Posts Tagged ‘ArtFields© 2016’

ArtFields in Lake City, SC, Loses Opportunity To Be Something Great

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

artFields-colorbands-and-logo

It might be just my opinion and you can take it or leave it, but ArtFields is in sorry shape and in inexperienced hands. I’ve been putting off writing this commentary as I know you shouldn’t write something when you’re angry, but time is passing by and people have been waiting to see what I’d say about what happened at the end of ArtFields 2016. Four months have gone by and ArtFields has said nothing about the fact that now for the second year in a row it doesn’t have a director. What does it mean when your director resigns each year at the end of the event before a replacement can be trained as to what’s what? It’s not good.

Maybe ArtFields does have a new director but no announcement has been made. In fact in four months they have offered very little on their website or social media about what’s going on except that they will be doing it again in 2017. But they’re not alone – there has been little if any press in any media about ArtFields 2016. It’s a bad habit of theirs – going silent after the event is over, but maybe they have their reasons. No news might be the only good news they have.

I guess I could call them and see what’s up but I feel it would end up in a shouting match and I no longer trust anything they say anyway. Anything they have to say I want to see in writing or in official accounts. And, they have yet to answer the questions I had about the number of people who registered to vote in 2016 and the number of people who did vote. That was asked four months ago.

So here’s what I have to say for now and some photos of works I enjoyed seeing at ArtFields 2016.

816artfields-farvan1

816artfields-farvan2

816artfields-farvan2-1

816artfields-farvan3“Bread and Circus,” by Diana Farfan Valente, Greenville, SC, ceramic & mixed media, $20,000/$2,000 each

My History With ArtFields

Sometime in the Spring of 2012, Karen Fowler, the first director of ArtFields contacted me to get my support for a new event they were going to be offering in Lake City, SC – a competition and exhibition of artworks from 12 Southeastern states in Lake City venues – in converted warehouses and local businesses, with $100,000 in cash awards that would be determined by voting by people who attended the event and a panel of qualified jurors. The top prize would be $50,000. The event was modeled after ArtPrize which takes place in Grand Rapids, MI.

My first reaction was how are you going to get artists to enter a competition/exhibition in Lake City, SC, and who will come see this exhibit? Lake City was in the middle of nowhere and I knew what nowhere is like because I live in Bonneau Beach, SC, just 52 miles from Lake City off Hwy. 52, which is in the middle of nowhere between Florence, SC, and Charleston, SC. A $100,000 in cash prizes will get the attention of artists – at first they’ll think it’s a typo – which many did, but it’s still going to be Lake City. Grand Rapids has 350,000 people living near by and it’s between Chicago and Detroit. Lake City on a good day has almost 7,000 residents.

816artfields-joe-knotts1

816artfields-joe-knotts2

816artfields-joe-knotts3

816artfields-joe-knotts5“Unarmed African-Americans Altered Portrait Heads,” by Joe Knotts, Shelby, NC, terra-cotta, slip & encaustic, $1,000 each (there were 26 heads)

I had traveled through Lake City hundreds of times while delivering our publication (back when it was printed) to areas in SC and NC. But, I never stopped to eat there or get gas and I never, ever wondered what was down Main Street in Lake City. I just never heard anything about it. I knew there was no visual art venue there so why should I be interested in stopping there.

I first mentioned ArtFields in my commentary in our July 2012 issue of Carolina Arts, ArtFields had also taken out a full page ad in that issue. From that day on I mentioned ArtFields a lot – more than any other event covered in our publication – in my commentary, on our blogs and social media. Over the next four years I spent more time in Lake City attending ArtFields events and exhibits at the Jones-Carter Gallery, which opened in Lake City with the beginning of ArtFields, than any other event. I invested a lot of time and money in ArtFields because I was hopeful that this event had potential. Carolina Arts started donating ads to the Jones-Carter Gallery to help draw attention to its exhibitions. By Sept. 2014 Carolina Arts was donating a 1/4 page ad to ArtFields every month in order to keep the event’s name out there all year long. We asked for nothing in return.

So, in May of 2016, just after the fourth ArtFields ended when I called to get some information from Hannah Davis, ArtFields’ current director about some results from that year and was told she resigned – I was shocked. I soon learned she was asked to resign with no other reason than that the event would be going in a different direction. What that direction was – no one seems to know, but for me, my anger has yet to subside and all I know is that I wouldn’t be going in what ever direction they were.

In my opinion, the fact that they put Hannah Davis, who was the director of the Jones-Carter Gallery and involved in every ArtFields, in charge, just months before the 2016 event was to take place – was finally a move in the right direction. The future was bright. So the fact that they would force her to resign after the 2016 event meant that the folks in Lake City were never going to make a go of this event other than it being an over-priced juried show of mostly local (SC) works.

That’s still good for SC’s artists, but too bad it will never be anything more than that. It all comes down to small town politics and a few very big egos.

816artfields-Helaine-schneider1

816artfields-helaine-schneider2

816artfields-helaine-schneider3
“Personal Universe,” by Helaine Schneider, Orlando, FL, clay, wood & speakers, $30,000

I’m not going to ask artists not to enter this event or tell people not to go see it, but I’m not going to be the event’s cheerleader anymore and I’m not going to help them justify or explain some of their mistakes or missteps. From now on let the folks in Lake City, who are so good at saying nothing, explain their actions. But I will point out some of their BS and there is a lot of it.

For example let’s take a look at a statement ArtFields offers on their website today. In my opinion they have a problem with “words”.

The South’s Most Engaging Art Festival and Competition

ArtFields® started in 2013 with a simple goal: honor the artists of the Southeast with a week’s worth of celebration and competition in the heart of a traditional Southern small town. With over $100,000 up for grabs, awarded based on the input of every visitor to ArtFields and a panel of judges made up of acclaimed artists and educators, the competition offers life-changing amounts of money to all artists in all media who live in the twelve Southeastern states. Over 400 masterpieces will be displayed in locally-owned venues, from renovated warehouses from the 1920’s to Smithsonian-qualified art galleries to upscale restaurants and start-up boutiques, in a mutual celebration of art and community. What was once one of South Carolina’s most prosperous agricultural communities now becomes a living art gallery as we continue to demonstrate the best of the Southeast and recognize the incredible talent we have to offer.

816artfields-lauren-woods“Maiden Voyage,” by Lauren Woods, Mobile, AL, oil on canvas, $15,000

I don’t know who writes this stuff but they have a real problem with numbers and words. It’s all over the top in describing the event. Making it hard for the event to live up to its promotion.

First – a nine day event is more than a week. Do they only want people to come for a week or do they think people will think nine days is too long?

Second – the $100,000 figure – they seem to always short change The Citizens Bank, a local bank which gives $10,000 for 10 awards of $1,000 for what are sometimes called Honorable Mention awards or Merit Awards depending on where you look on their website. Believe me artists feel differently about what they are called. And they always seem to forget they give another $1,000 to the winner of their Portrait Competition. So this figure should always be $111,000 in cash awards.

Third – ArtFields has yet to have very good participation from all 12 states. The bulk of the artists entering and on view are coming from South Carolina.

Fourth – “awarded based on the input of every visitor to ArtFields” ArtFields says about 20,000 go to their event but less than 7,000 register to vote and about half of them actually vote – so it is not based on the input of every visitor or is it. Maybe 7,000 is closer to the actual attendance. They can’t have it both ways.

Fifth – “the competition offers life-changing amounts of money to all artists”. This kind of statement could only come from small town folks who know little about the arts. $50,000 might seem like a lot of money to some folks, but many of the works on display have a price tag of $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 and more – artists who sell their works for that amount of money will be happy to win a $50,000 award, but I doubt it will change their lives. I’ve begged ArtFields to drop this statement, but they refuse. A $25,000 award would barely buy an artist a new van to drive their works to other exhibitions.

Sixth – “Over 400 masterpieces will be displayed” I don’t think there have ever been 400 works on display at any of the events in the past four years, much less “over” 400 and although many of the works are excellent, few are what most in the art world would call masterpieces. Masterpieces end up in Museums.

Seventh – “best of the Southeast”. This is a statement that many in the art world are guilty of stating. How can any event say this? In a juried show setting, all you can say is that these are the works our jury panel selected out of the entries we received. How do you get to saying it is a collection of the best of the Southeast without seeing all the other works produced in the Southeast? I’m sure when other artists hear that statement they just shake their heads – especially those who didn’t enter the competition.

I don’t know why people who organize these kinds of events always feel they have to overstate the facts. I don’t know why people can’t say – in this case – that we have a pretty big exhibit in a small town with works from artists from 12 states with big cash prizes. I’m sure a wordsmith can come up with a fancy way of saying that without overstating the facts. Cause people get mad when something doesn’t live up to its statements.

ArtFields has another problem with how they come up with their attendance figures. After the 2013 event ArtFields announced the results that a consulting firm in Columbia, SC, came up with: 22,000 visitors visited the festival, spending an average of $33. I don’t know how they could come up with that figure as attendance was free for most of the events. The Jones-Carter Gallery counts its visitors and they never saw over 7,000 during any ArtFields event. And, each year organizers would say that they saw an increase over the last year’s numbers, but numbers stated fluxuated from 22,000 to 20,000 from year to year. My bet would be it’s closer to 10,000, which is a good number for a small town like Lake City. The competition is based on the viewers voting for the works they like, but I don’t think too many more than 5,000 – 7,000 have ever registered to vote and less than half actually vote. The organizers have never offered exact numbers on how many votes the top winners received. It’s all a big secret.

816artfields-Kathy-Moore
“A Sense of Community,” by Kathy Moore, Belton, SC, encaustic, found objects, ink, wire, & oil, $3,500

And, the big problem in getting this event to grow is that most of the people voting are from the region or South Carolina. That’s why most of the winners, not all, are from this same region or South Carolina. There is nothing wrong with that but it won’t help artists from the other 11 states enter when they don’t think they have a chance at winning. Entering ArtFields, delivering work there and coming to the event is not cheap for artists from outside the state.

And, I want it on record that if in 2017 they come up with a prize given in a drawing from the people who register to vote and actually vote – that was my idea as an incentive to get more people to vote. If they don’t do that – it’s just one of many suggestions I’ve offered to make the event better that are just ignored.

Artists also don’t like that the jurors selecting who will be in the competition and then the final jury panel deciding the cash awards are mostly from those 12 states. They want all jurors to come from outside those 12 states.

Staff members also seem to be challenged when it comes to working social media or any media for the matter. They can’t seem to fix the Jones-Carter Gallery website. It’s been broken for four months now. In the last four months they have posted very little on Facebook or on the blog on the ArtFields’ website. What’s the problem? Do they have nothing to say to encourage new artists to enter the competition or visitors to come see the exhibition or Lake City for that matter. I thought the idea behind ArtFields was to make Lake City an arts destination. If there is any art to see in Lake City when ArtFields isn’t taking place – who would know about it? The whole organization seems to only be active during ArtFields and then after that – they are either exhausted or don’t know what to do – and without someone at the helm who knows what they are doing – can you blame them.

Recruiting artists to participate is a real problem and the event’s retention rate (getting an artist to return to the competition year after year is terrible – except for SC artists). Having a poor retention rate doesn’t encourage other artists to enter.

Making sales of art during the event would make a lot of artists feel better about not winning an award, but ArtFields can’t seem to make that happen. They think letting the public know they can buy works would interfere with the jurors selection process. If the viewing public knew people were putting their names on a list to buy certain works it would encourage more sales. Works should be marked to let viewers know someone is interested in buyng it.

Artists would also like to see more of those “Merit Awards” of $1,000 to offset expenses in entering the competition. Hannah Davis was going to try and get more sponsors for these kind of awards, but I’m sure if ArtFields keeps ignoring The Citizens Bank and the money they have been putting up, they’ll have a hard time keeping them invested in ArtFields. Or would that detract from the idea that Darla Moore, the event’s patron saint, is putting up most of the money for this event?

OK, enough bad news. One of the highlights of ArtFields is the merchants who display most of the works in their shops, restaurants and boutiques. With a few exceptions, most of these folks go out of their way welcoming visitors, showing off the works they have on display, and working for votes for their artists. I wish the organizers of this event were as welcoming and truthful as these merchants are. The event would be a lot better off. I know some of the artists don’t like being in these venues, but they have a better chance at collecting votes in these venues compared to the more gallery like venues.

816artfields-colin-quashie1

816artfields-colin-quashie2

816artfields-colin-quashie3“French Toile-Negro Toil,” by Colin Quashie, Charleston, SC, print on satin, $110/panel

Most of the folks in Lake City are friendly and helpful and I have always thought that one of the biggest selling points of getting people to ArtFields and Lake City would be using social media to tell their stories. I always enjoyed my visits there. But, I’m not sure they are as happy as some folks make them out to be as to how ArtFields is working.

There are a lot more things I could complain about and I probably will in time, but I’m sick of all the politics and lost potential. I had planned to take a broad look at ArtFields 2016 – which I thought was a pretty good event – as far as the art on display goes. It’s just too bad they had to ruin it all.

I think in 2016 participating artists were beginning to think about what they would enter in ArtFields instead of just entering anything the first couple of years. Top tier artists were beginning to enter and under the leadership of Hannah Davis many artists were looking forward to changes she knew needed to be made that were more artists friendly. Davis had dealt with a lot of these artists, people in the art community and she knew what their complaints were. We talked about a lot of changes she would like to make – if they ever let her really run things, but that was doubtful considering they didn’t make her the director until many things were set in stone and after pulling the event off in just three months – they ask her to resign.

The photos I’m including are just a few of the works I enjoyed seeing in the 2016 event. I took hundreds of photos and would have found a way to post them throughout the year leading up to 2017, but that won’t be happening. I apologize to the artists for that, but doing so would lend support to ArtFields and as I’ve said – I’m going in a different direction than they are. When someone discovers what that direction is – give me a call.

In the end, if ArtFields doesn’t like what I’m saying about their event and organization – you can thank Karen Fowler for inviting me in the door and now her husband Marion Fowler for his recent actions. When you have people who are “so” experienced in the arts as these two are at running things it’s no wonder ArtFields is just spinning its wheels. Back in 2012 if she didn’t know who I was and that I wouldn’t lie for them – shame on her. People who follow Carolina Arts know I’m going to say what I mean and not sugar coat it. Maybe one day I’ll hear from artists that ArtFields has gotten better and I should take another look. But, I understand Darla Moore is bored with ArtFields so I’m not sure it has much time left for that to happen.

Officials Announce the Final Batch of Award Winners from the ArtFields© 2016 Competition in Lake City, SC

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

artFields-colorbands-and-logo

Editor’s Note: The images provided here are from the ArtFields© website of the entries made. They do not all represent the final presentations in Lake City. I have some photos of final works on display, but to show them would not be fair to all the artists.

We have the final announcement of awards given at ArtFields© 2016, which took place from Apr. 22 – 30, 2016, in Lake City, SC.

The Roots Award which goes to an established artist was awarded to Aron Belka of New Orleans, LA. Belka will have an exhibit at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC, from Sept. 17, 2016 to Oct. 29, 2016.

516artfields-winners-Aron-Belka3

The Bloom Award which goes to an emerging artist was awarded to Meredith Dallas of Rock Hill, SC. Dallas will have an exhibit at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC, from Nov. 12, 2016 to Jan. 7, 2017.

516artfields-exhbit-bloom-Meredith-Dallas

The Solo Exhibition Award presented by Florence Regional Arts Alliance was awarded to IlaSahai Prouty of Bakersville, NC. Prouty will have an exhibit at the Waters Gallery of The Florence Museum in Florence, SC, from June 28 to Oct. 2, 2016.

516artfields-exhibits-florence-IlsSahai-Prouty

Congratulations to Artfields© Portrait Contest 1st place $1,000 prize winner, Emmanuel Ogbonna.

516artfields-portrait-contest

Congrats to all the winners, Hers’s looking forward to next year’s ArtFields© event.

For more info visit (www.artfieldssc.org).

Officials Announce the Winners of the ArtFields© 2016 Competition in Lake City, SC

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

artFields-colorbands-and-logo

Editor’s Note: The images provided here are from the ArtFields© website of the entries made. They do not all represent the final presentations in Lake City. I have some photos of final works on display, but to show them would not be fair to all the artists.

516artfields-winners-Charles-Clary1

ArtFields© 2016 (Apr. 22-30, 2016) in Lake City, SC, has announced most of its winners from their forth competition including Charles Clary of Conway, SC, who was given the top $50,000 award for his work “Be Kind Rewind”. This award was selected by the jury panel from the top 50 works that received the most votes from those folks who came to Lake City to view the art, registered to vote and actually voted for the works they liked the most.

516artfields-winners-Brent-Pafford2

Brent Pafford of Clemson, SC, was given the Jury Prize, of $25,000 for “Remember This As A Time Of Day”. This award was selected by the jury panel with no consideration of votes received.

516artfields-winners-Aron-Belka3

Aron Belka of New Orleans, LA, was given the 2-D People’s Choice award of $12,500 for “Contact Tracing”. This award was determined by receiving the most votes from those registered to vote.

516artfields-winners-Jocelyn-Chateauvert4

Jocelyn Chateauvert of Charleston, SC, was given the 3-D People’s Choice award of $12,500 for “Invasive Species”. Also determined by receiving the most votes by those registered to vote.

All of these works will join the ArtFields© collection, which can usually be seen at The Crossroads Inn, located on Main Street in Lake City.

The Citizens Bank of Lake City also provide ArtFields© with $10,000 for 10 Merit Awards which are selected by the jury panel without consideration of votes received.

The winners of the ArtFields© 2016 Merit Awards include:

516artfields-merit-Susie-Ganch5

Susie Ganch of Richmond, VA, for “Drag (Diptych)”.

516artfields-merit-Heather-Mae-Erickson6

Heather Mae Erickson of Sylvia, NC, for “American Values/Handmade in America”.

516artfields-merit-Brad-Williams7

Brad Williams of Myrtle Beach, SC, for “Of the Earth”.

516artfields-merit-colin-Quashie8

Colin Quashie of Charleston, SC, for “French Toile, Negro Toil”.

516artfields-merit-Logan-woodle9

Michael Logan Woodle of Conway, SC, for “Clabber Ladle”.

516artfields-merit-Wanbli-Hamilton-Gamache10

Wanbli Hamilton Gamache of Fayetteville, AR, for “Excavations”.

516artfields-merit-logan-tanner11

Logan Tanner of Huntsville, AL, for “Hog”.

516artfields-merit-Ken-Kamilton12

Ken Hamilton of Goose Creek, SC, for “E-Z Rest Motel”.

516artfields-merit-Tyrone-Geter13

Tyrone Geter of Elgin, SC, for “Mother Nature’s Last In-House Domestic Worker”.

516artfields-merit-Stact-Rexrode14

Stacy Rexrode of Chapel Hill, NC, for “Quasi-Delft Bequest”.

These awards were non-purchase awards and the artists got to keep their works.

I’ve also included an image with info about the jury panel.

516artfields-jury-Panel

There are a few more awards to be announced and we’ll report on those ASAP.

For more info visit (www.artfieldssc.org).

Once More I Ventured Into the Pee Dee Area of South Carolina to Get My Fine Art Fix

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

For at least five years, the Pee Dee area of South Carolina has been a source of frustration and hope in looking at the future of SC’s overall visual art community. Mostly concentrating on Florence and Lake City, SC, Florence represents the frustration and Lake City the hope. I’ve given both cities an unusual amount of my time and exposure in Carolina Arts and our social media network. And I feel at times that I’m holding the short end of the stick. And, besides all that exposure I find that I’m still having to fight to get info from this area about exhibitions being offered there. If this was school I’d have to give them an “F” in communications and promotions – with few exceptions.

In wondering why this is the situation, I bounce back and forth from my theory that they just don’t care, due to decades of a lack of respect for the area by the rest of South Carolina, or that they just don’t get it due to a lack of knowledge about promotion.

So, when I came across a notice that Jennifer Appleton Ervin or Jen Ervin was going to have an exhibit at the Waters Gallery of the Florence County Museum in April I knew we had our cover for our April issue. Since first seeing her work I’ve loved her imagery. And being an old black & white film processor I love black & white photography and I love the images Ervin makes of her daughters who take their images very seriously. Some might call them “posers”. Most people are afraid of having a camera pointed in their direction, I think they have learned to enjoy it or at least make the best of it. And one day they might even be famous due to one of these images.

416carolinaarts-cover

The exhibit is Along the River: The Polaroid Work of Jen Ervin, which will be on view through June 10, 2016, at the Waters Gallery which is located at 135 South Dargan Street, a separate building from the main facility of the Florence County Museum. This exhibition is presented by the Florence Regional Arts Alliance in conjunction with the Museum. A reception will be held on May 10, 2016, beginning at 6pm, during the Florence Regional Arts Alliance’s Arts Awards Presentations. On May 11, Ervin will give a gallery talk at 11am.

416jen-ervin2
Some examples of items found inside Ark Lodge.

The exhibit traces the stories, heritage and landscape of a southern family’s experiences within the Pee Dee, but I think the girls steal the show. The location where the images were made is called Ark Lodge, a cabin built in the 1940s by Ervin’s husband’s grandparents along the Little Pee Dee River.

Ervin states, “I was led to use Polaroid as medium because each image immediately becomes an object of experience that lends well to intimacy and family history.”

416jen-ervin3
One group of images in the exhibit.

Polaroid images in their original form have limitations, one is size and two a limited tonal range, but for a camera that was designed to take family images that you could see – almost instantly, the detail is very good. But like in all things, talented photographers can make exceptional images with the simplest of cameras. But, the good thing is small images make the viewer focus intensely.

416jen-ervin4
The three daughters together. Excuse the glare and reflections – this work was under glass.

Although the environment is a family cabin and people’s reactions to nature, the images presented are not family snapshots. I’m not saying the images were staged, the situations may have been planned and then the natural flow of things took place, but it would have been nice to see these young girls giggling in at least one image. At least I hope their days spent at the cabin are not that stoic. I’m sure they are not – girls will be girls.

416jen-ervin5
The camera and film used.

A short black & white film is offered in the gallery space on an Apple computer. The short film fills in the feel of the environment that still images just can’t capture. It was just enough to complete a picture of this remote area of South Carolina and how Ervin’s daughters enjoy and explore it.

Go see this exhibit and enjoy the richness of black & white photography, feel the flow of the river, and step back into a slower time.

If you go, you might also want to check out the exhibit, Arriving South, at the main Museum. It features a selection of paintings, prints, and drawings from the Florence County Museum’s existing permanent collection and the museum’s Wright Collection of Southern Art, on view through Feb. 26, 2017. The exhibition features the work of Thomas Hart Benton, William H. Johnson, Gilbert Gaul, Anna Heyward Taylor and Alfred Hutty.

The folks at the Museum haven’t sent us a press release about this exhibit yet, but I’m hoping this mention will have one coming soon or not. I’ve never been able to figure out how they expect to get people to come see their exhibits when they don’t promote them.

Admission to the Florence County Museum is free. Hours are: Tue.-Sat., 10am-5pm & Sun. 2-5pm, but only Tue.-Sat. at the Waters Gallery. For further information call the Museum at 843/676-1200 or visit (www.flocomuseum.org). Of course you might get more info by contacting the Florence Regional Arts Alliance by calling 843/407-3062 or by visiting (www.florenceartsalliance.org).

artFields-colorbands-and-logo

The second half of my trip on this day was to get a sneak peak at the upcoming ArtFields© 2016 exhibit taking place in Lake City, SC, from Apr. 22 – 30, 2016 – so I could share that peek with you.

As I said in the past, I usually take two days to see ArtFields© and it doesn’t seem to be enough, but because of the dates of the event I can’t give it much more as we have a publication to turn out and our May issue is always a big one. So why not get an early look? I e-mailed Hannah Davis, the new director of ArtFields© but someone who has been there from the start, to see if this would be possible and she told me yes and that Friday and Saturday artists would be delivering work, but a lot of it was in place already. Friday would be the best day for me.

I went through Lake City in the morning on my way to Florence on that familiar path of Hwy. 52 north that I had taken many times before, but never stopping to see what was in Lake City beyond what I saw on Hwy. 52 until four years ago when they wanted me to come check out this new event called ArtFields©. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for ArtFields© I would have never traveled down Main Street, a place I now know quite well.

416artfields2016-Bob-Doster
“Summer Wind 2″ by Bob Doster of Lancaster, SC.

416artfields2016-Gregory-Johnson
“Caryatid” by Gregory Johnson of Cummins, GA.

My first look at ArtFields© 2016 confirmed my prediction that this year’s jurors would fill the ranks with a lot of university and college professors. If you put them on the jury panels don’t be surprised when they select a lot of their friends, contacts and works that looks like the kind of work they make. This is not so bad as it does guarantee a lot of interesting work, but these jury panels need to be more diverse, including commercial gallery owners who might select more work that the public is not only used to seeing in galleries but might actually purchase to show in their homes. After all, the visual art community is very diverse and it would be nice to see more fine art crafts at ArtFields©. Also, at least nine out of ten artists I have talked to at ArtFields© would like to see these jurors come from outside the 12 states included in the competition. They don’t like the thought of artists picking their friends for this competition.

416artfields2016-jim-Boden
“Woman With Cuts” by Jim Boden of Hartsville, SC.

The other impression I’ve gotten is that artists entering this competition are falling into what I call the “Juried Show Syndrome” where they enter works they think the jurors will like. A lot of past winners at ArtFields© have been portraits or images of people, so this year we have a lot of entries by artists who may be known for doing other types of work but have entered works featuring people. I might be off base on this and I prefer to think that artists are using ArtFields© to present new works, but I’m seeing a lot of entries with names on them that I would have never expected to have produced them. We’ll see if others pick up on this pattern.

Over the years I’ve also been surprised at the work some artists enter – what I would call – not their best work. I would hope that artists will start to think of ArtFields© as an opportunity to put their best foot forward. It’s clear that some artists are already in the mode of planning their entries for the next ArtFields© the minute one ends. And those seem to be the most interesting entries.

Well, as things go with my visits to ArtFields©, I had a few great conversations with Hannah Davis about what it’s like to be in charge, with Patrick Parise a Columbia, SC, artist delivering his entry, and a few merchants on Main Street. People are excited to have ArtFields© start.

416artfields2016-Kara-Gunter
An interesting image by itself, but only a detail of a larger work.

416artfields2016-kara-Gunter2
‘Rising in Falling” by Kara Gunter of Lexington, SC.

I took a few photos of things that caught my eye, but since everything is not installed or even delivered yet I wouldn’t make any judgements on what I’m offering as being my favorites yet. Some I took because I knew who created them. Others I took because I didn’t have time to walk too far around town.

416artfields2016-Mark-Grote
Just part of an outdoor installation entitled “Sculpture Cakes” by Mark Grote of Covington, LA, on the grounds of the Lake City Public Library.

There were a couple of installations that were in the process of being created which I would return to ArtFields© alone just to see how they turned out. Some artists are going all out.

416artfields2016-Jocelyn-Chateavert1
Jocelyn Chateauvert of Charleston, SC, works on her installation, “Invasive Species” at the Jones-Carter Gallery.

416artfields2016-jocelyn-Chateauvert2
This image shows that Chateauvert has a long way to go before she is finished.

Under the category of new things learned, exhibition catalogs will now be available for the public to purchase. This is the second year ArtFields© has produced an exhibition catalog which was previously only available to artists who visited Lake City. Did you know that? If you’re an artist competing in ArtFields© but don’t come to Lake City by mailing your entry there and having in mailed back, you are missing out on a packet of goodies given to the artists who check in. This year they are printing enough to be able to sell them to the public along with other merchandise like T-Shirts and hats.

416artfields2016-Murray-Sease
“Perfect Afternoon” by Murray Sease of Bluffton, SC.

416artfields2016-Murray-Sease2
Sease’s work is on display at one of the locations on Main Street in Lake City.

416artfields2016-Murray-Sease3
This is what it’s all about – getting people in the businesses of Lake City.

416artfields2016-Loren-Schwerd
“Wisp” by Loren Schwerd of New Oreleans, LA.

416artfields2016-Loren-Schwerd2
The same work in its merchant setting.

416artfields2016-loren-schwerd3
I’m always surprised by the personal tours you are given inside some stores of their ArtFields© entries.

Food Trucks! There will be food trucks at ArtFields© this year. I think that is new. Thar creates more choices for folks who want to keep going on their quest to see all the art being offered.

Finally – go to Lake City, SC, between Apr. 22 – 30, 2016, register to vote, go look at art, eat something while you are there, do some shopping while looking at art in these downtown shops and stores, see more art and then vote – either while looking at art, after you’re finished looking at art, or at least when you get home before the deadline.

See you there.

For more information about ArtFields© 2016 visit (www.artfieldssc.org).

The Results of ArtFields© 2016, the Art Exhibition and Competition that Takes Place in Lake City, SC, Jury Process

Monday, January 18th, 2016

artFields-colorbands-and-logo

I wrote a blog post about my dislike of ArtFields© selecting locally connected people to jury in artists from the 12 Southeastern states eligible for entry into ArtFields©. You can find it at (http://carolinaarts.com/wordpress/2015/12/28/some-info-and-opinions-about-artfields-in-lake-city-sc/).

Two of the three members of the jury panel were:

Bradford R. Collins, PhD, Professor Art History, School of Visual and Design University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC.

David Houston, Director, Bo Bartlett Center, College of the Arts, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA,

Both have heavy connections to SC’s visual artists. What they left out of Houston’s description was that he was the former Visual Art Coordinator at the SC Arts Commission for many years.

The third juror was: Stephanie Mayer Heydt, PhD, Margaret and Terry Stent, Curator of American Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA.

And as I predicted, out of the 775 entries made, including having an extended deadline, 248 are from SC out of the 382 selected to show at ArtFields© 2016. This might be a good reason why so few artists are submitting entries from the other 11 states. But you can only select artists from the pool that enters and more artists from SC enter than any other state – by a long shot.

The full list of accepted artists can be viewed at (http://www.artfieldssc.org/artists/list-of-artfields-2016-accepted-artists/).

The breakdown of the states is as follows:
AL – 14
AR – 2
FL – 6
GA – 20
KY – 0
LA – 8
MS – 3
NC – 57
SC – 248
TN – 16
VA – 7
WV – 1

A total of 382

The number of entries from 2015 was 1,061, which also had an extended deadline. The entries for 2016 were 775 – 27% less than 2015 – that’s 286 less artists who entered last year.

The press release that announced the artists selected to participate in ArtFields© 2016 didn’t mention the fact that the entries – even with another extended deadline was 27% down from 2015. So I requested that info and received it promptly.

It’s not ArtFields©’ job or the agency they hired to help them with marketing to point out bad news and since they offered it as soon as I asked, they were not trying to hide it either. But this is a sign of several bad trends that ArtFields© will need to correct.

As I have mentioned before, an art competition organized by Elder Gallery in Charlotte, NC, called Carolina’s Got Art! seems to attract a large number of artists from just North and South Carolina – just under 1,000 for its 2015 event – with much less money being offered. The reasons for this are many, but I’m not going into this right now. But someone at ArtFields© could do themselves a big favor by inviting Larry Elder to Lake City as a consultant.

I’m still amazed at how few artists from NC are making it into the final selection of artists who will be on display. I don’t have a breakdown telling how many artists entered from each state, but I would assume that it’s close in relationship to how many got in the final cut. I did do a breakdown of those who got in and where they are from.

North Carolina is more developed as far as the visual arts go compared to South Carolina – more populated too, with more big cities and the number of artists who made the cut from these cities is shocking. Here they are from most to least:

Charlotte – 11
Asheville – 5
Wilmington – 5
Chapel Hill – 2
Raleigh – 1
Greensboro – 0
Durham – 0
Winston-Salem – 0

All of these cities have very large visual art communities and it’s hard for me to think that a $50,000 top cash award is not worth their effort to enter ArtFields©. There is a total of $110,000 in cash awards.

Winston-Salem calls themselves the “City of Arts and Innovation” – someone needs to tell them about ArtFields©.

So, what’s the problem – lack of marketing, entry process too hard, too many SC artists in the competition, regional jealousy, fact that top prize is also connected to a popular vote (a heavy advantage to SC artists), too far to deliver work or visit, Lake City just too small, lazy artists, etc.?

Think about it folks – Carolina’s Got Art! with a top award of $5,000 attracted just under 1,000 entries from 2 states and ArtFields© with a $50,000 top award attracts 775 entries from 12 states.

I don’t have hours and hours to go over this problem, much less the days and weeks it might take to really discover what the problem is – I have a publication to put out, but I like ArtFields© and I admire a small town in SC trying to revitalize their city by using the visual arts. I don’t have a clue as to how much work is going into this effort during the whole year or if this is just over their heads. The visual art community is not easy to understand or figure out. I’ve been trying to do that for almost 30 years and on a daily basis I have to scratch my head and wonder.

But I can figure out that something is wrong when a competition that involves artists from 12 states has only 2 artists from Arkansas and 8 from Louisiana – which both had top winners in previous events, and 0 from Kentucky.

Was there no news in Arkansas or Louisiana that they had an artist who won $50,000 at an art competition in South Carolina? That’s news here in SC – at least at Carolina Arts.

Now for the nit-picking part.

I’ve got a problem with the way people throw around numbers in the arts. Like when the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston used to say and got the media to keep repeating for years that it attracted over 100,000 people to Charleston, but usually only sells 60,000 tickets. It’s amazing how they do that. That’s a lot of free tickets given away or just make believe numbers that the media is to lazy to check out. That statement isn’t used much after I pointed out the ticket sales one year.

In the press release I received from Chernoff Newman, the marketing firm in Columbia, SC, ArtFields© hired, late in the season, to help them out, there were a few funny statements, The first was: “… the accepted artists will exhibit nearly 400 works of art,…” and a little later in the release it offers a statement from ArtFields© that says, “… the 2016 event will offer more than 400 pieces of world-class, southern art,…”. Doesn’t anyone edit these press releases. It’s got to be more or less – it can’t be both. And in 2015 and 2016 the actual number of artists on display was 383 and 382 more or less. So where does the 400 number come from?

On the list of artists selected from ArtFields© 2016 it had a statement in red which said, “Special Note: This list is subject to change”, which could make you wonder, but I know some artists don’t show up for some reason or another – really screwing other artists who were next on the cut-off list. Someone might show up with work that doesn’t represent what they submitted as an entry and be disqualified – again screwing other artists. And, I know I saw at least one artist who was listed as living in NC, but I think still lives in SC – it could be that kind of change. But for the 393 artists who didn’t make the cut – did this statement give them hope? I wonder. I don’t know if they call an artists in at the last minute, but even if they do they won’t be included in the promotional catalog.

Another little tidbit. I did check out the new list with the 2015 list of artists accepted. And, in checking just a little more than 10% of last years list (42 artists) 11, about 26%, got back in the competition. I’m not going to leap to the conclusion that 74% of last year’s artists didn’t make it in because that number could change drastically and some may not have re-entered. I kept hearing a lot of artists say they were one and done for various reasons. One being the fact that they were tired of seeing the deadline extended and others didn’t like the fact that local jurors were making the selections of who would be in and who would win cash awards. Turnover is OK – we don’t want to see the same people in the exhibit every year, but you would prefer that any turnover is due to having different jurors and the artists keep entering year after year because they think ArtFields© is a great opportunity. Some artists will always make the cut – they’re that good at what they do, but when good artists stop entering – that’s not good.

But, here’s the good news. From what I saw of the list and my knowledge of NC and SC artists who made the cut – it’s going to be another interesting show worth seeing. And, I can’t wait until March when we get to see the work these artists will be bringing to Lake City on ArtFields©’s online gallery.

To those artists who made the cut – congratulations. You will be seen and have the opportunity to win some money or an exhibit and untold intangible rewards. Someone might buy your work.

So what’s the purpose of this blog entry – history, observation, information and concern. I’m still a supporter of ArtFields© and I want it to succeed – regardless if they ever do another paid ad with us or not. It’s not that much money one way or another, but SC’s visual artists need something like this – even if too many from our state are included out of the 12 state field. I want ArtFields© to continue and improve.

ArtFields© 2016 takes place Apr. 22-30, 2016, in Lake City, SC. Make plans now to attend. For further info about all the activities that will take place, besides all the exhibited art, visit (www.artfieldssc.org).