Posts Tagged ‘Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit 2009’

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.