Posts Tagged ‘Jeffrey Day’

Columbia, SC’s Spring Arts Festival – Artista Vista – Celebrates 20 Years – Apr. 28-30, 2011

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

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Artista Vista, the Columbia, SC’s, Congaree Vista’s annual gallery crawl, will once again usher in spring in the Midlands from Thursday, Apr. 28 through Saturday, Apr. 30, 2011. The event features special exhibits at each of the participating galleries from 5-9pm on Thursday night and from 11am-5pm on Friday and Saturday.

In celebration of Artista Vista’s 20th anniversary this year, well-known arts writer and critic Jeffrey Day will curate a variety of installation art exhibits, original poetry readings, music performances and more in the streets of the Congaree Vista Thursday evening.

Artista Vista’s founding grew out of the rise of installation art in the 1990s, so we wanted to embrace art outside the gallery to honor the 20th anniversary while recognizing that many of Artista Vista’s founding galleries are still thriving twenty years later,” said Day.

The three-day event will encompass all forms of art from visual to performing arts.

Thursday, Apr. 28, (5-9pm): Installation pieces by an assortment of artists will be on display at 927 to 929 Gervais Street and the fire-training tower on Park Street.

Fiber artist, Susan Lenz will unveil her public art project, Looking for a Mate. Lenz collected mate-less socks from the public during Vista Lights, last Fall, and used them to create an art quilt.

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Barry Wheeler and Heather Bauer will present a photography piece at Lewis + Clark, which will share the history of the Vista through photos. Dr. Sketchy’s anti-art group will perform at Ellen Taylor Interiors and Design’s storefront window from 7:15-8:30pm.

Friday, Apr. 29 (11am-7pm): Installations will be on display at 927-929 Gervais Street.

Saturday, Apr. 30 (11am-7pm): Installations will be on display at 927-929 Gervais Street.

There will be a special performance by the USC percussion ensemble at 1pm at City Art Gallery.

From noon to 1:30pm, One-Eared Cow Glass artists will be collaborating with artists from the About Face art group at One-Eared Cow (1001 Huger Street).

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USC’s art department painting studios (located in the Vista at the corner of Devine Street and Gadsden Street) will have an open house and the department’s new wood-fired kiln will be up and running from 11am to 4pm. Participants include: Kara Gunter, Susan Lenz, Amanda Ladymon, George Fenter, Billy Guess, Marius Valdes, Eileen Blyth, Barry Wheeler, and Heather Bauer.

As a special part of its 20th anniversary, Artista Vista is offering a social media contest at this year’s event with the chance to win a limited-edition, silk screened, signed 2011 Artista Vista poster and a $50 gift certificate to Motor Supply Company Bistro. All you have to do is search “Artista Vista” as the venue on Foursquare and check in as you come to each gallery during the event. Whoever becomes the mayor of Artista Vista by checking in at the most galleries the most often over the course of the three-day event wins the poster and gift certificate.

Artista Vista 2011 participating galleries include: Carol Saunders Gallery, 300 Senate, Vista Studios/Gallery 80808, The Gallery at Nonnah’s, Paul D. Sloan Interiors, if ART Gallery, Lewis + Clark, Gallery at DuPre, SC State Museum, SC Contemporary Dance Company, City Art Gallery, and One Eared Cow Glass.

Free parking will be available in the Vista’s parking decks located on Lincoln Street near Lady, Park Street near Pendleton, and Lady Street near Wayne Street. Many galleries will offer complimentary hors d’oeuvres and wine.

To learn more about the Congaree Vista, Columbia’s arts and entertainment district, visit (www.vistacolumbia.com) or follow the Vista on Twitter: (@vistaguild).

A Trip to Columbia, SC’s First Thursday on Main – Feb. 3, 2011

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

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On a cold Thursday afternoon when the weather people were calling for 80% rain, Linda and I headed to Columbia, SC, to visit One Eared Cow Glass and the First Thursday on Main event.

One Eared Cow Glass was having one of their 20th Anniversary celebration events introducing a new line of glass jewelry – just in time for Valentines’ day. That’s when Linda signed on for the trip to Columbia. I can’t say too much more about the One Eared Cow Glass anniversary events – all I can say is you need to go there and sign up to be on their e-mail list.

I’ve been wanting to go to one of the First Thursday on Main events for some time as it seemed like it was becoming quite an art event. I also wanted to see the inside of the Tapp’s Center for the Arts project and hopefully meet up with Susan Lenz, who had another window display there.

Activities on Main Street in downtown Columbia started a few years ago when Mark Plessinger of Frame of Mind started displaying area artists’ work in his shop on Main Street across from the Columbia Museum of Art. Info about those events kind of came and then fizzled. During that time other art related groups moved to Main Street and then by last fall we began to receive info about the First Thursday on Main events which seemed to be organized by the City Center Partnership, Inc., but we’re not hearing from them on a regular basis either. The only person I’m hearing from on a regular basis is Brenda Schwarz Miller who is spearheading up the effort to turn the old Tapp’s on Main department store at 1644 Main Street, at the corner of Main and Blanding, into the Tapp’s Center for the Arts.

I guess the City Center Partnership is interested more in having all parties on Main participate in trying to get folks in the Columbia area to come back to Main Street during the evening hours with the First Thursday events, but I’m more interested in the visual art groups there which now include Frame of Mind, S&S Art Supply, FreeTimes, Anastasia & Friends, Columbia Museum of Art, the Arcade Artists, and Tapp’s Center for the Arts.

From our front door at the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing in Bonneau, SC, we can be in downtown Columbia in two hours. It takes an hour to drive to Charleston, SC, so it’s not much of an effort to go to Columbia, but the two hour return trip does determine how long you can stay.

We spent almost two hours at One Eared Cow Glass, and again, all I’ll say besides I love watching the cowboys work, is that Linda and I got our 20th Anniversary T-Shirts while there, which will pay off throughout the year’s celebrations. My lips are sealed.

Once we weaved our way over to Main Street during Columbia’s rush hour traffic, we arrived at the Tapp’s building just about 5pm. We looked at a few of the outside window displays, but it didn’t take long for the damp 40 degree temps to rush us inside. No real rain yet.

As we entered a side door on Blanding, right off we see a little window display of jewelry by Susan Shrader, which stops Linda in her tracks. We’ve dealt with Shrader throughout the years as she was helping to promote a Columbia gem show. She’s one of the hundreds of people we have talked to over the years but never met.

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Jewelry and fused glass works by Susan Shrader

We got to scratch her off our never met list once we set foot inside the massive Tapp’s building. Right away I was reminded of my recent visit to the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, which was another massive building in a city which is now used to show off art – helping to revise a once thriving downtown shopping district.

Linda said she used to come to Tapp’s when she was visiting her older sister who attended USC – a long time ago, back when her family would travel from small Myrtle Beach to SC’s capital city.

While Linda talked with Shrader and looked at jewelry, I looked around the building’s maze of rooms on two levels. Downstairs I saw John Sharpe giving a demonstration on a pottery wheel. The building has a lot of potential for many things.

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Once upstairs again, Linda and I enjoyed a bit of food and drink, I took a few photos and then we asked someone to point out Brenda Schwarz Miller. She is another person we have talked on the phone with and exchanged many e-mails with over activities and events of the Artist Round Table group in Columbia and now Tapp’s.

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Listening by Sandra Carr

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Inside Out by Sandra Carr

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Detail of Inside Out by Sandra Carr

It is my experience that projects like this are usually the dream of one dynamic individual with the help of a few others. Tapp’s is definitely Miller’s baby. Again, I was reminded of the Art Trail Gallery in Florence where Jane Madden has made the project happen by sheer will and persistence in dealing with red tape – in both cases, business and city leaders.

Columbia has already had some experience with similar projects like Vista Studios and 701 Center for the Arts, but it has also had experience with fellows like Jack Gerstner – who first had a strangle hold on the 701 building and used it for personal gain. Miller is 180 degrees on the opposite end of Gerstner. So, I hope city leaders in Columbia soon help her make her dream and that of many artists in Columbia – come true. It will be good for Main Street in the long run.

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Miller told us she has received lots of help from the building’s owner who also hopes for success of the Tapp’s project as he owns other buildings in downtown Columbia. There’s no problem in working in your own self interest while benefiting others. Too bad the SC Arts Commission doesn’t see that – unless they are dealing with folks shopping for Verner Awards through donations to the SC Arts Foundation. Otherwise we’re all greedy commercial enterprises – unworthy of a seat at the big arts table. They prefer creating a system of art welfare where arts groups become dependent on them for continued existence. How’s that working?

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Burnt Offerings by Kara M. Gunter

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Detail of Burnt Offerings by Kara M. Gunter

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A real close detail of Burnt Offerings by Kara M. Gunter

I was hoping to run into Susan Lenz at Tapp’s but she never showed while we were there so we decided to go explore some of the other locations.

Outside we got a look at the window displays at the front of the building – which are very interesting, but hard to photograph as there was still some daylight lingering causing reflections.

One complaint or suggestion I have for First Thursday on Main organizers – whoever they are or will be is – they need a map of participating locations on Main Street available at all locations. If you’re hoping to attract people back to a downtown area they haven’t been to in years – don’t expect them to know where everything is – especially if they’re coming from out of town. I know the area pretty well, but not everything.

We went up Main toward the Capital building looking for a parking space – apparently the event was working. We saw where a few of the participating places were (except the Arcade), but no parking spaces were opening up – so we did the Charleston shuffle – driving around and around hoping someone would leave their space. On one of the rounds I spotted Susan Lenz in the window talking with folks at FreeTimes. And as luck would have it after a few trips around the block a space opened up.

Once we squeezed into the building and got close to Lenz we had managed to scratch another person off our never-met list. The place was packed with the who’s who of Columbia’s art community, very noisy, but there wasn’t really that many people there compared to the folks at the Tapp’s building. The illusion of a small packed room can throw you off, but it was a case of who was there. And as in many situations like this I saw folks I would have liked to say hey to, but never got the chance. Toni Elkins was working the room like a humming bird, and Jeffrey Day was there – not sure what that conversation would have been like. But, I did have a few friendly words with Ken May – head of the SC Arts Commission.

May called me his nemesis – which I thought was a little over-blown. He might have meant it as a compliment, but I later thought it didn’t really fit. It would be like calling Cuba America’s nemesis. A nemesis is usually an unbeatable rival or a source of harm or destruction. I don’t think I’m having that effect and his label gives me too much credit. I fit the description of a gadfly – which I was called once by an Arts Commission supporter. As May asked – “what would I write about without the Arts Commission?” I flashed back to a scene from Richard Nixon stating that we (the media) wouldn’t have him to kick around anymore. But then there was George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Fox News. There’s always someone being unfair or doing and saying silly things. So I’m not worried about losing the Arts Commission – one way or another. It may be a case of the last man standing in both our cases.

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Ding on a Dong by Diane Gilbert – shot from the hip at FreeTimes

But, all in all, I was happy to talk with Susan Lenz, a human dynamo of the art world about a few of her current projects and past issues. But before long she needed to move on to Tapp’s  and said she still had work to do that night. We made a slow circle of the room – not able to see much of the art and headed for the door. It was now raining. (It hasn’t stopped raining since.)

Back at Tapp’s Linda had heard a few folks talking about sleet and not knowing what the temps were going down to we decided to get out of Columbia while the getting was good. Besides, this is an event which is taking place every month and is just picking up steam. We can always come back.

I highly recommend the trip, especially for folks from the Lowcountry. Columbia’s visual art community is much different from that of Charleston’s. I’ve always enjoyed going to Columbia to visit Artista Vista orVista Lights to get a different view of what artists are creating in South Carolina.

But, I think Columbia planners have a basic problem in attracting out of town visitors to come on Thursday evenings. It asks travelers to take a day off of work or make extended return travel plans. A four hour round trip is nothing for me, but others don’t see that as attractive. If these events were moved to a Friday or even a Saturday – they might attract more out of town visitors even though it would compete with other cities which present first Friday art walks, but what’s wrong with a little competition?

But, if the plan is to just attract locals to the downtown on a weekday – this just might work and before long it could include the Vista and Five Points area too. Why not have all of the city’s artists putting on a show. That’s what happened in Charleston.

As far as the Tapp’s Center for the Arts goes – here’s some of the plans. The space could supply 16 juried studios on the main level and 20 non-juried single and shared studios in the lower level. There are plans for three galleries, including a Cafe Gallery in the lower level. The facility would also include a frame shop, photography studio, print shop, wood workshop and clay studio. And, the good  part of the plan is that it is planned to be self-supporting. All they need is some start-up support to get the project going. If you would like more info about this project contact Brenda Schwarz Miller at 803/609-3479 or e-mail her at (brenda@realworldartisans.com).

After looking at the photos I took – at least those usable – I seemed to be interested in sculptural works at the First Thursday event.

SC Arts Commission May have Dodged a Bullet – But More Cuts Are Coming for SC’s Non-Profit Arts Groups

Monday, June 28th, 2010

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Yes, the SC State Legislature may have stopped Governor Mark Sanford’s veto of the SC Arts Commission’s budget cut, but more cuts will come to the SC Arts Commission’s budget as our state adjust to shortfalls in revenue that legislators just ignored (after Tue. June 29,2010, that is). It’s easy to override a veto, it makes you look like you’re a friend of the arts to some folks back home, but those legislators know the State will be doing their dirty work for them when adjustments have to be made throughout next year’s budget cycle as projected revenues fall short. It’s SC’s official dance – pass the buck and pass the responsibility.

So, what will we see from our saved Arts Commission under the leadership of Ken May – its newly named director?

Our old friend Jeffrey Day continues in his position as the unofficial press agent for the SC Arts Commission by offering heaps of praise on Ken May in an issue of Columbia, SC’s Freetimes.

According to Day, one of May’s positive attributes is that he can be seen at art events all around Columbia. I bet he can also be seen at Columbia grocery stores, movie theatres, and book stores, but what good does that do the rest of SC’s art community? Yes, the Charleston, SC, community might see him there during the Spoleto Festival, but that’s one of the things wrong with the Arts Commission – it is the poorest form of centralized government. The entire staff sits in Columbia most of the time. And, with more budget cuts – they won’t be going anywhere too soon.

As far as I know – until proven differently – May represents the same old, same old, from the Arts Commission – which is great for the sector of SC’s art community that has been living off the Arts Commission’s funding for decades. Not so good for those who have gotten nothing and not so good for new groups pulling up to the Arts Commission’s trough – only to find no room.

So what’s the future look like? Well with the prospects of a new governor on the way – one who looks like they could prove to be a Sanford style governor on steroids – not too secure.

Non-profit arts groups are going to have to deal with less public funding, the SC Arts Commission will have to deal with less funding and the list of groups who get it will get smaller and smaller. It actually could get very ugly – during the fight over who is more deserving or more connected to get that funding. In fact, I’d be concerned if I was an arts group outside of Columbia. It’s easier to cut funding of groups you don’t attend on a regular basis. Of course May doesn’t determine who gets funding and how much – the Arts Commission Board does that – at least they would if they were really leading the Arts Commission. But, we all know the staff really does.

Again, I haven’t noticed that this current crop of Board Members are less rubbery than former Board groups. It’s so easy to just go along with the staff recommendations – they know what’s best. They know the right people, the deserving – those who will praise them – they’re buddies.

The Who said we won’t get fooled again, but I think we just did.

McClatchy Newspapers Can’t Silence Jeffrey Day

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

A few weeks ago I told you about the loss of arts coverage in SC when The State newspaper in Columbia, SC, a McClatchy newspaper, eliminated Jeffrey Day’s job, long time art critic and arts writer for The State. We’ve already seen the results of that move when Susie Surkamer, head of the SC Arts Commission announced her retirement, effective on May 2, 2009, and The State offered a lackluster article about that announcement – with no comment – because they don’t know what to say.

Well, Day has started his own blog today about the Columbia arts scene and beyond at Carolina Culture. We’ll have to wait and see how this blog develops, but I hope Day takes advantage of the freedom of writing without the constraints of newspaper editors.

Now for all you out there that have been missing your Jeffrey Day fix – you have a new home to get it, and for all you who didn’t exactly agree with Day’s views – you too have a place to get your fix. Check it out.

I wish Day good luck in this new adventure and am glad to see more coverage of the arts in SC – even if it is only in cyberspace.

Another Blow to the Coverage of the Visual Arts in the Carolinas

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Long before McClatchy newspapers bought out Knight Ridder’s newspapers in the Carolinas they operated the News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. Folks in the visual art community there were not happy with the coverage they were getting. That should have been our first warning of what was to come from McClatchy – and I said as much when it happened.

Top management at McClatchy must think now that top management at Knight Ridder – knew something they didn’t. Newspapers all over the country are in financial trouble, but McClatchy seems to be in free-fall. It seems arts coverage is falling off faster than most other sections of their newspapers. First, they did away with the Arts Sections. The arts are now included in either Life Styles or Entertainment Sections.

Within the last year, at the Charlotte Observer, (Charlotte, NC) Richard Maschal, long-time visual arts writer/critic was said to have retired, but I’m not sure that was the real story. But, the arts coverage there seems to have also retired. The non-profits might still get coverage, but what about the quality of that coverage and rest of the visual art community? A recent article about an exhibit at the Mint Museum in Charlotte in the Observerwas an AP story – short, with no texture. That’s a growing trend. That was the first blow.

Not too long ago, the Post & Courier in Charleston, SC, (not a McClatchy paper) laid off some staff members including Dottie Ashley, long-time arts writer, who once worked at The State in Columbia, SC. But, two weeks later she was back writing her column as a freelance writer. That was the second blow. Not that she was let go, but that they brought her back.

Last week, during another round of cuts of over 100 staff members around the McClatchy chain, The State’s arts writer Jeffrey Day was laid off. That’s the third blow.

Now, loyal readers of my commentary in Carolina Arts and on this blog know that Jeffrey Day and I didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things in the visual arts community, but I don’t like to see anyone lose their job and I don’t like the loss of arts coverage. (Well, maybe I’d like to see some people lose their jobs – you know who and at what State agency.) Plus, I’m more able to say what I want and Day wasn’t as free to express his opinions as often as some might think – so we may have agreed on more things than it would seem. Maybe – maybe not, but there just isn’t enough people in print, or any media, offering arts criticism – something the art community needs more of – not less.

Before the McClatchy takeover of The State, Day used to write articles about exhibits taking place in all over South Carolina and even in Charlotte, NC, and Augusta, GA. But, as McClatchy tightened the reins – Day’s ability to reach out of the Columbia shrunk – as did overall arts coverage in South Carolina.

And, this brings me around to my favorite punchin’ bag – the SC Arts Commission. They say it’s one of their long-term goals – to build up arts coverage and art criticism in South Carolina, but they haven’t done one thing about it. They stopped producing their own publication years ago.

Do they have a program which pays qualified writers and art critics to review exhibits in this state that could be sent to various media for publication? No! Do they even have a resource list of such people? No! Making it a goal – as the cable guy says – don’t, get ‘er done. But, then again, they don’t do a lot about their stated goals – they just like making them. They’re good at that.

Hey, if anything, the SC Arts Commission just lost one of their friends – one of their protectors. I’m sure they’re thinking hard about the loss of Jeffrey Day and wondering what they can do about it. He’s done so much work for them in the past – perhaps now they can give him a real job there.

Eye to eye or not – I hope Day finds another opportunity, but losing a job is something a lot of us are faced with during these times. I could lose mine. But, I’m the kind of guy who if I lose one job, I just make another one. I’ve done it three times now. But, I’m happy with what I’m doing now.

In my upcoming editorial in the April ’09 issue of Carolina Arts I suggest that people in the Carolinas who subscribe to McClatchy newspapers, and there are a lot of them here, send a message by dropping their subscriptions – give them blow for blow, but we need to do more. We need to let them know that arts coverage is more important to them than they think it is now.

I’m not exactly sure how we do that, since I don’t think these are the smartest people to begin with. Their business model over the last couple of decades is to turn their newspapers into something the under 30 would flock to – because that’s what they say their advertisers want. What a load. People under 30 don’t read newspapers. They read text messages on their phones, they read headlines and pop up ads on the internet. The majority of the population that reads newspaper on a regular basis is way over 30 and they don’t feel served by newspapers. I know I don’t. Of course some would say a lot of the problem is the tanking economy, but the problem newspapers are having started long before last September when the market and banks crashed.

And, as I mentioned above, with less writing and reporting staff, newspapers are grabbing articles from AP and other newspapers to fill space. I just love the way my Post & Courier now carries articles about art events taking place in other cities and even other states – to fill space that could of been about the local art community. Why not fill the spaces in our local paper with local stories?

Hey Tom – are you forgetting that these people are your competition? Why are you being a cheerleader for these other papers? Isn’t this good for you?

Well, yes and no. I never claimed to be able to do it all, nor could Linda and I do it all or want to. We have our niche and the arts community is too big – even if all the media gave it coverage all the time. Yes we are in competition for advertising – which in most cases we get more than they do from the visual art community, but they don’t do what we do and we don’t do what they can, beside we’re talking about daily newspapers. Get real!

I wish arts coverage was more than just a weekend section thing or Sunday thing. It should be an everyday thing. There is a lot going on out there that never gets any press. At The State alone – there could be a lot less coverage of USC’s football team and coach. And, I love football, but come on – it’s not like this team is ever a contender – even in its own conference. But I bet you no one is thinking of cutting any sports writers at The State.

What kind of coverage will the future bring? As things are going – a lot less. And, the internet is still a ways from being a complete substitute for most other media. Not really far off, but not totally there yet.

SC Arts Commission Budget Cuts – Have You Heard?

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

On Oct. 14, 2008, I posted comments wondering how the SC Arts Commission would make cuts to its budget as the State of SC was facing an almost half a billion dollar shortfall. At that time people were thinking 10% cuts were in line. In my comments, I doubted that the Commission would take much of the brunt of the cuts on themselves and made suggestions where some cuts could be made. But, I expected the real cuts to come in services to the arts and the public.

By Oct. 22, 2008, Jeffrey Day in The State newspaper in Columbia, SC, our capital city, offered an article where he used the 10% figure and offered quotes from a commission staff member that this figure might just represent the start of cuts. There wasn’t much offered in the article about any cuts the Arts Commission would make on itself.

Day often runs blocking plays for the Arts Commission so I expected as much from his article. Let’s see if he has a follow-up story on the real cuts.

Well, now I’ve heard from a source that those individuals and groups who received grants from the Arts Commission had their funds cut by 25% – 14.2% is an immediate cut and the other half will be held by the Commission – in case of further cuts down the road. If you don’t know – grantees never get all the money up front when they receive funding from the Arts Commission – so the Arts Commission always has control of the money.

This is kind of like a temporary tax issued to raise funds for a project and once the project is finished the tax is dropped, but the tax never seems to get dropped. The house never loses – they’re holding all the cards.

This same source said that the Commission for its part would be cutting its administrative budget 14.2% through a number of measures, including 4-day furloughs by all of their employees, reduction in leased vehicles, and staff reduction through attrition. They’re also going to suspend the Verner Awards for this year – one of my recommendations. More about that later.

I don’t like making comments on third party info – although I appreciate the heads up. I like to comment on public record – directly offered or in newspaper reports. So I had to wait to see if this info would become public – which isn’t always the case when it comes to the SC Arts Commission. Finally the information about the cuts was posted on the Arts Commission’s website. You can read the full details here (http://www.southcarolinaarts.com/about/fy09budgetcuts.shtml).

So let’s take a look at the cuts the Commission is making to itself.

Do you feel their pain? Four days off work without pay, but you still have your job and all the benefits that come with it. Let’s see that’s less than one week out of 52. That’s a 2% cut in salary – what a sacrifice. The length of the furloughs is not mentioned in the Arts Commission’s press release – probably for the calculation I just made, but I’ll go with my source on this one.

The Commission will reduce its leased vehicles from three to one. This means the staff will be sitting in Columbia most of the time – a plus for Columbia’s art community – not so good for the rest of the art community in SC. Of course they could drive their own cars to meet with people in the hinterlands, but we’ll see about that one. They say they are reducing most travel plans and will hold all commission meetings in Columbia. Oh no – no Commission board meeting in Charleston during the Spoleto Festival. Now there’s some real pain. So, the results here are further costs for others who have to deal with the Commission by traveling to Columbia.

They will outright cancel planned publications, other printing and mailings – meaning even less communications with the art community and public. This has to be seen as a benefit of the call for budget cuts by the Arts Commission, but didn’t their leader just win a national award from her peers for her communicating skills? Timing is everything.

And, if someone leaves their job – they won’t rehire to fill the position, but if no one leaves, they don’t do anything. Some temporary staff positions will be reduced. Who knows who they are – most people don’t know who all works for the Arts Commission to begin with. What do they all do? Remember, SC has one of the largest arts agency staffs in the region and nation.

The Commission will suspend State Art Collection purchases. That’s a big cut – I haven’t heard of any additions to the collection in years. And no Verner Awards this year! Another big sacrifice for the Commission board members.

Wait a minute – isn’t the funding for the Art Collection and the Verner Awards functions of the SC Arts Foundation – a totally separate group from the Arts Commission? What would cuts to the State agency have to do with those programs? Or are they really one in the same? What gives here? Did they fall for my little trap – trying to make people mad at me for recommending this cut, and by making it so – expose that there is no difference between the two. Why would they have to make this cut? Is the cost of the award statues and a press release posted on their website that much? Or is this a way to make the artists feel the Arts Commission’s pain. Announce the awards and give them the statue – without your party. Is the award just a product of the party?

In other words – the Arts Commission won’t be making much of a sacrifice itself, while all the people they serve will take a 25% cut – 14.2 right away and more to come if needed. I’m betting it will be needed to protect the Arts Commission from further sacrifices.

What they are doing is settling into their offices in Columbia and waiting for retirement – services be dammed.

What is it About 701 Whaley Street in Columbia, SC

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

Take the same location, some of the same supporters, the shield of being a non-profit, and what do you get? Another close-knit group of well connected people doing something that doesn’t seem to be available to others – mixing and matching the commercial sector and the non-profit sectors together.

Let’s take the old group:
701 Whaley Street (non-profit project)
Jack Gerstner – charlatan
BlueCross BlueShield – fat cats with money to give
SC Arts Commission – state arts agency
Jeffrey Day – arts writer for The State
City of Columbia (Mayor)

Here’s the new group:
701 Whaley Street (commercial project)
Wim Roefs – commercial gallery owner & freelance curator
BlueCross BlueShield – fat cats with money to give
SC Arts Commission – state arts agency
Jeffrey Day – arts writer for The State
plus people formerly connected with Columbia’s City Council and board of the Columbia Museum of Art

The building at 701 Whaley Street has vastly improved now in the hands of commercial developers.

Jack Gerstner is out of the picture I hope – still dealing with the IRS, I hope when he’s not being described as an arts angel by a local Columbia magazine.

Wim Roefs replaces Gerstner as the third of the mighty art triangle in Columbia. Roefs as the organizer, Jeffrey Day as the promotional agent, and the SC Arts Commission for official sanction and funding.

BlueCross BlueShield seems to be always waiting in the wings with funding. Have your rates gone up lately?

Gerstner seemed to have had the ear of Columbia’s Mayor until things got out of hand and the new group has the support of those well connected to Columbia’s City Council and the Columbia Museum of Art.

What more do you need to be successful? Maybe they could get the Pope’s blessings.

What burns me is that the SC Arts Commission is always telling most of the people in the commercial side of the arts that there is no room at the inn for them when it comes to funding and assistance – but this project – this new Arts Center – this new non-profit – will do nothing but benefit commercial developers and a commercial gallery owner – even with a one-year promise to not promote the artists he represents.

And, when you’ve got the support and blessings of The State newspaper – who is going to cry foul? People in Columbia have read negative things about themselves in print when they oppose the dealings of the powerful and well connected – under the protection of the local newspaper.

This is another example of a project that gets overwhelming support – because of who is behind it – while others are rebuffed on technicalities. And the current track record is mixed at best. Just take the Columbia Festival of the Arts – under the leadership of Marvin Chernoff and many of the same players; or a collaboration between the Columbia City Ballet and Jonathan Green (another Chernoff project) or the first Gallery 701 project – all highly praised and supported projects – all financial disasters.

Don’t get me wrong. This new 701 Center for Contemporary Art will probably be a good thing for the overall visual art community in Columbia and for South Carolina – at least let’s hope it will, but wouldn’t it be nice if the playing field was equal so that anyone could come with such a proposal and get the same support – or even half the support – this project is getting.

But isn’t it amazing how this new project has already received $45,000 from city accommodations and hospitality taxes, from a group that just formed – with no record of accomplishments as a group – except who they can get behind them.

That’s what’s wrong with the way the arts are supported and funded in South Carolina. It’s not what you can do – it’s who you know.

And, those people – when things fall apart – they seem to disappear into the gray areas of responsibility where they didn’t know what was going on or better yet – they didn’t know they were still being listed as a supporter. It’s one of the wonderful things about being involved with a non-profit in South Carolina – you can take all the credit for the good and have no responsibility for the bad.

Good Bye “Triennial” – Good Riddance

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Good Bye Triennial – Good Riddance (parts printed in the Editorial Commentary from the June ’08 issue of Carolina Arts)

Let me warn you this is going to be a long piece – there is a lot of material and a lot of years to cover.

On Apr. 14, 2008, Jeffrey Day in The State newspaper offered what can be only seen as a “whine” piece on the loss of the SC Arts Commission’sTriennial exhibition at the expense of the SC State Museum’s 20th Anniversary Juried Art Exhibition – which wouldn’t open at the time until Apr. 25, 2008. While Day cherry-picked comments by artists (shown in past Triennials) and curators around the state on their feelings over the loss of the Triennial or their dislike of juried shows, he almost implied that this upcoming exhibition just couldn’t be any good – before he or anyone else saw it in place. Well, he wouldn’t say it – he got others to say it for him and his buddies at the Arts Commission.

While the Triennial was always dished up as a survey or snapshot of contemporary art being made in SC – it was always a picture with the lens turned toward the SC Art Commission and how they wanted people to see art in SC. It was never really a view of the wide spectrum of art being created in SC. At times it was just a look at what college and university art professors and their favorite students where doing in SC – before many left the state for greener pastures.

If a juried exhibition is such a flawed format for a statewide exhibition – tell me why 500 artists from throughout SC, hauled 1000 works of art to the State Museum for a chance to get in the exhibit? Why would they do that?

And, the funny thing is – many of the artists who have been lucky to be selected to be in past Triennials entered their work and many got in the exhibition. The good thing – the really great thing is – many other artists who would never get a chance to be in a Triennial – also got in this exhibit. And, in my opinion – this juried exhibit is one of the best views of the type of art being created in SC. It doesn’t represent every aspect of SC’s visual art community, but like all juried shows – the jurors could only select from the works entered.

The exhibition might have drawn more entries if the jury process was done by a digital process – after all this is 2008. And, a wider variety of artists working in mediums and subjects which have been “deemed unworthy” by the SC Arts Commission might have entered work if they knew that the Arts Commission had taken their bat and ball home since the State Museum no longer was willing to let them dictate what art was going to be seen in SC. That’s why there will be no 1/2 inch full-color catalog for this exhibition. The State Museum doesn’t have the deep pockets the Arts Commission does.

The really sad thing for artists around SC is that the State Museum doesn’t have any plans for doing more statewide juried exhibitions anytime soon.

Jeffrey Day’s article seemed more like a warning to the art community than newspaper reporting. The warning is – if you don’t play ball the way the Arts Commission wants – you might get chewed up in the press. It’s not the first time he has acted as an attack dog for the Arts Commission.

The whole piece was also designed to mask the real issue – that the Arts Commission had dropped the Triennial from its project list – not the State Museum. The Museum was still offering opportunities for SC artists – all its artists.

Go see the exhibition – you’ll be glad you did. I was. And, don’t forget – most of the works in the exhibit are probably for sale. So you could go home with some great art and a piece of history, from the show that couldn’t be any good, but was.

One final thing – Jeffrey Day offered a – surprise – negative review of this exhibition on May 11, 2008. The headline was, “Too much to see, too little to appreciate”.

New comments for this blog.

With a headline like this – “Too much to see, too little to appreciate” you have to wonder why Day is an arts reporter working for one of the state’s largest newspapers. He should just go to work directly for the SC Arts Commission.

Day, like me, has a large body of opinions he has written about art in SC. I keep copies of most of his articles about the visual arts. This review is one of the strangest – it contradicts many things he has said in the past about the Triennial.

It seems his goal is to tear down the SC State Museum for substituting this statewide juried show in place of a sixth Triennial exhibition – his favorite type of exhibit. As I said earlier, the death of the Triennial can only be blamed on the Arts Commission – they pulled out of this project on the State Museum. They took their funding with them too.

You have to read the entire review to get the full impact, but you’ll have to pay The State to see a copy from their archives or go to a public library in SC – or maybe do a Google News search. The article was on Apr. 13, 2008. But let’s start with the headline, “Too much to see, too little to appreciate” .

“Too much to see”. The SC State Museum’s 20th Anniversary Juried Art Exhibition has 122 works by 116 artists (6 artists have two works each in the show). The last Triennial, shown in 2004 in the same gallery space had 128 works by 29 artists (11 only had 1 work and 3 had only 2 works). Most of the Triennials had at least 100 or more works on display.

So as I get it, according to Day – more is less. More works to see in theTriennial was easier to see than less works in the juried show. I guess because they were made by fewer people.

Day also offers early in his review this statement, “But this first-time exhibition (named for the 20th anniversary of the museum) has little to offer after the initial surprises – no depth, no context, no concept and, when it finally comes down to it, not all that much good work.”

In the State Museum’s juried show, 25 of the 116 artists included have been in one or several of the previous 5 Triennial shows. That’s 21 percent of the exhibit. And since these artists represent most of the positive comments in his review – we get the point that he really likes theTriennial. And, we get the point that he doesn’t care for a lot of the other artists’ work presented in the exhibit. They’re clearly not his kind of artists, clearly not producing the kind of art he cares for and not the kind of art which a major museum should be showing in this state – in his opinion.

Day ends his review with this statement, “As it is, this isn’t really an art exhibition. It’s a display.”

So between Day’s preview article and his review – it’s clear he doesn’t like the juried show format and the art presented in this exhibition. OK, all art is subjective. I didn’t fall in love with every work I saw either, but it also didn’t make my skin crawl as I can imagine Day’s skin was doing as he moved throughout the exhibit – seeing works by artists he didn’t know or knew but didn’t care for. After all, he knows all the important artists in the state.

Where I have a real problem with his two pieces is the comparison factor. Even though the State Museum’s show is clearly a juried exhibit – Day keeps comparing it to a curated exhibition – to the Triennials. But, I don’t see where he is coming from when he says this exhibit has – “no depth, no context, no concept…”

About half of the artists in the Triennial 2004 exhibit had only one work or at best two works in the show. Where is the depth in that? Jane Nodine had one work in the Triennial 2004 and one work in this juried exhibit. How is that different – other than Day’s point that curators pick artists’ work better than the artists do – meaning a curator would be more familiar with the context of Nodine’s work than she would. And, as you’ll read later – Nodine is a perfect example of a perfect Triennial artist.

I’ve seen these Triennial shows and even after reading the in-depth comments written in the catalogues offered – I still didn’t see any connection between what I was looking at and what was written about it. Then again, I’m not as educated as Day is on the arts. I know I can’t compare art degrees with him. It should also be noted that the SC Arts Commission didn’t offer to fund a catalogue for this exhibit like they did for the five Triennials. Perhaps that would have offered the context and concept for this exhibit.

In fact, Day makes a lot of complaints and comparisons about this juried exhibit which I haven’t seen in many exhibits offered in a lot of art museums – except when it comes to major retrospective exhibits on individual artists. And, he’s made the same complaints about otherTriennials in past reviews.

Day also offers the following questions he claims are unanswered in this exhibit, “What are the artists’ backgrounds? How many make a living from the art? How many are teachers? How many are students?” As if all those things really matter on deciding whether art is good or not.

Is Day trying to tell us he thinks that the artists who are making the most money are the best artists in this state? I never got that impression before from his writings. Do only art teachers make good art? That would be a message you would walk away with after reading the Triennial 2004catalogue. And, I guess no student art can be good enough to be in these exhibits – even though you couldn’t tell who was or was not a student by looking at the work in the exhibit. Do these questions really matter?

I have always thought that the art works should speak for themselves. Why should we have to read something to get the artists’ meaning or intention. Shouldn’t it be there in the art?

In an Apr. 19, 1992 article about the first Triennial, Day offered this criticism, “A serious omission is the lack of any text panel explaining the show. A few lines would help the viewer – and the exhibit – considerably. As it is, the viewer has no way of knowing that the artists are even from South Carolina. While the work speaks for itself, as it should, the lack of a basic introduction shows the museum and Arts Commission making too many assumptions.”

This exhibit had work included by people who have had no formal training in the arts. Should that matter? And, if it’s a factor that should count – how did they fool the jurors? They had 1000 works to select from. Should we wonder what kinds of works were in the 878 not selected – whether those works were made by artists who made a living by selling their art or teaching art, whether they were made by students or teachers, or whether they were ever in a Triennial exhibition before. Would it matter if some of the artists were former convicts, made a living as a plumber, or worse – were voting democrats?

Doesn’t the work speak for itself – as it should?

In the past we are told by the Arts Commission that the purpose of theTriennial format is to show works by “contemporary” emerging artists or artists who are not often seen. Yet many of the artists whose works have been included in the Triennials – were neither emerging or hardly artists not exposed to SC’s exhibition scene.

I’ll cherry pick one artist who represents this hypocrisy – Jane Allen Nodine – she’s sort of an Arts Commission superstar. She also entered and was selected to be in the SC State Museum’s 20th Anniversary Juried Art Exhibition. She has also been in four of the five Triennial exhibitions. Nodine has also been awarded two SC Arts Commission Fellowship awards. She’s in the State Art Collection and has benefited by many programs sponsored by the Arts Commission. Nodine is an art professor at the University of South Carolina – Upstate in Spartanburg, SC, and is also the director of the USC-Upstate art gallery. She is a well exposed artists with a lot of connections.

Nodine is also a very good artist. I’m not attacking her as an artist or someone who has taken advantage of every opportunity available to her. My problems is that she is one of a very small group of artists which the Arts Commission seems to be focused on – at the expense of many others who just don’t seem to get the same exposure.

Just to show you how well exposed Nodine was in exhibitions, I went to her website and copied the list of exhibits she has participated in from 1978 – 2004, the last year the Triennial took place. Among this long list are 32 exhibits which took place in SC alone. And, as you will see there are many more – all over the region, nation, and out of the country. She was hardly a case of being either emerging or not often seen.

2004
traces, solo installation, University of South Carolina McMaster Gallery of Art, Columbia, SC

Figure 8; Lee Hall Gallery, Clemson University, Clemson, SC

Southeastern Louisiana University Invitational, SLU, Hammond, LA

SECAC 2004 Members Exhibition, Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, Jacksonville, FL

TRIENNIAL 2004, South Carolina Arts Commission & South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC

2003
Digital Exhibition, WomanMADE Gallery, Chicago, ILL

SECAC 2003 Members Exhibition, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Tribute to Trees, Outdoor Sculpture Invitational, Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC

2002
traces, solo Installation, Thompson Gallery of Furman University, Greenville, SC

traces, solo installation, Milliken Gallery, Spartanburg County Museum of Art, Spartanburg, SC

Vision’s International Competition, Art Center Waco, Waco, TX

Photo-Based Competition Exhibition, WomanMADE Gallery, Chicago, IL

A Sense of Place; Continuity and Change in the New South, Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art, Augusta, GA

SECAC 2002 Members Exhibition, Gulf Coast Exploreum, University of Alabama, Mobile

2001
Spartanburg Views Winterthur, Artist Photographer Exchange, Spartanburg Museum of Art, Spartanburg, SC

Spartanburg Views Winterthur, Artist Photographer Exchange, Alte Kaserne, Winterthur, Switzerland

SECAC 2001 Members Exhibition, South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC

TRIENNIAL 2001, South Carolina Arts Commission & South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC

Winterthur Artist Photographer Exchange; Alte Kaserne, Winterthur, Switzerland

2000
American Identities, Gibson Gallery, The Art Museum of State University of New York College, Potsdam, NY

What is Drawing Now, Weber State University, Ogden, UT

34th Annual National Drawing & Small Sculpture Show, Del Mar College, Corpus Christi, TX

SECAC 2000 Members Exhibition, Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville, KY

Upstairs Photography Biennial, NC & SC competition, Upstairs Gallery, Tryon, NC

Views from the Edge, Computer Art-Future Art, Florence Museum of Art, Florence, SC

1999
USC International Digital Works on Paper Competition, McKissick Museum of Art, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Sanctity of the Family, Hunger Artist Gallery, Albuquerque, NM

33rd National Drawing & Sculpture Competition, Del Mar College, Corpus Christi, TX

Womanscape ’99 National Competition, Collier County Arts Council, Village Galleries, Naples, FL

SECAC 1999 Members Exhibition, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA

Southern Visions Photography Competition of SC and NC, York County Museum of Art, Rock Hill, SC

100 Years; 100 Artists, South Carolina State Museum & South Carolina Arts Commission, Columbia, SC

SELECTIONS from 100 Years; 100 Artists, Bank of America Plaza, Columbia, SC

Potent Figures, Views from the Edge of the Century, Winthrop University Galleries, Rock Hill, SC

1998
contentions, solo exhibition, Slocumb Galleries, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN

Paper Constructions, solo exhibitions, Georgia Southern University, Statesville, GA

Manipulated Photography, solo exhibition, USC Spartanburg
Americas 2000, Works on Paper, Minot State University, Minot, ND

Women’s Art Works 7, Bausch & Lomb Inc., Rochester, NY

Paper Works: On and of Paper, University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL

32nd National Drawing & Small Sculpture Exhibition, Del Mar College, Corpus Christi, TX

Mixed-Media National, Slidell Cultural Center, Slidell, LA

Drawn from Nature, Dalton Galleries, Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, GA

98 Photography Biennial Exhibition of NC & SC, The Upstairs Gallery, Tryon, NC

VOICES, 701 Gallery, Columbia, SC

TRIENNIAL ’98 South Carolina Arts Commission & the South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC

TRIENNIAL ’98 Satellite Exhibit, NationsBank Plaza Gallery, Columbia, SC

1997
connections, solo exhibition, Appalachian Center for Crafts, Smithville, TN

BANG! The Gun as Image, 621 Gallery and Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

1996
connections, solo exhibition, University of Arkansas, Monticello, AK

Scissors, Paper, Stone, Lexington Art League, Lexington, KY

Women’s Art Works 6, Women’s Foundation, Rochester, NY

Lagrange National XIX Biennial, Chattahoochee Valley Art Museum, Lagrange, GA

Visionary Women National, WomanMade Gallery, Chicago, IL

Icons National, 800 East Gallery, Atlanta, GA

Rutgers National ’96 Works on Paper, State University of New Jersey, Rutgers, Camden, NJ

Women by Women Invitational, Salem College Art Gallery, Winston-Salem, NC

A’ LA ALBERS, Black Mountain College in CONTEXT, Context Alternative Space, Charlotte, NC

KY/SC/nyc Invitational, The National Arts Club, New York, NY

1995
Wichita National 1995, Wichita center for the Arts, Wichita, KS

Through the Looking Glass National, Photography Exhibit, Fuller Lodge Gallery, Los Alamos, NM

Texas National ’95, Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX

Texas National ’95, Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX, Second Place Cash Award, Leon Golub, Juror

1994
28th National Drawing & Small Sculpture Show, Del Mar College, Corpus Christi, TX

LaGrange National Biennial XVIII, Chattahoochee Valley Art Museum, LaGrange, GA

Visual Voices; The Female, University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL

Dakotas International Exhibition of Artwork on Paper, University of South Dakota, Vermilion, SD

1993
Wichita National 1993, Wichita Center for the Arts, Wichita, KS

27th National Drawing & Small Sculpture Show , Del Mar College, Corpus Christi, TX

Americas 2000: Works on Paper, Minot State University, Minot, ND

14th Annual Paper In Particular, Columbia College, Columbia, MO

Revising Boundaries: Southern Women Artists, 1993 CAA Conference, Seattle, WA

1992
Jane Nodine Solo Exhibit, Meteor Gallery, Columbia, SC

Art by Women in the South, Havens Galleries, Columbia, SC

Kentucky/South Carolina Exchange Exhibition, South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC

TRIENNIAL ’92, South Carolina Arts Commission & South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC

TRIENNIAL ’92 Traveling Exhibition, Gibbes Museum, Charleston, SC & Stanback Museum, Orangeburg, SC

South Carolina Expressions, Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC

Southern Exposure, 101 Wooster Street, DNC Exhibition Space, New York, NY

1991
Kentucky Exhibition of South Carolina Artists, Owensboro Museum, Owensboro, KY

This Year’s Model: Upstate Artists, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC

1990
Southeastern Juried Exhibition, Fine Arts Museum of the South, Mobile, AL

40th Annual Exhibition, Guild of South Carolina Artists, SC State Museum, Columbia, SC

South Carolina Arts Commission Artists Fellowship Retrospective, SC State Museum, Columbia, SC

1988
Ten Years of Southeast Seven, SECCA Fellowship Retrospective, Winston-Salem, NC

1985
5th Biennial Paper and Clay Exhibition, Memphis State University, Memphis, TN

Gallery Artists Exhibition, Heath Gallery, Atlanta, GA

South Carolina Arts Commission Annual Competition, Gibbes Museum, Charleston, SC

1984
Rutgers National Works on Paper, Rutgers University, Camden, NJ

Women in the Mainstream, National Women’s Art Exhibition, 1984 Worlds Fair, New Orleans, LA

31st Arts Festival of Atlanta, Traveling Exhibition, Atlanta and Southeast

25th Annual Springs Mills Traveling Exhibition, North and South Carolina

1983
SPAR National Art Exhibition, SPAR Gallery, Shreveport, LA

4th Biennial Paper and Clay Exhibition, Memphis State University, Memphis, TN

11th National Exhibition of Works on Paper, Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville, VA

Second Annual Spoleto Arts Competition, Marble Arch Gallery, Charleston, SC

2-D National, Angels Gate Cultural Center, San Pedro, CA

Drawing Southeast, Arts Festival of Atlanta Invitational, Atlanta, GA

1982
Southeastern Spectrum, R.J. Reynolds Gallery, Winston-Salem, NC

On of and About Paper, Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC

Magic in Art Invitational, Spirit Square, Charlotte, NC

23rd Annual Springs Mills Traveling Exhibition, North and South Carolina

Anuszkiewicz Shows and Selects, Marble Arch Gallery, Charleston, SC

1981
5th National Drawing Exhibition, State University College, Potsdam, NY

9th Annual Exhibition of Prints and Drawings, Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville, VA

Southeast Seven IV NEA/SECCA Artist Fellowship Exhibition, SECCA Winston-Salem, NC

Southeast Seven IV, Traveling Exhibition, Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL

WEEA Project Invitational, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

22nd Annual Springs Mills Traveling Exhibition, North and South Carolina

1980
Mixmaster National Mixed Media Traveling Exhibition, Kentucky Arts Commission, Louisville, KY

Appalachian National Drawing Competition, Appalachian State University, Boone NC

1979
Art on Art of Paper Art, Illinois State University, Normal, IL

Southeastern Invitational Paper Exhibition, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

Mint Biennial Exhibition of Piedmont Painting and Sculpture, Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC

1978
SECCA 46th Drawing, Photography & Print Competition, SECCA, Winston-Salem, NC

12th Dulin National Print and Drawing Competition, Dulin Gallery, Knoxville, TN

Nodine is just one of the many reasons I’m glad the Triennial is dead, but I’m concerned that they are already drawing up new plans for a new format to feature the same group of artists – over and over again. Frankly, I don’t think the SC Arts Commission should be presenting any exhibitions.

I know this is upsetting to Jeffrey Day, as it seems like he has lived from one Triennial to the next – as if he was a part of them himself. Which he may have been.

In an article Day wrote for The State on Dec. 14, 1997, he describes what it was like to be the only other person to view the slides entered forTriennial ’98, other than the jurors and Arts Commission staff members. He goes on to say he made a list of 88 artists out of the 270 who had entered – who were “worth looking at more”. Once the 35 artists were selected to be in the Triennial – Day gives readers his 2 cents worth and gives the exhibit his stamp of approval with this statement, “Looking at the list makes me feel very good about art in South Carolina”. That’s the list the jurors made.

It just seems to me Day has just too cozy a relationship with the people he is supposed to be reporting on objectively.

But, like most of us who follow Day’s writings know, his mood can change quickly. When he gets around to reviewing the Triennial ’98 exhibition in an article on June 21, 1998 in The State, he offers this final summation: “The exhibit provides a look at artists who haven’t shown much in South Carolina; it also brings back artists we’ve seen often, who aren’t doing much new; and introduces some who aren’t ready to be seen. While this year’s show is stronger than the previous three, it is still amazing how much undeveloped work finds its way into the exhibit. It’s always difficult for anyone who is intimate with the state’s art scene to view shows like this without a little cynicism and frustration about the good artists who didn’t get in the show. In the end, what this exhibit shows – which is what it should show – is that regardless of what anyone may say to the contrary, there’s good art being made in South Carolina.”

I think this statement says a lot about Day. First, he would like to be in the position to select who would be shown and who wouldn’t. After all, he made his list of 88 worthy artists. He also feels he knows all the good artists out there. And, it also shows he doesn’t keep track of things too well. This Triennial was the third version – there were only two previous exhibitions in 1992 and 1995. And, you have to wonder what happened between the day he looked at the entry slides and when he made the statement that this was a good list of artists. Perhaps the curators selected the wrong works to show. Could that happen?

The thing is, Day’s mood changes and he has been inconsistent in his support of this exhibit format. He’s currently in the – I can’t believe there will never be another Triennial and there will never be anything worthy of replacing it – mood.

By the time 2001 rolled around Day’s mood about the Triennials was still cool and the public’s taste for them had soured too. In an article titled, “ATriennial Simply Isn’t Enough” written for The State on June 17, 2001, Day states: “With the dearth of venues in South Carolina where the state’s best artists can exhibit, the once-every-three-year survey of the state’s art at the State Museum – the Triennial – just isn’t enough.”

Day goes on to write, “The current Triennial is refreshing with much srong work, but enthusiasm for it has not been high. This might be because the museum and the co-sponsor, the SC Arts Commission, did almost no promotion.” Adding, “It might be because there are so many new artists in the show. Those who have long supported the show, be they artists or patrons, stayed away because the work is unknown and everyone is more comfortable with the known.”

Now there’s a couple of gems. The show is failing to attract viewers due to a lack of promotion and the show’s regular supporters stayed away – because they did not know the artists or the work being presented. So people have to be sold to go see this show with a big promotional campaign and supporters are not interested in seeing it unless it includes the same old artists they like and know. This is the Triennial he’s talking about. The greatest show on earth.

Day offers his review of the exhibition in another article offered that same day on June 17, 2001. That’s because at The State – they seem to only offer arts coverage in Sunday’s paper. In this article Day writes: “As is usually the case, this year’s Triennial is not sharply focused. Still the exhibit at the State Museum provides a fair representation of our art at this particular moment.”

Wait a minute – “As is usually the case, this year’s Triennial is not sharply focused.” Isn’t that one of the complaints Day makes about the current juried show being featured at the State Museum? But in 2001, Day says that up to that point (four Triennials) they have not been focused either.

In Day’s review of the SC State Museum’s 20th Anniversary Juried Art Exhibition, one of his main complaints it that the exhibit has – “no depth, no context, no concept”. So what, apparently neither have the Triennials – according to Day.

He goes on in the 2001 review to say, “If all the works are not tightly connected, one nonetheless can find webs of continuity throughout the gallery.”

Well, here’s another revelation – if you go to see an exhibit that you already have negative feeling about – you won’t see anything positive. But, if you’re trying to find something good about an exhibit format that you want to support – you’ll look hard to find the silver lining – the webs of continuity.

This is the core reason readers of art news presented in The Statenewspaper have a hard time figuring from article to article where Jeffrey Day is coming from – hot then cold – about the same issues – never a bit of consistency to hold on to – other than his desire to protect the Arts Commission, promote contemporary art (his version of it) and keep happy what few friends he has in the art community in SC. It’s not easy being an arts writer – you never know who your friends really are. I know – believe me