Archive for December, 2009

End Of The Year 2009 – Looking Back & Forwards

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Here’s the start of last year’s comments about how bad a year 2008 turned out to be.

End Of The Year – Looking Back & Forwards
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 – hopefully bringing 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.

You can see the entire posting at this link.

Man, except for the $4 gas and the election – there wasn’t a lot of progress made last year – in fact – it even got worse. That can’t happen again this year – can it? I hope not!

If you go back and read all of my Looking Forward, you’ll find that I had hoped to be adding Podcasts to the website about the visual art community – that didn’t happen. I guess I’m lucky I’m writing about this year – as if we survived and I guess we did. (We – meaning the collective Carolina Arts family.)

So looking ahead to next year, 2010, I think we’ll still be in survival mode, so I won’t even bother to mention any hopes of what new we might be adding (except for more advertising) – some people might be keeping score.

But I guess survival isn’t so bad, as so many didn’t make it over the last year and a half. A lot of commercial galleries have closed and some are just waiting for leases to end – if they can do that. Many just disappear between the time I dropped off papers one month and the time I returned the following month. There’s no note left on the door – just an empty space where there once was an art gallery. I guess people should remember that image when thinking of the glamor of owning an art gallery. It’s a hard business even in good economic years.

For one thing – I hope more people – individual artists, commercial art galleries, non-profit art galleries, art museums, arts councils, artist’s guilds or anyone buys more advertising in 2010 and I hate to add this point, but it is relevant – I hope those who buy ads – pay for them. It’s a big problem we’ve been having.

And now that I’ve mentioned advertising – we’re going to be adding display advertising to our website – inactive and active – meaning some will just be a picture ad and some will be a picture ad that can be clicked to be taken to another place. That could be to images of more artworks, a website, a blog, or an article about an event.

We need to open our fairly large (all things are relative) online audience up to advertising opportunities. A lot of folks are wondering why we haven’t already done that long ago – beyond ads from Google, but you have to remember – we’re preparing a printed newspaper every month besides our online offerings and there are only two of us.

So here’s hoping we all have a better, much better 2010.

Going Deep Down the Mine Shaft to Extract Info About SC Arts Commission Activities

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

I guess in South Carolina you can’t be critical of a State Agency like the SC Arts Commission without being cut off from the flow of information as to what they are doing on a regular basis.

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Yes, I’ve been critical and yes, they have taken Carolina Arts off the list of media they send press releases to, but unless they decide to stop sending press release to anyone – I’ll still find them or someone will copy me – eventually. It’s a sad case, but normal operating procedure for the Arts Commission. You’re right with them or left out. That goes for the media, other art organizations and individual artists.

Information is critical in the arts and if you’re not playing ball the way some folks like – the flow of information is cut off or diverted to put you one step behind those who are informed first – even before the public knows what’s available. It’s nice to be on someone’s speed dial at the Arts Commission. I’m not.

When it comes to the visual arts, I don’t know if it’s Harriett Green, Visual Arts Director; Milly Hough, Communications Director; Ken May, Acting Executive Director; or Charles T. “Bud” Ferillo, Jr., the new Chair of the Commission Board – but someone doesn’t want me to know what’s going on in fear that I will criticize it – under the theory that – what you don’t know – you can’t criticize.

But I can tell you this – that policy isn’t working.

Sure, it’s been awhile since my last critical posting on the Arts Commission, but that’s not because of their – “don’t tell policy”, it’s because they haven’t been doing much – at least much to talk about. They, like the rest of us, are spending more time than they would like budget cutting, but in their case it’s usually funding to others that gets cut instead of their own overhead.

But who is this hurting – me? or the folks they partner with?

We received no press release about the exhibitions being presented at 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, SC, offering works from the Commission’s State Art Collection. We had to go mining for that info from third party sources – not 701 Center for Contemporary Art. No one there seems to know how to distribute info either. Funny thing – we seem to be able to be sent info about their paid events.

So here again, I find a press release about an exhibit involving the State Art Collection that was not sent to us.

The above rant is what I prepared after finding this press release, but I had also sent an e-mail to Charles T. “Bud” Ferillo, Jr asking him if this is the way the Arts Commission was going to be acting under his new leadership. As usual I expected no reply, but you know what? I got a surprise.

Ferillo answered my e-mail within hours asking for time to check this situation out with the Arts Commission and within the day he responded that I would be sent the press release when it goes out the first week in Jan. (That’s a whole other problem altogether, but we’ll deal with that at another time.) I thanked him for his quick response and told him I hoped this was a sign of change between our muddied relationship. (Second positive thing I’ve said about the Arts Commission in a month.) Not that we have a relationship with the Arts Commission, but I’ll look forward to the information tap to be flowing my way again and to you readers from us – if that’s what is taking place.

Here’s the press release I found on the Arts Commission’s website, apparently not planned for distribution to the public until the first week in Jan. Why so late before the event starts? Don’t know, but I know it’s going to miss a lot of deadlines for monthly and quarterly publications. Maybe not the daily and weekly publications, but many others.

Belton Center for the Arts in Belton, SC, Features Works by African-American Artists from State Art Collection

The Belton Center for the Arts in Belton, SC, will present the exhibit, The African-American Voice, featuring works by African-American artists who are among the state’s best-known and widely celebrated practitioners, on view from Jan. 16 through Feb. 26, 2010.

Coordinated by Harriett Green, visual arts director at the South Carolina Arts Commission, the exhibition includes 32 pieces of artwork in all media from the State Art Collection. The pieces are by 21 African-American artists who range from self-taught, outsider artists like Sam Doyle, Leroy Marshall and Dan Robert Miller, to academically trained artists with established careers such as Leo Twiggs, Arthur Rose and Tarleton Blackwell.

“A number of these artists are legendary as arts educators as well as artists. Their influences and contributions extend beyond image and object making,” said Green, who sees the show as an opportunity for area residents to learn more about the contribution of African-American artists in South Carolina.

The Belton Center for the Arts is hosting the exhibition in conjunction with the Anderson International Festival taking place in Anderson County, SC, from Jan. 15 – 31, 2010. “The African-American Voice traveling exhibition is a great addition to the activities we have planned for Anderson County,” said Betsy Chapman, executive director of the Belton Center for the Arts.

The State Art Collection is considered the most comprehensive public collection of works by contemporary South Carolina artists. Established in 1967 as one of the first programs of the South Carolina Arts Commission, the State Art Collection has grown to include 448 works in a variety of media and styles by 277 South Carolina contemporary artists. Small exhibitions featuring work from the collection are organized on a regular basis for rural and isolated areas inside and outside of the state. Works from the State Art Collection are available for loan to art museums, state agencies, and public and private organizations for the purpose of public exhibition or public display. The collection is supported in part by the South Carolina Arts Foundation and Kahn Development Company.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call Betsy Chapman at 864/338-8556 or visit (http://www.beltonsc.com/arts.htm).

Here’s some extra info.

The Anderson International Festival (AIF) is an organization of art, cultural, and civic groups dedicated to presenting an educational and entertaining biennial festival which celebrates the cultural traditions from around the world that have helped shape our local community. Each festival highlights a different area of the world.

The AIF is pleased to present West African Journeys, a celebration of West African culture and its contribution to life here in South Carolina, from Jan. 15 – 31, 2010.

Blogger’s Note: Good luck in mining for information about this festival – the website is one of the least informative I have come across – of course it’s still early – more info could be added later. The calendar of events they offer involves clicking every date from the 15 – 31 to see if anything is going on and then you may have to click again to go to another website for further info. It’s not very user friendly or inviting to people who might find out about this festival.

Happy Holidays to All

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

I say Happy Holidays – not to be politically correct, but because although we will be celebrating Christmas and New Years, many others will be celebrating other holidays.

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Linda and I hope you and yours will be having a good one. We’ll get back to the art world after a few days – after all, I have our Jan. 2010 issue ofCarolina Arts to deliver.

Here’s hoping Santa brings us all something good and if you get what you wished for – I hope you’re happy with that. I guess that’s why they say to be careful what you wish for.

Columbia College in Columbia, SC, Offers Works by SC Art Teachers

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Here is another late arriving press releases to Carolina Arts on a subject that does not often get much attention – art teachers – not university art professors. These are the folks who teach young students or beginning artists. This is the 4th annual invitational hosted by Columbia College. I don’t know of any other institution in SC showcasing these artists/teachers – off hand.

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Now the Arts Council of Henderson County will present the exhibit, Art Teachers Create, in the D. Samuel Neill Gallery, in downtown Hendersonville, NC, from Feb. 5 through Mar. 6, 2010. This is the first show of a three-exhibition thematic unit titled, Mentors and Teachers, focusing on the art of Henderson County students and those who teach them, but it’s not a statewide focus on art teachers.

Three cheers for Columbia College and three cheers for the teachers who foster the next crop of folks who want to grow up to be artists instead of something else.

Here’s the press release.

Columbia College in Columbia, SC, will present the exhibit, 4th Annual South Carolina Art Teachers Invitational Exhibition, on view in the Goodall Gallery from Jan. 6 through Feb. 7, 2010.
The group exhibition features ten South Carolina art educators covering a wide variety of media and content. Two of the featured artists are Columbia College alumnae.

This annual exhibition highlights art educators who actively pursue their own artistic endeavors, and showcases their efforts.  Artists this year include: Tarleton Blackwell, Manning High School; Sharon Campbell, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities; Katy Cassell, Fine Arts Center of Greenville County; MacArthur Goodwin, Spartanburg High School (retired) and former president of the National Art Education Association; Hayley Gravlee (Columbia College 2006), Sue Cleveland Elementary School; Marion Mason, White Knoll High School; Michel McNinch, Independent/Private Art Instructor; Mary Beth Kennedy Owen (Columbia College 1992); Katherine Perry, Ridgeview High School; and Melinda Rogers, Busbee Middle School. A wide variety of media will be shown including sculpture, mixed media, drawing, photography, and painting.

It goes without saying that within every art teacher there is an artist. While working hard as educators, these individuals also remain practicing artists who seek inspiration for their creative process as well as their teaching methods. As talented students rise through art education toward careers, art teachers guide and nurture their development. South Carolina boasts a wide range of public and private art programs with dedicated instructors for young artists from every age level and background. This exhibition is an opportunity to view art instructors as their artistic self while appreciating their role and impact as educators.

The Columbia College Goodall Gallery is located in the Spears Music and Art Center in downtown Columbia on North Main Street, 1301 Columbia College Drive.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings or call 803/786-3899.

PS – Works by Tarleton Blackwell are also on view at the City Art Gallery in Columbia, SC, from Jan. 12 through Feb. 20, 2010.

Another Art Book Selection – Christopher Rico’s The Forest and the Sea

Monday, December 21st, 2009

During the holidays some people give books as gifts – table top books – the big books that cover some subject in a special way. Art books are often a choice. Of course art books are good for any time. And, in the last week or two I’ve mentioned the book, Brian Rutenberg: The Sensation of Place, the first ever major monograph on the artist’s paintings and drawings. The book is available now at the Gibbes Museum Store in Charleston, SC, and at Jerald Melberg Gallery in Charlotte, NC. Actually, I’m sure it’s available at Amazon.com or any other major book store.

Well, there is another book available about a Carolina artist – Christopher Rico from Clinton, SC – it’s The Forest and the Sea. This monograph chronicles the work of Rico during the first half of 2009. It focuses on a 24-hour installation of 11 paintings in an active construction site and is supported by a short film. The book also includes several short essays, a lengthy interview and dozens of photographs as well as blog excerpts from the artist’s studio blog. It is available at this link and I think from the artist at his website.

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I made a blog entry about this installation, as I was there for part of it. I even took part in the production of the movie – I swept the path clear for a dolly and pushed and pulled that dolly a few times. I won’t be getting any work soon in Hollywood or even Bollywood, but it was interesting and fun being part of the production. You can find that entry at this link.

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Christopher Rico writes one of the Carolina art blogs that I keep up with on a regular basis or as best I can. His blog is called Machinations of a Distracted Mind and he also has a website at (http://christopherrico.com/). I get some pretty good insights there on the life of an artist living in a small town in the Carolinas. It’s not uplifting at times as the reality is – it’s darn hard to make a living as an artist, much less in a small town in the South or just about anywhere.

Rico is scheduled to have an exhibit at the Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery, one of my favorite exhibit spaces in Charleston, SC, in April 2010. I’m looking forward to seeing his works hanging there.

But, if you’re looking for a last minute gift for the holidays or just an interesting art book – you might want to consider The Forest and the Sea.

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Check out his work on his blog and website – if you like what you see – you may find the book an interesting addition to your art book collection. You might even find some work you want to buy. Rico won’t be opposed to anyone doing that – especially this time of the year.

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

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

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

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

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

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

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Lower Church Street, Morning Light by Mary Whyte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riverworks Gallery in Greenville, SC, Features Works by Tracie Easler – Jan. 8 – Feb. 28, 2010

Friday, December 18th, 2009

As usual we received several press releases about exhibits starting in January – after our deadline. We can’t reward all the stragglers, but occasionally we single out one or two for exposure here. It’s not that they’re all not interesting, but some just stand out more than others and after all – all we receive by deadline for the web version of Carolina Arts will be posted on Carolina Arts Online – on the first of the month.

That’s right, we produce two really different publications every month – one the physical printed paper and another online version which includes much more info than can be found in the printed version. The ratio of advertising to printer cost vs. unlimited space on the Internet, for much less money, is the reason for these two publications. It’s not like we wouldn’t want to produce one big color publication covering everything – we just can’t afford it without the help of advertisers and since we’ll never be able to receive any government support for doing what we do – it’s the reality of our life. Oh well.

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These small gallery spaces located at Art Crossing on the Reedy River in downtown Greenville are an interesting concept which I wish more cities or developments offered to their local visual art communities. The Reedy River area in Greenville is interesting enough on its own, but the galleries add an extra touch of class – many cities in SC and the Carolinas could use.

Here’s the press release.

Riverworks Gallery, located at Suite 202 at Art Crossing on the Reedy River in downtown Greenville, SC, will present the exhibit, Carolina Cowboy, Photographs by Tracie Easler, on view from Jan. 8 – Feb. 28, 2010. The exhibition is sponsored by the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at the Greenville Technical College/Greer Campus.

Easler’s riveting photographic portraits document the cultural anomaly of the South Carolina cowboy. The Carolina Cowboy series is a collection of environmental portraits produced using processes from the 19th and the 21st centuries. The images are intended to serve as a reflection of the lifestyle of each individual. Easler utilizes both 35mm digital and 4×5 large format film cameras to make the portraits. The images are presented utilizing the antique process of platinum/palladium and the modern technique of archival inkjet printing. “Photography fuels my personal expression in ways that words cannot,” say Easler.

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In addition to being enrolled as a photography student in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Greenville Technical College, Easler is the mother of three children under fourteen, a wife, a homemaker, a ranch hand, a gardener and a cook. She is also a rodeo promoter and a calf and team roper.

Easler was selected as the 2009 recipient of EMRYS Foundation grant, the Alice Conger Patterson Scholarship, from a group of over fifty applicants. The scholarship is designed to encourage South Carolina women to pursue continuing education or to develop a creative endeavor.

Riverworks Gallery is a small student art gallery operated by the faculty and students from the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Greenville Technical College.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings or call Blake Praytor at 864/848-2020 or e-mail to (blake.praytor@gvltec.edu).

A Day of Visual Arts in Charleston, SC, to See Works by Brian Rutenberg, Aldwyth, and More

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Well, the wintery weather continued on Saturday Dec. 12, 2009, so Linda and I traveled to downtown Charleston, SC, to see some exhibits that she and I did not have a chance to see when they first started. Our son decided to skip this trip – two days away from the XBox 360 and his computer was just too much.

Dec. 12 – that’s deadline day at Carolina Arts. How could we be away from our computers on that day? Well, unlike some of the people who wait until the last minute to send us their info – we had already processed all the info we had received and the 12th for us is usually a day of waiting for the 5pm deadline to come – checking e-mail every other hour. We decided our day would be better spent going to see some exhibits before it was too late. And, unfortunately, our Jan. 2010 issue was going to be smaller than issues in 2009. It woudn’t take that long to put together.

Our first stop was the Gibbes Museum of Art in downtown Charleston – after a few trips around the neighborhood looking for a parking space. We both were dying to see the exhibit, Brian Rutenberg: Tidesong, on view in the Gibbes’ Main Gallery through Jan. 10, 2010. There was no better day to go than one of the free admission Community Days, sponsored by the Junior League of Charleston. (Read an article about this exhibit at Carolina Arts at this link.)

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Fading #3

The place was packed with lots of children and parents as there were many school groups performing there that day and many art activities were being offered by the Gibbes – so I guess parents could view the exhibits, but I don’t think the children were letting their parents get too far away from viewing them – either performing or making art. Look mom – look dad – I’m making art! And, who knows, maybe one day that child will become an artist who has their work shown on the walls at the Gibbes. Look at Brian Rutenberg – I’m sure his parents made trips to the Gibbes from Myrtle Beach, SC. And, I’m sure he came to the Gibbes when he was a student at the College of Charleston. He may have wondered if his works would ever be shown there and here they are and man, the walls of the Gibbes come alive with his works – a few were thirteen feet wide. Not many artists can do justice to those walls in the Gibbes’ Main Gallery.

This exhibition was organized by the Jerald Melberg Gallery in Charlotte, NC, where they represent Rutenberg in the Carolinas, if not the Southeast. So, if you’re a fan of Rutenberg’s – that’s where you can see more of his work – that’s where you can buy his work. But, I’m sure if you see something in this exhibit you can’t live without and you’ve been a very good person this year and Santa has you on his A-list – the Gibbes can put you in touch with the gallery or you can just contact them. Here’s a link.

A lot of folks don’t know that works on display by most contemporary artists (meaning a living artist) in Museums can be purchased. As long as they are not already on loan by some owner or in a traveling exhibit, and even then, you can probably buy it – you just may have to wait a year or so before you can take it home.

While we were there gazing at one of the thirteen footers, Pavillion, 2008-09, one of the Gibbes staff members or volunteers came up to us and asked if we liked abstract art. A valid question, but in my mind I’m thinking – do I like abstract art – doesn’t she know who I am? Then when my bubble popped and I came back down to earth – I said yes – we like it a lot. And, of course the next logical question offered is do we know Brian Rutenberg’s work or are we familiar with his work? Again, my mind was spinning like crazy with witty replys, but just answered – yes we are. After a few more questions I introduced ourselves – avoided saying something funny.

A lot of folks don’t like or just don’t get abstract art, so these were questions worth asking to visitors – it gives the staff/volunteer an opportunity to educate the viewer or open them up to looking at the work with a new perspective. She was preachin’ to the choir when it came to us and she soon moved on. But these free Community Days attract a lot of folks who may have never paid to come to the Gibbes or don’t come that often – so it is a teaching opportunity. And, most folks wouldn’t expect that regular members of the Museum or the owners of an arts newspaper would come on a free day, but then they might not realize the poor state of newspaper publishing these days.

By now you might be thinking – when is he going to talk about the art? But again, like with the Ansel Adams’ photographs I talked about in my previous blog entry – I just don’t have the words to describe Rutenberg’s works. All I can say is, if you  have not seen his work before and you like abstract work – go see this exhibit. Even if you’re not a big fan of abstract work – here is an exhibit that could change your mind.

One interesting factor about going to see this exhibit on this particular day was getting to overhear some other people’s comments. One was about the dates on a few of the larger paintings which read (2008-09). They were wondering how long it took Rutenberg to do these works. For one thing Rutenberg works in oils – a slow drying medium. Some of these works had several inches of paint stacked up off the face of the canvas. So I’m sure with works that large and with that much paint on them, they had to be done over a period of time (maybe a year) – giving the layers of colors time to dry. He probably works on several of these large canvases at a time – going back and forth from one to the other. Usually at an exhibit’s reception or opening most of what you hear is about the food and drink and people wondering how much a painting cost and how someone who is listed as having a work on loan could afford it. You can hear conversation about just about anything else but art at a reception. I liked the conversations I was hearing bits and pieces of that day better. It was about the artwork and the artist.

Go see this exhibit, ask questions and listen to what other people are saying – there are no stupid questions in art. Well, sure there are, but we all have to be stupid at some point to learn something. I’m stupid all the time, but I’m getting less stupid all the time too.

If you want to learn more about Brian Rutenberg the Gibbes’ Museum Shop will sell you a copy of, Brian Rutenberg: The Sensation of Place, the first ever major monograph on the artist’s paintings and drawings. A copy was also sitting on a bench in the middle of the Main Gallery for visitors to look through.

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The book

OK, our next stop was at Nina Liu and Friends gallery in Charleston’s French Quarter, an area totally made up for marketing an art walk in Charleston. Nina Liu has an exhibit up called, Creatures Large and Small, on view through Jan. 31, 2010. This exhibit features paintings and ceramics by artists from around the country including works by Pat Benard, John Davis, Diane Gilbert, Jeff Kopish, Susie Miller Simon, Cynthia Tollefsrud, and  Aggie Zed.

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A work by Aggie Zed which may not be in the exhibit

We did more talking here than looking to write about, but if you’re into creatures, you couldn’t do better than the pieces by Aggie Zed. And, for fans of Cynthia Tollefsrud, there were a couple of small paintings there that won’t be available for long – that is if you’re looking to buy – her works sells fast. Plus there are lots of other interesting works in the exhibit, besides all the usual items carried there.

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A work by Cynthis Tollefsrud which may not be in the exhibit

Nina Liu was supposed to be long gone from Charleston by now, she was planning to sell her gallery/home and move down to her new home in Merida, Mexico – of course that was before the real estate market fell apart. She was slowly closing down the gallery operation and then had to start it back up again. If someone wanted to open a gallery in Charleston’s gallery district with a home to live in too – this is a great opportunity. For details by interested parties call 843/722-2724.

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A work by Aggie Zed which may not be in the exhibit

So for all the folks who may have heard last year that Nina Liu and Friends was closing – she’s still open and the gallery is full of all the same interesting work you have always come to expect. But, she won’t mind selling tomorrow if a buyer should come forth, but until then – it’s business as usual.

Last stop on our art tour was the new Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, at The Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts, at the College of Charleston. The first exhibit presented is, Aldwyth: work v. / work n. Collage and Assemblage, 1991-2009, on view through Jan. 9, 2010. This is the first of many events celebrating the School of the Arts’ 20th Anniversary, and it’s the inaugural event in the new building. (You can read an article about this exhibit at this link.

The exhibit curated by Mark Sloan is exactly what we have come to expect from him – an exceptional display of unbelievable art created by someone who is driven to an extreme in their creativity – and on the funky side. And, that is exactly how I would describe the work made by the artist Aldwyth, a woman in her 70′s who lives on St. Helena Island, near Beaufort, SC.

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Casablanca (classic version), 2003—6, collage on Okarawa paper with silk tissue, 78.5″ x 71″*

Carolina Arts first reported on this exhibit when it was at the Ackland Art Museum at UNC – Chapel Hill, in Chapel Hill, NC.

Again, my words would fail to adequately describe this work, but the title says it all – Aldwyth: work v. / work n. Collage and Assemblage. Aldwyth’s creations are – whether large or small – elaborate collages of items assembled – lots of items – eyes, faces, tiny hands, numbers, you name it. The collages tell stories – some are plain to see and others are very deep – too deep for me to figure out.

It is hard to imagine how much time this artist spends searching through books, magazines, manuals – any printed materials looking for images of faces, eyes, objects, phrases – to cut out and assemble into one of her collages. The word work is definitely a verb to this artist.

The large wall collages are massive – filled with information for the eye and brain – almost information overload.

There were a series of cigar boxes which except for the shape of the box, Aldwyth had transformed into little worlds about a certain subject. Every inch of the box is covered with items from other purposes or functions to create another receptacle for a number of related or unrelated objects – it was hard to tell at times. You could spend hours trying to figure out each box.

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Cigar Box Encyclopedia-Letter G, 2000, collage, found objects, various sizes*

One room in the gallery was presented as an installation – a gathering of objects made of numerous other parts and pieces of other objects – all collages and assemblages of more found, cut out, or collected objects. You get the idea that this artist is not satisfied with anything – the way it is.

My overall impression was to just be overwhelmed as to how much time and thought this artist must spend on each of her creations. It’s not hard to believe that this exhibit was being produced over the last 18 years.

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A Walk in the Woods, 1990, things picked up while a visiting artist on Spring Island, SC, 8″ x 7″ x 7″*

I’m not usually a fan of assembly art. I tend to think of it as objects or piles of objects – new or found – as something put together by a person with no other real artistic talents, but in this case you just have to appreciate the artist’s efforts to get her message across – whether you get that message or not. I would consider her a master at her craft. I haven’t seen anything like it in my 20 plus years covering the visual art community in the Carolinas. That’s not saying much on a world scale, over the history of art, but I found it impressive and I’m not easily impressed. In bigger cities and other countries – artists like Aldwyth could be a dime a dozen, but I doubt it – or she wouldn’t have impressed Mark Sloan, who I’m sure has seen much more than I have.

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View of gallery*

No matter what your tastes in art are I would say this is a must see exhibit. In fact, I would say it’s probably a must see – several times exhibit. I hardly feel the time I spent looking at the works shows enough respect to the artist. It’s not as if I feel a responsibility to see all art artists create, but I hope to see this exhibit again. Like a complex movie – the second and third time you see it you pick up so much more information that you missed in the first viewing.

The new gallery space is larger than the old Halsey Gallery, with many new additions, including a reference library, a video viewing room, and all on one level. The reception hall is expansive and I’m sure it will be filled with each new exhibit. But, even on a dreary Saturday afternoon we had to drive around looking for a parking space and ended up a ways from the gallery, but that’s expected in Charleston. There are parking garages not too far down the street from the gallery in several directions.

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View of gallery space*

You can see more images of the gallery space and this exhibit at this link.

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art will be closed during the College of Charleston holiday break Dec. 26 – Jan. 2, 2010. If you miss it in Charleston, the exhibit will move on to Jepson Center @ The Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, GA, on view from Feb. 10 – May 17, 2010.

On Jan. 9, 2010, from 1-4pm, the College of Charleston’s School of the Arts will celebrate the grand opening of its new building the Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts, 161 Calhoun Street (Calhoun at St. Philip Street). The community is invited to explore all five floors of the $27.2 million building while enjoying sweets and mini-presentations of music, theatre, dance and other events. Guests will also enjoy the final day of an exhibition of works by Aldwyth, in the Halsey Institute. This esteemed artist will give a lecture at 2pm in the Recital Hall of the Simons Center for the Arts, adjacent to the new building.

*All photos of Aldwyth’s works were taken by Rick Rhodes and are courtesy of the artist and the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.

There was another exhibit up in the reception hall entitled, Illuminating Pages, part of a class project I guess, but it’s one of the problems at the College – they have a habit of not putting too much effort into publicizing internal exhibits – like student work. Just being at the Simons Center every month delivering papers I’ve seen many a student show which I’m sure most of the community was never aware of – offering some good work at times. They should put as much effort into letting people know about these shows as they do the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art exhibits. Like I said earlier, a former C of C art student, Brian Rutenberg, is now being featured at the Gibbes Museum of Art and all over this country. So, you never know who the next super stars of the art world will be.

Well, it was quite a couple of days of viewing art – quite a variety too, but it’s always enjoyable when that happens, as it doesn’t happen that often. When you do an arts newspaper it’s kind of like being a shoemaker – you don’t get to walk around so much.

A Trip to Columbia, SC, for One Special Gift and to See the Ansel Adams Exhibit

Monday, December 14th, 2009

On Friday, Dec. 11, 2009, the family made the two hour journey to Columbia, SC, to select a gift from One Eared Cow Glass. We have a trade agreement and we wanted to get something special, but at a reasonable price, for one Christmas gift. Of course we could have gotten a special gift of art just about anywhere in the Carolinas, but the word “trade” is key in this instance.

A trip to One Eared Cow Glass is always a delight, but getting three people to agree on a gift is always a challenge – and with so much to choose from – it can take awhile. I tend to spend more time watching the glass makers at work as I have a fast eye and it only takes me one trip around the gallery.

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On this day, Mark Woodham, Tom Lockart, Ryan Crabtree, and a  fourth person, whose name I forgot to get, were working on making 50 ornamental balls – during this time of year – Christmas ornaments. What a dance of movement – dipping in the vat of 2300 degrees F molten glass, spinning the rod, adding color crystals, remelting, blowing out the ball shape, spinning and more spinning, more blowing and bingo – another Christmas ornament – at least after it cools down.

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Who in Columbia won’t wake up to a handmade glass ornament from One Eared Cow Glass on Christmas morning? Maybe a few naughty folks. And, the really good folks will get maybe a glass bowl, a glass vase, or a colorful glass garden ornament.

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If you haven’t gotten your glass gifts there yet – don’t worry – they’re making more everyday, right up to Christmas. That is when they’re not making more videos for YouTube. The latest video is about the making of a lighted glass and copper sculpture commissioned by the Riverbanks Zoo’s Botanical Gardens in Columbia in memory of Margot Rochester. The new video can be found at this link.

After viewing the new video check out This Is How We Roll on the same page if you haven’t already seen it, but do not pay any attention to the one made by someone associated with the Columbia Museum of Art. There is nothing wrong with the video – it’s the soundtrack from Appalachia that kills me – as if this studio in the heart of Columbia’s Upscale Vista area (our Capital City) was in some hollow, back around the bend – up over that there hill. The Museum, or who ever put that thing up on YouTube needs to take it down – for the Museum’s image alone and for the guys at One Eared Cow Glass. I’m not saying I want to hear ballet music instead, but listen to the music on the videos One Eared Cow has made and that’s more like it. Maybe someone thought they were doing these folks a favor in producing this video, but they’d be doing a bigger favor by taking it down and hiding it somewhere.

Check out the metal sculpture of a deer by Greg Fitzpatrick. I’m told he is an artist who is working under the radar in Columbia, yet so busy with commissions that he doesn’t have to worry about people knowing who he is and about the wonderful works he creates. That’s a nice problem to have, but being in the media – I’m telling. Find out what you can about this guy – he’s a wizard with metal.

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metal sculpture by Greg Fitzpatrick

After all three of us finally made a decision on the gift, we were off to the Columbia Museum of Art to see the best Ansel Adams photographs – at least his favorites in the exhibit, Ansel Adams: Masterworks From the Collection of the Turtle Bay Exploration Center, Redding, CA, on view through Jan. 17, 2009.

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This collection of 47 gelatin silver prints by Ansel Adams (1902 -1984) represents a selection Adams made late in his life to serve as a representation of his life’s work and what he felt were his best images. Called “The Museum Set,” the full selection of 75 images reveals the importance Adams placed on the drama and splendor of natural environments. Included in Ansel Adams: Masterworks are many of Adams’ most famous and best-loved photographs that encompass the full scope of his work: elegant details of nature, architectural studies, portraits, and the breathtaking landscapes for which he is revered.

You can read an article about the exhibit at Carolina Arts Online at this link.

At one time in my life I wanted to be a photographer. At the time I couldn’t think of anything better to do than travel to some of our country’s most exotic natural landscapes and spend time trying to capture them in photographic images that would move folks to want to go see these places up close and personal – like Ansel Adams did. Adams was the man and he still is in many ways in my view.

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I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled to many of our western National Parks – pre-arts newspaper and its monthly deadlines. Nothing can replace the act of being there, but Adams’ photographs come darn close – even in black and white.

There is no use trying to describe the images presented. If I could write that well, I wouldn’t be doing this blog. You just have to go see the exhibit for yourself. And, this exhibit is an excellent opportunity to drag a friend with you who might not normally go to an art museum – as no one would not enjoy seeing these photographs.

The Museum Shop also has an excellent selection of Ansel Adams related items – great for holiday giving or for giving yourself – so you can have a little bit of Ansel Adams’ imagery with you on a daily basis.

We had a late lunch and headed back home arriving in time to still have some daylight left – although that Friday was one of the most wintery days in South Carolina – as was the whole weekend – wet, cold and gray. It was a perfect day for looking at glass and Ansel Adams photographs.

Oh yeah – what happened to my career as a nature photographer? Well, I came to Charleston and ran into a group of nature photographers who changed my mind – Tom Blagden, Jr., T.R. Richardson, John M. Moore, and Luke Platt. After hanging with them a few years and seeing the work they were producing made me think my future was in photo processing. But, that’s another story of a time long gone.

Charleston, SC, Artist, West Fraser, has People Looking in Trees for Paintings

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

I received this notice about an unusual fundraising project by West Fraser, an artist working in Charleston, SC. I’ve known Fraser for a long time, love his work, and have known that he sometimes sees things in the art world a little differently – like I do at times. Fraser is also one of the nine Commissioners of the SC Arts Commission – so don’t let it be said that I never have anything good to say about the SC Arts Commission. It’s good that Fraser is a Commissioner. (Is it getting cold – is that ice forming?) Our Dec. editions of Carolina Arts and Carolina Arts Online are already put to bed for 2009, so this blog is the only venue left for me to pass the info on to those who will be looking up in every tree they pass. If you find a West Fraser painting there – you’ll really have a wonderful gift, but a duty to follow through on. So start looking.

Charleston, SC: In the spirit of Christmas, gift giving and trimming the tree, renowned Southern representational painter West Fraser has announced that this December he has placed three paintings in trees. Fraser’s PAINTING IN A TREE project begun earlier in 2009 when he placed his first paintings in trees on Cumberland Island, GA.

Mr. Fraser’s has said of his PAINTING IN A TREE project:

“I give to a finder of a painting hanging in a tree, it though happens to have strings attached, literally. I ask you, the recipient, to give to a favorite charity, perhaps your local high school art program, artist organization, local museum or a talented artist in need. I hope that with my gift found, the discoverer will give as well, and perhaps encourage others to make random acts of giving and kindness. As a catalyst to perpetuate gift giving in the community I hope that my PAINTING IN A TREE project can make a difference.”

The first painting, a 6 x 8 inch oil on panel titled Dungeness Ruins, Cumberland Island, was recovered on Cumberland Island by Canadian sailors Mike and Barb Turney who were heading home to Nova Scotia from their summer sojourn in the Keys. The painting, now mounted on the bulkhead of their 42’ Ketch, Nelleke, prompted the couple to donate to the Cancer Society and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in their home town Halifax. The couple also passed through Charleston after making contact with the artist and met to share their story.

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West Fraser (center) with Barb and Mike Turney

Mr. Fraser has placed these “little jewel” paintings in public locations in three regions that are meaningful to him. Charleston’s French Quarter (Charleston, SC) has been his home for 25 years and is where his wife Helena has her gallery Helena Fox Fine Art. Palmetto Bluff’s Wilson Village (Bluffton, SC) is a new town located on the banks of the May River overlooking the waterways explored in his youth, which remains a place of inspiration for the artist. And lastly Cumberland Island, GA which has been a part of Mr. Fraser’s life since youth and still represents a place of inspiration and personal connection.

Be on the lookout for a PAINTING IN A TREE in these three locations. On the back of the painting there will be a personal message from the artist. Be ready to receive and to give this holiday season!

For further information about West Fraser or the PAINTING IN A TREE project, contact Helena Fox Fine Art in Charleston by calling 843/723-0073, e-mail at ( info@helenafoxfineart.com) or visit (www.helenafoxfineart.com).