Archive for November, 2015

A Trip to Charleston, SC, to See Some Rare Art by Bill Buggel at Corrigan Gallery, on View Through Nov. 30, 2015

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Last Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, I decided to go see an exhibit at Corrigan Gallery in Charleston, SC, featuring works by Bill Buggel, on view through Nov. 30, 2015. This was his first solo exhibit in 16 years and before that not many more during his 50 year career in the visual arts in South Carolina. That’s how rare this exhibition is. It had to be something good to get me to drive into Charleston on Friday the 13th.

In full disclosure, Buggel was one of the first artists whom I met in Charleston. And, he gave me a job working in a photography business he started with two other partners on John Street in Charleston in the late 1970’s. That job eventually led to Linda (my better half) and I having our own photo processing business for 16 years. Buggel also had a T-shirt business next to the photo shop. And above the photography shop he shared a studio space with Manning Williams and Linda Fantuzzo.

That photo business dealt with a lot of people in the arts in Charleston, due to Buggel’s connections. At some point I came across a copy of a book published during SC’s 1970 Tricentennial celebration – a survey of contemporary artists in SC at the time. Inside, it featured William Lee Buggel as one of the most up and coming artists in SC. Was this the same guy I was working for and now made T-shirts? It was.

One day in the T-shirt shop I asked Buggel what happened? He told me he made more money making T-shirts in a year than he had ever made creating art – it was a matter of money and making a living. I thought – what a shame. But there was a time when I thought I wanted to be a fine art photographer, but I learned there was more money to be made processing film and making prints for other photographers and that business eventually would get us into the art world, not by making art, but by reporting on it. And, that’s the sad case for many artists – many just can’t make a living at it – no matter how talented they are.

So here we both are, many years later, I’m the editor and publisher of an arts publication and Buggel is having an art exhibit of his latest works. Both are about as strange a thing that I can think of.

I remember the show Buggel had at the old Charleston City Gallery in the Dock Street Theatre. It was actually the first time I had seen any of his art, other than his photography. It was apparently the same type of work he did back in the day when he was still trying to make it as a full time artist. I liked it – it was abstract. And I like the work he is still doing today. It’s very tactile, without having to touch, and I didn’t touch. It’s colorful and full of patterns. And, he doesn’t offer a lot of art speak explaining what it means.

What’s really amazing about it is that I haven’t seen anything like it in all of my years covering the visual arts. There are a few other artists using sand to give texture to their work, but I haven’t run into anything else like what Buggel is doing and that’s saying something in a world of look alike art.

It’s really hard to understand why he didn’t get very far in SC with this art, except that the Bill Buggel I know is not one who plays by the rules and makes nice with people you might have to in order to the climb the art ladder in SC. I always heard that in SC, it’s not how good the art you create is, it’s who you know in SC that can get you to the top. I don’t believe that crappy art can stay on top too long, but I know it does help to have friends in high places in SC. Buggel is too much of a straight talker to stay out of trouble with those kind of folks.

It was hard getting good images of individual works and still be able to show off the vivid colors, so I decided to shoot only a couple of full images, then some very up close detail shots. I also took a few wide view shots of the gallery, but like all exhibits, you have to see the works up close, in person to really enjoy the works.

1115corrigan-buggle-passing-gravePassing a Small Country Grave Yard, by Bill Buggel, 17″ x 14″. Just a small country graveyard with a plowed field and wild flowers. Sometimes experiences come together in small ways.

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Gray and Brick Red-Large, by Bill Buggel, 42″ x 60″. This painting is larger because of the scope of the construction at the building site.

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Gray and Brick Red-Large (detail), by Bill Buggel.

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A set of images I tagged as the Three Bears – Baby Bear on top, Mama Bear in the middle and Papa Bear on the bottom including: Summer Wild Flowers (top), by Bill Buggel, 18″ x 12 1/2″; Passing Verticals (middle), by Bill Buggel, 27″ x 17″; and Passing Yellow (bottom), by Bill Buggel, 36″ x 28″.

1115corrigan-buggle-passing-yellow-detailPassing Yellow (detail bottom of the Three Bears), by Bill Buggel, 36″ x 28″. Another experience of seeing static objects while moving. Along the roadside wild flowers mass into many different colors and shapes. I try not to know or identify the flowers. Knowing too much tends to take the mystery of the experience away from me.

1115corrigan-buggle-gallery-view1Gallery view 1

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Gallery view 2

Go see this exhibit – you might not get a chance to do so again – which is a shame, but Buggel is out of the art loop in SC. And, these days the “inner circle” in South Carolina’s visual art community is full and unable to feed its own – in fact I think they are feeding on each other.

Corrigan Gallery is located at 62 Queen Street in historic downtown Charleston. Hours are: Mon.-Sat., 10am-5pm or by chance & appt.

For further information call the gallery at 843/722-9868 or visit (www.corrigangallery.com).

Before I left Charleston, I extended my luck on this unlucky day by dropping in on a drop in for Pernille Ægidius Dake at Nina Liu and Friends.  Dake was one of my favorite Charleston artists who left us to become a real Yankee living in Upstate New York. Yes, you heard that right – Nina Liu is still in Charleston and her gallery space and home is still for sale and full of wonderful art objects for sale. Not as full as it has been, but there is plenty there for all you who have been missing their Nina Liu and Friends fix. It’s hard to keep up with her these days, but I think you’ll find her there at 24 State Street though the holidays, but then back again in the Spring. Call ahead to see if she is open at 843/722-2724.

It was good to see Pernille after all these years. We get postcards from her from time to time – for no reason at all or from no special destination, but they are always welcomed. Her painting that hangs in our home always draws attention. It’s sort of a self-portrait – more like a body print. The grandboys seem to like it.

I finally made it home without incident.

Crossing South Carolina’s Great Flood Plain to Go See Some Great Black and White Photographs of America at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

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The title of this blog post refers to the fact that in order for me to travel from Bonneau, SC, to Lake City, SC, – just an hour’s drive on Hwy. 52, I would have to cross over the Santee River and the Black River Swamp. This is no big deal when it’s dry but a month ago in October, 2015, when a low in the weather pattern across SC sucked all the rain out of Hurricane Joaquin and dumped it on SC – it wasn’t possible for a while. Hundreds of roads and bridges in SC were closed and unpassable. But by Oct. 30, the day I traveled to Lake City to see the exhibit, America the Beautiful: The Monumental Landscapes of Clyde Butcher, featuring 56 large-scale, black and white photographs, on view at the Jones-Carter Gallery, the roads were high and dry – way above the water. There were still signs along the road of the destruction the flooding left behind, but the roads were clear and the communities I passed were as busy as beehives. Most of SC is now open for business.

The Jones-Carter Gallery, located at 105 Henry Street, next to The Bean Market in Lake City, SC, will be presenting this exhibition until Jan. 2, 2016. You still have lots of time to go see it, but don’t put it off too long or the holidays will get in your way. The gallery will be closed Nov. 26-27 and Dec. 24-26, but they will be open New Year’s Day for those who don’t care to spend the day watching football.

America the Beautiful: The Monumental Landscapes of Clyde Butcher is a collection of photographs of the American landscape, spanning breathtaking sites across the United States, from the coast of Maine to the Badlands, to the Everglades and to the Great Smoky Mountains. The exhibition tour management is provided by Photographic Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA. And these folks did a great job, along with the staff of the Jones-Carter Gallery in presenting this exhibition. There are large identification boards – most are 8″ x 10″ in size and some are as large at 16″ x 20″ or larger. They were very informative, giving the locations where the images were taken, and info about how they were captured – without too much technical info. Photographers sometimes get too wrapped up in photo tech talk. The photographs themselves were big and beautiful. America never looked so beautiful.

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Moon over Tetons by Clyde Butcher. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

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Here a photo of Clyde Butcher making the image Moon over Tetons. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

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Here’s an example of the large ID boards.

I always say, “Take the Americans out of the American landscape and we look like the best place in the world”. I think Ansel Adams learned that too, and it looks like Clyde Butcher is no fool either. In fact, I think the message in these photographs is that we can keep these great places looking great if we just keep out of them. Viewing the exhibit is the best way for most Americans to see these spaces. Once mankind puts himself in the picture – it’s all down hill from there.  We all don’t need to experience these spaces in person. It’s best left to the professionals to go there and then tell their story. Oh it’s much better to see it in person close up, but we all don’t behave well in nature.

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El Capitan by Clyde Butcher. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

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Sand Dunes by Clyde Butcher. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

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Here’s a look at a couple of big images.

Some of the photographs offered are almost like standing where the photographer was standing – they’re that large. And Clyde Butcher is an old school photographer. He carries an 8″ x 10″ view camera around – through the woods, through the swamp, over the mountains and sand dunes. Sometimes he gets lucky and finds an image along the roadside. Then he just has to unpack his vehicle, but most of the time the best shoots are in remote places – in the early morning or late in the afternoon.

That’s one thing I don’t think the general public understands about photography. You know the folks who say. “I could have taken that if I just went there.” Most great photographs are made after lots of scouting trips to find locations, then you have to figure what time of year and what time of the day the light will be right, and if you’re lucky it won’t rain that day or be snowing – or maybe you’re waiting until it snows. Like most good things it’s about location, location, location and timing. So many photographers may take years to get the image they want and some people think they’ll just be able to walk up and take the shot. Most people can’t imagine waiting an hour for anything these days.

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Clyde Butch in sun rays in redwood forest. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

The other old school thing about the photographs in this exhibit is that they came out of a darkroom. Having spent 16 years in a black and white darkroom myself I know that was no easy trick – especially when you see the size of some of these images. Hannah Davis, the Gallery Director at the Jones-Carter Gallery, told me that Butcher is using some digital equipment now just to cut down on his wear and tear. After all,  he’s 74 years old and still working at capturing America’s beauty. Davis also informed me that Butcher, who has never spent time in South Carolina photographing, will soon be working in the Congaree National Park, working on a book for the National Park Service to show off our national parks.

I took a few pics of the way the gallery looked, which shows why I couldn’t take any of the individual photos. The glass, or more likely Plexiglas, covering the images was very reflective. It’s a good thing the gallery has some PR images they could send me to give you a better idea of how the images looked in person – they were spectacular. And, that’s the great thing about this exhibit, it’s easy to look at.

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Here’s a look down the first wall of images as you enter the exhibit.

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A view of the back wall of the exhibit.

This is the easiest kind of exhibit for anyone to look at. Yes, there is the message that we need to save these areas, but other than that – you see what you see. It’s pretty straight forward. The info blocks give you the where, how and why, but beyond that there’s nothing you need to figure out.

A lot of today’s photographers need to go see this exhibit and read all the info offered – especially the smart phone photographers. The subject matter may not be your cup of tea – not cutting edge enough, but the process is important. Good images just don’t happen – they are created or captured over time. The process should be slow and deliberate. Results should be studied before they are presented.

Go see this exhibit. Clyde Butcher has put a lot into making these images and most of you, including me, will never get to see these parts of America any other way. And, that’s a good and bad thing, but we can all make sure we hold on to these places for as long as we can and save many more for generations to come. That’s all about being a good citizen and paying the price of keeping some things instead of using everything up as fast as we can.

The Jones-Carter Gallery is a facility of the Community Museum Society in Lake City which also manages ArtFields©, a community based art exhibit and competition with $110,000 in cash prizes, which will take place Apr. 22 – 30, 2016. For further info about it visit (www.artfieldssc.org).

Admission is free at the Jones-Carter Gallery, as is parking, and there’s plenty of it. The gallery hours are: Tue.-Fri., 10am-6pm and Sat., 11am-5pm.

In conjunction with this exhibition, ART 101 at ONE will be offered on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, from 1-2pm. Meet us at The Inn at the Crossroads (128 W. Main Street) for a lunch and learn lecture series featuring a hand-crafted lunch box provided by The Crossroads Grill and a presentation by Gallery Manager, Hannah L. Davis. These bite-sized pieces of art appreciation are a fun way to get to know our current exhibits and learn more about some of your favorite artists! November’s lecture will be “From Ansel Adams to Edward Weston: American Photography Masters,” and will cover several of the most influential photographers in the US.

Art 101 at ONE is a program of ArtFields®. The above lecture series is presented in conjunction with the Jones-Carter Gallery’s exhibition, America the Beautiful: The Monumental Landscapes of Clyde Butcher. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased in advance at (www.artfieldssc.org). For more information about this program, please call the ArtFields office at 843/374-0180.

For further info about the exhibit, call Hannah L. Davis, Gallery Manager at 843/374-1505 or visit (www.jonescartergallery.com).

The November 2015 Issue of “Carolina Arts” is Now Ready to Download

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

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The November 2015 issue of Carolina Arts is up on our website at (www.carolinaarts.com) – all 73 pages of it. That’s 14 less than last month – as November is a carry over month. Meaning most of the shows in Oct. lasted several months and many of the ones in the Nov. issue started in October, but folks didn’t get us their info in time.

For single page format use this link (http://www.carolinaarts.com/1115/1115carolinaarts-sp.pdf).

For side by side page format use this link (http://www.carolinaarts.com/1115/1115carolinaarts-dp.pdf).

So download that PDF and dig in – it makes for good reading and shows that you have lots of opportunities to enjoy the visual arts in the Carolinas this month. And, don’t forget to find a way to thank our advertisers – they make the paper possible.

And help us spread the paper around by sending these links to your friends.

If you want to get something in the December 2015 issue – send it now or as soon as you can. Don’t wait till the November 24 deadline. But, you do know that you don’t have to wait until the deadline comes up to send us stuff – you can be early. Some folks are already several months ahead of the deadline when their press release would be due.

Thanks – Tom and Linda Starland
Carolina Arts
843/693-1306 (a new number)
info@carolinaarts.com