Posts Tagged ‘Spoleto Festival USA’

Truth Be Told About Spoleto Festival USA – Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

spoletologo

I found these two quotes from Nigel Redden in an interview from the Reuters News Service about funding cuts to the arts on the internet. They are the first quotes I’ve seen with some truth told about the festival mixed in with a little wishful thinking.

The first quote is the wishful thinking on the financial impact of the festival: “Those cuts have come despite the fact that the Spoleto Festival brings between $55 million and $70 million to South Carolina each year,” Redden said.

$55 to $70 million – that’s quite a spread there. But, if this was true, the hotels, restaurants, and airlines should put up most of the $7.5 million budget for the festival – they’re the ones that would benefit the most. But those numbers come from economic formulas – not hard numbers. It’s economic guessing.

The second quote was the truth part: “The festival draws 25,000 to 35,000 people to the coastal city, and they buy 73,000 performance tickets and spend money on hotels, food, merchandise and tourist attractions,” he said.

Finally, we get the truth about how many people the festival attracts each year. They used to repeat this phrase until every reporter had it ingrained in their vocabulary when talking about Spoleto. “The Spoleto Festival attracts 100,000 people each year to Charleston and generates $70 million in economic impact”.

One year I called the box office after the festival was over and asked how many tickets they sold. The answer was around 70,000. Very interesting.

Unless 30,000 people were getting free admission, that was a long way from 100,000. There are a lot of folks who get given free tickets, but you have to be someone of fame, power, or at least have influence over funding. I knew there were very few people who come to Charleston to just attend one event. I also knew that a lot of locals go to Spoleto events. So, it wasn’t hard to figure that the real number was closer to 25,000 people coming to Charleston for the festival and it could even be less than that. It could be as little as 10,000 people coming from out of town to attend Spoleto events and if you start thinking about how many people come from towns and cities not too far from Charleston, but are in-State residents – the number could even get smaller.

There is a good reason Spoleto starts its festival every year during the Memorial Day Weekend. Charleston will be full of people that weekend and it makes it look like they’re all here for Spoleto, but if you ask people on the streets if they are here for Spoleto, 9 out of 10 won’t be and 7 of those won’t even know what Spoleto is. The festival has contracted the College of Charleston to do surveys, but what that means is positioning students in front of Spoleto venues before performances and asking folks going in the doors if they’re here for Spoleto – it’s very scientific.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re lucky to have the Spoleto Festival, but it has been over-sold for years as far as its impact on the economy and the city of Charleston. And, 10,000 well-off folks spending money in Charleston is nothing to throw away. But the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, a visual art event, says they attract the same number of people, if not more, and have the same economic impact, if not more – and it’s an extended weekend compared to the three weeks of Spoleto. Of course its audience might be considered a little less refined. But they spend big bucks all the same.

Frankly, all events like this embellish the numbers on attendance and economic impact – they have to in order to attract donations and sponsorships. It’s the American way. We can’t be happy with reality – we have to be BIGGER than life.

It was refreshing to see the truth said for once – even if it was in an interview not seen in any local or regional papers. They’re all still repeating the original phrase of 100,000 visitors/$70 million impact.

Of course Spoleto could improve those numbers – if they actually put a visual art component back into the festival. But because they have no place they can present such visual arts and charge admission – they’re not interested. But it would attract more donations, more press coverage, and more people interested in visual art events.

Of course without the Spoleto Festival USA there would be no Piccolo Spoleto Festival – the “little” festival with its overkill of 700 plus events. And, without Piccolo there would be no cover for the City of Charleston to inject more funding into local performing art groups – who are paid to participate – here, there, and everywhere.

Talk about affirmative action and art welfare – Piccolo Spoleto is the poster child for propping up art groups who operate in the red constantly. And after June 11 – they will disappear until September when and if they can afford to present a “season” once more. I think of them as the part-time arts community, but with benefits. Except for the underpaid musicians of the Charleston Symphony who have to be the cheapest professionals on the planet – I’m not sure you should be able to call yourself a professional when your income is way below the poverty level.

So what’s my point in all this? It’s very simple.

The visual art community in Charleston is the real economic engine in this area and they get very little support or respect from the local, state, and national government sectors. They’re offering the arts all year long – in most cases for free. There is no “season” for the visual arts community. Sure, some times of the year are busier than others, but the show goes on no matter what.

So, maybe it’s time to concentrate on giving the visual art community some support, which will deliver a bigger economic payoff for the community, instead of pouring money down a black hole in trying to support arts groups who will always be a drain on the resources of the community.

But, then again, when I think that we have the same leadership in the arts community that we’ve had for the last 20-30 years – I know nothing is going to change.

The Visual Arts Scene is Exploding in May in South Carolina

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

511fireworks

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 (www.northcharleston.org).

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 (brenda@realworldartisans.com). 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 (www.art-trail-gallery.com).

Of course the First Friday is usually when dozens of art walks are held all over the Carolinas. Just check our paper Carolina Arts(www.carolinaarts.com) 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 (www.FrenchQuarterArts.com)  or (http://www.charlestongalleryrow.com/).

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 (www.sculptureinthesouth.com).

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 (http://www.columbiaopenstudios.org). 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
(www.CeladonFineArtsFestival.org).

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.

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.

510piccolorrocz
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 (www.mimispaintingaday.blogspot.com). 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.

510melissaGravano-359x450
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?

510redux-CoryOberndorfer2
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.

510nickcave
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.

510phyllisgalembo
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.

510tatenation1-450x355
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 (www.PiccoloSpoleto.com).

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.

Enjoy.

“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.

509piccolo-jsphoto

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.

509piccolo-js-paint

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.

509piccolo-jsbnellsmith
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.