Posts Tagged ‘Marion Square Park’

A First Look at the Two Big 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibits at Marion Square Park and Wragg Square in Charleston, SC

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011


By late Saturday, May 28, 2011, we had the June 2011 issue of Carolina Arts almost in the can, so Sunday morning – after we found out that Linda, my better half wasn’t going to have to go in to work on one of her days off, we decided to go down to Charleston and catch a few of the exhibits being presented by Piccolo Spoleto. She was on call Sunday, but because it was a holiday weekend – no one was going to call out on Sunday. You don’t get paid the extra holiday pay if you miss the day before. Such is the life of a 911 dispatcher.

We got a good start and found a fairly good parking space by about 10:30am. We didn’t expect that the Charleston Farmers Market was going to be operating on Sunday, but I guess everyone wants a piece of the Spoleto/Piccolo action. Money is the mother’s milk of the arts and when it comes to selling an opportunity for anyone to get in on the action – the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, who organizes the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, turns down no opportunity that will put money in their pocket or the pockets of their friends (those special arts groups). I truly expect to see beer vendors roaming the streets of Charleston during the festivals one day. More in character you’ll probably see wine vendors as a tie-in with the Charleston Food & Wine Festival.

I can hear them calling now – “Got your chardonnay here!”

So on that morning, we had to vie for parking with 3-4 church congregations, the Farmer’s Market crowd and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival crowd for a parking space. But, we did all right.

Actually, I think the Farmer’s Market is a plus – they provide the opportunity to purchase readily available food and beverages, with some musical entertainment thrown in. And, I guess every penny the City can generate in vendor fees is less that they’ll have to take from taxpayers. Some might think the arts and craft vendors at the Farmer’s Market might be competition, but the buyer makes that decision.


The minute we hit the 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit in Marion Square Park, we started to hear how the Office of Cultural Affairs had messed this show up. They have been trying to take total control of this show for years and this year was another bungled attempt at redesigning the show.

To make a long story short, one of the core aspects of this show is that it has had some of the same artists showing in a particular part of the park for years. People who attend the festivals every year know where their favorite artist is located. The artists who have been in certain spots have made close friendships with their neighboring artists.

This year the Office of Cultural Affairs decided that no artists would be “grand-fathered” in and all would have to go through a jury process to get in. What that jury process is and who does it would be one of the biggest blogs I’ve ever written, but we’re not going into that now. So some artists felt unwanted and didn’t go through the process. The jury cut was made and then all hell broke loose and some went to Mayor Joe Riley and complained and as usual he undercut his staff and reinstated the artists who had been cut, except for those who made other plans or didn’t go through the jury process – they were just screwed – twice.


Funny thing – many of the artists who were cut in the jury process won awards from the hand-picked juror Cultural Affairs selected. In fact, the Mayor’s Purchase Award was by an artist who was originally cut from the show. Go figure.

On top of that, Cultural Affairs decided to split these established neighborhoods up and shuffled the deck. So, now visitors to the show have to go on a scavenger hunt to find their favorite artists. It’s a real mess. No one likes change – especially change that isn’t an improvement.

The Office of Cultural Affairs reminds me of the Army Corp. of Engineers. Is there anything they haven’t made worse after trying to fix something?

So many of the artists are not happy campers and if this show is another ho hum year, as far as sales go, they are really going to be unhappy. This could be the last year for some – but that’s exactly what some people may want.

My suspicion is that the Office of Cultural Affairs, headed up by Ellen Dressler Moryl, has been looking at the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibitas their future cash cow. I think they envision selling the spaces in the park for $1000 a pop to artists from around the country who would love to be associated with the Spoleto/Piccolo Festivals. They would learn really quickly that visitors to Charleston wouldn’t be interested in artwork made in Santa Fe, Carmel, or Sarasota – they want Lowcountry art. But, it might take them a year or two to learn that and there would always be a new crop of unknowing artists willing to put up a $1000 for the opportunity. The catch is – Mayor Riley promised the local art community that Piccolo would be for them, but the festival has had mission creep in becoming a regional affair – some participants come from way beyond our region.

Now, I’m not saying that this show doesn’t have it’s problems and couldn’t use some shaking up – there is a lot of repetition – artists painting the same landscapes and wildlife scenes. But instead of trying to tear down long standing traditions, why doesn’t Cultural Affairs start a new outdoor art venue – maybe one for emerging artists, just on weekends and in a way that the artists don’t have to make such an investment. Those tents are expensive.

If out-of-state visual artists want a crack at the Festival, set them up in Hampton Park or Liberty Park by the SC Aquarium – the hottest spot in town. But stop messing with the Outdoor Art Exhibit.

It has been rumored that Ellen Dressler Moryl will soon retire and then turn around and become a paid contractor to manage Piccolo Spoleto. What a sweet deal for her. But unless the City is planning on sub-contracting out the whole Office of Cultural Affairs – I can’t see a new head of Cultural Affairs putting up with their biggest plum being outsourced. And, why should the City pay her when she’s not an employee of the City – as far as I know, they don’t pay any of the coordinators who really organize most of the Festival. And, what would Cultural Affairs be doing this time of year if they are not managing the Festival?

Anyhoo – Linda and I spent six hours in both Marion Square and over at Wragg Square at the 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Fair. I didn’t hear any complaints over at the Crafts Fair, but I knew there were some, but the kind that can’t be helped – at least overnight. One corner of that park is in open sunlight and it was 20 degrees hotter in that section and it was already hot enough that day. I felt sorry for the artists in that section, but trees don’t grow over night. But it’s better than the old days.


The first Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Fair we went to, way back when, was at Marion Square Park in the open sun under a huge olive green Army tent. It was hotter under that tent than outside. I’d take Wragg Square any day over any of the other locations this fair has been in – other than the Gaillard Auditorium – that was a good location (inside and air-conditioned), but Spoleto doesn’t like to share.

We saw lots of good art, had a lot of great conversations – it wasn’t all bitching and when it was over we were really amazed that we had spent six hours there. Of course one hour was taken up by me being a stand-in for a model who didn’t show up for a portrait demo that Steven Jordan was giving.

I had my portrait done by Steven Jordan, The Painter of Bud Light, at Piccolo Spoleto. Now how many people can say that? It’s not finished but we hope to have the final version to show off soon.


We also learned that a lot of people in the park didn’t know that Carolina Arts had gone totally online, which is good and bad. Many are in that camp like to hold something in their hands when they read, but it was also a good thing since many will now be checking us out online. And, we’re not complaining these days as we had over 61,000 people download our May 2011 issue.

The 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit will go on through June 11, from 10am-6pm and the next 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Fair will take place June 3-5, Fri. & Sat., 10am-6pm and Sun. 11am-5pm. Both shows offer demonstrations by participating artists. Go down and take a look at all the interesting art being offered and buy something.

Social Media and the Outdoor Art Exhibit

You can keep up with the 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit with blogs and Facebook. For years Amelia (Mimi) Whaley has been blogging daily from the park on her personal blog ( starting after the first day of the festival. This year she has set up a Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit group blog ( where several people will be adding their observations from the park. You can even log onto theOutdoor Art Exhibit’s Facebook page at this link (

It was a pretty good day away from our computers, but on the drive home I saw something very disturbing. On I-26, between Cosgrove Avenue and the Montague Avenue exit, there were six billboard signs in a row promoting McDonald’s frozen strawberry lemonade drink. Six billboards needed to show a lemon and a strawberry coming together to make one drink. That’s insane.

I hate billboards, but I realize some are informative to travelers, but this is not information – this was insane. Are people that stupid that they don’t know what you would get when you put lemons and strawberries together in a drink?

I drive into McDonald’s on occasion, but I won’t be doing it while those six billboards are there.

Now, if someone knows the phone number to the numb-nut who is in charge of McDonald’s advertising – we’d be happy to sell them an ad on every one of our pages – of every issue. Just think what a statement that would make. But don’t wait for it. We don’t let anyone advertise whatever they like in our papers. It has cost us at times, but anything and everything doesn’t go at Carolina Arts.

Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit Begins This Friday in Marion Square in Charleston, SC – May 27, 2011

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011


That’s right – it all begins again Friday – the Iron Man/Iron Woman competition of the arts. Seventeen days of whatever Mother Nature can dish out; the daily set up and take down; a marathon of questions from visitors; the overheard comments meant to be heard about your art; and the endless wait for some thief to do their thing during the night – so the show can get some publicity in the daily paper.

Why? Yes, indeed, why would people put themselves through such a test of will? Simply said – they are visual artists – they can’t help themselves. Plus – if things go right – you can make a lot of money in seventeen days. But it won’t happen to everyone and there is always the chance that it won’t happen for anyone. But they keep lining up every year to do it again – some for the first time, some for their 20th time, and for a few – they can’t remember when they didn’t do this show. So, what does that tell you? There must be something about doing this show.

Oh, I’ve heard about the wild parties that go on, the mistaken sales of works that were had for 1/2 off, just because an artist got confused in marking their works. One year it was said that an artist did really well in sales, but lost all their profits in a game of Hearts. Another year a female artist refused to miss the show and a doctor from Atlanta passing by their tent ended up delivering twins on the spot. He also purchased a fairly large painting. I’ve even heard that Charleston’s SWAT team does it’s nighttime training in Marion Square during the run of the show.

I think these stories are just a bunch of lies, rumors and urban myths – but I’ve heard some things that I know are true, but I’m sworn to secrecy. It’s one of those things that you have to experience for yourself before you’ll believe it.

I’ve got the “official” press release here, but I wanted you to get a look see – behind the curtain and tell you to read between the lines. There’s much more going on here than the “official” word. They want you to think that just because it’s free you can afford to pass this show up out of the hundreds of events being offered during the two festivals. But, I ask, “Can you?” (wink, wink)

Don’t say I didn’t give you a heads up.

Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit Begins This Friday in Marion Square in Charleston, SC – May 27, 2011

The 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit will take place once again in Marion Square Park in historic downtown Charleston, SC, from May 27 through June 11, 2011, 10am-6pm.


The event is an official program of The City of Charleston’s Office of Cultural Affairs, under the direction of Ellen Dressler Moryl. The show is coordinated by Billie Sumner and Victoria Platt Ellis. Over 100 of South Carolina’s best visual artists will set up tents filled with art in a variety of media in the park which can be found between King and Meeting Streets at the intersection of Calhoun Street.

This annual outdoor art exhibition is one of the most popular free events taking place during Piccolo Spoleto Festival and Spoleto Festival USA, visited by thousands of art lovers and art collectors. The exhibit offers something for everyone’s artistic flavor, along with the opportunity to meet and talk with the artists.


The event begins at 10am on the morning of May 27, 2011, but the artists will be in anticipation of the 4:30pm Awards Presentation, where Charleston’s Mayor Joe Riley and Ellen Dressler Moryl will announce the winners selected by this year’s juror, Juan Logan of Chapel Hill, NC.

Daily art demonstrations will take place at 11am and 2:30pm, May 29 – June 10, with the exception of the first demo which starts at 1pm on May 29.


The schedule includes:
Sunday, May 29 at 1pm – Steven Jordan (Portrait)
Monday, May 30 at 11am – Bette Lu Bentley-Layne (Acrylic) and at 2:30pm – Alice Stewart Grimsley (Watercolor)
Tuesday, May 31 at 11am – Scott Henderson (Photography) and at 2:30pm – Kent Ambler (Woodcut Carving)
Wednesday, June 1 at 11am – Alvin B. Glen (Mixed Media) and at 2:30pm – Rick Reinert (Oil)
Thursday, June 2 at 11am – Deborah Meyer (Oil) and at 2:30pm – Detta Zimmerman (Acrylic)
Friday, June 3 at 11am – Joyce Hall (Oil) and at 2:30pm – Russell Buskirk (Pastel)
Saturday, June 4 at 11am – Laurie Meyer (Oil) and at 2:30pm – J. Carol Gardner (Mixed Media)
Sunday, June 5 at 11am – Madeline Dukes (Oil Sticks) and at 2:30pm – Kevin LePrince (Oil)
Monday, June 6 at 11am – Sherry Browne (Paper Cuts) and at 2:30pm – Michael Nocher (Photography)
Tuesday, June 7 at 11am – Steve Jacobs (Watercolor Basics with Paper Stretching) and at 2:30pm – Joanna Jackson (Oil)
Wednesday, June 8 at 11am – Nancy Davidson (Pastel) and at 2:30pm – Carl Crawford (Collage Illusions)
Thursday, June 9 at 11am – Hilarie Lambert (Oil) and at 2:30pm – Lynne Hardwick (Mixed Media)
Friday, June 10 at 11am – Amelia Whaley (Watercolor).

Work by Amelia “Mimi” Whaley

This year, social media will have a major impact on the Outdoor Art Exhibit. For years Amelia (Mimi) Whaley has been blogging daily from the park on her personal blog ( starting after the first day of the festival. This year she is setting up a Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit group blog ( where several people will be adding their observations from the park. You can even log onto the Outdoor Art Exhibit’s Facebook page at this link (

For further information contact the Office of Cultural Affairs at 843/724-7305 or visit ( or (


Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibitors by Space # &    Name:

1 – Danny O’Driscoll
2 – Steve Jacobs
3 – Sandra Phillips
4 – Dianne Munkittrick
5 – Deborah Meyer
6 – Thomas Greaves
7 – Stephanie Shuler Hamlet
8 – Ron Anton Rocz
9 – J.Carol Gardner
10 – Peggy Howe
11 – Sarah Kargol
12 – Karen Hewitt Hagan
13 – Sabine Avcalade
14 – Nancy W. Rushing
15 – Colleen Critcher
16 – Amelia Rose Smith
17 – Elizabeth R. Middour
18 – Alana M. Knuff
19 – Michael Nocher
20 – Carl Crawford
21 – Pat Forsberg
22 – Joyce Hall
23 – Marie Scott
24 – Kathy Clark

Work by Andrea “Dre” Neff

25 – Andrea “Dre” Neff
26 – Jim Victor
27 – Bob Graham
28 – Guy Stevens
29 – Kaye Penegar
30 – Honor Marks
31 – Steven Jordan
32 – Judith Chamberlin
33 – Elaine Berlin
34 – Susan H. Colwell
35 – Helen Duckworth
36 – Alice Stewart Grimsley
37 – Lynne N. Hardwick
38 – Jane Jackson
39 – Melinda Lewin
40 – Kellie Jacobs
41 – Christine Crosby
42 – Madison Latimer
43 – Suzanne Sasser
44 – Tate Nation
45 – Daryl Knox
46 – Vicki Gates
47 – Nancy Davidson
48 – Anita Blewer
49 – Sandra Baggette
50 – Alicia Leeke

Work by Michel McNinch

51 – Michel McNinch

Work by Steve Neff

52 – Steve Neff
53 – Dwain Ray
54 – Mary Segers
55 – Carole Carberry
56 – Colleen Wiessmann
57 – Scott Henderson
58 – Floyd Gordon
59 – Joanne Evans
60 – Kathy Crowther

Work by Tami Cardnella

61 – Tami Cardnella
62 – Robin Brizard
63 – Kent Ambler
64 – Chris Rutigliano
65 – Judy Clark
66 – Craig Williams
67 – Jan Sasser
68 – Diane Odachowski
69 – John Michiels
70 – Alvin B. Glen
71 – Bette Lu Bentley-Layne
72 – Richard A. Johnson
73 – Sharon Fowler
74 – William Davies
75 – Jan Genosi
76 – Julie Lawrence
77 – Alison Weick
78 – Bonnie M. Stabler
79 – Fred Jamar
80 – Sherry Browne
81 – Joanna Jackson
82 – Amelia Whaley
83 – Katherine Dutremble
84 – Sheryl Stalnaker
85 – Cat Wondergem
86 – Vicki Robinson
87 – Kevin LePrince
88 – Rana Jordahl
89 – KC Collins
90 – Jennifer Black & Madeline Dukes
91 – J. Michael Kennedy
92 – Caryn Smith
93 – Danita Cole
94 – Rick Reinert
95 – Tammy Papa
96 – Jack Thames, Sr.
97 – Russell Buskirk
98 – Diane Dean
99 – Tiffany Maser
100 – Betty Condon
101 – Laurie Meyer
102 – Scott Penegar
103 – Detta Cutting Zimmerman
104 – Hilarie Lambert
105 – Nance Lee Sneddon
and of course Vicki Ellis will have a tent which is the show’s headquarters near the corner of Meeting and Calhoun Streets and another tent in the same location will feature works by Monnie Johnson, the husband of Vicki’s assistant, Lesley Johnson.

The Piccolo Spoleto Festival Starts in Charleston, SC, on May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

If you want to see visual arts at the Spoleto Festival USA – you’re out of luck. That festival isn’t offering visual arts as part of its “World’s Most Comprehensive Arts Festival”. I guess they’ve finally been forced to stop using that moniker. So, if you want to see visual arts in a festival setting, you’ll have to rely on the Piccolo Spoleto Festival – the “little” festival – hardly. Piccolo usually offers over 700 events of all sorts – some not really art events, but it’s a big platter festival. But, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival does offer visual arts – plenty of it, draped against the massive backdrop of Charleston’s regular visual art community.

I recommend your first stops being the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit 2009, held in Marion Square Park – at the intersections of Meeting, King and Calhoun Streets in downtown Charleston and just a few yards away, the Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Fair 2009, held in Wragg Square – at Charlotte and Meeting Street.

The Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit 2009 starts Friday, May 22 and continues through June 6, daily from 10am-5pm. The show features over 100 juried exhibitors from all over South Carolina – working in all kinds of 2-D media. At 4pm on May 22 you can watch Charleston Mayor Joe Riley announce awards selected by juror Harry DeLorme. Art demonstrations are offered   daily and with over 100 artists – a lot of art speak will be available. And, this show is free.

The reason I suggest you stop by this show early on is – early buyers get to see all that is being offered – as the show goes on the supply dwindles. You’ll never know what you missed if you don’t go early.

The first weekend of the Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Fair 2009, also starts Friday May 22 and continues till May 24. The second weekend takes place May 29 and continues through May 31. The hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 10am-6pm and Sundays from 11am-5pm. These shows feature over 130 American craft artists from all over the US. Demonstrations are also offered here daily. There is an admission of $3, but I’ll tell you a little secret. These people send free tickets to galleries all over Charleston and SC – so you might want to check at your local gallery to see if you can get some free tickets, but $3 won’t break anyone.

The reason I suggest you stop by this show early on is – first, these shows only happen on two weekends and second, again – early buyers get to see all that is being offered.

Now, I hope that in-between delivering our June issue I’ll be able to bring you news of other visual art offerings being presented during this festival season in Charleston – you know I do have a newspaper to deliver and then there is always the July issue to work on. But I hope to do a Magical Mystery Tour II of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival exhibitions – this time with images. And, sooner than the last day of some of the exhibits.

Don’t forget we have plenty of info about these exhibits on our web version of the May 2009 issue at Carolina Arts Online. Just search the Feature Articles and both Institutional and Commercial Gallery Listings.

Maybe I’ll bump into you there somewhere on the streets of Charleston. Don’t worry folks – I’m used to looking both ways before I cross the streets in Charleston or just about anywhere else in the Carolinas. People with opinions have to always be careful. Not that anyone has got their sights on me or my back, but some people are always telling me to be careful. I’m not sure what they mean by that, but I’m looking both ways anyway.