Posts Tagged ‘Amelia “Mimi” Whaley’

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.

Visual Art Offerings at Spoleto/Piccolo Spoleto Festivals in Charleston, SC, for 2010

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Every year I try and give interested readers a heads up on the visual arts offered during the Spoleto/Piccolo Spoleto Festivals . I haven’t seen any of these exhibits as most haven’t started yet and I’m getting ready to deliver our June issue of Carolina Arts. But here’s a bit about what’s being offered and what I know.

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The Carolina art community in general is fairly focused on Charleston, SC, at this time of year due to the Spoleto Festival USA and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, which takes place from May 28 – June 13, 2010. Most interested in the arts have been reading about Spoleto in their daily papers for weeks if not months. And, let me remind you that you can read in detail about some of these exhibits in Carolina Arts May and June issues and at Carolina Arts Online – in Feature Articles, May and June (June soon to be posted June 1).

During this time period Charleston will see its largest, most art informed, arts audience. Arts writers and members of the art press – those who still have a job – will be here for their annual visit as well as art lovers from throughout the region. At least that’s what organizers are hoping. It’s still too early to tell about that.

First a few pointers, dress for warm temps, wear comfortable walking shoes, and carry some water and maybe an energy bar with you at all times. You may have to park far from the event you are headed for so pick spots you don’t have to keep running back to feed quarters in a meter. Parking at the Visitor Center will place you near four or five exhibits and you can get a day trolley pass which will take you all over downtown Charleston. Then you won’t have to worry about parking tickets at all. And, don’t leave home without your credit cards and cash. You’re going to see something you just have to own, so be prepared.

Let’s start our journey at Marion Square Park, located at King, Calhoun, & Meeting Streets, in downtown Charleston, where the 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit will be on view from May 28 – June 11, 2010 – rain or shine.  This exhibit features works by over 100 juried exhibitors from around SC, juried by Elizabeth Rundorff Smith – under tents. Demonstrations are offered daily by participating artists at 11am & 2:30pm. The exhibit runs daily from 10am-5pm – rain or shine. This is one block from the Visitor Center.

Many of the artists in this show are also represented by art galleries in downtown Charleston, so if you see a style you like, but not the work that speaks to you – the artists can direct you to the galleries where you can see more work. But, just as many are not represented by any gallery, so this is an annual opportunity to see their new work. And shop early – as the 16 days move along – the selection thins.

Some works in the Carolina Arts‘ art collection have come from artists who have done this show in the past and by some who are still putting in their annual 16 days. Doing this show is bootcamp for the arts. It’s one thing to do a weekend outdoor show, but 16 days! My hat’s off to them who can be that focused.

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Photo by Ron Rocz

If you can’t get down there to visit these hearty artists, you can follow the blog of  Amelia (“Mimi”) Whaley at (www.mimispaintingaday.blogspot.com). She gives readers an inside view at what it’s like to sit in the park waiting for viewers and hopefully buyers.

Next, let’s move on to the 31st Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Craft Show and Demonstrations taking place in Wragg Square Park, located at Charlotte and Meeting Streets in downtown Charleston on two weekends: May 28 – 30 & June 4 – 6, 2010. This location is actually closer to the Visitor Center – just 1/2 a block, but it only takes place on two weekends. Admission is $3. Folks 18 and under or 65 and over get in free. If you see me walking around Charleston ask me about free passes – or if you’re in a gallery around town – ask them. But the tiny admission is well worth it. Artists and artisans represent areas from across the US. Media presented ranges from traditional to contemporary expressions; demonstrations by the exhibitors are presented throughout the shows. Hours for both weekends are: Fri.& Sat., 10am-6pm and Sun., 11am-5pm.

This event is hosted by Charleston Crafts, a cooperative fine craft gallery located at 161 Church Street downtown.

Many pieces in our art collection have also come from this annual show.

Point of disclosure: Both these events are regular supporters of Carolina Arts. So, they come first in our book.

Since I’m using the Charleston Visitor Center, located at 375 Meeting Street, between John & Mary Streets, in downtown Charleston as a focus point, I should point out a few other important factors about this location. First and foremost – it has two – listen carefully – two sets of rest rooms. They sell drinks there, it’s air-conditioned, and while you’re there you can take in the 26th Annual Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition, on view daily from  May 28 – June 11, 2010. The Visitor Center is open daily, from 8:30am-5pm.

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Work by Melissa Gravano from the Juried Art Exhibition

The exhibit, open to artists from throughout SC features works in a variety of media and is sponsored by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs and coordinated by the Charleston Artist Guild, which has their own gallery located at 160 East Bay Street.

The Visitor Center is also a hub for tourist info, tours around the city and transportation – as well as picking up a copy of Carolina Arts and the official Piccolo Spoleto program. And, did I mention they have public rest rooms there?

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A previous work by Cory Oberndorfer

Also very close to the Visitor Center, a block and a half, is the Redux Contemporary Art Center, located at 136 St. Philip Street in Charleston. They will be presenting the exhibit, Novelty, a solo exhibition by Redux’s 2010 Artist in Residence Cory Oberndorfer who will create paintings in the gallery space as well as on the façade of Redux, on view from May 26 through July 10, 2010. The Center is open Tue. – Sat., noon-5pm.

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Work by Nick Cave

A little further from the Visitor Center, but still within walking distance and only a few blocks from Marion Square Park is the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, located in The Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts at the College of Charleston School of the Arts, 161 Calhoun Street in Charleston. They are presenting the exhibit, Call and Response: African to America/The Art of Nick Cave and Phyllis Galembo, on view from May 27 through July 16, 2010. Artist Nick Cave creates sculptural works that he calls “Soundsuits” consisting of brightly colored fabrics, elaborate embroidery, beadwork, raffia, and, other natural materials. Phyllis Galembo’s photographic portraits feature masqueraders from the West African countries of Benin, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso. The Institute is open Mon.-Sat., 11am-4pm. This exhibition is an official offering of Spoleto Festival USA.

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Work by Phyllis Galembo

It seems that Spoleto Festival USA with this move has finally signaled that they have thrown the towel in as far as visual art offerings and are willing to just take claim to exhibits being offered by the Halsey Institute and the Gibbes Museum of Art. This may be good for these two local institutions, but falls far short of the individual exhibitions – or site-specific installations they once offered. This is not meant to be a negative view of the offerings these folks are presenting, but they just don’t compare to what Spoleto once offered – a long time ago.

While we’re on the subject of Spoleto – the Gibbes Museum of Art at 135 Meeting Street in downtown Charleston is presenting the exhibit, as part of Spoleto Festival USA, JoAnn Verburg: Interruptions, on view in the Rotunda Galleries from May 28 – Aug. 22, 2010. Organized in conjunction with Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, the exhibition features recent portraits and large single and multi-panel architectural prints made in Spoleto, Italy. The Gibbes is open Tue.-Sat., 10am-5pm and Sun., 1-5pm. The Gibbes also offers many other exhibits – the admission here ($9 for adults, less for children and seniors and under 6 free) is the most you will pay to see any visual art offered in association with the Festivals.

The Gibbes is within walking distance to the hearty, but you can take the trolley from the Visitor Center to get there. Parking near the Gibbes is in limited supply during weekdays – a little better during weekends, but then again this is Spoleto time so parking anywhere in Charleston will be a challenge. It’s possible at times to find good spaces, but you’ll have to work at it.

On what seems like the other side of Charleston – overlooking the Cooper River and Charleston Harbor is the City Gallery at Waterfront Park, located at 34 Prioleau Street in Charleston. It may be far from most other exhibits but the gallery has a lot in its favor – public rest rooms, a parking garage across the street and the Waterfront Park in its front yard. On view from May 20 through July 3, 2010, is the exhibit, Contemporary Charleston 2010, a Piccolo Spoleto Festival exhibition presented by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, curated by Erin Glaze, gallery coordinator and artist Max Miller. The exhibit matches Artist/Poet teams including: Timmy Pakron and Carol Anne Davis; Benjamin Hollingsworth and Paul Allen; Scott Debus and Brian Penberthy; Kat Hastie and Katherine Williams; Sarah Haynes and Dennis Ward Stiles; Jocelyn Chateauvert and Carol Peters; Max Miller and Morrow Dowdle; Julio Cotto and Jonathan Sanchez; Hirona Matsuda and Marcus Amaker; and Lynne Riding and Ellie Davis. The gallery is open Tue.-Fri., 10am-6pm and Sat. & Sun., noon-5pm during exhibits.

Again, this is far from the Visitor Center, but you can take the trolley and get off at the corner of East Bay Street and Broad Street – at that point you’re just a block from the gallery.

From the City Gallery at Waterfront Park, you can walk down the park toward Charleston’s Market area to The Art Institute of Charleston Gallery, located at 24 N. Market Street in downtown Charleston. Here you can see the exhibit, Composition & Decomposition, featuring an exhibit of paintings of Tate Nation, 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Festival poster artist along with photography by Sandy Logan, 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Spotlight Concert Series poster artist. This gallery is open Mon.-Thur., 8am-8pm; Fri., 8am-5pm & Sat., 8am-1pm.

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Work by Tate Nation

There are other visual art offerings being presented by the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, but if I told you everything you would have nothing to discover on your own. You can get further information by calling the Office of Cultural Affairs at 843/724- 7305, but might have better luck by visiting (www.PiccoloSpoleto.com).

And, while visiting all or any of these venues – if you keep your eyes open, you’ll notice commercial art galleries located throughout Charleston – you’re never more than a few blocks from another art gallery and in some areas of the city – dozens are within a block of each other.

Enjoy.

Piccolo Spoleto Festival Exhibitions Slip Away Again

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Even with the best of intentions on my part, once again many of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival visual art offerings have slipped away before I could get by to see them. Even some of the exhibits I did get to see are over before I could post a blog about them. I have always said that the Spoleto and Piccolo Festivals were not designed to fit my schedule. I have to have my June issue turned into the printer before the festivals even start and then once they have started I’m delivering papers and then preparing for the July issue. It’s just not a good time for me to get out and see all that is being offered. This blog helps some, but not enough. But, I did get to see some and a few will still be on display for some time to come.

This year I did not get to visit the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit 2009but once and that was not a long visit at that. I got reports about what was going on from various sources, but that’s not the same as being there and getting a first hand impression from artists and visitors. Sixteen days sounds like a lot of time, but it’s not. I have always said that this show is the marathon of all visual art events and that the artists who go through it in South Carolina’s “what next?” weather challenges are the toughest folks around. Not to mention putting up with the viewing public’s repetitive questions. It can also be a roller-coaster ride of emotions – watching your neighboring artist make sales while you don’t; making sales while others don’t and not being able to feel good about it or at least brag about it; wondering what else you could have done with these 16 days; and promising yourself this is the last year you’ll do this. But, in the end it all turns out all right and most return – year after year. And, they end up meeting some wonderful new customers and a lot of old customers who are now friends – that return year after year.

If you want a little taste of what it’s like being one of the 100 + artists down in Marion Square Park in Charleston, SC, during this exhibition visit Amelia “Mimi” Whaley’s blog. You can review her 16-day journal of being there.

While delivering the June issue I did get by to see the exhibit, From Quilts in the Attic to Quilts on the Wall: Exploring Textile Art by African Americans, on view at 10 Storehouse Row at The Navy Yard at Noisette (on the former Charleston Naval Base) in North Charleston, SC. This exhibit ended on June 7, 2009, like many of the Piccolo Spoleto exhibits. This exhibit was also part of North Charleston Arts Festival which took place early in May. The artists in this exhibit explore and depict their African heritage through quilting – some traditional, some non-traditional. Here’s a few images of some of the quilts.

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Sophia Rising by Torreah Washington

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Sacred Letters by Dorothy Montgomery

Here’s a little commentary for the folks developing The Navy Yard at Noisette. If they don’t do something about the main roads there – people will never come there and I’m going to stop coming and tell people not to go there. Paving over those roads is long overdue.

I also got to see the exhibit, BREAKING OUT, a Piccolo Spoleto art exhibition for adults with intellectual disabilities, sponsored by the Hulsey Law Group and presented at Charleston City Hall at 80 Broad Street in downtown Charleston. At the four corners of the law to be exact. This show also ended June 7, 2009.

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The exhibit was coordinated by: Special Olympics of South Carolina, City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, VSA Arts of South Carolina and SC Arts Commission. It provided an opportunity for artists with intellectual disabilities to speak using the vocabulary of art. The artists communicate through their paintings and pottery and in so doing break down the walls raised by their disabilities. But the location of this exhibit wasn’t going to break down the walls of competition for viewing exhibits during these busy Festivals. The lobby at City Hall is not made for exhibitions and people don’t expect to find exhibits there and other than the Spoleto Festival’s opening ceremony – nothing else happens in that part of the city – as far as Festival events go. This show could have been placed at the Charleston Visitor Center.

Without knowing the particulars of this exhibition most viewers might not know these people were not your average artist guild novice, folk artists or visionary artists, but considering their disabilities, the works can take on an exceptional quality.

Although there were people (I don’t want to use the word artist) here from Beaufort, SC, and Spartanburg, SC, it would be nice if this was an exhibit which was the result of a statewide competition among adults creating works with intellectual disabilities. That would add an extra level of accomplishment for the participants.

Some might ask why is this work being presented at these major art festivals? Well, creating something is a powerful action. The arts are used by many, other than artists, for expression, therapy (physical and mental), and for relaxation. Why shouldn’t that side of the arts be seen at an arts festival?

It also should be noted that beyond the exhibit’s main sponsor many contributions were made by some of Charleston’s commercial art businesses and commercial art galleries. These people contribute to a lot of non-profit efforts, but when it comes time to think about who should receive public funding or public help in tough times, these same folks are left out of the picture. It’s not all about making money for these folks – it’s about being part of the greater art community and community in general. It’s time they should get some credit for that.

And, Mayor Joseph Riley (Charleston’s Mayor), you better do something about your streets too. Stop saying it’s the SC Highway Department’s duty to keep your city’s streets decent.

Well, although I couldn’t draw any visitors to these exhibits, by reviewing them before they were over, beyond our pre-coverage of these events in Carolina Arts and on our website Carolina Arts Online, we have given them a little recognition and life in cyber space. That’s the best we could do this year.