contact information for the museums’ directors, present detailed information on museums and collections of art, botanical gardens, costumes, geology, historical houses & sites, marine sciences, medical & health, musical instruments, natural history, photography, planetaria, religion, science & technology, sculptures, zoology and much more.

Four Indices: University & Museum Index, Museum & University Index, Geographic Index and Key Personnel Index

Founding & Opening Date Appendix

Selected Bibliography and Cumulative Index complete the text

Available in print and ebook formats

America’s College Museums provides a comprehensive overview of the funding, development, exhibitions, governance and future trends of college museums, along with highly informative profiles of these important facilities. This new edition will be a welcome source for all academic and public libraries.


Inside the book I found this info about the author.

Dr. Victor J. Danilov is a leading figure in the museum world. He was the director and/or president of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago for 15 years, and the founder and director of the Museum Management Program at the University of Colorado from 1988 to 2003. He is the author of 27 books, including 17 in the museum field, from museum career and planning guides to overviews of science, historic site, living history, ethnic, hall of fame, sports, corporate, and hands-on museums. He holds degrees from Pennsylvania State University, Northwestern University, and University of Colorado, and has been an officer in national and international museum organizations.

Here’s my 2 cents.

This is a big book, but I’ve got some that are just as big, filled with hundreds and hundreds of pages about some computer software program and I can’t find a few pages that tell me how to make that program do what I want. So, the size of a book doesn’t impress me and those big computer books were a lot cheaper.

My first impression is that this is a book every library in a city of 70,000 or more people should have in their reference department, as well as any library at a college or university that teaches art. I’m not sure why any individual would want this book at that price. That’s what libraries are for – they carry books we don’t need on an everyday basis.

Of course my interest was in what info they provided about art museums and art galleries at our Carolina colleges and universities. That’s my beat.

The info about facilities in the Carolinas filled about 10-12 pages in this book. And, I found the listings to be mostly complete, but also missed the mark in some big ways.

One example was that there were no listings for Charlotte, NC. They included the art gallery at Davidson College in Davidson, but none of the UNC-Charlotte art galleries. Nor do they include the facilities at Queens University and the community colleges in Charlotte. Charlotte is a big city to leave out completely.

It made me wonder if the info was collected by sending out a survey form and some people didn’t fill them out or return them in time?  But since this is the second edition I wonder how they knew who to send it to if you were not in the first edition.

They also didn’t include the Catherine J. Smith Gallery or the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at  Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. It’s hard for me to think they wouldn’t be included in the Art Gallery category. And, neither facility is brand new.

The directory also seemed to have a problem when it came the UNC- and USC- facilities, leaving out art galleries at UNC-Asheville, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington, USC-Aiken, USC-Sumter, and UNC-Upstate to name a few.

In South Carolina, they did not include info about the art galleries at Coastal Carolina, Francis Marion University, Furman University, and SC State University.

And like I mentioned in leaving out Charlotte facilities, this directory did not take into account art galleries at community colleges – at least in the Carolinas.

I’ve been in SC a long time now, but I checked out the college and university I attended in Michigan and their facilities were included. The book has a lot of listings so I can only assume they don’t know much about the Carolinas.

Size of the facility did not seem to matter. So they were not leaving out smaller galleries, as they did include the galleries at Coker College in Hartsville, SC, and Davidson University, which are not very big gallery spaces.

The book does have info on 668 college and university art galleries and more about art museums throughout the US, so if I was an artist looking for an academic art space to exhibit my work, this directory could be very helpful. It includes e-mail and phone contacts for these facilities.

As far as those facilities not included in the Carolinas – I have a hard time getting some of these same folks to send me info so I’m not surprised some are left out. And I’ve been doing this in the Carolinas for 15 years.

These days UPS or other freight carriers can take your art anywhere, so there is no reason you couldn’t show your work at the Sheppard Fine Art Gallery at the University of Nevada, Reno in Reno, NV, or the Hammons Gallery at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR, as long as you know who to contact first. This book has a lot of that info sorted in several categories and in several different ways.

What should you do? You might want to check and see if your local library already has this book or encourage them to get a copy.

Grey House Publishing is located in Amenia, NY. You can contact them by calling 800/562-2139, e-mail to ( or visit (

SC Art Commission Dangles Carrot in Front of SC Legislators and Funding Recipients

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011


The SC Arts Commission posted pending FY 2012 grants numbers, “early”, to show SC Legislators how much money their districts would loose in arts funding before they decide if they will override an expected veto of arts funding by our Governor, who has promised her Tea Party friends to veto any funding for the arts.

Grant awards are usually announced in July after the beginning of the new year funding cycle, but I guess the Commission felt a need to show them early so those who would receive them could carry their fight to their legislators.

It makes me wonder what the folks at the Arts Commission are doing besides trying to stay alive. It doesn’t seem like they’ve been doing anything else for the last 3-4 months.

I’m having a hard time deciding who is worse for the arts in our state – our Governor or the SC Arts Commission. It really seems to be a toss up. No wait – they’re both bad for SC.

What ever happens – next year lets hope for reconstruction – putting a new arts agency under SC PRT.

Truth Be Told About Spoleto Festival USA – Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011


I found these two quotes from Nigel Redden in an interview from the Reuters News Service about funding cuts to the arts on the internet. They are the first quotes I’ve seen with some truth told about the festival mixed in with a little wishful thinking.

The first quote is the wishful thinking on the financial impact of the festival: “Those cuts have come despite the fact that the Spoleto Festival brings between $55 million and $70 million to South Carolina each year,” Redden said.

$55 to $70 million – that’s quite a spread there. But, if this was true, the hotels, restaurants, and airlines should put up most of the $7.5 million budget for the festival – they’re the ones that would benefit the most. But those numbers come from economic formulas – not hard numbers. It’s economic guessing.

The second quote was the truth part: “The festival draws 25,000 to 35,000 people to the coastal city, and they buy 73,000 performance tickets and spend money on hotels, food, merchandise and tourist attractions,” he said.

Finally, we get the truth about how many people the festival attracts each year. They used to repeat this phrase until every reporter had it ingrained in their vocabulary when talking about Spoleto. “The Spoleto Festival attracts 100,000 people each year to Charleston and generates $70 million in economic impact”.

One year I called the box office after the festival was over and asked how many tickets they sold. The answer was around 70,000. Very interesting.

Unless 30,000 people were getting free admission, that was a long way from 100,000. There are a lot of folks who get given free tickets, but you have to be someone of fame, power, or at least have influence over funding. I knew there were very few people who come to Charleston to just attend one event. I also knew that a lot of locals go to Spoleto events. So, it wasn’t hard to figure that the real number was closer to 25,000 people coming to Charleston for the festival and it could even be less than that. It could be as little as 10,000 people coming from out of town to attend Spoleto events and if you start thinking about how many people come from towns and cities not too far from Charleston, but are in-State residents – the number could even get smaller.

There is a good reason Spoleto starts its festival every year during the Memorial Day Weekend. Charleston will be full of people that weekend and it makes it look like they’re all here for Spoleto, but if you ask people on the streets if they are here for Spoleto, 9 out of 10 won’t be and 7 of those won’t even know what Spoleto is. The festival has contracted the College of Charleston to do surveys, but what that means is positioning students in front of Spoleto venues before performances and asking folks going in the doors if they’re here for Spoleto – it’s very scientific.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re lucky to have the Spoleto Festival, but it has been over-sold for years as far as its impact on the economy and the city of Charleston. And, 10,000 well-off folks spending money in Charleston is nothing to throw away. But the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, a visual art event, says they attract the same number of people, if not more, and have the same economic impact, if not more – and it’s an extended weekend compared to the three weeks of Spoleto. Of course its audience might be considered a little less refined. But they spend big bucks all the same.

Frankly, all events like this embellish the numbers on attendance and economic impact – they have to in order to attract donations and sponsorships. It’s the American way. We can’t be happy with reality – we have to be BIGGER than life.

It was refreshing to see the truth said for once – even if it was in an interview not seen in any local or regional papers. They’re all still repeating the original phrase of 100,000 visitors/$70 million impact.

Of course Spoleto could improve those numbers – if they actually put a visual art component back into the festival. But because they have no place they can present such visual arts and charge admission – they’re not interested. But it would attract more donations, more press coverage, and more people interested in visual art events.

Of course without the Spoleto Festival USA there would be no Piccolo Spoleto Festival – the “little” festival with its overkill of 700 plus events. And, without Piccolo there would be no cover for the City of Charleston to inject more funding into local performing art groups – who are paid to participate – here, there, and everywhere.

Talk about affirmative action and art welfare – Piccolo Spoleto is the poster child for propping up art groups who operate in the red constantly. And after June 11 – they will disappear until September when and if they can afford to present a “season” once more. I think of them as the part-time arts community, but with benefits. Except for the underpaid musicians of the Charleston Symphony who have to be the cheapest professionals on the planet – I’m not sure you should be able to call yourself a professional when your income is way below the poverty level.

So what’s my point in all this? It’s very simple.

The visual art community in Charleston is the real economic engine in this area and they get very little support or respect from the local, state, and national government sectors. They’re offering the arts all year long – in most cases for free. There is no “season” for the visual arts community. Sure, some times of the year are busier than others, but the show goes on no matter what.

So, maybe it’s time to concentrate on giving the visual art community some support, which will deliver a bigger economic payoff for the community, instead of pouring money down a black hole in trying to support arts groups who will always be a drain on the resources of the community.

But, then again, when I think that we have the same leadership in the arts community that we’ve had for the last 20-30 years – I know nothing is going to change.

Artists, Art Collectors, Everyone – Beware!

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

There is an interesting article everyone in the visual art community should read in Columbia, SC’s  The State today (10/24/10) written by Helen O’Neill, an AP correspondent. Here’s the link. I’m sure this story is appearing in a lot of Sunday newspapers around the country.

Don’t think things like this couldn’t happen in the little old Carolinas – they have. It might have been on a much smaller scale but it has happened and could be taking place now.

The lesson is – make the arts more business like and less – who you know or who you think you know.

Info Offered At Carolina Arts’ Website

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

I just finished loading up some info to our website at Carolina Arts Online.For years we’ve been receiving e-mails about all sorts of things going on in the visual art community of the Carolinas. This is stuff we don’t and wouldn’t have room for in the printed version of the paper – like the results of juried shows which have taken place. These pages are very popular with artists. They like seeing their names as winning awards or being included in juried show or to see who got in when they didn’t. We have these results going back ten years.

Then there is our ART NEWS section. It carries all kinds of info about the visual arts. Here you can find out info about lectures being offered, dated call for enties for juried show, dated opportunities (for all kinds of things) and news about artists, art administrators, and arts organizations. We get this kind of info on a regular basis and we try to post it as soon as we can, but it does take a backseat to the printed paper. And, sometimes people don’t give us much time to let you know about things before the deadline is up.

We also receive info about art groups’ meetings, fundraisers, and tours.

I just wanted some of our blog readers to know a little bit more about what can be found on our website. Some of you may have known about this, but some may not have known. So, now you do.

A Trip To The Gibbes

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I finally made it to the exhibit, Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art, on view at the Gibbes Museum of Art in downtown Charleston, SC. The exhibition examines plantation-related works of art from the eighteenth century to the present. Organized by the Gibbes, this exhibit was on view at the University of Virginia Art Museum in Charlottesville, VA, from Jan. 18 through Apr. 20, 2008. And, after its viewing at the Gibbes will travel to the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, GA, to be on view from Aug. 23 through Oct. 19, 2008.

The Gibbes exhibition started on May 9 and will be on view through Aug. 3, 2008. So this was the exhibit Spoleto Festival USA visitors would see – if they fit a visit to a visual art museum into their busy performance schedule – they may have for this exhibition. I think it’s exactly the kind of exhibit which the Gibbes should be offering visitors during the Spoleto Festival. Why try and compete with the contemporary art they can see in their own home cities – New York, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, or any other northern city or from Europe for that matter.

These folks don’t want to see art that was probably in their cities years ago. They want to see art from Charleston and the South. The success of the exhibitions Spoleto offered when they were offering visual art exhibitions was due to the fact that they were site-specific to Charleston and the South.

I went to the Gibbes on a day when they had free admission. The normal admission is $9 – almost twice the cost of visiting other museums in South Carolina and the region. I had to drive around the area of the Gibbes three times to find a parking space that wouldn’t cost another fortune for a short visit. That free parking at the SC State Museum in Columbia, SC, is great.

This was the first time I have set foot in the Gibbes Museum of Art since 2002 when a few members of the board of the Carolina Art Association figured it was a good idea to boot out long time director Paul Figueroa on the trumped up charge that the Gibbes was in the red for the first time in many a year. Does anybody remember what happened to our economy after the Fall of 2001?

Now here they are, two directors later and a lot more red ink, the board has recently named Angela Mack the new director (and curator of this exhibition) – a hire from inside the Museum – also someone who worked as curator under the administration of Figueroa. I hope those board members are long gone too.

On my walk to the Gibbes I passed the house at 76 Queen Street that was once used as the Gibbes Studio School where they offered art lessons to students and adults – under a Figueroa administration. I understand the building is for sale for $3 million. Why, I don’t know. Even if they found someone to pay this price, it is hardly worth the value of the Gibbes future expansion as this property is adjacent to the Gibbes. The space would allow for a healthy expansion – unless they plan on one day leaving the peninsula for a totally new museum space. But I doubt that – I can’t imagine where that money would come from in Charleston – a performing arts town – when it comes to support from the City of Charleston and its Mayor.

So into the Gibbes I go and at the front desk I learn that there is no exhibition handout for the Landscape of Slavery exhibit, other than a family activity booklet for parents and children to play a game while visiting the exhibit. Of course there is the exhibition catalogue or book, but if I went on a free day and had to look for cheap parking – I don’t think I was going to be investing in the book. Look we didn’t name our publishing company Shoestring Publishing Company just because it might sound cute – it’s a reflection of reality. That’s OK – I brought a pad and pen to take notes.

They did have a map of the museum which was an interesting legacy of Todd Smith, who was director for the last two years. Except for the Main Gallery and the Rotunda – all the galleries at the Gibbes are now identified by a letter of the alphabet – A – L. Now that’s classy. At one time people gave good money for the names of those gallery spaces or were honored for one reason or another by having a gallery space named after them, but in Smith’s new contemporary view of the Gibbes a letter of the alphabet was cool – I guess.

I’m sure this all sounds like I’m leading up to a not so good review of this exhibition but it couldn’t be anything further from that notion. This exhibit was a winner – a real education and I hope an eye-opener for some. The juxtaposition of the old view of slavery in artworks by white artists of the colonial days, revolution, civil war and even Charleston’s renaissance period against the works of African American artists working in the present time – was quite an exhibit.

The slaves in the works of Winslow Homer, William Aiken Walker, Anna Heyward Taylor and Alice Ravenel Huger Smith portrayed slave life on the plantations of the South – as not so bad, while the contemporary works created by African American artists gave an entirely different view on how they viewed life on the plantation. Especially in works like Joyce Scott’s, No Mommy Me I, a leather and bead creation of a nanny and her golden charge and Juan Logan’s Foundation, a wall of metal blocks on one side but each block on the other side was shown to be the back of a slave on all fours – holding up the next block of another slave holding up another block and on and on. Two views of this wall – both very different.

When family and friends come to visit and I take them on the traditional tour of downtown Charleston someone always brings up the wonderful homes Charleston is full of and so lucky to have. They remark about the skill and craftsmanship it took to produce such masterpieces of architecture. I always reply, “Yes, it’s the best city slavery could build – I just want you to remember that.” It’s something everyone should remember in Charleston.

Slavery is a part of Charleston’s history and past, it’s not one of the better parts of that history, but it is part of the history. That said, that history, if told properly, can be a major part of Charleston’s cultural tourism. All we can do is apologize for that past, learn from it, and embrace it as part of the history of the city and the people who lived here – free citizens black and white and the slaves and the indentured. They all made Charleston what it is.

The artworks in the exhibition come mostly from collections of regional art museums and from regional contemporary artists. So this is pretty much a homegrown exhibition with a few exceptions. The works are placed in various sections including: Introduction, Protest, Politics, Nostalgia, and Identity – each interesting for their own reasons.

I think it was in the Politics section or maybe Protest – I can’t remember now – that I found two very interesting artifacts. One was a first edition copy of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly, from 1852. What historical events did this small book set off?

The other item was one of the Dave jars, now famous in South Carolina’s history. Dave “The Potter” Drake was a slave and pottery maker, who could read and write, in Edgefield County, SC, who wrote info on some of his creations. This one had the following written on it: “Dave belongs to Mr. Miles where the oven bakes-the pots biles/31st July, 1840″. Slave Dave probably would never imagine where those writings would take him in history. Just think about how many pots, jars, jugs, plates, etc. were made by slaves on plantations throughout the South, but if found today are just old examples of pottery. A 15 gallon jar by Dave sold at public auction in 2000 for $83,600. It is said that the jars have been sold for higher amounts at private auctions or in sales among private collectors and dealers. Most slaves were not allowed to learn to read or write – good thing Dave did or we may never of had a glimpse into his life.

Well, go see this exhibit before it moves on to another museum and the works are returned to their owners. And, if you have the time – go see one of Charleston’s plantations – Middleton Place or Drayton Hall – to get a close up look at a plantation.

Before I left the Gibbes I walked through the exhibit, The Charleston Story, an ongoing exhibit featuring artworks that tell the story of Charleston or show off some works by artists from the area. The first sections includes what some young people might refer to as the old paintings of old people. Except for a few recent additions these are works that anyone who has visited the Gibbes over the last two or three decades has seen many times before. When I got to the section identified as Charleston Today, I was a little taken aback. Yes, there were works by William Halsey, Corrie McCallum, Jill Hooper, Brian Rutenberg, West Fraser, and even Jonathan Green and Jasper Johns, but there was much more work on display by artists who at best have a very loose connection to Charleston. As a poster stated, these are artists who may have visited Charleston, taught here at one time or – reflect the complex story of the region.

I’m not sure viewers were making that subtle distinction and didn’t end up thinking that these artists had something to do with Charleston Today – artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Diane Arbus, Forrest Moses, or even Jeremiah Miller and Herb Jackson – both from North Carolina.

The Gibbes has works by artists with real connections to Charleston in its collection who would offer good examples of the works – styles – subjects – displayed by these artists. They may not have the same name recognition value in some people’s minds, but at least they are from Charleston.

This exhibit may be an example of former director, Todd Smith’s transformation of the Gibbes into a more contemporary art museum, but the Gibbes needs to do some repair within the Charleston visual art community. They may need to dust off some of those works by local artists to bring some back into the fold. Plus it would be a more honest representation of art being created in Charleston Today.

My final thought about my return to the Gibbes. It has been at least six years since I was last inside, but it seemed much smaller to me now. This may be from visiting much newer and bigger art museum spaces in North and South Carolina. With over 10,000 works in the Museum’s collection, you wonder where they are keeping them all and how long will it take to get many of the works into some kind of display so people can see them? But I’m sure that’s a problem for all art museums – too many works and too little space.

After leaving the Gibbes I popped into the new digs of the Wells Gallery at 125 Meeting Street, which used to be the old Virginia Fouché Bolton Studio & Gallery – almost a decade ago. Of course the space had gone though a major make-over – no one would recognize this as the old Bolton space. The new gallery space has two glass windows in the floor so visitors can see the building’s old cistern below.

This was the fourth location in the history of the Wells Gallery in Charleston. The gallery started out on Market Street, but eventually moved to Broad Street – then State Street and now – as owner Hume Killian said ( I caught him dropping something off at the gallery on a Saturday morning) – to it’s final location on Meeting Street, almost next to the Gibbes Museum of Art. This is an example of how Charleston’s commercial gallery owners have constantly been forced to move from one location to the next – due to raising rents in the City. These galleries help make Charleston a destination and then turn around and have to pay – more and more for their own success. It would be nice if the City or the landlords would give them a break for attracting visitors to Charleston.

The gallery had on view an exhibit by Karen Larson Turner entitled, Way of Life. Turner has been a staple of the Wells Gallery for a number of years – since Broad Street I think. She is one of the area’s excellent landscape painters and this show was a good example of that fact. Works ranged in size from 11″ x 14″ to 3′ x 4′ and larger. I spotted a number of red dots on tags so I think the public was in agreement. This show may be over by the time anyone gets to read this but works by Turner can be found at the gallery on a regular basis.

The Wells Gallery has a good group of artists which it represents including local, regional, and as Killian told me – more artists with a national reputation.

You can see their lineup of artists in our paper or on our website. This blog may be new, but it’s just part of the Carolina Arts offerings of info on the visual arts of the Carolinas.