Archive for the ‘Commercial Art Community Helping Out’ Category

A Trip to Columbia, SC, the Famously Hot City, to See Some Art and Attend a High Noon Event

Thursday, June 28th, 2012


Last Saturday (June 23, 2012), before I was knee deep in our July 2012 issue of Carolina Arts I headed to Columbia, SC, to catch up on a few things going on there. I wanted to attend one of the Nigh Noon series that City Art was offering – Mary Gilkerson was giving a demo on how to start a painting. I wanted to see the exhibit, Abstract Art in South Carolina: 1949-2012, which offers the first inclusive look at the evolution and influences of abstract painting and sculpture in South Carolina, on view at the SC State Museum through Aug. 26, 2012. And, for me, no trip to Columbia is complete without a stop at One Eared Cow Glass to see what the cowboys, Tom Lockart and Mark Woodham, are up to.

Hitting the road these days is less painful. I filled up the car in Moncks Corner, SC, with $2.91 a gallon gas – thanks to my BiLo Fuel Perks card. Any day under $3 is a good day. I saw on the Weather Channel the other day that Greenville, SC, has the cheapest gas in the nation at $2.69. Our car, a Honda Civic Hybrid, is getting between 42 – 44mpg these days, but we still like lower gas prices.

As usual, I arrived at City Art in Columbia’s Congaree Vista area within two hours of leaving home. A short trip compared to my paper delivery driving days where I would spend 16 -18 hours a day in the car. Thank you Al Gore for inventing the Internet – ha, ha.

I checked out the exhibit of works by Michael Fowler which were still on display, before the big SC Watermedia Society exhibit comes to City Art (beginning July 7). I like abstract works and Fowler offers some good ones. Unfortunately, this day also confirmed that my pocket camera just wasn’t cutting it. I have been disappointed in how it acts in low-light situations. And, on this day I was running a test with my new iPhone’s camera – which after inspection showed it did much better, but it’s going to take some practice getting used to using it – especially keeping my fingers out of the way. In good daylight – the pocket camera is OK.

Here’s a photo I took with my camera

Here’s the same painting off the City Art website

A view of a few more paintings

a few more

While at City Art I also checked out some of their other art offerings, but I never got upstairs. I also went downstairs and looked over the art supplies. Not being an artist, I’ve never had much need for art supplies. There was a time when Linda and I did some silkscreening of T-shirts and a few Spoleto Posters with some friends. But this was in relationship to the photography we once did. And, back in the day when we had to physically layout the pages of the paper we used some spray adhesive. When I got to tubes of oil paints I instantly started trying to add up how much the paint might cost an artist like Brian Rutenberg who puts gallons of paint on his paintings – sometimes sticking an inch or two off the canvas. That’s got to cost a pretty penny. I’d learn some tricks about stretching out paint at Mary Gilkerson’s demo.

A view of some of Harriet Goode’s tall women – from a previous exhibit at City Art

A colorful painting by Jo Dean Bauknight with a lot of texture

So, close to noon I headed back upstairs and people were beginning to flow in for the demo. At first ten, then twenty, and thirty to eventually forty people and about a handful of staff from City Art. Gilkerson, being an art professor at Columbia College in Columbia came well prepared for this demo – no winging it here, and as I’m sure she’s used to after all her years of teaching – the hour moved on a steady path and I was amazed at how much material she covered with her ten point system in such a short period of time. And it wasn’t all lecture – there was plenty of show and tell, opportunity for questions, and at the end – opportunity to try out some of the materials – on the spot. The show and tell is good for people like me who need people to draw a picture for them to understand a concept sometimes. Words alone don’t always bring up the clearest picture for me.

High Noon with Mary Gilkerson

A view of the whole group

The bonus of this kind of learning event taking place at City Art is the staff being able to add info about materials, brands, and availability of items mentioned. (Which is no surprise – I’m sure they are offering these events in hope that what people learn will lead to sales of products and early reports were that this was the case.) Just like Carolina Arts, City Art is doing what they are doing because they like the arts, but they are in business too. Gilkerson was handing out info about upcoming workshops. She’s also hoping for some return on her efforts.

Folks trying out materials from the demo and collecting sample goodies

Pushing paint with painting knives – easier to clean

Gilkerson, being an active painter has her habits, but she was flexible to offer alternative ways of doing things. But, at the same time she made her pitch to work safe (some toxic materials are involved in painting) and working green. She explained that she knew artists who have gotten sick and a few who died due to their careless handling of some of these materials.

I have no intention of becoming a painter, but I learned a few things while listening. The number one point was – cheap materials usually result in cheap results, but in some cases – cheap is useful. Gilkerson finds suitable brushes at dollar stores for prepping canvases, but when laying paint on the canvas – the best is best. She also advised that sometimes you have to do bad work to learn from it – just don’t show off your learning experiences. That’s a trick of a real pro.

I remember back in my photography days learning that a National Geographic photographer might shoot 1,000 images for every one that is used in the magazine. This makes it look like they only take fantastic images – they just don’t show you all the misses. It’s a good practice for any artist. I see too much work not ready for public viewing.

From what I saw, I liked this High Noon series and it seemed others there did too. I understand that City Art already has programs scheduled for every Saturday at High Noon through the fall. I don’t think they expected the reaction to their offerings to be so good right off the bat. But, the art community always needs to remember that education and involvement is the key to success and development. It can’t always be about begging for funding.

And, here’s where I ask the usual question. Why couldn’t programs like this get funding from public resources? Not that anyone’s asking – I’m just saying… What makes programs that are hosted by non-profits more worthy – when many times they are not and many times they are not free? The business part of the arts community understands our role in the arts and many of the non-profits look to us for help, but it makes no sense to me why it’s an absolute that for-profits can never share in public funding. Isn’t the point of public funding to help people do good things they would not be able to afford otherwise – for the benefit of the public. And what business couldn’t do better things without a little help? It’s funny that the government doesn’t seem to have any problem helping out big farm operations, oil companies, and other big corporations with public funding – why not in the arts?

I feel a headache coming on – so on to the SC State Museum where there is something better to talk about. Regular readers know I like my abstract art and the show at the State Museum was like Christmas in July, although it was still June. To me there is nothing better than wall to wall abstracts and this exhibit offered many treats from artists who are already some of my favorites and some by folks I had not seen much of before this visit.

Thanks to Paul Matheny, the curator of art at the State Museum, I can offer you great shots of the gallery space. I handled the individual works – as best I could between camera and iPhone, but the lighting is always better for viewing than for taking photos at the Museum.






For anyone who loves abstract works as I do this show is a must see. I mean it – you have until Aug. 26 to see this show and then you’ll probably never see such an assemblage again – in my lifetime. And, for those who say – I don’t get it – when they view abstracts – this is also an opportunity to give abstracts a chance to see if you’ll ever like abstracts. Because after viewing this show – if you still don’t see the beauty in these works – you probably never will and you can cross them off your bucket list. I didn’t get them at first – many a year ago. One day looking at works by Eva Carter and William Halsey – the lightblub in my head went off.






The exhibit seems to be organized by area of influence or around universities. You have the Charleston/College of Charleston group; Columbia/University of South Carolina group; Rock Hill/Winthrop University group; Upstate/Clemson University group and so on.

You have works by artists who were born as far back as 1897 with Faith Murry being the oldest and Hollis Brown Thornton the youngest born in 1976. In this exhibit – being in your 50′s and 60′s might still make you a young upstart.

A slightly fuzzy photo of a work by Eva Carter

A work by William “Bill” Buggel

A work by Brian Rutenberg

It’s hard enough being an abstract artist today, but I can only imagine how hard it was for some of these folks who were working in the 50′s and 60′s in South Carolina. No problem if you were in New York City, but in SC – folks like to be able to tell what they are looking at – an old house, marsh scene, mountain stream or people. Many of these artists had to make their living by teaching art and trying to convert a few students – over to the dark side when they could. And, the exhibit probably has a number of teacher/student groupings – if not even a third generation of influence. Others had to show and sell their works – out of state.

A work by Gene Speer

A work by Marge Moody

A work by Tom Flowers

Sculpture was represented with some excellent works, but the majority of the works are paintings – large paintings. Not many would fit in my car for a ride home – not that I’m saying I’d try something like that, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a lot of these works on my walls – if I had walls big enough to hold any of these works.

A work by John Acorn who will have an exhibit at 701 Center for Contemporary Art in July

A close in detail of that same work by John Acorn

After seeing all this great work, I still felt like I wanted more. This was a pretty big exhibition in one of our state’s largest galleries, but I would have liked to see more works by some of these artists and more works by others not included. In fact I told several folks at the State Museum that I can hardly wait for the follow-up exhibit, Abstract Works in South Carolina: Today, which I don’t think is being planned any time soon – too bad.

The Museum produced a very nice catalogue for this exhibition and SCETV produced an informative video which plays just outside the entrance to the exhibit. Don’t leave without viewing it. I suggest the State Museum place a few chairs out there for us older folks.

Thank you Paul Matheny for organizing this exhibition.

Like I said before – no trip to Columbia is complete without a visit to One Eared Cow Glass and I used my iPhone to show some new works from the cowboys – Tom Lockart and Mark Woodham. They’re working on a special display for this year’s SC State Fair – which is going to be BIG. We’ll have details about that later.

A group of works at One Eared Cow Glass

All these images are from the iPhone

My favorite photo from the day’s trip – love that iPhone

Not sure what these are – might be for the State Fair exhibit

I didn’t stay there long – probably because they were not working their magic – turning melted sand into art, but while there, Lockart said I was brave to come to Columbia on one of the first hot days of summer. I mean for the city that calls itself Famously Hot! I didn’t think it was that hot. I don’t think I spent more than ten minutes going from my car to a well cooled space, but when I left it was 98 degrees and by the time I got back to Bonneau – two hours later, but still the hot part of the day – it was only 91 degrees – so I guess they are hot there, but not too hot to view art or learn something about the arts.

So you folks in the Upstate with $2.69 gas – you have no excuse not to travel to Columbia and you won’t melt and by the time you get back to the Upstate – it will feel so much nicer. For the folks on the coast – stop in Columbia on your way to the mountains – you’re driving right by anyway. Beside there’s cheap gas in the Upstate – go get yourself some.

Nina Liu and Friends Gallery in Charleston, SC, Receives Verner Award from SC Arts Commission/Foundation

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Nina Liu outside her gallery and friend Aggie Zed (r)

OK, this is meant to be a congratulation to Nina Liu – make no mistake about that, but it is also about the SC Arts Commission and SC Arts Foundation.

I think everyone would agree that in these days of cutbacks in funding for the arts it would have been better to make the announcement of who will receive these awards and let UPS deliver them, but instead the folks at the Arts Commission/Foundation decided to play their fiddle while Rome burns. And, they’re letting visual artists have the honor of helping them raise money to put on a party, through another art auction.

If you’re of my thinking on all of this – would we expect anything else? Yes, this is exactly what I’ve come to expect from them. But, like they say – even a broken clock gets it right twice a day.

So, congratulations to Nini Liu, the woman behind Nina Liu & Friends gallery in Charleston, SC. She has served artists and the art community in Charleston for 25 years as well as doing the same in Iowa, Louisiana, California, and Michigan, before landing here in South Carolina.

Liu has been a long-time supporter of Shoestring Publishing Company, including Charleston Arts, South Carolina Arts and now Carolina Arts. She helped start the French Quarter Gallery Association, providing coordinated art walks in Charleston. We worked with her and others to make it the largest art walk in the Carolinas. Now everyone has one.

And, I know she has done a lot to help other art organizations such as the Gibbes Museum of Art, College of Charleton School of the Arts, and Spoleto Festival USA, to name a few. But most importantly for me, she has been a regular sounding board – I rarely travel to Charleston without stopping to have a short or sometimes long conversation with her.

I’m glad she got her Verner before I told that to everyone.

So, Nina Liu and her gallery will share the spotlight at the 2011 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts (Business Category) with Carolina First Bank of Greenville, SC – that’s if our new Governor doesn’t want to take back her title from the award. I doubt she’ll show up to hand the awards out – that would seem a little hypocritical, but maybe she will- it wouldn’t be the first time for her.

As far as the other Verner Award recipients – I don’t know who most of them are – which is the way I would guess others around SC would think when they read Nina Liu’s name. I’m sure they have had similar impacts on the communities where they live – or at least we would all expect that they do or did. It helps to think of these things as regional awards to folks who have had some impact on a regional basis. Yet, I can’t help but think that some awards over the years and this year (hopefully very few of them) are self-serving by the Arts Commission – rewards to a few good friends of theirs.

All I know is – we could all use a lot more Nina Lius as friends.

Seagrove, NC, Potters Raise Money for Elementary School Art Departments

Sunday, February 13th, 2011


The Seagrove Area Potters Association (SAPA) raised $800 for local schools at the 3rd annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters held in Seagrove, NC, last November. Seagrove and Westmoore elementary schools each received $400 from the organization to be used specifically in the schools’ art departments.

Ben Owen presents a check to Westmoore Elementary art teacher Pat Yow

Mary Ellen Robinson, Seagrove Elementary School art teacher, used the money to purchase over 100 pieces of bisque ware in fun shapes for children to decorate. The shapes include frogs, flip flops, and geckos. Dinner plates and coffee mugs were purchased, as well.

Robinson plans to have a pottery night in March. Parents will be invited to purchase the bisque pots for their children to glaze. All proceeds will go back into the art department. Local potters, Bonnie Burns and Sally Lufkin Saylor have volunteered to help with the project.

Westmoore Elementary School art teacher, Pat Yow said the money helped tremendously. She purchased several art supplies with her donation, including clay. Yow plans to have her students work on a number of clay projects in the coming months.

Seagrove Elementary School art teacher, Mary Ellen Robinson and some of her fifth grade art students display bisque ware that was bought with a donation from the Seagrove Area Potters Association. Students, from left to right: Mason White, Tanner Perdue, Megan Jarrell and Samuel Saylor.

The donation was funded by a special children’s booth at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters. Many participating potters donated pieces for the booth. All pots were priced between $1 and $5 to be affordable for children, who were the only ones allowed to purchase the pots.

The Celebration of Seagrove Potters takes place each year during the weekend before Thanksgiving. The event has always included two booths specially designated for children and will continue to do so in the future. In addition to the fund raising booth, there is also a booth that invites children to tap into their creativity and sculpt with clay.

The potters involved in SAPA are dedicated to inspiring the next generation of artists. “SAPA is committed to all the arts, but especially to the tradition of making pottery. We feel that contributing to local schools’ art departments will not only help with the arts in general, but will also keep the pottery tradition alive,” said Bobby Marsh, SAPA president.


Upcoming during the weekend of Apr. 16-17, 2011, is the Celebration of Spring in Seagrove Studio Tour with over 50 clay artists offering special events and kiln openings throughout the Seagrove area. Spring has always been a time for renewal and awakening in Seagrove and this year an unprecedented number of shops are opening their doors together to Celebrate spring with special events. It’s a great weekend to come out and leisurely browse, shop and experience a 200-year-old tradition, see the process, develop and renew relationships with the potters of Seagrove in their individual shops. Check the SAPA website for maps and more information.

For further information visit (

Charleston Fine Art Dealers’ Association in Charleston, SC, Makes Major Donation to High School Art Programs in 2011

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

I had to learn this info on Linda’s (my better half) Facebook page. The info came all the way from California by Facebook connections back in Charleston. My press release is probably still in the mail, but we won’t make you wait for this news and a little commentary.

It’s kind of timely news. Our new governor of SC has vowed to cut the budget of the SC Arts Commission – completely. It may take her four years due to all the crying which will be going on by those who receive some of those funds from the Arts Commission. Unfortunately, everyone else in the arts will just be silent – they don’t care one way or the other – the issue has never affected them. And, now the Arts Commission will spend most of their time defending their existence and pressing their friends/recipents to do the same.

I’m not sure how the taxpayers will see this crying up against the news that many programs supporting needed social services are also on the chopping block, but I guess it’s a matter of who makes the most noise to their legislative representatives.

You’ve heard my suggestion before. Give the same amount to the arts groups that they have been getting, based on population of each county – just cut the money the staff used to exist and sell their building and equipment. I’ve never been against public funding for the arts. I just don’t think we need the SC Arts Commission at all to administer that money – at least this one. Then the Arts Commission’s share can go toward saving some of those social services.

So, here’s an example of how private businesses in the art community are helping serve the non-profit art community – without public funds or any other help form the SC Arts Commission – or respect. The Arts Commission and their friends would like you to think that all art would stop without them. That’s not true.

Here’s the news:


The Charleston Fine Art Dealers’ Association (CFADA) once again will donate funds to art programs at local public high schools. The association will donate $22,000 worth of art supplies to schools in need that participated in its Twelfth Charleston Fine Art Annual in November 2010.

Each of the following schools will receive art supplies—Academic Magnet High School, Burke High School, Charleston County School of the Arts, Garrett Academy of Technology, James Island Charter High School, North Charleston High School, R.B. Stall High School, Septima P. Clark Academy, St. John High School, Wando High School and West Ashley High School.

“This is the only organization in Charleston I know of that helps out the art programs in the schools. With the generous donations provided by CFADA, we are able to provide all students, especially those who may be disadvantaged, with high-quality materials for creating art.  Students are truly benefiting from having a creative outlet through our art classes,” praises Cheryl Clair, art teacher at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, SC. According to the National Arts Education Initiative, arts education strengthens students problem solving and critical thinking skills, which will help them in school and their professional careers. Students involved in the arts perform better in reading, social studies and math compared to their peers.

The donation is possible thanks to the generosity of CFADA artists whose creations from the Painting in the Park where auctioned off at the Charleston Art Auction ( on Saturday, November 6, 2010.

Since 2004, CFADA has donated more than $180,000 to local high schools, the Gibbes Museum of Art, Redux Art Center and the Studio Art Department at the College of Charleston. For more information on CFADA, please visit (

Works by Mary Whyte and Jill Hooper are Being Auctioned to Benefit the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, SC

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

While Linda and I were ending our visit of the exhibit, Brian Rutenberg: Tidesong, (on view in the Gibbes’ Main Gallery through Jan. 10, 2010) last Saturday, just before we left the building I noticed a couple of paintings hanging on the wall across from the recently remodeled Gibbes Museum Store. One painting was by Mary Whyte and the other by Jill Hooper. Both artists have distinctive styles so I didn’t have to look at the tags, but when I did it said that I could make a sealed bid on either of the two works – details were available in the Museum Store.

Since we had other places to go – exhibits to see I decided to find out about this later and after an e-mail to Marla Loftus, Director of Communications, at the Gibbes Museum of Art – I have the details.

Loftus told me that Gibbes, etc. a member auxiliary group (of the Gibbes Museum of Art) based on Kiawah Island, has launched this sealed bid art auction in conjunction with their 10th Annual Kiawah Island Art and House Tour slated for April 9, 2010, from 2-6pm.


Gibbes, etc. has placed on view at the Gibbes, two works of art that will be sold through a closed bid auction to benefit the museum. Charleston artists Mary Whyte and Jill Hooper, both represented in the Gibbes permanent collection, have donated works of art to the auction. Lower Church Street, Morning Light, a watercolor painting by Mary Whyte, has a retail value of $4,500 and a minimum bid of $2,700. Still Life with Bread, an oil painting by Jill Hooper, has a retail value of $4,000 and a minimum bid of $2,400.

Lower Church Street, Morning Light by Mary Whyte

Mary Whyte is represented in Charleston by Coleman Fine Art and Jill Hooper is represented by Ann Long Fine Art.

I also noticed that the Gibbes Museum Store and Coleman Fine Art are exclusively offering holiday cards featuring the watercolor, Paper Angel, by Mary Whyte. The holiday cards sell for $10 for ten cards with all proceeds benefiting art education programs at the Gibbes Museum of Art.

Visitors to the Gibbes can view the paintings through Apr. 8, 2010 and place their sealed bids in a container at the museum.  On Apr. 9, 2010, the paintings will be moved to Kiawah Island where they can be viewed and bid on during the Kiawah Island Art and House Tour. The highest bidders for each painting will be recognized at the conclusion of the tour at 6pm. In the event that more than one person has the same high bid, the painting will go to the earliest high bidder.

Gibbes, etc. is a group of Kiawah Island women dedicated to supporting the Gibbes Museum of Art. Members gather monthly to enjoy a variety of programs and speakers that range from medical research to current artists. The organization hosts an Annual Art and House Tour held in the spring for the benefit of the museum.

Gibbes, etc. was founded in Jan. 2001 by Ellen Walkley, Ruth Baker, Ann Trees and Cathy Marino, all experienced volunteers in the Charleston community. They saw a need for a cohesive volunteer organization to involve the women of Kiawah Island. Ellen Walkley was a board member of the Gibbes Museum of Art and felt that Kiawah women could greatly enhance the museum by forming their own auxiliary and enjoy volunteer work and programs without leaving the island.

You can visit the Gibbes Museum Store Tue. – Sat., 10am – 5pm and Sun., 1-5pm, free. The two works are right outside the store on the opposite wall. The good thing about a sealed bid auction is that you can make a bid (above the minimum) that you want to pay and that’s it. You don’t have to compete with other bidders on a sign-in sheet or in public – you just make the bid that you are willing to pay and you just might be the highest bidder at the end. It’s simple and you don’t have to get caught up in the excitement of the moment. And, it’s all for a good cause – the Gibbes Museum of Art.

Finally, I added a new category to this blog – Commercial Art Community Helping Out. It will help readers see how commercial artists, commercial galleries, and other commercial art related businesses – like Carolina Arts are always helping out the non-profit sector of the arts and the community in general. It’s not always about the bottom line, but we have to be profitable in order to be able to help. A factor some folks in the general art community never seem to understand. The commercial art community just doesn’t get the credit they deserve for their contributions to the over all art community and the general community. We want the public to be more aware of that fact.