Archive for August, 2009

Going To The Creative Town Hall Meeting In Charleston, SC – Aug. 25, 2009

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009, was an interesting day. It started out like every other day with scanning and sometimes reading of The Post and Couriernewspaper, the Charleston, SC, area’s only daily newspaper. The item of the day which caught my attention was an ad for the new WLCN HD TV 18 station operating out of Summerville, SC. The line was – “now streaming LIVE 24/7 on the internet”. That’s interesting!

While doing daily duty number 2, e-mail, I also checked out this new station found on the internet here ( Sure enough, there was a window on their site that showed streaming video, but I could never get the LIVE links to work. It’s always something with these computers, but that’s another of 1,000 possible blog entries about technology frustrations that I could write. But what I saw was impressive – as an alternative to old local stations. (What does this have to do with anything? In retrospect – they look like they need content providers – this would be a great opportunity for the Charleston Arts Coalition to grab a hold of a TV media opportunity to build an audience for the arts in other media markets.)

Next was a dental appointment. Just a regular visit for cleaning and checkup. No bad news there! What a relief. Those visits can turn into a financial nightmare.

Then it was off to Charleston. But, first I was going to have lunch with my Goddaughter, Zelda, who is a recent graduate of the Savannah School of Art and Design. She studied sequential art – used in animation films, manga, comic books, and in the production of movies. She can also do some illustration work – perhaps for children’s books. Anyone got a paying job opportunity out there? Never hurts to ask.

During lunch I told her where I was going later that day and she asked if she could go. I said I guessed she could, but it might be boring. She was still interested.

Hey, this almost sounds like a Twitter account – I just could never stick to the 147 characters thing. Or, one of those personal journal blogs where you tell everyone what you do every minute of the day.

Where we were headed to was the Creative Town Hall meeting entitled,Nursing Creativity Through the Economic Slump, presented by the Charleston Arts Coalition in partnership with the Tate Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Charleston. The gathering was held at the Wachovia Auditorium in the Beatty Center on Liberty Street in Charleston. One word in description of the facilities – impressive. (Say it like Darth Vader.)

The meeting was open to all Charleston creatives that are interested in exchanging ideas and bringing awareness of the importance of creative business for a thriving and prosperous cultural city. The Coalition would also announce the results of their “Voice of the People” survey and address the main themes and issues noted in the survey as well as have an open forum for discussion. They said you’ll be able to see the results of the survey on the Coalition’s website. Check it out.

What were my impressions of the gathering?

I’m going to be very short for once on a very complicated subject. It could take volumns to write about this meeting, but I won’t – for one thin,g if you’re that interested in what took place there – you should have been there. But, I got the impression that this gathering might not have been that well publicized or – and it’s a big OR – Charleston’s creative types are not that well plugged in to what’s going on.

First, it was a smaller crowd than I expected and it was top heavy – meaning that I saw a lot of people who were heads of their respective organizations, but there were not that many rank and file creative folks.

Second, I didn’t hear anything new that I haven’t heard a number of times before – mostly because some of the featured speakers are the same that have spoken many times before. They all made safe little speeches. Can you blame them? The politics of the arts in Charleston and South Carolina, for that matter, are not bent toward being candid without paying a price. Some people wouldn’t voice an opinion until certain other folks left the room. What does that tell you? And, after spending three hours traveling in my car to come and return from this meeting – why couldn’t some people spend two full hours at this meeting? I’m going to be counting on these folks in the future? I doubt it. And, like at the movie theatre – turn your cell phones off or on vibrate – which is the lesson I’m being told to learn. Mine was off.

Third, I heard people say things that I know from my own experience with them – not to be the case. It’s the old case of listen to what I say – don’t judge me by what I do. Sorry, I’m a do kind of guy – I’m judging.

Fourth, before entering this meeting, folks outside the room encouraged visitors to make comments on a bank of computers, during the meeting pleas were made for people to make comments on the Coalitions blog or website, and the final note of the meeting was for people to make comments, but as of this writing – no comments are flowing in. Not a good sign, but not unusual.

Fifth, about the survey – “Voice of the People”. Only 277 people took it – including me. I say only 277 because it has been said that there are over 5,000 people in the creative industries in the Charleston area. The opportunity to take the survey has been out there for some time, well publicized, but again – I’m not sure how well these creative type are tuned in to what’s going on in the Charleston art community. And, I’m not sure they care about much.

My hat goes off to the Coalition members, the Tate Center for Entrepreneurship, Jessica Solomon Bluestein, president of the Coalition for hosting the meeting and John W. Zinsser of Pacifica Human Communications for being the meeting’s commentator. They did a great job.

What’s my verdict?

Before I go into that, let me tell you about a little slice of the evening. Well into the meeting I wrote something on my note pad to show my Goddaughter after the meeting was over to see what she thought. It was – “Charlestock – 2 hours of love, peace, and collaboration!” – like Woodstock. Her impression was that she just witnessed a lovefest too. Now she’s one of those 5,000 plus artists in the Charleston art community and I don’t think she walked away with a lot of hope. Many times, Charleston’s reputation for being an arts mecca cannot deliver on all it’s made out to be. Charleston is a very small town with a very large art community. Hopefully she’ll find her place.

Back to the verdict. As frustrating as going to one of these meetings is for me – someone who has been in the community for  over 34 years and seen way too many efforts come and go – I too saw something different at this meeting – a point voiced by several other members of the audience. I’m impressed with the Coalition’s determination and dedication to their mission – to Create, Unite and Inspire. I’m going to join the Coalition as a Business Sponsor and do as much as I can, but being a regional arts newspaper focused on the visual arts in the Carolinas – there will be limits to my involvement, which is something each member has to deal with. We all have our main jobs and like many in the art community these days – we’re fighting for survival too.

My biggest concerns for the future of this organization and what they will be able to accomplish is the art community at large – the rank and file creative folks. They don’t seem to be engaged and they don’t seem to be realistic at times. When I see in the survey that artists would be willing to pay from $3 – $15 a sq. ft. for space in “downtown” Charleston – when it is more like $40 to $50 a sq, ft. plus add-ons (taxes); when they say they are not willing to go anywhere but downtown Charleston; when they say they also want free and lots of parking – it’s hard to see how any organization can fulfill their dreams. They are just dreams. Have you seen a McDonalds in downtown Charleston? Do you know what the Apple Store is paying to be in downtown Charleston? Let’s get real.

On the point of all these arts groups working together – that’s a tough one – it’s natural for some, and down right unnatural for others. Will it happen – I don’t know. My experience says not, but I’ve always said – I won’t mind being proven wrong. In fact, I’m tired of my natural pessimism turning out to be justified.

Charleston – prove me wrong.

The scariest thing I heard mentioned at the meeting was the existence of another group – the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts. Oh my.

All in all, a fairly interesting day.

Post Script to: A Major Arts Program That Seems Kind of Minor

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Well, it seems that things just get more revealing every step of the way. I received an e-mail from someone at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, MS (it seems our blog is far reaching) and I was informed that their facility, damaged during Hurricane Katrina (Aug. 2005), has still not re-opened and isn’t scheduled to be open by Nov. 2010. That is their main facility – they have a transitional facility set up in Biloxi. But they won’t be hosting this exhibit, Tradition/Innovation: American Masterpieces of Southern Craft and Traditional Art – as stated in the press release we received from the Sumter County Gallery of Art. You would think that someone at the Southern Arts Federation would have been keeping up with the folks in MS on their rebuilding schedule or maybe this is another PR problem.

This is no fault of the Sumter folks – they’re using the info they were provided – by either the SC Arts Commission or the Southern Arts Federation. After searching the SAF’s website I found that the location in Mississippi was changed to the Hattiesburg Historic Train Depot in Hattiesburg, MS (Nov. 1 – Dec. 23, 2010) – another prime location, I’m sure. I would have offered a link to the Depot, but I couldn’t find any direct link to it – even on the Hattiesburg, MS, site.

I would think that the Southern Arts Federation would have more pull, but the Hattiesburg Historic Train Depot? Hattiesburg is also home to the University of Southern Mississippi – which has an art museum. Come on, this time slot is more than a year away – is that the best place they could find to show this exhibition? Is this the best the National Endowment for the Arts can do for its American Masterpieces program? It’s a good thing the Sumter County Gallery of Art could be so flexible with their schedule – who knows where the SC Arts Commission would have ended up putting this exhibit – after three years of planning.

And, remember, Harriett Green is the Director of Visual Arts at the SC Arts Commission.

Adding New Blog Links

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

During my usual process of keeping up with what’s going on in the Carolinas and in the world of blogging I found an entry on the Arts Beat Blog at Freetimes, Columbia, SC’s alternative newspaper – where Dan Cook, the paper’s editor had talked about some of the blogs in the Columbia area and low and behold – Carolina Arts Unleashed was mentioned.

I sent Cook a Thank You and told him we’d add the blog to our list of links – which I did and added a few more we have discovered – even one he mentioned in his list. We always like to exchange links with those who make them for us – it seems the right thing to do. Of course I’m more interested in blogs dealing with the visual arts so we’re not as concerned about all blogs – forgive me for that, but we do have a focused interest.

The others we have added are a blog by Jeff Donovan, a visual artist in the Columbia, SC, area; Three Corners Clay, a blog about events taking place in the greater Seagrove, NC, area; and Joy Tanner Pottery, a blog by Joy Tanner, a potter in Western North Carolina.

Our list is getting long, but we always have a lot of content on Carolina Arts Unleashed – so I think there will always be a lot of space on the right side of the page.

Now go and explore what others are saying about art in the Carolinas. And don’t forget – if you want to know what’s going on in the visual art community in the Carolinas – exhibit listings, feature articles, news about juried shows, artist’s opportunities, non-profits, lectures, fundraisers, links to websites, etc. – click the link for Carolina Arts. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find there.

A Major Arts Program That Seems Kind of Minor

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

We recently – after deadline – received a press release about a major exhibition taking place in South Carolina. The exhibit, Tradition/Innovation: American Masterpieces of Southern Craft and Traditional Art, organized by the Southern Arts Federation is coming to the Sumter County Gallery of Art in Sumter, SC. It will be on view from Sept. 10 through Nov. 12, 2009.

First off I’ll state that I have not seen this exhibit, but I expect that is an excellent exhibition based on the artists involved and past exhibits organized by the Southern Arts Federation. The problem comes in execution and the concept of this basic “major” initiative.

The press release included this statement: “The Sumter County Gallery of Art will be honored as the only South Carolina venue for the Southern Arts Federation (SAF) touring exhibition, Tradition/Innovation: American Masterpieces of Southern Craft and Traditional Art, an ambitious exhibition that is part of the American Masterpieces program of the National Endowment for the Arts, a major initiative to acquaint Americans with the best of their cultural and artistic legacy, featuring more than 100 artworks created by 58 traditional artists and contemporary craftspeople, living and working in the South today.”

Well, at least that is from the nine southern states the Southern Arts Federation represents.

The Southern Arts Federation (SAF), headquartered in Atlanta, GA, is a consortium of nine Southern states (NC, SC, GA, FL, TN, KY, LA, MS AL) and their respective Arts Commissions. Tradition/Innovation: American Masterpieces of Southern Craft and Traditional Art is the largest, most ambitious touring exhibition ever coordinated by SAF. These efforts began over three years ago. Each member state has selected one venue in the state to present the exhibition. For South Carolina, the Sumter County Gallery of Art (SCGA) is the venue (recommended by the SC Arts Commission).

You would think with three years in the planning, someone could have gotten the press release to us by our deadline. But I’m not sure this exhibit was planned that well in South Carolina, North Carolina, or most of the other states for that matter. For one thing, I know the Sumter County Gallery of Art had a different exhibit planned during this time-frame – just six months ago. I won’t tell you which artists got screwed due to this three years of planning, but I’m sure they will be compensated for this disruption. They took one for the team.

Here’s the schedule for this exhibit: March – May 2008, Atlanta History Center, Atlanta, GA; June – August 2008, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville, KY; October – January 2009, Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN; February – April 2009, Pensacola Museum of Art, Pensacola, FL; May – July 2009, Asheville Museum of Art, Asheville, NC; September – November 2009, Sumter County Gallery of Art, Sumter, SC; January-April 2010, Jule Collins Smith Museum Fine Art, Auburn Univ, Auburn, AL; July – October 2010, Louisiana Art & Science Museum, Baton Rouge, LA; and November – December 2010, Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, MS.

If you look at this list and know anything about these states or at least a few of them – some of the host sites for this exhibition were in big major cities, capital cities, centrally located cities, and some are in some unusual locations – at least as far as a lot of people getting to see the “major initiative to acquaint Americans with the best of their cultural and artistic legacy.”

Sumter, SC, may be centrally located but it is not a place where many people go to see art exhibits. The Sumter County Gallery of Art is a great facility and they put on some really great exhibits, but people – art gallery and art museum visitors don’t travel there that much to see art. Granted, these same people in SC don’t travel far from home to go anywhere in SC to go see art. In North Carolina, this exhibit was shown in Asheville. I doubt many people traveled from Wilmington or Raleigh to see this exhibit – perhaps if the show was shown in Oct. and Nov., but it was shown in May – July. In Florida, the exhibit was shown in Pensacola – about as far away from most of the population in that state.

The point is – there is no way hosting this exhibit in just one location in each state, no matter how centrally located would provide people an opportunity to see an exhibit that is meant to “acquaint Americans with the best of their cultural and artistic legacy”. If this is such a major initiative, why not take the time to schedule this so it could have been seen in several locations and in each state’s biggest art venues? What’s the hurry? After all, they say they took three years to plan the exhibit.

And, don’t forget, this exhibit is “an ambitious exhibition that is part of the American Masterpieces program of the National Endowment for the Arts”. A regional part of a national program by our country’s top arts organization.

The artists included in the exhibit from South Carolina are: Alice Ballard, Clay Burnette, Philip Simmons (1912-2009), and Henrietta Snype. The artists included in the exhibit from North Carolina are: Elizabeth Brim, Cynthia Bringle, Vernon Owens, Mark Peiser, Richard Ritter, Kristy Higby, Billie Ruth Sudduth, Enrique Vega, Carol Welch, and Virgil Ledford.

There are a couple artists listed who will make some reader’s eyes open wide, but overall – they are excellent artists who would make any exhibit worth seeing. Those couple of artists are not my problem with this exhibit – I accept the selection of artists for these kinds of shows for what it is and who does it. The problem is execution and followthrough.

Like I said we didn’t receive this press release about this exhibit that starts on Sept. 10, 2009, until after the deadline for our Sept. ’09 issue of Carolina Arts – which was Aug. 12, 2009. But due to the importance of the exhibit I managed to make the change in our gallery listings in the back of the paper.

As of the posting of this blog entry – there is not one word about the exhibit on the SC Arts Commission’s website. I checked all places it might be hidden: Visual Arts Exhibit (just old news of exhibits over in Jan. 09), Works by SC Artists, Dates & Events, Press Room, and E-Publications. I even took the time to search the Arts Commission’s own events calendar – Art Daily – all 239 entries and not word about this exhibit and there were a lot of things listed taking place up to the end of this year and beyond.

But this is not new, the last show the Arts Commission did with the SAF didn’t get any publicity on the Arts Commission’s website until I pointed it out. And this is the group who presumes to instruct other arts organizations on how to do things.

Neither the Sumter County Gallery of Art or the Arts Commission placed this exhibit on Arts Daily. Remember – three years of planning and a major initiative. But I bet you it appears there very soon.

After searches on Google and Google News, the only item I found mentioning this exhibit in SC was posted on Nov. 6, 2007, on the State of SC’s Official Website for news, and it was an announcement of the selection of SC’s artists for this exhibit.

So with this kind of publicity – how are people even supposed to know about this exhibit – much less make an effort to go see it.

I’m giving it more publicity than they are and I didn’t receive any funding from the NEA or SAF to host this exhibit – but I can guarantee you that the Southern Arts Federation, SC Arts Commission and the Sumter County Gallery of Art did.

Now you can bet they will start beating the bushes for all the publicity they can muster after this hits the Internet and you can thank me for that – I’ve been down this road before. But we are less than three weeks away from the opening of this exhibit and I can tell you they are already too late for a lot of the publicity they should have had. And, we’re going into a very competitive time for publicity for the arts.

One last point – Harriett Green is the Director of Visual Arts at the SC Arts Commission.

Woodstock – 40 Years Ago This Weekend

Monday, August 17th, 2009

On July 20, I went down memory lane about man’s first steps on the moon. In order to do something as exciting – on our own scale – some high school friends of mine from back in Michigan decided to make a trip to Montreal, Canada. It was a big adventure for us. I also mentioned that during that same time frame Woodstock had taken place – about 100 miles south of Montreal. Timing and location is everything.

I’ve spent some of this weekend – after I finished my part of the Sept. 09 Carolina Arts – watching some of the 40th anniversary director’s cut of the movie Woodstock and some of the new documentary materials included about the making of the movie. Looking back it is still amazing that they pulled it all off – the concert and the movie.


It seemed like such a promising time for my generation and the future was ours to remake. Well, as some people ask today – “How’s that going for ya?”

Myself – I’m considerably disappointed – especially when I see people my age at townhall meetings across America acting like asses over health care reform. How can so many people be so uninformed about this issue. My only reasoning is talk radio – where most of these folks get their “facts”. I don’t know anyone who is happy with what they are paying for health insurance, but all of a sudden they think it is just fine the way it is. And, I’ve never heard so many references to Adolf Hitler. I’m ashamed for my generation and it was just a few months ago when I felt such pride in electing the first black man as President of our country.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think all is lost yet. I’m just waiting for my generation – the real Woodstock generation to wake up and take the lead on this issue. We have to stop letting a few “talking heads” whip a few screamers into hysteria over non-issues for TV cameras and YouTube.

Forty years ago we fought to end war, we fought for racial equality, we fought for women’s equality, we fought for a better society. Have we had amnesia for 40 years? It seems like we’re right back where we started.

As Joni Mitchell wrote 40 years ago in her song named Woodstock – we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Mitchell didn’t make it to Woodstock, her agent booked her on “The Dick Cavett Show” instead that weekend – she was at the time dating Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young who did play at Woodstock, and they made the song a big hit. She wasn’t there that weekend, but she captured the feeling of those four days on Max Yasgurs farm.

I came upon a child of god
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going
And this he told me
I’m going on down to yasgurs farm
I’m going to join in a rock-n-roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an get my soul free
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who I am
But you know life is for learning
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation
We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devils bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

If you haven’t seen the movie Woodstock lately – rent it or buy it and take the four hours to get back to the garden. If you can’t do that – at least download the song Woodstock on iTunes or where ever you get your music – either version by Joni Mitchell or CSNY will do. Just make sure you pay for the download – it’s cheap.

Chill out and think hard about where you want your health care to be in the next six months or the next decade of your life. If you want reform – stand up for it. If you’re happy with things the way they are – too bad – it going to get more expensive and more restricted – if we do nothing. So we have to do something – stop screaming and join the debate to come up with the best plan we can. It’s not a done deal yet – but we have to do something soon.

Of course Talk Radio geniuses can afford any kind of health care they want – the people who listen to them are making them rich. And, they just think of themselves as entertainers. I’d rather get my entertainment somewhere else.

SC Arts Commission Board Meets in Columbia, SC – Aug. 18, 2009 – Sort Of

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

A notice was posted on the State of South Carolina’s official press release site on Aug. 4, 2009 of an upcoming Board meeting at the SC Arts Commission in Columbia, SC. Well, it’s sort of a meeting – a one hour meeting via conference call.

The notice stated that: “Interested parties can attend the meeting at the S.C. Arts Commission, located at 1800 Gervais Street, Columbia.”

Sounds like an event not to be missed.

Makes me wonder what kind of event this is – a one hour meeting by conference call – what kind of work could they get done that way? – in one hour? Of course this could be one of those new fancy conference calls with video terminals so everyone can actually see each other and materials presented by the staff of the Arts Commission, but in these cost cutting days it’s hard to see how that is more cost effective than these people just driving to Columbia. But then that may call for a lunch and travel expenses for the Commission members. It’s probably just a lot of voices in the room. But I wonder how they know it’s really a Commissioner on the line? It could be me in that room.

I guess a one hour conference call is an easy way to rubber-stamp some new policies the staff worked up. At least that’s the way one board member described their duties to me – “we just yay or nay what the staff proposes”.

Who needs to travel to Columbia in this heat to do that?

Of course you have to ask yourself – what difference does it make anyway? Some artists and art groups in the State seem to be happy with the way things are going and the others – well they just don’t care – the Arts Commission never had an impact on their lives anyway so what’s the difference what they do? They don’t know what it would be like to have a state agency that really offered help – so they don’t know what they are missing. Too bad.

I mean it – it’s really too bad.

Juried Show Opportunity For NC and SC Visual Artists

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

During the month of October historic Atherton Mill, located in Charlotte, NC’s SouthEnd District, will host a month-long art event named Carolina’s Got Art!. Larry Elder, owner of Elder Gallery in Charlotte, has fashioned the exhibition after a long running annual art exhibit which was at one time sponsored by Springs Mills in SC. The juried show has since been discontinued but exciting memories still exist for those who participated. The eagerly anticipated “Springs Show” provided an opportunity for artists to compete for prize money and prestige. The objective of Carolina’s Got Art! is similar.

“Through Carolina’s Got Art! we hope to see the diversity of artwork being produced throughout the two Carolinas. Both states are rich in visual art history and have produced artists who have achieved national and international acclaim,” says Elder. A South Carolina artist recently reflected that his participation in the “Springs Show” was instrumental in one of his paintings being included in the Guggenheim Museum’s permanent collection. Acceptance into the exhibition will allow artists, both amateur and professional, to offer their work for sale, as well as evaluation by New York art critic, Brice Brown, who will serve as juror. The main goal of the event is to generate a spark of excitement within the visual arts community that has suffered due to the economic downturn.

“Our hope is that Carolina’s Got Art! will be the first of many 21st century visual art exhibitions to showcase the vast amount of talent being created in the two Carolinas. Now is a great time for residents and businesses of the Carolinas to step up and offer a strong show of support for the visual arts,” says Elder. Submissions for the exhibition can be made via ( Deadline for entries is September 1, 2009.

The Juror: Brice Brown received his BA from Dartmouth College and his MFA from Pratt Institute. His work has been reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America and The Village Voice, among others, and is in numerous public collections such as Baltimore Museum of Art, The Speed Art museum, and Yale University. As a writer and art critic, he has been a regular contributor to The New York Sun, and The New York Press, and has written numerous exhibition catalogue essays. He also publishes and edits an annual arts journal called The Sienese Shredder.

Carolina’s Got Art! will take place from Oct. 2 – 30, 2009 at Atherton Mills, 2000 South Boulevard in Charlotte.

Round One: All work submitted as per the terms of the Entry Instructions will be viewed by the exhibition juror with assistance from Elder Gallery. All best efforts will be made to keep judging impartial and fair. Our goal is to select an exhibition that is broad in scope and reflects the very best quality of work submitted.

Round Two: New York art critic and writer, Brice Brown, will select prize winners from the exhibition.

Round Three:  Elder Gallery will select up to fifty pieces to be included in its November, 2009 exhibition.

Show awards include:
Best in Show – $2,500; First Place – $2,000; Second Place -$1,500; Third Place – $1,000; and Honorable Mention(s) – $500 gift certificate from Williamsburg Oil Paints and $500 gift certificate from Campania Fine Moulding.

For further info contact Larry Elder at 704/370-6337 or e-mail to (

P.S. To read some of the buzz this juried show is generating check out theCharlotte Observer article about Carolina’s Got Art!.

When You Can’t Be Everywhere – Look For Help From Others

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

This month during my normal deliveries of Carolina Arts I had hoped to make a visit to the Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Sailsbury, NC, to see an exhibit of sculptures by Spartanburg, SC, artist, Doug McAbee – a friend of Carolina Arts. I had downloaded maps of Sailsbury (the Waterworks had changed location since I last visited) pinpointed some other gallery spaces in that town, checked and double-checked my digital camera, but my best laid plans were all for nothing.

This was the fourth day of my delivery trip and by the time I finished my last drop in Davidson and crossed over to I-85 and drove up to Lexington and crossed over to Hwy. 64 to Asheboro and then did my delivery in Seagrove – it was going to be four more hours before the doors opened at the Waterworks Visual Arts Center. I was tired and still had a five hour drive back home from Seagrove and going back to Sailsbury would add another two hours back and forth plus the time spent at the arts center. I hated to do it but I bailed on my plans.

I could have delayed my departure time for that day’s delivery, but if you’re not in and out of Charlotte by certain times – you are in for a day of driving on highways that are more like parking lots.

My next shot at catching McAbee’s works will be at the Upstairs Artspace in Tryon, NC, where he will have works in a group show entitled, Child: Being and Remembering, on view from Sept. 11 through Oct. 24, 2009, but in the meantime…

I discovered that someone – much better at reviewing exhibitions had gone to Sailsbury for me. Well, not for me, but for The Winston-Salem Journal. Tom Patterson is one of the best art writers and reviewers left in the Carolinas and he went to see the exhibits at the Waterworks Visual Arts Center and them wrote about them – including the works of Doug McAbee.

I don’t like to make it a habit of taking items from other newspapers, but I’m doing it today and give them full credit for their work and urge you to visit that paper and view the arts reporting Patterson offers at this link.

Here’s the article:

By Tom Patterson Local Columnist
Published: July 26, 2009 in The Winston-Salem Journal and

SALISBURY — Thanks to its consistently varied, generally high-quality exhibitions program, the Waterworks Visual Arts Center continues to distinguish itself among nonprofit visual-art venues in North Carolina’s smaller cities and towns.

The center’s current round of exhibitions, assigned the broadly ambiguous collective title “Color,” spans a typically broad thematic and stylistic spectrum. These shows are on view through Aug. 22, and they’re worth a visit to Salisbury, thanks especially to two of them — a duo exhibition by Charlotte artist Barbara Schreiber and Doug McAbee, a sculptor from Spartanburg, S.C.; and a solo show by Winston-Salem ceramist Sharif Bey.

Schreiber’s and McAbee’s exhibit is tagged with the seemingly self-deprecatory title “Shared Delusions.” In the case of Schreiber’s work, that title alludes primarily to societal delusions about childhood innocence and the influence of mass media. She is represented here by nine different series of narrative-based acrylic drawings (occasionally with silkscreen-printed components) in a cleanly linear style highlighted by bold colors.

In both style and content these works are reminiscent of children’s-book illustrations, and the figures in most of them are solitary children or cutely stylized cartoon animals — kittens, bunny rabbits, teddy bears or birds. Despite visual cues that emphasize protected innocence and insulation from painful realities, a close look at these images reveals their concern with the toughest problems of the adult world — war, poverty, unemployment, extremist violence and everyday stress. This clash of realities — childhood naivete vs. grown-up horrors — provides the thematic foundation for most of Schreiber’s work.

In her “Babydreams” series, a sleeping infant dreams about a terrorist bomb, a mob of torch-wielding teddy bears, a violent car accident and a kitten drowning in quicksand. Each of the girls in her “In a Dark Room” and “What We Learned Today” series are stretched out on the floor of a domestic living room containing a television, generic furniture and a few other objects. The key details in these drawings are the tiny images on the TV sets (a mushroom cloud, the chalk outline of a sidewalk shooting victim’s body) and the objects the children are playing with or holding (a bomb, a martini glass, pills).

A highlight of Schreiber’s show that occupies its own distinctive thematic niche is a sequential series of eight drawings about commercial airline disasters and flight phobias, titled “Final Boarding/The View from 1-A.” For each drawing she has adopted the position of a commercial airline passenger peering out the window alongside a plane’s foremost window seat. In the first five drawings the airplane window frames images of passengers in an entrance-ramp corridor as they prepare to board. But the last three views indicate that something has gone badly wrong, as they show the corridor respectively swarming with headless insects, filled with several feet of water containing a shark and other carnivorous fish, and traversed by a scythe-toting grim reaper.

Sharing a small gallery with Schreiber’s work are eight of McAbee’s painted steel sculptures, whose bright palette recalls plastic children’s toys visually echoes some of the bolder colors in Schreiber’s drawings. Although they’re predominantly abstract, these slick-surfaced sculptures incorporate clear allusions to the human figure in the form of components resembling spindly arms and legs, eyeless heads and, in one case, a giant-size pair of blue, horn-rimmed glasses. These figural components are fused in some pieces with references to architectural forms or industrially manufactured objects. Collectively and individually they convey an impression of cartoonish whimsy, making them likely to be a hit with children.

Occupying an adjacent gallery at the Waterworks are 23 “New Works” by Bey, a ceramic sculptor and assistant professor of art education at Winston-Salem State University. About half of the show consists of functional vessels characterized by striking geometric patterns and designs that reference African art and textile design. The other half is made up of works that extend Bey’s continuing investigation of ceramic beads as a sculptural form and conceptual vehicle. As in other such pieces he has shown in the past two or three years, the hand-crafted clay beads are significantly oversized, and the wearable necklaces they form double as commentaries on social issues involving black identity.

Several of Bey’s clay-beaded necklaces play on the contrast between black-power-era fashions and current hip-hop styles in order to critically engage the conflicting values underlying that contrast. These pieces reference both the traditional African beads often worn by Afro-coiffed black men and women 40 years ago and the gaudy, lavishly priced “bling” jewelry favored by many contemporary hip-hop artists and their fans. The big clocks that served as popular hip-hop fashion accessories a few years ago — typically worn like amulets on pricey gold or silver neck chains — serve as models for large ceramic discs on the beaded necklace pieces in Bey’s “Flav Clock Series,” as well as his smaller necklace titled Mostly White Hero Clock With Minority Modern Master Supplements. The face of its central clock is emblazoned with a photo-transfer close-up of Picasso’s face, while its smaller beads bear photo-transfer portraits of lesser-acclaimed black or Hispanic artists.

Running concurrently at the Waterworks are a duo exhibition by painters Whitney Peckman and Marge Loudon Moody; a small selection of outdoor metal pieces by Winston-Salem sculptor Don Green; and a small selection of lively, promisingly imaginative paintings and drawings by Hannah Thompson, a Rowan County high-school student who recently received a $1,000 “Dare to Imagine” award from the Waterworks.

Works by Barbara Schreiber, Doug McAbee, Sharif Bey, Whitney Peckman, Marge Loudon Moody, Don Green and Hannah Thompson are on view through Aug. 22 at the Waterworks Visual Arts Center, 123 E. Liberty St., Salisbury. For more information, call 704-636-1882.

A Carolina Potter Needs Your Help!

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

I was going through my normal blog list this morning and there was a lot of news there today about all kinds of subjects and I ran across a notice of a benefit to help a potter, Liz Zlot Summerfield, on Michael Kline’s blog. Kline was passing along info he had received from Lindsay Rogers who was organizing this benefit to help a fellow potter in need. I hope all the links work and if not you may have to do a little searching to find things but here it is.

From Lindsay Rogers website:

Liz Zlot Summerfield Benefit

I am writing to announce a benefit auction to assist my friend, and fellow ceramic artist, Liz Zlot Summerfield. In April of this year Liz was diagnosed with a type of cancer called non-hodgkins Lymphoma. When she got the news of her cancer all studio work for Liz and her husband, glass blower Scott Summerfield, stopped. For most artists a halt to work, combined with illness and bills, is a hardship too large to manage alone. Like most plans, our ideas for this benefit started out small and have since bloomed in to something that I believe will be a wonderful, fun and supportive event. With all that said, there are several ways that you can participate!

1) Attend the live auction at Penland or visit the online sale as a buyer!

The live auction is August 16, 2009, in the Northlight Building at Penland School of Crafts. Doors will open at 1:00pm at which point there will be light refreshments, Bandana Klezmer will provide fabulous entertainment and visitors will have a chance to take a good look at the work available in the live and silent auctions. The live auction of work will begin at 2:00pm and is expected to last around an hour or so. At the end of the auction visitors can pick up and pay for their pieces knowing that 100% of the proceeds will go to helping Liz, Scott and their young daughter, Roby, get through this really hard time.

The online sale will be held on and will begin September 1st. I will post more information about the online auction (including the web address) as we get closer to the date.

2) Help us find more buyers by sending out an email of the postcard. You can access an image of the postcard in jpeg or pdf format by clicking the following links to the right.

3) You can make a monetary donation to a PayPal account created for Liz’s benefit. By clicking on the donate button at ( to the right/above, or using this link below, you can be assured that all donations will go quickly, safely and directly to Liz.

The link to this account is: (

Thank you so much for your generosity!

Starving Visual Artists and Galleries in SC Offered Opportunity

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Just when visual artists and art galleries in South Carolina thought it couldn’t get any worst – along comes the SC Arts Commission with a great opportunity – an opportunity to help whom?

In my recent travels I was handed a letter which someone received from the SC Arts Commission about an opportunity to rent a booth at the upcoming American Institute of Architects South Atlantic Region (SAR) Conference to be held at the Carolina First Center in Greenville, SC, from Sept. 30 – Oct. 4, 2009. This conference will host architects from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia with over 1000 attendees expected.

The letter states, “SAR is offering to artists and commercial galleries the opportunity to exhibit and sell their work in the exhibit hall. Booths are limited and are on a first-come, first-served basis. The special booth rate/registration for artists and commercial galleries is $277.00 per person. The cost for additional registrants is $189.00. The rate includes meals (snacks, breakfast and lunch, only, booth rental, one chair, one table, booth signage and carpeting).”

The letter also suggest checking their website ( for further info. Good thing I did – and I hope others did too before jumping on this opportunity.

Here’s what the website gave as registration cost breakdown.
The total cost $277 of registration for one person  includes:
$30 Wed. Exhibitor reception (food)
$20 Thur. Breakfast (food)
$14 Thur. Breaks (food)
$30 Thur. Lunch (food)
$30 Thur. Reception (food)
$20 Fri. Breakfast (food)
$30 Fri. Lunch (food)
$14 Fri. Breaks (food)
$21 Booth Cost
$19 One Table in Booth
$1   Chair
$8   Booth Sign
$40 Carpet in Booth

That’s $188 for food for three days. That’s $62 a day for food and it doesn’t include any dinners – $94 for Thursday alone. That’s some good eating for an artist who hasn’t been doing so well in this economic downturn – a real luxury.

Out of the $89 which actually is dealing with the booth – $40 is for carpeting? Of course this isn’t being offered ala cart. There is just one fee and it’s take it all or leave it.

I know some people would think this is a great opportunity to have access to 1000 architects, but is it? Did I miss the news about the building boom going on in these three states? And, I guess all these architects and their firms don’t already have connections with artists and art galleries in their own home areas. Plus, do you think these people don’t have meetings, lectures and workshops to attend and they are just going to be going from booth to booth to do some shopping for art?

Is the $277 plus travel, lodging and other expenses worth this “rare” opportunity? If you think it is – there you go. Thank you Arts Commission for the opportunity.

And, I’m sure some will do it and may have great stories to tell of this opportunity. But if money is as hard to come by for you as it is for me these days – is this really an opportunity for me or anyone to help the American Institute of Architects pay for their conference or more profit for the Carolina First Center?

Why now is the SC Arts Commission sending out letters to offer opportunities for commercial galleries? Is this the kind of help we should expect? There are a lot of ways to look at this.

First, how do you think the Greenville visual art community feels when they have such a juicy conference taking place in their town – during one of their First Friday art walk events – where those 1000 architects could be visiting their galleries and studios – free that evening? Thanks, Arts Commission!

Is this the kind of padded registration fees you would expect at other opportunities you would participate in as an artist or gallery owner? That’s $188 for partial food cost and $40 for carpeting.

Did the SC  Arts Commission know this was the breakdown of the registration fee? Did they care to check out the website for details? Do they think this is really what visual artists and art galleries need right now?

My question is should it cost $277 to have access to architects and their firms in these three states? Shouldn’t they have access to some sort of state-wide art registry that they can scan through when they need art. Is there not one at the SC Arts Commission?

Or, is this their way of saying the registry doesn’t work and you need to pay to have access to these people. Access you could get just as well on the internet or by e-mail with a little hard work. Time is money, but in this case your time may be in more supply than demand.

I don’t know about you but I’m not spending $62 a day on meals for me or my whole family. I couldn’t justify $40 for whatever kind of carpeting they could be supplying. And, I would expect more from the SC Arts Commission in the way of help – if I expected anything at all.

What would have been a real opportunity is for the SC Arts Commission to have made a deal where artists and galleries could participate for just the booth fees – not all the extravagant extras.

But then – that’s me. How about you?

I know one thing – I’d like to have the carpet rental contract at the Carolina First Center in Greenville, SC.