Archive for January, 2011

Artisans of the South Carolina Tobacco Trail Accepting Applications for Membership

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

A guild for the artisans that live and create throughout the counties that lie along the South Carolina Tobacco Trail has formed the Artisans of the South Carolina Tobacco Trail. The Tobacco Trail runs through the counties of Horry, Darlington, Dillon, Marion, Williamsburg, Georgetown, and Florence.

ASCTT is now accepting applications for membership. If you are interested in becoming a juried member of the Artisans of the South Carolina Tobacco Trail, read the guidelines below.

All potential members are selected through a two-part jury process to ensure their craft is of a good standard. For the first stage, works will be reviewed by e-mailed jpeg photographs.  Five images should be e-mailed to ( on or before Mar. 26, 2011. These photos will then be distributed to the jury. Those meeting basic standards are then asked to present their work in person for the final jury stage. This will take place at Conway Glass Center in Conway, SC, on Apr. 8, 2011. Notification will be sent by e-mail within a week of jurying.

Accepted media for jury are: clay, drawing, fiber, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, natural materials, painting, paper, photography, sculpture, handmade books, and wood. Specialty foods made in the area will also be considered for jurying. The following forms of production are prohibited: crafts produced from commercial kits; commercial patterns, molds and forms; any item violating copyrights; plants (except Bonsai), polished rocks, decoupage and similar items;  hobby crafts, shell crafts, country crafts, decal crafts, silk or dried floral arrangements, mass-produced items, commercial re-sales. No work made from commercial stencils or prefabricated forms. No copies of masters, advertisements or widely distributed photos. Work produced in a class or workshop is not eligible to be juried or shown.

Applications for Membership can be obtained by calling or e-mailing Barbara Streeter at ( or 843/248-4527.

More information about the live jury phase and the exhibiting opportunity will be sent out when the jpeg images are received.

The mission of the Artisans of the South Carolina Tobacco Trail is to bring together artists, artisans, and retailers for the benefits of marketing, tourism, education, and shared resources.

The Artisans of the South Carolina Tobacco Trail promotes the tradition of fine visual arts and fine crafts. It serves the professional artists, craftspeople and retailers of the South Carolina Tobacco Trail area, and work representing the area. It is run by and for its members; volunteers do most of the work. A board of directors is elected from the membership.

Dedicated to excellence in craftsmanship, ASCTT promotes the career development of its members through marketing, by operating wholesale/retail shows, maintaining a website, and by publishing a newsletter and an annual brochure which will be placed at interstate welcome centers, local hotels, chambers of commerce, arts groups, etc.

Shows are known for their consistent high-quality standards. This is achieved by a comprehensive jury system for professional membership. The guild also serves as a liaison between its membership and other cultural and educational organizations within the state.

The Black Creek Arts Council of Darlington County made the formation of the Artisans of the South Carolina Tobacco Trail possible through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.

The exhibit, A Celebration of Many Talents: Artisans of the Cotton Trail & the Tobacco Trail, featuring works by members of the ASCTT are currently on view through Mar. 4, 2011, at The Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC.

Charleston Fine Art Dealers’ Association in Charleston, SC, Makes Major Donation to High School Art Programs in 2011

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

I had to learn this info on Linda’s (my better half) Facebook page. The info came all the way from California by Facebook connections back in Charleston. My press release is probably still in the mail, but we won’t make you wait for this news and a little commentary.

It’s kind of timely news. Our new governor of SC has vowed to cut the budget of the SC Arts Commission – completely. It may take her four years due to all the crying which will be going on by those who receive some of those funds from the Arts Commission. Unfortunately, everyone else in the arts will just be silent – they don’t care one way or the other – the issue has never affected them. And, now the Arts Commission will spend most of their time defending their existence and pressing their friends/recipents to do the same.

I’m not sure how the taxpayers will see this crying up against the news that many programs supporting needed social services are also on the chopping block, but I guess it’s a matter of who makes the most noise to their legislative representatives.

You’ve heard my suggestion before. Give the same amount to the arts groups that they have been getting, based on population of each county – just cut the money the staff used to exist and sell their building and equipment. I’ve never been against public funding for the arts. I just don’t think we need the SC Arts Commission at all to administer that money – at least this one. Then the Arts Commission’s share can go toward saving some of those social services.

So, here’s an example of how private businesses in the art community are helping serve the non-profit art community – without public funds or any other help form the SC Arts Commission – or respect. The Arts Commission and their friends would like you to think that all art would stop without them. That’s not true.

Here’s the news:


The Charleston Fine Art Dealers’ Association (CFADA) once again will donate funds to art programs at local public high schools. The association will donate $22,000 worth of art supplies to schools in need that participated in its Twelfth Charleston Fine Art Annual in November 2010.

Each of the following schools will receive art supplies—Academic Magnet High School, Burke High School, Charleston County School of the Arts, Garrett Academy of Technology, James Island Charter High School, North Charleston High School, R.B. Stall High School, Septima P. Clark Academy, St. John High School, Wando High School and West Ashley High School.

“This is the only organization in Charleston I know of that helps out the art programs in the schools. With the generous donations provided by CFADA, we are able to provide all students, especially those who may be disadvantaged, with high-quality materials for creating art.  Students are truly benefiting from having a creative outlet through our art classes,” praises Cheryl Clair, art teacher at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, SC. According to the National Arts Education Initiative, arts education strengthens students problem solving and critical thinking skills, which will help them in school and their professional careers. Students involved in the arts perform better in reading, social studies and math compared to their peers.

The donation is possible thanks to the generosity of CFADA artists whose creations from the Painting in the Park where auctioned off at the Charleston Art Auction ( on Saturday, November 6, 2010.

Since 2004, CFADA has donated more than $180,000 to local high schools, the Gibbes Museum of Art, Redux Art Center and the Studio Art Department at the College of Charleston. For more information on CFADA, please visit (

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

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011


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

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

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

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

The exhibit will run through Feb. 28, 2011.

You can download a youTube video of the Art Droid in action at this link (

Florence, SC, Sculptor Alex Palkovich Keeps Legend of The Swamp Fox Alive

Friday, January 21st, 2011

One of my encounters last Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, during the opening reception of the exhibit, A Celebration of Many Talents: Artisans of the Cotton Trail & the Tobacco Trail, on view  through Mar. 4, 2011, at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, was with Alex Palkovich. He is a sculptor who has a studio which shares space with the Art Trail Gallery in the old Kimbrell’s building at 135 South Dargan Street.

We talked about his friend Jack Dowis’ wonderful paintings that fill the walls of his studio, various projects he is involved in and the upcoming installation of a very large statue of Francis Marion and his horse “Ball” soon to be found at Venters Landing, just north of Johnsonville, SC, which is the historical site where Marion received his commission to lead the Williamsburgh Militia during the Revolutionary War at what was then called Witherspoon’s Ferry on the Lynches River.


The statue will be 10.5 ft. wide and 7 ft. tall, just less than 3 times life size, placed on an 11ft. tall pedestal. We don’t have the exact date for the installation, but we’ll let you know when we know.

Apparently Palkovich is a big fan of The Swamp Fox and so am I.

My first knowledge of Francis Marion came in my youth through watching TV back in Michigan – the Walt Disney TV Series The Swamp Fox, played by none other than Leslie Nielsen. Set during the American Revolution, the show relates the exploits of Francis Marion (Disney style), an American general nicknamed “The Swamp Fox,” as he attempts to thwart British advances in the South with his loyal band of rebel soldiers. In this series his men called him Fran. And, one of his sidekicks was Sergeant Jasper. Leave it to Disney to run fast and loose with history.

Days after one of the episodes would air the kids around my neighborhood would be singing, “Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, Tail on his hat, nobody knows where the Swamp Fox is at…” that’s about all we could remember of the song, but we’d sing it for hours trampling through a patch of woods near our neighborhood – acting like it was a dangerous swamp – full of “gaders”, snakes and red coats.

Now, I live in Berkeley County where the real Francis Marion is buried.

I’ve never been to Johnsonville. My travels have never taken me in that direction. It’s in another one of those parts of South Carolina – not many people know about – because it’s not located near one of the major highways. But, I’m going to go there when this statue is installed. Palkovich says you’ll be able to see it from two miles away as you approach the landing where it will be placed.

Now, I know a lot of folks will be wondering, “Why place such an important statue way out in the middle of nowhere?” But that’s the beauty of it all. Way out in the middle of nowhere is where The Swamp Fox took the British troops chasing him – so he could pick them off – one by one. Before long, there was a big part of South Carolina’s back country where the British didn’t dare go. The Swamp Fox and his men broke down the British supply lines and communications.

Of course the folks in Johnsonville, who raised the $100,000 for this project are hoping a lot of folks will be coming to their community to see The Swamp Fox to learn more about one of the pivotal characters of the Americans winning the Revolutionary War. Marion and his band of militia tied up the British in South Carolina for so long it gave General Washington time to reorganize the American army. And, any town that can raise $100,000 for a statue of Francis Marion is not “nowhere” in my book.

In real life Francis Marion was no Disney character – no way close. Leslie Nielsen, cut a handsome figure of a man – 6ft. plus. Marion was 5ft. tall and I’ve never heard the word handsome used to describe him, but he did the job. Of course now years later it’s hard for me to get a picture of Leslie Nielsen in my head without it being one from one of his later – less heroic movies. And, I just have to laugh.

There are no pictures of Francis Marion, but Palkovich has given him a face we can believe in – a face of a hero riding a fierce looking steed – a horse Marion stole from a Tory rival.

You can see more of Alex Palkovich’s works at his website ( and installed around the Florence, SC, area.

Hey, maybe one of Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s relatives can come and finally find The Swamp Fox when he’s stuck up on a pedestal.

News About the Seagrove, NC, Pottery Area

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011


From the NC Pottery Center

Dr. Everette James has once again donated an important collection of North Carolina pottery to the NC Pottery Center ( in Seagrove, NC. Several years ago he gave several hundred pots that served as the core of a highly successful fund-raising auction held by Leland Little Auctions in Hillsborough, NC. This time he has given over 100 items for our permanent collection.

James’ newest gift includes a great variety of forms, including early lead glazes and signed utilitarian wares from J.D. Craven, J.F. Brower, George Donkel, and O. Henry Pottery. James of course is the author of North Carolina Art Pottery, 1900-1960 (Collector Books, 2003), and so it is not surprising that his gift features major 20th century artists such as A.R. Cole, J.B. Cole, Ben Owen, Joe Owen, M.L. Owen, and numerous others. Among the rarities are a Glenn Art Pottery vase with the original sticker, a buzzard vase by J.B. Cole, a pale blue dinner set from A. R. Cole, and an earthenware vase with cobalt flows from the Auman Pottery.

James’ donation is now nestled in the storage cupboards upstairs, but a future exhibition is being planned to show off this new acquisition. The NC Pottery Center ask all its supporters to thanks Dr, James whenever you see him. No one has been more generous to the Center.


Ben Owen Pottery Gallery Opens at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte

The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte (NC) has opened its exclusive new Ben Owen Pottery Gallery, presenting custom pottery pieces from renowned Seagrove, NC, artist Ben Owen III ( The new retail setting will be open to the public daily and has been created to feature the work of an acclaimed contemporary potter whose pieces already highlight the hotel’s extensive contemporary art collection.

The gallery will offer 75-100 one-of-a-kind pieces of Ben Owen III pottery, with prices beginning at $45. Works will range from pots, vases, jars, bowls and platters to major showpieces and spectacular larger works of art. All items are hand-created by Ben Owen, who also will make special appearances at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte for 2011 art weekends and art demonstrations.

The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte is located at 201 East Trade Street, in Uptown Charlotte, NC. The Ben Owen Pottery Gallery will be open daily from 9am to 6pm.


Valentine’s Day Shopping on Busbee Road

Valentine’s Day is about celebrating those you love. What better gift than something handmade by an artist. The Seagrove Potters of Historic Busbee Road are planning a weekend shopping experience designed to fit your Valentine’s Day shopping needs,  on Friday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011.

Ten shops, including three museums, a jeweler, a blacksmith and a wide variety of other crafts, all in less than a three mile scenic drive, where pottery has been made continuously for over 100 years will offer their creative talents. There is something for everyone on your list in the shops starting on Busbee Road at Pottery Highway 705 and ending at Jugtown Road.

Participents in the event include: Ben Owen Pottery, Chris Luther Pottery, Westmoore Pottery, Hickory Hill Pottery, Mill Creek Forge, O’Quinn Pottery, Cady Clay Works, Original Owens Pottery, Moore Pots Pottery, Jugtown Pottery, and JLK Jewelry at Jugtown.

Visit  ( for direct  links to the individual pottery websites. You can pick up the brochure for the Busbee Road section of the Seagrove pottery area at the NC Pottery Center, all NC Welcome Centers and at any of the shops along Busbee Road.


Just Another Day at the Pottery at From the Ground Up

Follow Michael Mahan and the crew at From the Ground Up pottery as they make 500 award pots for the 2011 Uwharrie Mountain Run on his blog found at ( If you think potters slow down during the winter months – think again.

More News About The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte and Their Growing Art Collection

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011


We brought you news about the new Ben Owen Pottery Gallery, which opened in The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte (NC) hotel featuring works  from renowned Seagrove, NC, artist Ben Owen III, but almost before we published that news item we received another bit of news concerning another Carolina artist.

The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte has added to its acclaimed modern art collection with the installation of two front-drive sculptures created by renowned British artist Shaun Cassidy.


Installed on Dec. 29, 2010, the two wall-mounted sculptures feature an eight-foot “frame” within which a stainless steel jasmine plant is blossoming, creating a visual tension between organic and architectural. The sculptures are located in the front drive area of the hotel, the stainless steel material reflecting light and shades of pink from the hotel building, with both pieces pointing symbolically toward the hotel entrance.

Cassidy was commissioned to create 90 drawings for the hotel prior to its 2009 opening, including noteworthy pieces in the 2,900-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Suite. The new entrance sculptures took three months to complete and present a visual tie between pieces in that luxury suite and the exterior of the hotel.


Originally from London, England, Cassidy received his BA from the Norwich School of Art and later completed a Master of Visual Arts at the University of Alberta in Canada. He now resides in Rock Hill, SC, where he is an Associate Professor at Winthrop University. A prolific artist, Cassidy works in a wide range of mediums, creating works on paper, installations, concrete sculptures, and welded steel sculpture. He is also a recent resident artist at The Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi.

The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte is located at 201 East Trade Street in the heart of the city’s most popular business, sports, dining and sightseeing district. For details and reservations, please visit (, call 1-800/241-333 or contact a travel professional. The only AAA Five Diamond hotel in Charlotte, NC, The Ritz-Carlton is located at the intersection of College and Trade Streets and may be contacted directly at 704/547-2244.

A Trip to Florence, SC, to See Several Exhibits on Jan. 14, 2011

Monday, January 17th, 2011

As I hope you have been reading, I have been involved in a flurry of information flowing to us from the visual art community in and around Florence, SC, including a couple of blog entries which you can visit later – click here for the entry about the exhibit, A Celebration of Many Talents: Artisans of the Cotton Trail & the Tobacco Trail, on view  through Mar. 4, 2011, at The Art Trail Gallery in Florence, and here to see the entry about the exhibit, The Whimiscal World According to Fowle, featuring works by Patz and Mike Fowle, on view through Jan. 27, 2011, in Gallery 412 at the Florence Regional Arts Alliance in Florence.

Florence is just two hours north on Hwy. 52 from the headquarters of PSMG, Inc. in Bonneau, SC, so at some point I decided to go see some of the works we were presenting to readers in person by attending the opening reception for the exhibit at the Art Trail Gallery and while I was there – why not visit the Florence Museum and the show at the Florence Regional Arts Alliance.

Normally I would travel from here to Manning, SC, to pick up I-95 and zip on up to Florence at 70mph, but I decided to go Hwy. 52 to see if anything has changed along that route, but I can report – not much has changed in 20 years except for a little more development on the Florence side of Lake City, SC, and the south end of Florence. It’s still a trip of 60mph, 45mph, 35mph, 45mph, 60mph, 45mph, 35mph, 45mph, 60mph – you get it.

When I got to Florence I was surprised to see they still had a lot of frozen looking snow and ice in the shade left over from the big southern snow storm. And, you still had to watch out for black ice – masquerading as melting water on sidewalks and in the street.

First stop, the Florence Museum. I’ve been to the Museum several times in my art history, but this was the first time I caught it in-between shows. They’re getting ready to launch the exhibit, Florence Photo Album, an exhibit of historical images of Florence, SC, during the growth years of the early 20th century, accompanied by period maps and memorabilia from the museum’s collection, which will be on view from Jan. 18 through Mar. 13, 2011. But I did get to see some interesting items in the Museum’s collection. The Museum is housed in a converted residence, so it has a lot of rooms on multi levels to roam through. I also got to meet Stephen Motte, museum curator, who I had spoken with on the phone about upcoming exhibits a week or so ago. I’m not going to mention anything – you need to go see it yourself.

“Pearl Fryar’s Fantastic Fro-piary Garden” oil painting by Patz Fowle

My next stop was the Florence Regional Arts Alliance at 412 South Dargan Street, which will soon be known as the arts district in Florence – more about that later. This facility was last used as some kind of office as the entrance faces the back parking lot – maybe a doctor’s office. One plus right off the bat – plenty of free parking. It should be noted that you have to press a buzzer to let folks inside know you want entrance, which I think is more the nature of the building than a security issue.

“Out on a Limb” mixed media by Mike Fowle

The exhibit, The Whimiscal World According to Fowle, which features works by Patz and Mike Fowle was small, but not so small that I later learned as I looked over the gallery handout that I missed seeing a couple of paintings. There must be more display area there that is used for bigger shows or I just missed it. I’ve seen images of shows in that space which show a larger area, so it must be expandable or other rooms were not being used for this exhibit. I’m still not sure how I missed them.

“Picasso’s Palette” coil built ceramic jug head by Patz Fowle

One thing not so good about the gallery space is its fluorescent lighting – not so good for showing art and not so good for photographing it either. I had to use flash – which is not good either. But we all do what we can in the arts these days. And, I prefer them showing art to not showing art.

Good light, bad light, it’s still easy to enjoy Patz Fowle’s works, which I’ve seen in conditions more challenging than this. I won’t name names to protect others who are doing the best they can. Such is life in the visual arts – often the stepchild of most art communities. So my photos will be so, so.

The works by Patz Fowle were not for sale, which I thought was strange, but I later learned that many of these works just came out of the kiln and she likes to wait until she finishes a series before she offers the works for sale. She also keeps a collection of works on hand for competitions and exhibitions.

Like they say – you have to wait for the good things in life.

“Critter” mixed media by Mike Fowle

This was the first time I’ve gotten to see Mike Fowle’s metal works, which was a real surprise, as the work we showed in the blog looked as if it was a large piece and it turned out to be a small piece – much smaller than I would have expected. It just shows that images without a reference can be deceiving. He uses a lot of recycled materials in the creation of his art which I always admire how some people can see normal everyday objects that most of us can just see as one thing – as something totally different.

I first saw one of his mixed media clay pieces at last year’s Palmetto Handsexhibit during the North Charleston Arts Festival. In the exhibit handout it states that Mike has been working with Patz for 30 years, but just started making his own works three years ago. I’d say he was paying close attention and that Patz may have a rival on her hands someday, but I’m sure a friendly one.

In keeping with the show’s title, I think the Fowle’s find lots of things in life “whimsical” or at least choose to take that view. It always puts a smile on my face.

This show will be up until Jan. 27 – there’s still lots of time to go see it. I’m glad I did.

The Alliance has a new blog, which can be found at ( Following it through its less than a year of postings – you can see they host quality exhibits – a few I really wish I knew about ahead of time – hint, hint.

Next stop, the Art Trail Gallery, at 135 South Dargan Street, soon to really be in a prime location. At the south corner of the intersection of South Dargan and Cheves Street you’ll find construction going on at the new Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center, which I understand may open this year. Across Cheves Street is the site of the planned new Florence Museum and next to that is the Arts Trail Gallery complex in the old, massive Kimbrell’s building – an old furniture store, now owned by the Florence Downtown Development Corporation.


Florence is a city poised for change. It will be interesting to see how the opening of this new performing arts center and a new museum will effect the overall level of the arts being offered. Will it be a spark like the Spoleto Festival USA was in Charleston, SC – where through continued exposure to higher art forms – the community demands more, better, and more diverse forms of art. Perhaps the facilities will just finally be catching up to the level of the local talent of the area.

I know one thing for sure as mentioned in my earlier posting about Florence. There is no doubt in my mind that being thought of as a second tier city in the minds of most in SC, especially those in the centralized government in Columbia, Florence has never gotten the support and funding needed to do better. The main three cities in SC don’t leave much of the pie left for others to prosper. This is a city that is pulling itself up by its own bootstraps.

Dargan Street reminds me a lot of King Street in downtown Charleston where either end and the middle have little in common than being on the same street, but that will probably change in a few years if these new projects are successful. And I worry if the Art Trail Gallery will be able to hold on to the space it is in down the road as things do get better.

The arts always seem to be pioneers in revitalizing rundown urban areas and as soon as things get better – the first to go. As some developer will soon see that the space would make a great restaurant or inn or combination of both. Of course by then, I would hope that the city leaders would feel the Art Trail Gallery deserved a better home as it is also not an ideal location for showing art, but now needed and very much appreciated.

And all credit for that goes to Jane Madden, who is an unpaid volunteer, who has a full time job at Francis Marion University, and more than a full time job keeping the Art Trail Gallery going. We don’t have enough space to go into all the praise she deserves for what she’s done for this space. Perhaps at another time when she wins a Verner award or the city has the grand opening for the Jane Madden Center for Visual Arts. She and the building’s other tenant, Alex Palkovich, won the 2009 Main Street South Carolina Inspiration Award from the Municipal Association of South Carolina in conjunction with the  National Trust for Historic Preservation. So, some people have recognized what she has accomplished.

The Kimbrell building is large – 44,000 sq. ft. so it’s a real challenge to just do the basics – keep it clean, keep it warm, light all areas. Madden said something to me about the floors and for the life of me – I couldn’t describe them.


I once told someone who remarked about a critic’s review about a show at an old museum facility where they mentioned the shabby shape the floors, walls and ceiling were in – “that if you walk into a gallery space and you find yourself looking at the floor or ceiling – there was something wrong with the art hanging on the walls”. But I didn’t trip over anything and my shoes were clean when I got home so I guess they were clean. And, now that I see the photos I took – the place was spotless – inside and out.

There are not many art facilities in this state that couldn’t use some good old TLC and funding to make them look better – unless it’s relatively new. I’ve seen some great art placed in crappy frames. Did it make the art any less great? Not to me. And, I’ve seen it the other way around.

But, impressions mean a lot – especially first impression and I hope Madden and the artists in this show excuse me for just a few minutes as I explain that my attention was highjacked before I entered the building. Let me explain.

The reception started at 5:30 and I got there just after that and it was already getting dark. From the outside looking in at the lighted building my eye couldn’t help but go to the works I could see of Alex Palkovich, a sculptor who shares space with the Art Trail Gallery. He’s got some lifesized works in the studio and a few bigger than lifesize and you can’t help but notice them. So, before I’m in the door I’m thinking – “that’s right, there is a sculptor in the building. And, I’ve heard of him before.”

Within minutes of being inside I came to a spot where I looked in the direction of that studio and on the wall I can see paintings – abstract paintings and they are saying to me – “Tom, over here – you know you’re going to love us”. I’m a weak person, I admit it, so I stroll in that direction. I at least didn’t make it a straight bee-line, but I’m there within a few feet in no time. I didn’t know this sculptor painted too was my thought, but I soon saw the name Dowis and a lightbulb when off and for some reason I knew it was “Jack” Dowis. By the time I circled the room I found info confirming it was Jack Dowis a local painter, whom I had heard of also, but I had not seen his work before. There were so many wonderful abstract paintings and I was thinking of William Halsey and Corrie McCallum.


The connection with William Halsey is a little funny as once again I was asking someone if Dowis was still alive – like I did once of Halsey. The logic is that the artist must be dead for our state’s art community to ignore a living artist of such talents, but I’ve learned that the folks in charge can overlook a lot in this state.

I might have come to Florence sooner – like in November if I had known that Dowis was being featured in a show at Gallery 412, but we never got a press release with images – that’s all it would have taken.

During the evening I met Palkovich and had a good talk with him. I’ll have more about Palkovich and a project he’s invloved with in another posting dealing with a statue of Francis Marion.

OK – back to the show at hand. I looked at everything on display at least twice – some works a little longer than others. If this was just a cross-section of the talents of the artists of the greater Pee Dee area we’ve all been missing something through a lack of communications.

There was such a wide variety of media offered, of course I had my favorites, as I’m sure others’ favorites would differ from mine. It doesn’t make any work better than the other, just more appealing to one person over another. There was a lot of work on display worthy of being purchased and taken home and treasured for generations. And, that’s the whole point of this show folks – to not just look at art but to buy some art.

Work by Patz Fowle provided for another posting

I ‘ll name a few but there was a lot of good work there. Of course I loved Patz Fowle’s Van Goat character. I’m not sure that’s the right name, I didn’t write down any titles. I think I might have gotten in real trouble if I got out my pen and pad and started taking notes. And, after all this was a reception. I also liked a painting by Vicky McLain of someone striking a match in the dark. There was also a nice pastorial painting, hanging down low near the floor, by Ruth Cox who was painting during the reception. I also took a liking to the pine straw works by Susan Allen. It’s amazing to see what someone can do with just pine needles.

I also met some people there who I’ve known by their work and other connections, but actually met for the first time like Patz Fowle (and her husband Mike) and Jane Madden, as well as others like Alex Palkovich, Lawrence Anderson, Chair of the Fine Arts Department at Francis Marion University, and a few of the artists. I left before the event was over as I had a two hour ride back home on a night that was already below freezing.

The trip was quick – almost a blink of an eye, but connections were made and I hope it was just the beginning of a new and lasting relationship. At least let’s hope so.

If you live in the area – go by and see these exhibits, if you live outside the area keep an eye on Florence and plan a trip to see what’s happening somewhere else in South Carolina. You might be surprised.

Finally, I want to thank and acknowledge the support the Florence Downtown Development Corporation has given to the Art Trail Gallery. It really helps when the business community knows the power of the arts to attract folks to a downtown area. Just make sure that after they have attracted a crowd – they get to stay and reap the benefits too.

Find Your Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift on Busbee Road, Seagrove, NC – Feb. 11-12, 2011

Saturday, January 15th, 2011


Valentine’s Day is about celebrating those you love. What better gift than something handmade by an artist. The Seagrove Potters of Historic Busbee Road are planning a weekend shopping experience designed to fit your Valentine’s Day shopping needs,  on Friday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011.

Ten shops, including three museums, a jeweler, a blacksmith and a wide variety of other crafts, all in less than a three mile scenic drive, where pottery has been made continuously for over 100 years will offer their creative talents. There is something for everyone on your list in the shops starting on Busbee Road at Pottery Highway 705 and ending at Jugtown Road.

Works by Travis Owens of Jugtown Pottery

Ben Owen Pottery will feature pieces in the Chinese Red for a special Valentine’s weekend beginning Feb. 11. For info call 910/464-2261 or visit (

Chris Luther Pottery will feature large vases, bottles, teapots, and smaller functional wares in a variety of multi-layered colors.  Chris will also be demonstrating on Feb. 12, at the studio for visitors. For further info call 336/301-3254 or visit (

Westmoore Pottery’s shop will be decorated for Valentine’s Day. On both days the Farrell’s will feature pottery with hearts and will serve Valentine’s Day refreshments. For further info call 910/464-3700 or visit (

Hickory Hill Pottery will serve light refreshments and feature their Mauve and Mauve and White glazes, and their handmade, large and small cake pans. For further info call 910/464-3166.

Works by Jennie Lorette Keatts of JLK Jewelry

Mill Creek Forge, a blacksmith shop owned by Jerry Darnell, will have several items including hooks and hangers made up around the heart theme. For further info call 910/464-3888 or visit (

O’Quinn Pottery will have light refreshments made by Sandra O’Quinn, and will feature heart shaped bowls along with a fresh kiln load of pottery. For further info call 910/464-5125.

Cady Clay Works will have a nice selection of pieces available.  For further info call 910/464-5661 or visit (

“Original” Owens Pottery will have their signature Owens red glaze, and a fresh supply of dinnerware. For further info call 910/464-3553 or visit (

Moore Pots Pottery will feature animals, including elephants, chickens, goats, and lions. You will find vases, jars, and faces jugs among the pieces from the latest firing. For further info call 910/464-1453.

Work by Chris Luther of Chris Luther Pottery

Jugtown Pottery will have a new firing with Copper Red, Peach Bloom, and Lavender glazed pieces. The Owens will feature vases, tumblers, yunomis and teapots. There will be complimentary dark chocolate on both Friday and Saturday. For further info call 910/464-3266 or visit (

JLK Jewelry at Jugtown will feature new romantic jewelry with red stones and other new creations in a variety of colors. For further info call 910/464-2653 or visit (

Visit  ( for direct  links to the individual pottery websites. You can pick up the brochure for the Busbee Road section of the Seagrove pottery area at the NC Pottery Center, all NC Welcome Centers and at any of the shops along Busbee Road.

Tracking Internet Numbers on the New Online Version of Carolina Arts

Friday, January 14th, 2011


From the minute we first talked with some of our longtime advertisers about taking Carolina Arts totally online, the question asked was – “How will I know how many people see my ad?”

An important question for all advertisers, but one hard to answer for any media outlets.

A few days ago I went to our internet server’s page that tracks statistics and found out some of the info people are wanting to know.

As of Jan. 10th, 3,880 visitors had downloaded the PDF of the entire paper – all 49 pages. We don’t know if they looked at all 49 pages, but we started getting positive e-mails about the new look of the paper by the afternoon of Jan. 1. But, once you download the paper to your computer you can look at it whenever you want – as often as you want.

Now, we have no way of telling how many people just looked at the whole paper on their browsers – our server can’t track that. Some people don’t like downloading anything. Our overall visitations to the website are holding at an average of more than 50,000 a month. Considering the holiday and the weather – that’s good.

Actually the download is just over 10mb which is smaller than some images people e-mail to us. And the download takes less than 2 minutes – sometimes less than a minute on our computers and they’re not so new. But the older your computer or browser is – it could take longer.

Now, we posted individual pages for those who don’t like to download files and we could see those numbers in the hundreds. Some pages attracted more viewers than others – those were pages with colorful ads and color images.

Carolina Arts – the website got over 20,000 visitors in that same timeframe and they looked at 10,000 different pages – some going as far back as 1999. Usually what happens in a search, a viewer finds one link to our paper and then ends up going to different places in time in our archives which date back to 1999. Regular views go straight to where they have bookmarked a page. So ten years from now people will still be looking at pages in this Jan. 2011 issue and downloading the entire PDF for a walk back in time to see what was going on in the Carolina visual art community. It’s amazing.

But our advertisers are more concerned with the present time.

If you haven’t seen our Jan. 2011 issue of Carolina Arts( – what are you waiting for?

While you’re viewing that issue, we also ask you to click on some of our advertisers’ ads and go check out what they have to offer. After all, they make the paper possible. They need to know you appreciate their support.

Steppin’ on a Sleeping Dog’s Tail in the Pee Dee Area of SC and an Exhibit at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

If there is one thing I’ve learned in my 37 years of living in South Carolina it is that when it comes to the media, there are only three cities in this state – Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville. The other cities are just mentioned when something bad happens there.

Because of this bad habit by the media, most people in the other areas of SC don’t even bother with sending press release to a state-wide list of the media – why should they? Whatever they send most likely won’t get printed or used. Now that can be down right frustrating to anyone trying to cover the state – on a state-wide basis like we’re doing at Carolina Arts(check out our new online paper).

So, when I received a press release from a gallery in Florence, SC, (an event that doesn’t happen that often) and asked if they had any photos of artwork that would be in the exhibit – it was like dropping a boulder in a small pond. The ripple effect was like a tsunami. Within the hour my e-mail was filled with images from artists participating in this exhibit. Some sent 2 or 3, one sent 12 and others sent pleas for more time as they were stuck at work and didn’t have access to their images. It was like yelling “free iPhones” in a mall full of teenagers.

What’s an editor to do? I only wanted one or two images. It’s always the same problem with a group show – so many artists – so little space. It’s one of the many hard decisions an editor has to make on a regular basis. But, somehow this time I felt guilty. I had stepped on that sleeping dog’s tail and now it was up and ready – for a walk, to get fed, to do something.

So, I hope our readers will bear with me in presenting this press release with a multitude of supporting images. Think of this as if it was an exhibition catalogue. (It should be noted that we could not use some of the images sent us and not all artists sent images.)

Here it goes:

Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, Features Works by Artists Associated with Cotton and Tobacco Trails

The Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, will present the exhibit, A Celebration of Many Talents: Artisans of the Cotton Trail & the Tobacco Trail, on view from Jan. 14 through Mar. 4, 2011. An opening reception will be held Friday, Jan. 14, from 5:30-8pm.

Work by Anne Baldwin

Works in glass by Barbara & Ed Streeter

Work by Beth Wicker

The exhibition features works by artists who are working in the areas of two of South Carolina’s heritage and cultural trails, whose mission is to bring together artists, artisans and the retailers of their work for the benefits of marketing, tourism, education and shared resources.

Work by Gloria Turner

Work by Greg Benner

Work by John Johnson

Artists included in the exhibition are: Ann Dowling, Pollie Bristow, Jack Clayton, Denny Stevenson, Barbara Mellen, Gloria Turner, Linda Humphries, Suzanne Muldrow, Heidi Bond, Anne Baldwin, Carolyn McCoy Govan, Lori Kaim, Tony Morano, Beth Wicker, Susan A. Allen, Vicky McLain, Bob Feury, Ed & Barbara Streeter, Brenda Hardwick, Patz Fowle, Patrick Showalter, Holly Young Beaumier, Greg Benner, Ina Ingram, MJ Martin, Beth Wicker, John Johnson, Ruth Cox, MJ Martin, Jo Furman, James Fernandes, and Emily Estes.

Work by Lori Kaim

Hand-made soap by Patrick Showalter

Work by Patz Fowle

The majority of these unique artistic creations will be available for purchase.

One special feature of the exhibit will be a reproduction of the hand-blown glass ornament produced by Ed and Barbara Streeter of Conway, SC, that decorated the White House Christmas tree this year.

Work by Robert Feury

The South Carolina Cotton Trail, stretching from I-95 to I-20, traces the influence of cotton on the lives and towns of rural South Carolina. Comprised of the towns of Bennettsville, Bishopville, Chesterfield, Cheraw, Clio, Darlington, Hartsville, and Society Hill, the South Carolina Cotton Trail visits museums, gardens, market towns, cotton fields and homesteads.

Work by Denny Stevenson

Work by Suzanne Muldrow

The South Carolina Tobacco Trail, was organized to create a regional heritage marketing initiative which will provide a vehicle for neighboring communities to jointly market the historical, cultural and nature-based assets of their respective areas in a combined effort with the end result of preserving, conserving and celebrating the cultural heritage of agriculture and tobacco and its impact on the regional economy. The trail is comprised of the towns of Conway, Darlington, Lake City, Latta, Mullins, and other areas in Florence County.

Work by Tony Morano

Work by Vicky McLain

The Art Trail Gallery is an all-volunteer gallery space located at 135 South Dargan Street in downtown Florence. The Gallery features the work of local artists throughout the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina. Works are available for sale unless noted otherwise. The Art Trail Gallery is also home to the studio of well-known sculptor, Alex Palkovich. The Art Trail Gallery would not be possible without the interest and support of its many daily visitors and the Florence Downtown Development Corporation, the sponsors of the Gallery and the owners of the building. Gallery hours are Tue.,-Thur., 11:30am-2:30pm and Fri., 5:30-8pm.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call Jane Madden at 843/673-0729 or visit (