I don’t know why the good folks in Columbia, SC, think that Thursday evenings is the day to have art openings and art walks, but it seems that’s their day. Maybe it has to do something with early preparations for Saturday morning tailgating, but once again I was making a trip up I-26 from the Charleston, SC, area to see art in Columbia – something I don’t think a lot of folks in the Charleston area ever consider doing. Believe me – it’s their loss.
Charleston has an excellent visual art community, but so does Columbia and other parts of South Carolina and the Carolinas as a whole. But I’m not sure many folks in Charleston know that.
So on a day when our crazy Winter was turning from an Eskimo’s Summer to a Carolina Winter, I traveled to Columbia to see several exhibitions. When I first arrived in Columbia it was a wonderful 80 degree day. Within hours the temps had dropped 30-40 degrees and rain was blowing horizontally. It kind of reminded me of Michigan.
My first stop was the Goodall Gallery at Columbia College to see the exhibit,South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities Faculty Exhibition, featuring works by Marty Epp-Carter, Ben Gilliam, Elaine Quave, Joseph Thompson, Carolyn Tucker, and Paul Yanko. The exhibit will be on view through Feb. 16, 2013.
I usually don’t know what’s going on at the Goodall Gallery as we don’t ever seem to receive info about their exhibits, but somehow info reached me this month. So, I was interested in seeing the work created by the folks teaching our lucky high school students in SC who get the opportunity to attend the Governor’s School for the Arts in Greenville, SC.
I’ve been told that we will be better informed about exhibits at Columbia College. As Martha Stewart says, “That’s a good thing.”
As I drove to Columbia College I was experiencing a feeling of auto-pilot – the Goodall Gallery was my first stop when delivering papers to Columbia (years ago now). The only difference now was that it was the middle of the day instead of being at 1 or 2am at night. And, being daytime I had to take some faculty member’s parking space, but I figured at that time of the day they had probably left for home already – otherwise I created a parking domino effect. Sorry about that.
The Goodall Gallery is not a large space, but it isn’t small either. It has two levels, but today’s exhibit only took up the lower level. The only artist whose works I was familiar with were those by Paul Yanko, an abstract artist – go figure. I like his work and if you’ve seen it before you can spot it in a second – as long as he keeps to his current style.
After a look at everything on display my first impression was that the visual art students at the Governor’s School for the Arts would do well in following what these instructors had to offer. All of the work I saw could actually sell in the Carolinas – which is not often the case when it comes to college or university professors. I liked all the work I saw, but beyond Yanko’s abstracts I focused in on the earthenware clay works by Elaine Quave and a series of photographs by Carlyn Tucker.
Quave’s works were large platters mounted as wall hangings and Tucker’s photographs told a timelapse story on how well our economy has been doing since 2005. One set of photographs showed one small building in transition from openings to closings of five different businesses in a span of time from 2005 to 2011. It was very interesting – something probably only noticed by people who drive by the building on a daily basis or its landlord. Having been someone who has failed at business in the past, I felt the pain and loss in these images.
We have an article about this exhibit on Page 14 of our February 2013 issue of Carolina Arts (www.carolinaarts.com). Go see this exhibit.
My next stop was Tapp’s Art Center on Main Street. It’s been awhile since I’ve been there – way before they got city funding, but by the time I got from Columbia College to where Tapp’s is on Main Street – the skies had opened up and rain was coming down in buckets – horizontally. After driving around the area a few times and finding only one parking space that would have meant I would spend the rest of my time in Columbia soaked to the bone – I went to plan B, which is mostly plan A every time I’m in Columbia. I drove over to One Eared Cow Glass to see what the cowboys were up to. Besides I had orders from Linda, my better half, to get one of those glass snowflakes from the display of the Four Seasons (in glass) that One Eared Cow Glass did at the recent SC State Fair.
I found a space at OECG right next to the front door, but judging by how wet I got just getting out of the car and through that door – not going to Tapp’s was a good decision. Hopefully I’ll get to visit on my next trip to Columbia.
The cowboys on this day were working on a commission piece for the town of Blythewood, SC. They were making leaves to create a chandelier for the new Doko Manor community center in Blythewood. When I asked what that was going to look like they said picture the Dale Chihuly chandelier over at the Columbia Museum of Art, but made of colorful leaves. That’s some kind of picture. I’m sure we’ll be bringing you more about this project in the future.
I watched about a dozen leaves get made while looking to see if the rain was letting up, which it wasn’t, and kept checking at my phone for the time. That’s right, I don’t wear a watch anymore. It’s just another thing a smart phone has replaced. I was keeping track of the time as the main reason I had come to Columbia was for the opening of an exhibit at City Art Gallery, Selected Work from the 30 Year Retrospective: Made in America -1983- 2013, featuring works by artist Marge Loudon Moody, an art professor at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, on view through Mar. 2, 2013. (We have an article about this exhibit on Page 16 of our Jan. 2013 issue of Carolina Arts).
So while the rain continued, I took some photos (with my phone) and picked out a snow flake, talked with the cowboys and looked at all the wonderful works in the gallery, until it was time to venture back into the car to head over to City Art. I always want to get there early to get a good parking space – especially on that day, due to the downpour.
I got a fairly good spot considering, but the rain was still relentless. I had come ready to be dressed for a reception, at least dressed up for me (dress pants, shirt and sport jacket), but ended up deciding that at my age, it was better to wear my old reliable rain coat and Carolina Panther’s hat to stay as dry as I could. My normal dress is shorts and T-shirt or in Winter – T-shirt and lounge pants or jeans – 24/7 (Panther hat when going outside).
The 100 yard dash to the door was an event. As I reached the door and got inside I can remember letting out a whew! and realizing I was the first person there. The only folks in the gallery were staff members and they were all staring at me. Once I walked up the stairs to the gallery Wendy Wells , the gallery director, walked over to me and asked, “What are you doing here?”. Taking that as a sort of comment based on the weather and distance from Bonneau to Columbia, I replied. “I came for the opening.” She still looked a little surprised, I usually only show up in Columbia for maximum effect – Artista Vista, Vista Lights or even a First Thursday on Main, but I think she understood why I had come for the opening. She also said the artist was still “swimming” upstream on I-77 coming through the rain from Rock Hill.
You need a little background at this point. You see, we have to go back to an exhibit the SC State Museum presented a year or so ago, Abstract Art in South Carolina 1949-2012, which is where I first saw works by Marge Moody. This was my favorite exhibition in some time in SC and I was familiar with the name Marge Moody, but had never seen any of her work before that exhibit. I was more familiar with her husband’s photography – Phil Moody, who also teaches at Winthrop University. Marge Moody’s works in that show made a big impression with me – as did many of the works in that show. It was a spectacular exhibition. You can read about this exhibit and see some images in a blog I did about another trip to Columbia at thisLink.
Wendy Wells had also liked that exhibit and in a discussion about the exhibit Moody’s works came up and she said she was going to have a solo exhibit of her works at City Art Gallery. My response was – when you do we’ll feature her work on the cover of Carolina Arts, and we did in our Jan. 2013 issue.
So, you see, I couldn’t wait to see a whole exhibit of Moody’s works and I said so on Facebook, but I guess some people just think comments on Facebook are just superficial comments. Not with me. So, Wells shouldn’t have been too surprised to see me there – slightly wet. But, due to the weather, I think she was surprised anyone would show up that evening. Linda wanted to come too, but just couldn’t get off work to come, so we’ll probably see it again before Mar. 2.
The SC State Museum in Columbia has just received the 2012 Certificate of Excellence for the exhibit, Abstract Art in South Carolina 1949-2012, from the Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC). So, I guess I stand in good company in liking that exhibition.
Shortly after the reception started the rain stopped and a little sunlight came through the skies so I was able to dash back to my car and change back into my better looking duds – which meant ditch the hat and rain coat and put on the sport coat.
Moody and her husband soon arrived and I got a chance to talk with her about how she had managed to stay off my “abstract” radar, but the good news is that there are other exhibits in the works coming in the future. Hopefully we’ll have more about that in the future.
First off, this exhibit was not really a retrospective – most of the works were recent. I guess it was my mistake in thinking I was going to be seeing a wide range of works over a period of time – by not reading the exhibit title – literally (“Selected Work” from the 30 Year Retrospective: Made in America -1983- 2013). These works were on the more recent end of those 30 years. Perhaps one of those future exhibits will offer a wider view of those 30 years.
The only way I can describe Moody’s work is to show some of my favorites with photos provided by City Art Gallery. My phone’s camera doesn’t do such a good job in that space for some reason or it’s the fact that at a reception I do more talking than taking photos.
You have lots of time to go see this show, but don’t put it off and then miss it. And, it will be some time – too long for me – before the SC State Museum mounts another view of abstract art in SC. So for people who love and understand abstract works – you have to get out and see these shows when they happen as they don’t happen that often – especially at commercial galleries.
Why is that? Well, those who like abstract art and would consider buying it are in a minority in SC. Commercial galleries are in business to sell art, so my hat goes off to someone like Wendy Wells and City Art Gallery for presenting a show like this one. In this case the public could prove me wrong. I hope so. Yes, City Art Gallery is a supporter of Carolina Arts, but that doesn’t change the facts and supporter or not, they deserve credit for their efforts.
I do want to mention another exhibit that opened that same evening in Columbia over at 701 Center for Contemporary Art, Stephen Hayes: Cash Crop, on view through Mar. 3, 2013. This is another “must see” exhibit that probably won’t be coming to Charleston any time soon – although it should have originated there.
At the core of the exhibit are 15 life-size sculptures of shackled people placed in boat- or coffin-like structures, with diagrams of captive, warehoused humans in Trans-Atlantic slave ships carved in wood on the back. Hayes says the sculptures represent, “the 15 million human beings kidnapped and transported by sea during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.”
Most of those slaves probably arrived in Charleston first in coming to America.
This exhibition has been shown several times in North Carolina and I got to see it at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. If I get another chance I’ll see it at 701, but with a two hour drive back home, my visits to Columbia are always limited. One of these days I’m going to stay overnight and enjoy Columbia’s art scene like a local.
Hayes is doing a residency at 701 CCA, so he may be adding new pieces to this exhibit.
So, if you travel to Columbia before Feb. 16, you can see all these exhibits and maybe get a peek at the chandelier that One Eared Cow Glass is creating.