Posts Tagged ‘Piccolo Spoleto Festival’

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 Visual Arts Scene is Exploding in May in South Carolina

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011


Long before the BIG events start in Charleston, SC – Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto Festival, there are events going on all over – too many to mention, so we’re focusing on few in SC right now.

Up first – TONIGHT – is the 2011 North Charleston Arts Festival Art Walk, May 4, from 5-8pm, in the Olde Village on E. Montague Avenue in North Charleston. Art galleries, businesses, pubs, small cafes, and salons, will display works from local artists. For further info contact North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at 843/740-5854 or visit (

On May 5, 2011, 5-9pm – First Thursday at Tapp’s at the Tapp’s Arts Center, 1644 Main Street in Columbia, SC, part of the First Thursdays on Main events in Columbia, SC, will be offering a full evening of art. For more information on this contact Brenda Schwarz Miller at 803/609-3479 or e-mail ( Check for the latest news at Facebook – Tapp’s Arts Center Project!

In Florence, SC, the FDDC Art Trail Gallery, located at 135 S. Dargan Street, will offer an opening reception on May 5, starting at 6pm for the exhibit, Pompe’s Protégés, featuring an exhibit which celebrates the legacy of Kathleen Pompe’s tenure as a professor of photography at Francis Marion University. The exhibit will be on view through May 27, 2011. On May 6, starting at 6pm a reception will be held for the exhibit, Cultivating Creativity: The Children’s Exhibit, on view through May 27, 2011. For further info call Jane Madden at 843/673-0729 or visit (

Of course the First Friday is usually when dozens of art walks are held all over the Carolinas. Just check our paper Carolina Arts( that’s why I spend weeks working on the gallery listings.

In Charleston, SC, it will be the French Quarter Gallery Association’s ART WALK, May 6, 2011, from 5-8pm and the First Fridays on Broad, from 5-8pm. In fact, I think it would be hard to find an art gallery in Charleston that won’t be open Friday evening whether they are part of one of these groups or not – except The Sylvan Gallery, who already had a reception for their current show. I hope Joe and Janie Sylvan and their crew will be out enjoying the art walk for once – as Linda and I will. For info visit (  or (

Later, the next week you can focus on Summerville, SC, for the 13th Annual Sculpture in the South Show & Sale, May 7 – 15, 2011. They have expanded this annual Show & Sale to include Arts Education Week, May 7 – 13. This week offers Internationally to regionally known instructors who will present workshops, after-school programs and an evening lecture series. The Show & Sale takes place May 14 & 15, at Azalea Park, Main Street and West Fifth Street South, and features works by 35 world-class sculptors, children’s activities and great barbeque. For more info call 843/851-7800 or visit (

Then jumping over to the Columbia, SC, area, you can take in the 2011 701 CCA Columbia Open Studios, a free tour of area artist’s studios on May 21 & 22, 2011, but before that you can attend the 701 CCA Columbia Open Studios Preview Party at 701 CCA, on May 12, from 7-9pm. For info about tickets to the Preview Party visit ( The tour is free. You can probable still see some of the exhibits presented for Artista Vista at some of the galleries.

Another choice that weekend is the first Celadon Fine Arts Festival, May 20-22, 2011, at Celadon, Sams Point Road, Hwy. 802, Lady’s Island, just across the bridge from Beaufort, SC. This 3-day National Juried Fine Arts & Craft Festival will be held on the beautiful property at Celadon. Artists from around the country will be competing for $3,000 worth of cash prizes and all work will be available for sale. There will also be musicians and food vendors. Hours: May 20, 4-9pm; May 21, 10am-7pm; and May 22, noon-5pm. For further info call 866/525-9995 or visit

If you look through our paper you’ll find many more opportunities for an art adventure. Like I said before – it’s why we do it – so you’ll know what going on.

First Look At Piccolo Spoleto Visual Art Events for 2010 in Charleston, SC

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Right off the bat we have a few corrections to my preview of the Piccolo Spoleto visual art offerings taking place in Charleston, SC. It seems for some reason on the second day of the festivals two of the rest rooms at the Charleston Visitor Center were under “construction” – whatever that means beyond a reduction of rest rooms by 50%. Why now, I can not answer, but a staff person said they hoped they would be open soon. Me too – as well as a lot of other folks.

And, after a slow start, Amelia (“Mimi”) Whaley’s blog from the 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibition at Marion Square is now up and running with info from the inside. She has pictures and a list of the winning entries from this show. Visit this link to keep up with this show.

Our first stop was to see the 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition. It just seems that this juried opportunity isn’t as important as it once was or should be to the visual artists of the greater Charleston area or for South Carolina’s visual artists. It’s not the best location for an exhibit (Charleston Visitor Center) – although it has a high rate of traffic – especially with the only public rest rooms within blocks in downtown Charleston. The lighting is bad and the displays are a little too tight.


My first impression is that photographers have started taking this show over. Not so according to the show breakdown (49 photographs and 63 paintings), but it sure seemed that way to me. One of the judges is a local photographer – the show has two – one for photography and one for everything else, but I’m not sure why the Charleston Artist Guild – organizers of the exhibit feel they need two judges. Why not just find one judge – well rounded in the visual arts – from outside the area (out of state would be better) to judge this show and treat all the visual art works entered – equally?

Of course the big problem with commenting about a juried show is that we will never know what was entered and what didn’t make the cut. Is this the best of what was entered or just what reflects the taste of the jurors? But, then that’s the way all juried shows are. Where the artists who made the cut are from isn’t given, but if I look at area codes for phone numbers listed – this is a Lowcountry or coastal SC show. My guess is that also reflects where most of the 463 works entered came from. Why more artists from around the state are not in the show is a puzzle. Did they not enter the show? Was it too difficult for them to enter due to distance? I don’t know why these kinds of shows always seem to be local. I think all areas of SC have great artists, – too bad more artists from other parts of the state aren’t represented in this show.

One of the good things about this exhibit was that I didn’t recognize a lot of the names of the artists. There is nothing worse than an annual juried show which seems to include the same folks – year after year. And, since names which are included in solo exhibits, group exhibits, and juried exhibits come across my radar on a regular basis at Carolina Arts – this show may have become a great opportunity for the up and coming artists of the area – with some of the veterans of the art community still giving them a run for the money.

I only found a few things hanging that made me wonder – was this the best they had to select from? But that is a very subjective feeling on my part knowing what doesn’t appeal to me may be other folks’ favorites. Like all art.

A lot of the other Piccolo Spoleto visual arts exhibits tend to feature artists who are not always so new to the area, nor unseen. I’ll go as far in saying that some should take a break if their egos can take it and give some others a chance, but here the problem stems from the question – who selects these special invitational shows. Do they know many artists to begin with and can they stop selecting folks who are “connected” in one way or another.

When you have been around as long as I have and seen as many Piccolo offerings as I have – you can recognize the cycles that keep recurring – every four or five years. Lately, we’re being offered some artists – every year. That practice needs to stop.

But, that’s not always a bad thing. When it comes to the outdoor art and craft shows – visitors look forward to seeing the new work their favorite artists are offering. Those shows actually bring visitors to Charleston on a regular basis – whether they return for the festivals or not. Visitors come to see known artists. Again – these words are offered with the recognition that these shows are also regular supporters of Carolina Arts. Would I heap such praise on them if they were not? I guess it’s a matter of my word and the trust in it.

Which brings us to the 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Shows.

From the very beginnings of Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto Festivals the craft shows have been an annual “must see” for Linda (my better half) and I. We went when it first started in the middle of Marion Square Park under this huge tent – where it must have been 100 degrees under that tent at times. We started our art collection there and added to it almost every year – depending on the economy. It didn’t hurt that our anniversary and my birthday come in the same month the craft shows happen. It used to be called the craft fairs back then.


An image burned in my memory of those days out in the middle of the park was of a local blacksmith – Ira DeKoven who used to do demonstrations outside the tent in the hot sun. Man, that was going beyond the call of duty to let people see the process.

These days the weekend shows take place in Wragg Square, within a half block of Marion Square – mostly under the shade of live oak trees. During the walk from our car on the third floor of the Visitor Center parking garage to the ground floor we were able to give a half dozen folks the remainder of our free tickets to the craft show which we receive in the mail each year. One happy recipient was so glad – as she couldn’t find one in a gallery that she usually picks up each year. Timing is everything.


I’ve got to say, this year’s craft offerings were as good as ever – maybe a bit too many jewelry booths for one husband to take, but a well rounded selection of fine crafts. I paid special attention to potters from the Carolinas this year collecting info for an upcoming project. Most were from North Carolina. I always hate to point out favorites, but if I had won the lottery the day before I would have gotten something from Flying Pig Pottery(Suzanne Rehbock) of Greensboro, NC. Hey, if I had won the lottery the day before I would have put a smile on a lot of faces of the artists showing in this show. Unfortunately – I didn’t.

If you missed the craft show this weekend – you’re in luck. They will hold another one next weekend – same place, same times – June 4 – 6, 2010.

Parking cost for this day – $3. Not bad. We only had a limited time – I had to go to bed early so I could deliver some newspapers.

More info later.

Visual Art Offerings at Spoleto/Piccolo Spoleto Festivals in Charleston, SC, for 2010

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Every year I try and give interested readers a heads up on the visual arts offered during the Spoleto/Piccolo Spoleto Festivals . I haven’t seen any of these exhibits as most haven’t started yet and I’m getting ready to deliver our June issue of Carolina Arts. But here’s a bit about what’s being offered and what I know.

spoletologo Piccolofestivallogo4

The Carolina art community in general is fairly focused on Charleston, SC, at this time of year due to the Spoleto Festival USA and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, which takes place from May 28 – June 13, 2010. Most interested in the arts have been reading about Spoleto in their daily papers for weeks if not months. And, let me remind you that you can read in detail about some of these exhibits in Carolina Arts May and June issues and at Carolina Arts Online – in Feature Articles, May and June (June soon to be posted June 1).

During this time period Charleston will see its largest, most art informed, arts audience. Arts writers and members of the art press – those who still have a job – will be here for their annual visit as well as art lovers from throughout the region. At least that’s what organizers are hoping. It’s still too early to tell about that.

First a few pointers, dress for warm temps, wear comfortable walking shoes, and carry some water and maybe an energy bar with you at all times. You may have to park far from the event you are headed for so pick spots you don’t have to keep running back to feed quarters in a meter. Parking at the Visitor Center will place you near four or five exhibits and you can get a day trolley pass which will take you all over downtown Charleston. Then you won’t have to worry about parking tickets at all. And, don’t leave home without your credit cards and cash. You’re going to see something you just have to own, so be prepared.

Let’s start our journey at Marion Square Park, located at King, Calhoun, & Meeting Streets, in downtown Charleston, where the 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit will be on view from May 28 – June 11, 2010 – rain or shine.  This exhibit features works by over 100 juried exhibitors from around SC, juried by Elizabeth Rundorff Smith – under tents. Demonstrations are offered daily by participating artists at 11am & 2:30pm. The exhibit runs daily from 10am-5pm – rain or shine. This is one block from the Visitor Center.

Many of the artists in this show are also represented by art galleries in downtown Charleston, so if you see a style you like, but not the work that speaks to you – the artists can direct you to the galleries where you can see more work. But, just as many are not represented by any gallery, so this is an annual opportunity to see their new work. And shop early – as the 16 days move along – the selection thins.

Some works in the Carolina Arts‘ art collection have come from artists who have done this show in the past and by some who are still putting in their annual 16 days. Doing this show is bootcamp for the arts. It’s one thing to do a weekend outdoor show, but 16 days! My hat’s off to them who can be that focused.

Photo by Ron Rocz

If you can’t get down there to visit these hearty artists, you can follow the blog of  Amelia (“Mimi”) Whaley at ( She gives readers an inside view at what it’s like to sit in the park waiting for viewers and hopefully buyers.

Next, let’s move on to the 31st Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Craft Show and Demonstrations taking place in Wragg Square Park, located at Charlotte and Meeting Streets in downtown Charleston on two weekends: May 28 – 30 & June 4 – 6, 2010. This location is actually closer to the Visitor Center – just 1/2 a block, but it only takes place on two weekends. Admission is $3. Folks 18 and under or 65 and over get in free. If you see me walking around Charleston ask me about free passes – or if you’re in a gallery around town – ask them. But the tiny admission is well worth it. Artists and artisans represent areas from across the US. Media presented ranges from traditional to contemporary expressions; demonstrations by the exhibitors are presented throughout the shows. Hours for both weekends are: Fri.& Sat., 10am-6pm and Sun., 11am-5pm.

This event is hosted by Charleston Crafts, a cooperative fine craft gallery located at 161 Church Street downtown.

Many pieces in our art collection have also come from this annual show.

Point of disclosure: Both these events are regular supporters of Carolina Arts. So, they come first in our book.

Since I’m using the Charleston Visitor Center, located at 375 Meeting Street, between John & Mary Streets, in downtown Charleston as a focus point, I should point out a few other important factors about this location. First and foremost – it has two – listen carefully – two sets of rest rooms. They sell drinks there, it’s air-conditioned, and while you’re there you can take in the 26th Annual Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition, on view daily from  May 28 – June 11, 2010. The Visitor Center is open daily, from 8:30am-5pm.

Work by Melissa Gravano from the Juried Art Exhibition

The exhibit, open to artists from throughout SC features works in a variety of media and is sponsored by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs and coordinated by the Charleston Artist Guild, which has their own gallery located at 160 East Bay Street.

The Visitor Center is also a hub for tourist info, tours around the city and transportation – as well as picking up a copy of Carolina Arts and the official Piccolo Spoleto program. And, did I mention they have public rest rooms there?

A previous work by Cory Oberndorfer

Also very close to the Visitor Center, a block and a half, is the Redux Contemporary Art Center, located at 136 St. Philip Street in Charleston. They will be presenting the exhibit, Novelty, a solo exhibition by Redux’s 2010 Artist in Residence Cory Oberndorfer who will create paintings in the gallery space as well as on the façade of Redux, on view from May 26 through July 10, 2010. The Center is open Tue. – Sat., noon-5pm.

Work by Nick Cave

A little further from the Visitor Center, but still within walking distance and only a few blocks from Marion Square Park is the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, located in The Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts at the College of Charleston School of the Arts, 161 Calhoun Street in Charleston. They are presenting the exhibit, Call and Response: African to America/The Art of Nick Cave and Phyllis Galembo, on view from May 27 through July 16, 2010. Artist Nick Cave creates sculptural works that he calls “Soundsuits” consisting of brightly colored fabrics, elaborate embroidery, beadwork, raffia, and, other natural materials. Phyllis Galembo’s photographic portraits feature masqueraders from the West African countries of Benin, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso. The Institute is open Mon.-Sat., 11am-4pm. This exhibition is an official offering of Spoleto Festival USA.

Work by Phyllis Galembo

It seems that Spoleto Festival USA with this move has finally signaled that they have thrown the towel in as far as visual art offerings and are willing to just take claim to exhibits being offered by the Halsey Institute and the Gibbes Museum of Art. This may be good for these two local institutions, but falls far short of the individual exhibitions – or site-specific installations they once offered. This is not meant to be a negative view of the offerings these folks are presenting, but they just don’t compare to what Spoleto once offered – a long time ago.

While we’re on the subject of Spoleto – the Gibbes Museum of Art at 135 Meeting Street in downtown Charleston is presenting the exhibit, as part of Spoleto Festival USA, JoAnn Verburg: Interruptions, on view in the Rotunda Galleries from May 28 – Aug. 22, 2010. Organized in conjunction with Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, the exhibition features recent portraits and large single and multi-panel architectural prints made in Spoleto, Italy. The Gibbes is open Tue.-Sat., 10am-5pm and Sun., 1-5pm. The Gibbes also offers many other exhibits – the admission here ($9 for adults, less for children and seniors and under 6 free) is the most you will pay to see any visual art offered in association with the Festivals.

The Gibbes is within walking distance to the hearty, but you can take the trolley from the Visitor Center to get there. Parking near the Gibbes is in limited supply during weekdays – a little better during weekends, but then again this is Spoleto time so parking anywhere in Charleston will be a challenge. It’s possible at times to find good spaces, but you’ll have to work at it.

On what seems like the other side of Charleston – overlooking the Cooper River and Charleston Harbor is the City Gallery at Waterfront Park, located at 34 Prioleau Street in Charleston. It may be far from most other exhibits but the gallery has a lot in its favor – public rest rooms, a parking garage across the street and the Waterfront Park in its front yard. On view from May 20 through July 3, 2010, is the exhibit, Contemporary Charleston 2010, a Piccolo Spoleto Festival exhibition presented by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, curated by Erin Glaze, gallery coordinator and artist Max Miller. The exhibit matches Artist/Poet teams including: Timmy Pakron and Carol Anne Davis; Benjamin Hollingsworth and Paul Allen; Scott Debus and Brian Penberthy; Kat Hastie and Katherine Williams; Sarah Haynes and Dennis Ward Stiles; Jocelyn Chateauvert and Carol Peters; Max Miller and Morrow Dowdle; Julio Cotto and Jonathan Sanchez; Hirona Matsuda and Marcus Amaker; and Lynne Riding and Ellie Davis. The gallery is open Tue.-Fri., 10am-6pm and Sat. & Sun., noon-5pm during exhibits.

Again, this is far from the Visitor Center, but you can take the trolley and get off at the corner of East Bay Street and Broad Street – at that point you’re just a block from the gallery.

From the City Gallery at Waterfront Park, you can walk down the park toward Charleston’s Market area to The Art Institute of Charleston Gallery, located at 24 N. Market Street in downtown Charleston. Here you can see the exhibit, Composition & Decomposition, featuring an exhibit of paintings of Tate Nation, 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Festival poster artist along with photography by Sandy Logan, 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Spotlight Concert Series poster artist. This gallery is open Mon.-Thur., 8am-8pm; Fri., 8am-5pm & Sat., 8am-1pm.

Work by Tate Nation

There are other visual art offerings being presented by the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, but if I told you everything you would have nothing to discover on your own. You can get further information by calling the Office of Cultural Affairs at 843/724- 7305, but might have better luck by visiting (

And, while visiting all or any of these venues – if you keep your eyes open, you’ll notice commercial art galleries located throughout Charleston – you’re never more than a few blocks from another art gallery and in some areas of the city – dozens are within a block of each other.


The Big Piccolo Spoleto Exhibition at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston, SC

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

What do you do when the weathermen are calling for 100+ degree temps in the Charleston, SC, area? Why you jump in your car and travel to North Charleston, SC, to photograph an outdoor sculpture exhibit and then head to downtown Charleston to check out the big Piccolo Spoleto exhibit,Contemporary Charleston 2009: Revelation of Process, featuring works by Dorothy Netherland, Jonathan Brilliant, Ben Timpson, Karin Olah and Ishmael, on view at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park. Surely, you didn’t think I was going to cut grass or rake leaves.

More about the outdoor sculpture exhibit in another blog.

I purposely put off seeing the exhibition as City Gallery at Waterfront Park as I knew it would get a lot of chatter during the festivals by local and regional media, but after the Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto Festivals were over – coverage would drop off a cliff. But, the show is still on view through July 26, 2009. People still have a month to go see it, but most of the media will have moved on to today’s news. They have all been there and done that.

I’ve read a lot of those pre-event articles and reviews, but didn’t absorb much. I was waiting to see it for myself. I do agree that this is one of the best exhibits that I have seen at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park. Was it the best Piccolo Spoleto exhibit ever? I wouldn’t go that far, but it would be in the top five – maybe number two or three.

Would I crown Erin Glaze – King of Curators? She did a good job, but I’d have to see a few more shows under her hand before I could come close to saying that. But, it was a heck of a first time. This space has gone through a lot of gallery directors, gallery coordinators – whatever the title is from day to day. There’s no telling who will be in charge next year. Well, I know – Ellen Dressler Moryl is in charge and next year she may decide to feature one of her friends. You just never know. So, I’m not letting this show change my mind about the direction of this gallery space and what the future will bring. I always have hope, but I’m also a realist.

But, I, like others, would like to see Glaze do a few more exhibits – on her own. She added some touches to this exhibit which really helped the viewers get a grip on the process of creating art – in the artist’s own words and actions. Austin Nelson, who created the video clips – shown in a loop at the gallery near each artist’s works  really gave those who took the time to view them an insight into these artists’ world  – the process of creation. Also, there were small stations which also showed more details of how these artists work or where they come from – their influences and backgrounds, or in some cases – the world they were focused on. Beyond an exhibit catalog, these two elements added much to this exhibition.


So, on to the works.

When I entered the gallery I turned directly to the left – avoiding the  70,000 pound gorilla in the room. These were works by Ben Timpson. The first works were small boxes, mounted on the wall, with a framed round magnifying glass – which you were to look through. What you saw was a small image backlit by white light – like a peep show. These unusual images were made up of parts of other objects – some from plants, bugs – whatever. I found these interesting works of art. But once these same type of images were blown up to a much larger scale – presented like a painting – they lost some appeal. But that’s just me. Others enjoyed these works as much as I did the smaller boxes.

This was the first time I’ve seen any work by this artist, so it would be hard to make much of a judgement on whether I liked it or not overall. I liked the small boxes and the fact that some were placed really low – maybe for better viewing by children or to make adults think the effort of bending down would reveal something naughty. Anytime you make the audience work for their supper it’s a good thing.

I next moved upstairs where I knew I would find Karin Olah’s works. I must declare up front that I’m a big fan of Olah’s work, Linda and I own one of her works, and I even put one of her images on the cover ofCarolina Art’s May 2009 issue – one of our last color covers for awhile. I hope it’s not too long before we get back to color covers. So, I’m already sold on Olah’s work. But, she never fails to amaze me and show me she has places to go that I have not seen.  I  look forward to a long journey following her work.


And, it was apparent many others wanted to take that journey too. Olah had an entire wall of smaller – very nicely priced works – mostly sold. She by far has sold the most works during this exhibit. Now, that is not the purpose of these lofty exhibitions at non-profit gallery spaces, but most of the time – even at major museums – the works on display by living (contemporary) artists can be purchased, if they are not on loan by a previous buyer. So, although no one is keeping score – I like the fact that many others enjoy my taste in art and Olah’s work. She also sold some of her larger works too and I must say this is another good sign that the economy is getting better – even if at a snail’s pace.

As an added touch for this exhibit, Olah also used some of her same graphic techniques on the walls of the gallery to link some of her works together. I liked the effect, having known the work and knowing this is not usual. Others may not have seen it the same way, but I must say that when this same technique was used to blend Olah’s work together with the other artist sharing the upstairs space (Ishmael), the linkage seemed to be a train wreck to me – especially when that linkage went into one of Olah’s works. Again, just my personal feeling, but they could be feelings over another subject altogether.


The artist Ishmael’s roots are in street graffiti. I am not a fan of street graffiti at all – especially when it is done on other people’s private property. Olah and I have had discussions about this subject – on opposite ends of the subject, but I hope we respect each other’s points of view. She’s a fan and I’m not, so it’s hard to say if my feelings about the mingling of her art with his doesn’t stem from my views on graffiti. I hope I’m being objective.

Now all that aside, I liked Ishmael’s works in this exhibition. I have no problem with the technique of graffiti or style – as long as it ends up on materials owned by the artists. Hey, I don’t care for billboards either. But, I always have to wonder how this artist would feel if some of his street friends came into the gallery space and did their thing on his works – would he feel honored or violated? My guess is – publicly honored – no big deal – part of the process, but privately a little violated – especially during his big moment – especially if it had happened to one of the works that had sold and the buyers no longer like the “tagged” work.


So, I’d like to see more of Ishmael’s work – on canvas, board, even gallery walls, but not out on the streets. He’s got too much talent to see it white washed away by citizen groups cleaning up the streets.

Next, I walked downstairs – again avoiding the gorilla, and checked out Dorothy Netherland’s works. I’ve seen her work before in many places and I like what she is doing. Although Netherland was born in the 60′s, I wouldn’t think of her as living in the same time period as I did, born a decade earlier, but her work focuses on that time period when I was growing up. By the time she was 10 years old it was the 70′s and America had changed a lot. So, when I look at her imagery I see my past as a child – I’m one of the little boys with the cowboy hat and silver six-shooters.

These were the golden years, the last days of innocence for America. When I went trick-or-treating, “without” my parents, I didn’t have to worry about people putting razor blades in the apples they gave me or riding my bike several neighborhoods over and staying out late after dark. I wasn’t going to be killed in a drive-by shooting. These were Good Times or Happy Days or were those just TV shows? Of course there was duck and cover drills in school; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy; and eventually Vietnam. But we could watch reruns of I Love Lucy and Leave it to Beaverand think it was all innocent.

This is not a world or time period you see many artists today focused on which in itself can be shocking. Some of the imagery if looked at under today’s standards of “you better be careful” might suggest another world. Are images of an older man hugging or carrying a young girl innocent or something else? It makes you think of how did we get from there to where we are now in just a short span of time? Does the picture really tell the story?

Damm you artists – stop making us think and question. You’re going to ruin my childhood memories. But then there is always TVLand . A few episodes of I Love Lucy can take you away.

Before I move on to that gorilla, I heard someone say my name and I looked up and saw Mary Gilkerson, who was also viewing this exhibit with her daughter. Gilkerson used to write art reviews for us – way back when – and now writes art reviews for freetimes in Columbia, SC. And, I learned that she will probably be doing a review of this show on her blog,SCARTblog. So, you can look for a much more insightful review of this show on her blog.

So, finally we have the installation piece by Jonathan Brilliant, made of 70,000 wooden coffee stirrers, the same kind used at Starbucks, which takes up the entire middle space of the gallery from downstairs to the upstairs’ railings. None of the sticks are glued together – they are all woven and held in place by tension. One child could get lose from a parent and the whole thing could come crashing down. Now, that’s art on the edge.



I never did see a title for this work, and other installation works he has done are named after the space they were made in, so I guess this will be known as the City Gallery at Waterfront Park 2009 piece.


People should come to this exhibition just to see this work alone and the rest of the art will be the gravy. It’s an amazing act of art, patience, and faith. What if he couldn’t finish it in time? What if it fell apart before the show opened? What if some child did run into it at the opening? Then what do you have but a pile of sticks? I’ve seen site-specific works that were just a pile of sticks and it was not so impressive – not hardly.


I’ve always had a hard time dealing with site-specific art in that it is all just temporary, but a work like this – beyond photographs, the artists walks away with nothing but a pile of sticks. On the bright side – those 70,000 coffee stirrers can maybe live on in the creation of another installation. A painter can’t recover the paint on their canvas to use in another painting. At least I don’t think they can.

I’ve seen a lot of wonderful site-specific art throughout the years, but I always saw them as a loss – as we couldn’t keep them around for others to see – generation after generation – just pictures or written words. It’s not the same as seeing them in place, but then I guess that’s the point of it all.


I’ve seen other works by Brilliant before in fringe exhibits during Piccolo Spoleto, but this is by far the largest. According to the exhibit catalog it may be his largest work to date. And, I don’t care how many photographs are taken of the work – they will never do justice to seeing the work up close – in 3D (no special glasses needed). So go see this exhibit.

I had another 60′s flashback looking at Brilliant’s piece. My older brother and I used to make exploding projectiles out of popcycle sticks – woven together. We could throw them around the house and not break anything as the minute they touched anything solid they would explode. For a moment, just a moment – an image of a little boy (let’s say a boy in a red cowboy hat and silver six-shooters blazing away) running head first into Brilliant’s work gave me this super special effects movie in my head of the City Gallery at Waterfront Park exploding and coffee stirrers flying hundreds of feet in the air in all directions. I wonder if Brilliant has nightmares about that or secretly thinks of being that child. After all, he made it.

Well, if for some unimaginable reason you should miss seeing this exhibition, the Redux Contemporary Art Center in Charleston, SC, will be presenting the exhibit, Past Presence, featuring works by  Karin Olah, Jonathan Brilliant, Kevin Hoth, Dorothy Netherland, Seth Curcio, Jarod Charzewski and Tim Hussey, from July 24 through Aug. 16, 2009. It seems strange that another institution in Charleston would program such a show featuring three of the five artists in this show so soon, but it may have been a replacement show for some exhibit that had to be cancelled. Or perhaps it’s to remind folks that these artists started out first at Redux. Either way – there’s more good art to see this summer.

The City Gallery at Waterfront Park is also offering a series of lectures in conjunction with the exhibit including: On June 27, 2009, from 2-5pm – Karin Olah Lecture & Demonstration – Using fabric, Olah works in a manner that mimics the flow of paint from a brush. Intricately cut, placed, and pasted textiles are combined with gouache, acrylic, and graphite to create collage paintings that are deep in color and texture. Part 1: Informal Talk & Short Demo. Part 2: Community Collaboration. Olah will provide materials and instructions for a fabric collage painting. Everyone is invited to contribute and paint on this piece. Attendees may bring in their own fabric scraps for the collage painting! Part 3: Donate to Olah’s fabric collection by bringing in solid or striped clean, natural fiber scraps (no patterns, please). Your scrap may be part of a future collage painting! One-of-a-kind “Art-Scrap Cards” will also be sold at this event only! Take home a Karin Olah original for only $12! On July 11, 2009, Time TBA – Lecture by Dorothy Netherland. On July 18, 2009, Time TBA – Lecture by Jonathan Brilliant. These programs are free and open to the public. For further info call the City Gallery at Waterfront Park at 843/958-6484.

And, remember if you are coming from out of town to see either of these exhibits, check out some of the commercial art galleries in Charleston. There’s a lot to see in a wide variety of styles. You can find days and times gallery spaces are open at Carolina Arts Online under our Gallery Listings pages.

Piccolo Spoleto Festival Exhibitions Slip Away Again

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Even with the best of intentions on my part, once again many of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival visual art offerings have slipped away before I could get by to see them. Even some of the exhibits I did get to see are over before I could post a blog about them. I have always said that the Spoleto and Piccolo Festivals were not designed to fit my schedule. I have to have my June issue turned into the printer before the festivals even start and then once they have started I’m delivering papers and then preparing for the July issue. It’s just not a good time for me to get out and see all that is being offered. This blog helps some, but not enough. But, I did get to see some and a few will still be on display for some time to come.

This year I did not get to visit the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit 2009but once and that was not a long visit at that. I got reports about what was going on from various sources, but that’s not the same as being there and getting a first hand impression from artists and visitors. Sixteen days sounds like a lot of time, but it’s not. I have always said that this show is the marathon of all visual art events and that the artists who go through it in South Carolina’s “what next?” weather challenges are the toughest folks around. Not to mention putting up with the viewing public’s repetitive questions. It can also be a roller-coaster ride of emotions – watching your neighboring artist make sales while you don’t; making sales while others don’t and not being able to feel good about it or at least brag about it; wondering what else you could have done with these 16 days; and promising yourself this is the last year you’ll do this. But, in the end it all turns out all right and most return – year after year. And, they end up meeting some wonderful new customers and a lot of old customers who are now friends – that return year after year.

If you want a little taste of what it’s like being one of the 100 + artists down in Marion Square Park in Charleston, SC, during this exhibition visit Amelia “Mimi” Whaley’s blog. You can review her 16-day journal of being there.

While delivering the June issue I did get by to see the exhibit, From Quilts in the Attic to Quilts on the Wall: Exploring Textile Art by African Americans, on view at 10 Storehouse Row at The Navy Yard at Noisette (on the former Charleston Naval Base) in North Charleston, SC. This exhibit ended on June 7, 2009, like many of the Piccolo Spoleto exhibits. This exhibit was also part of North Charleston Arts Festival which took place early in May. The artists in this exhibit explore and depict their African heritage through quilting – some traditional, some non-traditional. Here’s a few images of some of the quilts.

Sophia Rising by Torreah Washington

Sacred Letters by Dorothy Montgomery

Here’s a little commentary for the folks developing The Navy Yard at Noisette. If they don’t do something about the main roads there – people will never come there and I’m going to stop coming and tell people not to go there. Paving over those roads is long overdue.

I also got to see the exhibit, BREAKING OUT, a Piccolo Spoleto art exhibition for adults with intellectual disabilities, sponsored by the Hulsey Law Group and presented at Charleston City Hall at 80 Broad Street in downtown Charleston. At the four corners of the law to be exact. This show also ended June 7, 2009.


The exhibit was coordinated by: Special Olympics of South Carolina, City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, VSA Arts of South Carolina and SC Arts Commission. It provided an opportunity for artists with intellectual disabilities to speak using the vocabulary of art. The artists communicate through their paintings and pottery and in so doing break down the walls raised by their disabilities. But the location of this exhibit wasn’t going to break down the walls of competition for viewing exhibits during these busy Festivals. The lobby at City Hall is not made for exhibitions and people don’t expect to find exhibits there and other than the Spoleto Festival’s opening ceremony – nothing else happens in that part of the city – as far as Festival events go. This show could have been placed at the Charleston Visitor Center.

Without knowing the particulars of this exhibition most viewers might not know these people were not your average artist guild novice, folk artists or visionary artists, but considering their disabilities, the works can take on an exceptional quality.

Although there were people (I don’t want to use the word artist) here from Beaufort, SC, and Spartanburg, SC, it would be nice if this was an exhibit which was the result of a statewide competition among adults creating works with intellectual disabilities. That would add an extra level of accomplishment for the participants.

Some might ask why is this work being presented at these major art festivals? Well, creating something is a powerful action. The arts are used by many, other than artists, for expression, therapy (physical and mental), and for relaxation. Why shouldn’t that side of the arts be seen at an arts festival?

It also should be noted that beyond the exhibit’s main sponsor many contributions were made by some of Charleston’s commercial art businesses and commercial art galleries. These people contribute to a lot of non-profit efforts, but when it comes time to think about who should receive public funding or public help in tough times, these same folks are left out of the picture. It’s not all about making money for these folks – it’s about being part of the greater art community and community in general. It’s time they should get some credit for that.

And, Mayor Joseph Riley (Charleston’s Mayor), you better do something about your streets too. Stop saying it’s the SC Highway Department’s duty to keep your city’s streets decent.

Well, although I couldn’t draw any visitors to these exhibits, by reviewing them before they were over, beyond our pre-coverage of these events in Carolina Arts and on our website Carolina Arts Online, we have given them a little recognition and life in cyber space. That’s the best we could do this year.

“25th Annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival Juried Arts Exhibition”

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

I’m not sure you’ll be able to call this a review, but I went by the Charleston Visitor Center (Charleston, SC) today and viewed the 25th Annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival Juried Art Exhibition. The Exhibit is organized by the Charleston Artist Guild for the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs. After viewing all the works once, I picked up the official program for the show and began to go over it. The program stated that 140 artists submitted 3 works each = 420 works of which the two jurors for this show selected 37 photographs and 63 paintings/2D = 100 works in the show. My first reaction was that there couldn’t be 100 works in this exhibit, but I’m sure there were. I may not have seen some works as well as I would like as they were nearly on the floor – not the best angle to view art.


I also looked through the program to see if this was really two different shows – one being the Piccolo Spoleto Festival Juried Photography Exhibition and the other being the Piccolo Spoleto Festival Juried Painting/2D Exhibition. You see, the photography was displayed all together on one side of the room and the paintings/2D were displayed together on the other side. Why was this done I wondered? Was it to make for easy comparison against the works that won awards and those that didn’t in each media? Or, was it not to confuse the public who might not be able to tell the difference between mediums? It couldn’t be that as the media was printed on each work of art’s tag. The organizers of the exhibit brought in two different jurors to select works in the two different categories for First, Second, Third, and Honorable Mention awards in each category.


Is this still the old thing that photography is just not worthy to stand up next to a painting/2D? Is this art segregation in the old South? If this was not the intention of the organizers – all the signs were there. Can’t we all just get along? Not sure on that one.

This juried opportunity is open to artists from all over South Carolina, and it had some very good works by some of the states’ well-known, well-exhibited, and award-winning artists. It also had a lot of good work by artists I’ve never heard of – which is a good sign for South Carolina. There were some works that I wouldn’t have put on display, but without seeing the other 320 works submitted – that’s hard to say, but I bet some really good works didn’t make the cut. Which is the usual case in a juried show. But fitting 100 works into the space allotted was a disservice to many of these artists. I like the venue of the Visitor Center because many people will view this exhibit, just passing through, but the show no longer gets the space from the Center this exhibition needs. And, like it or not – this show might be the first and only impression of the visual arts in Charleston and of what’s being offered during the Piccolo Festival. It’s like a gateway exhibit. It should be our best foot forward. This show offered some good glimpses.

There was a time when the Piccolo Spoleto Juried Exhibition was the major visual art attraction of the Piccolo Festival, but after 25 years, it seems a disinherited cousin squeezed into a smaller and smaller space. An exhibit of 50 works would have looked much better in the space. In a better, more expansive space this exhibition could be a major display of some of South Carolina’s best works by its best artists – on the level of the 2008 juried exhibition at the SC State Museum in Columbia, SC. After all, the Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto Festivals are this state’s major art events. Why isn’t it the major showplace of the state’s art creators?

Let’s get back to the jurors. Why do you need two jurors to select works for an art show? Shouldn’t one well qualified person be able to judge paintings and photography alike? I think they should. In this case each juror was only selecting works in the two separate medias (Photography & Painting/2D) – so you don’t even get the advantage of jury by committee – if there is such an advantage. In the past, I think this show even had a third juror to select craft items. I think it’s time to try the one juror system. After all – all juried shows are just the results of one person’s opinion at that time. One added thought – wouldn’t it be nice if all juried shows featuring artists from throughout the state would be juried by an out of state juror? It’s not easy jurying a show in an area where you work and live.

By the way, Dr. Leo Twiggs juried the painting/2D works and Stacy Pearsail juried the photography.

So let’s see – I didn’t like the way the two media were separated and displayed and I don’t like the format for the jury system. And, the venue is good, but too little space is given up for this exhibit. How about the artworks – what about them?

Well, this is definitely a show worth the effort to go see – there are some very interesting things to see. It’s a good thing I took my own notes as I later realized that the exhibit program only listed the last names of the artists.

Bruce Nellsmith

I liked works by Bill Buggel, Toni Elkins, Carolyn Epperly, Susan Lenz, Edward Shumes, Amelia Rose Smith, Janet Kozachek, and Kathleen Pompe, but my favorite this day was a painting by Bruce Nellsmith – which was hung a little too high on the wall, but I really liked it. Now in this case I’m not a juror – picking works over others, but like a juror – these selections are works I liked based on my opinions and feelings at the time. A week later and a repositioning of works in the space and I might have a totally different list of works. And hopefully that’s the way others viewing the exhibit will look at this exhibit too – picking their favorites.

There were a few other works that stood out. One was a photograph by Chris Tertzagian – it was not framed – no frame at all. I’m sure all works were supposed to be framed. I hope it makes it through the life of the exhibit. Also in looking at the program I noticed a few area codes for a couple of artists’ contact numbers were (347), (404), (406) and (603). The 347 code is for New York City, the 404 is for the Atlanta, GA, area, the 406 is for Montana and the 603 is for New Hampshire. I hope these were artists who have moved to SC and still have old cell phone contracts in those states. If not, someone should have wondered why these artists had strange area codes for SC. If these artists pulled the wool over the organizers’ eyes – they also screwed real SC artists.

One name I saw at the exhibit took me back a few years – Cheryl Baskins Butler. If this is the same Cheryl, and I’m not sure it is, because she used to do printworks – woodcuts and such, but this was a traditional acrylic painting. If it is the person I hope it is – Cheryl, it’s nice to have you back in the area.

So there you go. This show will be on view through June 5, 2009. If you get a chance go see it and see how my opinions stacks up with yours.

I also stopped by the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit 2009 in Marion Square, but I didn’t have time to check it all out so I can’t say much about it other than things seemed to be going well. I heard that some artists were doing really well. Anytime you gather 100 or so artists together you’re going to hear a wide spectrum of stories on how things are going but I didn’t hear any real complaints – at least not yet. This was before the halfway mark. This show will be there till June 6, 2009, but that doesn’t leave a lot of time. So go check this show out too. The Juried Exhibition and the Outdoor Exhibition are within a block of each other.

I talked with Vickie Ellis, one of the show’s coordinators and I’m mentioning her name because we talked about blogging and searching people’s names and events and how that all works. So for the record that was Victoria Platt Ellis, one of the coordinators of the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit 2009. The other coordinator is Billie Sumner.

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.