Archive for June, 2011

Why Did the SC Legislature Pass a Law Making the SC Arts Commission Spend 70% of Its Funding on Grants to SC’s Art Community?

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

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So, why exactly did the SC Legislature have to pass a law demanding that the SC Arts Commission spend 70% of its state funding on grants? Why did they have to write that stipulation into law? Could it be that the Arts Commission was spending more on themselves than they were giving out in grants to other arts organizations?

Over the years I have pointed out that the SC Arts Commission, the cat with nine lives, was one of the largest state arts agencies in the country – much bigger than state art agencies in our region. Yes, they may be a lot leaner today than they used to be, but the Arts Commission is still a bloated agency which carries an expensive overhead. I’m led to understand that this 70% restriction will mean some folks at the Arts Commission will lose their jobs, which I feel sorry for, especially in these times, but this agency has brought all their current problems down on themselves.

Over my 25 + years in following the arts in this state I have always wondered what all these people are doing when I can see so little results in the general art community that they contribute – other than handing out money to their friends. They can go on and on in reports they write themselves, about all they are doing and what they have accomplished each year, and their fans – mostly people who receive funding and awards from them, will back up those self-preformed pats on their back.

Look, I’m for government funded art. You don’t see me railing against the NC Arts Council or the NEA. My problem is with the SC Arts Commission and their version of what serving the arts community means – serve yourself first – then the art community.

The truth is in the numbers. And, these are the latest numbers available from the SC Comptroller General’s office. These are some of the expenses of the SC Arts Commission – mostly their overhead in distributing funding to the people who do the real arts in our state. These numbers are from FY 2009-2010, not that long ago. Current numbers are not available – I wonder why.

Equipment – $5,076

Membership fees, rentals and rent – $347,565
(of which $268,507 is for rent of their building) I would have thought they could have purchased a building in the Vista years ago with that kind of rent.

Utilities – $42,869

Personal Services – $1,115,415
(On this item I know fewer people are there now working at the Arts Commission since 2009-2010, but here are some of the latest figures on salaries of just six employees who make over $50,000 – the limit where the State has to tell you what they’re being paid. This does not include State benefits.)

Figures as of May 13, 2011

Ken May – $91,664.00
Harriett Green – $55,284.00
Charles “Rusty” Cox – $54,596.00
Susan Duplessis – $51,854.00
Clay Burnett – $51,560.00
Joy Young – $50,609.00
(These six salaries total $355,567 and there could be 20 more people who make around $40,000.00 each if not more.)

Supplies & Materials – $23,997
($3,020 of that was postage, but I can’t imagine what they are mailing with the invention of e-mail.)

Transportation – $68

Travel – $27,568
(Now here’s a category that should be totally gone after last year’s cut-backs where the agency said it would do no more travel, but let’s see where some of this was going: $1,995 for in-state lodging; $10,441 for non-state employee travel; $903 for out of state lodging; $8,982 for leasing of state-owned cars; etc.)

The total of these expenses I’ve listed is $1,562,558.00. And, I didn’t list all the categories offered as I didn’t totally understand them, but that’s $1.5 million in overhead already – just to say we have an arts agency.

Salaries, rents and utilities don’t go away – so depending on what their budget allocation is from year to year (FY 2012 – the state budget for them is $1.9 million) it makes a big difference what’s left over each year, even when you throw in Federal monies, when so much has to come off the top on July 1 – every year. And, what do we get – an agency who decides who gets the rest of the money in the arts community or more like who won’t.

I think the SC Arts Commission has been consuming close to 50% of its budget by just existing.

The Arts Commission was also telling the public that it will also lose $250,000 the state appropriated last year in one-time stimulus funds, for a total year-to-year reduction of 16% in state appropriations. Again – they don’t seem to understand what a one-time thing is. You only get it once – you don’t get to then say the next year that  money is being cut from your budget this year. It was a one-time deal, get over it.

So in summation, I think the 70% clause was written into the law to force the SC Arts Commission to get lean like the rest of us have had to and make them spend the bulk of their budget on money for artists and arts groups – not themselves.

Don’t feel sorry for them yet, the alternative was no agency at all and they will still get their hands on $1.3 million from the Feds, which I’m sure has less restrictions on it. We all know how well the Federal government keeps track of our money.

So, the real question of the day is: Does the law mean that the SC Arts Commission has to make sure 70% of its total budget (including Federal money) has to go to grants or does it just mean 70% of what the State of SC has given them? And, what restrictions does the Federal money have on it? Where was it intended to go and to whom?

Because 30% of $1.9 million is $570,000 and the top six employees are paid $355,567 – that doesn’t leave enough to pay the rent on the building ($268,507) those six people would be rattling around in. So unless there is some slight of hand at work here or they can use that Federal money for whatever – there is either going to be a caretaker staff at the Arts Commission outnumbered by the Commissioners or the real arts providers in SC are going to get screwed again by the Arts Commission skimming off that Federal money.

And as long as the State of SC allows the Arts Commission to report on themselves without any audits – who’s to know where that money really goes.

I’m glad I’m not part of a non-profit that is hoping for a decent piece of the pie. If the next time you see someone from the Arts Commission and they have cherry pie all over their face – well, oh my.

The link to the SC Comptroller General’s office for the SC Arts Commission’s 2009 – 2010 expenses – their overhead before grants are given are at (https://ssl.sc.gov/SpendingTransparency/CategorySearchResult.aspx). Then just click Annual Summary and then select the year and the SC Arts Commission. You may even want to look back over time to see where all its money has been going.

No pie for you!

SC Art Commission Dangles Carrot in Front of SC Legislators and Funding Recipients

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

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The SC Arts Commission posted pending FY 2012 grants numbers, “early”, to show SC Legislators how much money their districts would loose in arts funding before they decide if they will override an expected veto of arts funding by our Governor, who has promised her Tea Party friends to veto any funding for the arts.

Grant awards are usually announced in July after the beginning of the new year funding cycle, but I guess the Commission felt a need to show them early so those who would receive them could carry their fight to their legislators.

It makes me wonder what the folks at the Arts Commission are doing besides trying to stay alive. It doesn’t seem like they’ve been doing anything else for the last 3-4 months.

I’m having a hard time deciding who is worse for the arts in our state – our Governor or the SC Arts Commission. It really seems to be a toss up. No wait – they’re both bad for SC.

What ever happens – next year lets hope for reconstruction – putting a new arts agency under SC PRT.

A Third Trip to See an Exhibit at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

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My first trip to the Art Trail Gallery in the heart of Florence, SC’s growing arts district, was earlier this year to see the exhibit, A Celebration of Many Talents: Artisans of the Cotton Trail & the Tobacco Trail, which was an eye opener for me of what this area had to offer, but was being unnoticed for one reason or another. I’ll admit that when we were printing Carolina Artsand distributing copies – we were focused only on those areas where our revenue was coming from, and Florence wasn’t one of those areas. But then we were not the only folks covering the arts in SC ignoring the Pee Dee.

With the online version of Carolina Arts – it is a whole new ball game. Our cost in including areas where we don’t receive support is much lower, but I’m still concentrating on areas which support us. That just makes practical sense. Everyone should always remember we are not a non-profit which gets funding from some government or corporate source to produce this paper. We just look like a non-profit on paper. We’re trying to make a profit. And the Art Trail Gallery soon became a supporter of Carolina Arts.

The second exhibit I attended was Pee Dee Regional Photography Exhibit 2011 – Photofabulous!, a mega show of Pee Dee photographers. If you put the names of these two exhibits in the search window to the right, you’ll find what I wrote about these exhibits.

Last Friday, June 17, 2011, I found myself sort of caught up with work on our July 2011 issue, Linda, my better half, was working at her real job (regular pay and insurance – need I say more) as a 911 dispatcher, so I decided to jump in the car and head to the opening reception to see the exhibit, Visualicious, a survey of 2-D works created by professionals and amateurs alike from the Pee Dee area of SC with over 100 artists participating.

In the back of my mind I was wondering what I would see at this exhibit? Would it be works by the same artists from the first show (no photography for Visualicious) or a new crop of artists. I mean after all – how many different artists could they have in the Pee Dee?

Amazingly, there were a few repeat participants, and at least one who had been an award winner in all three exhibits, (but Patz Fowle is that versatile). But, this was mostly a show of different artists. At least it seemed that way.

Jane Madden, the Queen of the Art Trail Gallery even had work in this show. Wait, a Queen delegates too much work – she’s more like the matriarch of the gallery or better yet, the catalyst behind the gallery. Well, I’m not sure there is a good word for someone who is the Queen bee and worker bee too.

Anyway I got to Florence a little early and stopped in the Target store there and found a great deal on some T-shirts. Anyone who knows me can tell you that my standard uniform is a T-shirt and shorts – almost nine months of the year – even though I was wearing a shirt and long pants for this opening and the two before it. I wanted to give a good impression, before they learn my true nature.

So why mention this? That will become more apparent later on.

I got to the gallery right at 5:30pm, found a good parking space – always an important factor, and when I entered, there was already a good crowd on hand, but with over 100 participating artists – that was expected. You have to figure they’ll come see their own exhibit – right. Anyway, during the last show I saw here I came early and got a good look ahead of the crowd – this time I was fighting for space and the crowd kept getting bigger and the noise level higher. In fact, I got lost in the crowd so much so that I was there an hour before I ran into someone I knew and a few people were looking for me.

I also decided not to bother taking any photos this night. The gallery is not an easy place to get good shots with my camera, one crowd shot is the same as the next one, and works I might have wanted to get would either be too high up, in bad lighting, or be behind reflective glass. I’d rather have no images than bad images of artworks. Besides, you need to go see the exhibit yourself.

I usually like to get a first look before I really start looking, but about a third of the way through I realized I better start taking notes while I could. I have found that I always learn something at these Art Trail Gallery exhibits. There is always so much work in different mediums and styles that I’m bound to run into something I don’t have much experience with. That happened when I came across some acrylic paintings by Heath Starnes that looked just like the marbled fabric I had just looked at and read about the technique used by Ellen Tisdale and Jane Madden who recently attended a workshop on marbling with fabric. This couldn’t be the same technique – could it? Later in the evening, once I had a chance to talk with Madden and Starnes, I learned that the two processes had little in common – other than the resulting look. The marbling on fabric is done with chemicals and some random acts and Starnes’ was painting that same look in fine painstaking detail. In both types of work – the designs looked fluid. Go look for yourself to see it they both don’t have the same look. Man imitating chemicals – go figure.

I next came across a small exhibit, within an exhibit by Chelsea Kean, a nine year old. She had won a First Place ribbon in the Children’s division. The display was impressive for a nine year old. Her drawing skills still need improvement, but there were some mixed media works that stood out, before I turned the corner and found what was obviously her mother’s works in the same style, but even then, she had to go through the same steps to get the results and by the time I finished looking at all the other children’s works – Chelsea Kean’s display still deserved the blue ribbon. She’s learning from mom and who knows where she will go on her own with such a good head start. Of course when boys enter the picture – art could go out the window. Her mother, Michele Caporaso’s work was pretty outstanding too, but I didn’t notice a ribbon, Mom. But I’m sure a mother’s pride will get her over that situation.

Then I came upon one of my favorites from this exhibit, Late Lite on Porches III, an abstract oil painting by Jackie Wukela – which only had a 2nd Place ribbon on it. Was this judge blind or what? Just joking. In full disclosure, Wukela belongs to a gallery that had a full page ad in our May issue, but my price for praise is much higher – if you want to try and buy it, but I think Wukela put her money on a trip to Europe this Spring – a much better investment.

I like my abstracts – you know that, but this brings me to the judging of this exhibit. It’s not that I disagreed with any of it, it was just hard to see where the judge was going – what they were thinking. The judging for awards was done by Dr. Lorne Mason. Mason gave multiple First Place awards in the same categories. If the judge liked your work – you got a blue ribbon. And there was one category called, Now For Something Different, that really made no sense in that most works put in this category were pretty normal abstract works or mixed media works.

A First Place winner in this category was a work by Tiffany Thomas, which was a nice portrait done over different strips of wood – connected as a canvas. The work was a little 3-D, but just a normal mixed media work with a little more texture than normal, but Mike Fowle had works that were just as mixed media and 3-D. Another abstracted mixed media works by Stephen McCrea was also in this category of “Something Different”, but his works are not really different – they’re pretty normal works. They might be different from most paintings, but they are not really that different from a lot of work being done these days.

Now, during the previous exhibit, Pee Dee Regional Photography Exhibit 2011 – Photofabulous!, I’ll agree I felt Nathan Hasenjaeger’s photos were different – mostly because of the violence implied, but they really were not that different. They may have stood out in Florence, but they would be mild in some photography exhibits. And, here again, I don’t think the works having that tag placed on them were that different. Maybe they need to come up with a category called, Now For Something Different From the Pee Dee, but are artists that different in the Pee Dee? I’m sure more of them could let their darker or wild side out – if they wanted to or had a need to. Hasenjaeger had some fairly normal works in this exhibit – maybe still not normal for Florence, but pretty tame for the art world in general. But, he gets your attention and that’s what all artists want.

Judging this many works is always a challenge – and I sure wouldn’t want to do it. Even when I say what my favorites were here, if I were the judge it may have turned out differently – I might have felt I couldn’t pick what I liked – just because I liked it – I might have to justify my selections based on other reasons. And, as an artist, if you get too hung up on the results of the judging – before you know it you’ll be too afraid to enter situations where you might be judged – you just can’t take the chance. I know very good artists who will never put themselves in that situation because of their fear of not winning the top award. They can’t ever be seen to not be one of the best. Don’t let yourself get too hung up on a judge’s opinion – good, bad or indifferent.

An interesting thing about this exhibit is that it had a fair bit of “comic book” art in it. You can also think of it as illustration or sequential art. My favorite of these works, and the judge’s, were works by Chris McJunkin – a First Place ribbon winner. He had a nice poster image entitled, Honor, Valor, Justice – with three comic book super heros done in the style of Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster of Hope. Fairey sampled the photographer who took candidate Barack Obama’s photo to make his poster, so I guess it’s only fair that McJunkin sample Fairey’s poster style. What goes around comes around. Hey, Fairey’s all for fair use appropriation in creating art.

Some other works that caught my attention included a piece calledSnacktime, a fabric piece by Martha Herbert. There was also a small mixed media piece by Patz Fowle, that got a First Place ribbon, and three very different works by Molly Symons – one was a batik piece, another a very simple drawing and the third a collage titled, 2 Worlds Apart – Japan & Canada, which had a color photo of some mountains in Canada (I think) and shredded strips of paper with Japanese printing on it. That was my second favorite of the show.

Another difference about this exhibit was that for the first time the Art Trail Gallery had an awards sponsor, which meant that many ribbon holders would also be taking home some money. The owners of the Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet, who have two locations in Florence, stepped forward to provide the ribbons and cash prizes for this show.

These people didn’t represent a big corporation or a government agency using taxpayer dollars – they’re a small business – like millions across America which many people in the arts don’t think of as someone who could contribute to the arts. They’re contribution might not have been big bucks, but they were important bucks and those bucks meant a lot to the people who received them that evening.

The art community can use the help of a lot more small businesses these days. And I hope everyone – artists, friends & family of artists, and those who just like looking at art remember this contribution. I know I will.

I spent my last 20 minutes talking with some folks, getting some more background info and nibbling on a few of the quickly disappearing munchies provided – then it was head for home time.

On my drive out of Florence heading south on Hwy. 52 back to Bonneau, I stopped to fill up on gas. The price was 12 cents cheaper than what it was in our area and I passed one of the Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet locations – which was packed. I noticed that their price for lunch buffet was a dollar less than the place in Moncks Corner. Including the T-shirts I purchased earlier I was beginning to realize – things are cheaper in Florence.

The next time I come back to Florence, probably to see another exhibit at the Art Trail Gallery, I’m going to bring an empty tank of gas and have lunch at the Hibachi Grill. Now that’s what builds tourism – interesting things to see and cheap prices while visiting. That’s a win win situation in my book. I hope city leaders are paying attention.

While at the Art Trail Gallery I picked up a flyer called Artastic (Summer 2011), offering info on festivals, exhibitions and performances celebrated in northeastern South Carolina, produced by the Florence CVB, in conjunction with the Arts Councils of the Pee Dee Regional Arts Summit. I don’t know what or who this Regional Arts Summit was, but the info provided about exhibits came up short of what was really going on in this area. And, not one exhibit was listed taking place in Sumter, SC, an area offering a lot of arts. In fact, only four of the twelve counties included in the area were represented, so I figure the others didn’t put up money to be included. That’s not very inclusive or informative – if taxpayer money was used. And, I’m sure some money came from SC’s PRT, but that’s the way things go most of the time – you pay or you don’t play. And, when it comes to printed materials – that’s the reality – to include everything you know can be expensive. Printing cost are high. But, still it’s hard to think that the other eight counties had nothing to offer. I know Sumter did, but maybe they didn’t make the deadline? Who knows?

Unfortunately the web and Facebook links didn’t offer much more info. I guess if you want to know more about exhibits, you’ll have to rely on Carolina Arts, but we don’t know what people don’t tell us either. We do seem to know more than these people are offering – even in the areas included. And, it helps to know what’s going on before you go someplace.

Go see this exhibit and have lunch or dinner at the Hibachi Grill in Florence.

Visualicious, an Exhibit of 2-D Art from the Pee Dee Area of SC Opens at Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, – June 17, 2011

Friday, June 17th, 2011

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The show will be an exciting survey of 2-D works created by professionals and amateurs alike with over 100 artists expected to be participating. With categories for children, novices, and professionals, the gallery is reaching out to those who create those intriguing marks on surfaces that engage the mind. Some do it through paintings on canvas, designs on the surface of wood, metal, paper, and fiber. The show includes traditional watercolors, oils, acrylics, ink, pencil, and mixed media, among others.

Thanks to the Hibachi Grill, with two locations in Florence, there are cash prizes for children and adults. Dr. Lorne Mason will be the judge for the show.

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Work by Mary Williams

Visualicious, will be on view from June 17 through July 29, 2011. The opening reception will be held Friday, June 17, from 5:30-8pm, and everyone is welcome.

Currently confirmed exhibitors include: Marion Berry, Kendall Berry, Andrea Boyce, Debbie Broadway, Peggy Brown, Julia Culbertson, Adam Dial, John Eisler, David Elvis, Reginald Epps, Ines Gillier, Bruce Graves, Gaye Ham, Rachell Hyman, Jeffrey Joslin, Hannah Joslin, Laura Ketcham, Angela Ketcham, Sophia Ketcham, Jane Madden, Neil McClendon, Barbara Moore, Justin Morris, Bridget Nance, Annabeth Negron, Ann Page, Ashley Poston, Jim Reed, Manning Smith, Michelle Springs, Tim Walters, Mary Williams, Denny Stevenson, Gloria Morris, Patz Fowle, Mike Fowle, Nathan Hasenjaeger, Cynthia Pollett, Antoinette Ganim, Nicole Palumbo, Tari Federer, Josh Tuttle, Jacob Marsac, Dale Worsham, Peggy Campbell, Janis Hobbs, Ryleigh Schurlknight, Sophia Hines, Blake Wright, Jordan English, Sabrina Judge, Daeshawn Judge, Dazia Judge, Ryan Davis, Victoria Winter, April Artis, Ryan Hilbourn, Chris Floyd, Saunta Muldrow, Jeri Bolling, Ray Davenport, Gloria Morris, Jamie Stuckey, Jordan Leigh Stuckey, Carson Price, Lois Coleman, Dana Mickens, Rodreanna Linnen, Elizabeth Marsac, Andrew Bradley, Suzanne Muldrow, Shawn Hudson, Alexis Dale, Mackenzie Bramlett, Tony Bryant, Tiffany Thomas, Gaye Ham, Elizabeth Spruill, Roy Malac, Rachel Jones, Stephen McCrea, Betsy Padgett, Heath Starnes, Z Tap, Jackie Wukela, Amber Hekman, Lynda English, Angela Jackson, Ellen Tisdale, Minnemie Murphy, Coleman Wells, Rebecca Polony, Ann Dowling, David Ackerman, Colby Wedgeworth and more.

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Work by Stephen McCrea

The Art Trail Gallery is located in the old Kimbrell’s building at 135 South Dargan Street, in the emerging Arts and Cultural District in Downtown Florence.

For further information visit (www.art-trail-gallery.com) or check out their Facebook page: Art Trail Gallery.

Jonathan Brilliant Tries for Biggest People’s Choice Award Ever in Grand Rapids, MI, During Sept./Oct., 2011

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Later this Summer, Jonathan Brilliant, of Columbia, SC, will travel to theKendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI, to do an artist residency, from Sept. 8 – 21, 2011, building one of his coffee stir installations, when that work is finished it will become part of ArtPrize611jonathanbrilliantsticks® 2011, one of the largest art competitions in the world.
One of Brilliant’s installations at City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston,
SC in 2009

Unlike any other event, ArtPrize® gives away the largest cash prize for an art competition – $250,000 to the winner, with $484,000 total in cash awards. The winner is decided solely by a public vote – by the people who go see the artworks presented between Sept. 21 and Oct. 9, 2011.

In its third year, ArtPrize® has become an unexpected phenomenon. Part arts festival, part social experiment, part civic project, the event overtakes an entire city bringing visitors in the hundreds of thousands.

ArtPrize® 2010 began Sept. 22 with 1,713 artists displaying their works at 192 venues in a three-square-mile district in Grand Rapids – a city between the size of Columbia, SC, and Charlotte, NC. In the second year of ArtPrize®, artists from 21 countries and 44 states competed for prize monies totaling $449,000.

Hundreds of thousands of people have made their way to Grand Rapids to view art. One of the 192 venues reported more than 120,000 visitors went through its exhibits. ArtPrize® 2010 had 44,899 members of the public registered to vote. Registered voters came from 36 states and more than a dozen foreign countries. During the 15 days of competition, 465,538 votes were cast, including 16,905 votes in the final round.

I first heard about this crazy competition when I was visiting one of my many cousins back in Michigan last Summer in South Haven, MI, a city on Lake Michigan, south of Grand Rapids. Then last week I saw an entry on Facebook where Jonathan Brilliant posted several upcoming events – one being ArtPrize® 2011. He’ll be showing his work in the Kendall Gallery at Kendall College of Art and Design, which is a good location as it opens to the sidewalk in an area of the downtown, between the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Grand Rapids Public Library.

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Kendall College of Art and Design

It’s funny how small our world can be at times or how life sometimes makes big circles. Kendall College has now merged with Ferris State University in Grand Rapids – a school I was going to attend after high school, but I ended up attending a local junior college for two years and then transferring to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI – in the same neighborhood of that state. Then I ended up here.

If I didn’t come here I might have never seen any of Jonathan Brilliant’s installations or maybe if I had stayed in Michigan, I would have seen his work in Michigan this Summer – who knows.

Anyway, I’ll be contacting all my relatives and friends who are still there asking them to go vote for Brilliant during the competition.

The first year’s top prize went to an artist from New York and last year’s top prize went to a local artist from Grand Rapids. I would think a local artist has an edge, but last year, Young Kim, an artist from Winston-Salem, NC, came in 8th place, so Brilliant has a chance. It all depends on what catches the public’s eye.

If you’re reading this and will be in Grand Rapids between Sept. 21 and Oct. 9, 2011, go by the Kendall Gallery and see Brilliant’s installation and see if it’s not worthy of your vote. Set your GPS for 17 Fountain Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI, or print out a Google map.

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

Monday, June 13th, 2011

The roller coaster ride continues, for now – on the downside of the hill. As of the first ten days of June, there were 38,328 downloads of the June 2011 issue of Carolina Arts. Compared to the first ten days of May, when there were 41,731 downloads – June is 3,403 off the mark. But that’s not the end of the story. That story won’t be known until the end of the month – anything can happen.

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This isn’t bad considering that the total downloads in April were just 31,408. Listen to me say “just”. For 23 years we only printed 10,000 copies of the paper.

I expected the onslaught of the Summer heat to have an effect on our totals, but I wasn’t really sure which way it would go – up, as more people are spending time inside away from the heat or down, as people began Summer vacations – away from their computers.

I was expecting a race to the top between the March and May issues, but a few days into looking at the stats I noticed something was wrong and it sure was. There didn’t seem to be any downloads for the May issue. That was odd and I soon found out why. During the end of the month shuffle loading up the June issue we forgot to make a link for the May issue in our Past Issues archive. That explains that, but even after we made the link for the May issue – after ten days there were still no downloads for May. There were none for the February or April issues either.

But, by ten days in June – I said June – there were 4,315 downloads for our March 2011 “cult issue”. People or someone really likes that issue. In total, since we launched that March issue, it has been downloaded 70,517 times – as of June 10. That’s one popular issue. I hope one day we find out why.

A respectable 116 people had downloaded our January issue – so what gives with the three other issues?

I decided to take a look through the stats to see when those issues would show up. Items are listed 1 – 10,001. We have many more pages than that in our archives, but the server only tracks the top 10,001. So our stats are just a look at the top third of items that can be found on our website. This month – as of the first ten days, 200,218 folks looked at those pages.

This was going to be no easy task looking at 50 entries at a time – this was going to take some time. But, I was listing to a great Steve Winwood CD on my computer – Nine Lives – so why not take a further look?

There was no sign of the three issues in the first 1,000 entries – which really surprised me.

The 1000th entry was a tag category from my WordPress blog, Carolina Arts Unleashed. It was the Carol Sanders Gallery – 33 folks looking for info about that gallery ended up finding a blog entry we did on Apr. 9, 2011, about this year’s Artista Visita event in Columbia, SC. The Carol Sanders Gallery was just listed as a participant in the article, but we listed it in the tags.

I continued looking through the list, but no sign of any downloads of the three missing issues.

The 2000th entry was an article from our website’s archives offered in July 2003 about the South Carolina Watercolor Society’s 26th Annual Exhibition, which was on display at the Anderson County Arts Center, in Anderson, SC. That was before the group changed its name to the “SC Watermedia Society” – 20 folks took a look at that article.

That’s how the list works: number 1 was the 38,328 downloads of the June 2011 issue of Carolina Arts and once you get down to the 2000′s – it’s down to just 20 people who looked at that page.

I continued to scan the list with my eyes, but no sign of those pesky PDFs.

The 3000th entry was an article from our archives offered in January 2002 about M. Mellany Delhom and her ceramics collection at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC – 10 people had called this article up in an Internet search.

At the halfway mark I found an article about an exhibit being offered at e.r.l originals in Winston-Salem, NC, featuring works by Philip Koch, Elaine Reed, and Freeman Beard from January 2002. You’all remember the e.r.l. originals gallery don’t you? I know a lot of artists will never forget it.

What’s interesting about this is we also have an added note placed above the article dated 7/22/05 where we posted a bit of news from the Winston-Salem Journal stating that ” e.r.l.’s owners, Peter and Lee Swenson, and the company they operate, Bogart Management Group, were foreclosed on by their bank.” We added this to our historical document when we learned that these folks who had apparently lived high off the hog (their artists) by selling artworks, but not paying the artists the money due to them or the rent or their bank for past loans. We learned they were using our old articles to convince artists and art buyers that they were still up and up when they were trying to set up a new gallery in another town.

Some folks wanted us to take the articles about e.r.l. originals out of our archives, but I didn’t think that would be fair to the artists who did have those exhibits. So we found all the articles posted over the years and added our little update. Hopefully our additions put a stop to the Swensons using our old articles as a sign that they were good people to deal with. History is history, but it doesn’t mean you can’t add updated info.

Still no sign of the missing issues. I was seeing a lot of downloads of individual pages from those issues, but no downloads of the entire PDF of the issues. Very strange.

At entry 7,254, I found an article about the Weatherspoon Art Gallery (now Weatherspoon Art Museum) in Greensboro, NC, first offered in Oct. 1999, about a faculty art exhibit and the announcement of their Falk Visiting Artists for 1999-2000 – which 5 people looked at. Why would someone be looking at something so old? Maybe it was some of the faculty members doing a Google search of their own name.

At this point my eyes were blurry and I was ready to pronounce the February, April, and May issues of Carolina Arts – DOA – dead on arrival. In fact they hadn’t arrived, meaning that if I kept looking 5 or less people will have downloaded any of these issues. At this point I didn’t care anymore. I thought I knew why May wasn’t showing up, but since there was also no sign of  February or April – maybe I was wrong. Maybe they’ll make a respectable showing by the end of the month.

I’m no archaeologist, but sometimes it’s interesting digging through the past and that’s exactly what some people will be doing in the future when they what to learn about what was going on in the visual art community in the Carolinas during our time of doing this paper. We have our print archives as do several university libraries around the Carolinas and we have our digital archives.

If you want to make a little history, you better get yourself into an issue ofCarolina Arts.

And, as always, we ask if you like Carolina Arts – help us by spreading the paper around by e-mail or on social media. Send people to (www.carolinaarts.com) to see what going on in the visual art community in the Carolinas this month.

Another Look at Piccolo Spoleto Visual Arts in Charleston SC – June 4, 2011

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Linda, my better half, had to work the whole weekend so I decided it was a good time to run down to Charleston, SC, again to catch a few more visual art exhibits taking place during the Spoleto/Piccolo Festivals. I knew it was going to be hot on Saturday so I had planned to get an early start to avoid the hottest part of the day. But I made the mistake of checking out the Facebook pages.

A few items on Facebook caught my attention, which led to making a few comments and then checking out a few items there that took me to a few blog entries and before you know it that early start was lost. And of course Mickey Williams – Charleston’s Facebook DJ had reminded me of a group I hadn’t listen to in a while so I had to listen to a few songs by the Zombies.

I could tell when I finally got to the I-26 exit for Meeting Street that it was going to be another crazy day of navigating through traffic in downtown Charleston. I was hoping to get to the Charleston Visitor Center where the27th Annual Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition is on view through June 10, 2011. After circling a few blocks and finding no available parking spaces I decided to head to my second destination first at the other end of the peninsula – Lowcountry Artists, Ltd. The area around Marion Square seemed to be in grid-lock – much worst compared to last Sunday. Good for the artists in the parks – I hoped.

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Lowcountry Artists, is located at 148 East Bay Street and I found an almost empty parking lot next to the Exchange Building just a half block away. Not a good sign for that part of town, but good for me. Lowcountry Artists is presenting the exhibit, The Power of Glass, featuring works by Robert Clair and Stephen Hazard, on view through June 11, 2011.

The gallery had promoted this exhibit to be perhaps the largest showing of art glass ever to be seen in the area, which I think just might be true. The exhibit featured blown glass by Robert Clair and fused and etched glass by Stephen Hazard, two local artists.

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A display of Stephen Hazard’s works

Now Charleston isn’t Western North Carolina and fine art crafts in this town take a distant second, only in numbers, to paintings hanging on the walls of Charleston’s galleries, although most galleries use crafts to fill in spaces where they can’t hang or place a painting. You’ll find some outstanding galleries presenting a variety of works in various craft media, but it is paintings that rule Charleston, and works in glass in large numbers are rarely presented here. It’s too bad, but that’s the facts, Jack. Go to Asheville, NC, and that case is reversed.

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Works by Robert Clair

Lowcountry Artists had done a good job of making space for a lot of glass works to be displayed in this exhibit. And there is nothing like seeing a lot of colorful glass objects clustered together – it’s like viewing a Christmas tree for the first time of the season. Glass can shimmer in light like no painting can and being 3 dimensional it can do it from all angles.

Many of Clair’s works were clustered in one big display that was like being in a candy shop during Christmas. The many colors in many shapes was a festival in itself for the eyes. And, the real wonder is that the basic ingredient, besides the artist’s skill, is molten sand.

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Works by Robert Clair

For Clair, this show represented four years of working as an assistant in the hot shop of his teacher and glass blowing mentor, Herman Leonhardt, being paid in hot, clear glass and studio time. Leonhardt, whose studio is located deep in the swamp off the Edisto River, comes as close to being the Lowcountry’s resident glass artist as anyone.

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Works by Robert Clair

In a press release we offered in our May 2011 issue of Carolina Arts, it offered that, “Steve Hazard’s art draws upon Africa’s rich and diverse artistic traditions from the past, but thrusts the viewer in the present and the future. From patch work quilts of the South, West African sculpture and ceremonial masks to the complex patterns of multi-cultural textiles, Hazard creates iconic art works that captivate the viewer and transports him to sacred, ancient and/or lost cultures, while allowing the viewer to possess a bit of history in functional contemporary glass art.”

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Detail of one of Stephen Hazard’s works

I found that a lot of Hazard’s works did remind me of quilts, with so many patches of different colors and patterns thrown into a mix, but a mix that was engaging to the eye and mind.

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Work by Stephen Hazard

Fused glass is something I’ve always been interested in – thinking that one day I might try my hand at it, but I’ve seen and learned enough about it to respect the really skilled artist. Like all art – anyone can make a quilt, melt some glass together, mold some clay into a shape and brush some paint on a canvas. But, unless you are totally blind, it’s easy for anyone who takes a close look before they open their mouths and say those infamous words – “I could do that” – to see it takes time and skill to reach a level before something they make becomes art.

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Work by Stephen Hazard

And, it’s not hard for me to recognize that Hazard is working at a high level in creating these works. Maybe I’ll stick with my day job.

Although Lowcounty Artists may be featuring works by these two artists on a regular basis, you won’t see so many glass works presented together, so it is advisable that you make an effort to see this exhibit before it is over. It might be some time before Charleston is offered another display of so much glass art.

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Works by Robert Clair

On the way back to my car I popped into Mickey Williams Studio Gallery to razz him about delaying my trip for me. Mickey wasn’t in, but his wife, Jenlu, was and I talked with her a while. The back room door was closed so I suspected that Mickey was in the back taking one of his cat naps. Jenlu and I talked about our respective children, the job market for college students, the cost of having children in college and Mickey’s addiction to Facebook. I needed to find out how to control Linda’s growing problem. If you want to know the hard truth about someone – you go to their spouse.

While taking with her I remembered that I had gotten an e-mail card about the fact that during Spoleto Susan Mayfield (West) was going to be showing works with Mickey at the gallery. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her work and what I was seeing was very different. My mind was telling me Mayfield did pastels, but these were works in oils. Although the works are a little darker than the way pastels look I liked what I was seeing and according to Jenlu, so were others who had seen the works displayed.

If you go see the show at Lowcountry Artists, you should stop in and see both works by Mickey Williams and Susan Mayfield. Mayfield has moved out West I think and you might not get a chance to see her work that often in Charleston.

Next stop – the Charleston Visitor Center at 375 Meeting Street, but the closer I got to Marion Square or Wragg Square where the 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Fair was going on – the traffic and lack of parking spaces increased. After a few times around the area I found a space on King Street – not too far from the Visitor Center.

I got to the Visitor Center just in time. I wasn’t spending a lot of time out in the heat, so my body fluids were not being sweat out and by this time of the day I needed to make water. What a saying. If I can say anything nice about the City of Charleston – the government – not the city itself – they keep a clean set of rest rooms at the Visitor Center. They probably need to double the size of the women’s facilities – there is always a line up there when tour buses are in the house, but as far as I know they are clean too. But from comments my wife says about public rest rooms, she gives me the impression that some women have very bad habits. Men probably do too, but fortunately for me it’s a big difference in the physical process in making water.

Oooh – potty talk during a blog about the arts – how real.

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Excuse this abrupt transition, but… So, I’m looking at the 27th Annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival Juried Art Exhibit, on display at one end of the Visitor Center. The show is co-sponsored by the Charleston Artist Guild and the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, and it’s divided into two categories – paintings and photography. I don’t like that subtle slight toward photography and don’t know why they are doing this, but it’s their show. I would think that now that the Charleston Artist Guild has photographers as full members they would change this about the show and have all the art judged on the same basis.

Photographers everywhere – one day you shall overcome too! Just not anytime soon.

I’m noticing that this exhibit has several things in common with the juried art shows presented during the 2011 North Charleston Arts Festival – bad lighting, ID tags which are placed in positions which are hard to read, and for a statewide opportunity – very few entries on display from around the state of South Carolina. This fact probably really burns the folks at the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs as they always assume they are several levels above anything in North Charleston. But, I’ll give them credit for having an informative program available for viewers. It’s so important.

After looking through the show once I looked over the program and confirmed my suspicions that beyond a few entries from the Columbia area and the Pee Dee area, most works were by artists from the Lowcountry. I can’t imagine that all the works from the Upstate and other areas of SC didn’t make the cut, but both jurors were from the Lowcountry, but I doubt that Alex Powers, who judged the paintings and Rick Rhodes, who judged the photography would be that biased. So my conclusion is – they didn’t enter this show.

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Again, I think the problem is that the show’s cash prizes and the exhibit venue are not attractive enough to draw artists from that long a distance to enter this show – even if it does expose you to the Spoleto/Piccolo Festivals audience. But does it? More about that later.

If there was a better exhibit venue in Charleston I would think that this would be the perfect opportunity to have a knock-out statewide juried show, but that might take the involvement of a strong state arts agency, but we all know I don’t think we have anything like that in SC.

Both the painting and photography presented were very strong. And, I only recognized a handful of the artists’ names in this exhibit – which is a good thing – meaning we have a lot of talented artists in SC working their way up the ladder.

I did take note that Denise L. Greer, who has been the Queen of juried shows lately, only received a Honorable Mention in this show, but watch out next year.

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From the Ashes by Christopher E. Murphy

The 1st place winner in the painting category was Christopher E. Murphy of Mt. Pleasant, SC, for the work, From the Ashes. And the 1st place winner in the photography category was Ellen Yampolsky of Charleston, forColorful Canoes. But I, as usual, had different favorites.

The work that attracted my eye on this day the most was a pen and wash work titled, St. Peters Rome, by Hank Pulkowski of Myrtle Beach, SC. In second favorite was the work, Thoughts, an oil on canvas by John Tecklenburg of Edisto Beach, SC. It was an abstract/ realism work – go figure. I can’t help myself.

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Thoughts by John Tecklenburg

Like I said before, the lighting was bad and it’s not the best place to try and get photos of works, but I got a few, but not of the ones I really would have liked to show in this blog.

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Spoleto IX by Betty Thalheimer

I found Betty Thalheimer’s paintings to be interesting. Her color pallet was different and if I had to describe why I was drawn to it I might just say – the noses of the women in the works. Ron Anton Rocz had a compelling photograph titled, Cityscape Havana, which was drawing a crowd while I was there. I liked it too. And, I found a work titled, Jelly Ball, by Matt Broome in the photography grouping, but it had that crossover look of a photograph made to look like a painting. I didn’t find the image that interesting, but I find it interesting that photographers are doing this. Can you blame them – trying to get just general respect from the public? But I wouldn’t have entered it in the photography category if I was trying to fool anyone. Of course, he might not have had the choice or not been trying to fool anyone.

What really amazed me about this exhibit was how people could just walk right past it without even giving it a glance. A lot of folks were flowing through the Visitor Center on this day, but very few took the time to look at the exhibit, and many who came in the building from the other end, probably never knew it was even there. I didn’t notice any banners outside the building or in the main info part of the Center announcing that the show was there. Actually a few signs in the rest rooms would have been the best place to announce this show – hardly anyone coming to this facility would have missed those signs. It’s just another sign that all the folks coming to Charleston are not really here for the festivals.

While I was at the Visitor Center I picked up a card for Art For Charity, which when you look at it would give you the impression that this is some sort of non-profit, but what you’re looking at is a commercial business that is now using charities to draw people into the door of a commercial gallery – in this case the Michael Mitchell Gallery, located on King street near the Visitor Center. I’m told that this is the new trend in galleries. I don’t care for it myself. I always have to wonder how much of the sale of a work of art goes to the charities and we all know that most charities are not too concerned about how much money they receive from these relationships with collectors of such funds -as long as they get some money and are getting the publicity generated.

When I went to the web address on the card I found this statement – “What started as a pop-up for Art for Charity has evolved into one of Charleston’s premier galleries.” I don’t think that is true – I only seem to hear about this gallery during the time of Spoleto. Where are they the rest of the year? I’d think you’d have to have a higher profile to be one of Charleston’s premier galleries. The gallery doesn’t exactly have a big footprint on the Internet either beyond it’s activities surrounding the festivals since 2010. Yet already they call themselves one of Charleston’s premier galleries.

The gallery does seem to be the entry port into Charleston’s art market for many artists from Columbia, SC – which is a good thing. But the strong tie to charities would concern me. I found nowhere on the website for the gallery/design shop which tells how much (what percentage of a sale) goes to charities. That’s something I’d want to know as a consumer. And, nowhere did I find how much they have raised for any of these charities last year.

This mingling of charities with buying art reminds me of a gimmick – much like the official “Certificate of Authenticity” offered in some galleries. And I’m sure it doesn’t make the charities who rely on art auctions as fundraisers happy.

The art industry is like all industries – buyer beware at all times. That’s why it’s important to have a good relationship with your gallery. Don’t be afraid to ask what might seem like hard questions and pay attention to the response you get. Don’t assume details.

There might be nothing wrong with this way of selling art, but it concerns me. Perhaps it’s a way of fighting back against the charities who use art for fundraising.

In my own experience I’ve learned that not everything involving a charity is a good thing, but this in no way is a reflection on the greater charity community. It just means that the word “charity” or “non-profit” is not a certificate of good and up and up. That’s all I’m saying.

A First Look at the Two Big 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibits at Marion Square Park and Wragg Square in Charleston, SC

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

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By late Saturday, May 28, 2011, we had the June 2011 issue of Carolina Arts almost in the can, so Sunday morning – after we found out that Linda, my better half wasn’t going to have to go in to work on one of her days off, we decided to go down to Charleston and catch a few of the exhibits being presented by Piccolo Spoleto. She was on call Sunday, but because it was a holiday weekend – no one was going to call out on Sunday. You don’t get paid the extra holiday pay if you miss the day before. Such is the life of a 911 dispatcher.

We got a good start and found a fairly good parking space by about 10:30am. We didn’t expect that the Charleston Farmers Market was going to be operating on Sunday, but I guess everyone wants a piece of the Spoleto/Piccolo action. Money is the mother’s milk of the arts and when it comes to selling an opportunity for anyone to get in on the action – the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, who organizes the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, turns down no opportunity that will put money in their pocket or the pockets of their friends (those special arts groups). I truly expect to see beer vendors roaming the streets of Charleston during the festivals one day. More in character you’ll probably see wine vendors as a tie-in with the Charleston Food & Wine Festival.

I can hear them calling now – “Got your chardonnay here!”

So on that morning, we had to vie for parking with 3-4 church congregations, the Farmer’s Market crowd and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival crowd for a parking space. But, we did all right.

Actually, I think the Farmer’s Market is a plus – they provide the opportunity to purchase readily available food and beverages, with some musical entertainment thrown in. And, I guess every penny the City can generate in vendor fees is less that they’ll have to take from taxpayers. Some might think the arts and craft vendors at the Farmer’s Market might be competition, but the buyer makes that decision.

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The minute we hit the 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit in Marion Square Park, we started to hear how the Office of Cultural Affairs had messed this show up. They have been trying to take total control of this show for years and this year was another bungled attempt at redesigning the show.

To make a long story short, one of the core aspects of this show is that it has had some of the same artists showing in a particular part of the park for years. People who attend the festivals every year know where their favorite artist is located. The artists who have been in certain spots have made close friendships with their neighboring artists.

This year the Office of Cultural Affairs decided that no artists would be “grand-fathered” in and all would have to go through a jury process to get in. What that jury process is and who does it would be one of the biggest blogs I’ve ever written, but we’re not going into that now. So some artists felt unwanted and didn’t go through the process. The jury cut was made and then all hell broke loose and some went to Mayor Joe Riley and complained and as usual he undercut his staff and reinstated the artists who had been cut, except for those who made other plans or didn’t go through the jury process – they were just screwed – twice.

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Funny thing – many of the artists who were cut in the jury process won awards from the hand-picked juror Cultural Affairs selected. In fact, the Mayor’s Purchase Award was by an artist who was originally cut from the show. Go figure.

On top of that, Cultural Affairs decided to split these established neighborhoods up and shuffled the deck. So, now visitors to the show have to go on a scavenger hunt to find their favorite artists. It’s a real mess. No one likes change – especially change that isn’t an improvement.

The Office of Cultural Affairs reminds me of the Army Corp. of Engineers. Is there anything they haven’t made worse after trying to fix something?

So many of the artists are not happy campers and if this show is another ho hum year, as far as sales go, they are really going to be unhappy. This could be the last year for some – but that’s exactly what some people may want.

My suspicion is that the Office of Cultural Affairs, headed up by Ellen Dressler Moryl, has been looking at the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibitas their future cash cow. I think they envision selling the spaces in the park for $1000 a pop to artists from around the country who would love to be associated with the Spoleto/Piccolo Festivals. They would learn really quickly that visitors to Charleston wouldn’t be interested in artwork made in Santa Fe, Carmel, or Sarasota – they want Lowcountry art. But, it might take them a year or two to learn that and there would always be a new crop of unknowing artists willing to put up a $1000 for the opportunity. The catch is – Mayor Riley promised the local art community that Piccolo would be for them, but the festival has had mission creep in becoming a regional affair – some participants come from way beyond our region.

Now, I’m not saying that this show doesn’t have it’s problems and couldn’t use some shaking up – there is a lot of repetition – artists painting the same landscapes and wildlife scenes. But instead of trying to tear down long standing traditions, why doesn’t Cultural Affairs start a new outdoor art venue – maybe one for emerging artists, just on weekends and in a way that the artists don’t have to make such an investment. Those tents are expensive.

If out-of-state visual artists want a crack at the Festival, set them up in Hampton Park or Liberty Park by the SC Aquarium – the hottest spot in town. But stop messing with the Outdoor Art Exhibit.

It has been rumored that Ellen Dressler Moryl will soon retire and then turn around and become a paid contractor to manage Piccolo Spoleto. What a sweet deal for her. But unless the City is planning on sub-contracting out the whole Office of Cultural Affairs – I can’t see a new head of Cultural Affairs putting up with their biggest plum being outsourced. And, why should the City pay her when she’s not an employee of the City – as far as I know, they don’t pay any of the coordinators who really organize most of the Festival. And, what would Cultural Affairs be doing this time of year if they are not managing the Festival?

Anyhoo – Linda and I spent six hours in both Marion Square and over at Wragg Square at the 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Fair. I didn’t hear any complaints over at the Crafts Fair, but I knew there were some, but the kind that can’t be helped – at least overnight. One corner of that park is in open sunlight and it was 20 degrees hotter in that section and it was already hot enough that day. I felt sorry for the artists in that section, but trees don’t grow over night. But it’s better than the old days.

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The first Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Fair we went to, way back when, was at Marion Square Park in the open sun under a huge olive green Army tent. It was hotter under that tent than outside. I’d take Wragg Square any day over any of the other locations this fair has been in – other than the Gaillard Auditorium – that was a good location (inside and air-conditioned), but Spoleto doesn’t like to share.

We saw lots of good art, had a lot of great conversations – it wasn’t all bitching and when it was over we were really amazed that we had spent six hours there. Of course one hour was taken up by me being a stand-in for a model who didn’t show up for a portrait demo that Steven Jordan was giving.

I had my portrait done by Steven Jordan, The Painter of Bud Light, at Piccolo Spoleto. Now how many people can say that? It’s not finished but we hope to have the final version to show off soon.

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We also learned that a lot of people in the park didn’t know that Carolina Arts had gone totally online, which is good and bad. Many are in that camp like to hold something in their hands when they read, but it was also a good thing since many will now be checking us out online. And, we’re not complaining these days as we had over 61,000 people download our May 2011 issue.

The 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit will go on through June 11, from 10am-6pm and the next 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Fair will take place June 3-5, Fri. & Sat., 10am-6pm and Sun. 11am-5pm. Both shows offer demonstrations by participating artists. Go down and take a look at all the interesting art being offered and buy something.

Social Media and the Outdoor Art Exhibit

You can keep up with the 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit with blogs and Facebook. For years Amelia (Mimi) Whaley has been blogging daily from the park on her personal blog (http://www.mimispaintingaday.blogspot.com/) starting after the first day of the festival. This year she has set up a Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit group blog (http://psoaeblog.blogspot.com/) where several people will be adding their observations from the park. You can even log onto theOutdoor Art Exhibit’s Facebook page at this link (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Piccolo-Spoleto-Outdoor-Art-Exhibit-2011/154715674583540).

It was a pretty good day away from our computers, but on the drive home I saw something very disturbing. On I-26, between Cosgrove Avenue and the Montague Avenue exit, there were six billboard signs in a row promoting McDonald’s frozen strawberry lemonade drink. Six billboards needed to show a lemon and a strawberry coming together to make one drink. That’s insane.

I hate billboards, but I realize some are informative to travelers, but this is not information – this was insane. Are people that stupid that they don’t know what you would get when you put lemons and strawberries together in a drink?

I drive into McDonald’s on occasion, but I won’t be doing it while those six billboards are there.

Now, if someone knows the phone number to the numb-nut who is in charge of McDonald’s advertising – we’d be happy to sell them an ad on every one of our pages – of every issue. Just think what a statement that would make. But don’t wait for it. We don’t let anyone advertise whatever they like in our papers. It has cost us at times, but anything and everything doesn’t go at Carolina Arts.

Susan Lenz Dies in Her First Performance Art Piece at Tapp’s Art Center During First Thursday on Main in Columbia, SC – June 2, 2011

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

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This is NOT a critical review! I can just see the Internet alive with chatter about Susan Lenz’s death after a few people see this headline. In reality, Lenz will just die for two and a half hours in one of the window displays at Tapp’s.

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In collaboration with “radical evolutionary” artist Michael Krajewski and fine art photographer Heather Bauer, installation artist Susan Lenz will create a tableaux in a Main Street window at the Tapps Center for the Arts. The curtain will open at 5:30pm on Thursday, June 2, 2011, and the curtain will close at approximately 8pm.

Update: Eric Parton will also take part in this performance.

Please come by to see the Pre-Raphaelite inspired Ophelia laying in a tub of artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters with a graffiti-inspired suicide note, “I LOVE YOU, HAMLET”. After the one-evening performance, Heather Bauer’s photo will be suspended above the “scene of the crime”.

For more information visit Lenz’s blog post at (http://artbysusanlenz.blogspot.com/2011/05/preparing-for-my-first-performance-art.html) or go to her Facebook page at (http://www.facebook.com/susan.lenz).

The June 2011 Issue of Carolina Arts is Now Ready

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

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The June 2011 issue of Carolina Arts is up on our website at (www.carolinaarts.com) – all 61 pages of it. We had over 61,000 downloads of the May 2011 issue – almost twice as many as the April issue and 16,000 more than the March issue. Can the June issue come close to that or surpass it? 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.

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.