Archive for the ‘Columbia SC Visual Arts’ Category

Linda and I Went to a Great American Monument and Saved $40

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

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Back on June 2, 2011, we received an e-mail from One Eared Cow Glass(OECG) in Columbia, SC, about one of their 20th Anniversary events or specials – a sort of take our T-shirt on vacation with you offer. The deal was that if you took a One Eared Cow Glass T-shirt on vacation with you and took a picture of someone wearing it at a monument, sign, or place, that is clearly recognizable – you would get $40 in “cow bucks” off your next purchase at OECG – just for showing your “cow pride” and letting them use the picture on Facebook and in the gallery.

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For Linda and I, this was a deal we couldn’t pass up. We have three weddings to attend in the next four months and OECG is our official wedding gift retailer. And, believe me – no wedding takes place in our extended family without an invitation coming to us – whether we can attend or not as word has gotten around what kind of gift you will receive.

Of course the catch is that these e-mails telling about these great offers were only going to folks on OECG’s e-mail list and you had to own a OECG T-shirt, but how hard is it to get on someone’s e-mail list and Tommy Lockart (one of the cowboys) told me – any OECG T-shirt will do and they have sold plenty of them throughout their 20 years in business. And, they have plenty of new ones in stock. They say they can even mail you one or a dozen (803/254-2444).

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This deal runs through Aug. 31, 2011, but it’s not the only deal they have in the works. But, I’m not telling you to do anything. I’m not suggesting that you do anything. I’m just telling you there is a deal out there – this is what it takes to complete the deal – I know it works – we got our $40 discount and here’s what they call in the biz – the money shot or shots in this case.

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Now Linda and I are not taking a vacation this year – we had one last year. But we do live down the road from a very important SC monument – the grave of Francis Marion – the Swamp Fox – a true American Revolutionary hero. It’s one of the most important monuments in South Carolina. There is also a special prize for the T-shirt that travels the greatest distance, but I don’t think we’ll be winning that, but 40 “cow bucks” is $40 bucks. I’m just saying.

P.S. Get on “the” e-mail list, get “a” T-shirt, take a “picture” near a monument, get it to “them” before Aug. 31, 2011, and save $40.

Jonathan Brilliant Tries for Biggest People’s Choice Award Ever in Grand Rapids, MI, During Sept./Oct., 2011

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Later this Summer, Jonathan Brilliant, of Columbia, SC, will travel to theKendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI, to do an artist residency, from Sept. 8 – 21, 2011, building one of his coffee stir installations, when that work is finished it will become part of ArtPrize611jonathanbrilliantsticks® 2011, one of the largest art competitions in the world.
One of Brilliant’s installations at City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston,
SC in 2009

Unlike any other event, ArtPrize® gives away the largest cash prize for an art competition – $250,000 to the winner, with $484,000 total in cash awards. The winner is decided solely by a public vote – by the people who go see the artworks presented between Sept. 21 and Oct. 9, 2011.

In its third year, ArtPrize® has become an unexpected phenomenon. Part arts festival, part social experiment, part civic project, the event overtakes an entire city bringing visitors in the hundreds of thousands.

ArtPrize® 2010 began Sept. 22 with 1,713 artists displaying their works at 192 venues in a three-square-mile district in Grand Rapids – a city between the size of Columbia, SC, and Charlotte, NC. In the second year of ArtPrize®, artists from 21 countries and 44 states competed for prize monies totaling $449,000.

Hundreds of thousands of people have made their way to Grand Rapids to view art. One of the 192 venues reported more than 120,000 visitors went through its exhibits. ArtPrize® 2010 had 44,899 members of the public registered to vote. Registered voters came from 36 states and more than a dozen foreign countries. During the 15 days of competition, 465,538 votes were cast, including 16,905 votes in the final round.

I first heard about this crazy competition when I was visiting one of my many cousins back in Michigan last Summer in South Haven, MI, a city on Lake Michigan, south of Grand Rapids. Then last week I saw an entry on Facebook where Jonathan Brilliant posted several upcoming events – one being ArtPrize® 2011. He’ll be showing his work in the Kendall Gallery at Kendall College of Art and Design, which is a good location as it opens to the sidewalk in an area of the downtown, between the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Grand Rapids Public Library.

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Kendall College of Art and Design

It’s funny how small our world can be at times or how life sometimes makes big circles. Kendall College has now merged with Ferris State University in Grand Rapids – a school I was going to attend after high school, but I ended up attending a local junior college for two years and then transferring to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI – in the same neighborhood of that state. Then I ended up here.

If I didn’t come here I might have never seen any of Jonathan Brilliant’s installations or maybe if I had stayed in Michigan, I would have seen his work in Michigan this Summer – who knows.

Anyway, I’ll be contacting all my relatives and friends who are still there asking them to go vote for Brilliant during the competition.

The first year’s top prize went to an artist from New York and last year’s top prize went to a local artist from Grand Rapids. I would think a local artist has an edge, but last year, Young Kim, an artist from Winston-Salem, NC, came in 8th place, so Brilliant has a chance. It all depends on what catches the public’s eye.

If you’re reading this and will be in Grand Rapids between Sept. 21 and Oct. 9, 2011, go by the Kendall Gallery and see Brilliant’s installation and see if it’s not worthy of your vote. Set your GPS for 17 Fountain Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI, or print out a Google map.

Susan Lenz Dies in Her First Performance Art Piece at Tapp’s Art Center During First Thursday on Main in Columbia, SC – June 2, 2011

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

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This is NOT a critical review! I can just see the Internet alive with chatter about Susan Lenz’s death after a few people see this headline. In reality, Lenz will just die for two and a half hours in one of the window displays at Tapp’s.

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In collaboration with “radical evolutionary” artist Michael Krajewski and fine art photographer Heather Bauer, installation artist Susan Lenz will create a tableaux in a Main Street window at the Tapps Center for the Arts. The curtain will open at 5:30pm on Thursday, June 2, 2011, and the curtain will close at approximately 8pm.

Update: Eric Parton will also take part in this performance.

Please come by to see the Pre-Raphaelite inspired Ophelia laying in a tub of artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters with a graffiti-inspired suicide note, “I LOVE YOU, HAMLET”. After the one-evening performance, Heather Bauer’s photo will be suspended above the “scene of the crime”.

For more information visit Lenz’s blog post at (http://artbysusanlenz.blogspot.com/2011/05/preparing-for-my-first-performance-art.html) or go to her Facebook page at (http://www.facebook.com/susan.lenz).

A Visit to Downtown Charleston, SC’s Art Walks – May 6, 2011

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Even though I haven’t been to many art walks in Charleston lately, it’s still our backyard as far as art communities go. I don’t know everyone there now and many don’t know me, but for a lot of the folks who have been there more than a few years, it’s hard for Linda and I to just slip into a gallery and not be spotted. Gallery owners and artists seem to gravitate to us – one because we’re friends with a lot of these folks – at least we feel we are, and two, we haven’t seen most of these folks – face to face in a long time. So we’re like a blast for the past.

It would be nice to do an art walk and not be working, but the nature of these events is always social/working. I want to write the trip up for our blog and they hope I’ll write it up – everyone needs publicity. The problem in Charleston is we know and meet so many people we want to talk to that I end up doing more talking than taking photos. So, I have some images to not make this blog all words, but in no way all that I should have. I’m sorry for that. We got some from the galleries or their websites.

I’ll refresh people’s memory of the weather on May 6, 2011, in the Charleston area. A forecast called for scattered showers, but it seem to be raining most of the day up here in Bonneau, the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing Company on the shore of Lake Moultrie. And just as it was about time to leave, the rain came down hard, but the weather wizards said the system would clear out of the area by 6pm. This time I was hoping they were right. It rained pretty hard all the way to Charleston’s borders, but as we crossed that border the rain stopped and the sky opened up.

By the time we found the same parking space I used in visiting the April art walk, the sun was shinning. Thanks to whoever saved it for us. The rain had cleared the air and cooled it down to a very pleasant 75 degrees. We’ve had some great weather as far as temps go lately – although dangerous at times.  At least there weren’t any tornado warnings on May 6.

Our first stop, due to location, was Nina Liu and Friends, at 24 State Street. The gallery is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. The exhibit being presented that evening was Defining Moments, featuring works by Susie Miller Simon of Colorado, on view through June 30, 2011. Simon couldn’t be there for this opening, but will come in a few weeks.

Nina Liu’s gallery is spread throughout three levels in her home – which is still up for sale – if anyone is interested in living in the heart of Charleston’s French Quarter district and wants to also have a gallery – or not. She’ll sell – either way. Liu is hopping to retire one day to the home she has waiting in Mexico – someday. But, we’re not in any hurry to see her go.

We noticed something strange going on. People were coming into the gallery, saying hi as they passed by, heading upstairs. Liu noticed the strange look on our faces and explained that they were regulars to her openings and they know the food and drink is upstairs. I rolled my eyes, thinking to myself that they could have at least glanced at the works in the exhibit before – running upstairs, but it doesn’t seem to bother her as another group zoomed by. Her food is very popular.

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Work by Susie Miller Simon

Simon’s works give reference to imagery of the Southwestern United States – a million miles from Lowcountry art, which is refreshing at times and I’m sure a reason why her works are so popular here. I’ve included an image, that I’m sure wasn’t in this exhibit. I got it off the Internet just to give you an idea of what the work is like. But you’ll see some images like this and some very different, but you’ll be able to tell it came from Simon.

It was reassuring to see some of those folks who rushed upstairs eventually filtered down to see the exhibit, one even asking about the price of a work found upstairs. A good time for us to move on.

For the second month in a row, I was focused on going to Smith-Killian Fine Art, at 9 Queen Street, at the corner of Queen & State Streets. Last month it was to see an exhibit by Shannon Smith and this month to see “abstract” works by her mother, Betty Anglin Smith, as well as works by a very strong group of SC’s contemporary artists including: Carl Blair, Eva Carter, Matt Overend, Laura Spong, Leo Twiggs and Scott Upton. The exhibit, Contemporary Carolinas – an Invitational Exhibition, will be on view through June 12, 2011.

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Works by Laura Spong (L) and Leo Twiggs (R)

The week before we had talked with Laura Spong at Vista Studios in Columbia, SC, during Artista Vista (read about it at this link) and knew she would be there. And, I was hoping to see and talk with Carl Blair, whom I haven’t seen in a while. Blair, was the one and only member of the Commission of the SC Arts Commission who listened to my complaints and tried to do something about them. The one and only! A true arts leader in SC – a rare exception. Unfortunately he didn’t make the trip from Greenville, SC.

That’s OK – I’ll take the hugs from Betty, Eva, and Laura any day.

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Work by Eva Carter

In my opinion, the day William Halsey passed on, Eva Carter became Charleston’s top “abstract” artist, if not one of the best in SC. After closing up her gallery a few years ago, this was the first of her work in an exhibit in Charleston. Although she has now opened a studio just around the corner from her old gallery, at 16 Gillon Street, we haven’t been able to catch her there when we were in Charleston – so we were also looking forward to seeing and talking with her and seeing what she was painting these days.

But, the real kicker in this show was to see more “abstract” paintings by Betty Anglin Smith. I mentioned in my write up of the April 2011 art walk in Charleston that we saw an unexpected work – an abstract painting by Betty at Shannon Smith’s show. We loved the work and I wanted to see if it was a one hit wonder or if we have a new abstract artists in town. Folks – we weren’t disappointed.

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Work by Betty Anglin Smith

Of course as Betty put it – she’s not quitting her day job of painting landscapes – just yet. We all know there’s a smaller audience for “abstract” art in the Carolinas. But, every day we see more of it all the time – and that means more people are buying it. I tip my hat to Smith Killian Fine Art for taking the risk to present such a show – during the Spoleto Festival season in Charleston. I hope it pays off for them – so they can do it again. I know I could have spent a good bit of my lottery winnings there that evening. Now all I have to do is win one.

This was a great show of works from some of SC’s best artists, not painting what most people expect to see when they go to Charleston to see or buy art. But, I’ve always said there is a lot of this kind of art being made in Charleston – you just have to work a little to find it.

What a good time to transition over to Corrigan Gallery, located at 62 Queen Street – one of those places you won’t find what some people call “Charleston” art. But, you will find plenty of art made by Charleston artists. The exhibit, Egg Meditations, the continuation of a ten year exploration by Yvette Dede, was being presented. The exhibit will be on view through May 31, 2011. I swear it’s been that long – ten years since I’ve seen work by Dede on view in Charleston. At one time she ran Print Studio South, which eventually turned into the Redux Contemporary Arts Center (which hasn’t sent a press release about its May/June exhibit yet). But, that’s what happens when you become an adjunct college professor. You spend more time teaching than exhibiting.

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Works by Yvette Dede

For regular readers of my views on art – presentation is a big factor with me and this exhibit was a top notch example of how to present a cohesive group of works – in this case based on the egg shape. Dede made special frames for her small works and in the intimate space at Corrigan Gallery they looked fantastic. I’m talking about the presentation of the art. I really don’t care what the wall looks like or the floor – as long as they don’t distract the viewer from the art, and in that case – that’s a bigger problem for the artist. There’s nothing wrong with the wall or floors at Corrigan Gallery – I’m just saying well presented art can look good in someone’s cluttered basement.

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Works by Yvette Dede

After checking out all the variations Dede presented, we checked out some of the other works being displayed at the gallery and I came across a work which really fooled me at first in an alcove between the two main rooms of the gallery.  There was a large abstract work on one wall – blue and red. You know how I like abstracts. When I got close enough to see who the artist was,  I was, well not totally surprised, but embarrassed that it was by a good friend of ours –  John Moore. I’ve seen a lot of Moore’s abstract photographs, but for some reason this image didn’t click, I was seeing it from the side and I had just looked through some of his works in a stack and this just fooled me at first.

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Work by John Moore

The real joke here is that Moore and I have talked a million times about the fact that it’s too bad he presents his work as photographs – more people would buy them if they were presented as paintings. A sad fact but true. And, the real tragedy is that many people think they are Photoshopped, but these are the real deal. He finds these outrageous colors – in man-made materials touched by nature. And, to top it off – Moore is color blind. Figure that one out and you can help me pick lottery numbers.

Moore is a purest, he doesn’t manipulate his images and he doesn’t want to fool people into thinking these are not photos just for the sake of sales. He just has a good eye, takes his time before he clicks the shutter and knows how to get the best out of his equipment and when the light is right. That’s the real art of photography.

After Linda coaxed me off the soapbox, our next stop was Horton Hayes Fine Art, at 30 State Street. We wanted to see what Mark Horton was painting these days. The gallery also shows works by Nancy Hoerter, Shannon Runquist, Bjorn Runquist and Chris Groves – all skilled painters. Now, I guess these works don’t fit the classic description of “Charleston” art in that although they are landscapes of the Lowcountry and still lifes – I just think of them as master works. You just want to be in these places put on canvas. You can feel them – smell them. We didn’t talk to anyone here – it was too crowded.

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Work by Mark Horton

Seeing the works at Horton Hayes made me want to go check out Mickey Williams Studio-Gallery, the next street over at 132 E. Bay Street, at the corner of East Bay and Broad Street. This was our old hangout, once the office for IF Labs, then for Carolina Arts newspaper and Carolina Arts Gallery. I spent many a day and night in that space. It survived Hurricane Hugo as if it was just a thunder storm. This was also Eva Carter’s old gallery space.

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Work by Mickey Williams

Williams paints some incredible Lowcountry landscapes. I wanted to go by and see his works and talk to him about facebook. Sometimes I get on facebook by 7am and most days by then Williams has been on for several hours – talking about the birds in his back yard, his garden or the colors in the morning sky. He’s like the good morning guy in the Charleston facebook family – which is funny – as he, like me, is technology challenged. But, he’s got facebook down to a science. I called him and asked him to send me a photo – he had to check with his wife. Sound familiar? We’re two peas in an iPod. We embrace technology – we just don’t know how to make it work.

Our last stop was at Lowcountry Artists Ltd, at 148 E. Bay Street. Their next exhibit is The Power of Glass, featuring blown glass  by Robbie Clair and etched and fused glass by Steve Hazard which will be on view from May 28 through June 11, 2011. This gallery has almost doubled in size since the last time I was in it. As a co-op gallery it has also seen many changes in the group of artists currently showing on the walls.

Another space where we could slip in and get a good look at the art first. Of course we knew some of the artists by name or work and there were a few surprises – like seeing works by Patsy Tidwell on the wall. Her gallery was one of the mainstays of the Charleston art community, but she sold it a few years ago and now it’s closed. I’m sure she is enjoying life now creating artwork vs. trying to sell other artists’ works. It’s not easy running a gallery as an artist – even when you’re doing it as a co-op of artists.

Another surprise was seeing works by Jason Luck, a Seagrove potter who has moved to Charleston. Those Seagrove potters are everywhere. Well they’re not really – but their work seems to be getting everywhere. But, you really have to go to Seagrove, NC, for Seagrove pottery. The chamber of commerce pays me to say that.

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Work by Jackie Wukela

Because we didn’t have to answer a million questions as to how the paper is doing we finally got to eat some of the goodies being offered during the art walk. But, our anonymity could only last so long as I had questions I wanted to ask so we went up front and introduced ourselves to – who I felt sure was Jackie Wukela (due to facebook). She is typical of most of the folks we “know” through the paper. We’ve talked on the phone and e-mailed back and forth, but never met – face to face.

The minute we did this, Carolyn Epperly, who I’ve talked to many times at Tidwell’s Art Gallery, but not in a while, said “I thought you looked familiar.” Jackie Wukela and Lynda English, who are members of Lowcountry Artists Ltd. are also part of the visual art community in Florence, SC, where they live and have a gallery. So this was a twofer – we got to talk about Charleston and Florence’s art communities.

Before long the end of the art walk was on us and it was time to head back to Bonneau. On the ride home a few things struck me. We’ve been to two art walks in two months in Charleston and the art walks have changed – as have the galleries and artists who fill them with works since the days when we went to every one of them.

Charleston’s visual art community is moving away from what many people have tagged it as being for years, a city of artists who are in love with the city, a bad rap in my opinion. Sure there is lots of “tourist” art here to be had – it’s what most tourists want and Charleston is a tourist town, but the artists have moved on to creating what they want – hoping that the more discriminating visitors will want to take that art home. And, a good number of the artworks are being made by artists who live elsewhere – all over the US. The so called “Charleston” art is no longer a novelty – it’s now moved into the realm of novelties – souvenirs.

And, the art walks as I knew them have also changed. There was a time when an art walk in the French Quarter was a near festival – one big party event. I used to equate them to going to the Mall during Christmas – you’d run into everyone you haven’t seen since the last one there, but not so these days. There is an art walk every month in Charleston and most galleries stay open whether they’re in the group hosting it or not. So, it’s not such a special occasion any more. Still, lots of people go to them and enjoy them, but if it rains a little it’s easy to say – I’ll just go to the next one.

Of course my memories are from the 1990′s – what I call the golden age of the visual arts in the Carolinas. It might not be fair to make comparisons to current times – an age where many people are attacking the arts to gain political points and the economy has suffered one blow after another.

I for one am glad to be able to go to them again, but it might be some time before I go to the next one. We’re a little exhausted at this point and there’s so much going on all over the Carolinas. If you don’t believe me – just check our paper out at (www.carolinaarts.com). See how long it takes you to get through it all – end to end.

Bulldog Pottery in Seagrove, NC, Offers 3rd Cousins in Clay Event – May 28 & 29, 2011

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

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Work by Peter Lenzo

We ran this article in our May 2011 issue of Carolina Arts, but we’ve learned that everyone doesn’t bother with publications these days. Many people’s attention span is just too short for publications. They like blog entries, Facebook status updates or even tweets.

But, I wanted to make sure people interested in pottery would see this – one way or another. I’m hoping I can make another trip to Seagrove (hold the tornadoes this time – please), but it’s a rough time of the month for us to be gone – unless we’ve finished our June issue early. We’ll have our fingers crossed.

Last year I missed meeting up with Peter Lenzo, who was on his way to the 2nd Clay Cousins, as a visitor, and I had to get back home by that time of the day. We probably passed each other on Hwy. 220. I really admire Lenzo and his work. We have a couple of his crazy head pieces – which are pretty strange. But, I like strange – as do a lot of other folks. And, of course there’s always Max – the bulldog who just keeps on ticking.

I also enjoy talking with Michael Kline, and it’s always a plus when you get all these good and talented folks together. I might even be able to go over to Whynot Pottery and get some cake and see the new exhibit at the NC Pottery Center.

A lot of our friends are beginning to figure out that there must be something going on in Seagrove to keep drawing us back. When they ask – I just smile and say – it’s OK. But they know me and they figure I’m holding something back.

Hey, haven’t I been telling folks to go to Seagrove for years now. Duh!

Here’s that article:

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Work by Jack Troy

Come meet the “Clay Cousins” who are devoted to making pottery as a way of life. On May 28, from 9am-4pm and May 29, from 10am-4pm, Seagrove, NC, potters Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke of Bulldog Pottery hold their 3rd annual “Cousins in Clay” event. Once again they will bring a line up of renowned potters to their rural pottery community of Seagrove in central North Carolina. Three nationally known studio art potters, Jack Troy, Michael Kline, and Peter Lenzo will bring their ceramic art to Bulldog Pottery for the special two day event. This will be a wonderful opportunity to meet with the artists and add to your pottery collection or begin one. Bulldog Pottery is located five miles south of Seagrove’s single stop light on Alternate Highway 220.

Creative energy is clearly unlimited for Pennsylvanian potter Jack Troy, who weaves his productive life around his passion for ceramics. He began teaching young artists in 1967 at Juniata College, has taught over 185 workshops, written 2 books about clay, a book of original poems titled Calling the Planet Home, published over 60 articles and book reviews, all while producing a constant stream of pottery at his Pennsylvania studio. Troy gives homage to our state of North Carolina in his Wood-fired Stoneware and Porcelain book (1995), by saying, “If North America has a pottery state it must be North Carolina”.

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Work by Samantha Henneke

Like a writer creating his autobiography, South Carolinian artist Peter Lenzo sculpts head vessels that are symbolic representations of his personal story.  Intrigued by the 19th century southern pottery face jug tradition, Lenzo has created self-portrait face jugs that are clearly unique to his own personal interpretation of this long-standing southern folk art tradition.

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Work by Michael Kline

Michael Kline, a studio potter from the mountains of North Carolina, creates inspired traditional forms that are graced with his elegant floral brushwork giving a botanical theme to his wood-fired pottery jugs and jar forms. Sometimes his pots are covered with a honey amber color glaze that is as appetizing as maple syrup. Kline will be presenting brushwork demonstrations on both Saturday (2pm) and Sunday (1:30pm) during the event.

Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke have created a collaborative environment at their Bulldog Pottery studio that provides them the support to express their independent voices, more than they would be able to achieve individually. Their art pottery has become known for an eclectic mix of form, imagery, texture, pattern, and graceful design all integrated by their rich and distinctive glazes.

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Work by Bruce Gholson

Both Bulldog Pottery and Michael Kline share their personal journeys of the day-to-day life of being full time studio potters through their clay blogs. Join them to find out what is happening next in their studio at Micheal Kline’s “Sawdust and Dirt” blog (www.michaelklinepottery.blogspot.com) and Bruce and Samantha’s blog, “Around and About with Bulldog Pottery” (www.bulldogpottery.blogspot.com).

Come out for the day or spend the weekend in the “Seagrove pottery community”, where three North Carolina rural Piedmont counties come together: Randolph (known for the NC Zoo), Moore (known for Pinehurst Golf), and Montgomery (known for the beautiful Uwharrie Mountains). Bulldog Pottery’s “Cousins in Clay” brings together a rich diversity of contemporary ceramics for this two day event. “Cousins in Clay” is a kinship based on shared appreciation for the pursuit of excellence within the diverse language of clay. Visit their website (www.cousinsinclay.com) for more details and information on accommodations in the area or call 336/302-3469.

Where did the “Cousins in Clay” name come from?

The event’s name, ‘Cousins in Clay”, is attributed to fellow potter Michael Kline who referred euphemistically on his blog Sawdust and Dirt to a “visit to his clay cousins in Seagrove”, Bruce and Samantha decided to invite Michael to participate in their first Bulldog Pottery Studio Art sale, and titled it “Cousins in Clay”.  This is now an annual event.

For further information call Bulldog at 910/428-9728 or visit (www.bulldogpottery.com).

Columbia, SC’s Spring Arts Festival – Artista Vista – Celebrates 20 Years – Apr. 28-30, 2011

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

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Artista Vista, the Columbia, SC’s, Congaree Vista’s annual gallery crawl, will once again usher in spring in the Midlands from Thursday, Apr. 28 through Saturday, Apr. 30, 2011. The event features special exhibits at each of the participating galleries from 5-9pm on Thursday night and from 11am-5pm on Friday and Saturday.

In celebration of Artista Vista’s 20th anniversary this year, well-known arts writer and critic Jeffrey Day will curate a variety of installation art exhibits, original poetry readings, music performances and more in the streets of the Congaree Vista Thursday evening.

Artista Vista’s founding grew out of the rise of installation art in the 1990s, so we wanted to embrace art outside the gallery to honor the 20th anniversary while recognizing that many of Artista Vista’s founding galleries are still thriving twenty years later,” said Day.

The three-day event will encompass all forms of art from visual to performing arts.

Thursday, Apr. 28, (5-9pm): Installation pieces by an assortment of artists will be on display at 927 to 929 Gervais Street and the fire-training tower on Park Street.

Fiber artist, Susan Lenz will unveil her public art project, Looking for a Mate. Lenz collected mate-less socks from the public during Vista Lights, last Fall, and used them to create an art quilt.

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Barry Wheeler and Heather Bauer will present a photography piece at Lewis + Clark, which will share the history of the Vista through photos. Dr. Sketchy’s anti-art group will perform at Ellen Taylor Interiors and Design’s storefront window from 7:15-8:30pm.

Friday, Apr. 29 (11am-7pm): Installations will be on display at 927-929 Gervais Street.

Saturday, Apr. 30 (11am-7pm): Installations will be on display at 927-929 Gervais Street.

There will be a special performance by the USC percussion ensemble at 1pm at City Art Gallery.

From noon to 1:30pm, One-Eared Cow Glass artists will be collaborating with artists from the About Face art group at One-Eared Cow (1001 Huger Street).

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USC’s art department painting studios (located in the Vista at the corner of Devine Street and Gadsden Street) will have an open house and the department’s new wood-fired kiln will be up and running from 11am to 4pm. Participants include: Kara Gunter, Susan Lenz, Amanda Ladymon, George Fenter, Billy Guess, Marius Valdes, Eileen Blyth, Barry Wheeler, and Heather Bauer.

As a special part of its 20th anniversary, Artista Vista is offering a social media contest at this year’s event with the chance to win a limited-edition, silk screened, signed 2011 Artista Vista poster and a $50 gift certificate to Motor Supply Company Bistro. All you have to do is search “Artista Vista” as the venue on Foursquare and check in as you come to each gallery during the event. Whoever becomes the mayor of Artista Vista by checking in at the most galleries the most often over the course of the three-day event wins the poster and gift certificate.

Artista Vista 2011 participating galleries include: Carol Saunders Gallery, 300 Senate, Vista Studios/Gallery 80808, The Gallery at Nonnah’s, Paul D. Sloan Interiors, if ART Gallery, Lewis + Clark, Gallery at DuPre, SC State Museum, SC Contemporary Dance Company, City Art Gallery, and One Eared Cow Glass.

Free parking will be available in the Vista’s parking decks located on Lincoln Street near Lady, Park Street near Pendleton, and Lady Street near Wayne Street. Many galleries will offer complimentary hors d’oeuvres and wine.

To learn more about the Congaree Vista, Columbia’s arts and entertainment district, visit (www.vistacolumbia.com) or follow the Vista on Twitter: (@vistaguild).

A Trip to Columbia, SC’s First Thursday on Main – Feb. 3, 2011

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

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On a cold Thursday afternoon when the weather people were calling for 80% rain, Linda and I headed to Columbia, SC, to visit One Eared Cow Glass and the First Thursday on Main event.

One Eared Cow Glass was having one of their 20th Anniversary celebration events introducing a new line of glass jewelry – just in time for Valentines’ day. That’s when Linda signed on for the trip to Columbia. I can’t say too much more about the One Eared Cow Glass anniversary events – all I can say is you need to go there and sign up to be on their e-mail list.

I’ve been wanting to go to one of the First Thursday on Main events for some time as it seemed like it was becoming quite an art event. I also wanted to see the inside of the Tapp’s Center for the Arts project and hopefully meet up with Susan Lenz, who had another window display there.

Activities on Main Street in downtown Columbia started a few years ago when Mark Plessinger of Frame of Mind started displaying area artists’ work in his shop on Main Street across from the Columbia Museum of Art. Info about those events kind of came and then fizzled. During that time other art related groups moved to Main Street and then by last fall we began to receive info about the First Thursday on Main events which seemed to be organized by the City Center Partnership, Inc., but we’re not hearing from them on a regular basis either. The only person I’m hearing from on a regular basis is Brenda Schwarz Miller who is spearheading up the effort to turn the old Tapp’s on Main department store at 1644 Main Street, at the corner of Main and Blanding, into the Tapp’s Center for the Arts.

I guess the City Center Partnership is interested more in having all parties on Main participate in trying to get folks in the Columbia area to come back to Main Street during the evening hours with the First Thursday events, but I’m more interested in the visual art groups there which now include Frame of Mind, S&S Art Supply, FreeTimes, Anastasia & Friends, Columbia Museum of Art, the Arcade Artists, and Tapp’s Center for the Arts.

From our front door at the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing in Bonneau, SC, we can be in downtown Columbia in two hours. It takes an hour to drive to Charleston, SC, so it’s not much of an effort to go to Columbia, but the two hour return trip does determine how long you can stay.

We spent almost two hours at One Eared Cow Glass, and again, all I’ll say besides I love watching the cowboys work, is that Linda and I got our 20th Anniversary T-Shirts while there, which will pay off throughout the year’s celebrations. My lips are sealed.

Once we weaved our way over to Main Street during Columbia’s rush hour traffic, we arrived at the Tapp’s building just about 5pm. We looked at a few of the outside window displays, but it didn’t take long for the damp 40 degree temps to rush us inside. No real rain yet.

As we entered a side door on Blanding, right off we see a little window display of jewelry by Susan Shrader, which stops Linda in her tracks. We’ve dealt with Shrader throughout the years as she was helping to promote a Columbia gem show. She’s one of the hundreds of people we have talked to over the years but never met.

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Jewelry and fused glass works by Susan Shrader

We got to scratch her off our never met list once we set foot inside the massive Tapp’s building. Right away I was reminded of my recent visit to the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, which was another massive building in a city which is now used to show off art – helping to revise a once thriving downtown shopping district.

Linda said she used to come to Tapp’s when she was visiting her older sister who attended USC – a long time ago, back when her family would travel from small Myrtle Beach to SC’s capital city.

While Linda talked with Shrader and looked at jewelry, I looked around the building’s maze of rooms on two levels. Downstairs I saw John Sharpe giving a demonstration on a pottery wheel. The building has a lot of potential for many things.

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Once upstairs again, Linda and I enjoyed a bit of food and drink, I took a few photos and then we asked someone to point out Brenda Schwarz Miller. She is another person we have talked on the phone with and exchanged many e-mails with over activities and events of the Artist Round Table group in Columbia and now Tapp’s.

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Listening by Sandra Carr

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Inside Out by Sandra Carr

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Detail of Inside Out by Sandra Carr

It is my experience that projects like this are usually the dream of one dynamic individual with the help of a few others. Tapp’s is definitely Miller’s baby. Again, I was reminded of the Art Trail Gallery in Florence where Jane Madden has made the project happen by sheer will and persistence in dealing with red tape – in both cases, business and city leaders.

Columbia has already had some experience with similar projects like Vista Studios and 701 Center for the Arts, but it has also had experience with fellows like Jack Gerstner – who first had a strangle hold on the 701 building and used it for personal gain. Miller is 180 degrees on the opposite end of Gerstner. So, I hope city leaders in Columbia soon help her make her dream and that of many artists in Columbia – come true. It will be good for Main Street in the long run.

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Miller told us she has received lots of help from the building’s owner who also hopes for success of the Tapp’s project as he owns other buildings in downtown Columbia. There’s no problem in working in your own self interest while benefiting others. Too bad the SC Arts Commission doesn’t see that – unless they are dealing with folks shopping for Verner Awards through donations to the SC Arts Foundation. Otherwise we’re all greedy commercial enterprises – unworthy of a seat at the big arts table. They prefer creating a system of art welfare where arts groups become dependent on them for continued existence. How’s that working?

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Burnt Offerings by Kara M. Gunter

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Detail of Burnt Offerings by Kara M. Gunter

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A real close detail of Burnt Offerings by Kara M. Gunter

I was hoping to run into Susan Lenz at Tapp’s but she never showed while we were there so we decided to go explore some of the other locations.

Outside we got a look at the window displays at the front of the building – which are very interesting, but hard to photograph as there was still some daylight lingering causing reflections.

One complaint or suggestion I have for First Thursday on Main organizers – whoever they are or will be is – they need a map of participating locations on Main Street available at all locations. If you’re hoping to attract people back to a downtown area they haven’t been to in years – don’t expect them to know where everything is – especially if they’re coming from out of town. I know the area pretty well, but not everything.

We went up Main toward the Capital building looking for a parking space – apparently the event was working. We saw where a few of the participating places were (except the Arcade), but no parking spaces were opening up – so we did the Charleston shuffle – driving around and around hoping someone would leave their space. On one of the rounds I spotted Susan Lenz in the window talking with folks at FreeTimes. And as luck would have it after a few trips around the block a space opened up.

Once we squeezed into the building and got close to Lenz we had managed to scratch another person off our never-met list. The place was packed with the who’s who of Columbia’s art community, very noisy, but there wasn’t really that many people there compared to the folks at the Tapp’s building. The illusion of a small packed room can throw you off, but it was a case of who was there. And as in many situations like this I saw folks I would have liked to say hey to, but never got the chance. Toni Elkins was working the room like a humming bird, and Jeffrey Day was there – not sure what that conversation would have been like. But, I did have a few friendly words with Ken May – head of the SC Arts Commission.

May called me his nemesis – which I thought was a little over-blown. He might have meant it as a compliment, but I later thought it didn’t really fit. It would be like calling Cuba America’s nemesis. A nemesis is usually an unbeatable rival or a source of harm or destruction. I don’t think I’m having that effect and his label gives me too much credit. I fit the description of a gadfly – which I was called once by an Arts Commission supporter. As May asked – “what would I write about without the Arts Commission?” I flashed back to a scene from Richard Nixon stating that we (the media) wouldn’t have him to kick around anymore. But then there was George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Fox News. There’s always someone being unfair or doing and saying silly things. So I’m not worried about losing the Arts Commission – one way or another. It may be a case of the last man standing in both our cases.

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Ding on a Dong by Diane Gilbert – shot from the hip at FreeTimes

But, all in all, I was happy to talk with Susan Lenz, a human dynamo of the art world about a few of her current projects and past issues. But before long she needed to move on to Tapp’s  and said she still had work to do that night. We made a slow circle of the room – not able to see much of the art and headed for the door. It was now raining. (It hasn’t stopped raining since.)

Back at Tapp’s Linda had heard a few folks talking about sleet and not knowing what the temps were going down to we decided to get out of Columbia while the getting was good. Besides, this is an event which is taking place every month and is just picking up steam. We can always come back.

I highly recommend the trip, especially for folks from the Lowcountry. Columbia’s visual art community is much different from that of Charleston’s. I’ve always enjoyed going to Columbia to visit Artista Vista orVista Lights to get a different view of what artists are creating in South Carolina.

But, I think Columbia planners have a basic problem in attracting out of town visitors to come on Thursday evenings. It asks travelers to take a day off of work or make extended return travel plans. A four hour round trip is nothing for me, but others don’t see that as attractive. If these events were moved to a Friday or even a Saturday – they might attract more out of town visitors even though it would compete with other cities which present first Friday art walks, but what’s wrong with a little competition?

But, if the plan is to just attract locals to the downtown on a weekday – this just might work and before long it could include the Vista and Five Points area too. Why not have all of the city’s artists putting on a show. That’s what happened in Charleston.

As far as the Tapp’s Center for the Arts goes – here’s some of the plans. The space could supply 16 juried studios on the main level and 20 non-juried single and shared studios in the lower level. There are plans for three galleries, including a Cafe Gallery in the lower level. The facility would also include a frame shop, photography studio, print shop, wood workshop and clay studio. And, the good  part of the plan is that it is planned to be self-supporting. All they need is some start-up support to get the project going. If you would like more info about this project contact Brenda Schwarz Miller at 803/609-3479 or e-mail her at (brenda@realworldartisans.com).

After looking at the photos I took – at least those usable – I seemed to be interested in sculptural works at the First Thursday event.

Jamie Blackburn Lives in a Window at the Tapp’s Art Center Project in Columbia, SC

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

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I got a call the other day from Jamie Blackburn who is living in the window of the Tapp’s Art Center Project in Columbia, SC, at the corner of Main and Blanding. Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity and their ReStore have collaborated with local artist, Jamie Blackburn, the City of Columbia, and the Tapp’s Art Center to present “Art4Habitat.” So from Jan. 6 through Feb. 4, the next First Thursday on Main, Blackburn will be working and living in his mixed, multi-media arts studio, in the Tapp’s building at 1644 Main Street.

During his stay in the window, Blackburn will also introduce “Processor” the Art Droid. “Processor” is the first of many “art characters” Blackburn will be performing. The Art Droid will do a painting under the black lights in a multi-media art show.

Working in a crazy mix of visual and media arts, drama and music, Blackburn will attract attention and raise awareness for Habitat for Humanity and The Tapp’s Art Center Project.

Blackburn hopes his “Art4Habitat” foundation will raise awareness and money. Proceeds from his art exhibition will benefit Habitat for Humanity and the Tapp’s Art Center Project.

The exhibit will run through Feb. 28, 2011.

You can download a youTube video of the Art Droid in action at this link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUURTn8EdvA).

Vista Studios in Columbia, SC, Features an Exhibit of Clay Sculptures

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Just another posting about an exhibit proving this blog’s feet are firmly placed in clay or something like that. Of course we have plenty more like this at Carolina Arts Online.

Here it goes:

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Vista Studios in Columbia, SC, will present the exhibit, Clay Works 2010, featuring clay sculptures by Sandra Carr, Rita Ruth Cockrell, and Richard Lund, on view in Gallery 80808 from Sept. 16 – 21, 2010.

The Carolinas have a long history and tradition of artists who work with clay. This exhibition features works by three contemporary artists who live and work in South Carolina.

Each of the artist use clay as a sculpting medium. Rather than make functional pieces, they use clay as a medium for personal expression. Each has a distinctive style. They create sculptures with conceptual meaning, taking the viewer past the decorative to a more emotional experience.

Sandra Carr has the following to say about her work, “Clay represents healing for me as an artist. It has been forgiving, stable and has the capacity to change when altered by outside influences. All characteristics I admire and strive for. Sculpting figurative pieces allows me to tell a story in my work or communicate a feeling. It speaks for me when I choose not to.”

Rita Ruth Cockrell offered this statement, “Born and raised in South Carolina, I love this place, every road side weed, every red clay road, leopard clay bank, shadow of white sand. After traumatic events with myself, my mother and authorities, I began working in any medium that came my way, always going toward the inside to go outside. Believing that if I can be good enough, some aspect of truth or beauty would help me understand that even if I can’t get there, the glimmering of the source comforts me”.

Richard Lund has this to say, “I moved to Columbia South Carolina two and a half years ago. Shortly after I arrived I joined the City of Columbia Arts Center studio which began my working with clay. I have been an artist many years creating paintings, photographs and sculptures but clay was a new exciting medium for me. Sculpting in clay offers me a seductive tactile experience that other mediums can not give. As I mold, move and pinch the clay with my hands it allows me to easily release my ever changing imagination and ideas realizing them in three dimensions.

For further information call the Studios at  803/252-6134 or visit (www.gallery80808vistastudios.com).

Photos of One Eared Cow Glass Sculpture at Columbia Museum of Art Celebration of Chihuly Chandelier

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

We now have photos of the finished piece by One Eared Cow Glass installed outside the Columbia Museum of Art during the Museum’s Red Hot…Cool! 60 Years of Color gala on the evening of Apr. 17, 2010.

Here’s a link to my earlier comments on that.

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I have to say, it looks pretty spectacular!

Like I said – give Tommy Lockart, Mark Woodham, and their assistant, Ryan Crabtree, $360,000 and see what you get – considering they made this work on speculation just for this one event – for one evening.

Now we’ll see if someone is smart enough to purchase this work. I wish I could.