Archive for February, 2011

Transylvania Community Arts Council in Brevard, NC, Extends Deadline for Picasso Raffle – With Good Reason

Monday, February 21st, 2011

I received the following e-mail from Tammy Hopkins, executive director of the Transylvania Community Arts Council in Brevard, NC, at Carolina Arts, that they were extending the deadline of the raffle to win a Pablo Picasso print. And I don’t blame them. I once had a raffle for an Ansel Adams photograph that I ended up giving away for nothing. I think the winner is still in shock.

Joke – Man walks into a bar at the local country club and says, “I just purchased a Pablo Picasso print for $100.” There’s no punch line – he just purchased a ticket for the Picasso Print Raffle from TCArts. Now he owns a print valued at $28,000+.

How often do you get a 1 in 300 chance to win – anything?

Here’s the press release:


The Transylvania Community Arts Council in Brevard, NC, has extended the date for their Picasso drawing. “At this time only 80 tickets have been sold and we really need to sell 300 tickets to help our budget this year,” said Tammy Hopkins executive director of TC Arts. Hopkins also said, “We will hold the drawing as soon as we sell at least 300 tickets.”  The TC Arts Council is selling $100 chances to win this signed Picasso etching valued at $28,500. To buy a ticket go to ( and download an order form or call TC Arts and order over the phone at 828/884-2787.

The Picasso comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from Park West Gallery and an original invoice of purchase. The piece is entitled Enlèvement, à cheval (Abduction on Horseback). It is an etching on BFK Rives paper with full margins. Signed in pencil and numbered: dated plate 9 June 1968 III (in reverse). This Picasso is #45 from the edition of 50.

In his ninth decade, Picasso created the remarkable group of etchings known as the 347 series in less than seven months. From March 16 to October 5, 1968. He collaborated in his private studio near Cannes with the master printers Piero and Aldo Crommelynck, who brought in a special press from their atelier in Paris. While combining different cultures, icons and periods in this series, Picasso was able to create a unifying theme throughout; that of the narrator and observer rather than participant. The works are a panorama of compelling imagery, many charged with an erotic tone. Picasso’s command of the challenging techniques of etching, engraving, dry-point and aquatint are revealed forcefully in this 347 works, along with the highly personal and facile drawing ability he possessed in his late years. Commenting on the series, Picasso said, “I spend hour after hour while I draw, observing my creatures and thinking about the mad things they’re up to; basically it’s my way of writing fiction.”

The Transylvania Community Arts Council is a 501c3 non-profit arts organization with the mission “To enhance the quality of life in Transylvania County by celebrating and nurturing the creative spirit of artists, youth and individuals throughout the County.” TC Arts is located at 349 S. Caldwell Street in Brevard, NC.

For more information call TC Arts Council at 828/884-2787. To learn more about the TC Arts Council go to ( or their all county arts wesbite at (

Nina Liu and Friends Gallery in Charleston, SC, Receives Verner Award from SC Arts Commission/Foundation

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Nina Liu outside her gallery and friend Aggie Zed (r)

OK, this is meant to be a congratulation to Nina Liu – make no mistake about that, but it is also about the SC Arts Commission and SC Arts Foundation.

I think everyone would agree that in these days of cutbacks in funding for the arts it would have been better to make the announcement of who will receive these awards and let UPS deliver them, but instead the folks at the Arts Commission/Foundation decided to play their fiddle while Rome burns. And, they’re letting visual artists have the honor of helping them raise money to put on a party, through another art auction.

If you’re of my thinking on all of this – would we expect anything else? Yes, this is exactly what I’ve come to expect from them. But, like they say – even a broken clock gets it right twice a day.

So, congratulations to Nini Liu, the woman behind Nina Liu & Friends gallery in Charleston, SC. She has served artists and the art community in Charleston for 25 years as well as doing the same in Iowa, Louisiana, California, and Michigan, before landing here in South Carolina.

Liu has been a long-time supporter of Shoestring Publishing Company, including Charleston Arts, South Carolina Arts and now Carolina Arts. She helped start the French Quarter Gallery Association, providing coordinated art walks in Charleston. We worked with her and others to make it the largest art walk in the Carolinas. Now everyone has one.

And, I know she has done a lot to help other art organizations such as the Gibbes Museum of Art, College of Charleton School of the Arts, and Spoleto Festival USA, to name a few. But most importantly for me, she has been a regular sounding board – I rarely travel to Charleston without stopping to have a short or sometimes long conversation with her.

I’m glad she got her Verner before I told that to everyone.

So, Nina Liu and her gallery will share the spotlight at the 2011 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts (Business Category) with Carolina First Bank of Greenville, SC – that’s if our new Governor doesn’t want to take back her title from the award. I doubt she’ll show up to hand the awards out – that would seem a little hypocritical, but maybe she will- it wouldn’t be the first time for her.

As far as the other Verner Award recipients – I don’t know who most of them are – which is the way I would guess others around SC would think when they read Nina Liu’s name. I’m sure they have had similar impacts on the communities where they live – or at least we would all expect that they do or did. It helps to think of these things as regional awards to folks who have had some impact on a regional basis. Yet, I can’t help but think that some awards over the years and this year (hopefully very few of them) are self-serving by the Arts Commission – rewards to a few good friends of theirs.

All I know is – we could all use a lot more Nina Lius as friends.

Carolina Arts Has Facebook Envy

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011


I don’t know what it is but Facebook and I don’t get along. Maybe it’s because I ignored it for so long, but when we converted to an online paper, people told us – we need to get on Facebook.

Unfortunately after setting up the page, I did something (don’t let me near your computer) that has set us a back a few light years. I can’t even explain what I did, but there also doesn’t seem to be anyone at Facebook who will answer our pleas for help, so we go forward – limping into the future.

Our Internet guru Zelda helped straighten us out some, but I’m still the weak link in our organization. With a monthly newspaper that has doubled in size and two active blogs, I find myself left with little to add on Facebook, but I’m sure I’ll find my voice – someday. I didn’t understand blogs at first either.

So far, 102 people have liked us, and I’ve liked a few back, but I’ve been warned to stay away from the Facebook page until I understand what I’m doing. So, here I am – in a medium I understand – asking any and all out there who are reading this – to go to our page and like us.

I know we should have more people out there who really do like Carolina Arts, but some don’t do Facebook, or like me don’t know how to do it. Oh, they have a Facebook page that someone set up for them because they were also told they needed to be on Facebook, but like me – they have now been warned – don’t touch.

So, you folks who do Facebook and still read blogs – go to our Facebook page at ( and like us. Ask your Facebook friends to like us. I want more likes. I need more likes. I have like envy. People won’t believe so many people are reading Carolina Arts, (over 17,000 so far this month) yet it has so few likes. What those two numbers have in common I don’t know, but we could use a few more likes.

Now, could someone explain to me what a like is?

Skyuka Fine Art in Tryon, NC, Features Works by Richard Christian Nelson

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Here’s an exhibit by one of our supporters which arrived after deadline for our Feb. 2011 issue. If you haven’t picked up on it yet – we’ll always take care of our supporters. We do pretty good when it comes to others, but our supporters make Carolina Arts possible and this blog possible.

Here’s the press release:

Skyuka Fine Art in Tryon, NC, is presenting the exhibit, Richard Christian Nelson-Recent Paintings, on view through Mar. 10, 2011.

Nelson and his wife, Kimberly opened Skyuka Fine Art in January 2011. The gallery features exceptional artwork from renowned artists of the past and present.


Nelson has built his reputation as ‘Rich’ Nelson. The change to his full name came from the need to be found more easily on the internet. The upcoming show will feature the many sides of his work; landscape oil paintings of the foothills of the Blue Ridge and paintings from his travels. It will also feature recent still life and figurative work, and of course a few portraits. There are a number of still life paintings featuring early 20th century North Carolina pottery, and some figure studies from workshops he has taught recently.

Nelson states that he is, “endlessly fascinated by people, places, and things and considers it a privilege and a challenge to capture some aspect of their essence on canvas. I work toward ‘painterly realism’; good drawing and composition, rendered with strong natural color, in such a way that you can still ‘sense’ or ‘feel’ the paint. The effect of this process is that the subject begins to artfully reveal itself to me and hopefully, the viewer”. All of this work (except some portraiture) is done exclusively from life.


This artist strives to do museum quality work that will be around long after he and his subjects have left this world. He has won a number of honors in the last year including: ”Finalist-Portrait/Figure” category of The Artists Magazine 27th Annual Art Competition, “1st Place-Oil” and “Honorable Mention-Drawing” from the Portrait Society of America’s ‘Choose Your Medium’ Portrait Competition, and “2nd Place-Portrait Society Of America’s ‘Outdoor Portrait’ Competition”, just to name a few.

Nelson’s work has been featured in American Artist, American Art Collector, International Artist, and The Portrait Society Of America’s magazine, and he is listed in Who’s Who in American Art. Collectors who purchase his work do so not only because they appreciate it, but because his career indicates that interest in his work will only continue to grow.

Hailing from Detroit, MI, Nelson earned his BFA from the College Of Creative Studies in 1988. It was at CCS that he developed his love of painting, drawing, figurative art, and art history. He has been working as an artist ever since, initially as an illustrator, then as a portrait artist, gallery artist, and instructor. Nelson also teaches workshops focusing on landscape, still life and portraiture as well.

The Nelson’s are proud to announce a new promotion for the coming year at the gallery; anyone who purchases artwork by any artist in 2011 will be eligible to win a free framed charcoal portrait (subject of winner’s choice) by Richard Nelson. Each purchase will give a chance at winning one of this award-winning artist’s portraits. A drawing will be held on the gallery’s one year anniversary celebration, Jan. 1, 2012.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10am-5pm, or by appointment. Skyuka Fine Art is located in downtown Tryon at 133 N. Trade Street.

For further information contact the gallery by calling 828/817-3783, visit ( or (

Seagrove, NC, Potters Raise Money for Elementary School Art Departments

Sunday, February 13th, 2011


The Seagrove Area Potters Association (SAPA) raised $800 for local schools at the 3rd annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters held in Seagrove, NC, last November. Seagrove and Westmoore elementary schools each received $400 from the organization to be used specifically in the schools’ art departments.

Ben Owen presents a check to Westmoore Elementary art teacher Pat Yow

Mary Ellen Robinson, Seagrove Elementary School art teacher, used the money to purchase over 100 pieces of bisque ware in fun shapes for children to decorate. The shapes include frogs, flip flops, and geckos. Dinner plates and coffee mugs were purchased, as well.

Robinson plans to have a pottery night in March. Parents will be invited to purchase the bisque pots for their children to glaze. All proceeds will go back into the art department. Local potters, Bonnie Burns and Sally Lufkin Saylor have volunteered to help with the project.

Westmoore Elementary School art teacher, Pat Yow said the money helped tremendously. She purchased several art supplies with her donation, including clay. Yow plans to have her students work on a number of clay projects in the coming months.

Seagrove Elementary School art teacher, Mary Ellen Robinson and some of her fifth grade art students display bisque ware that was bought with a donation from the Seagrove Area Potters Association. Students, from left to right: Mason White, Tanner Perdue, Megan Jarrell and Samuel Saylor.

The donation was funded by a special children’s booth at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters. Many participating potters donated pieces for the booth. All pots were priced between $1 and $5 to be affordable for children, who were the only ones allowed to purchase the pots.

The Celebration of Seagrove Potters takes place each year during the weekend before Thanksgiving. The event has always included two booths specially designated for children and will continue to do so in the future. In addition to the fund raising booth, there is also a booth that invites children to tap into their creativity and sculpt with clay.

The potters involved in SAPA are dedicated to inspiring the next generation of artists. “SAPA is committed to all the arts, but especially to the tradition of making pottery. We feel that contributing to local schools’ art departments will not only help with the arts in general, but will also keep the pottery tradition alive,” said Bobby Marsh, SAPA president.


Upcoming during the weekend of Apr. 16-17, 2011, is the Celebration of Spring in Seagrove Studio Tour with over 50 clay artists offering special events and kiln openings throughout the Seagrove area. Spring has always been a time for renewal and awakening in Seagrove and this year an unprecedented number of shops are opening their doors together to Celebrate spring with special events. It’s a great weekend to come out and leisurely browse, shop and experience a 200-year-old tradition, see the process, develop and renew relationships with the potters of Seagrove in their individual shops. Check the SAPA website for maps and more information.

For further information visit (

So You Ask – How Are the Website Numbers Doing for Carolina Arts in February Compared to January?

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Last month on Jan. 14, 2011, I posted an entry here about how well our new electronic version of Carolina Arts was doing – which at the time I thought was doing well. On that day we had 3,880 visitors to our website who had downloaded the entire 49 page PDF of our Jan. 2011 issue ofCarolina Arts.

We used the PDF download number as a solid number that we know for sure from our server’s data, although we knew at the time more people were seeing the paper – one way or another. By the end of the month, by the time I had to write my commentary, my best estimate was that we would see 9,000 downloads for the month of January. The final number was 8,929 – not a bad guess.

This was a good showing for a first time effort compared to the 10,000 copies we had printed each month knowing that we distributed 90-95% of those papers – never knowing really how many people actually picked up a copy of the paper and read it.

I was happy and I hope our supporters and advertisers were too.

From the start some people told me I was underestimating those figures as they knew that PDFs of the paper were being distributed by e-mail and other forms of social media. I felt I had to stick with the solid numbers from the server.

So, Linda and I put together our Feb. 2011 issue which is 51 pages and we did the same things we did last month – sending notices out by e-mail, on our two blogs and Facebook – letting them know the paper was up on our site and asking folks who saw that notice to spread the word to help as many people see the paper as possible. And then we waited.

Within a few days we were hearing from folks that they liked the Feb. issue and were really liking the new electronic format. We also were getting some more suggestions on how to improve the paper – which we will be adapting in the presenting the next issue. And we got an e-mail from Jane Madden who heads up the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, that she was going to be sending out an e-mail blast to several of her e-mail lists – totaling about 1,500 people who are interested in the visual arts. Artists showing at the Art Trail Gallery were featured on our Feb. cover (


Madden wanted the folks interested in the visual arts in the Florence area to see the attention Florence was getting in Carolina Arts. She also wanted to promote our paper – which we thank her for that. After all, everyone who is involved with each issue of Carolina Arts should feel the same – it’s in their best interest to get as many people to see them featured there.

One of the reasons why many people have said they like the new version is that it is easy to distribute by e-mail or in social media.

A few more days into Feb. and I couldn’t wait to take a peek at the stats. I have to tell you I was a little concerned.

I pulled up the page that tells you individual page counts, and I took a quick glance and saw that the PDF downloads was just under 2,000 – not bad for 6 days, but I was concerned that February was a short month and perhaps the novelty of our first issue would wear off. As I’m staring at the numbers I realize that the figure I’m looking at is for the Jan. PDF page. What?

Fairly soon I find the listing for the Feb. PDF page – up at the very top and it was 12,000 something. I hate to say it but my first reaction was – that’s not right. What’s going on? Just under that figure was another listing which is the (other) count which was also 12,000. I’ve never known what (other) meant.

The next day I made a call to our server to see if anything was wrong and what the (other) meant. They told me nothing was wrong – the numbers are correct and that the (other) means it represents a number of different ways people found pages on our website from different sources – other than going directly to our website. And, there is no way to say what pages they are – that’s why that number is not directly linked to the page the count is for. Well, that answered that question, but it still took some time for it to settle in that in six days 12,000 and maybe even many more, people had viewed the paper. Also, that 2,000 more had downloaded the Jan. issue to look at it.

This was new territory for us.

A few days later we were able to make a head to head ten day comparison of the Jan. issue to the Feb. issue. By ten days in Jan. 3,185 people downloaded the Jan. issue. By ten days in Feb, 15,722 people downloaded the Feb, issue. It also showed that by ten days in Feb. there were 17,199 (other). Last month we had 47,320 (other). I’m a little blown away.

And, we know that many of those people are discovering our paper with the help of our friends who are sending that PDF link to their friends and their friends who are passing it along to others. It’s a snowball effect.

Before I saw the 12,000 figure I had made a joke to Jane Madden – if only we had ten more like her. And, in an effort to deflect credit she assured me that we must have others, as that number couldn’t be all from her e-mailing. But, I have no other knowledge that others are doing what I suggested and that is – to spread it around. She also suggested that others may even be e-mailing the entire PDF download to others, that won’t be counted in my server’s stats, but I hope people are not doing too much of that as some get pretty mad when they receive such a big file in an e-mail. It’s not really that big, but some people just don’t like anything that doesn’t open instantly.

Throughout our 23 years of doing an arts newspaper we have always told the people who supply us with content and those who help support the paper with advertising that we are all in this venture together – in partnership. None of us could do it without the others. That doesn’t always  work, but many make it their practice.

Over the years there is nothing more disappointing than walking into a gallery that is included in our paper on a regular basis in one way or another and I find the paper hidden from the public’s sight or sometimes I couldn’t find the paper on display at all. I never could figure how they thought the  paper worked – if people couldn’t find it. It’s refreshing to discover instances where people feel the same as I do about getting as many as possible to see how wonderful our visual arts community is in the Carolinas and how active it is.

I’m excited by several things. One, to see how far this thing goes and two, to see how many people will end up viewing last month’s paper during the month of Feb. and even into Mar. I don’t think our papers ever had that kind of afterlife. Which means all of the articles, images and ads have a new afterlife too.

This is the link people are sending around the Carolinas and the world –Note that if you click the link it will take a few minutes to download – if you just want to copy it – copy it like you would anything else with your computer. (

Thank you all that have helped spread this around and to you who will in the future.

Some Articles About Exhibits Taking Place in the Carolinas Which Came In After Our February Deadline

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Some of these came in late – after our Jan. 24 deadline and a few came from folks just discovering us. Some think we should just add them to the paper – after all it’s not printed – it’s electronic, but I say no. That’s what deadlines are for and I don’t want several editions of the paper out there and people hearing about items they missed after they first viewed the paper. And, we might not always give these late articles a second life atCarolina Arts Unleashed. So people need to make that deadline.

If you haven’t seen our Feb. 2011 edition of Carolina Arts, you can find it at this link (Warning – this download can take several minutes) (

Coker College in Hartsville, SC, Features Works by Koichi Yamamoto

An exhibition of prints by Koichi Yamamoto, an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee School of Art, is on view through Feb. 25, 2011, in the Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery located in the Gladys C. Fort Art Building in Hartsville, SC.

Tochika Ni, by Koichi Yamamoto, a 12″ x 24″ intaglio print

Yamamoto’s show, 00 To 10, includes a selection of intaglio prints (a printing process wherein an image is engraved or acid etched into a metal plate, inked then printed) and prints made with a monotype process, a procedure that yields only a single impression from each plate.

Merging traditional and contemporary approaches to printmaking, Yamamoto has worked with meticulous metal engravings, large-scale relief and intaglio prints. His current work is in large-scale monotypes and exemplifies a contemporary, international aesthetic developed from his upbringing in Japan and his education in Europe and North America. His prints explore issues of the sublime, memory, atmosphere, light and history through various representations of landscape.

“Surface only provides a record from recent events,” Yamamoto said. “Making critical judgments requires an understanding of what lies underneath. Addressing the landscape as subject, my work attempts to describe cross sections of history. I seek to slow down and take time for a deep level of investigation.”

Yamamoto is a graduate of the University of Alberta and Pacific Northwest College of Art. He has also studied at the Bratislava Academy of Art and the Poznan Academy of Art. His work has been included in a number of recent juried print competitions including the Boston Printmakers, the 7th Bharat Bhavan International Biennial Print Art in India and the Lujubljana International Printmaking Exhibition in Slovania. Yamamoto’s prints are in the collections of University of Hawaii at Hilo, the Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Graphic Center in the Portland Art Museum and the University of Alberta Museum and Collection.

The Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery is located in the Gladys C. Fort Art Building on the Coker College campus. Gallery hours are from 10am to 4pm, Monday through Friday, while classes are in session.

Coker College upholds and defends the intellectual and artistic freedom of its faculty and students as they study and create art through which they explore the full spectrum of human experience. The college considers such pursuits central to the spirit of inquiry and thoughtful discussion, which are at the heart of a liberal arts education.

For more information, contact Barb Steadman by calling 843/857-4199.

UNC Asheville in Asheville, NC, Features Laura Hope-Gill’s Poetry and Photographs by John Fletcher Jr.


UNC Asheville’s Ramsey Library will present the collaborative work of poet Laura Hope-Gill and photographer John Fletcher Jr., on view in Ramsey Library’s Blowers Gallery from Feb.  1- 28, 2011. Hope-Gill and Fletcher will also present a slideshow and poetry reading at 12:30pm, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, in the library’s Whitman Room.

Hope-Gill and Fletcher’s book, The Soul Tree, features photographs of uniquely beautiful southern Appalachian landscapes accompanied by lyric poems, which illuminate themes of vision, faith, healing and the sacredness of nature. The Blowers Gallery exhibit will feature some of the images and poems from the book as well as more recent work inspired byThe Soul Tree.


The exhibit and the slideshow/poetry reading are free and open to the public.

Hope-Gill is the Poet Laureate of the Blue Ridge Parkway and a recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council fellowship. She is also the founder and director of WordFest Poetry Festival in Asheville, and an instructor in UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program. Fletcher is a photographer for the Asheville Citizen-Times. His 20-year career has included clients such asUSA Today, The Associated Press, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

The gallery is free and open to the public daily and most evenings.

For more information, call 828/251-6336 or visit (

Greenville Technical College in Taylors, SC, Features Works by Faculty of SC Governor’s School

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts at the Greer campus of Greenville Technical College in Taylors, SC, is presenting an exhibit of works by members of the South Carolina Governor’s School of the Arts and Humanities, on view through Feb. 18, 2011.

Impressive for its scope, the show includes works by photographer Carlyn Tucker, sculptor Joseph Thompson, painter Paul Yanko, ceramists Alice Ballard and Sharon Campbell, printer Katya Cohen, metals artist Ben Gilliam, and graphic designer Neil Summerour. We are pleased to showcase the creative excellence that exemplifies the commitment of arts faculty at this unique Upstate program.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings call Lisa Smith at 864/848-2044 or e-mail to (

Mesh Gallery in Morganton, NC, Features An Exhibit of Iron Works

Mesh Gallery in Morganton, NC, will present an exhibition showcasing the work of Oak Hill Iron that includes both fine art and utilitarian wares titledIronology. The exhibit will be on view from Feb. 14 through Apr. 8, 2011, with a reception taking place on Friday, Feb. 18, 2011, from 6-9pm.

Oak Hill Iron was born out of necessity and driven by true talent and sheer determination to create beautiful products. Founded over a decade ago by Dean Curfman, Oak Hill Iron produces custom ironwork that meets the needs of countless utilitarian applications as well producing works of fine art that are at home in a gallery space. Both high art and craft are integral parts of a healthy arts community and with this exhibition Oak Hill Iron will demonstrate it’s ability to wear both those hats.

Oak Hill Iron is staffed by a team of highly trained artistic craftsmen and offers a wide selection of ironwork for both residential and commercial projects. There is no job that is considered too big or too small.

As always events at MESH Gallery are free and open to the public. Appetizers (hors d’oeuvres) for this event will be provided by Mountain Burrito of Morganton. Wine will be served by Sour Grapes Wine Distribution.

There will be a free concert starting at 8pm on Feb. 18, during the reception with a performance from Pimalia recording artists Moolah Temple $tringband hailing from Jackson County, NC. The duo of Johnny Favorite & Eden Moor co-pilot their goat-drawn deathcart, trailing the detritus of Old Time, Musique Concrète, Honky Tonk, IDM, Minstrelsy, songs of wounded affection, cautionary tales for our age, and the aesthetics of the Fraternal, Temperance, and Evangelical Movements. Moolah Temple $tringband rarely makes public appearances, but the duo is pleased to be invited by MESH. One clown is merely a clown, but two clowns make a circus.

Mesh Gallery is located at 114-B West Union Street, Morganton, NC.

For further information call 828/437-1957 or e-mail to (

Charleston County Public Library in Charleston, SC, Features Works by Cheryl Baskins Butler


The Charleston County Public Library in Charleston, SC, will present the exhibit, A Day at the Zoo: Impressions of Riverbanks, featuring works by Cheryl Baskins Butler, on view in the Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery, located in the Main Branch of the CCPL system in downtown Charleston, SC, from Feb. 1 – 28, 2011.

Butler began her sketch “safaris” at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC, when it first opened in the mid 70’s. Throughout the ensuing years, she has returned regularly to observe, sketch, paint and spend personal time with the Riverbanks residents. A Day at the Zoo: Impressions of Riverbanks is a compilation of paintings, collages and site sketches from her visits.
The Main Library is located at 68 Calhoun Street in downtown Charleston.

For further information call Frances Richardson at 843/805-6803 or visit (

A Trip to Columbia, SC’s First Thursday on Main – Feb. 3, 2011

Saturday, February 5th, 2011


On a cold Thursday afternoon when the weather people were calling for 80% rain, Linda and I headed to Columbia, SC, to visit One Eared Cow Glass and the First Thursday on Main event.

One Eared Cow Glass was having one of their 20th Anniversary celebration events introducing a new line of glass jewelry – just in time for Valentines’ day. That’s when Linda signed on for the trip to Columbia. I can’t say too much more about the One Eared Cow Glass anniversary events – all I can say is you need to go there and sign up to be on their e-mail list.

I’ve been wanting to go to one of the First Thursday on Main events for some time as it seemed like it was becoming quite an art event. I also wanted to see the inside of the Tapp’s Center for the Arts project and hopefully meet up with Susan Lenz, who had another window display there.

Activities on Main Street in downtown Columbia started a few years ago when Mark Plessinger of Frame of Mind started displaying area artists’ work in his shop on Main Street across from the Columbia Museum of Art. Info about those events kind of came and then fizzled. During that time other art related groups moved to Main Street and then by last fall we began to receive info about the First Thursday on Main events which seemed to be organized by the City Center Partnership, Inc., but we’re not hearing from them on a regular basis either. The only person I’m hearing from on a regular basis is Brenda Schwarz Miller who is spearheading up the effort to turn the old Tapp’s on Main department store at 1644 Main Street, at the corner of Main and Blanding, into the Tapp’s Center for the Arts.

I guess the City Center Partnership is interested more in having all parties on Main participate in trying to get folks in the Columbia area to come back to Main Street during the evening hours with the First Thursday events, but I’m more interested in the visual art groups there which now include Frame of Mind, S&S Art Supply, FreeTimes, Anastasia & Friends, Columbia Museum of Art, the Arcade Artists, and Tapp’s Center for the Arts.

From our front door at the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing in Bonneau, SC, we can be in downtown Columbia in two hours. It takes an hour to drive to Charleston, SC, so it’s not much of an effort to go to Columbia, but the two hour return trip does determine how long you can stay.

We spent almost two hours at One Eared Cow Glass, and again, all I’ll say besides I love watching the cowboys work, is that Linda and I got our 20th Anniversary T-Shirts while there, which will pay off throughout the year’s celebrations. My lips are sealed.

Once we weaved our way over to Main Street during Columbia’s rush hour traffic, we arrived at the Tapp’s building just about 5pm. We looked at a few of the outside window displays, but it didn’t take long for the damp 40 degree temps to rush us inside. No real rain yet.

As we entered a side door on Blanding, right off we see a little window display of jewelry by Susan Shrader, which stops Linda in her tracks. We’ve dealt with Shrader throughout the years as she was helping to promote a Columbia gem show. She’s one of the hundreds of people we have talked to over the years but never met.

Jewelry and fused glass works by Susan Shrader

We got to scratch her off our never met list once we set foot inside the massive Tapp’s building. Right away I was reminded of my recent visit to the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, which was another massive building in a city which is now used to show off art – helping to revise a once thriving downtown shopping district.

Linda said she used to come to Tapp’s when she was visiting her older sister who attended USC – a long time ago, back when her family would travel from small Myrtle Beach to SC’s capital city.

While Linda talked with Shrader and looked at jewelry, I looked around the building’s maze of rooms on two levels. Downstairs I saw John Sharpe giving a demonstration on a pottery wheel. The building has a lot of potential for many things.


Once upstairs again, Linda and I enjoyed a bit of food and drink, I took a few photos and then we asked someone to point out Brenda Schwarz Miller. She is another person we have talked on the phone with and exchanged many e-mails with over activities and events of the Artist Round Table group in Columbia and now Tapp’s.

Listening by Sandra Carr

Inside Out by Sandra Carr

Detail of Inside Out by Sandra Carr

It is my experience that projects like this are usually the dream of one dynamic individual with the help of a few others. Tapp’s is definitely Miller’s baby. Again, I was reminded of the Art Trail Gallery in Florence where Jane Madden has made the project happen by sheer will and persistence in dealing with red tape – in both cases, business and city leaders.

Columbia has already had some experience with similar projects like Vista Studios and 701 Center for the Arts, but it has also had experience with fellows like Jack Gerstner – who first had a strangle hold on the 701 building and used it for personal gain. Miller is 180 degrees on the opposite end of Gerstner. So, I hope city leaders in Columbia soon help her make her dream and that of many artists in Columbia – come true. It will be good for Main Street in the long run.


Miller told us she has received lots of help from the building’s owner who also hopes for success of the Tapp’s project as he owns other buildings in downtown Columbia. There’s no problem in working in your own self interest while benefiting others. Too bad the SC Arts Commission doesn’t see that – unless they are dealing with folks shopping for Verner Awards through donations to the SC Arts Foundation. Otherwise we’re all greedy commercial enterprises – unworthy of a seat at the big arts table. They prefer creating a system of art welfare where arts groups become dependent on them for continued existence. How’s that working?

Burnt Offerings by Kara M. Gunter

Detail of Burnt Offerings by Kara M. Gunter

A real close detail of Burnt Offerings by Kara M. Gunter

I was hoping to run into Susan Lenz at Tapp’s but she never showed while we were there so we decided to go explore some of the other locations.

Outside we got a look at the window displays at the front of the building – which are very interesting, but hard to photograph as there was still some daylight lingering causing reflections.

One complaint or suggestion I have for First Thursday on Main organizers – whoever they are or will be is – they need a map of participating locations on Main Street available at all locations. If you’re hoping to attract people back to a downtown area they haven’t been to in years – don’t expect them to know where everything is – especially if they’re coming from out of town. I know the area pretty well, but not everything.

We went up Main toward the Capital building looking for a parking space – apparently the event was working. We saw where a few of the participating places were (except the Arcade), but no parking spaces were opening up – so we did the Charleston shuffle – driving around and around hoping someone would leave their space. On one of the rounds I spotted Susan Lenz in the window talking with folks at FreeTimes. And as luck would have it after a few trips around the block a space opened up.

Once we squeezed into the building and got close to Lenz we had managed to scratch another person off our never-met list. The place was packed with the who’s who of Columbia’s art community, very noisy, but there wasn’t really that many people there compared to the folks at the Tapp’s building. The illusion of a small packed room can throw you off, but it was a case of who was there. And as in many situations like this I saw folks I would have liked to say hey to, but never got the chance. Toni Elkins was working the room like a humming bird, and Jeffrey Day was there – not sure what that conversation would have been like. But, I did have a few friendly words with Ken May – head of the SC Arts Commission.

May called me his nemesis – which I thought was a little over-blown. He might have meant it as a compliment, but I later thought it didn’t really fit. It would be like calling Cuba America’s nemesis. A nemesis is usually an unbeatable rival or a source of harm or destruction. I don’t think I’m having that effect and his label gives me too much credit. I fit the description of a gadfly – which I was called once by an Arts Commission supporter. As May asked – “what would I write about without the Arts Commission?” I flashed back to a scene from Richard Nixon stating that we (the media) wouldn’t have him to kick around anymore. But then there was George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Fox News. There’s always someone being unfair or doing and saying silly things. So I’m not worried about losing the Arts Commission – one way or another. It may be a case of the last man standing in both our cases.

Ding on a Dong by Diane Gilbert – shot from the hip at FreeTimes

But, all in all, I was happy to talk with Susan Lenz, a human dynamo of the art world about a few of her current projects and past issues. But before long she needed to move on to Tapp’s  and said she still had work to do that night. We made a slow circle of the room – not able to see much of the art and headed for the door. It was now raining. (It hasn’t stopped raining since.)

Back at Tapp’s Linda had heard a few folks talking about sleet and not knowing what the temps were going down to we decided to get out of Columbia while the getting was good. Besides, this is an event which is taking place every month and is just picking up steam. We can always come back.

I highly recommend the trip, especially for folks from the Lowcountry. Columbia’s visual art community is much different from that of Charleston’s. I’ve always enjoyed going to Columbia to visit Artista Vista orVista Lights to get a different view of what artists are creating in South Carolina.

But, I think Columbia planners have a basic problem in attracting out of town visitors to come on Thursday evenings. It asks travelers to take a day off of work or make extended return travel plans. A four hour round trip is nothing for me, but others don’t see that as attractive. If these events were moved to a Friday or even a Saturday – they might attract more out of town visitors even though it would compete with other cities which present first Friday art walks, but what’s wrong with a little competition?

But, if the plan is to just attract locals to the downtown on a weekday – this just might work and before long it could include the Vista and Five Points area too. Why not have all of the city’s artists putting on a show. That’s what happened in Charleston.

As far as the Tapp’s Center for the Arts goes – here’s some of the plans. The space could supply 16 juried studios on the main level and 20 non-juried single and shared studios in the lower level. There are plans for three galleries, including a Cafe Gallery in the lower level. The facility would also include a frame shop, photography studio, print shop, wood workshop and clay studio. And, the good  part of the plan is that it is planned to be self-supporting. All they need is some start-up support to get the project going. If you would like more info about this project contact Brenda Schwarz Miller at 803/609-3479 or e-mail her at (

After looking at the photos I took – at least those usable – I seemed to be interested in sculptural works at the First Thursday event.

Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail in South Carolina is Growing

Friday, February 4th, 2011

It was about a year ago when we first brought you the story of South Carolina’s first entry into the National Quilt Trail program. It started out as the Oconee Heritage Quilt Trail when the first quilt square was mounted on the Oconee Heritage Center in Walhalla, SC, in Oconee County. Since that time the Quilt Trail has expanded to Anderson and Pickens counties and has been renamed the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail.

If you’ve never heard anything about the National Quilt Trail you might want to read that first blog entry I made at this link ( It’s much bigger in North Carolina.

You can see a youTube video of that first installation and other activities at this link (, just click on the Oconee Heritage Quilt Trail to the right.

These days I see quilt square’s or blocks everywhere – on the road and in photographs of other things. It’s amazing how one day you don’t know what something is and don’t care and then all of a sudden – you can spot them everywhere you go. Well, not so much in SC.

The Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail has a new website which is very informative at ( Check it out. It’s still in progress – they will be adding more photos and locations in time.

Here’s the group’s new press release:

The Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail continues to expand with the recent mounting of three new quilt blocks. Currently, there are now about 40 historic quilt patterns painted on boards and mounted on schools, barns, museums, libraries and homes in Oconee, Pickens and Anderson counties. The three latest are as follows:


Residence: Mrs. Rebecca DeFoor, 9221 Long Creek Hwy., in Westminster, SC – This quilt block has been lovingly prepared for Sarah Brown DeFoor to honor the memory of her late husband, Waymon Watson DeFoor, who died in 2010. The original quilt was made by Mr. DeFoor’s mother, Lucy Looney DeFoor, in the late 1930’s as a gift to the young couple. It has been in the family for more than 70 years. Sarah says it was too pretty to use, she’s been saving it! It’s finally out of storage and on her bed. Her daughter-in-law, Rebecca Harper DeFoor, worked on the quilt block along with members of the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail. The maker of this quilt combined traditional Nine Patch blocks with the diagonal progression of the Double Irish Chain pattern. The result forms a “framed center” overall design reminiscent of the fine patchwork quilts of the early 19th century.


Residence: Nan and Christine Drais – 476 Fire Tower Rd.,  in Seneca, SC – Eagle Ridge Star was born from the love of the barn owners’ love for the Tennessee Walking Horse. This block demonstrates the way quilt makers transform existing patterns to feature individualized imagery. Fiery colors of red and orange in this traditional eight pointed star represent the maker’s passion for the breed, while turquoise and blue represent the peace of the relationship humans experience with horses. Nan and her daughter Christine Drais have been lifelong equine enthusiasts and built Eagle Ridge Farm in 2005. Christine started quilting while in graduate school at Clemson University where she wrote her Master’s thesis on quilt travel.


Residence: Karen Books, 307 Valley Rd., in Seneca, SC – Quilt makers of the 21st century often choose to “paint” naturalistic images using fabric, as with this pair of loons. Instead of the square format of traditional block patterns, contemporary quilts often take the shape of a rectangle. The artist for this quilt is McKenna Ryan from her collection “Calling Me Home.” It is an adaptation from “All-a-Loon in the Mist” quilt. The original quilter is Pat Huggins of Seneca, SC, and it was sponsored by family and friends of Karen Brooks.

For more information on the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail, check out the website ( or call Martha File at 864/885-1018 or Cynthia Leggett at 864/985-1271.

The Feb. 2011 Issue of Carolina Arts is Available Now

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011


We have just uploaded the Feb. 2011 issue of Carolina Arts( Downloading the entire PDF file is the best way to view the paper – then you can enlarge the pages to any size you like. That’s what 9,000 people did last month.

This month the paper is 51 pages or 50 and 1/8. Our gallery listings were a little longer this month. There’s lot of stuff there about exhibits taking place in the Carolinas and some other things – a little commentary by me. Judith McGrath is back with us – all the way for down under. Her words are as popular as ever – her past articles received a lot of interest last month.

If you like what you see and decide you want to participate in our next issue – either with content or to advertise an exhibit, visual art event or your art – our deadline for the Mar. 2011 issue will be Feb. 24. Here’s a link to our advertising info (

And, as always we ask that you to help us spread the news that we are still publishing Carolina Arts in any way you can – by e-mail, social media, or some good old gossip.
Don’t forget to support and thank our sponsors!

Tom Starland
Carolina Arts