Archive for December, 2008

End of The Year – Looking Back & Fowards

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Well it’s happened again – one year is ending and another will soon begin. Frankly, I’m ready for 2008 to be good and gone and 2009 to begin – bringing hopefully a new era in the visual art community of the Carolinas.

Looking back it has been a rough year – $4 a gallon gas, the stock market tumble, the collapse of the financial market, recession finally acknowledged, a long drawn-out election, and dwindling advertising support for Carolina Arts. It was the trickle down theory in reverse. And, although gas prices have tumbled and may continue to lower – it is but one bright spot in a bad year – other than Carolina Arts Unleashed.

We started my blog in May and it was an instant hit and has continued to attract new viewers to the blog and our website. We are now seeing 150,000 new hits a month compared to the average hits we got on a monthly basis before the blog, with the totals for Nov. 2008 coming in at 370,774 hits.

The blog came at just the right time as space in our paper was shrinking and issues needed to be addressed – more than just once a month. People have always told us that the first thing they read when our paper arrives each month is my commentary – now they have a new spot where they can find commentary on a regular basis.

The blog also provided unlimited space and offered the opportunity to add images, as well as an opportunity to expand the subject matter. I even added a few reviews or previews of exhibits.

The blog had not turned out to be a good development for the South Carolina Arts Commission – a frequent subject of my commentaries, but has turned out to be a useful tool in helping bring light to some situations like the fundraising effort to save the North Carolina Pottery Center. In this instance, I could inform and update readers about ongoing events on a regular basis – much better than we could have ever done in the printed paper.

I’ve also met some good people out there in the world of blogging. And, found some old friends. Reading a list of blogs has also become a near-daily routine.

On the negative side – the blog is not what some people had hoped for – an open forum. I just don’t have the time to deal with all that – maybe sometime in the future. People can and do e-mail me with comments which have the same impact as online comments. They make suggestions and complaints and I react to those comments. It also takes a lot of time to work on the entries and they have to be edited. Believe me – you don’t want to see my writing – unedited. Thanks to my wife Linda, you don’t see the real unleashed side of me.

So what about the future?

Well, this may not be blog related but I hope to soon add podcast to our website. These would be short, perhaps 30 minute programs on a variety of subjects – a visit to a gallery, a visit to an artist’s studio, a verbal description of a visual art related event or even a discussion between a few folks on a visual art related subject. I also hope to back up the podcast with images which can be viewed on our website. I have to learn some new technology so don’t expect podcasts starting Jan. 1, 2009 – I don’t learn that fast.

I would also like to redo our website. It’s a little dated and like our paper is simple and clean, but I think some big improvements can be made and the look and navigation can be improved. It’s a project that’s in the idea stage.

Now, when it comes to the printed paper – this is a bigger challenge. We’re in a struggle to survive. We’ve had color covers since Mar. 2006. They are big, beautiful and very popular, but we could lose that color cover this year if we can’t find people willing to support it with color advertising – on a regular basis. Because the economy is in the crapper, many of our advertisers have had to make cutbacks – which we understand and thank them for their support in the past, but it is getting harder and harder to fill those pages. We’re doing all we can, but considering the economy there are not many in a position to help out.

From the beginning – back when we did an arts newspaper calledCharleston Arts – started in 1987, we have always stressed inclusion over exclusion or what they call in the publishing biz – you pay, you play. This means that you are featured in the paper only if you are an advertiser. Many publications like this format as well as advertisers, because it makes everything simple. The people included are there because they are paying to be there.

We’ve survived for over 20 years by being as inclusive as we can – trying to balance the commercial sector with the non-profit and including as many – non-advertisers as possible. We don’t ignore our supporters, but we also don’t ignore those who don’t or have never supported us with a nickels worth of advertising.

Now we never have room for everything we receive each month by deadline. That’s why we started the website in June 1999 and we have archived all the articles about exhibitions we have received since that month. It’s a valuable resource for those interested in what is and has been exhibited in the Carolinas over the last eight years. And, we don’t ask a penny to access or print any of it, unlike others in the publishing business. Everyone from everywhere in the Carolinas who sends us the proper info by our deadlines are included on our website version of the paper. I don’t know how we could be any more inclusive than that.

If things continue the way they are, we may have to make changes to that policy of inclusion in the paper – we already have had to cut a lot of galleries in cities we don’t distribute our paper to and galleries that do not distribute our paper (some their choice – some our choice) in cities where we do distribute the paper. I hate making cuts like that, but it’s been necessary with shrinking advertising revenue. Less revenue = less pages in the paper.

We have always made it possible for any gallery or art space to be included in our paper by advertising – even if they are the only gallery included in their city. Like the Artist’s Coop in Laurens, SC, or Fountainside Gallery in Wilmington, NC. They both serve as lighthouses in their respective art communities. Your gallery could be a lighthouse for the visual arts in your city for as little as $42 a month. Check out our info on How the Paper Works.

As I said before, I hope 2009 is going to be a year of change for the good. And, I hope you’ll all be there with us and bring some friends along too. We’re going to try and keep bringing you all the news we know about what is going on in the Carolina visual art community and perhaps a little more.

SC Arts Commission – SC Arts Foundation – Who is Whom?

Friday, December 26th, 2008

I know I touched on this subject before in this blog and I mentioned it in my commentary in the Jan. 09 issue of Carolina Arts, but I’m going into this puzzling situation in some detail, and that takes more space than I’ll ever have in the paper.

Now, the claim from these two entities is that they are both separate organizations. The SC Arts Commission is a SC State arts agency and the SC Arts Foundation is a separate arts non-profit – independent of each other.

But here’s part of the picture of reality. The SC Arts Foundation has a separate board – made up of members – some of whom are SC Arts Commission board members, past board members, and staff members of the Arts Commission. The Arts Foundation’s only known contact is an employee of the SC Arts Commission – Rusty Sox. And, if you want to call the Arts Foundation, you have to call the SC Arts Commission.

That’s what they call being totally independent – while at the same time they are dependent on the Arts Commission for almost everything I can find out about them. I’m sure their records are kept at the Arts Commission’s office in Columbia, SC. In fact, pretty much the only information you can find about the SC Arts Foundation is posted on the SC Arts Commission’s website. So when the Arts Foundation says it has forged a strategic partnership with the Arts Commission – you can bank on that.

This is what is posted on the SC Arts Commission’s website.
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The SCAF has forged a strategic partnership with the S.C. Arts Commission, the state’s government arts agency, linking its mission to the Arts Commission’s goals of :

* Artist development
* Arts education
* Community development through the arts

While operating independently of one another, the partnership between these two key statewide organizations allows them to maximize resources and realize the greatest impact from programming and financial support statewide. Working with the S.C. Arts Commission, the SCAF has helped advance the arts in South Carolina in some significant ways:

* Funding artist training and development through Artist Fellowships.
* Designating proceeds from Driven by the Arts license plate sales to benefit in-school artist residencies and other arts education programs in schools and communities across the state.
* Purchasing new work for the State Art Collection – the state’s growing collection of contemporary South Carolina visual art.
* Recognizing outstanding achievement in the arts through its support of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner/Governor’s Awards for the Arts.
* Providing exhibition and sales opportunities for South Carolina’s visual artists with the Verner Art Sale.
* Giving the private and business communities an opportunity to support the statewide growth of the arts through tax-deductible contributions.

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This is what the SC Arts Foundation’s stated purpose is. But due to State budget cuts, the SC Arts Commission announced that it would suspend adding to the State Art Collection this year and cancel the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner/Governor’s Awards for the Arts, the awards luncheon and the Verner Art Sale. That’s three of the Arts Foundation’s six functions. Leaving – funding the Artist Fellowships, deciding where funds go from license plate sales to arts education and taking in donations from the private and business community.

Let’s take the license plate sales out of the picture. I have no problem with this program – arts education needs all the funding it can get, but this program can’t put a lot of burden on the Arts Foundation.

Then there is the Artist Fellowships – six a year at $5,000 a pop – unless that has been cut this year too – which amounts to $30,000. Again, not a big burden for the Art Foundation (more about that later).

That leaves taking in donations from the private and business communities.

If I was an arts group in the non-profit arts community in South Carolina – I’d have a problem with this part of the SC Arts Foundation. You’re in competition with an organization and its twin agency, the SC Arts Commission, to secure money from the only other group – other than government agencies. And they’re the ones giving out awards to those who support the arts (business and private sector). To whom would you rather give money – a group who will give you their unending thanks, until next year – or the group who can give you statewide recognition in the form of a major award – even though no one is getting an award this year. Frankly, with all the non-profit arts groups in SC, I think there are plenty of opportunities for businesses and private individuals to support the statewide growth of the arts through tax-deductible contributions – who needs another one to do it for them?

So here’s a couple of big questions to wonder about. Why is the SC Arts Commission cutting from its budget three of the six functions of the SC Arts Foundation and what will the Arts Foundation be doing with half of its purpose for being – shut down this year? I mean what are they going to be spending their time doing – concentrating on collecting more donations?

Well, I know they now have set up a way to take electronic donations on – the SC Arts Commission’s website. I would wonder if there is some State law about that???

So what kind of money are we talking about anyway? Not sure. I’m sure there is someplace where the SC Arts Foundation has to register an Annual Report as a non-profit, but it’s not offered with all the other info about them that exist on the Arts Commission’s website. But this is what I found on the website of the Office of the Secretary of State for SC.
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South Carolina Arts Foundation, 1989 (that’s the year they registered with the Secretary of State)
Patrick Van Huss, CEO
c/o South Carolina Arts Commission
1800 Gervais St.
Columbia, SC 29201

Exemption Status: Registered: Information from this organization’s annual financial report is listed below.

The following is financial information that has been provided to the Office of the Secretary of State by the above-named organization. Figures are for the organization’s fiscal year 7/1/2007 – 6/30/2008.

TOTAL REVENUE: $271,688.00
PROGRAM EXPENSES: $205,301.00
TOTAL EXPENSES: $211,209.00

According to the financial information filed with this office, this organization devoted 97.2% of its total expenses to program services during the year reported.

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That’s the info they provided to the Secretary of State.

First off I want to take exception to the statement made above where the Arts Foundation says in their own description – “these two key statewide organizations” – spending $200,000 doesn’t make you a “key” statewide organization – even in this small state. That’s way, way under expense levels of many of SC’s nonprofit arts organizations – even some artist guilds. What makes them so key with so little money? Maybe it’s who they are attached to?

You’ll notice that there was a $5,908 difference between the Foundation’s program expenses and total expenses. Can this be a fee paid to the Arts Commission or to Rusty Sox? Don’t know. You should also notice that for that fiscal year the Arts Foundation had a left over amount of $60,479.

Now if we subtract the $30,000 for the Artists Fellowships ($5,000 each for six awards) for this year (the only financial obligation left them this year) – even if the Arts Foundation didn’t take in any donations this year – that leaves a remaining $30,000 plus some change.

Like I said before, we’re not counting money taken in for license plates – that is going to art education projects anyway, so there is no need to factor that money into anything. It should already be factored into their programing expenses.

They are not putting any money into purchasing works for the State Art Collection – so the only other expense left was the Verner Awards. And of course the big awards luncheon – a.k.a. – the big party.

The Verner Awards amount to seven awards a year and not knowing how much those statues cost, you have to wonder if the real problem this year was that there wasn’t enough money left for the big party. Could this be why these awards were cut? ($30,000 divided by 7 = $4,285. Do you think they are paying that much for those statues? Don’t know. But, I’m not really sure why these awards were cut – again from the Arts Commission’s budget – when the Arts Foundation says it pays for this program.

Besides seven entities not getting the recognition this year – artists, art administrators, business supporters, etc. – the other victims here are the artists who used to sell works at the luncheon. And, of course the Governor of SC – since these are supposed to be his awards. Maybe there is more to this cut than money. After all the Governor did call for the cuts to the Commission’s budget. Of course he could have given them an exemption to budget cut, so maybe this is payback. Who knows? It’s just something to think about.

Well it’s not hard to believe that this year it is harder for the Arts Foundation to pull in donations from SC’s private and business communities, but it is just as hard to believe that the Foundation hasn’t taken in any donations since July of 2008. But we won’t know that until the Arts Foundation files their 7/1/2008 – 6/30/2009 fiscal year financial info with the Secretary of State. And that won’t be until near the end of 2009 – if that. These non-profits don’t always file on time.

The point of all this is – what, if anything, does purchases for the State Art Collection and the Verner Awards have to do with reducing the SC Arts Commission’s budget – when funding for these programs are supposed to be provided by the SC Art Foundation? I can understand that if the Foundation’s revenues are down or nonexistent that their programs would have to be stopped, but how does cutting these two things reduce the Arts Commission’s budget – because they were listed by the Arts Commission as ways they were reducing their budget.

It’s a puzzle. A real puzzle.

Now, I don’t spend a lot of time pondering this puzzle, but I’m sure I spend more time on it then these two groups would like. But it makes you wonder what is going on here.

Did the Arts Commission just pad their list of where they would be making cuts to their budget? Don’t know. I do know we’ll never see a detailed flow of expenses by either organization.

It’s just another couple of items we’ll never know about the SC Arts Commission.

Like suspending purchases of art for the State Art Collection. Is this really a cut? I haven’t seen any info about these purchases for several years. I checked the Arts Commission’s archive of press release – back to Aug. 2005 and there was no mention of art purchases. Looking at the Arts Commission’s website where they post info about the collection – all 441 works – I couldn’t find but a couple of works with dates in 2006 and only one with a date of 2007. Of course they could have purchased a shipload of works that were produced in previous years, but you would think they would at least brag about it – they’re not usually shy about bragging about what they do or what they provide to the citizens of South Carolina.

Of course this is another responsibility of the Arts Commission’s busy Visual Arts Coordinator – unless the Arts Foundation really does have something to do with this program. But my guess is that this is a failing program the Arts Commission is trying to keep quiet about. That’s why it been under the radar of public information for some years now. There never was much public disclosure about the program anyway.

Let’s revisit those fiscal year 7/1/2007 – 6/30/2008 financial figures. The Arts Foundation reported that they spent $205,301 on programs. Take out the $30,000 for the Artists Fellowships – that leaves $175,301. The only other things the Arts Foundation says it funds is purchases for the State Art Collection, money from license plates to arts education, and the Verner Awards – and of course the luncheon – or what I like to call the big party.

If we divide the remaining funds by 3 that gives $58,433 to each of those three programs. But… $58,433 seems a little high as revenue coming in from license plates. If you buy a plate from the Arts Commission at $170 each – they only had 200, that equals $34,060) and the highway department sells them for $70 – that would equal 349 people buying license plates. There are not that many people who support the arts in SC and we’re a small state. I don’t think 349 people purchased Driven by the Arts license plates that year.

$58, 433 would purchase a very nice piece of art for the State Art Collection – if they did buy anything during that fiscal period. But, we don’t know.

And, $58,433 seems like it would buy seven Verner Awards and throw a very nice luncheon – which most people have to purchase an expensive ticket to attend.

If you take out any large purchase of art for the State Collection and say maybe 200 people purchased license plates – that would leave a lot of money for the Verner Awards. But, it’s hard to imagine that they were spending nearly $100,000 for those seven awards and that luncheon. Isn’t it – or is it?

Other than the $30,000 for the Artists Fellowships, speculating where the other $175,301 the Arts Foundation spent during that year is – well speculation. But we do know they spent the money on something. And, I guess we know that the Arts Foundation or the Arts Commission doesn’t have that money this year to spend on these programs.

We also know that the Arts Foundation has had 50 percent of its stated function reduced. Or do we – remember the Arts Commission is claiming these programs as reductions to their budget.

It’s so confusing.

The fact is we do know that those people and organizations who received funding support from the SC Arts Commission took a 25 percent cut – due to mandated State budget cuts – 14 percent right away and the remainder being held in reserve by the Arts Commission – just in case more cuts are called for – and they are being called for as I write this. But I, for one, am not really sure what kind of cuts the Arts Commission is really taking themselves. This business of listing cuts that are supposedly funding provided by the SC Arts Foundation leaves me wondering how up front the Arts Commission is being with us and the State. It’s not the first time I have had a lack of trust for info provide by the Arts Commission and I’m sure it’s not going to be the last.

I also don’t like the fact that a State employee is working for a private non-profit – strategic partnership or not. Is this the only case? I think not. There have been other instances where services have been rendered to a few that are not really being offered to all. Like helping law firms find art for their offices.

But, when you’re a small State agency (small in terms of total budget) you don’t get a lot of oversight. You just don’t concern State auditors or legislators. You’re pocket change in their view.

And, don’t even think about a newspaper like The State investigating these puzzling items. They’re being supportive of the arts and besides they’ve received a Verner Award for their support of the arts.

And, all I can do is deliver a little sting occasionally – like a no-see’um. You know, those little pesky bugs near the marsh. I’m just giving people something to think about. And, I hope they do.

P.S. We have now learned that the SC Budget and Control Board has issued a 7 percent across-the-board cut to state agencies in addition to cuts passed earlier this fiscal year.

Here’s what the SC Arts Commission’s answer is to this call for cuts. “To implement this most recent cut, the agency will: Increase the number of mandatory staff furlough (unpaid leave) days from four to seven; Reduce most current (FY09) grants by an additional 4 percent, bringing the total cumulative grant reduction for most grantees to 18.2 percent; and Continue to reserve 25 percent of original grant awards pending additional mid-year cuts. This latest cut brings the cumulative total cut to the agency’s budget for FY 2009 to 23.9 percent. The agency continues to do everything it can internally to reduce costs while maintaining service to constituents.”

I don’t care how you say it – if you are holding 25 percent of grant monies from organizations in reserve that’s a 25 percent cut. Three more days of unpaid leave still leaves all their staff members with a job and full benefits. SCETV, SC’s public TV and Radio network laid off 43 employees – now that’s an internal cut. Saying you’re taking a 23.9 percent cut while everyone else has taken a 25 percent cut doesn’t exactly make everyone think the agency is doing everything it can to reduce costs while maintaining service to constituents. I’m not buying that and I don’t think their constituents are either, and I know the people they don’t serve think it’s justice finally served, but they don’t see where the pain is. I can’t find it either.

How About Them Carolina Panthers!

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Many people have the impression that people who are involved in the arts – any aspect of the arts – are unusual people – art lovers. They think we live and breathe the arts. Not so. As the Bard wrote – “If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh?” We have children, mortgages, flat tires, and some have interest in sports.

Myself, I love the arts. I like live theatre, classical music, modern dance, and the visual arts. And, I love football – not that kick the ball from one side of the field to the other kind of football – NFL football. I love my Carolina Panthers.

I’m from Michigan originally, but I divorced the Detroit Lions when Barry Sanders retired and adopted the Panthers as my new team.

It’s a good thing I’ve got the Panthers this year and it’s good that they are doing so well. The visual art community is not doing so well this year and it may be awhile before it is again, but for now, I’ll live through the Panthers.

The last couple of weeks have been great – while working on one of the smallest issues of Carolina Arts we have offered in some time, I got to watch the Panthers run over their division foes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a Monday Night Football game with the rest of the country (the football lovin’ country) and then again on Sunday evening the win against the # 2 offense in the NFL- the Denver Broncos.

This means the Panthers will be in the playoffs for sure – extending football season for me. Oh joy! Besides lower gas prices – there hasn’t been a lot of joy lately.

So I’ve got Carolina Arts and the Carolina Panthers to keep me going in 2009. And, although South Carolina seems to be the weak partner in the two states the Panthers are supposed to represent – I’m doing my part to be a loyal fan from South Carolina.

Most of the Wal-Marts is SC don’t even carry Panther T-shirts. What’s up with that? In SC it’s all about the Gamecocks and Tigers. The only thing Clemson’s football team was worth was ridding the world of Woody Hayes. It’s the Panthers ya’ll.

I don’t know what the future will bring for the Panthers, but in-between doing my work to bring readers news about the visual art community in the Carolinas – I’ll be yelling at my TV for Peppers to crush Eli Manning or at the latest unbelievable catch Steve Smith just made. Then I’ll go back to the arts.

Go Panthers! Good luck Sunday night in New Jersey – meadowlands – good hunting grounds for panthers.

Charlotte’s New African-American Arts + Culture Center

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Scheduled to open in the fall of 2009, the new Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, named in honor of the former Charlotte mayor and civic leader, will replace the Afro-American Cultural Center located in the former Little Rock AME Zion Church, at 401 North Myers Street in Charlotte, NC. The new four-story, 44,000-sq. ft. arts center will be located in Charlotte’s Center City with the new Mint Museum and the Bechtler Museum – scheduled to open sometime in 2010.

But, while the new center is still under construction the supporters of this project are conducting the “New Beginnings Founders Campaign”. You can learn all about that campaign on the Cultural Center’s website (www.aacc-charlotte.org).

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Part of that campaign is a special offer for your chance to own a limited edition lithograph by Jonathan Green, a South Carolina native, who is known worldwide for his colorful work which depicts the everyday life of African-Americans in the Carolina Lowcountry. The image, titled Farm Woman is currently being produced by Master Printmakers Joseph Kleineman and Maureen Turci at Mojo Portfolio, Union City, New Jersey. Kleineman and Turci have produced many of Romare Bearden’s, Elizabeth Catlett’s and Jacob Lawrence’s most popular prints.

Green will donate 75 of the 100 limited edition lithographs to the Gantt Center’s Founders Campaign. The image will be released in mid to late Jan. 2009. The size of the image will be 22” x 30” with white margins on all sides. Each of the prints will be signed and numbered by the artist. The Campaign would like to offer this wonderful image to you at the pre-release price of $3,500. Details about this opportunity can be found on the Center’s website (http://www.aacc-charlotte.org/JGreen_form.asp).

The great thing about this opportunity is that you will not only get a wonderful limited edition lithograph by Jonathan Green, but you’ll also be supporting this new cultural center. So what will you be exactly supporting – you ask. Well, here’s some of the details on the new center.

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Support of the new Gantt Center will be used in many ways including: Staging of excellent fine art exhibitions and related programming activities in the Center’s three exhibition galleries; Development of innovative arts and education programs for school-aged children; Development of a year-round arts, culture and history lecture/seminar series; Development of collaborative exhibitions and academic exchanges with regional and national museums and arts organizations; Summer camps, art classes and enrichment programs for public school children; and Support for theater productions, film presentations and educational workshops.

Commitments have been secured from the following arts organizations to participate in Gantt Center programming including: Spelman College Museum of Fine Art – Atlanta, GA; The Museum of Arts and Design – New York, NY; The National Museum of African-American History and Culture – Washington, DC; Art Institute of Chicago – Chicago, IL; The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; The National Gallery – Washington, DC; and the University of Maryland David Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture – College Park, MD.

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So it’s almost like having a national African-American cultural center in the Carolinas. We won’t have to travel to other places to see great works of art by African-Americans – it will travel to us – right here in the Carolinas.

For further information about this project, the Founders Campaign or the lithograph by Jonathan Green, contact Patrick Diamond, Director of Development, at 704/374-1565, ext. 25 or e-mail to (patrick@aacc-charlotte.org).

Interesting Exhibit at the Charleston County Public Library

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

On one of the days when I was delivering our December 2008 issue of Carolina Arts, I stopped at the Charleston County Public Library’s Main Branch in downtown Charleston, SC to leave copies of our paper. This is not something I can do in every library across the Carolinas. Did you know that some library systems in both North and South Carolina will not let us leave papers at their library branches. Most of the time it’s not because they don’t like our paper, but it’s the only way they can keep other papers out of the library. It’s censorship by association, which is not so cool but understandable after viewing some papers out there. This is not the case in Charleston.

After dropping off papers I went to check out the current exhibit up in the Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery. The December 2008 exhibit was Places and Faces, featuring mixed media works and some portraits by Liza Twery of Charleston.

A handout offered at the exhibit provided the following info: “Influenced by a family of accomplished artists, Liza grew up amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia. She moved to the Lowcountry in 2002 and earned a BA in Studio Art and Arts Management from the College of Charleston. In 2005, she lived in Florence, Italy, where she studied the visual arts at the prestigious Firenze Arti Visive. There she began her personal exploration of layering and experimenting with a variety of materials. In her work Liza has been known to use tissue paper, tape, glue, and recycled materials such as plastic bags. From the home of an Italina contessa to the quaint shops of the Charleston Market, Liza’s work is displayed and appreciated all over.”

It was Twery’s unusual use of materials that caught my interest while viewing her exhibit. She used a variety of materials not often seen in paintings. In one image a man was rising out of bed – his body was made of what seemed like some sort of plastic material, which I later figured might have been a plastic grocery bag. I’m no artist, but I figure that was harder to do than just painting a man’s body. Maybe not, but I couldn’t do either. The sheet/blanket from the bed was also some kind of plastic material – which makes sense – plastic body – plastic sheet – think of a sheet that is skin soft. Now wouldn’t that be a nice sheet or blanket?

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In another scene a naked woman is looking out a very large window – the drape is actually made of a materials that is often used for window sheers. A rug on the floor is some material which has a pattern of a typical patterned rug.

Twery supplied me with three images from this exhibit. All three scenes suggest situations where people have perhaps been sleeping in a room – just awakening. Each room has a window to look out at various views – an urban view, a blank blue sky (maybe at the beach) and a rural farm or stable view. The rooms and objects in the rooms are made up of various materials or images from other images – none of the three would suggest wealth or a longtime residence – like these could be first time apartments or even dorm rooms.

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Twery also offered some images which were like portraits of different people, but they all shared the same eyes or look in their eyes. I looked around the gallery space and noticed that there was something about the eyes in all images that showed people looking out of image. What the message is here I don’t know, but I’m sure the artist has a story about the eyes. Maybe it’s that she thinks all people see her the same way – with no imagination or that all her subjects begin to all look the same once they enter her art. Who knows, but once you notice the eyes, it’s hard not to notice them. Some people say you can tell a person by their eyes – maybe Twery is protecting the innocent people (in real life) who are being depicted in her art world. I’m just saying – check out the eyes – they have a look about them.

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So here is another little exhibit at the library worthy of your time to go see. You can make your trip a little more worthy by picking up a good book, a CD or a DVD and the first hour of parking is free. Throw in a public rest room and a copy of Carolina Arts and you have gotten a big bang for your buck – Oh that’s right, everything I’ve mentioned is free – or at least most of it is – if you don’t have a library card, but then why wouldn’t you? I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t.

So go see the exhibit – it’s up through December.

P.S. Two extras. Liza get extra points for knowing the correct spelling for the “Lowcountry” even though she is not a native. And the story about the eyes reminds me of a little story from my photography days. I mentioned the eyes of the people in the images looking out of the images – of course you can’t see the eyes of the people looking away.

I once worked in a photo processing shop where people brought in file to have it processed and then have pictures made – I’m talking decades ago, long before the digital world we all live in now. An older woman had picked up some slides or transparencies (these are positives films that people used to show in projectors). She had a slide on a light box and kept turning it over and over. I went up to her and asked if I could help her or if there was a problem and she asked which way she had to turn it to see the person’s face? I looked down and it was an image of the back of a person’s head, but she wanted to see the face. I offered an explanation as to why that wasn’t possible that didn’t go over very well and retreated to a back room before I busted a gut, but later in life came to the conclusion – what a tragedy of the technology of photography that the camera couldn’t take both sides of any scene – so we could see what the photographer didn’t want us to see, but then – isn’t that what every artists is doing? They only show us what they want us to see and do we even see it – right in front of us? Makes you wonder.

Hard Times Fall on the Arts in the Carolinas

Friday, December 5th, 2008

They used to say during the Cold War days that if it ever came down to nuclear war – where one side or the other launched a strike and the other side retaliated – the resulting debris would block out the sun for years creating a Nuclear Winter. It seems we have reached an Economic Winter.

All sectors of the arts are hurting – commercial and nonprofits alike. Public and private funding is shrinking and in some places has dried up completely. Art galleries are closing, performances are being canceled or scaled back and the future is uncertain.

As the visual art community goes – so does Carolina Arts. Our advertisers are not immune to the current economy downturn.

During our 20 plus years of doing an arts newspaper we learned fairly soon that we have to reflect the economic situation of our supporters – when they cut back – we must cut back. And, when they expand – we expand. We have to remain flexible so we don’t put the whole paper in jeopardy. As long as we have advertisers – we will continue the paper.

Back where I come from – the half-a-year frozen tundra state of Michigan – one of the characteristics of winter is the loss of color. In this economic winter, Carolina Arts may lose its color cover. We’re not there yet, but we are very close. Some of the people who have been keeping our wonderful color covers going are having to cut back on their expenses – which we understand, so we’re calling out to see if there are folks out there who can fill in the gaps – to keep the color covers going.

Up to this point we have mainly offered full page ads ($1,000) and 1/2 page ads ($500), but we may be opening the cover up to 1/4 ads ($250) to help those willing to keep the color flowing. Of course we’re hoping to find people who want to advertise on a regular basis first, but will fill the pages as best we can – as long as we can, but if necessary we will go back to a black and white cover – which served us for much of our 20 years of publishing.

And, when considering these prices – keep in mind the size of our paper 11″ x 17″ – our ads are much bigger than most publications – it’s almost twice the size of most 8 1/2″ x 11″ magazines. A full page ad is 10″ x 16″. That’s a lot of image or a lot of images.

If you are interested in color advertising – give us a call now at 843/825-3408 and be the first to take advantage of this opportunity. Who knows – the economy could turn around at any minute. I’m hoping it will.