Posts Tagged ‘Francis Marion University’

A Disappointing Trip to the Pee Dee Area of SC Turns Out OK with a Backup Plan

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Editor’s Note: I meant to finish this post and post it a few days after June 19, 2015, but I was angry and it’s not good to sit down and write something when you’re angry. So, I put it off and as usual things got in the way.

This trip started with a desire to go to the opening reception of the exhibit, Contemporary Canines: The Dog in Southern Art, on view through Aug. 15, 2015, at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC, home to the ArtFields© art competition. I don’t get to break away from the production of Carolina Arts that much, so when I go I try to make it a productive trip and see as much as I can. So, the plan was to go see the exhibit, Paintings by Mary Bentz Gilkerson, on view through Aug. 12, at the Hyman Fine Arts Gallery at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC, the exhibit, Legacy: The Ansel Adams Experience, featuring works by Tari Federer, Kathleen Kennebeck, Elizabeth Kinser, Julie Mixon and Allison Triplett, on view through June 28, in the Waters Gallery of the Florence County Museum, and the exhibit, Fantasy vs. Reality, featuring works by Jim Gleason and Lee Benoy, with works by Florence County art students, on view through June 25, at the Art Trail Gallery.

The plan was to go to Florence first, visit the three exhibits starting with Francis Marion University first (the farthest away) and then get back to Lake City in time for the reception. Keep in mind this was Friday, June 19, 2015.

I arrived at Francis Marion University about 2:30pm on a day when the heat index was well over 100 degrees. I’ve learned over the years that you can’t always pick your days to go see art when the weather is ideal. Besides, most of the time I’d be spending in nice cool exhibit spaces.

I knew something was wrong when my first view of the gallery space showed me a dark space and when I reached the door and it was locked, my first response was – #$@&. There was no note on the door as to why the space was closed. I went next door where I knew the administration office was for the art department at FMU but found no one around. I picked up a copy of “Artastic” a publication covering the art events of the Pee Dee from April – August, 2015. I looked up the exhibit hours for this space which stated the space would be open Mon.-Fri., from 8:30am-5pm. I was there at 2:30pm – well after someone would be closed for lunch. This was super frustrating.

I had hoped to give some exposure to Mary Gilkerson’s show as she is a reviewer of exhibits in SC and there isn’t anyone else to give her shows a review. A review by me wouldn’t be the same as getting one by someone qualified as she is to speak about art, but it would be something. I’m not sure I’ll get back to FMU before her show comes down. I’m not sure I’ll risk going back again, but if you’re in the area I highly suggest you go see this exhibit. Gilkerson is a skilled painter and I love her style of loose realism – meaning in my words – her works are kind of abstract but you can still recognize what she is depicting in her works. She’s a great colorist too. I strongly suggest you call FMU first to make sure they will be open this Summer at 843/661-1385. I hope someone answers your call.

So, I headed back to downtown Florence to the Waters Gallery which is in the old space the Art Trail Gallery used to be in on South Dargan Street. I got there about 3:30pm and to my dismay it was also closed. At this point I was ready to walk around the corner to where the Art Trail Gallery was now located and if it wasn’t open I was going to leave Florence and I didn’t know when I would be coming back. Hot weather is not pleasant to be out in but when it comes to gallery spaces hot weather is a good reason for people to visit them. When two institutions like Francis Marion University and the Florence County Museum don’t keep their posted hours – that’s bad, very bad. There is nothing that turns off gallery visitors more than walking up to a door that should be open and finding it closed – especially with no reason for that closure posted.

I later learned that it’s not clear who is responsible for the Waters Gallery these days, but things are very fluid in the Pee Dee when it comes to its growing art community. Things seem to change from visit to visit. I can understand growing pains, but I’m also not sure its not a problem of leadership and power struggles. I’ve been given the impression that there are too many people stirring the art pot in the Pee Dee. But, I’m not going to waste a lot of time here going into that.

Luckily when I walked over to the Art Trail Gallery and pushed on the door it opened.

The Fantasy vs. Reality, exhibit offered the most works by Jim Gleason that I’ve seen in one location. His creatures made of parts of musical instruments that have seen their better days as instruments are now living again as Gleason’s fantasy animals from his mind. And, his mind sees a lot more than most people would. I took a few images, but its really hard to capture these creatures in still photos. They are truly 3D and need to be seen that way.

“I Am Your Future, Be Afraid” by Jim Gleason.

Lee Benoy offered the reality part of this exhibition with his black and white photographs of the Pee Dee’s rural areas. It’s hard to photograph images under glass so I just took a view from the side.

Side shot of photographs.

Unfortunately this exhibit is no longer on view at the Art Trail Gallery, but I wasn’t in the best of moods while viewing this exhibit so I didn’t do it real justice in looking that closely and taking photos, in fact my attention drifted to works I usually don’t pay much attention to – student artworks that were also on display. In fact the handout about this exhibit at the Art Trail Gallery featured these works more than they did what I considered to be the main attraction – the works of Gleason and Benoy.

I had hoped to do this blog post much earlier than I have, but events in Charleston, SC, took my attention away and then it was time to produce the July 2015 issue of Carolina Arts.

The closure of the exhibits at FMU and the Waters Gallery left me with more time to view this student art and during that time the student’s work sort of captured the spotlight of the day. Of course there were many excellent works to come in the exhibit in Lake City, as you’ll see, but I found a few gems among the student works, beginning with a portrait by Ayle White, an 11th grader at West Florence High School. This young girl could be a working artist today, but I hope – if she wants – that she will continue with her art studies to enhance her skills. She’s already better than many adult artists I know who are doing portraits.

Portriat by Ayle White.

Also, cudos go out to art teacher Mrs. Swinney-Carter at Williams Middle School for three prints by students Brittany Sehnke, Abigail Sansbury, and Kushbu Jivan that didn’t look like they were done by 7-8th graders.

Print by Brittany Sehnke.

Print by Abigail Sansbury.

Print by Kushbu Jivan.

Anytime I do view an exhibit of student art I always find one or two works that stand out above all the others, but this exhibit had a number of works which could stand with an exhibit of works by adult artists – especially with professional help on presentation.

While standing at the front of the Art Trail Gallery looking out at the 100 + degrees waiting for me I noticed that there seemed to be works up over at Smart Phone Repair across the street, on the corner of West Evans and Irby. Smart Phone Repair had an art competition using old phone parts called Once A Part, Now Art. I guess the exhibit was still up – so they also got an unexpected viewing.

The deal with this competition was that artists who wanted to participate would pick up a similar bundle of old phone parts, left over from phone repairs and probably phones that couldn’t be repaired. Their challenge was to make those phone parts into art. Recycled art – art made from recovered materials that otherwise would be thrown away is a big thing these days.

View of the whole exhibit.

This exhibit was supposed to come down in May, but the owners liked the reaction they were getting from the exhibit so it was still up. They were not sure how long it would still be up but it seems they’d like to keep some of the works on display and are also thinking of doing the competition again. So if you find yourself at the Art Trail Gallery, you might want to check out Smart Phone Repair to see if the works are still on display.

“Discarded Image” by Minnemie Murphy was the First Place winner.

That’s the kind of thing that’s been happening in Florence’s developing arts district. Everyone wants to get in on the action being created by the arts. A lot of changes are taking place in the area. A Jazz Club has opened on West Evans and a new shop called E Interiors was about to open. I was hoping to have lunch at Box Car 9 Pizzeria, but it wasn’t open yet. They seem to be taking a long time to get open.

I also learned that the Art Trail Gallery will be on the move (again) back to Dargan Street in what everyone hopes will be its final resting place. More about that at a later time.

OK, it was time to head back to Lake City, to the Jones-Carter Gallery for the opening of Contemporary Canines: The Dog In Southern Art, featuring works by Diane Kilgore Condon, Craig Crawford, Mike Fowle, Patz Fowle, Elizabeth Graham, Janis Hibbs, and Alex Palkovich.

By 6pm in Lake City it was hotter than two rabbits screwin’ in a wool sock! My grand-pappy never said that – he was a dairy farmer from Michigan, it never got that hot there. I looked that Southern gem up on Google.

There was not a big crowd at the opening, which wasn’t a surprise considering the heat and the fact that the opening didn’t get a lot of promotion on social media – at least not on any I saw. I don’t know if they send out invitations or just hope people will show up. I was there right after 6 and I did see the Mayors of Lake City and Johnsonville there, but they left not to long after they arrived. They might of had other engagements to attend. I don’t think Mayor Riley in Charleston, SC, shows up at many exhibit opening. So they were more supportive than he is to the visual arts. But I doubt he misses many performances of the Symphony. I don’t blame him – he pays a lot for every performance, or at least the City of Charleston does. Well, correction – the taxpayers of Charleston do.

View from the door looking into the crowd.

View of Alex Palkovich with one of his sculptures.

The crowd was small, but it seemed to be made up of a lot of folks I wanted to talk with. I finally met Jane Madden’s (the original force behind the Art Trail Gallery) husband Michael for the first time in all these years.

I got to talk with a few of the artists, Patz & Mike Fowle and Janis Hobbs. And Janis Hobbs’ husband, David Hobbs, who is Chairman of the Board of the Art Trail Gallery in Florence. And, as is the case with most visits to the Pee Dee to view art – Alex Palkovich was there, who also has works on permanent display at the Art Trail Gallery. It was kind of an Art Trail Gallery day.

View of Patz Fowle (l) with her creation for the exhibit and Hanna Davis (r) the Jones-Carter Gallery Director.

Close up of “Squattin’ in High Cotton,” mixed media by Patz Fowle.

Anyone who follows my post on a regular basis knows that I like talking about art almost as much as looking at art – maybe more at times to the point of distraction. But finding out what is going on behind the scenes in the art community is as important as art itself when you’re the editor and publisher of an arts publication.

This exhibit wasn’t the most interesting (to me) I’ve attended at the Jones-Carter Gallery, but it wasn’t due to the lack of quality of art presented, it was probably more to due with the fact that not too long ago Lake City was filled with one of the best art exhibitions that I’ve seen in a long time – ArtFields@ 2015.

I’ll fully admit that I might have also been tainted by the fact that the day had turned sour, it was extremely hot, and I was frustrated on how ArtFields© has once again gone dark after one of its events. Going to an art exhibit when you’re in a bad mood probably isn’t a good idea if you want to be inspired. But, in my defense – it wasn’t my plan.

That’s what happened to me on one day, yet I’m still recommending anyone interested in what they see from photos I took or the gallery supplied – to go see this exhibit.

“Clutch,” by Janis Hobbs.

“Strays in the Field,” oil by Craig Crawford.

“The Menace,” oil on panel by Diane Kilgore Condon, courtesy if ART Gallery, Columbia, SC

On July 25, from noon-4pm, you can bring your dog into the gallery to see the exhibit. All dogs must be vaccinated and leashed. And owners are responsible for pet clean-up. The Jones-Carter Gallery is also offering Yoga in the Gallery on July 30 and Aug. 16, 2015. Join them on those Thursdays at 6:30pm for a one-hour, beginner friendly class inside the Jones-Carter Gallery! Bring your mat, a towel, and a $5 donation. Walk-ins will be welcome, but space is limited. Call the gallery at 843/374-1505 to sign up today!

Well, that’s it on this trip. Let’s hope the next one is better – well seen under better conditions.

The Exhibit of Works by Patz and Mike Fowle at Francis Marion University Has Plenty of Funk and is Pretty Awesome

Sunday, October 9th, 2011


I’ve been wanting to see a big collection of works by Patz and Mike Fowle and the opportunity came on Oct. 6, 2011, at Francis Marion University. The gallery at the Hyman Fine Arts Center at FMU is presenting the exhibit, Funk and Awesome!, featuring individual and collaborative works by Patz and Mike Fowle of Hartsville, SC, through Nov. 10, 2011.

I first discovered Patz Fowle’s unique ceramic creations at one of thePalmetto Hands exhibitions during the North Charleston Arts Festival held at the Charleston Area Convention Center in North Charleston, SC. The first work I saw was a miniature Noah’s Ark with many sets of crazy looking animals on board. I had never seen anything like it. And, each successive year I would see another or maybe two new works by her and then eventually works by her husband Mike Fowle.

Earlier this year I had an opportunity to see an actual exhibition of works by these two talented artists at the Florence Regional Arts Alliance gallery in Florence, SC, but this was a small show. It just served to whet my appetite. And, I saw a few more pieces at exhibits at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence. So when I heard about the exhibit at FMU – I was ready to go.

Unfortunately for me, it was on a day when so many other interesting exhibits would be opening and I can only be in one place at a time. I’d love to have one of those Harry Potter devices where you can be in several places during the same time frame, but I haven’t been able to work that out yet. It’s one of the many problems with covering such a large region – making hard choices is never easy.

Florence is closer to Bonneau, SC, than most people know, so it helped make my decision a little easier. An extra bonus was that Linda was off from her “other” job and she could go too, but she worked the next day so our trip had to be a quick run in and out.

I think we were some of the first people to arrive, so I started taking photos before it was too late. Translation – before I started talking with folks. And, I did a lot of talking with some of the movers and shakers of the Pee Dee art community that night.

Taking photos was a bit of a challenge as many of the works were presented in glassed cases, but I was pleased with the results – never as good as being there, but still good enough to give you a taste. Without these images there would be no way for me to describe these works.

Tell Me More



After coming back from seeing the exhibit I posted this on my Facebook page, “It was like visiting a dream written by Dr. Seuss combined with Alice and Wonderland and Where the Wild Things Are. A lot of wild, crazy ceramic creatures.” This is a pretty good description of the collaborative creatures made by both of these artists, but this exhibit offered more than the ceramic creatures.

Magic Carpet Ride

Catbird in Flight

Let’s Sit a While and Yackety Yack

O’Keeffe’s Beautiful Bones

This exhibit also included some ceramic “portraits” with titles like: Frida Without Diego, Picasso’s Palette, Dali’s Dilemma, and O’Keeffe’s Beautiful Bones. One closer to home was A Pearl of A Man, of SC’s Pearl Fryar. There were also some paintings by Patz Fowle. And of course they all carry a touch of that Fowle humor – the couple’s trademark.

Pearl Fryar’s Fantastic Fro-piary Garden oil painting by Patz Fowle

What was unexpected was a group of works that were re-purposed. You wouldn’t say they were recycled as those are objects that some people toss away, but can be collected and remade into usable products again – like saving aluminium cans to be remade into aluminium cans or other aluminium products.

In this case the Fowle’s, mainly Mike, were re-purposing children’s plastic toys into works of art. He also does that a lot with discarded metal objects. Of course one piece entitled the Plastic Planet used plastic water bottles as a core material. The photos give you a better look at this piece, but it would take you maybe an hour or two to discover all the working “toys” making up the crust of this planet.

Plastic Planet

Plastic Planet, detail

Plastic Planet, detail

I can imagine if we, as a people, keep going the way we are that our planet could look like this one day – a big plastic ball.

Prestone by Mike Fowle

I didn’t get this work’s title but it reminded me of man’s beginning on earth (if I can say that in South Carolina) from the primordial ooze of the trash we leave behind, this creature evolved.

These works reminded me of another show that opened that same night in Columbia, SC, at Vista Studios. On view in Gallery 80808 is an exhibit featuring assemblage “portraits” by Kirkland Smith, entitled, Re-Created, on view through Oct. 18, 2011. Smith creates amazing paintings out of re-purposed objects and some that I’ve seen are made up of plastic children’s toys and action figures.

Image of Audrey Hepburn by Kirkland Smith

I don’t want to detract from the Fowle’s exhibit, but these three artists are saving our landfills from thousands of items which would take 100′s of years to breakdown by making works of art from them – art people want.

Smith’s show will be up for a shorter period of time, so you have to act fast to see it. I’m hoping I do that before it’s down, but time is not a friend of mine. You have a longer time to see Funk and Awesome!, but don’t put it off and miss it.

One advantage of going to an opening is that you can hear stories in the background, like the one of Mike Fowle going into second-hand stores looking for children’s shoes to use with some of their ceramic creatures.

Now you have to understand that Mike is a big guy – he could be described as a mountain man. So imagine this big guy going into a store and asking people if they have any small children’s shoes. It might make some people wonder – what is he doing with all those children’s shoes? It’s just part of being an artist. Sometimes you’re looking for unusual things to do your work – especially when you are re-purposing items. And, I’m sure his search for little children’s shoes have given some folks a creepy story to pass along. I don’t think it’s creepy – the picture it paints in my mind gives me a chuckle.

Walkin’ the Walk

Before I knew it – it was time to head home. It always seems like it’s time to head home.

You can read about this exhibit and Kirkland Smith’s exhibit in the Oct. 2011 issue of Carolina Arts and see a few more images of the works.

The gallery at the Hyman Fine Arts Center at Francis Marion University is open Mon. through Fri., from 8am-5pm.

For further information you can call the FMU Art Department at 843/661-1385 or visit ( To see more works visit (

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 (

Observations on the Figurative Ceramic Symposium at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC, Held on Mar. 5, 2011

Monday, March 7th, 2011

I made it to the Figure It Out, Figurative Ceramic Symposium at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC, held on Mar. 5, 2011.  The symposium started at 6:30pm and was scheduled to run to 8:30pm, which was already a challenge for me, being two hours away and rain in the forecast. I knew I’d be lucky to get back home by 11pm and as it turned out technical difficulties caused the presentation to run late, but it was worth it. I wish I could have hung around after, but the clock is always ticking with me and I had too many questions to ask that would have run far into the night. And after all, this symposium seemed to be mostly for the students at FMU. There were about 200 people in attendance.

Work by Cristina Cordova

The guest speakers for the symposium were Cristina Cordova, from Penland, NC (born in Puerto Rico); Sergei Isupov, from Cummington, MA (born in Russia); and Janis Mars Wunderlich, from Columbus, OH. They had given demos and worked with students during the day. Like most events at colleges and universities – the main focus is on students, as it should be, and usually the public is invited to participate as an extra for the local community. I went as an observer – not a participant. I’m not a ceramic artist, nor do I ever hope to be, I’m a communicator.

I arrived at FMU early enough to get a few photos of the Francis Marion sculpture on campus and hopefully a look at the ceramic exhibit on view at the Hyman Fine Arts Center. I was surprised that the space was open. I guess they kept it open because of the symposium. While there, I ran intoPatz Fowle, a local figurative ceramic sculptor who was also there for the symposium. It was Fowle who turned me on to the symposium to begin with. We didn’t get to talk, as the symposium was going to start soon.

Work by Sergei Isupov

The three speakers selected for the symposium made for a diverse view of artists working in the figurative ceramics field. Each gave a presentation, showing their work, and talking about creative challenges and their working lives. They all had interesting backgrounds, created fantastic works, and described colorful ascensions to their current positions (well regarded) in their chosen field.

After their presentations a panel discussion began with the three artists, co-moderated by Dr. Howard Frye, Assistant Professor of Art Education and Coordinator of the Art Education Program and Doug Gray, Professor of Visual Arts – Ceramics and Sculpture, both at FMU. The topic of the discussion was: The Development of Personal Imagery.

There was a brief question and answer period after the discussion period and the event was over. I didn’t ask any questions as I was playing the part of the observer and as I said before – I had too many questions to even get started, but I do have one observation.

Work by Janis Mars Wunderlich

Over all, the symposium did a good job of giving students and others attending a look at three individuals who have gained a level of success in their careers. They covered their backgrounds, their influences, creative process, and struggles to stay focused and motivated, but there were only hints at the other side of the artful life – the business side.

Cordova talked a little about the pressures of success and cultural heritage; Isupov hinted at troubles dealing with the public and dealers; and Wunderlich talked about the challenge to find time to work in a house full of children (five, from 1st grade to college) and being an artist/mother. But there was never a full on discussion of the business side of the art world – the side that will be the biggest challenge to any of these students if they choose the life of an artist.

Cordova, who still works with students at the Penland School of Crafts admitted that she was never prepared in school for the business side of the arts. And, it wasn’t until she had a three year residency at Penland that she learned many of the components to becoming a successful artist – in business.

As I’ve said many times – money is the mother’s milk of the arts – without it not much happens. The parents of these students are not looking forward to their children returning from university to turn the family garage into a studio and to cover room and board forever. Time may seem free, but supplies and equipment are not. So, money makes the arts go round and there was little discussion about it at this symposium – which maybe would have been off topic, but when will students in the arts be given that wakeup call?

I would have liked to know: what price these artists’ works sold for? Do they do more exhibiting than selling? How often do they sell? Are they selling enough to be making a living at it? All had spouses, Cordova’s husband was a glass artist – so maybe two artists are better than one, and perhaps the others rely on the incomes of their spouses for living expenses? I don’t know, but I know the students at that symposium don’t have a clue of what’s waiting for them. Little hints were all they got and my bet is most of them were over their heads.

What about dealing with the public that only sees artists in one light – as people who are different from the rest of us and with success comes fame and its demands. What about dealing with galleries and dealers – it can’t be all smooth sailing. And, how about taxes, marketing, marriage, children, mortgages, etc. – the other stuff that will make or break an artist. These folks must of had a wealth of answers on these subjects.

Of course the challenges are different for each artist, but the goal is the same. How do I get to create what I want and have a life – make a living – at the same time? Not all at first, but eventually.

That’s some of the reality I’d like to see discussed more at art schools – in every opportunity possible.

This is not the failing of Francis Marion University, it’s a basic problem with all art education programs – at least most I’ve had contact with directly or with their by-products, as the owner of a gallery dealing with artists who wanted to have exhibits as if I was a publicly funded museum and as a publisher of an arts newspaper where artists want publicity – of any kind – many just because they created something.

That’s the kind of symposium I’d like to see, and I’m not talking about the kind where they want artists to pay a $100 to listen to professional talkers telling them what they should do. I’m talking about real artists who have been through the gauntlet of life, who are not afraid to tell their secrets, their nightmares, their tricks, while creating more competition for themselves. And, all for free – for their future peers.

Art can be a career, but it “ain’t” easy. Let’s have more discussions about the business side of the arts.