Posts Tagged ‘Jones-Carter Gallery’

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

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

My History With ArtFields

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Personal Universe,” by Helaine Schneider, Orlando, FL, clay, wood & speakers, $30,000

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

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

The South’s Most Engaging Art Festival and Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Going on in Lake City, SC?

Monday, July 18th, 2016

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Last week just before I was shutting down my computer for another thunderstorm coming through Bonneau Beach, the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing Company, I got a Facebook message from one of my “Facebook Friends” wondering what was going on in Lake City, SC? What they wanted to know was when was I going to be getting around to my follow up on the 2016 ArtFields event.

As to their direct question – I had no idea what if anything was going on in Lake City. I’m officially still waiting for answers to my questions I asked them on the day I learned that they had asked Hannah Davis to resign. I wanted to know the numbers on attendance and how many people registered to vote and then how many voted for the awards. Still no call back on those questions and I’ve been lead to believe I’ll never get that call because of my remarks about them dumping Hannah Davis as Director of ArtFields and the Jones-Carter Gallery.

Apparently I’m not entitled to answers to my questions or my opinions about their staff moves. Remember, their response to why they were asking Davis for her resignation was that ArtFields was going in a different direction. And, my response to that was, after four years of such musical chairs at leadership – whatever that direction was – it would be without me – one, if not their best cheerleader.

So, ArtFields, the Jones-Carter Gallery and Lake City have been off my radar, and most of everyone else’s radar for the last 3 months. I can hear the crickets chirping in Lake City all the way from here in Bonneau Beach.

In checking their social media and websites I didn’t find much that would bring anyone new to ArtFields or Lake City. They were making their usual effort – not much. After all the next ArtFields isn’t until April 2017. What’s the hurry?

With ArtFields’ poor retention rate for artists who entered one year but never enter again and one less cheerleader I would be a little concerned about taking so much time off before I started trying to get artists and visitors geared up for the next event.

But I did find something interesting on one of the websites – the Jones-Carter Gallery website. I want you to check this link out (http://www.jonescartergallery.com/contact/index.html). This page still shows Hannah Davis as Director of the Jones-Carter Gallery and gives an e-mail for her. Much like when I first called back in May to talk with Davis the person on the phone said she wasn’t in, but when I pressed a little further they told me she was no longer with ArtFields or the Jones-Carter Gallery – that she had resigned. And, I still say there is a big difference between resigning and being asked to resign.

Why is Davis still being listed as Director on the Jones-Carter Gallery website? Is it deception or incompetence?

In close inspection it seems the folks now running the Jones-Carter Gallery are unable to update their website info. Under Exhibitions they list their current exhibit as “MASTERWORKS The Artists of the South Carolina Cotton Trail” – an exhibit which ended on March 5, 2016. They have the wrong title for their current exhibit and who knows what else is wrong.

My experience is that when you see info that is not updated on a site you tend to ignore or mistrust everything else offered. Davis is still listed as the contact on the Artists page. There are only six pages on the site – how hard would it be to update the info? Out of the six pages four have incorrect info on them.

Now I’ll admit that the Carolina Arts website will have some incorrect info on it but we have thousands of pages on our site and the most current will have updated info. But none of them list staff members who no longer work for us.

I’m sure once the folks in Lake City hear about this post they will be scrambling to make the corrections – if they can – if they know how. So check it out now before they act.

It is my opinion that Hannah Davis was one of the few people who knew what she was doing at ArtFields and the Jones-Carter Gallery and this is just another example of who’s running things now that they have pushed her out.

As far as commenting on the 2016 ArtFields – I’m not ready for that just yet. I’m still cooling down from the news that they asked the future of ArtFields to resign just as it was getting good. I invested four years into ArtFields and it’s going to take time to get over it, but I will.

If you missed my first reaction to ArtFields’ 2016 blunder – here’s the link to my blog about ArtFields’ “letting go” of Hannah Davis (http://carolinaarts.com/wordpress/2016/05/16/wtf-artfields/).

Crossing South Carolina’s Great Flood Plain to Go See Some Great Black and White Photographs of America at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

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The title of this blog post refers to the fact that in order for me to travel from Bonneau, SC, to Lake City, SC, – just an hour’s drive on Hwy. 52, I would have to cross over the Santee River and the Black River Swamp. This is no big deal when it’s dry but a month ago in October, 2015, when a low in the weather pattern across SC sucked all the rain out of Hurricane Joaquin and dumped it on SC – it wasn’t possible for a while. Hundreds of roads and bridges in SC were closed and unpassable. But by Oct. 30, the day I traveled to Lake City to see the exhibit, America the Beautiful: The Monumental Landscapes of Clyde Butcher, featuring 56 large-scale, black and white photographs, on view at the Jones-Carter Gallery, the roads were high and dry – way above the water. There were still signs along the road of the destruction the flooding left behind, but the roads were clear and the communities I passed were as busy as beehives. Most of SC is now open for business.

The Jones-Carter Gallery, located at 105 Henry Street, next to The Bean Market in Lake City, SC, will be presenting this exhibition until Jan. 2, 2016. You still have lots of time to go see it, but don’t put it off too long or the holidays will get in your way. The gallery will be closed Nov. 26-27 and Dec. 24-26, but they will be open New Year’s Day for those who don’t care to spend the day watching football.

America the Beautiful: The Monumental Landscapes of Clyde Butcher is a collection of photographs of the American landscape, spanning breathtaking sites across the United States, from the coast of Maine to the Badlands, to the Everglades and to the Great Smoky Mountains. The exhibition tour management is provided by Photographic Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA. And these folks did a great job, along with the staff of the Jones-Carter Gallery in presenting this exhibition. There are large identification boards – most are 8″ x 10″ in size and some are as large at 16″ x 20″ or larger. They were very informative, giving the locations where the images were taken, and info about how they were captured – without too much technical info. Photographers sometimes get too wrapped up in photo tech talk. The photographs themselves were big and beautiful. America never looked so beautiful.

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Moon over Tetons by Clyde Butcher. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

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Here a photo of Clyde Butcher making the image Moon over Tetons. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

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Here’s an example of the large ID boards.

I always say, “Take the Americans out of the American landscape and we look like the best place in the world”. I think Ansel Adams learned that too, and it looks like Clyde Butcher is no fool either. In fact, I think the message in these photographs is that we can keep these great places looking great if we just keep out of them. Viewing the exhibit is the best way for most Americans to see these spaces. Once mankind puts himself in the picture – it’s all down hill from there.  We all don’t need to experience these spaces in person. It’s best left to the professionals to go there and then tell their story. Oh it’s much better to see it in person close up, but we all don’t behave well in nature.

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El Capitan by Clyde Butcher. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

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Sand Dunes by Clyde Butcher. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

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Here’s a look at a couple of big images.

Some of the photographs offered are almost like standing where the photographer was standing – they’re that large. And Clyde Butcher is an old school photographer. He carries an 8″ x 10″ view camera around – through the woods, through the swamp, over the mountains and sand dunes. Sometimes he gets lucky and finds an image along the roadside. Then he just has to unpack his vehicle, but most of the time the best shoots are in remote places – in the early morning or late in the afternoon.

That’s one thing I don’t think the general public understands about photography. You know the folks who say. “I could have taken that if I just went there.” Most great photographs are made after lots of scouting trips to find locations, then you have to figure what time of year and what time of the day the light will be right, and if you’re lucky it won’t rain that day or be snowing – or maybe you’re waiting until it snows. Like most good things it’s about location, location, location and timing. So many photographers may take years to get the image they want and some people think they’ll just be able to walk up and take the shot. Most people can’t imagine waiting an hour for anything these days.

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Clyde Butch in sun rays in redwood forest. All images are courtesy of Clyde Butcher Galleries.

The other old school thing about the photographs in this exhibit is that they came out of a darkroom. Having spent 16 years in a black and white darkroom myself I know that was no easy trick – especially when you see the size of some of these images. Hannah Davis, the Gallery Director at the Jones-Carter Gallery, told me that Butcher is using some digital equipment now just to cut down on his wear and tear. After all,  he’s 74 years old and still working at capturing America’s beauty. Davis also informed me that Butcher, who has never spent time in South Carolina photographing, will soon be working in the Congaree National Park, working on a book for the National Park Service to show off our national parks.

I took a few pics of the way the gallery looked, which shows why I couldn’t take any of the individual photos. The glass, or more likely Plexiglas, covering the images was very reflective. It’s a good thing the gallery has some PR images they could send me to give you a better idea of how the images looked in person – they were spectacular. And, that’s the great thing about this exhibit, it’s easy to look at.

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Here’s a look down the first wall of images as you enter the exhibit.

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A view of the back wall of the exhibit.

This is the easiest kind of exhibit for anyone to look at. Yes, there is the message that we need to save these areas, but other than that – you see what you see. It’s pretty straight forward. The info blocks give you the where, how and why, but beyond that there’s nothing you need to figure out.

A lot of today’s photographers need to go see this exhibit and read all the info offered – especially the smart phone photographers. The subject matter may not be your cup of tea – not cutting edge enough, but the process is important. Good images just don’t happen – they are created or captured over time. The process should be slow and deliberate. Results should be studied before they are presented.

Go see this exhibit. Clyde Butcher has put a lot into making these images and most of you, including me, will never get to see these parts of America any other way. And, that’s a good and bad thing, but we can all make sure we hold on to these places for as long as we can and save many more for generations to come. That’s all about being a good citizen and paying the price of keeping some things instead of using everything up as fast as we can.

The Jones-Carter Gallery is a facility of the Community Museum Society in Lake City which also manages ArtFields©, a community based art exhibit and competition with $110,000 in cash prizes, which will take place Apr. 22 – 30, 2016. For further info about it visit (www.artfieldssc.org).

Admission is free at the Jones-Carter Gallery, as is parking, and there’s plenty of it. The gallery hours are: Tue.-Fri., 10am-6pm and Sat., 11am-5pm.

In conjunction with this exhibition, ART 101 at ONE will be offered on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, from 1-2pm. Meet us at The Inn at the Crossroads (128 W. Main Street) for a lunch and learn lecture series featuring a hand-crafted lunch box provided by The Crossroads Grill and a presentation by Gallery Manager, Hannah L. Davis. These bite-sized pieces of art appreciation are a fun way to get to know our current exhibits and learn more about some of your favorite artists! November’s lecture will be “From Ansel Adams to Edward Weston: American Photography Masters,” and will cover several of the most influential photographers in the US.

Art 101 at ONE is a program of ArtFields®. The above lecture series is presented in conjunction with the Jones-Carter Gallery’s exhibition, America the Beautiful: The Monumental Landscapes of Clyde Butcher. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased in advance at (www.artfieldssc.org). For more information about this program, please call the ArtFields office at 843/374-0180.

For further info about the exhibit, call Hannah L. Davis, Gallery Manager at 843/374-1505 or visit (www.jonescartergallery.com).

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

Monday, July 20th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Side shot of photographs.

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

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

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

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Portriat by Ayle White.

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

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Print by Brittany Sehnke.

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Print by Abigail Sansbury.

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Print by Kushbu Jivan.

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

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

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

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View of the whole exhibit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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View from the door looking into the crowd.

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View of Alex Palkovich with one of his sculptures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Clutch,” by Janis Hobbs.

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

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

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

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

Traveling in the Pathways of Francis Marion Checking Out the Visual Arts in the Pee Dee Region of SC – Part II

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

I left off in Part I talking about the Hotel Florence on West Evans Street in Florence, SC. If you want to read what I wrote in Part I visit this link.

On the other side of the street across from the Hotel Florence, a half a block toward Irby Street, you’ll find the Art Trail Gallery, at 185 West Evans Street. This is the gallery’s second location and I understand that they will soon be on the move to a third location. You can’t say the arts in Florence are not doing its part for urban renewal – especially when it comes to the Art Trail Gallery. Where the Art Trail Gallery goes – so go folks looking for the arts in Florence.

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On this day they were showing Photofabulous 2015, a show that is an annual display of photography from the region. This year’s offering was a juried show, selected by Julie Mixon, an Assistant Professor of Photography at Francis Marion University. At the old gallery’s location on South Dargan Street I’ve see a few Photofabulous shows that were “you bring it and hang it kind of shows” and the type and quality of photography on view ranged from children and adults taking snapshots, some really funky images using some form of photography, and very good traditional photography. These shows were all over the place. I’ve been an advocate for more focused or themed shows to be shown at the Art Trail Gallery and last year the Florence Regional Arts Alliance presented one that focused on works produced by teachers and students associated with Francis Marion University. But, after viewing this juried photography exhibit I kind of wished a return to the wild and woolly photography shows.

Now, some of my opinion could have been determined by the fact that the gallery was transformed into a banquet hall, with tables and chairs filling the space making it a real challenge to see the works hanging on the wall. The Art Trail Gallery is a multi-use space after all, and it was just unfortunate to catch it at this time in this form, but there was something else about the exhibit. All the works were well done and presented very professionally, but there was no pop – no – what is that? or how did they do that? I’ve seen a lot of photography in my life, after all my background in the arts was in photography before I became a pimp for the visual arts, so I like to see things that I haven’t seen a million times before. I’ll admit that it is a very high bar to get over and maybe a little unfair to expect.

I don’t know if some of those funky photographers from older open shows didn’t enter or didn’t make the cut of this juror or what. I know there is less space in this version of the Art Trail Gallery. On South Dargan Street they used to hang hundreds and hundreds of photographs. Maybe some photographers don’t like taking the risk of getting in a juried show – a lot of artists are like that at some point in their careers. The general worry by these folks is that they might not win or won’t even get an award.

I didn’t take any photos at this gallery as it would have been impossible and most works were behind glass, so I can’t show you any examples of work on view. I also didn’t bother taking any general view shots as it would just look like a big room full of tables and chairs – and by the next day all that stuff might be gone. So when you go see it you will see a show totally different than the one I viewed. Well, it’s the same show but different circumstances.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t like anything I saw – I did. Here’s a list of a few images that stood out to me: Anne Baldwin’s “Keys to the Past”, Janet Leonard’s “First Bloom”, Suzanne Muldrow’s “Remnants of Spring”, Patricia Burkett’s “Stolen Moments” (who one first place at the exhibit with this work), and my personal favorite of the show, Susan Griggs’ “Maine Tidals” which showed a few totems of river stones against the backdrop of a rushing river.

I guess what I’m saying is that I found this show to be a little too tame after viewing The Pee Dee Regional Art Competition at the Waters Gallery of the Florence County Museum. If this was the only exhibit I viewed that day, I might have come away with a whole different feeling about it. But then again, none of us lives in a vacuum – we’re affected by what we ate for breakfast, the drive to where we were going, everything we saw along the way, not to mention the environment we grew up in. You’ll see a totally different show and that’s what this is all about – you going and seeing these exhibits yourself and making up your mind about what you saw. I’m just one person who goes and sees shows and gives his opinion.

While I was there, Uschi Jeffcoat, Director of the Florence Regional Arts Alliance, that now shares space with the Art Trail Gallery, introduced me to a couple of interns from Francis Marion University, who will be helping to expand the reach of the Alliance throughout the community. I know I said something to these two young men, but for the life of me all I can remember is “Yada, Yada, Yada” on my part. Jeffcoat has an exhibit of watercolors over at the The Clay Pot Coffee Shop, at 166 South Dargan Street, across from the Florence County Museum. Adolescence in Flight: Reflections Seen and Observed, which will be on view through Feb. 28, 2015.

While I was at the Art Trail Gallery I also ran into, or was spotted by Alex Palkovich, who seems to show up everywhere I go in the Pee Dee and he invited me over to his studio, just behind the Art Trail Gallery on Irby Street. His works also share the space at the Art Trail Gallery. It’s a major component of the gallery – worth the trip alone.

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Here’s an image of a small version of the statue by Palkovich which was on view at the first ArtFields© in Lake City, SC

Palkovich has a new project in mind for Charleston, SC’s Market area – a nine foot tall sculpture of a mid-century black woman with a basket of goods on her head – walking to the market. He’s been pretty successful getting his sculptures placed around the Pee Dee area, but Charleston is another world and one thing it is not known for is public sculptures.  But I’m not betting against Palkovich – he’s a real persuasive man.

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My next stop was the Doctors Bruce and Lee Foundation Library, located at 506 South Dargan Street. It’s a little further away from where the art district is but still very close. That’s where the FMU Artists Exhibit, is on view through Mar. 30, 2015. The exhibition features works from nine faculty and staff members from Francis Marion University’s Department of Fine Arts in the Dr. N. Lee Morris Gallery, located on the 2nd floor of the library. Mediums range from 3D art, ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, and mixed media.

Featured in this exhibition are works by Colleen A Critcher (1st place winner of The Pee Dee Regional Art Competition), Dr. Eaujung Chang, Julie S. Mixon (juror of the Photofabulous 2015 show and in the Pee Dee show), Douglas E. Gray (who has his ceramic works on display in three of the spaces I visited this trip and in the Pee Dee show), Gregory G. Fry (in the Pee Dee show), Dr. Howard J. Frye (in the Pee Dee show), Steven F. Gately, Walter W. Sallenger (in the Pee Dee show), and Lawrence P. Anderson (in the Pee Dee show).

The Dr. N. Lee Morris Gallery is a challenge to take photos in but I took a few anyway. But the work here is like an extension of The Pee Dee Regional Art Competition. My favorite work here was “Anticipation” by Dr. Howard J. Frye, a pen and ink work made in 2010. I always like everything I’ve seen by Douglas E. Gray, but there is a lot of good work here. So I would say that if you go see The Pee Dee Regional Art Competition you should follow it up by visiting this library exhibit.

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“What If… by Julie Mixon, 2013, white marble fresco image transfer

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“Anticipation” by Dr. Howard J. Frye at far left and photos by Walter W. Sallenger

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View of works by Gregory G. Fry on left wall, works by Julie Mixon on the other wall, and glass case with works by Douglas E. Gray

I think it is great that at least four major branch libraries, that I know of in SC, have art galleries in them – that’s Charleston, Columbia, Spartanburg and Florence. These warehouses of knowledge also think it is important to offer their visitors art on a regular basis. I love libraries and hope the public always supports them as one of the most important parts of our communities.

At this point we move on to Lake City, SC, to the Jones-Carter Gallery of the Community Museum Society Inc, at 105 Henry Street, next to The Bean Market. They are presenting The Sum of Many Parts: Quiltmakers in Contemporary America, featuring selections from a larger exhibit curated by Teresa Hollingsworth and Katy Malone of South Arts, Atlanta, GA. The exhibit will be on view through Mar. 7, 2015.

A larger, original version of this exhibit was conceived and sponsored by the United States Embassy, Beijing, and developed and managed by Arts Midwest and South Arts with additional assistance from the Great Lakes Quilt Center at Michigan State University. Titled The Sum of Many Parts: 25 Quiltmakers in 21st-Century America, the exhibit toured throughout China in 2012 and 2013.

This is just another example of the quality of exhibits the Jones-Carter Gallery is bringing to South Carolina. Here we have a display of contemporary quilts from the best fiber artists from throughout the US. They are acting like a big city art museum, but the admission is free – lucky us.

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I took one photo of an interactive quilt board where people can make their own quilt by using patches of fabric and attaching then in any pattern they like to a background. It’s fun to spend a few minutes putting something together and then you look a one of the quilts on display and wonder how many days or months did it take for the artists to put them together. It’s mind blowing when you look at the details of some of these works. The other photos presented were provided by Hannah L. Davis, the Gallery Manager.

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Caryl Bryer Fallert, “Fibonacci Series #8″, 2012, cotton, polyester, and bamboo batting, 30 x 30 inches, courtesy the artist.

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Linda M. Roy, “Subtle Sixties”, 2004, cotton, 81 x 81 inches, courtesy the artist.

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Alicia Avila, “Chicken Quilt”, 2013, cotton, 51 x 53 inches, front view, courtesy the artist.

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Alicia Avila, “Chicken Quilt”, 2013, cotton, 51 x 53 inches, back view, courtesy the artist.

It should also be noted that the exhibit includes a work by artists representing both the Carolinas. Not too shabby since the original exhibit featured quilts by only 25 artists.

The next show up at the Jones-Carter Gallery will be ArtFields© 2015, on view from Apr. 24 – May 2, 2015. So make your plans now for a big art visit to the Pee Dee, but don’t wait that long – you should go see the exhibits that are on view now.

While were talking about ArtFields©, I received a copy of the Annual Report from the Community Museum Society who now manages ArtFields© and here are some interesting numbers offered in the report. Here’s a breakdown of submissions state by state for 2014 in order from most to least: SC – 674, NC – 138, GA – 76, TN – 42, AL – 34, FL – 34, VA – 19, LA – 14, MS – 10, KY – 8, WV – 8, and AR – 4. It’s plain to see that the farther you get from Lake City the numbers drop off and it’s clear that North Carolina is under represented. The 2015 numbers haven’t been released yet but I hope they have improved as far as submissions from NC.

A Trip to See Several Exhibits in the Pee Dee Area of South Carolina in July 2014 – Part I

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

On a day when it was thundering and lightening around the lake here in Bonneau, SC, I decided to head over to the Pee Dee area of South Carolina, to see a few exhibits on view in Lake City, SC, and Florence, SC, just an hour’s drive north on Hwy. 52 (Lake City is one hour away). If the computer had to be unplugged, why not go somewhere else where the weather is not so angry.

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The Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, is presenting “Upcycled: The Art of Reclaimed Objects”, an exhibition on view through Aug. 23, 2014. The exhibit features works by Natalie Abrams (Charlotte, NC), Patz and Mike Fowle (Hartsville, SC), Randy Gachet (Birmingham, AL), Jordan Morris (West Columbia, SC), Greg Mueller (Spartanburg, SC), and Amelia Sherritt (Seattle, WA), the show explores the ways in which post consumer products can be upcycled into intriguing works of fine art.

I’m doing this blog post in parts to keep it from being so long. Part I is about the exhibit at the Jones-Carter Gallery and a few other notable items related to Lake City.

When you walk in the door you are confronted by a large work by Randy Gachet entitled, “Repercussions”, 2008, made of reclaimed rubber tire, steel wire, and acrylic mirror. Gachet explains that in the 1990′s he started noticing that the rubber tire remnants seen along the roads were beginning to take forms in his mind – crow wings, tortise shells, and alligator hides. I’ve seen a few of those alligator hides along the road in my travels. “Repercussions” reminds me of a group of turtles in a pond with the ripples of water emitting from their shells. I’m not sure what function the mirrors served as I couldn’t see any effect from them.

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In “Carbon Plume”, 2011, a work of reclaimed rubber tire, concrete, and steel, I first thought the work depicted some kind of tree, but once I read the ID card provided I easily could see the jet black plumes rising from burning oil fields in Iraq, first seen on CNN. Gachet offers the following statement about this piece, “The rubber tire fragments in the piece were all collected along interstate highways in the Birmingham, AL, area where I live. The perpetual whir and rush of semi-trucks and automobiles implicate the voracious engines of production and consumption that hurtle them as I scavenge the highways for the detritus left behind. The resulting form is both graceful and sinister.” After reading that I kind of wished it was some kind of tree, but then I couldn’t think of any happy story lines involving trees and rubber tires.

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Up close look

After reading that statement it was hard to think of this exhibition as representing the ever amazing imagination of artists to make works out of junk and stuff we throw away or consume in our daily lives in America. After all we are the great consumers of the world. It’s a good thing the next works I zeroed in on were by Patz and Mike Fowle. Although their works are more whimsical – they are no less a statements on the great mountains of discarded objects we create in America.

Although this is a group show, it is clear when you get there that Mike and Patz Fowle seized the opportunity to provide many examples of how they use repurposed consumer goods – mostly, in this exhibit, discarded children’s toys. They provide 11 of the 20 works in this exhibition.

The largest piece in the show is “Post-Consumer Aquarium”, 2014, made of repurposed children’s toys, plastic and metal wire. Many of the fish-like creatures are made from plastic toys and toy parts – part of the millions of pounds of plastic produced each year in America which will last longer in boxes stacked in closets and attics or in our landfills for decades longer than they were enjoyed by a child. But now a few of those toys make up parts of artworks.

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I have to say that the toys we bought our son are getting a lot of reuse by his children. We kept them all, but they won’t last another generation. His boys are rough on toys.

In another work by the Fowles, “Recycled Red Bird”, 1994, made of found bed springs, steel, sheet metal, and a glass insulator, shows that the couple also makes repurposed works from more industrial and consumer waste. They found the bed springs while exploring the Sand Hills area of South Carolina in a pile of construction debris – not in a landfill, but thrown or dumped out in the open.

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These three characters produced out of the Fowle’s imagination represent colorful members of a contemporary community of cast-offs including: “Blow Hard”, 2010 (L); “Fast Food”, 2010 (C); and “Tough Love”, 2010, all made of found post-consumer products.

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“Fu-Man Shoe, Jr.”, 2012, made of a found shoe, rusted metal, and doll parts, was created by Patz Fowle. She offered this statement about the piece, “When I held this little canvas shoe in my hand it made me think of the journey it had taken prior to me finding it. So, I felt compelled to give it a face that had experienced many journeys with facial features of rusted metal and the eyeballs of a forgotten doll who had seen it all.”

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I first saw one of Patz and Mike Fowle’s plastic planets at an exhibit at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. It was an amazing piece of plastic toys, toy characters, and toy parts inside a vary large ball in plastic wrap. As you examine this “planet” up close you can recognize toys from your time frame and toys from every generation there after. “Plastic Planet Redux”, 2014, by the Fowles, also includes repurposed plastic and electronic children’s toys, tape, and wheels. I took a couple of detailed images of toy characters that have been popular in our household – throughout several generations.

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One more of the cast-off characters offered by the Fowles is “The Walk”, 2010, made of found post-consumer products. It represents a scene many of us are used to – walking a pet. The character walking the pet has that look of – “Come-on, we don’t have all day”.

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Jordan Morris of West Columbia, SC, offered one work entitled. “The State of Things Series”, 2014, including four works: “Origins”, 2014, made of wood and glass; “Destruction”, 2014, made of sawdust, wood and glass; “Information”, 2014, made of newspaper, wood and glass; and “Creation”, 2014, made of paperback books, wood and glass. Most of the wood and glass represented the shadowbox cases holding the materials contained inside.

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Morris offered this sentence in his statement on this work: “Each shadowbox contains what was once a living thing in four different forms, inviting one to consider the drastic changes that our world has been through since the advent of computers”. I didn’t get that and what was said in the rest of the statement confused me even further.

What I saw looking at these four boxes was a box of cut wooden logs, a box of sawdust, a box of shredded paper, and a box of designed objects made out of paper. Each representing the progression from trees to paper and then an interesting looking design made of paper. As someone who has taken a printed publication to an online publication, I see a lot of trees being saved by computers and the Internet. But that’s my point of view. Morris also says he pines for a return to simpler times when we were not bombarded by “waves of information” in the age of electronic media. I felt the same way when I walked into a library -way before computers came along. There has always been more information than most of us could digest – there’s nothing new there.

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“Origins”

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“Destruction”

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“Information”

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“Creation”

I thought it was interesting that Morris was the only artist in this exhibit who did not provide information about himself for the press release sent out to promote this exhibition. He could have sent a letter by snail mail, but he didn’t. Perhaps it is his own problems with today’s digital media that he describes in his statement, but I didn’t see how the works he presented would lead anyone looking at the work and reading his statement to come to the conclusion he provided.

Of course there have been times when an artist has provided a statement – several pages long describing a work of art, yet I never saw what they described when looking at the work. And, I wasn’t alone in my feelings. All I can do is apologize for not getting his point. I’m sure it’s me and my lack of higher arts education.

Amelia Sherritt, of Seattle, WA, offers works made of the foil covering the corks of wine bottles. The work “Autumn Gold”, 2013, contains hundreds, if not thousands of wine foils. Sherritt states, “By re-purposing these foils, I am able to make what would normally be thrown away into something long lasting and beautiful”. And, I bet it’s a lot of fun emptying those bottles of wine, although I’m sure she has an army of wine drinkers saving those foils for her.

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Sherritt also offers, “Moss Study”, 2012. It got me wondering how many different colors are offered on all the different makes of wine out there and whether she would have to reach out to other countries for certain colors – adding travel into the process of making art. I think this artist has found the perfect materials to make her art.

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Well that’s enough – you need to go see this exhibit yourself and see if these works bum you out over America’s wasteful habits or amazes you in the endless imagination of artists – or both.

The next exhibition at the Jones-Carter Gallery will be “Francisco de Goya: Los Caprichos”, on view from Sept. 20, 2014, through Jan. 3, 2015. How many small towns can host a major exhibit of works by Goya? This gallery is a place worth visiting.

It should be noted that several of these artists had participated in the two ArtFields competitions that took place in Lake City. The folks at the Jones-Carter Gallery not only keep an eye out for potential exhibitors, but they also curate some parts of the display – so they get a good look at what’s out there. Some names from those competitions are recycled when organizing exhibitions. That’s another intangible result of getting into ArtFields, much like our selection of cover art for our June 2014 issue of “Carolina Arts”, which turned out to be one of our most popular covers – if not the most popular. I first saw that artist’s work at ArtFields. So, just making the cut at ArtFields can lead to many unknown opportunities. Exposure is “King” in the visual arts. And, it’s something to think about when artists are thinking about re-entering this competition or thinking about entering it for the first time. There is more at stake than winning one of the top prizes.

I also want to warn artists who might think that Darla Moore just might buy their over priced artwork – she’s loaded right. She didn’t get that money by overpaying for things. More work was sold the first year before artists learned she bought work that first year and jacked up their prices the second year. One artist just out of college put $100,000 on their work. I hope they were embarrassed. Moore is not the only person looking to buy works at ArtFields – so don’t price yourself out of a sale. You might also scare off a gallery owner who was thinking of representing your work in their gallery, but your price was out of reason.

It also should be noted that on this trip I learned that ArtFields will be under new management in 2015. The Community Museum Society which operates the Jones-Carter Gallery will now manage ArtFields. ArtFields will be in the good hands of Ray McBride and his team of capable folks in 2015 and I think you’ll notice many changes in how the event is handled and promoted. We’ll have more about that later.

You can read a press release about this exhibit on Page 29 and 30 of our July 2014 issue of “Carolina Arts” found at (www.carolinaarts.com).

The Jones-Carter Gallery is located at 105 Henry Street in Lake City, SC, next to The Bean Market. Admission is free at the Jones-Carter Gallery and large groups are encouraged to call ahead. The gallery is open Tue.-Fri., 10am-6pm and Sat., 11am-5pm. For further information contact Hannah L. Davis, Gallery and Exhibitions Manager, by calling 843/374-1505 or visit (www.jonescartergallery.com).

Last Chance to See the Works of Florence, SC, Native, William H. Johnson, on View at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

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Not too long ago I did another Pee Dee Two Fer trip where I went to the Artisan Outpost in Johnsonville, SC, held the first Saturday of the month and the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC, which is now open on Saturdays. The Artisan Outpost will be hosting another great gathering of artworks on Dec. 7, 2013, from 10am-6pm. This gathering is so popular – Santa is going to show up at this next event. But, for now I want to tell you about the exhibit at the Jones-Carter Gallery – time is running out to see it.

The Jones-Carter Gallery, located at 105 Henry Street in Lake City, next to The Bean Market, just a block off Main Street is presenting an exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), featuring rare paintings by Florence, South Carolina-native, William H. Johnson, from the collection of the James E. Lewis Museum at Morgan State University. An essential figure in modern American art, William H. Johnson (1901-1970) was a virtuoso skilled in various media and techniques, and produced thousands of works over a career that spanned decades, continents and genres.

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Ring Around the Rosey, by William H. Johnson, courtesy of Morgan State University.

William H. Johnson: An American Modern is on view at the Jones-Carter Gallery, a branch of the Community Museum Society, Inc., in Lake City, through Dec. 29, 2013. The Jones-Carter Gallery is the only South Carolina venue on the tour.  Developed by Morgan State University and SITES, the exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Henry Luce Foundation and Morgan State University Foundation Inc. Additional support is provided by Ford Motor Company Fund.

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Jitterbug, by William H. Johnson, courtesy of Morgan State University.

The pivotal stages of Johnson’s career as a modernist painter are assembled in this group of rarely seen paintings. Every step of his artistic development is conveyed – from his post-impressionist and expressionist works of the 1920s, to vibrant vernacular paintings from the end of his career in the 1940s, in which Johnson articulated his distinctive, unforgettable vision as an American modern artist.

Usually I’d be offering lots of photos of the exhibition, but there were so many restrictions on photography that all I have to show of the exhibit is the one shot I was allowed to take. I may have pushed the button on my iPhone, but I was placed in the only position allowed by the gallery staff. I could have taken more on the sly, but I know the restrictions are from the Smithsonian and I didn’t want to get the gallery in trouble or prevent future shows from the Smithsonian coming to Lake City. I’ve got two images from the press kit and I took several more of the surrounding area outside – which I think is just as important to Lake City’s progress in becoming a cultural destination.

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This photo doesn’t show you much of the exhibit, but it at least shows you there were others there viewing the exhibit while I was there.

The works in the exhibit and provided text tell an interesting story of this artist’s history. And being from the North originally – that’s right I’m one of those transplanted Yankees, I had to think when viewing these images how many other talented black artists had to leave the South to have a creative life and how many never made it out and just had to put that creativity aside. Frankly I’m not sure how easy it is to be an African American artist today. In some ways it seems that you can get more attention if you’re considered a folk-artist or visionary artist (untrained) than if you have a Masters degree in art. But like I always say to my old Yankee friends in describing what it’s like in good olde South Carolina – it’s 400 years of history – 20 years of progress, and it seems like the Tea Baggers are dragging us further back in time every day.

But then again, when you think about it Jasper Johns had to leave SC before he made it big in New York City. In this case Johnson left the United States to find fame and respect.

Go see this exhibit before it leaves South Carolina and if you haven’t been before you’ll be amazed that such a facility as the Jones-Carter Gallery is located in Lake City. Most other small towns in SC will have exhibit space in an old house or a converted bank – if they have any at all. This space is as good as any in bigger cities.

Now, lets talk about Lake City. Since my last trip to the Jones-Carter Gallery, SCDOT has placed many new signs directing you to the Jones-Carter Gallery making it easy to find coming into Lake City from any direction. I bet there are more signs in Lake City directing you to this gallery than there are in Charleston, SC, directing you to the Gibbes Museum of Art.

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View from across The Green

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The front door of the gallery

The gallery is located next to The Bean Market, another great facility for cultural events in Lake City and across from The Green, an open green space with a performance stage. There’s a sculpture by Alex Palkovich, from Florence, SC, there and this unique drinking fountain – designed for humans of all sizes and pets. Banners were up promoting the Johnson exhibit and new ones will probably flap in the wind for other exhibits and events in the future. The city is really serious about becoming a cultural destination and small details like this fountain will make the difference.

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A pet friendly drinking fountain

Lake City has big plans for transforming their city, but none of it will happen very fast unless people get up off their back sides and travel there to see and enjoy it all. It’s not a big trip from Charleston, Columbia, Florence and Myrtle Beach, and for those folks traveling further – they do have hotels and motels – like the ones people use to travel to your city.

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A view of The Green

Gallery hours are Tue. through Fri., from 10am to 6pm and Sat., from 11am to 5pm. Large groups are encouraged to call ahead.

And, don’t forget – ArtFields will return to Lake City from April 25 through May 4, 2014.

For additional information about William H. Johnson: An American Modern call the gallery at 843/374-1505 or visit (www.jonescartergallery.com).

Yes, Yes, Yet Another Trip Into the Heart of the Pee Dee in South Carolina to the Art Trail Gallery in Florence

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

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There was a time when it seemed like I was going to an opening reception for exhibits at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC – every other month. It didn’t actually happen that often, but it seemed like it as I wasn’t getting to much of anywhere else. Travel like I used to do has been hard to come by. That can be explained with three factors – I don’t have to physically deliver our paper anymore, extra gas money has been hard to come up with these days, and our son, his wife and their two children live with us now.

So going to the Pee Dee is easy for me. It’s not far away and I can get there and get out fast and be back home in no time at all. And make no mistake – I’m yearning to go to many other places – far and wide, but for now the quick and easy will have to do. And, I might get too travel farther once things settle in and it cools off a little in the Carolinas.

This latest trip was a multi stop trip which I enjoy most. Because the Art Trail Gallery reception for “Vulcraft-Nucor Visualicious 2013″ was being held on a Friday, I was able to check in at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC, before I headed further north on Hwy. 52 from Bonneau Beach, SC – headquarters of PSMG, Inc. and Shoestring Publishing Company which produces Carolina Arts.

At the Jones-Carter Gallery, operated by the Community Museum Society Inc, I checked in on the exhibit “agriART,” featuring works by Joshua Vaughan, Mark Conrardy, and an installation by Vassiliki Falkehag. While there I had the opportunity to catch up with Hannah L. Davis, Gallery Manager and Historic Preservation Coordinator for the Community Museum Society. She was also curator of this first exhibit at the new space in Lake City.

It should be noted that on the door was a change of hours from Mon.-Fri. to Tue.-Fri., 10am-6pm – a move in preparation for Saturday hours. Hopefully, soon visitors to the Pee Dee will be able to make a triple stop in Lake City, Johnsonville, and Florence on a Saturday art adventure.

It also should be noted that the “agriART,” exhibit will be closing earlier than scheduled on Aug. 19, 2013, for maintenance and renovation. If that seems a little early for a gallery space which has only been open a few months – I hope to have some good news about that soon.

Davis and I talked about a lot of things – how to grow tobacco plants inside a gallery, a visit to the gallery by the Lake City High School football team, and the fact that the gallery is seeing more outsiders than locals so far.

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The tobacco plants had grown since the exhibit opening.

The Jones-Carter Gallery is a beautiful space that will no doubt have an interesting and eventful future ahead of it. Right now it is the tip of the spear for all the cultural changes Lake City has planned. So, you better get there soon to be able to say you were there at the beginning.

For further information call 843/374-1500 or e-mail to (hdavis@cmslc.org). You can also like their Facebook page at (https://www.facebook.com/JonesCarterGallery).

Within 30 minutes I was parked less than 100 yards of the door of the Art Trail Gallery in downtown Florence at the corner of Irby and West Evans Streets – another reason I like going to the Pee Dee. Parking was free and there was plenty of it to go around.

This was my second visit to the new Art Trail Gallery at its new location, just around the corner from their old location on Dargan Street. But it was my first reception in the new space. The reception had already been going on an hour by the time I arrived and it was pretty lively inside. There was a good crowd on hand and people were enjoying the food and good conversation about the works on display. So I headed right in for my first walk though of all the works on display.

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Work by Sherry Dailey

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Work by Amy Smit

This new space has less wall space than the old location, but it is not small and it seems to be more set up for social networking. The first noticeable thing was that there was no lack of seating during the reception. Good news for older folks like me, who can stand only so long. Of course the gallery was also offering a free Jazz Night concert during this reception, so maybe all the seating was for that and other receptions might not offer all that seating, but here’s my open request for all receptions at all facilities – provide seating and lots of it.

On my first pass I was seeing some good works. There were some from artists I remember form exhibits at the old location and a good number of new names I didn’t remember or was seeing for the first time. I then started taking photos of those works that stood out to me. Works I wanted to show when I wrote this blog entry. There is no rhyme or reason for what I’m attracted to and over all I didn’t spot much that I didn’t feel should have been included in the Professional works. In the Novice works there were typical works that looked like they were made by beginners as well as a few who could have hung with the Pros.

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Just about as soon as I stopped taking photos the announcement of the award winners began. The judge for awards was Amelia Rose Smith, an artist I’ve known in Charleston, SC, for more years than either of us would want to admit. I love her work and the gallery had a good display of it – which was a nice touch so visitors could see that this judge knew her stuff.

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Work by Amelia Rose Smith

After the award ceremony was done I had selected five of the 15 artists she had selected for awards which was pretty good. There have been times when I didn’t like any of a judge’s selections and wondered if they were blind or what. Even when it came to individual selections by artists Smith and I liked different works by the same artist. Which just goes to show – everyone like different things. It’s nice to win an award, but it’s also not life or death if you’re not selected. Your day will come – all judges are different.

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Work I liked better by Sherry Dailey.

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Work by Johnny Tanner I might have scored higher.

I know the Art Trail Gallery has been more inclusive than exclusive – something the artists in the Pee Dee region need, but I hope one day as opportunities expand for displaying art arrives – as I’m sure they will in Florence, that the gallery offers some curated exhibits where artists are invited to show works that tell a story or explore a selected subject. It would be great if they get to a point when they can present a major show by one deserving artist who doesn’t have to share the walls with anyone. But, then the new Florence Museum of Art will be open soon right next to the old gallery location on Dargan Street.

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Two works by Gingi Martin.

There was plenty of food and beverages offered – which seems to be a tradition with the Art Trail Gallery, although I did have a meatball which seemed like I was getting my salt content for a year. Maybe I got the unlucky one that got an overdose, but all the rest of the food I tasted was great and plenty of other folks were eating lots of meatballs – so it might have been me. Hey, we’re lucky that any gallery these days serves anything at a reception – so I’m not complaining. And we all have to remember – it’s all about the art on display.

Eventually the Jazz band started playing and it got a little hard to talk and, since I still had to drive home, it was time for me to leave. One of these days I’m going to make an overnight stay in the Pee Dee so I can enjoy all that this new arts district has to offer.

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Here’s a list of all the award winners:

The Best of Show award was presented to Gingi Martin, for an oil painting entitled “The Elusive Peacock”.

PROFESSIONAL DIVISION:

First Place went to Pam Rhoads, for an oil painting titled “Jump For Joy”.

Second Place was awarded to Johnny Tanner for an acrylic painting entitled “Freedom Light”.

Third Place was given to Sherry Daily for an acrylic entitled “Serenity”.

Honorable Mentions were given to: Ann Page for a woodburning titled “Screech Owl”; Gaye Ham for a watercolor titled “Fruit Loops”; and Denny Stevenson for an oil painting titled “Untitled #5.

NOVICE DIVISION:

First Place was given to Amy Smit for an oil painting titled “Serving Together”.

Second Place was awarded to Patricia Emery for a pastel painting titled “Faced in Blue”.

Third Place went to Jessicah Kean for her work “Masked”.

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Again – work of Jessicah Kean I liked better. Works behind glass are hard to photograph.

Honorable Mentions were given to: Antoinette Ganim for her work titled “Pink Peace”; Gena Sallinger for her work titled “Peace”; and Jana Goss for her work titled “Peacock”.

The Gleason Emerging Artist Award was given to John Ainsworth for his wire work titled “Greeting In the Park”.

The Vulcraft-Nucor Award of Excellence was given to Patricia Emery for her colored pencil piece titled “Reflections of the Afternoon II”.

One last thing about the awards. It’s nice when local companies like Vulcraft-Nucor step up and provide support for exhibits and cash awards and it was really nice of Jim Gleason to step up and provide an Emerging Artist award, as it was not too long ago when he was a beginning artist looking for recognition and encouragement.

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One of Jim Gleason’s creations.

The Art Trail Gallery is located at 185 West Evans Street in downtown Florence and “Visualicious,” will remain on view through Sept. 7, 2013. Gallery hours are: Wed., 11am-6pm; Thur., 11am-3pm; Fri., 11am-6pm and Sat. 11am-3pm.

For further information call 843/673-0729, e-mail at (atg@art-trail-gallery.com) or visit (www.art-trail-gallery.com).

The Opening of the Jones-Carter Gallery – the Next Big Step in Making Lake City, SC, a Cultural Destination

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

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On Friday, June 21, 2013, (not June 26 as Jane Madden pointed out to me – we didn’t time travel) Linda and I made the 52 mile trip from Bonneau, SC, to Lake City, SC, to attend the opening of “agriART,” featuring works by Joshua Vaughan (photography), Mark Conrardy (paintings), and an installation based on tobacco by Vassiliki Falkehag, on view in the Community Museum Society’s new Jones-Carter Gallery, through Aug. 26, 2013.

I didn’t come to review the exhibit – I leave that up to viewers. I’m more interested in getting readers in the doors of exhibit spaces. This time I was smart and took photos early on before a lot of folks would be in the way of seeing the art displayed and didn’t start talking until later. I want you to go see this exhibit and this new art space in Lake City.

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It seems fitting that the Community Museum Society which covers art, agriculture, and history begin with an art show focused on agriculture. Joshua Vaughan offers photographs of rural farm communities in the Carolinas, while Mark Conrardy offers paintings of farm objects – mostly vintage tractors. Vassiliki Falkehag, who was an active member of the Charleston, SC, art community during the late 1980′s and early 1990′s offers a site specific installation focused on tobacco entitled, “Fields of Risk”.

Both Vaughan (from Greenville, NC) and Conrardy (from Columbia, SC) were participants in the first ArtFields event in Lake City, but Falkehag is like a blast from the past – Charleston’s past.

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When I first saw her name associated with this exhibit I wondered where she has been all these years. I did a Google search and there was very little there about her. She was part of a more creative time in Charleston when the City’s Office of Cultural Affairs was run by Diane Abby. It was a time when the visual arts in Charleston didn’t have to take a back seat to the performing arts – as it does now. Falkehag has been living, exhibiting and teaching in Sweden and now that she has retired is spending Summers back in Charleston. She visited ArtFields and made some connections with folks here and soon she was to be featured in an exhibit. That’s one of the other benefits of ArtFields besides large cash awards – being seen and making connections.

The new Jones-Carter Gallery is a wonderful space – big enough for showing lots of works by several artists at once – including installations. In talking with Ray McBride, Executive Director of the Community Museum Society and Hannah L. Davis, Curator of the Jones-Carter Gallery, we learned that they are working on bringing a major art exhibit to Lake City from the Smithsonian perhaps in the fall, but all the details are not worked out yet. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

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We also learned that the folks who produced ArtFields are getting ready for ArtFields 2014 and a few more big projects including a Children’s Museum and developing an artist’s colony – including apartments. The merchants of Lake City saw the impact ArtFields had on their businesses. I’m told some did a year’s worth of business during ArtFields, but they still haven’t adjusted to the fact that in order to develop a tourist market – they will have to open themselves up to more than a banker’s hours effort. The city will have to come alive on the weekends.

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Excuse the finger in the upper left corner. Once people start to fill the space it’s harder to take photos.

But, all good things take time. Opportunities are being missed in the aftermath of ArtFields, but those are lessons learned sometimes the hard way. I think they’re catching on fast in Lake City – at least I hope they are.

One example of that was a list of eating establishments in Lake City and the surrounding area provided by The Greater Lake City Chamber of Commerce found on the front counter at the gallery. And Linda and I had a meal in Lake City before we left town. So we want them to know these efforts are paying off.

Linda and I also had a chance to talk with the Mayor of Lake City, Lovith Anderson, Jr. and his wife, Willie Mae who were at the opening about ArtFields’ impact and future plans for the city. Karen Fowler, Executive Director of ArtFields was also there.

So, beside looking at art we also enjoyed a few hours of meaningful conversation about the art biz and making connections. But you can go just to see the exhibit and explore Lake City without the social networking or get on their mailing list for the next invite to the next opening.

One other special note worth mentioning. At the opening they were serving peach cobbler (from locally grown peaches) and ice cream. I didn’t know they were growing peaches in the Pee Dee, but then again there is so much most of us who live in South Carolina don’t know about the Pee Dee.

The Jones-Carter Gallery is located at 105 Henry Street in Lake City, next to The Bean Market, just a block off Main Street. It is open Mon.-Fri., 10am-6pm.

For further information about the Society or the Jones-Carter Gallery call 843/374-1500 or e-mail to (hdavis@cmslc.org). Dial them up on their newFacebook page and give them a “Like” to keep up with what’s happening there.

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Alex Palkovich is the one not in costume.

OK – Not to take the spotlight away from Lake City, but we also had a conversation with Alex Palkovich, the sculptor from Florence, SC, who was also in ArtFields and recently showcased in our coverage of the new Francis Marion statue in Johnsonville, SC – just 20 miles from Lake City. We talked about my recent trip to Florence’s growing art district, and he filled me in on a lot of exciting developments going on there. He claimed that since the 30 days that I visited I wouldn’t recognize the changes made, but what was more impressive was future plans he told us about that I can not mention here. Florence is putting the pedal to the metal on its arts district.