Posts Tagged ‘Nina Liu’

Finally a Trip to See Aggie Zed’s Exhibit at The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, SC

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

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One of the cruelest things in life is that we don’t get to do everything we want and sometimes even when we do get to do something – it’s too late.

In this instance, I’m lucky I got a chance to see this exhibit at all, but it was too late to do so and encourage others to do so, as the exhibit ends on Saturday, Mar. 10, 2012. Of course we did feature this exhibit on our Jan. 2012 cover of Carolina Arts. I guess that’s something.

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But, if you can, I’d advise anyone who likes what they see here in this posting, to try and go to The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston School of the Arts in Charleston, SC, to see Aggie Zed: Keeper’s Keep, featuring new works by Virginia-based artist Aggie Zed. I’m sorry about the short notice, but I think this exhibit may be coming to a facility in North Carolina, but I have no details at this time.

Aggie Zed was born in Charleston and raised on Sullivan’s Island, SC. So, like Jasper Johns who was once from Edisto Beach, SC, we can claim her as one of ours. But, for anyone who has been a regular visitor to Nina Liu & Friends Gallery in Charleston, Zed’s paintings and sculptures are old familiar friends. Some of her human/animal creatures have been featured in one of the gallery’s windows for 20 years or more. Of course not the same figures – they never lasted that long before someone was taking them home and they would be replaced by others – stranger than the last.

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Once a Little Church, 2006

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Who Will Keep the Keepers Themselves?, 2009

I hate to admit it but I have never been a real fan of Zed’s paintings. That’s just me, but it’s why I’ve concentrated on the sculptures and installations of the sculptural figures I could photograph – some were under Plexiglas. I know there are tons of folks who love her paintings as much as her figures/creatures. Some probably love them even more than the sculptures. People have different likes. I fell for the creatures – the weirder the better. Again, that’s just me.

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Elephants Observer, (installation), 2009

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Elephants Observer, (detail)

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Elephants Observer, (detail)

I haven’t seen anything like Zed’s installations since the Sticks and Stonesexhibit offered at the Old Slave Mart building during a Piccolo Spoleto Festival – way back when, put on by LOCUS Contemporary Arts Center. If anyone remembers that exhibit, they’ll know what I’m talking about.

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Study for Debris Field, 2011

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Brainchild, 2009

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Feathers or ‘The Early Clone Gets the Contract’, 2005

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Red in Fashion, 2009

There’s no time to go on about Zed’s works at this point, so I’ll let the images do the talking. You can see more images and a video about Zed at this link (http://halsey.cofc.edu/exhibitions/aggie-zed-keepers-keep/).

The exhibit will be on view Friday, Mar, 9 and Saturday, Mar. 10, from 11am-4pm. There’s plenty of parking by the gallery as the College of Charleston is on Spring break.

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For further info call 843/953-4422 or visit (www.halsey.cofc.edu).

Nina Liu and Friends Gallery in Charleston, SC, Receives Verner Award from SC Arts Commission/Foundation

Friday, February 18th, 2011

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Nina Liu outside her gallery and friend Aggie Zed (r)

OK, this is meant to be a congratulation to Nina Liu – make no mistake about that, but it is also about the SC Arts Commission and SC Arts Foundation.

I think everyone would agree that in these days of cutbacks in funding for the arts it would have been better to make the announcement of who will receive these awards and let UPS deliver them, but instead the folks at the Arts Commission/Foundation decided to play their fiddle while Rome burns. And, they’re letting visual artists have the honor of helping them raise money to put on a party, through another art auction.

If you’re of my thinking on all of this – would we expect anything else? Yes, this is exactly what I’ve come to expect from them. But, like they say – even a broken clock gets it right twice a day.

So, congratulations to Nini Liu, the woman behind Nina Liu & Friends gallery in Charleston, SC. She has served artists and the art community in Charleston for 25 years as well as doing the same in Iowa, Louisiana, California, and Michigan, before landing here in South Carolina.

Liu has been a long-time supporter of Shoestring Publishing Company, including Charleston Arts, South Carolina Arts and now Carolina Arts. She helped start the French Quarter Gallery Association, providing coordinated art walks in Charleston. We worked with her and others to make it the largest art walk in the Carolinas. Now everyone has one.

And, I know she has done a lot to help other art organizations such as the Gibbes Museum of Art, College of Charleton School of the Arts, and Spoleto Festival USA, to name a few. But most importantly for me, she has been a regular sounding board – I rarely travel to Charleston without stopping to have a short or sometimes long conversation with her.

I’m glad she got her Verner before I told that to everyone.

So, Nina Liu and her gallery will share the spotlight at the 2011 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts (Business Category) with Carolina First Bank of Greenville, SC – that’s if our new Governor doesn’t want to take back her title from the award. I doubt she’ll show up to hand the awards out – that would seem a little hypocritical, but maybe she will- it wouldn’t be the first time for her.

As far as the other Verner Award recipients – I don’t know who most of them are – which is the way I would guess others around SC would think when they read Nina Liu’s name. I’m sure they have had similar impacts on the communities where they live – or at least we would all expect that they do or did. It helps to think of these things as regional awards to folks who have had some impact on a regional basis. Yet, I can’t help but think that some awards over the years and this year (hopefully very few of them) are self-serving by the Arts Commission – rewards to a few good friends of theirs.

All I know is – we could all use a lot more Nina Lius as friends.

A Trip to the Gibbes, Nina Liu and Friends, and Cone 10 Studios in Charleston, SC

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

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On another bone chilling, rainy Saturday, I headed south toward Charleston, SC, this time bypassing North Charleston to head to one of the Gibbes Museum of Art’s free Community Days. Thank you, Junior League of Charleston.

You ask – don’t I have a membership at the Gibbes, or for that matter a membership at every art museum in the Carolinas? You might also ask – as a member of the press, can’t I get into every art museum in the Carolinas? – don’t they want you there? – don’t they want all the members of the media to come to their museums? Well, the answers are yes and no. You figure it out.

No, first off, getting something for free is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Most art museums in the Carolinas offer some free admission days. I like to see who comes on those days besides me. Secondly, yes, I probably could get into any art museum free, but that takes scheduling, which is hard to work out at times and I didn’t know I could make this trip until Friday evening. Thirdly, I think in our 23 years of covering the visual arts in the Carolinas I’ve earned the cost of any level of membership there is and some. And, finally, I just don’t get to go that much.

Although many people still think as an editor/publisher of an arts newspaper I get to see everything – I don’t, there is not enough time in the world. I see more than most people, but a lot less than many. But, I think lots of other folks should have an art museum membership card on them at all times. In fact they should never leave home without it.

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I arrived at the Gibbes Museum of Art, located at 135 Meeting Street in downtown Charleston, just as the Blessed Sacrament School Children’s Choir was finishing and little girls were “running” everywhere keeping the security people on their toes – no running! Beside parents trying to gather their children together there seemed to be lots of couples of all ages in the galleries. There must be something about a rainy day that attracts couples to art museums. Before long the children were doing art activities and that left the art galleries to the parents, the couples and me.

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In the Main Gallery was the exhibit, Art of Our Time: Selections from the Ulrich Museum of Art, which was a collection of familiar names and not-so-familiar names. On one wall was a group of what I would call the who’s who of the modern art world – Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Joan Miró, and Jacob Lawrence. Looking at the works I wondered what some of these parents might be thinking. A lot of the works looked like the kind of stuff you might see in a children’s art class with the exception of the Warhol. They may have works at home – on the refrigerator – that look a lot like these works. But, then I remembered something William Halsey once said in his later years (80′s) – that he was just getting back to painting child-like with no inhibitions.

Speaking of William Halsey, the Gibbes had a nice display of his works in an area which has been used as a sort of hands-on or education area. It’s now being used as an Artist Spotlight area. A lot of folks in Charleston need to be educated about who William Halsey was and the work he left us. One of the works in this display was once featured on a color cover of Carolina Arts.

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On the other side of the main room were works that looked more like art you see being made today. My favorite work of the day was a set of nine large photographs hung 3 x 3 entitled, Family Tree, by Zhang Huan, a Chinese artist who did a self portrait where he had three traditional Chinese calligraphers make kanji characters on his face – all in one day. They told traditional stories – until his face was totally covered in ink – totally.

After the children’s choir cleared out of the area where they sang, I was able to view the exhibit, J. Henry Fair: Industrial Scars. This exhibit was depressing. It’s a photographic exhibit with bird’s eye views of industrial waste areas around the country and views of the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. They are of areas we would never see driving by these industrial sites. They keep this stuff hidden. Although the images themselves are interesting and often beautiful due to the unusual colors and patterns, they are disturbing and shocking when you discover that one you are looking at is in your own backyard. I mean it – one was about 20 miles from our house.

There is a coal burning power plant right across the lake from us and one of the images was of its ash spillway. It was ugly and frightening to think that this stuff was so close to the lake, but at the same time, I sure was glad that power plant had enough power to keep our home warm during the below-freezing temps of just a week ago. It’s like no one would eat meat if they visited a slaughter house every week. There are trade-offs for everything we do, but you would hope that one day we’d learn to do things better. That’s why this country needs to develop more wind and solar power – and fast.

On that note – I was out of there.

Next, I went over to Nina Liu and Friends gallery at 24 State Street. Nina Liu is celebrating her 25th anniversary in Charleston with an exhibit of her own work. They sent a press release about her exhibit which will be in our Jan. 2011 issue of Carolina Arts, but they didn’t have any images, so I wanted to see if I could get some to use.

Usually a rainy day is not the best day to do any photography, but I knew if she had a spot outside that wasn’t being rained on, the light would be nice and even – at least that was the theory. After the shooting, we talked about what’s going on in Charleston and how fast 25 years seemed to go by. She came to Charleston two years before Linda and I started our first arts newspaper. In fact, her gallery and Lowcountry Artists Ltd. in Charleston are our oldest continuous running advertisers – both since May 1988.

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While I was at Nina Liu’s a man came in looking for a special kind of pottery cup, which Liu didn’t have. We both suggested he check out Charleston Crafts, just around the corner and Cone 10 Studios at 1080B Morrison Drive. But, while he was there he found a small sculpture by Aggie Zed that he liked and purchased it. Not bad for a cold rainy day in Charleston – in this economy.

On my way out of Charleston I thought I might stop by Cone 10 Studios myself. They moved during the summer from Meeting Street to this new location – twice the size of their old gallery/studio. I had not been to the new location since they opened – except very early in the morning – long before they would be open – dropping off papers, so while I was going that way – in the middle of the day – I stopped.

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Their new gallery space is very airy. Good thing too – I got my best photos of the day there. I talked with Betsey Carter and got the 10 cent tour around all the artist’s stations and some of the common areas. I’m always amazed how much space and equipment it takes beyond a spinning wheel, which is all most people think it takes to make pottery. Like most forms of art, if people knew how much equipment and process is involved in making art – they would appreciate it more.

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The other nice thing about their new location is that they have lots of parking spaces. When they were on Meeting Street, you might get lucky if you could find an open space within blocks from their door. Carter says they’re calling this part of Charleston NoMo – North Morrison. A few other art related busineses are also located in the area.

If you haven’t been there yet – go by and see them. Besides being a working studio for over 20 artists, it’s a gallery and a learning center. They hold pottery classes. While I was there a few excited students came by to see works that had just come out of the kiln. What a wonderful feeling to see something you made for the first time – and it looked like work you could have found in the gallery. I’m sure they all don’t turn out that way, but what I saw looked very respectable.

Well, as with all my adventures – I needed to get back home. We have a Jan. 2011 issue to get ready.