Posts Tagged ‘Charleston County Public Library’

Charleston County (SC) Public Library System – Best Value and Best Investment in Our Future

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Editor’s note: If you live in Charleston County SC, you need to go to at least one of these meetings if not all of them to show your support for the Charleston County Public Library system – now and into the future. You won’t hear me say this often – but $100 million dollars is peanuts compared to other projects being funded – yet serve so few people. The libraries in this community serve all the people – rich, middle-class, poor, and homeless – of all ages. If Charleston can cough up $100 million to fix the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium the way it should have been to begin with – it surely can give the same amount of funding to expand and renovate our libraries. So read the official press release about these meetings – then participate. And artists remember – the libraries present art exhibits in several of its branches. Don’t let some small minded people teabag this project.


Charleston County Public Library in Charleston County, SC, Will Conduct Community Meetings to Explain Library Construction/Renovation Proposal

Charleston County voters will consider a proposal this November, 2014, to fund the renovation of existing library branches and construction of new ones, a question last on the ballot 28 years ago.

To help voters understand the proposal and what it means for their neighborhoods, Charleston County Public Library is holding a series of 10 community meetings throughout the county between March 31 and April 21, 2014.


The building plan is a result of two years of study that included community input, a detailed survey of the library’s existing 16 branches, research into library service and technology trends plus a review of population and demographic changes since the last library referendum in 1986. Approved by 76 percent of the voters at the time, that referendum included funds to construct four regional libraries – Mt. Pleasant, Dorchester Road, St. Andrews and Otranto Road – plus expanding or constructing a new Main Library.

The current proposal calls for constructing four new buildings, renovating 12 existing branches and moving library support services out of the Main Library to free up that space for public use. Estimated cost to construct, renovate and relocate the 17 buildings is $103.8 million, which would cost the owner of a $100,000 owner-occupied home a maximum of $12 annually.


In January, Charleston County Council agreed to put the building referendum on this November’s ballot. The proposal came after the library completed a Strategic Plan that determined the library’s buildings and services fall far behind services provided in other areas and are below standards established by the S.C. State Library for public libraries in the state. As a result, county and library staff worked with architects and engineers to do a detailed analysis of all library facilities to determine what buildings can be renovated, where new buildings should be located, what technology updates are needed and develop estimated costs.

Now that the analysis is complete, it is being presented to area residents during a series of community meetings to gather input. County Council hopes to finalize the proposal and the wording for the ballot in early summer.

If approved by voters, officials estimate the four new libraries could open by late 2017 or early 2018. The renovation of existing branches would be staggered, with most of it completed in 2018-2019.

Studies looking at library services and buildings determined shortcomings in several areas, including the need for updated buildings, technology and the ability to provide more modernized services. Since the 1986 referendum, the county’s population has grown 27 percent while the library’s circulation soared by 289 percent in the same period. Current circulation is nearly 3.4 million items annually. Additionally, the library offered nearly 6,000 free programs, classes, exhibits, concerts and similar programs last year, attracting more than 166,000 residents.

In a comparison to public library standards adopted by the S.C. State Library, CCPL fell far below the standards in multiple categories. For instance, the standards say libraries should have 1.25 square feet of public space per capita. Locally, that would equal more than 450,000 square feet of libraries to serve local residents, but CCPL’s 16 branches have 155,458 square feet or about .43 square feet per resident. In the area of technology, the state says libraries should have three public computers per 1,000 residents or more than 1,000 locally. CCPL has .9 public computers or 349 public computers.

For a complete list of Community Meetings, a map showing the construction/renovation proposal and a breakdown of the estimated costs, visit the library’s web site at ( Residents unable to attend one of the community meetings can send their comments by e-mail to (

Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery in Charleston, SC, Features Works by Jennifer Ervin – July 1 – 31, 2011

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011


We didn’t receive any info about this exhibit at Carolina Arts, but on July 3, 2011, I went to the Charleston County Public Library’s Main Branch in Charleston, SC, to pick up our goddaughter, Zelda, for a 4th of July visit here at the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing Company on the shores of Lake Moultrie at Bonneau Beach, SC.

The Library was showing the exhibit, Moving Into Stillness, featuring works by Jennifer Ervin. After viewing the exhibit I wrote in her book for comments that, “this was the best photography exhibit I’ve seen this year in Charleston. The works reminded me of Edward Weston’s photographs.” This was high praise in my book.

In a short statement about the exhibit, Ervin mentioned that she does a lot of walking and picks up a lot of objects along the way. Some of these objects end up in simple, straight forward images, presented wrapped in warm, soft light and printed as such. The images and the exhibit overall gave me and I’m sure most viewing it – a warm, nostalgic feeling. It was also a very well presented exhibition. It was almost like stepping into a little side room of a major art museum.

I didn’t have my camera with me, but it would have been near impossible to get any useful images as the works were under glass and there are always lots of reflections in this small room. I took a few notes on a couple of her business cards.

Zelda, who is also interested in old school photography also like this exhibit. More high praise.

Later when I got home, I checked out Ervin’s website and saw an image there I recognized. Turns out that Carolina Arts featured an article about an exhibit Ervin had at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC, in our Feb. 2011 issue. She was also in the the Pee Dee Regional Photography Exhibit 2011 – Photofabulous! at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, but I must of missed her works somewhere in the 1,000 + images offered. Ervin’s works definitely grabbed my attention in a solo setting.

And, yes, I do not have a photographic memory or the ability to call up all info that passes our way at Carolina Arts. I have a hard enough time putting the right artist in the right gallery in the right city in the right state at times, but I do better than most.

I contacted Ervin by e-mail to see if she could send me some jpegs of works in the exhibit so you could see some of what I saw. She sent a few which we have here. But, the exhibit as a whole is much better to see.


I found a little statement offered on the website about this exhibit, Moving Into Stillness. There was this quote form Frederick Sommer, “Life itself is not the reality. We are the ones who put life into the stones and pebbles.” And, this quote from Ervin, “This collection explores still life with an emphasis on design, carefully selecting details to create a poetic visual language that transforms objects into sensory experiences.”


But, I think one of my favorite images in the exhibit, broke the rules a little bit – which is OK. The work titled, Figs (in the studio), was like most of the other images – a simple image of some figs, but at the bottom of this image – a ways from the depth of field of the lens (a technical photographic term for the area of sharp focus, front to back) you could see the photographer’s feet. It was a little hint that these images are not a record of Mother Nature’s work. They are images of objects from nature created by a skilled photographer – in order for the viewer to see ordinary objects in a way you will stop and look at them.

I read statements by a lot of photographers who say they are capturing images of everyday objects we all pass by or overlook in our fast-paced lives, but it’s not always true. It just sounds good to say. And, too many photographers use that line for the excuse that they can’t find interesting images to capture, but Ervin in the image, Figs (in the studio), reminds us – she is making these ordinary objects interesting to look at – in her environment. Is that not one of the basics of art in general?

I don’t want to see images of the minutia of life. I get enough of real life minutia – 24/7 as is.


I also found a little bio info on the website, telling me that Ervin studied painting and photography at Francis Marion University, and received her MFA in Graphic Design from Boston University in 2002. Her work has been actively exhibited in the Southeast and she will have two solo shows in 2011 – the one at FMU and this one at the Library. Ervin received the Jo-Ann Fender Scarborough Award (2009) for work from her “Becoming” series. She lives in Charleston, with her husband and three daughters.

Three daughters! I’m amazed she can get any work done. But artists seem to manage. It’s funny, but it seems like artists with families get a lot more work done than those that don’t. Maybe it’s because the ones without families and all that comes with them – have more time to talk about doing art and those with – just have time to do.

I wish we had known about this exhibit for our July 2011 issue, but I would strongly advise anyone in the Charleston area to go see this exhibit. It’s worth the effort. I’m glad I saw it by chance.

You can see more of Ervin’s artworks at ( or for further info e-mail to (

Some Articles About Exhibits Taking Place in the Carolinas Which Came In After Our February Deadline

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Some of these came in late – after our Jan. 24 deadline and a few came from folks just discovering us. Some think we should just add them to the paper – after all it’s not printed – it’s electronic, but I say no. That’s what deadlines are for and I don’t want several editions of the paper out there and people hearing about items they missed after they first viewed the paper. And, we might not always give these late articles a second life atCarolina Arts Unleashed. So people need to make that deadline.

If you haven’t seen our Feb. 2011 edition of Carolina Arts, you can find it at this link (Warning – this download can take several minutes) (

Coker College in Hartsville, SC, Features Works by Koichi Yamamoto

An exhibition of prints by Koichi Yamamoto, an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee School of Art, is on view through Feb. 25, 2011, in the Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery located in the Gladys C. Fort Art Building in Hartsville, SC.

Tochika Ni, by Koichi Yamamoto, a 12″ x 24″ intaglio print

Yamamoto’s show, 00 To 10, includes a selection of intaglio prints (a printing process wherein an image is engraved or acid etched into a metal plate, inked then printed) and prints made with a monotype process, a procedure that yields only a single impression from each plate.

Merging traditional and contemporary approaches to printmaking, Yamamoto has worked with meticulous metal engravings, large-scale relief and intaglio prints. His current work is in large-scale monotypes and exemplifies a contemporary, international aesthetic developed from his upbringing in Japan and his education in Europe and North America. His prints explore issues of the sublime, memory, atmosphere, light and history through various representations of landscape.

“Surface only provides a record from recent events,” Yamamoto said. “Making critical judgments requires an understanding of what lies underneath. Addressing the landscape as subject, my work attempts to describe cross sections of history. I seek to slow down and take time for a deep level of investigation.”

Yamamoto is a graduate of the University of Alberta and Pacific Northwest College of Art. He has also studied at the Bratislava Academy of Art and the Poznan Academy of Art. His work has been included in a number of recent juried print competitions including the Boston Printmakers, the 7th Bharat Bhavan International Biennial Print Art in India and the Lujubljana International Printmaking Exhibition in Slovania. Yamamoto’s prints are in the collections of University of Hawaii at Hilo, the Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Graphic Center in the Portland Art Museum and the University of Alberta Museum and Collection.

The Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery is located in the Gladys C. Fort Art Building on the Coker College campus. Gallery hours are from 10am to 4pm, Monday through Friday, while classes are in session.

Coker College upholds and defends the intellectual and artistic freedom of its faculty and students as they study and create art through which they explore the full spectrum of human experience. The college considers such pursuits central to the spirit of inquiry and thoughtful discussion, which are at the heart of a liberal arts education.

For more information, contact Barb Steadman by calling 843/857-4199.

UNC Asheville in Asheville, NC, Features Laura Hope-Gill’s Poetry and Photographs by John Fletcher Jr.


UNC Asheville’s Ramsey Library will present the collaborative work of poet Laura Hope-Gill and photographer John Fletcher Jr., on view in Ramsey Library’s Blowers Gallery from Feb.  1- 28, 2011. Hope-Gill and Fletcher will also present a slideshow and poetry reading at 12:30pm, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, in the library’s Whitman Room.

Hope-Gill and Fletcher’s book, The Soul Tree, features photographs of uniquely beautiful southern Appalachian landscapes accompanied by lyric poems, which illuminate themes of vision, faith, healing and the sacredness of nature. The Blowers Gallery exhibit will feature some of the images and poems from the book as well as more recent work inspired byThe Soul Tree.


The exhibit and the slideshow/poetry reading are free and open to the public.

Hope-Gill is the Poet Laureate of the Blue Ridge Parkway and a recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council fellowship. She is also the founder and director of WordFest Poetry Festival in Asheville, and an instructor in UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program. Fletcher is a photographer for the Asheville Citizen-Times. His 20-year career has included clients such asUSA Today, The Associated Press, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

The gallery is free and open to the public daily and most evenings.

For more information, call 828/251-6336 or visit (

Greenville Technical College in Taylors, SC, Features Works by Faculty of SC Governor’s School

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts at the Greer campus of Greenville Technical College in Taylors, SC, is presenting an exhibit of works by members of the South Carolina Governor’s School of the Arts and Humanities, on view through Feb. 18, 2011.

Impressive for its scope, the show includes works by photographer Carlyn Tucker, sculptor Joseph Thompson, painter Paul Yanko, ceramists Alice Ballard and Sharon Campbell, printer Katya Cohen, metals artist Ben Gilliam, and graphic designer Neil Summerour. We are pleased to showcase the creative excellence that exemplifies the commitment of arts faculty at this unique Upstate program.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings call Lisa Smith at 864/848-2044 or e-mail to (

Mesh Gallery in Morganton, NC, Features An Exhibit of Iron Works

Mesh Gallery in Morganton, NC, will present an exhibition showcasing the work of Oak Hill Iron that includes both fine art and utilitarian wares titledIronology. The exhibit will be on view from Feb. 14 through Apr. 8, 2011, with a reception taking place on Friday, Feb. 18, 2011, from 6-9pm.

Oak Hill Iron was born out of necessity and driven by true talent and sheer determination to create beautiful products. Founded over a decade ago by Dean Curfman, Oak Hill Iron produces custom ironwork that meets the needs of countless utilitarian applications as well producing works of fine art that are at home in a gallery space. Both high art and craft are integral parts of a healthy arts community and with this exhibition Oak Hill Iron will demonstrate it’s ability to wear both those hats.

Oak Hill Iron is staffed by a team of highly trained artistic craftsmen and offers a wide selection of ironwork for both residential and commercial projects. There is no job that is considered too big or too small.

As always events at MESH Gallery are free and open to the public. Appetizers (hors d’oeuvres) for this event will be provided by Mountain Burrito of Morganton. Wine will be served by Sour Grapes Wine Distribution.

There will be a free concert starting at 8pm on Feb. 18, during the reception with a performance from Pimalia recording artists Moolah Temple $tringband hailing from Jackson County, NC. The duo of Johnny Favorite & Eden Moor co-pilot their goat-drawn deathcart, trailing the detritus of Old Time, Musique Concrète, Honky Tonk, IDM, Minstrelsy, songs of wounded affection, cautionary tales for our age, and the aesthetics of the Fraternal, Temperance, and Evangelical Movements. Moolah Temple $tringband rarely makes public appearances, but the duo is pleased to be invited by MESH. One clown is merely a clown, but two clowns make a circus.

Mesh Gallery is located at 114-B West Union Street, Morganton, NC.

For further information call 828/437-1957 or e-mail to (

Charleston County Public Library in Charleston, SC, Features Works by Cheryl Baskins Butler


The Charleston County Public Library in Charleston, SC, will present the exhibit, A Day at the Zoo: Impressions of Riverbanks, featuring works by Cheryl Baskins Butler, on view in the Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery, located in the Main Branch of the CCPL system in downtown Charleston, SC, from Feb. 1 – 28, 2011.

Butler began her sketch “safaris” at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC, when it first opened in the mid 70’s. Throughout the ensuing years, she has returned regularly to observe, sketch, paint and spend personal time with the Riverbanks residents. A Day at the Zoo: Impressions of Riverbanks is a compilation of paintings, collages and site sketches from her visits.
The Main Library is located at 68 Calhoun Street in downtown Charleston.

For further information call Frances Richardson at 843/805-6803 or visit (

Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery in Charleston, SC, Calls for Exhibit Proposals

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

I know I said I wasn’t going to put just general press releases here, but I’m posting this here and at Carolina Arts News because I’m a big supporter of the library. Like life – there are always exceptions.


Attention SC Visual Artist: The first thing you need to know is that you have to get your act together between Sept. 1 – Oct. 15, 2010, to have a shot at an opportunity to have an exhibit at the Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery, located in the Main Branch of the Charleston County Public Libraryin downtown Charleston, SC.

Those dates are the important thing to remember. Now you can read the rest of the information.

The Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery announces a call for entries for juried art exhibitions, solo or group, for the calendar year 2011 at the Main Library. Preference is given to work reflecting experiences and viewpoints of South Carolina residents. Deadline for completed applications is October 15, 2010. Applications are available at the Administrative Office of the Main Library or on our web at this link. Applications are also available by calling Mallery Manning at 843/805-6949.

The Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery is a small intimate exhibit space – when entering the gallery, the left wall is 17′ 8″, the rear wall is 14′ 6″ and the right wall is 19′ 2″. The room height is slightly more than 8′. But, it is in a location that sees high traffic by people who are knowledge seekers – folks with expanded horizons. These are the kind of people you might like to see your art. Although the space is small, I have seen creative artists use it with unlimited imagination. If you understand that – you know what I mean.

For some reason Charleston’s artists don’t seem to be as interested in this exhibit space as I think they should. How do I know this? By the lack of applications submitted by Charleston area artists. And, the fact that more and more shows presented there are by artists from outside of the Charleston area. I guess they prefer places where they can have receptions – booze. You see, some artists think people will only like and buy their art when they are boozed up. I hope you have more confidence in your art.

What you get out of the space depends on what you put in it – meaning I’ve seen exhibits where the artists didn’t even leave any info about the exhibit or how to get in touch with them – even if someone was interested in learning more, getting them to exhibit somewhere else, much less buy something. While others have placed sign-in books for people’s reactions to the exhibit, price lists, business cards, an artist’s statement about the exhibit, and anything else that will help them make a connection with viewers. These artists also send out press releases by deadline to the media to make sure their exhibit has a chance at being promoted to the public. You get out what you put in.

So, here’s an opportunity for any SC visual artists to show their work in Charleston – the place some people call the cultural capital of the South.

Once More: Applications will only be accepted during the Calls for Submissions period from Sept. 1 until Oct. 15, 2010. The works of each selected artist or group will be exhibited for one month beginning in February of 2011.

For further information, please call 843/805-6949 or visit (

Charleston County Public Library is Presenting a Summer Book Sale in Charleston, SC – June 18-20, 2010

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I received this press release at Carolina Arts. I think public libraries are one of the great resources we have in this country and will be willing to pay higher taxes any day – as long as that extra money goes to support our libraries. Go buy some books.


Cheap books abound at the upcoming summer book sale held by the Charleston Friends of the Library. That SUMMER Book Sale will be at the Main Library in downtown Charleston, SC, on June 18-20, 2010. It’s a great way to do some guilt-free, green shopping!

WHO: The Charleston Friends of the Library is a 501c3 membership organization that supports and advocates for the Charleston County Public Library. The Friends raise money for over 4,000 library programs like Summer Reading for kids and teens, computer classes, Opera at the Library, concerts, film screenings, author events, new technology and more.

WHAT: Join the Friends of the Library at That SUMMER Book Sale. The books are cheap, the cause is worthy, and it’s a great way to do some guilt-free, green shopping! All books were donated to the Friends by the community.

WHERE: Main Library Auditorium, Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29401.

WHEN: Friday, June 18th & Saturday, June 19th, 9am-5:30pm and Sunday, June 20th, 2-4pm.

A special Friends of the Library Member Sale will be held prior to the public sale Thursday, June 17th, 5:30-7:30pm. People are welcome to join the Friends of the Library at the door.

For more information or questions, please visit ( or call 843/805-6930.

Help the Charleston County Public Library – Donate Your CDs, DVDs, LPs and Videogames

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Well – it seems one of my favorite places needs help. I know I’ve got some CD’s and a few DVD’s I wonder why I ever purchased to begin with that I could donate. I’m not going to name names – to protect me. But, here’s an opportunity to get them out of my collection and spare me the embarrassment the next time someone is looking to see what I have and then it happens – they pull one of those mistakes out and give me that look. Oh man, it’s a look I don’t want to see again.

So, I guess I’ll be going through and doing some sorting. The Library will get some cash for my mistakes and I’ll have that warm fuzzy feeling. Like they say – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And, I’ll be clearing some space for some new – better – music and movies. You’ve just got till Apr. 15, 2010 so don’t delay.

Here’s the pitch:


The Charleston Friends of the Library, in Charleston, SC, is holding a special Media Donation Drive to help raise money to support the Charleston County Public Library (CCPL). Now through Apr. 15, 2010 (tax day), donate your gently-used CDs, DVDs, LPs and videogames to any of the 16 public library locations in Charleston County.

With neighboring libraries like the Public Library of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County in North Carolina announcing the closing of half its branches and the recent announcement of reduced library hours at CCPL starting April 1st, the Friends of the Library is looking to raise money in new and innovative ways like online sales, in addition to the popular book sales held throughout the year.

The Charleston Friends of the Library, a non-profit volunteer organization, raises money through book sales and membership to help fund over 4,000 Library programs each year that are free to the community. The Friends of the Library is partnering with (formerly Millennium Music) and CCPL for this special donation drive.

The Friends of the Library accepts donation of books and media all year long, but needs your help now. Your donation is tax-deductible and supports your local Library.

If you would like to become a member of the Charleston Friends of the Library, or for more information on the Media Donation Drive, please visit (

Charleston County Public Library in Charleston, SC, Offers Downloadable Audio Books

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

It’s always a pleasure to bring you news about one of my favorite places in South Carolina – the Charleston County Public Library and libraries in general. This announcement actually involves people not needing to go to the library for service, but I will still go – as there is always something new to discover and I spend enough time on the computer anyway.

This announcement is also timely as you will be able to purchase Apple’s new iPad in April, which enables you to download digital audio books and read them with its bigger screen. You’ll be able to do a lot more with an iPad, but that’s a different entry.

So here’s the press release we received at Carolina Arts:


Listening to a great book is easier than ever for local residents with Charleston County Public Library’s latest Web service – free downloadable audio books.

This new service, partly funded by the Friends of the Charleston County Library, gives patrons the ability to download books free from the library’s Web site just by using their library card number. Books are compatible with both PCs and Macs, and people can use iPods, iPhones and most MP3 devices to listen to the books. (I’ll add in iPads)

The library contracted with Ingram Digital’s MyiLibrary Audio service and has added more than 550 downloadable titles, ranging from the latest best sellers by James Patterson or Anne Tyler to non-fiction biographies and children’s classics like the Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.


With the system, patrons go to the library’s Web site – ( – and look for the “Listen to Me” icon on the left side of the home page, then select the link for MyiLibrary audio. Patrons will need their library card number to login and peruse the collection. Once they find something of interest, the audio book should be added to their virtual “bookshelf.” Initially, the system will prompt them to download Ingram Media Manager to their computer before downloading their first audio file. Patrons can have up to two downloadable audio books at a time checked out and up to two hold requests. The audio books can be checked out for up to 14 days.

MyiLibrary is the latest in CCPL’s efforts to provide more services online for patrons. In addition to the downloadable audio books, the library has online book clubs, databases and talking storybooks for children.

The Tumblebooks Library includes animated talking storybooks for children plus puzzles and games to encourage learning and reading. In the library’s online Reader’s Corner, patrons can sign up for Online Book Clubs, which send short snippets of a different book via e-mail each week so they can decide if they want to check it out. NextReads allows patrons to sign up to receive e-newsletters based on their areas of interest. NextReads’s 19 e-newsletters profile recent releases and offer suggestions based on the subject, such as science fiction, business and personal finance, popular culture and historical fiction.

In addition to these reader services, CCPL offers more than 100 research databases, with most available remotely on the Internet. The databases cover topics including history, genealogy, finance and investing, legal forms, career and job assistance, literature and science.

To learn about all the online offerings, visit ( or call Charleston County Public Library at 843/805-6930.

Charleston County Public Library Offers Another Interesting Exhibit with Works by Jerry Comstock

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Once again, an exhibit in the Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery at the Main Branch of the Charleston County Public Library in downtown Charleston, SC, has caught my attention. I was delivering the Nov. 09 issue of Carolina Arts to the Library when I got the chance to see an exhibit of mixed media works by Jerry Comstock – on view through Nov. 30, 2009.


Here were works of a type that I have not often seen in Charleston. It seems the Library’s exhibit selection committee has really selected a wide variety of work to be presented this year. And, this time I had my camera with me so I can show more of the work without trying to stretch my limited vocabulary in describing them. I don’t speak “art speak” – good thing – it’s hard enough to read it at times while editing some articles for Carolina Arts.

Comstock did not offer much info about himself as an artist – as far as the kind of info you would find on an resume. He didn’t even offer any info as to where he is from, except that his phone number had an 843 area code – which could be anywhere in lower SC. And, you just can’t assume he’s from the Charleston area as the Library has been presenting exhibits by artists from all over South Carolina. Does it matter where he is from? I don’t think so, but it’s always nice to know. I could call – but he didn’t offer this info and it could have been a deliberate decision on his part for some reason.

Comstock did offer an artist’s statement which told about how he was creative early on as a child. And, it said that he is primarily a carpenter and cabinet builder who doesn’t get much time for his creative endeavors – like those shown in the exhibit, but for most of us – anyone who can do carpentry and make cabinets (with doors that align) – is pretty creative. The works on the wall proved that too.

Like some visionary and outsider artists, Comstock uses leftover materials in making art. In this case, various sheets of wood for his canvases. He also uses other materials found in his work area like Liquid Nail – a bonding glue which Comstock uses to add texture and designs to his works. All the works in this exhibit are on a wood background, except one which is painted on glass. That work is untitled and may have been a late minute addition to fill space in the gallery.

The reason I say that is that Comstock offered some unusual tags to identify each individual work – except the one on glass. He made small glass frames with white lettering printed on the glass. They may have looked good in his studio or work area, but because of the tight lighting in the Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery, a shadow was cast along the top half of most of the frames making them hard to read. A different take on titles, but not the best for this venue.


It’s no big deal – just an observation. You have to give Comstock credit for trying something different and in another venue they may have worked fine. The good thing is – they didn’t distract me from the main attraction, but it’s worth mentioning so that artists don’t go overboard in making fancy titles that could distract the eye from the artworks. It’s like the problem too many artists have with putting artwork in frames that are more interesting than the artwork. And, sometimes two to three times the size of the artwork. I may be getting in trouble with some framers, but come on – it’s just supposed to be a frame – not a statement of one’s wealth.

What about the work?

Devil’s Daydream

The piece, Devil’s Daydream, was the most elaborate work of the exhibit, with many things going on in the image. The work is on fiber board (compressed wood chips) which can still be seen through the layers of paint and textured designs. In some places there are layers of colored cartoons or comic strips embedded behind the designs. The two main images offered tell two different stories – in fact the helter skelter designs may indicate that the devil has dreams like the rest of us – bits and pieces of our life being linked together to tell a tale – out of time and out of place. The close-up photo gives a hint of the what is hidden, but cannot show what the human eye can see when peering close into the images details.

Detail of Devil’s Daydream

Jacob’s Ladder

The work, Jacob’s Ladder is also very detailed but more organized with a lot of wood grain being offered as part of the overall image. This work will keep you busy trying to figure out all the meanings behind the images and symbols offered.

Duet to the right

This wide shot of the gallery space is the only way I could get a decent image of the work entitled, Duet. The overall size, its backwards angle and shiny surface prevented me from getting a good close-up image – believe me I tried. Here again, there are patterns and designs layered behind the surface colors and the Liquid Nail glue. The idea of two together comes across plainly, but are the two – unborn, trapped in time and space, or encased in cocoons? It’s the largest work in the exhibit and you can see how it dominates the space. So, I can only assume this image has greater meaning to Comstock than perhaps the message I was receiving.

There was no price sheet offered, so I assume – like most people will, that the works are not for sale, but that could be wrong. I was there early on in this exhibit’s life – perhaps more materials have shown up to provide more info.

I hope you find enough interest here to spark a trip to the main branch of the Charleston County Public Library. You should be going to a library near you on a regular basis anyway – and not just for DVD’s of Star Trek or Sex in the City.

Friends of the Charleston County Public Library Present THAT Big Book Sale in Charleston, SC – Oct. 8-11, 2009

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

I love libraries and I need my Charleston County Library. Without it’s selections of books on CD and tape I couldn’t get through my monthly deliveries of Carolina Arts. They’re good for a lot of other stuff too, but I’m keeping this short so more will read it.

Great bargains, good books and family fun are part of the Friends of the Charleston County Library’s ‘THAT Big Book Sale’ set for Oct. 8 – 11, 2009, at the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, 77 Calhoun Street, in downtown Charleston, SC.

More than 60,000 “gently used” books, CDs, DVDs, cassettes, videotapes and rare collectibles will be on sale during the 27th annual THAT Big Book Sale. With prices starting at just $1, the event is expected to draw nearly 10,000 book lovers from throughout the area.

The Friends of the Charleston County Public Library, a non-profit volunteer organization, raises money through book sales to help fund Library services, equipment, training, materials and public programming. The Friends collect and sort donated books for resale to raise money.

Prices starting at $1 for paperbacks and $3 for hardbacks. Items include mysteries, romances, classics, children’s books, local histories, biographies, cookbooks, travel books and collectibles about art, pets, travel, religion, philosophy and just about any topic imaginable. Items will be restocked throughout the weekend.

Thursday night, on Oct. 8, 2009, from 5:30 – 8pm, a Celebrating Friends preview event will be held for Friends members with hors d’oeuvres, wine and music by Shrimp City Slim. Non-members are encouraged to attend and join at the door. The Friends are asking patrons to BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag to conserve resources. All books were donated and have been sorted and selected for good quality. Member admission price is $15. Non-members can join at the door and attend for $35. For the Celebrating Friends event, please RSVP by Oct. 1st to 843/805-6882.

The event continues on Friday, Oct. 9 and Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009, from 9am – 7pm and Sunday, Oct 11, 2009, from 10am – 3pm with items at half price. Admission is free Friday through Sunday.

For more information on THAT Big Book Sale, please visit ( or get daily updates on Facebook: ( or Twitter: (

Charleston County Public Library One of Top US Libraries

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

I love libraries. They have been a useful resource for so many things in my life and work. I don’t know what I’d do without them. The library provides books on CD for my long delivery travels, research info when working on my commentaries and instructional help from technical books – covering all sorts of subjects. Throw in the collections of music, DVD’s, national magazines & newspapers and monthly art exhibits – what more could you ask for – except more funding for the libraries. The library even has free parking too.

Although I’m a card carrier for both Berkeley and Charleston County most of the time I tend to bypass the libraries in Berkeley County to visit Charleston County libraries – they just have more and better selections. My favorite is the Main Branch library in downtown Charleston. It was nice to learn that this library system had just been recognized for its excellence.

Library Journal, the oldest and most respected publication in the field, named the Charleston County Public Library (CCPL) a “star” library, putting it in the top 3 percent of library systems (7,115 libraries included) throughout the country. This first-ever service comparison clusters libraries with similar operating budgets, then rates the libraries in four main categories: number of visitors, circulation, program attendance and public Internet computer use.

“We’re a community resource, not a vault with books that are kept under lock and key. From computer training and entertainment events to homework help and finding the most recent book or DVD, libraries provide residents with essential services and information,” said Cynthia Bledsoe, Acting Director. “Library Journal’s star rating is a reflection of how Charleston County residents have embraced the library and understand its importance as a vital cornerstone in the community. We’re proud of our rating and of the support from our community.”

A 2007 study by the SC State Library found that CCPL was the busiest public library system in South Carolina, ranking first in circulation, patron visits, programs offered, program attendance, reference transactions, public Internet computers and number of branches. The same study showed that Charleston County’s available operating revenues ranked third, behind the library systems in both Richland and Greenville counties.

I like my local library, but I enjoy other libraries too. I’ve spent a lot of time in the SC State Library in Columbia, SC, as well as the Richland County Public Library in downtown Columbia. In fact, the Richland County Public Library was named 2001 Library of the Year – best in the country byLibrary Journal. So we have some pretty good libraries in SC.

I used to like the Greenville library too, but some years back they said we couldn’t leave our paper, Carolina Arts, there anymore. The problem wasn’t us, it was some other publications they had problems with and the only solution they could come up with was to ban all alternative newspapers. I’ve had no problem like that with any other library – except in Asheville, NC. They really didn’t have any good reason for keeping us from their readers. But, that’s Asheville for you – always different. Sometimes not in a good way.

And, the good news, bad news is, with the downturn in the economy – people are using libraries now more than ever, but funding is probably being cut like all government services. We should let our leaders know that we understand the need for cutting back, but we don’t want to see the libraries’ budgets cut – they should be increased due to the increases in use. Makes sense, doesn’t it?