Archive for July, 2011

Linda and I Went to a Great American Monument and Saved $40

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011


Back on June 2, 2011, we received an e-mail from One Eared Cow Glass(OECG) in Columbia, SC, about one of their 20th Anniversary events or specials – a sort of take our T-shirt on vacation with you offer. The deal was that if you took a One Eared Cow Glass T-shirt on vacation with you and took a picture of someone wearing it at a monument, sign, or place, that is clearly recognizable – you would get $40 in “cow bucks” off your next purchase at OECG – just for showing your “cow pride” and letting them use the picture on Facebook and in the gallery.


For Linda and I, this was a deal we couldn’t pass up. We have three weddings to attend in the next four months and OECG is our official wedding gift retailer. And, believe me – no wedding takes place in our extended family without an invitation coming to us – whether we can attend or not as word has gotten around what kind of gift you will receive.

Of course the catch is that these e-mails telling about these great offers were only going to folks on OECG’s e-mail list and you had to own a OECG T-shirt, but how hard is it to get on someone’s e-mail list and Tommy Lockart (one of the cowboys) told me – any OECG T-shirt will do and they have sold plenty of them throughout their 20 years in business. And, they have plenty of new ones in stock. They say they can even mail you one or a dozen (803/254-2444).


This deal runs through Aug. 31, 2011, but it’s not the only deal they have in the works. But, I’m not telling you to do anything. I’m not suggesting that you do anything. I’m just telling you there is a deal out there – this is what it takes to complete the deal – I know it works – we got our $40 discount and here’s what they call in the biz – the money shot or shots in this case.



Now Linda and I are not taking a vacation this year – we had one last year. But we do live down the road from a very important SC monument – the grave of Francis Marion – the Swamp Fox – a true American Revolutionary hero. It’s one of the most important monuments in South Carolina. There is also a special prize for the T-shirt that travels the greatest distance, but I don’t think we’ll be winning that, but 40 “cow bucks” is $40 bucks. I’m just saying.

P.S. Get on “the” e-mail list, get “a” T-shirt, take a “picture” near a monument, get it to “them” before Aug. 31, 2011, and save $40.

NC Pottery Center in Seagrove, NC, Educates Area Teachers About NC Pottery History

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011



For three days in late June, 2011, a group of 25 local teachers took a break from their summer vacation to participate in a special workshop hosted by the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove, North Carolina, and funded by an educational grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Goodnight Educational Fund. The purpose of this special workshop was to introduce these teachers to the history of pottery making in North Carolina, from the earliest American Indian potters to contemporary potters of today, highlighting old traditions and new traditions. The teachers were selected by random, five from each of the surrounding counties of Chatham, Lee, Moore, Montgomery and Randolph. Each teacher received a packet of publications, posters, and educational materials to share with their students next fall.

Teachers get an orientation at the NCPC on the first day of the workshop from Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton

Day one of the workshop featured guest lectures by Dr. Charles Zug, noted folklorist and North Carolina pottery expert who provided a history of pottery making overview, Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton, archaeologist and ceramic scholar who taught them how to identify different ceramics and glazes, plus demonstrations by Caroleen Sanders, Catawba Indian potter who spoke about her heritage and training, and finally Chris Espenshade, an archaeologist who demonstrated hand-building techniques for the teacher’s hands-on experience.

Catawba potter, Caroleen Sanders gives teachers an overview of  her pottery tradition.

Teachers in the NCPC Education Building learning how to make coiled pottery from Chris Espenshade.

The second and third days involved field trips to various regional pottery shops to showcase different pottery styles, kilns, glazes, and vessels. The group visited Westmoore Pottery (Mary Farrell) to learn about North Carolina’s early redware industry and use of a chamber kiln. They then moved on to Jugtown Pottery to learn about groundhog kilns, salt-glazed stonewares and the “revitalization” of the craft which took place in the 1920s from generational potters, Vernon and Pam Owens. The afternoon was filled with a visit to Ben Owen Pottery to see new art forms and changes in this family’s wares over the past three generations, plus two functioning groundhog kilns. Last on the second day was a trip to the King’s Pottery to meet Terry, Anna and Crystal King, a family of local potters known for their whimsical face jugs and sculptural figurines of animals.

Mary Farrrell of Westmoore Pottery greets the teachers in front of her shop before showing them her decorative techniques.

The third day the teachers’ group traveled to Pittsboro, NC, to meet potter Mark Hewitt and learn more about the apprenticeship system of craft-transfer, along with his own version of traditional pottery, use of a catenary arch kiln and other decorative elements revised from North Carolina’s 19th century traditions. The group concluded the field trip day with a visit to Seagrove pottery family, the McCanlesses, where Millie (Dover Pottery), Eck (Eck McCanless Pottery) and Zeke demonstrated elaborate decorative techniques on porcelain-type ceramics.

Pittsboro, NC, potter, Mark Hewitt talks about his craft and appreciation of North Carolina pottery.

At the end of the workshop, the teachers received their diplomas and stood patiently for a final group photograph.  Overall comments from teachers were very rewarding and positive, “this is the best workshop I’ve attended in my 17 years of teaching”, “loved the literature and the presentations”, “learning firsthand history from NC potters”, “now I have more knowledge to spread with kids and families in the area”,  and “NCPC + Hospitality = Wonderful!”

Group of 25 Teachers from Chatham, Lee, Moore, Montgomery, and Randolph Counties who participated in the NCPC’s 3-day Teachers Workshop on Pottery making in North Carolina.

The workshop organizers, Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton, Mrs. Cindy Edwards, and Mrs. Ann Busick, along with the NCPC staff, hope to do another teachers workshop in the future, offering access to potters, history overview and hands-on demonstrations to teachers from throughout the state an opportunity to transmit this learning to their students….helping to preserve and promote the significance of pottery in North Carolina’s heritage.

Upcoming Fundraiser for the NC Pottery Center

The North Carolina Pottery Center, in Seagrove, partnering with Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales, Ltd (LLAES), is pleased to announce, the12th annual Going, Going, Gone to Pots fundraising auction on Aug. 11, 2011. This auction, the Center’s main fund raising event of the year, will feature an outstanding selection of contemporary and vintage North Carolina pottery donated by top NC potters and collectors, as well as other exciting participatory and pottery related items. The lots are available for viewing now at ( and (

NC Pottery Center’s Upcoming Exhibitions

The North Carolina Pottery Center will present two new exhibits including:Wild Fire: Alamance County Stoneware – Past and Present and Remember Me as You Pass By… North Carolina Ceramic Grave Markers, both on view from Aug. 19 through Oct. 29, 2011. A reception will be held on Aug. 19, from 5:30-7:30pm.

Exhibitions are made possible through the generosity of our membership, the Mary and Elliott Wood Foundation and the Goodnight Educational Foundation. This project was supported by the NC Arts Council, a division of the NC Department of Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The mission of the North Carolina Pottery Center is to promote public awareness of and appreciation for the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina. The Center is located at 233 East Avenue in Seagrove. Hours of operation are Tue. – Sat., 10am – 4pm.

For more information, please call 336/873-8430 or visit (

North Carolina Pottery Center Holds Annual Fundraising Auction at Leland Little Auction and Estate Sales in Hillsborough, NC – Aug. 11, 2011

Thursday, July 14th, 2011


As you all should know by now, government support for the arts is being cut back – whether it’s from local, state or national sources. That’s why fundraisers like the NC Pottery Center’s Going, Going, Gone to Pots is so important. But, it’s also a great opportunity to make a bid on some great pottery – new and old – by some great potters.

Hey Tom, I thought you have argued against the visual arts being used for fundraising purposes. I have and still will, as the visual arts are being used as what seems like the sole source of fundraising in the non-profit sector, but when it comes to visual artists helping the facilities and organizations that benefit them – bring it on. I’m all for that – it just makes sense.

And, if you’re thinking – I don’t need another piece of pottery or you can’t be bothered to go to an auction – just send the NC Pottery Center a check. The results are the same – just not as fun. Here’s a link for an easy donation.

So here’s a press release about the NC Pottery Center’s fundraiser.


The North Carolina Pottery Center, in Seagrove, NC, partnering with Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales, Ltd (LLAES), is pleased to announce, the 12th annual Going, Going, Gone to Pots fundraising auction on Aug. 11, 2011. The auction, our main fund raising event of the year, will feature an outstanding selection of contemporary and vintage North Carolina pottery donated by top NC potters and collectors, as well as other exciting participatory and pottery related items. The lots are available for viewing now at ( and ( This provides an excellent opportunity to purchase the work of nationally known NC artists for your collection, whether you live in NC or thousands of miles away. The move of the auction to Hillsborough, NC, and LLEA’s offers the opportunity for absentee, advance and live  telephone bidding for persons unable to attend the live auction.

Work by Mark Hewitt

The Auction is scheduled for Thursday evening, beginning with a 6pm wine and cheese reception with the potters, a chance to meet and talk with several of North Carolina’s prominent potters. The auction begins at 7pm with raffles and more. There is no admission and everyone is welcome!

The fundraising efforts are already underway on line, with more being added soon. Visit ( to purchase raffle tickets for an 18” Donna Craven covered jar valued at $450. This piece will be on display at the NC Pottery Center until Aug. 9, 2011, and then again at the auction reception. Tickets are $10, or 3 for $25, and all proceeds will benefit the ongoing operations of the North Carolina Pottery Center.

Bean Pot with lid by Jugtown Circa 1930-1940, Donated by Bruce Daws

The NC Pottery Center’s mission is to promote public awareness and appreciation of the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of pottery-making in North Carolina through education programs, public services, collection and preservation, and research and documentation.  As with all non-profits, fundraising continues to be challenging but your support allows us to implement exciting possibilities and ensure continued success and viability of this museum that promotes and protects one of North Carolina’s most treasured resources. We hope you will stand with us to keep this wonderful tribute to clay viable and ongoing by supporting our annual auction.

Works from Cole Pottery

Along with our partner, Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales, the following sponsors have generously committed their support to the North Carolina Pottery Center’s auction: First Bank of Troy, Brad Crone, Progress Energy, American Ceramics Society, Aftifex, Jugtown, Caroleen Sanders, Linda Carnes-McNaughton, Pat Palmer & D. A. Livingston, Randolph Telephone Membership Corporation, Community One Bank, The Cranford Agency, Bruce Daws, Carmen Guy, Patricia Hart, Klaussner, Benjamin McDowell, Marilyn Palsha, Pugh Funeral Home, Westmoore Family Restaurant, Gardner Heating & Air, Randolph Electric Membership Corporation, Randolph Printing, The Grove Park Inn, Courtyard by Marriott Chapel Hill, Ducksmith House B&B, Seagrove Stoneware Inn, NC Zoological Society, Chili’s with more joining daily.

Work by Sid Luck

The North Carolina Pottery Center offers educational opportunities to statewide schools and individuals, changing historical and contemporary exhibitions, demonstrations, and information about statewide potters. The NCPC is a private nonprofit entity, funded primarily through memberships, grants, admissions, and appropriations.

The Center is open, Tuesdays – Saturdays 10am to 4pm. Admission (excluding free special events) is: $2 – adults, $1 – students 9th through 12th grades, Free – children through 8th grade, free – NCPC members. Handicap accessible. Groups and tours welcomed.

For further information and details call 336/873-8430, e-mail at ( or visit (

Tracking the Numbers of the July 2011 Issue of Carolina Arts in the First Ten Days of July

Monday, July 11th, 2011


Well, as expected the 4th of July holiday weekend took its toll on our loyal readers. The paper was launched before midnight of July 1, which was a Friday – departure day for many people getting ready to celebrate our independence or start their Summer vacations.

On Saturday I looked at the first days results and when I saw just 13,000 downloads I knew it was going to be a bad weekend for Carolina Arts. I think there was less then 200 downloads of the paper on Saturday and Sunday and less than 50 on the 4th. But the celebrating had to stop sometime and we all don’t get vacations – as least during this time of the year, so, we knew some people would be returning to the grind. And as those ten days passed by the download count improved with over 4,000 downloading the paper on Sunday July 10.

Our total downloads for the first ten days in July came in at 29,544 – a respectable number considering the slow start. I make no predictions as to where we will be by the end of July, but things are looking up.

The rest of the numbers include: (other) 18,353; the Mar. 2011 issue attracted 2,417 downloads; Feb. came in at 146; Jan. with 73; and one of are lost issues – May showed back up with 38 downloads. Still no sign of any downloads for the Apr. issue. Can’t figure this one out.

The rest depends on those folks who have been (or will be) e-mailing the link of the paper around and those who post notices on blogs, twitter and Facebook.

These are the dog days of Summer, but there is still a lot to see and do out there – 57 pages worth – found in our July 2011 issue of Carolina Arts(

You can look at things in all different ways, and in one way, this July issue will be our biggest and most read July issue in our 24 year history. Not bad. And the month is long from over.

The Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail in Upstate SC Installs 50th Quilt Block

Saturday, July 9th, 2011


Fifty and counting – that’s the number of quilt blocks that now comprise the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail. This latest is titled “Kimono” and was originally designed by Ellen Kochansky, founder of the Rensing Center in Pickens, SC. A well known textile artist, designer and quilter, Kochansky’s craft is grounded in the traditional style. However, her work stretches beyond to include experimental fibers and mixed-media in response to community-based and site-specific commissions.


The “Kimono” quilt block has been mounted on the non-profit Rensing Center, named for Kochansky’s mother, Evelyn Rensing Kochansky. She and her husband Nicholas moved from Connecticut to Pickens in 1981. From 1981 to 1992, the building served as the studio for their daughter and a remarkable team who made a line of original, limited-edition bed quilts and a series of art quilts. The production line consisted of 12 to 15 seasonal styles, in two or three colors. They were sold primarily through the national competitive craft shows such as those sponsored by the American Craft Council. Over 2,000 quilts were produced here. The Rensing Center is located at 1165 Mile Creek Road in Pickens.

Inspiration for “Kimono” came from two sources. First, the tradition of resourcefulness and frugality typical of the quilts of the Depression years. They were often made of men’s suits, after the dark wool had become shiny from wear, and perhaps, Dad had lost his job. The fabric could be turned to the wrong side and used again to keep the family warm. Joyful jolts of color called ‘Zingers’ were added to keep the family spirits up and to enliven the quilt. This quilt was designed after Kochansky had spent a sick Christmas with friends and they comforted her with a family quilt of this vintage.

The second inspiration came from Kochansky’s training at Syracuse under Charles Dibble, a Japanese scholar. She was struck by the nature of  Japanese weaving tradition using a diagonal structure in which a standard fabric width of about 14 inches is used to create a kimono for any size person. In many weave-based traditions, the labor and resource intensity of the textile itself was revered, allowing many kimonos to be rebuilt time and again for new owners. She came across the Korean example of a wrapping cloth, a kind of square quilt with ribbons sewn to each corner that was used as a back pack. The design was often made from the specific diagonal wedges of fabric that were cut from the sleeve of the kimono.

Kochansky’s designs reflect the philosophy behind the Rensing Center itself – it serves as a connecting model between creative thinking and craftsmanship. As Kochansky explains, “Make use of what you have – This is what will solve the environmental, economic and creative problems of today. Nothing goes to waste! Finding what is scorned and discarded  in our less conscious society, and honoring it with a purpose that is both beautiful and useful…THERE is art!”

This 50th quilt on the driving trail is a turning point for the UHQT. It is only a year and a half since the first quilt block was hung in Oconee County. The trail has recently expanded into Pickens and Anderson counties with plans to continue expansion down the South Carolina Heritage Corridor to Charleston.

For more information visit (

Shoestring Publishing Company Has Been Publishing an Arts Newspaper for 24 Years

Friday, July 8th, 2011

In early 1987, I got a real crazy idea. For some reason I thought what Charleston, SC, needed was an arts newspaper to tell its story and inform the good people of Charleston what was going on, from month to month, in its art community. I waited until after the Spoleto Festival was over to launch the paper in July, 1987. Now, 24 years later I’m thinking – What was it thinking?


I mean, why did I wait until after Spoleto, when the largest arts audience was in town? I knew why I started the paper. There wasn’t enough coverage of the arts in Charleston and it’s still a problem today – not just in Charleston but all over the Carolinas.

Somewhere along the line we decided to just focus on the visual arts – mainly exhibitions.

I’m sure there are many more people out there besides me who are wondering – How has that paper survived this long? All I can contribute on my behalf is – just stubborn I guess. I have no excuse for Linda, my better half – she should know better. But, I’ll shift the blame to all those people who over the years provided us with information (by deadline) and took out paid advertising – which is what really kept us alive. And, some credit goes to our printing company, Tri-State Printing – who we’ll still be paying money to for awhile.

I’m not going to take you readers on some long historical journey, I’ll save that for the 25th anniversary – if we make it. I just wanted to mark the occasion and say – Thank You – to all our supporters. Maybe by the 25th I’ll get that fourth interview with myself done. I always enjoy talking to that guy.

Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery in Charleston, SC, Features Works by Jennifer Ervin – July 1 – 31, 2011

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011


We didn’t receive any info about this exhibit at Carolina Arts, but on July 3, 2011, I went to the Charleston County Public Library’s Main Branch in Charleston, SC, to pick up our goddaughter, Zelda, for a 4th of July visit here at the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing Company on the shores of Lake Moultrie at Bonneau Beach, SC.

The Library was showing the exhibit, Moving Into Stillness, featuring works by Jennifer Ervin. After viewing the exhibit I wrote in her book for comments that, “this was the best photography exhibit I’ve seen this year in Charleston. The works reminded me of Edward Weston’s photographs.” This was high praise in my book.

In a short statement about the exhibit, Ervin mentioned that she does a lot of walking and picks up a lot of objects along the way. Some of these objects end up in simple, straight forward images, presented wrapped in warm, soft light and printed as such. The images and the exhibit overall gave me and I’m sure most viewing it – a warm, nostalgic feeling. It was also a very well presented exhibition. It was almost like stepping into a little side room of a major art museum.

I didn’t have my camera with me, but it would have been near impossible to get any useful images as the works were under glass and there are always lots of reflections in this small room. I took a few notes on a couple of her business cards.

Zelda, who is also interested in old school photography also like this exhibit. More high praise.

Later when I got home, I checked out Ervin’s website and saw an image there I recognized. Turns out that Carolina Arts featured an article about an exhibit Ervin had at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC, in our Feb. 2011 issue. She was also in the the Pee Dee Regional Photography Exhibit 2011 – Photofabulous! at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, but I must of missed her works somewhere in the 1,000 + images offered. Ervin’s works definitely grabbed my attention in a solo setting.

And, yes, I do not have a photographic memory or the ability to call up all info that passes our way at Carolina Arts. I have a hard enough time putting the right artist in the right gallery in the right city in the right state at times, but I do better than most.

I contacted Ervin by e-mail to see if she could send me some jpegs of works in the exhibit so you could see some of what I saw. She sent a few which we have here. But, the exhibit as a whole is much better to see.


I found a little statement offered on the website about this exhibit, Moving Into Stillness. There was this quote form Frederick Sommer, “Life itself is not the reality. We are the ones who put life into the stones and pebbles.” And, this quote from Ervin, “This collection explores still life with an emphasis on design, carefully selecting details to create a poetic visual language that transforms objects into sensory experiences.”


But, I think one of my favorite images in the exhibit, broke the rules a little bit – which is OK. The work titled, Figs (in the studio), was like most of the other images – a simple image of some figs, but at the bottom of this image – a ways from the depth of field of the lens (a technical photographic term for the area of sharp focus, front to back) you could see the photographer’s feet. It was a little hint that these images are not a record of Mother Nature’s work. They are images of objects from nature created by a skilled photographer – in order for the viewer to see ordinary objects in a way you will stop and look at them.

I read statements by a lot of photographers who say they are capturing images of everyday objects we all pass by or overlook in our fast-paced lives, but it’s not always true. It just sounds good to say. And, too many photographers use that line for the excuse that they can’t find interesting images to capture, but Ervin in the image, Figs (in the studio), reminds us – she is making these ordinary objects interesting to look at – in her environment. Is that not one of the basics of art in general?

I don’t want to see images of the minutia of life. I get enough of real life minutia – 24/7 as is.


I also found a little bio info on the website, telling me that Ervin studied painting and photography at Francis Marion University, and received her MFA in Graphic Design from Boston University in 2002. Her work has been actively exhibited in the Southeast and she will have two solo shows in 2011 – the one at FMU and this one at the Library. Ervin received the Jo-Ann Fender Scarborough Award (2009) for work from her “Becoming” series. She lives in Charleston, with her husband and three daughters.

Three daughters! I’m amazed she can get any work done. But artists seem to manage. It’s funny, but it seems like artists with families get a lot more work done than those that don’t. Maybe it’s because the ones without families and all that comes with them – have more time to talk about doing art and those with – just have time to do.

I wish we had known about this exhibit for our July 2011 issue, but I would strongly advise anyone in the Charleston area to go see this exhibit. It’s worth the effort. I’m glad I saw it by chance.

You can see more of Ervin’s artworks at ( or for further info e-mail to (

Tracking the Numbers of the June 2011 Issue of Carolina Arts

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011


Well, the numbers for the month of June turned out to surprise me in a good way. We did very well. The final total of downloads for June came in at 50,041. Compared to the 61,199 we saw in May, it might seem down, but it’s the second highest month in the last six months.

For Summer – I think it’s great and it gives me hope for July, but I expect the numbers will fall, but I also could be surprised. A big factor in July will be the big holiday weekend coming at the same time we are launching a new issue. The early numbers could be bad. But, I just don’t know. I have no experience on this yet and comparing these days to the last 23 years is like comparing grapes and water mellons.

Editor’s Note: Early July number were bad. It’s hard to compete with a long holiday weekend like the 4th and many people’s kick off of Summer vacations. Hopefully folks will re-discover our launch e-mail for the July issue – when they get back.

The overall website did well too. We had 69,680 sessions, more than we had in May, and 629,551 hits, which was about 10,000 less than May, but the paper was also 10 pages shorter.

Now, for the strange part of the stats.

Our old “friend” the (other) category, an unknown factor was back strong after a slight retreat in May with a number of 67,189. It was the top factor on our website, but is a meaningless figure as our server can’t explain – who or what these numbers mean. I think they are just there to bug me.

Our ever-popular March 2011 issue attracted another 11, 534 downloads in June. That now amounts to 77,736 downloads of that issue since its launch on March 1st. Why this issue is attracting over 10,000 downloads a month is a real puzzle to me, but it keeps life interesting.

As I stated in the first ten day report done earlier this month I had through that since the May issue was so popular it would over take the March issue in June with repeat downloads, but that didn’t happen. In fact, the May issue just disappeared. I mean it just dropped off the radar in that I can’t find any record of the May or April issue being downloaded in June. And, I went through 5000 stats of a list of 10,001 offered. At the 5000 mark it was down to pages that attracted only 20 views. At that point I lost interest.

That’s pretty strange considering there was a lot of info in that May issue about exhibits which continued into June and July, but would not be mentioned in June again. And, if so many people were interested in an issue (March) which was four months old – why wasn’t anyone interested in looking at May again? We’ll see what happens in July.

Our total number of downloads of issues of Carolina Arts since Jan. 1 is 216,499, an average of 36,083 a month. Not bad for a paper which used to print only 10,000 copies a month. We now have a lot of new readers.

A Bike Ride on the South End of the Dike Around Lake Moultrie Near Bonneau, SC

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Here’s something to show that I’m not working all the time.

In the last month, as Charleston, SC, artist, Bob Graham would say – I’ve gotten back on my horse. That’s an inside Facebook joke.

Here at Bonneau Beach, SC, the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing Company, we live in what some people might think of as paradise. We live at the edge of Lake Moultrie and the Francis Marion National Forest – both man made in the mid 1930s by a government trying to pull Americans out of a depression.

The lake was built to provide hydroelectricity for rural Berkeley County and the forest was planted to recover land overworked by cotton plantations. Both projects created jobs for men where there were no jobs. Both projects still provide jobs, recreational opportunities, and a good chunk of undeveloped land. There’s a lesson there missed by today’s politicians, but we’re not going into that today.


Here’s a photo of the old hydro dam (Jefferies Generating Station) and the Pinopolis Lock which can move boats from the lake down to the level of the Tail Race Canal, which then runs into the Cooper River going down to Charleston. The area of Lake Moultrie and the Tail Race Canal in Moncks Corner is in the same area of America’s first summit canal, the Santee Canal, which began operating in 1800 moving crops from inland plantations to Charleston.

Here’s a drawing of the old canal

OK that’s your short history lesson of this area.

Over ten years ago I use to ride my single gear bike around my neighborhood on a route that took me ten miles. Eventually I discovered I could ride the length of the dike, holding back part of Lake Moultrie from our neighborhood over to Overton, another community on the lake toward Moncks Corner, SC, giving me a more interesting ten mile ride. The distance from our end of this part of the dike is about five miles to Overton. I was doing this ride almost every day when it wasn’t raining, too windy, too cold or too hot.

For some reason about a month ago I had decided to give our cars their once a year bath. During the process I got a look at my old bike stashed under the carport. The tires were both flat and it was covered in dust and cobwebs. After I finished the cars I got the bike out and pumped up the tires – they still held air – and cleaned it up and oiled the chain and gear. It didn’t look too bad – worn but still respectable.

The next morning I took it for a test drive and made it through a third of my old route. Man, when I got off that bike my legs were rubber and burning. It’s been awhile since I was knocking out those ten mile rides and I wasn’t 60 years old back then either.

It took about two weeks to get up to doing two-thirds of the route, but I was getting into the swing and getting used to the routine. One Saturday morning as I was making my first leg around my route and coming up to the spot where the dike begins – for some reason I went up that entry road to the entrance.

After 911, Santee Cooper, the power utility which manages the lake, got money from Homeland Security to build gates on the dike to prevent terrorists from driving a truck up on the dike and blowing it up or pouring poison into the lake. Oh, I guess I didn’t mention that the dike is wide enough to drive on and Santee Cooper’s security drives it everyday. Eventually they put a pedestrian gate in the fence as people who used to walk the dike for exercise complained and a bike can fit through it.

Funny thing, there are a number of lake access roads in our neighborhood that lead right down to the lake so anyone, any time of the day could ride into the lake and dump a truck load of poison into it. Of course those terrorists would be at great risk – after all this is Berkeley County and almost every household has an arsenal of guns on hand and every stranger has a hundred eyes on them when they enter the area.

So, I’m up on the dike – there’s a little breeze and it’s a wonderful morning. I’ll check it out a bit. I had been thinking about my old days of riding on the dike. By the time I hit one of the turns in the dike I realize I had gotten myself into something I hadn’t planned on and as stubborn as I am – I’m about to do something pretty stupid – I keep going.

By the time I make it to the other end of the dike where Overton begins, my butt is killing me and I’ve got to go all the way back. I’ve already gone over six miles and it’s at least six miles back to the house. The sun is a lot higher in the sky and it’s getting hotter, I don’t have any water, I forgot my sunglasses and had the wrong hat on. I had my cell phone with me, but there is not a lot of coverage in that area. It was all coming back to me how I used to do these bike rides – I was prepared. And, I’m 60 now.

What really hit me smack in the face is the reality and memory of why I didn’t ride the dike when there was a breeze. When the breeze is at your back on the first leg of the trip – it’s in your face all the way back.

Now, don’t think that this experience wasn’t a wonderful event. I was out in nature and seeing all kinds of animals – mostly birds on this ride. There were wild turkeys, egrets, great blue herons, osprey, woodpeckers, Canadian geese, plenty of turkey vultures, cormorants, all kinds of small common birds – a bald eagle and pelicans – yes, pelicans on the lake. Of course there are plenty of turtles, dragon flies, and bull frogs in the ponds behind the dike. I hadn’t seen any gators or snakes yet, but I know they are there.

I still remember the day I was on the dike and came across a dead ten foot gator that a boat must have hit and killed. It had washed up on the rocks of the dike. The head and teeth were huge. I’ve looked at the lake totally different since that day.

Anyway, on the ride back I was up against that great breeze I enjoyed earlier, luckily to my side most of the way but in my face for the last mile and a half. Near the end the dragon flies were flying along side me as were the turkey vultures – they could smell – old man down. At one point two pelicans passed me floating in the air – heading in the same direction. I had this feeling of – look behind you – and when I did, there was a third one just above my head, just a little to my rear and on the left. I hit the brakes and stood there thinking – Hey guys, I’m not that old yet. My story is not over.

When I finally made it home – talk about rubber legs and I couldn’t sit very well the rest of the day. But I recovered.

So this Saturday, a week later, I was more prepared and I took my camera and all necessary items. So here’s a little photo journey of a bike ride on the dike. It was a little earlier, so there was some mist or fog, no wind, and I went directly to the dike to start off.

Because of the mist I had to wait until I was about four and a half miles into the ride before I could take my first photo.

This is a shot of the Overton neighborhood on the other end of this part of the dike.

This was a group of Canadian Geese getting ready for their morning swim. They were coming from the National Forest side of the dike to a little beach at the Overton end.

Here’s a shot of that beach. Santee Cooper has not filled this in with rocks to re-enforce the dike – I guess to give folks on this side a little beach area.


This part of the dike runs behind the neighborhood. I continued to ride the dike behind Overton till the end. The gate for people to pass through was 20 feet down the side of the dike to the left on another access road, so this was the end for me today.

Here’s a shot off in the distance at the smoke stacks of the Jefferies Generating Station. Santee Cooper now burns coal there – the hydro days are over. But, it’s a museum now.

On the way back, here’s a shot at a backyard garden area of one of the residences in Overton.


When I got back to that little beach I could see that the geese were swimming back to the beach so I got off the bike to see if I could sneak a picture.

Here they all are.

Here’s a shot at one of the public access parts of the dike. On Hwy. 52 which runs parallel to the dike for a while there is a picnic area, called the Canal, part of Francis Marion National Forest, where you can park and walk to the dike. And, where the general public has access to mother nature – some elements of that public always has to leave a sign of them being there.

This is also where the Palmetto Trail comes onto the dike.

The Palmetto Trail (not completely finished) runs from Awendaw, SC, on the Atlantic Ocean all the way up to where South Carolina shares a border with Western North Carolina at Oconee State Park – a 425 + mile trail. A small portion of it runs atop the dike on the northern end of Lake Moultrie. This part of the trail is mostly through the Franics Marion National Forest and around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion.

Here’s a view of the back side of the dike. It should be noted that you can’t hear cars on Hwy. 52 passing by, but you will hear trains passing by on the CSX tracks that run between the lake and Hwy. 52. Those tracks run north to south. We see and hear Florida orange trains, coal trains, freight trains, and Amtrack – going by all day and night. When it’s quiet you can hear the trains blow their horns three miles away, but most of the time I just don’t hear it anymore after years of hearing them.

You can’t see it very well, but there is a bald eagle with something it caught and then came to eat it on top of this utility pole. I’m using a pocket camera which isn’t too bad, but it’s not like a real camera with a real telephoto lens. You have to look close, but it’s there. We see and hear eagles all the time in our neighborhood. The pelicans are the unusual sight around here these days.

Here is the two and a half mile marker. Someone has put half mile markers down for walkers I guess.

Here’s a shot looking back toward the way back home – well before several turns of the dike.

Here’s a shot looking back toward Overton.

Here is a shot at what I call big bird poop – full of seeds.

Here’s a shot at the results of big bird poop. Birds are great pollinators. They eat the fruit off of plants and bushes and the next thing you know, you have plants and bushes growing in the rocks – growing everywhere.

Here’s a shot at the intake of water from the lake for the Rembert C. Dennis Fish Hatchery located between Bonneau and Bonneau Beach. They raise a lot of the fish to restock the lake – which now has two dams on the rivers flowing out of the lake to the ocean. There’s a fish lift on the dam at the Santee River.

Here’s the intake pipe.

Here’s looking down the backside of the dike to the hatchery.

Here’s the last turn of the dike. You can see the Bonneau water tower in the background. Lake Moultrie now provides good drinking water for the region – thanks to Homeland Security – keeping those terrorist out of our lake.


Here’s a couple of view of a little protected cove near the entrance to the dike on our side. At this point I spotted something down in the rocks I want to get a closer look at. So, I get off the bike and jump down off the road level of the dike.

Here’s a view from down in the rocks.

Here’s a sign of a former dike bike rider. I guess they didn’t make it home one day.

I am never surprised at what I find in these rocks along the dike. Anything that can fall out of a boat, be tossed out of a boat, or blow into the water from someone’s backyard – you’ll find washed up on the rocks, not to mention all the junk the fishermen leave there. And, mother nature contributes too.

You’ll find dead fish, dead animals, dead animal parts, animal bones (turkey vultures) and parts of trees. What’s amazing is when you find a huge tree trunk that must weigh tons – washed all the way up to the top of the rocks. That shows how strong the storms are on the lake with such a shallow bottom.

Here’s a closer shot of that little cove – closer to water level.

Here’s the turtle shell I spotted from the top of the dike. A boat must of hit it and cracked its shell in half and then it eventually washed up on the rocks where – as Rudy Mancke, of ETV’s NatureScene says, birds turned turtle into bird. If it had been whole I would have taken it home as a real prize.


This last shot is looking toward the end of my ride on the dike.

It turned out to be a two and a half hour ride. It takes a lot longer when you’re stopping and taking pictures – especially if you’re going to climb down off the top of the dike into the rocks. And, it took a lot longer now that I’m 60 – but, my legs were less rubbery this time, but my butt was still sore. TMI – sorry.

That’s an adventure here in what some people call paradise. We’ll get back to the visual arts – real soon.

P.S. – I received an e-mail from Willard Strong of Santee Cooper Corporate Communications clearing up and correcting a few things I wrote in my blog entry – some based on “myth” I guess. I want to make these folks happy as they provide my electricity and I like my air conditioning.

Here’s what he offered: First, “the hydro days are over” is not accurate. Santee Cooper’s hydroelectric operations (and Pinopolis Lock operations) have been going on continuously since Feb. 17, 1942, when the first unit at the Pinopolis Power Plant (renamed Jefferies Hydroelectric Station in 1944 for Sen. and Gov. Richard M. Jefferies). The five units at Jefferies Hydro (totaling 128 megawatts of generating capability) are still in service. Also, there is not a “museum” at the hydro plant, although there are old pictures on the wall of a room there. Tours are available. (Side note: There is the Berkeley County Museum and Heritage Center inside the gates of the Old Santee Canal Park, formerly the Old Santee Canal State Park, Santee Cooper assumed operation of the park over a decade ago).

Also, the “fish lift” you refer to is on the Rediversion Canal (not the Santee River) at the St. Stephen Powerhouse, constructed and owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and completed in 1983. As you may know, this is called the “Cooper River Rediversion Project,” although the Cooper River was never really diverted as the Santee River was, the Cooper’s flow was altered by Rediversion, as it was by the original diversion of the Santee River. This 14-mile long canal between Lake Moultrie and the Santee River is technically not part of the original Santee Cooper Hydroelectric and Navigation Project (constructed from April 1939 to December 1942), and is not part of Santee Cooper’s federal license to conduct hydroelectric operations. However, it is now an integral part of this fairly complex lake system. There are three hydro units at the St. Stephen Powerhouse and Santee Cooper receives the 84 megawatts it is capable of producing and Santee Cooper actually controls it remotely (turning it on and off when needed or when there is enough water to run it) from our energy control center at the Moncks Corner headquarters.

You, as a publisher, please indulge me on two style notes: We officially use “Tailrace Canal” (I know the S.C. DOT made signs on the bridge with two words and “Tail Race Plaza”). “Tailrace” is actually a generic word in dictionaries. The other is “Canada geese,” sounds awkward to say, but my trusty AP Stylebook says that’s the way to do it. If you’re interested in more history about us, we have “Powering Generations, History of Santee Cooper 1934-2009,” released last year and published by The R.L. Bryan Co. in Columbia. The book is available for purchase at the Berkeley County Museum. I am the museum’s board chairman. It’s only $25, a bargain by hardbound prices of today. Hope this helps you understand more about us. If you have more questions, I’d be happy to assist you.

Best regards,

Willard Strong
Santee Cooper Corporate Communications
Corporate Headquarters
1 Riverwood Drive
Moncks Corner, South Carolina 29461

The July 2011 Issue of Carolina Arts is Now Ready

Friday, July 1st, 2011


The July 2011 issue of Carolina Arts is up on our website at ( – all 57 pages of it. We had over 50,000 downloads of the June 2011 issue. Not bad for a Summer issue.

Can the July 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.