Posts Tagged ‘Johnsonville SC’

Checking Out Another Cultural Offering in the Pee Dee in Johnsonville, SC

Monday, August 5th, 2013

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Linda and I made an early scamper up Hwy. 52 to Lake City, SC, and then to Johnsonville, SC – just 20 minutes to the east to check out the 2nd Artisan Outpost event at the old library building in Johnsonville. We had overbooked the day and needed to get back home early to entertain grandchildren. So we were going to be spending a little more time in the car than on the ground, but in the short hour we were there – we saw what it was all about and learned something too.

When we got to Lake City I took a short cut and Linda remarked that I was getting to know that town very well – as I should, as I think of it as the new Gateway to the Pee Dee. I won’t trademark that so the tourism folks are free to use it, but I guess if you’re coming from a different direction other than Bonneau, SC, headquarters of PSMG, Inc., who produce Carolina Arts, it doesn’t make much sense. So, it’s just my gateway to the Pee Dee. Of course if I ever find something worth seeing in Kingstree, SC, that could change.

But here’s a hint to Lake City. If you ever want me to stop in Lake City, as I’m passing through, you’re going to have to open something up on the weekend.

Anyway, we arrived in Johnsonville in about an hour and 20 minutes – a little early, before the event was scheduled to open but I’ve found that no one seems to mind if the press shows up early. We were welcomed by Jackie Stasney, an artist who makes jewelry and is also the driving force behind the Artisan Outpost.

I took some photos which are presented here, but they are not the best they could be. I was under some duress as to what I could accomplish in an hour. Can I talk to folks – something that tends to get me sidetracked and forget to take photos. If I just took photos it would make the artists nervous – thinking I was another artist who had no original ideas of his own – snapping pics to steal all their ideas. In the end, I got a look at everything, talked with a few folks and then ran into Jane Madden – who we have a long history with in sharing ideas in promoting the artists of the Pee Dee. So the serious talking began, but before I knew it Linda was acting as my walk-up alarm – which had gone off twice – when she just said, “we have to go!” And, go we did, but I do have some observations to share with those who care to read them.

First, if the Artisan Outpost event is to continue, and I think it will – they have had great success with the first two events (considering this last one was competing with tax-free weekend in SC) the city of Johnsonville would do well to invest in a couple of banners to drape across a few of the town’s crossroads announcing that the Artisan Outpost takes place on the first Saturday of the month. This would let everyone who passes through the area know about the event. That’s a small investment to help develop some cultural tourism. A few more signs like the one shown here placed where people need to turn to find the old library would also help.

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Although there is a great mix of items offered, all handmade, that you would normally find at flea markets, farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and even in fine art galleries – a few more items would really round things out. I think a local potter who makes functional wares would be an excellent addition to the Artisan Outpost offerings. This month they had a sweetgrass basket maker, Jennifer Mazyck, from Mt. Pleasant, SC, which brings up the idea of inviting one special artisan from outside the Pee Dee every event to give locals a look at something they may not see locally – to keep them coming back. After awhile seeing the same items offered – event after event, may grow stale for the folks who live in Johnsonville or nearby. A monthly invited guest artisan would shake things up and keep them fresh, but they may have already thought of this.

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Now it should be noted that in this eclectic mix, there were a few things you might not see at any of the afore mentioned venues – anywhere. Jim Gleason’s musical creations – made from recycled parts of musical instruments can’t be found just anywhere. I get around a lot but I’ve never run across baskets made from recycled magazines which Joyce McDaniel makes. And, the big unexpected find of the hour for me was John Siderio, who was offering knives, arrowheads and arrows all made from chipped stones and other natural items – like animal gut.

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Siderio who moved to South Carolina from Linden, TN, used to travel the craft fair circuit for 20 years, has just joined the Artisan Outpost group, and I found his display to be the most interesting – this day. I’m not even sure what you would call him – a flint worker, stone chipper, or what, but other than the stones (which come from all over the world) all or most of his items he said came from his back yard. He makes his items the way Native Americans did hundreds and thousands of years ago. And, like those Native Americans he uses everything offered from nature and wastes no part of anything.

While we were talking with him, Siderio demonstrated how you would break a chip off a rock, use natural tools to make a saw that could cut a tree branch or a tool to skin an animal. He loves his craft, loves talking about it and loves showing folks who would take the time – how it was done. You can’t do this with just any stone, but the chips he got off of those stones were like razor blades.

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I know some re-enactor folks who would love to shop at Siderio’s display. He doesn’t have a website, so there is no online shopping so you’ll have to go to Johnsonville’s first Saturday Artisan Outpost to see his hand-crafted items. If the zombie takeover ever comes John Siderio will be a survivor for sure. If you see yourself as a survivor – you might want to check out Siderio’s knives and arrow heads.

Jackie Stasney, with the help of Johnsonville city leaders, have created a wonderful event for locals and tourists alike which I feel will only get better and better as word gets out. Jane Madden who has assisted them in promoting the event is also one of the artisans offering silk scarves.

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I’m sure I’ll be back for a longer stay, and it sure would be nice to have something to check out in Lake City at the same time, but that will come in time. Before you know it SC will have a new heritage trail around the Pee Dee for folks to explore.

The next Artisan Outpost will take place on Sept. 7, 2013, from 11am to 5pm. And, if you go – don’t forget to pay your respects to General Francis Marion over at Venter’s Landing in Johnsonville where Alex Palkovich’s statue rests. It was men like Marion and other men from the Johnsonville area who saved us from having to get all excited about a royal baby being born. Oh wait, that happens now anyway. Why – I’m not sure.

For more information, to volunteer, or to participate, persons may contact Jackie Stasney at 843/621-1751 or visit the Artisan Outpost Facebook page at (https://www.facebook.com/artisanoutpostjohnsonvillesc).

Second Artisan Outpost in Johnsonville, SC, Takes Place – Aug. 3, 2013

Monday, July 29th, 2013

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One of the newest entries onto the arts landscape in South Carolina is the Artisan Outpost established in Johnsonville, SC. The venture combines the charm of an old-fashioned market day with cultural and visual arts. Held in and around the old library at 151 East Marion Street, the Artisan Outpost is an example of cooperation between artists and their city’s officials who provide the building and assist with general operation. Headed up by local artist, Jackie Stasney, the Artisan Outpost had a very successful opening day in July and aims to repeat that once each month. Saturday, Aug. 3 from 11am to 5pm is the next event.

The Artisan Outpost complements economic development efforts to attract visitors to Johnsonville. The City made headlines recently when it installed a world-class bronze sculpture of Revolutionary War hero, General Francis Marion, by well-known sculptor, Alex Palkovich, at Venter’s Landing on the edge of Johnsonville on Highway 51. History buffs know this as the spot where Marion received his commission in the Williamsburg militia in 1780. Canoeists, on the other hand, have a beautiful location to launch an exploration of the river that is nearby.

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The Artisan Outpost has an expanded line-up for Aug. 3 with a combination of demonstrations and selling. To accommodate everyone, artists will be found inside and out. Demonstrations will include the very popular, Meck Hartfield, President and Librarian of the Philip Simmons Artist Blacksmith Guild, returning with his forge to show both the practicality and artistry possible in the hands of a master craftsman. John Siderio, from Conway and new to the Artisan Outpost, is a master flintknapper and will be outside demonstrating this ancient skill. Spurred on by a childhood interest in arrowheads, he has spent the last 20 years practicing flintknapping and other primitive technologies. For gun enthusiasts, this is the technique used to create flints for the old flintlock rifle. Jennifer Mazyck of Mt. Pleasant will also be on hand demonstrating the construction of the traditional South Carolina sweetgrass basket. Baskets will also be available for purchase. Inside, as time allows, Jane Madden will demonstrate Shibori techniques she uses to produce patterns on fiber.

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Participating artists and artisans encompass a wide spectrum of creative endeavors, as well as expected elements of a traditional market. Jim Gleason, retired Marine and accomplished musical instrument technician from Florence, takes his technical expertise to another realm by fashioning sculptures and lamps from the parts and pieces of brass and woodwind instruments no longer able to be repaired. His work has shown at exhibits and galleries around South Carolina.

Unlike a traditional art show, many of the participating artists show their works on items having practical utility. Paintings are done on pillow cases, clothing, and glass such as the work of local artists Pat Singletary and Mary Lynn Hope or on bird houses such as those done by Taylor Burkett. More traditional visual arts are represented by watercolorist, John Cribb, Leslie Belflower who uses regular canvas, as well as gourds as the basis for many of her pieces, and Fred Riales, painter, and 3-D artist who works in shells. Connie Hartley, from Johnsonsville, will be showing her work in ceramics. Jackie Stasney will be displaying her original gemstone jewelry pieces, Monica Moore from Myrtle Beach, will display jewelry in a vintage style, and Elizabeth Eaddy will show the upcycling trend with her bottlecap jewelry.
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Fiber artists include: Karen Martinez, Lake City, and Janice Green, quilters, Lavonia Olsen, crochet, Jane Madden, Florence, experiments in surface design on silk, Joyce McDaniel, the transformation of magazines into bowls, Stephanie Gore, wreaths, and Chrissy Smith who produces intricate beaded designs. Teri Kooper will also be there with her handmade cards.

Culinary arts are represented by: Dianne Moen, traditional canned goods, Debbie Hanna, baking, and Sherise Jackell, who specializes in homemade treats for canines.

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Woodworkers include: Ed Palumbo, working with reclaimed lumber, Alex Miles, wood and metal signs, Ron Stephan, plaques, and Tom Stasney, traditional Williamsburg apple tree forms.

Rounding out the line-up for the diverse market approach is Becky Ratz of Camden with her hand-molded soaps and plant specialists Sally Haynes and Barbara Matthews. Fresh produce will be available from Marvin Russ. A traditional South Carolina chicken bog will be available on-site for lunch.

The complete list of participating artists include: Jim Gleason, Mary Lynn Hope, Chrissy Smith, Jennifer Mazyck, Dianne Moen, John Siderio, Meck Hartfield, Fred Riales, Leslie Belflower, Jackie Stasney, Teri Kooper, Taylor Burkett, Pat Singletary, John Cribb, Connie Hartley, Monica  Moore, Elizabeth Eaddy, Karen Martinez, Janice Green, Lavonia Olsen, Joyce McDaniel, Stephanie Gore, Debbie Hanna, Sherise Jackell, Ed Palumbo, Alex Miles, Ron Stephan, Tom Stasney, Jane Madden, and Becky Ratz.

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If you go to Johnsonville don’t forget to visit General Francis Marion at Venter’s Landing and you could also visit the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC.

For more information, to volunteer, or to participate, persons may contact Jackie Stasney at 843/621-1751 or visit the Artisan Outpost Facebook page at (https://www.facebook.com/).

My Grande Tour of the Pee Dee Area of South Carolina – May 18, 2013

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Sorry for the delay – our June 2013 issue got in the way.

May 18, 2013, was one of those Saturdays where I could accomplish a number of things in one sweep of the Pee Dee area of SC. First up was a visit to downtown Lake City, SC, a month after the big ArtFields event to see what was going on as well as a visit to Moore Farms Botanical Garden, just outside of Lake City, which was having May Days – a tour of the Garden, a plant sale and a BBQ lunch.

Next was a trip to Venters Landing, just outside of Johnsonville, SC, about 20 miles east of Lake City where the town was celebrating its 100th anniversary with a dedication of a statue by Alex Palkovich (Florence, SC) of General Francis Marion – the Swamp Fox.

My final stop was the new location of the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, to see how that area – a new developing arts district in SC, was coming along. I hadn’t been there in some time.

Lake City A Month Later

If the goal of millionaire philanthropist Darla Moore is to remake Lake City into a destination for art lovers or whatever – she still has a lot of work ahead of her to get the town on board. I drove down Main Street twice, once at 9:30am and again at 4pm. And, as Dickens might say – this city was as dead as Jacob Marley. Both times, there were many more empty parking spaces than those with cars in them. Hardly anyone was walking the streets that just a month ago were filled with visitors. It looked like some event was going to happen at The Bean Market and on The Green, but later by 4pm – no one was in sight.

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Lake City is still working on banker’s hours – Mon.-Fri. which isn’t going to work if they want people to come there when most have time to go visiting – on the weekend. This is a chicken comes first before the egg moment. Lake City merchants will have to open their doors on the weekend giving tourists a reason to come. Only the retired have time to travel mid-week.

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I expected that this would be the case. The transformation of Lake City won’t happen overnight, but I hate to see them not take advantage of the buzz the ArtFields event generated. Of course that buzz had a bit of buzz-kill attached to it with the unfortunate news that they had to suspend the original People’s Choice winner and taking an agonizing week to name the new winner. But my trip wasn’t wasted. I learned from a flyer on the door of the Jones-Carter building that on June 21, 2013, the new Jones-Carter Gallery will present agriART, featuring an exhibit of works by Joshua Vaughan, Mark Conrardy, (both participated in ArtFields) and an installation by Vassiliki Falkehag, which will be on view through Aug. 26, 2013. I hope there will be Saturday hours and maybe even some on Sunday in the future, but for now it’s a Mon.-Fri. facility.

It’s been some time since I’ve seen or heard of anything from Vassiliki Falkehag who did an installation with tobacco seeds and plants – many years ago.

Moore Farms Botanical Garden

I’m an adventurous traveler, and I’ve done a lot of it in the past 30 years. Sometimes I’m very prepared and sometimes I just wing it. I wish I had prepared to find Moore Farms Botanical Garden. This was not one of my better efforts at finding someplace that I had never been to before. And, I’ll admit that most of my problems were my own fault. Firstly I did not check the location on Google Maps before I left home and secondly not knowing how to use my iPhone better, and being a man – not wanting to ask for directions.

In my defense I wasn’t getting much help from Lake City, which I would described as sign-challenged. One of the complaints I heard from many people attending ArtFields was how hard it was to find locations. And although Moore Farms Botanical Garden is a few miles outside of Lake City, I would expect that there would be signs helping visitors locate it, but I learned about that later. Not much was open in Lake City, but I eventually went to the Lake City Post Office and got the directions I needed.

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Grass and steel sculpture by Herb Parker

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Moore Farms Botanical Garden was the location of one of the invited installations presented during ArtFields so I assumed that it would be one of the attractions drawing folks to Lake City, but I’m not sure. When I got there one of the first things I asked was what their normal hours were and the person responded they are only open four times a year for special occasions like ArtFields and May Days, which was today. That’s too bad, as it would definitely be a draw to Lake City, but I later heard one of the staff tell someone that if they got together ten folks for a tour – they would open for them. This was a little hard to understand. If they will open for a group of ten, why not stay open, promote the place and perhaps see hundreds of folks during a weekend?

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Tourism is a bitch – be careful what you wish for, but if you want it you have to cater to it.

Moore Farms Botanical Garden is a great place, but the main problem might be that it is also one of Darla Moore’s homes. Not many people want to live inside an attraction. But you can learn more about what they offer to the public and how to book a tour for 10 on their website (http://www.moorefarmsbg.org/). I’ll let some photos do the rest of my talking.

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A side view of The Greenhouse – not where they grow plants, but a green building

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This is on the roof of The Green House

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Honoring the Swamp Fox in Johnsonville, SC

I did do my homework on Johnsonville, as I had never been there before and didn’t want to end up in Myrtle Beach, SC, before I realized I missed it or end up in the middle of some swamp – like the British.

I first learned about this statue of Francis Marion back in Jan. 2011, during one of my visits to the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, in a conversation with Alex Palkovich, the sculptor who shared space with the gallery and still does today in their new location. He told me a story about a small town in SC doing a big thing by honoring General Francis Marion with a statue at the site where he received his commission to lead the Williamsburgh Militia during the Revolutionary War at what was then called Witherspoon’s Ferry on the Lynches River.

You can read my first post about this project at this link.

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But today (May 18, 2013) was the long awaited dedication day. It was the main reason I was on this tour. You see, I really like Francis Marion, he’s a true American hero of the Revolutionary War – a war South Carolina should pay more attention to than one that didn’t turn out so well.

That’s Yankee talk to most here in the South, but as I’ve stated before, my ancestors didn’t have a stake in that war – they were too busy running from their English or Prussian overlords.

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Revolutionary War encampment

Besides, I had received an official invite to attend this event by Johnsonville Mayor Steve Dukes, who had come across my blog post about Palkovich and the Francis Marion statue. He was looking for someone outside of the Pee Dee to come to the event without much luck. You see, the media and most folks in the bigger cities in SC don’t care about much that isn’t going on it their cities. I was already planning on going so I was an easy invite.

May 18, 2013 was also the 100th anniversary of Johnsonville, so like many other small towns it was going to be a big event – to scale. Plus many of the folks who still live in the area are kin to the men who followed Marion through the swamps of the region giving the British nightmares.

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A project like this had a lot of help from a lot of groups and organizations so there were a lot of folks to thank and politicians on hand to give speeches on a hot day. Unfortunately or fortunately, part of the festivities included free helicopter rides which kept flying over the area about every 5 minutes and a train went by – just 100 yards away – so we didn’t have to hear much of what was being said by the politicians. Most people there, like me, wanted to see the Swamp Fox.

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Alex Palkovich with some of the re-enactors

The New Art Trail Gallery

From Johnsonville I headed to Florence, SC, on Hwy. 51 through another area I’ve never been to – going through Pamplico, SC. I’ve seen that name on highway signs many a time, but never had a reason to go there. It looked like a nice small southern town.

Florence is a town I’ve been to a lot. It’s just two hours away and I’ve passed through it or near it many a time going into North Carolina to deliver papers. Over the last two or three years I’ve been traveling to the Art Trail Gallery to see shows by regional artists. During the last year they moved to a new location which I had not been to, but that would end on this day. Unfortunately, they were getting ready to display a new exhibit,Photolicious, which is on view now through June 15, 2013. Many of the works were stacked up on the floor, so I did get to see most of what would be that exhibit. There are a lot of talented photographers in the Pee Dee.

This new space on West Evans Street is smaller than their first location on Dargan Street, but it’s still in an area which will be the growing arts district in Florence. Francis Marion University has a performing arts center in the area, a new Florence Museum is being built, and many buildings in the area are being redone, but walking on West Evans I smelled East Bay Street in Charleston, SC. It had that same old musty smell that East Bay had 35-40 years ago. Now it’s one of the hottest spots in Charleston. But, it’s going to take awhile before that smell disappears on West Evans. Some might say it’s the smell of revitalization.

But you could see work going on all over the area. A new  small park was there and people were working on another small landscaped area – dressing up the area. I took a few pictures.

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Some people ask me, “What’s with all this attention you’ve been giving the Pee Dee?” I’m sure the folks in the Pee Dee see it another way – more like what took someone so long to notice us, but in SC, traditionally there are only three cities – Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville/Spartanburg (which are two distinctly different cities). Not much else matters to most others who live in SC. But there’s a lot more to SC than meets most people’s eyes and ears.

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Soon to be the new Florence Museum

To me, the Pee Dee is the next growth area for the arts in South Carolina. It’s got a long way to go, but a lot of good folks are working hard to make it a place – you should go see. They’re hungry for respect and the recognition they haven’t been given for generations. And, it’s kind of in my backyard. Over the last 26 years I’ve seen lots of the other three areas of the State – my eye is looking for new areas to discover and promote.

So, keep an eye on Carolina Arts and we’ll let you know how things are going in the Pee Dee, and with luck it won’t be as hard as the British looking for the old Swamp Fox.

Florence, SC, Sculptor Alex Palkovich Keeps Legend of The Swamp Fox Alive

Friday, January 21st, 2011

One of my encounters last Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, during the opening reception of the exhibit, A Celebration of Many Talents: Artisans of the Cotton Trail & the Tobacco Trail, on view  through Mar. 4, 2011, at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, was with Alex Palkovich. He is a sculptor who has a studio which shares space with the Art Trail Gallery in the old Kimbrell’s building at 135 South Dargan Street.

We talked about his friend Jack Dowis’ wonderful paintings that fill the walls of his studio, various projects he is involved in and the upcoming installation of a very large statue of Francis Marion and his horse “Ball” soon to be found at Venters Landing, just north of Johnsonville, SC, which is the historical site where Marion received his commission to lead the Williamsburgh Militia during the Revolutionary War at what was then called Witherspoon’s Ferry on the Lynches River.

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The statue will be 10.5 ft. wide and 7 ft. tall, just less than 3 times life size, placed on an 11ft. tall pedestal. We don’t have the exact date for the installation, but we’ll let you know when we know.

Apparently Palkovich is a big fan of The Swamp Fox and so am I.

My first knowledge of Francis Marion came in my youth through watching TV back in Michigan – the Walt Disney TV Series The Swamp Fox, played by none other than Leslie Nielsen. Set during the American Revolution, the show relates the exploits of Francis Marion (Disney style), an American general nicknamed “The Swamp Fox,” as he attempts to thwart British advances in the South with his loyal band of rebel soldiers. In this series his men called him Fran. And, one of his sidekicks was Sergeant Jasper. Leave it to Disney to run fast and loose with history.

Days after one of the episodes would air the kids around my neighborhood would be singing, “Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, Tail on his hat, nobody knows where the Swamp Fox is at…” that’s about all we could remember of the song, but we’d sing it for hours trampling through a patch of woods near our neighborhood – acting like it was a dangerous swamp – full of “gaders”, snakes and red coats.

Now, I live in Berkeley County where the real Francis Marion is buried.

I’ve never been to Johnsonville. My travels have never taken me in that direction. It’s in another one of those parts of South Carolina – not many people know about – because it’s not located near one of the major highways. But, I’m going to go there when this statue is installed. Palkovich says you’ll be able to see it from two miles away as you approach the landing where it will be placed.

Now, I know a lot of folks will be wondering, “Why place such an important statue way out in the middle of nowhere?” But that’s the beauty of it all. Way out in the middle of nowhere is where The Swamp Fox took the British troops chasing him – so he could pick them off – one by one. Before long, there was a big part of South Carolina’s back country where the British didn’t dare go. The Swamp Fox and his men broke down the British supply lines and communications.

Of course the folks in Johnsonville, who raised the $100,000 for this project are hoping a lot of folks will be coming to their community to see The Swamp Fox to learn more about one of the pivotal characters of the Americans winning the Revolutionary War. Marion and his band of militia tied up the British in South Carolina for so long it gave General Washington time to reorganize the American army. And, any town that can raise $100,000 for a statue of Francis Marion is not “nowhere” in my book.

In real life Francis Marion was no Disney character – no way close. Leslie Nielsen, cut a handsome figure of a man – 6ft. plus. Marion was 5ft. tall and I’ve never heard the word handsome used to describe him, but he did the job. Of course now years later it’s hard for me to get a picture of Leslie Nielsen in my head without it being one from one of his later – less heroic movies. And, I just have to laugh.

There are no pictures of Francis Marion, but Palkovich has given him a face we can believe in – a face of a hero riding a fierce looking steed – a horse Marion stole from a Tory rival.

You can see more of Alex Palkovich’s works at his website (http://www.alexpalkovich.com/) and installed around the Florence, SC, area.

Hey, maybe one of Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s relatives can come and finally find The Swamp Fox when he’s stuck up on a pedestal.