Archive for August, 2008

Gas Prices Uneven in South Carolina

Friday, August 29th, 2008

When asking someone once about why gas prices are so much lower in the Upstate of South Carolina compared to the Lowcountry – the answer was pipeline. I was told there is a gasoline pipeline going through the Upstate.

At first that made sense, but when I thought about it more – something doesn’t add up. If there is a pipeline, I’m sure it doesn’t go many places but to a central distribution hub. I don’t think every gas station in the Upstate has a spigot hooked up to their pumps from that pipeline.

The Lowcountry has several ports – Charleston, Georgetown and Port Royal – all hubs for gas arriving in tanker ships. Maybe it is more expensive to transport gas by ship than pipeline, but the pipeline has to come all the way from the Gulf Coast states or New Jersey – somewhere an oil refinery is.

On my recent delivery trip while the lowest gas prices for regular in the Lowcountry were in the $3.70 range. I was able to purchase gas in Rock Hill, SC, and Columbia, SC, for $3.50. In Spartanburg, SC, and Greer, SC, I could get it for $3.49 and $3.46. But the real surprise came in Clinton, SC, where gas was priced $3.41. That’s a big difference and I don’t think there is a pipeline in Clinton and I know they don’t have a port there.

Now some people say gas prices are high in the Lowcountry because of the tourists visiting. They say let the tourists pay higher prices – as if the people who live in the Lowcountry don’t have to pay the same price. I know I don’t get to pull into a gas station and show my local I.D. card for a discount. Besides I don’t know why it would ever be a good idea to charge tourists a higher price – especially now. This concept is just another one of those dumb logic things to justify higher prices.

In college I studied the concepts of supply and demand and the powers of competition. And, I would have to think that there is less competition in Clinton than in Charleston, by sheer volume of gas stations alone. But I must be missing something here because for the life of me I can’t see why people driving around Clinton are paying 30 cents a gallon less for gas than people in the Lowcountry. And, I’m talking about the lowest prices available – not those people who pay 20 cents higher at an Exxon station than the station two blocks away.

I know with as many miles as I drive each month for business and personal reasons – every penny counts and it all adds up at the end of the year. I never pass up a discounted gas price. Paying 30 cents a gallon less for gas is a big advantage in business and in an area’s cost of living.

Now, I also understand that some gas stations use cheap gas prices as a way to get people to come and spend more money in their convenience store, but shouldn’t gas stations in the Lowcountry use that same tactic to draw in more visitors with cheap gas prices? Maybe they can get subsidies from the businesses in the tourism industry.

And, there is no way to compare prices between North and South Carolina as NC has higher state gas taxes, but even then, sometimes I can find gas as cheap in NC as it is in the SC Lowcountry.

I guess I could always think about relocating to Clinton or Greer, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to do that.

Well, here it is almost time to hit the road again and gas prices in my area have finally caught up to prices from last month in the Upstate of SC. I can’t wait to see if the price is still 30 cents cheaper in the Upstate. I might even find an under $3 price.

That would be amazing, but unlike the late John Denver, I won’t be able to fill huge storage tanks full of cheap gas – to get a rocky mountain high.

P.S. Now a hurricane is headed into the Gulf of Mexico and speculators are driving the price of gas back up. Isn’t it nice to have people who make bets on the misery of others – before it happens – to make a profit.

Another View on SC Arts Commission’s LINC

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

On Aug. 20, 2008, I posted a blog entry about the South Carolina Art Commission’s $100,000 grant to implement the Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) program in South Carolina.

I’ll admit my comments were jaded and pessimistic, but they are based on my 20 plus years of experience in our art community and dealing or not dealing with the SC Art Commission. They have not given me much reason to be optimistic. I still have hope for a different kind of art community, but not to come from them. I can assure you, they feel the same about me. So be it.

That said, it doesn’t mean that has to be the same experience for everyone. I’m always telling artists to apply for their programs, because if they don’t – they have no right to complain when they give rewards to the people who do apply. I also ask these same artists to watch what the Arts Commission does – don’t just listen to what they say or write in a report. And watch who they do it with. What they say is not always what they do.

A fellow Carolina blogger, Christopher Rico, has offered on his blog, Machinations of a Distracted Mind, another view on the LINC program and his experience. (http://machinationsdistractedmind.blogspot.com/2008/08/kind-of-blue.html) It’s good reading for all artists.

What Joe Riley Wants – Joe Gets

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

In an Aug. 19, 2008, Post and Courier article David Slade explains that the Charleston, SC City Council is considering a $734,500 loan to the American College of the Building Arts – requested by Charleston’s Mayor, Joe Riley.

The article doesn’t really tell us why the college needs the money. It doesn’t tell us the full terms of the loan, but it hints that it’s the kind any of us would die for, but it does tell us why the City Council will probably approve the loan.

Mayor Joe Riley wants it done and Pierre Manigault is chairman of the college’s board of trustees – he is also chairman of the board of Evening Post Publishing, parent company of Charleston.net and The Post and Courier.

The article reports that Manigault said the “school’s survival is not in question but the next six months will be a critical time for the institution.” This was not a direct quote. It’s too bad we’re not told what the problem is at the College, other than a lack of funds.

Here’s just another case of it’s not what you do – it’s who you know.

The article paints a picture of an institution that has been given every break in the world and after four years is not accredited, which makes its students unable to get federal loans and other financial aid, operates in the red, lives off private donations and government grants – and to top it off – has only 55 full-time and part-time students. Out of the Class of 2009, 15 students started the program and only 7 will hopefully graduate this Spring. That’s less than a 50 percent retention rate.

I wonder what the staff to student ratio is at this institution?

This loan represents $13,354.54 per student. That’s quite an investment Charleston’s taxpayers will be making in these students and this college. That’s almost paying the tuition for each student for a year (Tuition is $18,372).

The loan will come from the City’s $18.4 million emergency fund.

I wonder if that money will be missed when Charleston has a real emergency – like another hurricane?

The article offers a historical timeline on the College’s finances and accomplishments since forming in 1998 – nine years after Hurricane Hugo did much damage to historical buildings in Charleston and there was a shortage of skilled craftsmen to do repairs.

Overall it seems like a good thing – having an institution which trains the next generation of skilled craftsmen – for Charleston, South Carolina and the Nation. Much like lots of other good ideas which people would like to get funding for, but it just seems like some get all the breaks and we’re asked to overlook problems which in other cases would be a deal breaker.

I hope the College survives and continues to be an asset for the overall community. I just offer this example up to readers to show – it’s not what you do – it’s who you know, and what Mayor Joe Riley wants – he gets. Anyone trying to accomplish something in Charleston better have the support of the Mayor or they are going to have a very hard road to travel. And I mean real support, not lip service. The Mayor gives lots of lip service to causes that just seem to be spinning in place.

And, as far as the Post and Courier goes, we’ve seen this kind of soft-server reporting on other troubled institutions like the SC Aquarium (continual problems), Spoleto Festival USA (past problems), and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (continual problems). Nothing new there. You offer some facts, conceal others, and present it all with supporting quotes by important people, but never offer an opposing view. They save the real reporting for things which they do not favor.

That’s Charleston.

SC Arts Commission Talks the Talk for Grant

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

We’ve seen it before – many times. The SC Arts Commission snags a grant by talking the talk, but never delivers results. This time it’s a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation for a program called – Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a national initiative to improve conditions for artists.

Here’s the first two paragraphs of the press release the Commission issued on June 17, 2008.

“Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a national initiative to improve conditions for artists, has awarded the South Carolina Arts Commission a $100,000 project grant. The Arts Commission will use the funds to implement practical strategies that address key concerns of S.C. artists.”

“We are very excited to receive funds to implement this valuable initiative,” said S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Suzette Surkamer. “This is a great opportunity to help expand South Carolina’s creative economy and offer new resources to artists throughout the state.”

That’s as far as I can go before I start feeling nauseous. You can find the rest of the press release on their website.

And, before the naysayers start on their calls – did you participate? No, I’m way past wasting my time with the Arts Commission. I’ve made the effort in the past and the results have never been worth my efforts. But, you don’t have to participate to see the process unfold and judge the results. Simple observation can do that.

Well, let’s start with this – it only takes $100,000 to improve the lives of artists in SC. Why did they have to wait for an outside grant? If that’s all it is going to take – even if that’s a $100,000 a year – why didn’t they just put that in their multi million dollar budget – say 10 or 20 years ago?

This reminds me of the Open Studio: The Arts Online project. It was a five year national project to help individual artists and nonprofit arts organizations become effective information providers on the World Wide Web. From 1996-2000, Open Studio: The Arts Online, a national initiative of the Benton Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts provided funding for Internet access and training to artists and nonprofit arts organizations ensuring the communications environment of the 21st century thrives as a source of creative excellence and diversity.

What happened in SC? Workshops were held, money was distributed – lots of artists and organizations got shiny new websites and in a few years it all fizzled away. The community didn’t really build a resource that would continue to teach organizations how to launch and maintain their websites, so as the few who learned something during this period faded away – so did the future benefits of the program. The results today is that many of these organizations have websites that can barely tell you what is going on currently in their organization. Many are just web address books. You’d have to call them to find out what is going on.

The turnover of staff at these organizations is so bad that anything invested in one person usually walks out the door with them in a few years. As soon as the money for the project ran out – the SC Arts Commission had no further interest in helping SC’s art community effectively use the Internet to communicate.

The way most of these projects, programs, initiatives work – you get some people together to express their needs, you write up a report, you publish some goals and strategies – the money runs out and it’s all forgotten. There is never any follow-up to see how effective the program was and what impact it had. That’s not important. What’s important is talking the talk.

You can get a good idea of how effective this LINC program is by looking at the blog (http://scartistslinc.wordpress.com) the Arts Commission set up. The blog was started in Aug. 07 and it really never took off – by Jan. 08 it seems to be dead in the water and there wasn’t much interaction going on. Another successful Arts Commission effort.

Why didn’t more people participate – well maybe some expected more from the Arts Commission than what they were getting, maybe the Arts Commission expected a surge of participation and when it didn’t come they grew uninterested, or maybe most people are like me – they won’t be fooled again.

But maybe I’m jumping the gun – maybe the real push hasn’t even taken place yet? What should we expect for a year’s worth of effort? After all the state goal is simple – “The Arts Commission will use the funds to implement practical strategies that address key concerns of S.C. artists”.

What does that mean? Write up a report? Make some suggestion as to what they think artists should do to improve their lives? Post some links to what other organizations that receive this same funding did?

I’ve seen what happens when the Art Commission conducts one of their Canvas of the People programs to find out what the Arts Commission and the art community should do in the next 5 or 10 years. They get some people together. They direct them through a pre-programed process. They publish the observations. They gather some more folks together to come up with goals and strategies for a 5 or 10 year plan. Publish another “final” report. And, whammy – problem’s solved.

It’s like George Bush and company – they published the road map on how to get from here to there – for leaders in the Middle East. If you get lost along the way, just can’t follow the map, find that the map leads to nowhere, or even find that the word “map” doesn’t mean the same as you think that word means – it doesn’t matter. They tried.

Does the Arts Commission ever call those same people together to see what went wrong or if anything was achieved? No, that’s not important. Why? Because the people giving the money for these programs don’t care either. They did their part. And if a report is required on the results and impact of the program – who do you think makes the report. There’s nothing like self-analysis to find success.

I know I’m still waiting to benefit from some of those goals stated in some of those Canvas of the People 5 or 10 year plans. I’m sure a lot of other people are too. LINC looks like another display of smoke and mirrors and I wouldn’t expect any changes to come out of it. I wish there would be some positive results, but I’m not banking on it. Unfortunately some artists out there will believe change is just around the corner.

More News on NC Pottery Center

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Well, you just never know where something like this will go. I’m referring to the effort to raise $100,000 to save the North Carolina Pottery Center from having to close its doors after ten years of operation in Seagrove, NC. You can see other postings here under the heading NC Visual Arts (listed to the right).

I received an update on the fundraising effort from both Michael Kline of Michael Kline Pottery in Bakersville, NC, and Meredith Heywood of Whynot Pottery in Seagrove, NC, at about the same time. That tells you how the networking is going on this effort – nothing happens without folks all over Seagrove, the Carolinas, and now the nation – hearing about it.

The latest news is that AKAR, a gallery in Iowa City, IA – that’s Iowa – way out in the mid-west, is holding a benefit to raise money to help the NC Pottery Center. The gallery has images of items (mostly pottery) posted on their website (www.akardesign.com) where 100% of profits will go to the NC Pottery Center. This includes pottery by artists from Wisconsin, New York, Nebraska, and Arizona, as well as works by artists from Canada and Australia.

If you’re wondering how a gallery in Iowa gets involved in this effort – well there is the internet to thank, but it more likely has to do with the fact that Michael Kline is having an exhibition there and he has been very active in trying to help the Pottery Center, but the gallery didn’t have to help out because of that. They’ve represented other potters from this area – so they may be protecting their interest in Carolina potters or just see the importance of the Pottery Center. The important things is – they are doing something to help.

It’s the networking of people that is driving this effort. Take Meredith Heywood, on July 8, 2008, lightning struck a tree near their studio space sending an electrical surge into their building’s wiring, starting a fire which gutted the building. In the middle of her troubles, she is spending a lot of time spreading the word around about the Pottery Center’s problems. Her husband, Mark Heywood has been offered workspace at STARworks, a business incubator located in Star, NC, just down the road from Seagrove. So he’s been working off-site. They have also received a lot of help from the pottery community around Seagrove. It all comes down to people helping people.

But, for many people, no matter what is going on in their lives right now – saving the Pottery Center is on the top of their to do list. And, now we have people in Iowa helping too. What next?

I want to tell you about another fundraiser I overlooked in my last posting. Bulldog Pottery in Seagrove, NC, operated by Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke, is offering a Fossil Fish Jug by Bruce Gholson (15 3/4″ x 10 3/4″ x 10 3/4″) for $600 (shipping included) at (www.bulldogpottery.com). All proceeds will be donated to the NC Pottery Center.

The North Carolina Pottery Center is also calling for e-mails of support to be presented to the NC General Assembly. A few lines of what the Center means to you or to the pottery community as a whole would be appreciated. Send them to Anna Niles at (annan@ncleg.net). Please put in the subject line: support for the NCPC. E-mails can be addressed: To the NC State Legislators.

I have to say for me the North Carolina Pottery Center represents a dream that one day in South Carolina we will have art facilities like this showcasing the talents of artists in our state.

In my 20 plus years of covering the visual arts in South Carolina, and over the last 12 plus years of covering visual arts in both North and South Carolina, the one thing I can say which differentiates the two states is North Carolina’s superior support of their art community – both traditional and contemporary.

We have nothing that compares with facilities like the Folk Art Center in Asheville, the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove, the Penland School of Crafts in Penland, and the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, just to mention a few.

But no facility tells the storied history of North Carolina’s Piedmont area’s tradition of handmade pottery like the Pottery Center – covering that tradition from pre-historic Native Americans to artists working in the 21st century.

The temporary exhibitions presented there have featured not only potters from the Seagrove area, but potters from all over North Carolina, the world, and SC. The last exhibit I saw at the Center included works showcasing Rock Hill, SC’s Catawba Indian potters.

For ten years the small community of Seagrove and the surrounding region have carried the weight of the Center on their shoulders. It would be a shame and a tragedy to loose this jewel of the NC art community, the Carolina art community and our nation when saving it as a state facility would take such little funding compared to the rewards the facility gives in return to the state – in tourism and documented cultural history.

If you have had some contact with the NC Pottery Center – either as an artist, visitor or arts administrator – I urge you to send a few lines of support in an e-mail to show your support.

And, don’t for get to make a donation on the Center’s website at (www.ncpotterycenter.com).

NC Pottery Center Update

Monday, August 11th, 2008

I’ve got some updated news about the effort to save the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove, NC. Meredith Heywood of Whynot Pottery in Seagrove has written to tell me that the Center has almost taken in $30,000 in donations toward their $100,000 goal. Every contribution adds up. She also told me that a NC couple has offered a $10,000 challenge contribution to cap the Pottery Center’s fund drive once the Center has raised $90,000. They hope that this challenge will encourage many others to “reach” for that $90,000 goal as soon as possible. They are making this challenge contribution in honor of Drs. Everette James and Nancy Farmer.

That leaves $60,000 yet to be raised. It would only take 2,400 people to make a $25 electronic donation on the Center’s website (www.ncpotterycenter.com). Or, as I’ve said before – a few sugar daddies or momas could make a few BIG donations.

There are now several different ways to help save the Center springing up all over. The next big opportunity is an upcoming auction of over 200 pieces of pottery at Leland Little Auction & Estates Sales (www.llauctions.com) in Hillsborough, NC, on Sept. 28, 2008, starting at 2pm. This auction fundraiser for the NC Pottery Center will feature the legendary collection of Art Ware pottery of Dr. Everette James, as well as Catawba Valley pottery, Eastern Piedmont salt-glaze, and other Art Ware pots donated by many well-known collectors and potters from across the state. An illustrated catalogue will be posted online prior to the auction.

There is now an eBay auction link on the Center’s website where you can make bids on donated pottery to benefit the Center. And, potter Mark Hewitt is raffling a two gallon salt-glazed jar, valued at $350 – at $20 a chance. The drawing will be held on Aug. 31, 2008, at 5pm. Details are at (www.hewittpottery.com). A $20 ticket could win you a $350 value.

So now there are many fun ways to help save the NC Pottery Center. You can buy a raffle ticket, wage a bidding war on eBay or attend a live auction, but to the good folks at the Center – that $25 electronic donation is mighty exciting. And, you can do that right now. I know I felt a bit of excitement when I made our contribution there.

The Carolina Art Blog Community

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Since starting this blog I’ve learned that I’m part of an informal community of other art bloggers – many are artists, some are people in the gallery business, some are promoting the arts, and some others just like to talk about their experiences with the visual arts and arts in general.

Much like with the internet I’m amazed at the speed with which entries you make in your blog on one day can end up on other blogs the next day – if not sooner. It’s quite a shock to my normal communicating system of writing some commentary in one month and people reacting to it the next month – while my head is thinking of the next commentary.

We’re adding some links to a few of these blogs on this blog so our viewers can read what else is being written out there. You can find the links to the right of the page.

I’ve been following some of these blogs such as, Machinations of a Distracted Mind by painter Christopher Rico; Art In Stitches – a day to day journal of fiber artist Susan Lenz; and nightswimming – by sculptor and painter Doug McAbee. Reading blog entries by these artists really gives you some insight on what artists go through in their day to day lives, show you work they are doing, and keeps you up with where they are showing their works. It’s a view we don’t often get when looking at exhibitions of art hanging on a wall or displayed in a gallery space.

Other blogs like Around and About with Bulldog Pottery – Seagrove, NC; Artsails1 – by artist Jean Bourque; Inside Tria’s head: displaying works that question others by Tria Turrou; and Sawdust and Dirt – documenting the goings on in the workshop of NC potter Michael Kline, show you how networking between blogs can carry issues from one place to another – as fast as texting.

Information you’ll find in a blog is much different from what you’ll find on websites. In fact, in time blogs may become the new website for many people on the internet.

We’re also thinking about starting a blog directory for art bloggers in the Carolinas on our website (Carolina Arts) – as the list might get pretty long to keep adding new links to this blog.

If you are an art blogger in North or South Carolina (visual arts only) and want to be added to such a directory, send us your info by e-mail to (info@carolinaarts.com – put Blog Directory in the subject line) and we’ll start building the directory.

Bloggers associated with The State newspaper – need not apply. What goes around comes around.

Charleston’s Museum Mile – the old Bait & Switch

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

It looks like Columbia, SC, isn’t the only place where the use of county accommodation tax money ends up helping commercial enterprises when it is shielded as support for non-profits.

Accommodation tax money is a special tax collected from hotels, motels and vacation rentals to promote area tourism.

The Museum Mile project was first proposed to help support cultural institutions which have seen declining visitor numbers in recent years by pulling together and promoting the participating parties located on or near Meeting Street – in the space of a mile. The institutions that would benefit were proposed to be – the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, the Charleston Museum, the Gibbes Museum of Art, the Historic Charleston Foundation, the Preservation Society of Charleston, the South Carolina Historical Society, Colonial Dames (a.k.a. the Powder Magazine), the Washington Light Infantry and the newly reopened Old Slave Mart Museum.

The picture is museums on or near Meeting Street within a mile of each other.

The project was awarded $100,000, in Nov. 2007, by Charleston County Council to help pay for brochures, bulletin boards, a website and other forms of advertising to promote the Museum Mile – like signs on buses already driving around Charleston and flags on street poles. The idea behind this kind of promotion is that there are plenty of people visiting Charleston – they just don’t know the right places to go. As we all know Charleston is one of the least promoted cities in the country. I guess they think most people just go to the Visitor Center to go to the rest rooms.

With five months to go on its first year since County Council approved the funding we’re beginning to see a different picture of Meeting Street’s Museum Mile – which now seems more like Charleston’s Miracle Mile (in that it can be anything the group wants it to be).

Here’s some of the new attractions being promoted on the Museum Mile website: Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, located at 122 East Bay Street; The Mills House Hotel, located at 115 Meeting Street; and the Sticky Fingers Ribhouse, located at 235 Meeting Street.

At this point any institution and any commercial business located in Charleston County would seem to have a legitimate claim to be included in the Museum Mile – since the original premise has been stretched beyond belief.

How do you judge who can be part of this promotion? By age? The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry isn’t that old. By location? If you can include locations on East Bay Street – why not King Street or even Rutledge Avenue? Did they mean a square mile? And, how did commercial hotels and restaurants get into the mix?

It might have something to do with paid membership – I don’t know, but that’s the only thing that would make sense.

People who find this Museum Mile website will soon see that its creators were not serious about presenting Charleston’s cultural institutions and the members of Charleston County Council got taken by the old bait and switch.

Sticky Fingers – ummm them is some cultural tastin’ ribs. I’ll have to be institutionalized if I swallow this logic.

Of course this is the second time this same group has repackaged this same idea of joint promotion of cultural institutions. What is it that President George W. Bush says? Fool me once, shame on you. Shame me again, I’m a fool or… well you know what he says.

I’m not sure Charleston County Council will get it right the third time around either when these folks come back for money again.

One Eared Cow Glass Turns Sand Into Art

Monday, August 4th, 2008

One of my favorite stops on my monthly delivery run is at One Eared Cow Glass Gallery & Studio, located at 1001 Huger Street in Columbia, SC, in the Congaree Vista district. Columbia is one of the few stops on my runs where I’m there during regular gallery hours – at least some of the time. When that happens you can be sure I’ll stop in and watch Tommy Lockart and Mark Woodham make works of glass art – from molten sand.

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From the first time I watched the two work I’ve been amazed at the transformation of a glob of molten glass into – well whatever you can imagine. And, even after all these years of watching them create, I still can’t tell you what they are making when they start – as it always seems to take some turn in the middle and ends up being something the farthest from my first guess. If I think it’s going to be a bowl or vase – it can end up that those pieces would be the stand for a more elaborate sculpture or lighting fixture. If I’m lucky, I might figure it out three-quarters of the way after all this time.

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Another thing that puzzles me is when I see other people watching them work – most of the time they just watch. From the very start I was asking questions every step of the way. How hot are those ovens? How can you work all day in this heat? Where does the color come from? Why do some colors cost more? What happens to the pieces you break – can they be recycled? Why do you have to put finished works in a cooling oven? What’s a cooling oven anyway?

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I don’t see how you can watch them work and not have a thousand questions. I even asked them if they minded people asking questions. They don’t – at least good questions. So, I can understand how dumbstruck someone can be when they first see the two work, but you have to have questions about what you’re seeing. How are you going to learn something without asking questions? They move so fast you might miss half the things they are doing to the glass.

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One Eared Cow Glass is a gallery of finished works and a working studio. Many times when I’m out front in the gallery looking at new works – there are always new works, new designs, different color combinations, or different shapes – I have to go back into the studio to ask – How did you get this color and design to work? After they explain, it all seems logical, but I would have never figured it out on my own. They have often admitted that many things work out by trial and error. Over the years I’ve learned somethings about how the colors and designs work, but sometimes I’m stumped.

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A few years back, I got to see the progress of a large commission piece over a few months time that Lockart and Woodham created for the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center (http://www.carolinaarts.com/oecg505.html) on Lincoln Street in the Vista. The piece is called Intermingling Convergence a.k.a. Flo. The work is a 20′ long x 10′ wide x 3′ deep creation of blown glass and stainless steel suspended from the ceiling of the two story lobby of the convention center. We have a photo essay of the installation of the work and finished images at the link for the Convention Center.

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One of the first Special Features we added on our website – way back when we first launched it in 1999 – is a photo essay of Lockart and Woodham doing their thing (http://www.carolinaarts.com/glassmaking.html). Since that time these pages on our site have ranked in the top 30 pages visited – month after month after month. And we have thousands of pages on our site.

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If you go visit One Eared Cow Glass, go see Flo at the convention center too – it’s just down the street and there are a lot of other good works of art there to see. With gas prices what they are you want to make the most of every trip you make. You’re in the Vista area, so you’re close to other commercial galleries and the SC State Museum and not too far from the Columbia Museum of Art.

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Now plan ahead. They do not work in the studio on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but the gallery is open, and on the days they are working – they work from 9 to 11:30am in the morning, stop for lunch, and then work again between 1:30 and 4pm. But, call ahead to make sure the day you are going – they will be working to make sure. Something can always happen and the experience just isn’t the same if you don’t get to see them work.

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One more thing. After you’ve watched them for a few hours and asked all those questions – buy something. They have works that fit anyone’s price range from $30 to $2,000. And, they’d be happy to make a special commission piece for you too (another shameless plug).

What is it About 701 Whaley Street in Columbia, SC

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

Take the same location, some of the same supporters, the shield of being a non-profit, and what do you get? Another close-knit group of well connected people doing something that doesn’t seem to be available to others – mixing and matching the commercial sector and the non-profit sectors together.

Let’s take the old group:
701 Whaley Street (non-profit project)
Jack Gerstner – charlatan
BlueCross BlueShield – fat cats with money to give
SC Arts Commission – state arts agency
Jeffrey Day – arts writer for The State
City of Columbia (Mayor)

Here’s the new group:
701 Whaley Street (commercial project)
Wim Roefs – commercial gallery owner & freelance curator
BlueCross BlueShield – fat cats with money to give
SC Arts Commission – state arts agency
Jeffrey Day – arts writer for The State
plus people formerly connected with Columbia’s City Council and board of the Columbia Museum of Art

The building at 701 Whaley Street has vastly improved now in the hands of commercial developers.

Jack Gerstner is out of the picture I hope – still dealing with the IRS, I hope when he’s not being described as an arts angel by a local Columbia magazine.

Wim Roefs replaces Gerstner as the third of the mighty art triangle in Columbia. Roefs as the organizer, Jeffrey Day as the promotional agent, and the SC Arts Commission for official sanction and funding.

BlueCross BlueShield seems to be always waiting in the wings with funding. Have your rates gone up lately?

Gerstner seemed to have had the ear of Columbia’s Mayor until things got out of hand and the new group has the support of those well connected to Columbia’s City Council and the Columbia Museum of Art.

What more do you need to be successful? Maybe they could get the Pope’s blessings.

What burns me is that the SC Arts Commission is always telling most of the people in the commercial side of the arts that there is no room at the inn for them when it comes to funding and assistance – but this project – this new Arts Center – this new non-profit – will do nothing but benefit commercial developers and a commercial gallery owner – even with a one-year promise to not promote the artists he represents.

And, when you’ve got the support and blessings of The State newspaper – who is going to cry foul? People in Columbia have read negative things about themselves in print when they oppose the dealings of the powerful and well connected – under the protection of the local newspaper.

This is another example of a project that gets overwhelming support – because of who is behind it – while others are rebuffed on technicalities. And the current track record is mixed at best. Just take the Columbia Festival of the Arts – under the leadership of Marvin Chernoff and many of the same players; or a collaboration between the Columbia City Ballet and Jonathan Green (another Chernoff project) or the first Gallery 701 project – all highly praised and supported projects – all financial disasters.

Don’t get me wrong. This new 701 Center for Contemporary Art will probably be a good thing for the overall visual art community in Columbia and for South Carolina – at least let’s hope it will, but wouldn’t it be nice if the playing field was equal so that anyone could come with such a proposal and get the same support – or even half the support – this project is getting.

But isn’t it amazing how this new project has already received $45,000 from city accommodations and hospitality taxes, from a group that just formed – with no record of accomplishments as a group – except who they can get behind them.

That’s what’s wrong with the way the arts are supported and funded in South Carolina. It’s not what you can do – it’s who you know.

And, those people – when things fall apart – they seem to disappear into the gray areas of responsibility where they didn’t know what was going on or better yet – they didn’t know they were still being listed as a supporter. It’s one of the wonderful things about being involved with a non-profit in South Carolina – you can take all the credit for the good and have no responsibility for the bad.