First Look At Piccolo Spoleto Visual Art Events for 2010 in Charleston, SC

Right off the bat we have a few corrections to my preview of the Piccolo Spoleto visual art offerings taking place in Charleston, SC. It seems for some reason on the second day of the festivals two of the rest rooms at the Charleston Visitor Center were under “construction” – whatever that means beyond a reduction of rest rooms by 50%. Why now, I can not answer, but a staff person said they hoped they would be open soon. Me too – as well as a lot of other folks.

And, after a slow start, Amelia (“Mimi”) Whaley’s blog from the 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibition at Marion Square is now up and running with info from the inside. She has pictures and a list of the winning entries from this show. Visit this link to keep up with this show.

Our first stop was to see the 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition. It just seems that this juried opportunity isn’t as important as it once was or should be to the visual artists of the greater Charleston area or for South Carolina’s visual artists. It’s not the best location for an exhibit (Charleston Visitor Center) – although it has a high rate of traffic – especially with the only public rest rooms within blocks in downtown Charleston. The lighting is bad and the displays are a little too tight.


My first impression is that photographers have started taking this show over. Not so according to the show breakdown (49 photographs and 63 paintings), but it sure seemed that way to me. One of the judges is a local photographer – the show has two – one for photography and one for everything else, but I’m not sure why the Charleston Artist Guild – organizers of the exhibit feel they need two judges. Why not just find one judge – well rounded in the visual arts – from outside the area (out of state would be better) to judge this show and treat all the visual art works entered – equally?

Of course the big problem with commenting about a juried show is that we will never know what was entered and what didn’t make the cut. Is this the best of what was entered or just what reflects the taste of the jurors? But, then that’s the way all juried shows are. Where the artists who made the cut are from isn’t given, but if I look at area codes for phone numbers listed – this is a Lowcountry or coastal SC show. My guess is that also reflects where most of the 463 works entered came from. Why more artists from around the state are not in the show is a puzzle. Did they not enter the show? Was it too difficult for them to enter due to distance? I don’t know why these kinds of shows always seem to be local. I think all areas of SC have great artists, – too bad more artists from other parts of the state aren’t represented in this show.

One of the good things about this exhibit was that I didn’t recognize a lot of the names of the artists. There is nothing worse than an annual juried show which seems to include the same folks – year after year. And, since names which are included in solo exhibits, group exhibits, and juried exhibits come across my radar on a regular basis at Carolina Arts – this show may have become a great opportunity for the up and coming artists of the area – with some of the veterans of the art community still giving them a run for the money.

I only found a few things hanging that made me wonder – was this the best they had to select from? But that is a very subjective feeling on my part knowing what doesn’t appeal to me may be other folks’ favorites. Like all art.

A lot of the other Piccolo Spoleto visual arts exhibits tend to feature artists who are not always so new to the area, nor unseen. I’ll go as far in saying that some should take a break if their egos can take it and give some others a chance, but here the problem stems from the question – who selects these special invitational shows. Do they know many artists to begin with and can they stop selecting folks who are “connected” in one way or another.

When you have been around as long as I have and seen as many Piccolo offerings as I have – you can recognize the cycles that keep recurring – every four or five years. Lately, we’re being offered some artists – every year. That practice needs to stop.

But, that’s not always a bad thing. When it comes to the outdoor art and craft shows – visitors look forward to seeing the new work their favorite artists are offering. Those shows actually bring visitors to Charleston on a regular basis – whether they return for the festivals or not. Visitors come to see known artists. Again – these words are offered with the recognition that these shows are also regular supporters of Carolina Arts. Would I heap such praise on them if they were not? I guess it’s a matter of my word and the trust in it.

Which brings us to the 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Shows.

From the very beginnings of Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto Festivals the craft shows have been an annual “must see” for Linda (my better half) and I. We went when it first started in the middle of Marion Square Park under this huge tent – where it must have been 100 degrees under that tent at times. We started our art collection there and added to it almost every year – depending on the economy. It didn’t hurt that our anniversary and my birthday come in the same month the craft shows happen. It used to be called the craft fairs back then.


An image burned in my memory of those days out in the middle of the park was of a local blacksmith – Ira DeKoven who used to do demonstrations outside the tent in the hot sun. Man, that was going beyond the call of duty to let people see the process.

These days the weekend shows take place in Wragg Square, within a half block of Marion Square – mostly under the shade of live oak trees. During the walk from our car on the third floor of the Visitor Center parking garage to the ground floor we were able to give a half dozen folks the remainder of our free tickets to the craft show which we receive in the mail each year. One happy recipient was so glad – as she couldn’t find one in a gallery that she usually picks up each year. Timing is everything.


I’ve got to say, this year’s craft offerings were as good as ever – maybe a bit too many jewelry booths for one husband to take, but a well rounded selection of fine crafts. I paid special attention to potters from the Carolinas this year collecting info for an upcoming project. Most were from North Carolina. I always hate to point out favorites, but if I had won the lottery the day before I would have gotten something from Flying Pig Pottery(Suzanne Rehbock) of Greensboro, NC. Hey, if I had won the lottery the day before I would have put a smile on a lot of faces of the artists showing in this show. Unfortunately – I didn’t.

If you missed the craft show this weekend – you’re in luck. They will hold another one next weekend – same place, same times – June 4 – 6, 2010.

Parking cost for this day – $3. Not bad. We only had a limited time – I had to go to bed early so I could deliver some newspapers.

More info later.

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