Archive for March, 2011

The April 2011 Issue of Carolina Arts is Now Ready

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

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The April 2011 issue of Carolina Arts is up on our website at (www.carolinaarts.com) – all 71 pages of it. We had over 45,000 downloads of the March 2011 issue, so you folks will have to work very hard to break that record this month. But, spreading the link around to  your e-mail lists and posting it on your Facebook page is what it will take. Once people see all that is going on in the visual art community of the Carolinas they will spread it around to their lists and on their Facebook page.

Of special interest this month is a batch of articles about exhibits taking place in North Carolina in an area we are calling – East of I-95 – in cities like Smithfield, Kinston, Rocky Mount, and Wilson. We don’t hear much about what’s going on there that often. We also have gallery listings for exhibits in Greenville, Tarboro, Washington, Jacksonville, New Bern, Manteo, and Wilmington.

So download that PDF and dig in – it’s going to take a while to get through this issue. And, don’t forget to find a way to thank our advertisers – they make the paper possible.

A March Through SC’s Pee Dee Area – Viewing Exhibits Here, There, and Everywhere – Part Two

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

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Well, after the rush of the day, Linda and I arrive in Florence, SC, fairly early – long before the 5:30pm reception for the Pee Dee Regional Photography Exhibit 2011 – Photofabulous! at the Art Trail Gallery. So, we end up taking a driving tour of Florence, exploring areas where I have never been before. Florence is a pretty big city and it has spread out in all directions.

After we find the Sonic we head to the Art Trail Gallery to see if we could get in early to start viewing the massive photography exhibit. Linda is hooked on the ice Sonic puts in their drinks. And it happened to be the right time for 1/2 price happy hour on drinks (2-4pm daily). Linda’s also an ice chewer. One day she’s going to chip a tooth. And, I’ll be there to say – Aah Ha!

I figured that going early also might secure us a good parking space as I knew this reception was going to be big. We got a spot right out in front of the gallery. When we went to the door we could see a beehive of activity going on inside. A man came to the door, who looked like he could have been the head of security and said, “Jane doesn’t let anyone in early!” I believed him, but said I’m Tom Starland from Carolina Arts and I was wondering if I could get in early to start looking before it got too crowded to see anything. He said, “Carolina Arts, I don’t have to ask Jane – I’m letting you in.”

Man, I’m going to have to try that the next time we get an opportunity to go to Outback Steak House. Jane Madden, the head of the Art Trail Gallery soon came up as she noticed protocol was being broken, but soon gave us the A-OK. Which was a good thing, as I doubt I would have been able to see it all – at least three times and get some inside info on what was going on with some of the images. Once 5pm came (a half-hour early) – the crowd just kept growing, as did the volume inside the building.

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I think this was the crowd before 5:30.

The guy at the door was Benjamin Watford of F & F Photography in Florence – one of the photographers in the show. His partner is TJ McKay, also with works in the show. Watford is a disabled veteran from Iraq who is using photography as a tool to look at the brighter and better things in life. A veteran from Iraq – that explained the take charge attitude.

For the next couple of hours, Watford became the go to guy whenever I had a question about what I was looking at. He didn’t stop working – nobody stopped working in Madden’s work crew – from the minute we arrived to the minute we finally left. From time to time I sought him out. I thanked him for his assistance, but unfortunately it will prevent me from mentioning his works. But, from what I heard, F & F Photography will do just fine in the photography world.

At this point I’m going to state our background in photography. Both Linda and I have worked in camera stores, owned and operated a custom black & white photo processing lab; taught photography; owned and operated a photography gallery (with a few friends); organized the SC Photographer’s Guild; and were both active photographers – before we got in the publishing business.

We have known some of the most talented photographers in SC – both commercial and fine art photographers. Some of our best friends are photographers – if you can believe that.

We’re old school photography, yet I appreciate all of the technological advances that have taken place since we got out of it. So, I’m not an old school snob.

I also will include that I personally made the decision to stop trying to be a fine art photographer soon after arriving in Charleston – over 30 years ago due to the abundance of really great photographers I found there. And, I think I was pretty good. I decided to serve the photography community as best I could – in short I became a photography pimp.

The coming future of digital photography and frustrations about photography’s acceptance into the art world led us into publishing an arts newspaper. This latter factor is still a problem, but not as bad as it was 15 – 20 years ago.

With that said, I also want to add that I have seen a lot of fantastic photography – in years past and in doing Carolina Arts – so it takes a lot to get me excited when looking at photography and it doesn’t happen that often. It’s not a matter of being good – really good photography – it’s more a matter of seeing something really different – that hasn’t been done before and is done really well. At this point in my life I see all art through that frame.

I also thank my lucky stars I was not asked to be a judge for this show and hope I never will, and I tip my hat to those who did that job – Beth Anderson, Geoff Hughes, and Brian Nolan, who had an immense and difficult task in awarding the prizes in this show. Better them than me, as there was so much good work in this exhibit to choose from. I heard someone say there were 1,000 images on display. I didn’t take a count.

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Good thing I had already finished looking by now.

So here’s some things that captured my attention.

First, I found the coolest name for a photographer – Missy Davis Jones. She took a Second Place ribbon in the Portrait category. I liked Jones’ camera perspective and how she framed her subjects – sometimes from unexpected angles. Jones is not making cookie-cutter portraits. She also presented her works very well.

It should be noted that the photographers hung their own works in this show.

As I mentioned in Part One, I was taken by the “photographs” of Suzanne Muldrow – which don’t look like photographs in any way I was familiar with. I know about Photoshop and what it can do, but this seemed to be a step beyond, but probably not that uncommon these days. My favorite of her works was Liquid Silk, an image of a vase of colorful flowers which I bet would have looked good as a straight image, but this blurring (liquid) technique gave the image a nice effect. The technique, whatever she calls it doesn’t always work in my opinion, but it did for Liquid Silk.

I could write volumes on how the public loves photographs that don’t look like photographs, but I’ll spare you all that tirade.

Over the years my tastes in art has moved towards abstract art. I don’t know why, but it happened and macro photography lends itself to the abstract. The short depth of field (depth of the focus) causes things in the background of whatever the photographer is trying to capture – up close – in exacting detail, to be blurred – creating abstract backgrounds.

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Flower Candelabra by Linda Borek

This effect captured my attention in several images, one being Linda Borek’s Flower Candelabra, and Sandra Anderson’s Blue Dragonfly. In Borek’s image it was the purple anthers of a flower against a fuzzy yellow background – the petal walls. And, in Anderson’s, it was the sharp image of a blue dragonfly against another fuzzy yellow background. There were several other images of dragonflies in the exhibit, but it was the background that made this image stand out. Selective, controlled focus is the key in macro photography.

Ann Klein had an image of a pink flower against a black background which used some of these same techniques of a sharp image against a solid background, but in her image it was the perspective that made the difference – she gave us a look at the back of the flower and the rest of the image was dark space. It made the image. I liked the image when we used it in the paper, but I really liked it up close in person.

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Image by Ann Klein. I didn’t get the name as she came up just as I was writing notes.

When it came to black and white images, Linda and I agreed on this – something that doesn’t happen that often, but in this case it was easy. Jimmy Gordy’s infrared image titled, Galivant’s Ferry was our favorite. I was glad to see that some people are still doing black and white photography. I’m grateful that there are still people in this world who see the beauty in a black and white world. I know to some folks using infrared film is thought of as a trick, but again Gordy’s image would have been good as a straight image. The effects of the infrared just added the right touch.

In the artsy category, one of my own making, I liked the image calledHands Relaxed, by Renee Fitch Smith – dark hands in motion against a dark blue background. It’s a simple image, but it rivaled Flower Candelabraas my favorite in the show. Boy, that’s got to tell you something about my taste in photography – for those who saw this exhibit. But, not really. Each viewing of a collection of images is different – a moment in time – never to be repeated – much like the official judging of this competition. We could all return a month later and pick totally different images as our favorites or category winners in the judges’ case.

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Hands Relaxed by Renee Fitch Smith

Look, this show wasn’t juried. There was no making the cut, but it was judged after the fact and anyone who has the guts to put their images on public display – open to public comments and a judge (three in this case) – is a winner. But, it doesn’t mean you can’t improve or learn from others. I would advise the photographers in this show to not get too concerned about whether you received a ribbon or not – for all you know, your unrecognized image was someone’s favorite. And, it might not even have been your mother. There’s always another competition just around the corner and the results can be totally different – even if the works were the same. I’ve seen it happen.

So which image was my favorite? You noticed how I strayed away from that subject. In this country our vote is a private thing. I cast my ballot for the People’s Choice award and like all elections – I’m willing to accept the results. I might bitch about it later, but that’s the American way.

There were a lot of interesting portraits in this exhibit. You could tell a lot of these folks were in business – professionals. I’d have to say David Childers was my favorite, but not by much. I also was drawn to Nathan Hasenjaeger’s portraits, which was a little disturbing. I guess he was in a category called “That’s Different”. You got that right! After the third viewing I heard my inner voice saying, “Luke – come back to the Force. Pay no attention to the Dark Side. You don’t need to look at Mr. Hasenjaeger’s photos anymore.”

But, like I said in Part One – as an artist, he should be happy. He captured my attention and got me thinking. And, his images are locked in my brain with all the others that did the same.

There were images in the exhibit that were made by children. Now I don’t know what the age cutoff was to be considered a “youth” image. They were marked with blue tape, but some would have passed without it. I always like the perspective young people have. They see things totally different than we adults do.

Photographer Jeff Smith showed how to tell a story with photography with his “Tobacco Tales,” presentation celebrating the life of the tobacco farmer. The images were strong enough to stand alone, but as a group were even stronger. I didn’t like the fact that his tags were directly on his photos, but it’s a lesson all photographers can pay heed in any opportunity to show several of your works. Unless you’re trying to make sales or gain customers – it’s not always best to show your “greatest hits”. Images presented with a similar theme are stronger. It gets people thinking about exhibits.

Which brings me to Brian Dawson’s works. I think he had top honors in my book for the most consistent presentation of his works. It was like a museum exhibit – with mats and frames all alike – it only left the images to look at.

Presentation is always important – in all aspects of exhibiting your work. No detail shouldn’t be considered.

OK – I’m out on this little tree limb far enough. I enjoyed the show, and I enjoyed the reception. What a joy to see so many people interested in photography. My only wish and it’s easy for me to make it is – I hope that one day – not too far off, the powers that be behind the Art Trail Gallery invest in some better lighting.

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People were still streaming in as I took this parting shot.

Jane Madden and her crew are doing a heck of a job in presenting art to the Florence community and beyond – with the new Florence Museum coming next door – it might be time to make an investment in the future. Lighting is everything when it comes to art.

Oh yeah, the food was great and Jane Madden was still re-loading food on tables when we left. They had a ton of food and apparently from what I heard – Florence ate it all.

A big finale for Photofabulous! FDDC’s first Florence After 5 event will be held Friday, Apr. 29, 2011, from 5:30 – 8pm – the last day of the exhibit. There will be food vendors, live music with Midway Blue and lots of friendly, happy people.

The Art Trail Gallery is located at 135 S. Dargan Street in downtown Florence, SC.  Hours are: Tue.-Thur., 11:30am-2:30pm & Fri., 5:30-8pm.

For further info contact Jane Madden at 843/673-0729 or visit (www.art-trail-gallery.com).

A March Through SC’s Pee Dee Area – Viewing Exhibits Here, There, and Everywhere – Part One

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Linda, my better half, and I planned a grand trek to see numerous exhibits on Friday, March 18, 2011, with the end stop being the reception for thePhotofabulous exhibit, the largest collection of photography on display in SC, at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, which started at 5:30pm.

The master plan was to leave Bonneau, SC, the headquarters of Carolina Arts, and head toward Sumter, SC, to see the exhibits at the Sumter County Gallery of Art, which opened at 11am. So we left at 9am to make sure we were there on time.

From Sumter it would be a mad dash to Hartsville, SC, to squeeze in the door of the Black Creek Arts Center which closed at 1pm. That meant we had to leave Sumter before noon and hope we didn’t get stuck behind a farmer on his tractor on a winding two-lane road. While in Hartsville we would also take in the exhibit at Coker College.

From Hartsville, we would move on to Darlington, SC, to check out a couple of commercial galleries and then move on to Florence for the BIG show.

That was the plan.

To Linda’s credit, who worked a 12 hour shift on Thursday, we were driving away from our headquarters by 8:58am – a good sign. And as it turned out we arrived in Sumter a lot earlier than I expected. It’s been a few years since Sumter was on our delivery route and I expect to travel slower during the day than at night. So we had bonus time in Sumter.

No problem – we headed over to USC-Sumter to the University Gallery, located in the Anderson Library, to see Doni Jordan’s exhibit, doni jordan: tomes, on view through April 12, 2011.

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When you see one image that is sent to you to represent an exhibit, it can really taint your expectations of what you will see. The written words in a press release can fill in some of the blanks, but not much. I had the impression that the exhibit would be different combinations of old printer type in window boxes – not so. There was plenty of that but much more.

I took a few photos, but the gallery space has museum lighting – which is good for getting up close to works but not good for photography and when works are behind glass or Plexiglas – flash photography is just another problem.

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Part of the exhibit was a display of old typewriters – which could be considered museum pieces now, since most people under 25 probably haven’t seen many around. It won’t be long before computer keyboards are in the same boat.

 

In fact, many things in this exhibit will age the person who recognizes the items included. A lot of the items assembled are no longer used – replaced by new technology or soon will be – including the books which may have been made using these old tools of typography. But, Jordan makes creative use of them in making statements in her assembled works – including wood and metal type, tin type photos, binding thread, spools, and small books – with an occasional message spelled out in the mix.

You can read more in our March 2011 issue of Caroli311usc-sum-doni-jordan3na Arts. Tick-Tock – time to move on.

We’re standing at the door of the Sumter County Gallery of Art at the Sumter County Cultural Center, at 11am, but the door is locked. Five minutes later the door is still locked. We can see through the door and people are working down a long hallway in the Patriot Hall part of the building. When we arrived I saw people unloading something at a side door so I go around, go in and find someone in the Gallery shop and ask if they are open. They are and I tell them the gallery door is still locked. I wish I had a nickel  for every time that has happened over the years.

The Sumter County Gallery of Art may still have a name connected to the past, but their gallery space rivals any at art museums in the Carolinas. It’s why they can attract top tier artists to exhibit in Sumter. That’s not a slap at Sumter – more at top tier artists. You’ll be able to see that in the photos I was able to take.

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I came to see the exhibits: Joe Walters: A Mid-career Retrospective, featuring a major exhibition of sculpture and works on paper by Charleston, SC-based artist Joe Walters and Anne Lemanski: Touch and Go, featuring a selection of her highly crafted sculptural works that utilize familiar forms to explore the inconsistencies and contradictions she sees in the world, from our culture’s treatment of women to its exploitation of both domesticated and wild animals. Both exhibits are on view through April 22, 2011.

If you can’t get to Sumter and you’re closer to Charleston, the Corrigan Gallery in Charleston is showing, A Riff on Nests, featuring sculptures and works on paper by Joe Walters, his first show in Charleston in many years – showing works in the same style as those being shown in Sumter. This exhibit is up through March 31, 2011.

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This is a detail shot of a larger work.

I’ve always liked Walters’ animal installations and this is a little different – more flora than fauna, but in the same style where the sculptural works have the look of years of built up rust – in brown or gray.

The works on paper have the same rusty brown color and a rough surface – also implying age.

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The works cry out to be touched, but please don’t. Like all things in nature – they are better off viewed from a distance than having humans touch them in our often rough and destructive ways.

Anne Lemanski: Touch and Go, is a good match for Walters’ exhibit as her works also show man’s “destructive” effects on animals.

Her work 21st Century Super Species: Jack-dor, dominates the display of animals who, in the form Lemanski presents, show how they might have adapted under man’s reign on this planet. This rabbit creature stands 8 feet tall,  has a 10 foot wingspan and is composed of many parts from other animals. The creature brings up the thought – Is this what man will have to deal with in the future if he doesn’t clean up his act and clean up the environment of this planet? According to Darwin – the animals will adapt. Of course we will too as we are just another animal.

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All of these creatures, that may seem like familiar animals, have adapted bright colors or a sort of camouflage and all give off the message – man beware – even the look on a giant golden frog’s head is menacing.

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Lemanski also offers a display of hairstyles of women from different decades – a commentary on how women were perceived.

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One hairstyle was titled, 1960 Occupation: Housewife, was pink and resembled the logo for the movie Hairspray. You might see women wearing these dos on the popular TV show Madmen. Another, titled 1940 For The Boys, may have represented the style women wore in the war factories while their men were off fighting WWII. There were two badges or buttons on the piece which showed 40′s style pinup gals.

 

We have more about these exhibits in our March 2011 issue of Carolina Arts.

Before we left the Sumter County Gallery 311scga-anne-lemanski4of Art we walked down the hallway where we could see people working through the door when we couldn’t get in, and they were hanging a quilt show that was going to be at the Patriot Hall Galleries – just for that weekend.

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Quilt #143 – “Hanging Gardens of Bobbi Ann” by Barbara Fitzsimmons

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Detail of Quilt #178 – “Fish of Another Color” by Thomasyne Martin

This was going to be the 3rd Swan Lake Quilt Guild Quilt Extravaganza. The guild has 85 members and is growing. I took a few quick photos, but the lighting was not as good there, and we were on the run. Carolina Artsis making a lot of contacts with quilt guilds it seems, but most seem to be a little shy in dealing with us – as if they are not sure we would be interested. One of our favorite works of art in our collection is an art quilt from a friend who unfortunately lives in Virginia or you’d be seeing lots of her works in our paper. Tick-Tock!

The race is on to Hartsville – a town I haven’t been to in a least a decade if not longer. Fortunately, we run into no tractors on the road – a few old geezers in pickup trucks, but no big delays and we get there in time. As we are walking through the doors of the Black Creek Arts Center I see that they are now open until 2pm on Fridays. Of course that may have been their hours for some time now, but we had 1pm in our records. It’s corrected now.

No harm, no foul, except there were a couple of interesting places we would have stopped at as we passed through Bishopville on the way. I guess that will have to wait for another trek.

The Black Creek Arts Center is showing The Pate Family Art Exhibit, featuring works by 14 members of this family spanning four generations. It began with Wilhelmina Stucky Pate, and the exhibit is on view in the Jean & James Fort Gallery through April 29, 2011.

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Pate Family Tree

That’s a big family of artists and they do everything, paintings – big and small, photography, stained glass, jewelry, and architectural models. And, it seems they all work in various mediums. Makes you wonder if there is something like an art gene.

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“On the Way to St. Simons” by Charles Pate Jr.

Most of the Pate family works are pretty straight forward – there’s not many hidden meanings or messages here. That was a good thing as viewing this exhibit was sandwiched in between two exhibits where you had to put your thinking cap on.

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“Quiet Power” by Martin Pate

It has to be nice to come from an art family, having access to all that experience and knowledge. I guess it could be a problem if you didn’t really want to be an artist, but who doesn’t – right. Well, I might want to a little, but I’ve seen enough to know it’s no cake walk.

We have more info about this exhibit in our March 2011 issue of Carolina Arts.

We went upstairs at the Arts Center and found a lot more art on display and I guess a photography exhibit, but there wasn’t any formal info – these works may always be on display. I can hear people say – “Why didn’t you ask?” And, I don’t ask, as I expect things to be clearly marked or explained – I know lots of people won’t bother to ask so I want to see how each exhibit space handles such things.

It’s like unpriced art. If I have to ask, I’m not interested – even if I can afford it. I don’t have to worry about that these days – I’m in the selling mode more than buying.

It was upstairs where I saw a new form of photography. Our background is in photography, but photography is one of the few art mediums that seems to be ever changing. There were a couple of “photographs” by Suzanne Muldrow on the wall that when I looked at them my first question is – “How is this a photograph?” But, I was to learn about that later at the BIG photography exhibit. These images looked like drawings and I didn’t see anything that would have looked like photography. I couldn’t take a photo as the lighting was bad and the work was behind glass. It was the first of many new things I was going to learn about photography this day.

The Black Creek Arts Centers seems to be set up to do all things in the arts – exhibits, performances, and education – with lots of classroom spaces. It’s probably quite a beehive of activity for the Hartsville area.

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When we left the building I snapped a photo of the outside and later learned that the artwork out front was a sculpture display of old saw blades by Mike Fowle, who we had featured when I was last in Florence to see exhibits. Of course Hartsville is his and Patz Fowle’s hometown.

We drove over to Coker College, just a few blocks away from the Arts Center, parked and ate the lunch we brought with us – what a nice day – spring was in bloom and the weather was great.

The exhibit, Heather Freeman: Digital and Traditional Media, is on view through March 25, 2011, at the Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery in the Gladys Coker Fort Art Building.

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In the literature offered in the gallery it says that Freeman has been interested in science since she was a child. She is particularly interested in the language and symbolic forms of science and where these intersect with mythic, religious and popular iconography.

This was an exhibit where you were going to have to read a lot of offered materials to get the message the artist was hoping to get across to the viewer or not. Freeman might be just as happy with whatever you came up with – which I’m sure is different with every viewer.

The written materials also stated that Freeman was an assistant professor of digital media at the University of North Carolina, but finding the digital media was a trick in many of the images offered.

The tags on the works listed the media as digital print on watercolor paper, with added ink, graphite and watercolor. To me, digital print would mean some sort of photographed image was involved – whether it be a straight photograph or a copied or captured image from another photograph. But in Freeman’s images I would say the digital image represented at best 20 – 30% of the image and the rest was drawn in with the other media. In some it was maybe 50-50.

Freeman says, “I believe science has merged with popular culture to become a covertly ‘universal’ religion.”

The titles of some of the works helped somewhat, but to me these kinds of images are not as strong without the written materials. That’s just me.

One image was titled, Grandma teach me to sleep. From that I assumed that these are images of dreams and nightmares – products of restless sleep. I’m glad my life is a lot simpler.

Later that night at the BIG photography show when someone heard that we had just seen this exhibit they asked if the gallery director gave us the “tour” – explaining what each image meant. I hope that’s not where we are headed, where everyone has to be spoon-fed the meaning of art.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked a lot of the imagery, received some strong vibes from some and was disturbed by others – which should make any artist happy. She made me think and I’ll forever blame her for that.

We have more info about this exhibit in our March 2011 issue of Carolina Arts.

Before we left Coker College I snapped a few photos of the Pearl Fryar topiary garden on the Coker campus.

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Next up was Darlington, SC, to check out a couple of commercial galleries – The Chameleon Art Gallery and the Birds of a Feather Arts Gallery.

I’ve been to The Chameleon Art Gallery back when they first opened, but not since – again, during the old model for Carolina Arts, we could only afford to distribute the paper in areas we received income from – so we were not going to the Pee Dee much at all – even though I rode through the area each month on my way home from delivering in NC.

Since that time the gallery space had changed – with the times, or should I say economy? What was once a fully exhibition space was now part display, part service with a framing station and the rest was set up for teaching art classes. It was the first thing promoted to us when we entered.

A long, long time ago when we first started, I would walk into a gallery and if they had some new artsy knickknack items up for sale the gallery owner would apologize, and I would tell them, “don’t”. You have to do whatever it takes to bring in money to keep the doors open. After all, art galleries are not meant to be museums – where you just show art. If the doors are closed no artworks are on the walls, no artworks are seen and no artworks are ever purchased.

We had two art galleries that didn’t make the rent on their own in our past lives. We know how hard it is to keep the doors open and we started this paper to help galleries. Darlington is lucky to have art galleries.

We located the Birds of a Feather Gallery on our way out of the downtown area – with the help of Linda’s iPhone, but the gallery was closed at 2:25pm on Friday, even though the sign on the door said it should have been open. But, we don’t know what was going on so it was just another missed opportunity on both our parts. I could see that this gallery was also into art classes.

Hey, most of the press releases we get from the non-profit art centers and arts councils are about the classes they are offering. It’s what brings in the money.

There’s a lot of visual arts going on out there of all levels and you don’t have to go to the big city to have your brain challenged. Everything we saw could have just as well been on view in any of those big cities. So getting off the beaten path sometimes can bring rewards and discovery.

Next stop Florence – in Part Two.

The Accounts Of Our Journey Through SC’s Pee Dee Area Will Have To Be Delayed – The British Are On Our Tail

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

I know there might be some folks out there who are waiting to read what I have to say about the trip Linda and I made Friday, March 18, 2011, to Sumter, SC – not in the Pee Dee area and several locations in the Pee Dee, including Hartsville, Darlington and Florence. In fact this will be a two part blog when I am finished. Part One will cover five exhibits and Part Two, will cover the exhibit Photofabulous, on view at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence.

Friday we were on the road all day and as it turns out we were in Charleston, SC, all day Saturday taking care of some computer problems. Two days away from the computers means two days of piled up e-mail, phone messages and deadlines on some ads for approval. I’m referring to that catch-up work as the British and there are no weekends off here at Carolina Arts. But, I wanted people to know the delay has no hidden meaning and is no sign of a major bomb being dropped like – our new Governor replacing the entire board of SCETV with yes men and yes women who will do the job she couldn’t get the SC Legislature to do for her. Look out SC Arts Commission – you may be next!

So, in a few days we’ll have Part One ready.

How Much Do SC’s Public Workers Get Paid?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

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I was surfing through The State newspaper (online version) in Columbia, SC, as I do many Carolina newspapers keeping up with what’s going on and I noticed a headline which has probably been there for months, but for some reason caught my eye today. The headline was, “How much do SC’s public workers get paid?”.

The State offers a date base (http://www.thestate.com/statesalaries/) of what some State employees make each year. This database contains names, positions and salaries of state government employees making $50,000 or more a year in base salary, as furnished by the agencies in response to SC Freedom of Information Act requests. I just had to look and then I wished I didn’t. And as far as I know, these salaries do not include the value of State benefits and other perks (use of cars, travel expenses, etc.) given to these employees.

Here’s the question. Should Ken May, head of the SC Arts Commission make $91,664.009 a year?

That’s almost as much money as our new Governor was paid to raise funds for a Columbia hospital – another headline story in The State(http://www.thestate.com/2011/03/16/1738514/hospital-no-one-here-filled-out.html). According to The State, the not yet Governor was hired as a fundraiser by Lexington Medical Center in August 2008, a position created for her at a $110,000-a-year salary, which she held until April 2010 – although the not yet Governor had no experience as a fundraiser – other than being a politician. But that’s no big deal – lots of people in SC government are given important jobs with no experience.

Now, I’m going on record here. Ken May thinks of me as his nemesis. So I guess wondering if the job he is doing is worth $91,664.009 – it could be considered another poke at him and the SC Arts Commission.

But, I’m also wondering if Harriett Green, visual arts coordinator, should make $55,284.009 a year? I’m not sure that’s the kind of money anyone should be paid for moving a few exhibits (the same exhibits) around the state from year to year. So, it’s not just about Ken May.

Of course I guess these salaries are based on the old SC Arts Commission – the one that had twice the budget a few years ago – compared to the new Commission which will get smaller and smaller over the next few years – it not disappearing all together. And, I wonder how they figure in the .9 cents?

And, folks don’t forget – a smaller budget at the SC Arts Commission means smaller grant funds to groups and artists and smaller services rendered – but it seems the salaries… Well, maybe they’re less than what they used to be? Isn’t that how it works – the less money you have (I can’t say make) the less money you get?

Well, anyway – I wish I hadn’t clicked that link at The State. I was much happier not knowing. How about you?

Daffie Days Will be Popping Up at Bulldog Pottery in Seagrove, NC – Mar. 25 – 27, 2011

Monday, March 14th, 2011

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Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke of Bulldog Pottery in Seagrove, NC, are working hard to make sure that more than the daffodils are adding to the color of Spring in Seagrove. The end result is Daffie Days – with fresh colorful pots at Bulldog Pottery – Mar. 25 – 27, 2011.

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And, you can be sure that Ed and Gloria Henneke and Max the bulldog are right in the middle of the action. Of course Max will being doing home security duties during the event – so feel free to show your legs – they probably need some sun after this Winter.

Hours for Daffie Days are:
Friday, Mar. 25 – 9am – 6pm
Saturday, Mar. 26 – 9am – 6pm
Sunday, Mar. 27 – 11am – 5pm

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Bruce and Samantha will offer a variety of vases and studio art pottery. Daffie Days is their kiln opening to welcome the beginning of spring. Light refreshments will be available.

If you want to follow the action, just check out the Bulldog Pottery blog at (http://bulldogpottery.blogspot.com/). Or go “Like” their Facebook Page.

Can’t make it! Let me take a few seconds for this to settle in.

OK – let’s say you’re getting married that weekend or having elective cosmetic surgery. I guess that’s understandable.

Makeup days will be Apr. 16 & 17, 2011, when Bulldog Pottery participates with other Seagrove area potteries during the Seagrove Celebration of Spring Kiln Openings. We’ll have more about that later.

And, if you’re the kind of person who’s about to tell me you can’t make it that weekend, as that’s the weekend you and the gang planned to meet after that big job you pulled off and the statute of limitations have run out – OK – another pass, but you have to make it to this next event – no excuses.

Cousins in Clay 2011 will be held at Bulldog Pottery on May 28 & 29, 2011. This year’s guest potters will be Jack Troy from Pennsylvania and Peter Lenzo from South Carolina.

If you don’t make that event – the next person at your door just might be wearing a dark blue jacket with the letters F. B. I. stenciled on the back. And, if you hear them say – “Bring up Max” – run!

Bulldog Pottery is located, 5 miles south of the town of Seagrove, NC, on Business 220 (right off of future Interstate 73/74).

For more information about these events call 336/302-3469, e-mail to (bulldog@bulldogpottery.com), or visit (www.bulldogpottery.com).

Tracking the Number of Downloads of the PDF of the March 2011 Issue of Carolina Arts

Friday, March 11th, 2011

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Last month’s excitement over the downloads of the PDF of Carolina Arts has turned to concern. The kind of concern every publisher should have, but I guess I’m a little different.

I won’t keep you hanging any longer if this is of interest to you. As of ten days in March – the PDF of the March 2011 issue of Carolina Arts has been downloaded 35,867 times.

Now let me recap the last couple of months for you. In Jan., our first electronic issue, in the first ten days 3,185 people had downloaded the PDF of the paper and by the end of the month a total of 8,929 had done the same. In Feb., in the first ten days 15,722 people had downloaded the PDF of that issue, a 5 fold increase, and by the end of the month 19,624 downloaded the issue.

The 35,867 number is a staggering figure for me to take in. I’m wondering where these folks are coming from and I’m concerned that this sudden fascination with Carolina Arts will wear off. I hope not, and I vow that Linda and I will do our best to keep the paper interesting, but will this keep up?

Now some might think – it will go over 40,000 buy the end of the month, but I’m not so sure. The bulk of the downloads come in at the beginning of the month. Although funny things happen.

Last month, on Feb. 28, the last day of the month, 5 people downloaded the Feb. PDF. I was hoping to go over 20,000, but it just didn’t happen. On that same day 1,200 people downloaded the Jan. PDF. Go figure.

That look back factor has slowed down this month. In the same ten days in March, 1,538 people downloaded the Feb. PDF and only 301 people downloaded the Jan. PDF.

The Other Factor

Much like the TV show Lost, we’re dealing with The Others.

In our stats program I can look at how many people make contact or call up every page on our website. Every line on that list represents some part of the website – except one. It’s listed as (other). We know very little about this number and our server seems to know a little more, but nothing for sure about this nebulous figure. I hate The Others, because I think they are hiding things from me.

In the first ten days in March the count for (other) was 25,382. According to the folks we talked with at the server, that could mean that out of that number 1 or 25,382 could have viewed the paper or not. Ten people could have viewed the paper in their browser and the other 25,372 could have looked at a commentary I wrote about the SC Arts Commission. They’re very popular.

In Feb., by the end of the month we had 68,739 (others).

Many people who are working themselves to boost the number of folks who download the issues of the paper tell me I’m really underestimating how many people are viewing the paper – so be it. I’m being conservative – for once. The download number is the only number I can be sure of and I’m very happy with these numbers.

I’m concerned that I’m going to wake up one month in June or July, on the 11th day of the month – check the numbers and find out only ten people downloaded that month’s issue. Knock on wood. Can you blame me?

Like I’ve said before I know of several arts groups who are sending the link for the PDF download out to their e-mail lists – some are pretty big list, but the 35,867 number has me wondering – were are all these downloads coming from?

We have heard from a few folks who used to pick up our printed paper out there and maybe those 9,000 to 10,000 folks have finally found us online, but I doubt it. That’s going to take some time to recover those readers – even if they are willing to read an online paper – which is an issue.

I hope whatever is happening keeps on happening, but I want to warn readers that at some point this is going to level off or even fall back – especially when we hit the summer months.

But, if you want to make me even worry more – spread that link around and push those numbers up. I can’t lose much more hair over it, but I might have a few more nightmares of that day when only ten people downloaded the paper. Here’s the link to the page where you can start the download (http://www.carolinaarts.com/311/311carolinaarts.html).

Last month we also stopped offering the articles in the paper separately on our website, but after numerous complains we will be adding them back in, but well after the launch of the paper at the first of the month – more like the middle of the month. We want to move forward, but we don’t want to leave some folks behind.

Thanks if you’re spreading the paper around and if you’re one of The Others – show yourself – click that download.

Finally, it’s hard to think of any of this as being important in the light of what is going on in Japan and Libya, or most of the rest of the world for that matter, but our hearts and prayers go out to these folks who are suffering while we’re worrying about the arts, but it will be artists who help people see what these people went through. We deal with tragedy and hopefully learn from it

Highlights for the March 12, 2011, Second Saturday Art Walk in Salisbury and Spencer, NC

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

With spring just around the corner, take time out this Saturday afternoon from 1-5pm to stroll around downtown Salisbury and Spencer, NC, to check out the new exhibits and deals offered by participating galleries during this month’s Second Saturday Art Walk.

In Spencer, the Green Goat Gallery is offering a 10% discount on all of local metalsmith Cory Owen’s clever garden flowers and canines. All pieces are one-of-a-kind, using recycled hand and industrial tools from steel rasps and antique wrenches to lawnmower chains and more.

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Work by Cory Owen

In Salisbury, Southern Spirit Gallery on Main Street is featuring painted and fired glassware by Kristin Shamel of The Gilded Touch.  Kristin will be offering a 15% discount on all her beautiful glassware to all participants of the Art Walk. Southern Spirit Gallery will also offer a 10% discount on all wall art for the Saturday, March 12th Stroll only.

Down on N. Lee Street, Rail Walk Studios & Gallery has extended its popular “Red Show” featuring a variety of crimson creations by artists Sharon Forthofer, Karen Frazer, Annette Hall, Jane Johnson, Patt Legg, and Marietta Smith. Annette Hall is offering one of her small, hand-painted pendants as a gift to anyone who makes a purchase from her of $100 or more. Sharon Forthofer is offering 10% off on her traditional oils, on this day only. Next door at the Looking Glass Artist Collective, there will be several artists on hand demonstrating their craft.

The Art Walk hours are 1-5pm. Many of the venues are open earlier. In the evening, the Center for Faith & the Arts is hosting an opening reception from 5-7:30pm for the exhibit, Deja Vu: Return of Last Summer’s Prize Winners, featuring artists Barbara Harris Richmond, Luther Sowers and Stephen Hoke. The gallery is at 207 W. Harrison St., in the lower level of Haven Lutheran Church.

A map and list of the 11 participating studios and galleries is available in the Art Crawl Brochure.

Observations on the Figurative Ceramic Symposium at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC, Held on Mar. 5, 2011

Monday, March 7th, 2011

I made it to the Figure It Out, Figurative Ceramic Symposium at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC, held on Mar. 5, 2011.  The symposium started at 6:30pm and was scheduled to run to 8:30pm, which was already a challenge for me, being two hours away and rain in the forecast. I knew I’d be lucky to get back home by 11pm and as it turned out technical difficulties caused the presentation to run late, but it was worth it. I wish I could have hung around after, but the clock is always ticking with me and I had too many questions to ask that would have run far into the night. And after all, this symposium seemed to be mostly for the students at FMU. There were about 200 people in attendance.

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Work by Cristina Cordova

The guest speakers for the symposium were Cristina Cordova, from Penland, NC (born in Puerto Rico); Sergei Isupov, from Cummington, MA (born in Russia); and Janis Mars Wunderlich, from Columbus, OH. They had given demos and worked with students during the day. Like most events at colleges and universities – the main focus is on students, as it should be, and usually the public is invited to participate as an extra for the local community. I went as an observer – not a participant. I’m not a ceramic artist, nor do I ever hope to be, I’m a communicator.

I arrived at FMU early enough to get a few photos of the Francis Marion sculpture on campus and hopefully a look at the ceramic exhibit on view at the Hyman Fine Arts Center. I was surprised that the space was open. I guess they kept it open because of the symposium. While there, I ran intoPatz Fowle, a local figurative ceramic sculptor who was also there for the symposium. It was Fowle who turned me on to the symposium to begin with. We didn’t get to talk, as the symposium was going to start soon.

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Work by Sergei Isupov

The three speakers selected for the symposium made for a diverse view of artists working in the figurative ceramics field. Each gave a presentation, showing their work, and talking about creative challenges and their working lives. They all had interesting backgrounds, created fantastic works, and described colorful ascensions to their current positions (well regarded) in their chosen field.

After their presentations a panel discussion began with the three artists, co-moderated by Dr. Howard Frye, Assistant Professor of Art Education and Coordinator of the Art Education Program and Doug Gray, Professor of Visual Arts – Ceramics and Sculpture, both at FMU. The topic of the discussion was: The Development of Personal Imagery.

There was a brief question and answer period after the discussion period and the event was over. I didn’t ask any questions as I was playing the part of the observer and as I said before – I had too many questions to even get started, but I do have one observation.

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Work by Janis Mars Wunderlich

Over all, the symposium did a good job of giving students and others attending a look at three individuals who have gained a level of success in their careers. They covered their backgrounds, their influences, creative process, and struggles to stay focused and motivated, but there were only hints at the other side of the artful life – the business side.

Cordova talked a little about the pressures of success and cultural heritage; Isupov hinted at troubles dealing with the public and dealers; and Wunderlich talked about the challenge to find time to work in a house full of children (five, from 1st grade to college) and being an artist/mother. But there was never a full on discussion of the business side of the art world – the side that will be the biggest challenge to any of these students if they choose the life of an artist.

Cordova, who still works with students at the Penland School of Crafts admitted that she was never prepared in school for the business side of the arts. And, it wasn’t until she had a three year residency at Penland that she learned many of the components to becoming a successful artist – in business.

As I’ve said many times – money is the mother’s milk of the arts – without it not much happens. The parents of these students are not looking forward to their children returning from university to turn the family garage into a studio and to cover room and board forever. Time may seem free, but supplies and equipment are not. So, money makes the arts go round and there was little discussion about it at this symposium – which maybe would have been off topic, but when will students in the arts be given that wakeup call?

I would have liked to know: what price these artists’ works sold for? Do they do more exhibiting than selling? How often do they sell? Are they selling enough to be making a living at it? All had spouses, Cordova’s husband was a glass artist – so maybe two artists are better than one, and perhaps the others rely on the incomes of their spouses for living expenses? I don’t know, but I know the students at that symposium don’t have a clue of what’s waiting for them. Little hints were all they got and my bet is most of them were over their heads.

What about dealing with the public that only sees artists in one light – as people who are different from the rest of us and with success comes fame and its demands. What about dealing with galleries and dealers – it can’t be all smooth sailing. And, how about taxes, marketing, marriage, children, mortgages, etc. – the other stuff that will make or break an artist. These folks must of had a wealth of answers on these subjects.

Of course the challenges are different for each artist, but the goal is the same. How do I get to create what I want and have a life – make a living – at the same time? Not all at first, but eventually.

That’s some of the reality I’d like to see discussed more at art schools – in every opportunity possible.

This is not the failing of Francis Marion University, it’s a basic problem with all art education programs – at least most I’ve had contact with directly or with their by-products, as the owner of a gallery dealing with artists who wanted to have exhibits as if I was a publicly funded museum and as a publisher of an arts newspaper where artists want publicity – of any kind – many just because they created something.

That’s the kind of symposium I’d like to see, and I’m not talking about the kind where they want artists to pay a $100 to listen to professional talkers telling them what they should do. I’m talking about real artists who have been through the gauntlet of life, who are not afraid to tell their secrets, their nightmares, their tricks, while creating more competition for themselves. And, all for free – for their future peers.

Art can be a career, but it “ain’t” easy. Let’s have more discussions about the business side of the arts.

Adding Kelly Thiel Studio Blog to Our Blog List

Friday, March 4th, 2011

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It’s been a while since we added a new blog to our list, but this one seemed to have a lot in common with what Carolina Arts is going through – sort of a rebirth.

Kelly Thiel, a Charleston, SC, area artist has just started a re-branding of her business. Kelly Thiel Pottery & Sculpture is officially now Kelly Thiel Studio.

Re-branding – what a nice name for starting over, but it’s not really like starting over – it’s more like taking a right turn when you’ve been turning left all your life.

Recently I just “Friended” or “Liked” her Facebook page and I learned about her changes. It was nice to see how someone else was dealing with change. And, I think there is something to be learned in watching her progress. There’s a lot of change in the air – something we’re all having to learn to live with these days.

Thiel’s blog can be found at this link (http://www.kellythielpottery.blogspot.com/), her website is here (http://www.kellythielpottery.com/) and of course she’s on Facebook – you can now find her on my page and many others.