Posts Tagged ‘Sumter County Gallery of Art’

A March Through SC’s Pee Dee Area – Viewing Exhibits Here, There, and Everywhere – Part One

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Linda, my better half, and I planned a grand trek to see numerous exhibits on Friday, March 18, 2011, with the end stop being the reception for thePhotofabulous exhibit, the largest collection of photography on display in SC, at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, which started at 5:30pm.

The master plan was to leave Bonneau, SC, the headquarters of Carolina Arts, and head toward Sumter, SC, to see the exhibits at the Sumter County Gallery of Art, which opened at 11am. So we left at 9am to make sure we were there on time.

From Sumter it would be a mad dash to Hartsville, SC, to squeeze in the door of the Black Creek Arts Center which closed at 1pm. That meant we had to leave Sumter before noon and hope we didn’t get stuck behind a farmer on his tractor on a winding two-lane road. While in Hartsville we would also take in the exhibit at Coker College.

From Hartsville, we would move on to Darlington, SC, to check out a couple of commercial galleries and then move on to Florence for the BIG show.

That was the plan.

To Linda’s credit, who worked a 12 hour shift on Thursday, we were driving away from our headquarters by 8:58am – a good sign. And as it turned out we arrived in Sumter a lot earlier than I expected. It’s been a few years since Sumter was on our delivery route and I expect to travel slower during the day than at night. So we had bonus time in Sumter.

No problem – we headed over to USC-Sumter to the University Gallery, located in the Anderson Library, to see Doni Jordan’s exhibit, doni jordan: tomes, on view through April 12, 2011.

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When you see one image that is sent to you to represent an exhibit, it can really taint your expectations of what you will see. The written words in a press release can fill in some of the blanks, but not much. I had the impression that the exhibit would be different combinations of old printer type in window boxes – not so. There was plenty of that but much more.

I took a few photos, but the gallery space has museum lighting – which is good for getting up close to works but not good for photography and when works are behind glass or Plexiglas – flash photography is just another problem.

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Part of the exhibit was a display of old typewriters – which could be considered museum pieces now, since most people under 25 probably haven’t seen many around. It won’t be long before computer keyboards are in the same boat.

 

In fact, many things in this exhibit will age the person who recognizes the items included. A lot of the items assembled are no longer used – replaced by new technology or soon will be – including the books which may have been made using these old tools of typography. But, Jordan makes creative use of them in making statements in her assembled works – including wood and metal type, tin type photos, binding thread, spools, and small books – with an occasional message spelled out in the mix.

You can read more in our March 2011 issue of Caroli311usc-sum-doni-jordan3na Arts. Tick-Tock – time to move on.

We’re standing at the door of the Sumter County Gallery of Art at the Sumter County Cultural Center, at 11am, but the door is locked. Five minutes later the door is still locked. We can see through the door and people are working down a long hallway in the Patriot Hall part of the building. When we arrived I saw people unloading something at a side door so I go around, go in and find someone in the Gallery shop and ask if they are open. They are and I tell them the gallery door is still locked. I wish I had a nickel  for every time that has happened over the years.

The Sumter County Gallery of Art may still have a name connected to the past, but their gallery space rivals any at art museums in the Carolinas. It’s why they can attract top tier artists to exhibit in Sumter. That’s not a slap at Sumter – more at top tier artists. You’ll be able to see that in the photos I was able to take.

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I came to see the exhibits: Joe Walters: A Mid-career Retrospective, featuring a major exhibition of sculpture and works on paper by Charleston, SC-based artist Joe Walters and Anne Lemanski: Touch and Go, featuring a selection of her highly crafted sculptural works that utilize familiar forms to explore the inconsistencies and contradictions she sees in the world, from our culture’s treatment of women to its exploitation of both domesticated and wild animals. Both exhibits are on view through April 22, 2011.

If you can’t get to Sumter and you’re closer to Charleston, the Corrigan Gallery in Charleston is showing, A Riff on Nests, featuring sculptures and works on paper by Joe Walters, his first show in Charleston in many years – showing works in the same style as those being shown in Sumter. This exhibit is up through March 31, 2011.

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This is a detail shot of a larger work.

I’ve always liked Walters’ animal installations and this is a little different – more flora than fauna, but in the same style where the sculptural works have the look of years of built up rust – in brown or gray.

The works on paper have the same rusty brown color and a rough surface – also implying age.

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The works cry out to be touched, but please don’t. Like all things in nature – they are better off viewed from a distance than having humans touch them in our often rough and destructive ways.

Anne Lemanski: Touch and Go, is a good match for Walters’ exhibit as her works also show man’s “destructive” effects on animals.

Her work 21st Century Super Species: Jack-dor, dominates the display of animals who, in the form Lemanski presents, show how they might have adapted under man’s reign on this planet. This rabbit creature stands 8 feet tall,  has a 10 foot wingspan and is composed of many parts from other animals. The creature brings up the thought – Is this what man will have to deal with in the future if he doesn’t clean up his act and clean up the environment of this planet? According to Darwin – the animals will adapt. Of course we will too as we are just another animal.

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All of these creatures, that may seem like familiar animals, have adapted bright colors or a sort of camouflage and all give off the message – man beware – even the look on a giant golden frog’s head is menacing.

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Lemanski also offers a display of hairstyles of women from different decades – a commentary on how women were perceived.

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One hairstyle was titled, 1960 Occupation: Housewife, was pink and resembled the logo for the movie Hairspray. You might see women wearing these dos on the popular TV show Madmen. Another, titled 1940 For The Boys, may have represented the style women wore in the war factories while their men were off fighting WWII. There were two badges or buttons on the piece which showed 40′s style pinup gals.

 

We have more about these exhibits in our March 2011 issue of Carolina Arts.

Before we left the Sumter County Gallery 311scga-anne-lemanski4of Art we walked down the hallway where we could see people working through the door when we couldn’t get in, and they were hanging a quilt show that was going to be at the Patriot Hall Galleries – just for that weekend.

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Quilt #143 – “Hanging Gardens of Bobbi Ann” by Barbara Fitzsimmons

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Detail of Quilt #178 – “Fish of Another Color” by Thomasyne Martin

This was going to be the 3rd Swan Lake Quilt Guild Quilt Extravaganza. The guild has 85 members and is growing. I took a few quick photos, but the lighting was not as good there, and we were on the run. Carolina Artsis making a lot of contacts with quilt guilds it seems, but most seem to be a little shy in dealing with us – as if they are not sure we would be interested. One of our favorite works of art in our collection is an art quilt from a friend who unfortunately lives in Virginia or you’d be seeing lots of her works in our paper. Tick-Tock!

The race is on to Hartsville – a town I haven’t been to in a least a decade if not longer. Fortunately, we run into no tractors on the road – a few old geezers in pickup trucks, but no big delays and we get there in time. As we are walking through the doors of the Black Creek Arts Center I see that they are now open until 2pm on Fridays. Of course that may have been their hours for some time now, but we had 1pm in our records. It’s corrected now.

No harm, no foul, except there were a couple of interesting places we would have stopped at as we passed through Bishopville on the way. I guess that will have to wait for another trek.

The Black Creek Arts Center is showing The Pate Family Art Exhibit, featuring works by 14 members of this family spanning four generations. It began with Wilhelmina Stucky Pate, and the exhibit is on view in the Jean & James Fort Gallery through April 29, 2011.

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Pate Family Tree

That’s a big family of artists and they do everything, paintings – big and small, photography, stained glass, jewelry, and architectural models. And, it seems they all work in various mediums. Makes you wonder if there is something like an art gene.

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“On the Way to St. Simons” by Charles Pate Jr.

Most of the Pate family works are pretty straight forward – there’s not many hidden meanings or messages here. That was a good thing as viewing this exhibit was sandwiched in between two exhibits where you had to put your thinking cap on.

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“Quiet Power” by Martin Pate

It has to be nice to come from an art family, having access to all that experience and knowledge. I guess it could be a problem if you didn’t really want to be an artist, but who doesn’t – right. Well, I might want to a little, but I’ve seen enough to know it’s no cake walk.

We have more info about this exhibit in our March 2011 issue of Carolina Arts.

We went upstairs at the Arts Center and found a lot more art on display and I guess a photography exhibit, but there wasn’t any formal info – these works may always be on display. I can hear people say – “Why didn’t you ask?” And, I don’t ask, as I expect things to be clearly marked or explained – I know lots of people won’t bother to ask so I want to see how each exhibit space handles such things.

It’s like unpriced art. If I have to ask, I’m not interested – even if I can afford it. I don’t have to worry about that these days – I’m in the selling mode more than buying.

It was upstairs where I saw a new form of photography. Our background is in photography, but photography is one of the few art mediums that seems to be ever changing. There were a couple of “photographs” by Suzanne Muldrow on the wall that when I looked at them my first question is – “How is this a photograph?” But, I was to learn about that later at the BIG photography exhibit. These images looked like drawings and I didn’t see anything that would have looked like photography. I couldn’t take a photo as the lighting was bad and the work was behind glass. It was the first of many new things I was going to learn about photography this day.

The Black Creek Arts Centers seems to be set up to do all things in the arts – exhibits, performances, and education – with lots of classroom spaces. It’s probably quite a beehive of activity for the Hartsville area.

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When we left the building I snapped a photo of the outside and later learned that the artwork out front was a sculpture display of old saw blades by Mike Fowle, who we had featured when I was last in Florence to see exhibits. Of course Hartsville is his and Patz Fowle’s hometown.

We drove over to Coker College, just a few blocks away from the Arts Center, parked and ate the lunch we brought with us – what a nice day – spring was in bloom and the weather was great.

The exhibit, Heather Freeman: Digital and Traditional Media, is on view through March 25, 2011, at the Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery in the Gladys Coker Fort Art Building.

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In the literature offered in the gallery it says that Freeman has been interested in science since she was a child. She is particularly interested in the language and symbolic forms of science and where these intersect with mythic, religious and popular iconography.

This was an exhibit where you were going to have to read a lot of offered materials to get the message the artist was hoping to get across to the viewer or not. Freeman might be just as happy with whatever you came up with – which I’m sure is different with every viewer.

The written materials also stated that Freeman was an assistant professor of digital media at the University of North Carolina, but finding the digital media was a trick in many of the images offered.

The tags on the works listed the media as digital print on watercolor paper, with added ink, graphite and watercolor. To me, digital print would mean some sort of photographed image was involved – whether it be a straight photograph or a copied or captured image from another photograph. But in Freeman’s images I would say the digital image represented at best 20 – 30% of the image and the rest was drawn in with the other media. In some it was maybe 50-50.

Freeman says, “I believe science has merged with popular culture to become a covertly ‘universal’ religion.”

The titles of some of the works helped somewhat, but to me these kinds of images are not as strong without the written materials. That’s just me.

One image was titled, Grandma teach me to sleep. From that I assumed that these are images of dreams and nightmares – products of restless sleep. I’m glad my life is a lot simpler.

Later that night at the BIG photography show when someone heard that we had just seen this exhibit they asked if the gallery director gave us the “tour” – explaining what each image meant. I hope that’s not where we are headed, where everyone has to be spoon-fed the meaning of art.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked a lot of the imagery, received some strong vibes from some and was disturbed by others – which should make any artist happy. She made me think and I’ll forever blame her for that.

We have more info about this exhibit in our March 2011 issue of Carolina Arts.

Before we left Coker College I snapped a few photos of the Pearl Fryar topiary garden on the Coker campus.

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Next up was Darlington, SC, to check out a couple of commercial galleries – The Chameleon Art Gallery and the Birds of a Feather Arts Gallery.

I’ve been to The Chameleon Art Gallery back when they first opened, but not since – again, during the old model for Carolina Arts, we could only afford to distribute the paper in areas we received income from – so we were not going to the Pee Dee much at all – even though I rode through the area each month on my way home from delivering in NC.

Since that time the gallery space had changed – with the times, or should I say economy? What was once a fully exhibition space was now part display, part service with a framing station and the rest was set up for teaching art classes. It was the first thing promoted to us when we entered.

A long, long time ago when we first started, I would walk into a gallery and if they had some new artsy knickknack items up for sale the gallery owner would apologize, and I would tell them, “don’t”. You have to do whatever it takes to bring in money to keep the doors open. After all, art galleries are not meant to be museums – where you just show art. If the doors are closed no artworks are on the walls, no artworks are seen and no artworks are ever purchased.

We had two art galleries that didn’t make the rent on their own in our past lives. We know how hard it is to keep the doors open and we started this paper to help galleries. Darlington is lucky to have art galleries.

We located the Birds of a Feather Gallery on our way out of the downtown area – with the help of Linda’s iPhone, but the gallery was closed at 2:25pm on Friday, even though the sign on the door said it should have been open. But, we don’t know what was going on so it was just another missed opportunity on both our parts. I could see that this gallery was also into art classes.

Hey, most of the press releases we get from the non-profit art centers and arts councils are about the classes they are offering. It’s what brings in the money.

There’s a lot of visual arts going on out there of all levels and you don’t have to go to the big city to have your brain challenged. Everything we saw could have just as well been on view in any of those big cities. So getting off the beaten path sometimes can bring rewards and discovery.

Next stop Florence – in Part Two.

News From Sumter, SC, Takes Time to Arrive in Bonneau, SC Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

I’ve noticed that the Internet does not work as fast from some places in the Carolinas. It might be because of electromagnetic fields the government has set up near secret military installations or… it could be due to swamp gas, but news about events taking place in some places seems to be a last minute idea. Nonetheless, we try to distribute it as soon as we can – even after a few follow-ups for further info.

Don’t look for any info about this event at Carolina Arts Online – as this info came in way after our deadlines. So here it is:

Accessibility 2009 Takes Place in Sumter, SC – Oct. 16, 2009

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Jarod Charzewski

Accessibility 2009: Cross Currents is Sumter, SC’s eleventh annual exhibition of public installation art. The annual Accessibility exhibitions feature contemporary art that is installed in and around Main Street businesses, alleyways, unoccupied buildings, sidewalks and other “public” areas of Sumter’s historic downtown area. This highly regarded contemporary art exhibition is considered by many to be one of the most important art events in South Carolina and aims to cultivate dynamic interest in the Sumter and regional art scenes. Accessibility 2009: Cross Currents will focus on New Media, Film and Video art installations as well as site-specific art installations of varying mediums. Featured installation artist Jarod Charzewski will be creating monumental pieces in two central locations in downtown Sumter. He will be working in a public forum in the Sumter community, providing many unique opportunities for the public to gain insight into the ‘process’ of installation and for social interaction with the visiting artist. In addition to these works there will 8 new media, film and video installations by nationally and internationally recognized artists from Taiwan to Israel, Buenos Aires to Winnepeg and from New York to California. In addition to this melting pot of artists there will also be an exhibition of local and emerging artists including Tarrence McDow and Jamie Caplinger, as well as a number of works from local high school students in the McDuffie Furniture building on S. Main. This yearsAccessibility is curated by Frank McCauley, Assistant Director and Curator for the Sumter County Gallery of Art.

Beginning at 6pm and running through 9pm Sumter Cruisers will be presenting a Classic Car Display on South Main while Second Nature will be performing some of the “best Beach Music in the south.” Food and refreshments will be available.

At 7:30pm, Sapphire Moon Dance Company from Columbia, SC, will perform, “dazzling the audience with sounds, words, movements and shapes while creating a very Kafkaesque modern criticism of our overly-wired society.”

Due to the nature of the spaces and the amount of equipment needed and staffing issues, a number of spaces will not be available to the public after opening night. However the major installations by Jarod Charzewski will be up for six weeks and can be viewed by appointment.

Featured Installation, New Media, Film & Video artists:

Jarod Charzewski’s art examines landscapes and people, man-made structures among nature, the sometimes static, and often-fluid designs that rise from dual environments. Space motivates his concepts. The visual characteristics of bridges and railroad tracks, tunnels, urban communities at large, cast against the strength of natural landscapes, reflect the relationship between viewer and the work. He enhances this relationship through accessible installations, monuments to nature, to man, and to our cohabitation. The art reveals the mystery of individual perceptions and develops a platform where ideas gain scope.

Yaron Lapid is an Israeli artist currently living in London who’s work, The New Zero, plays on the nature of photography and its ability to assemble and disassemble layers of history. In 1999, Lapid found on the floor of a recently demolished area in Jerusalem, several envelopes containing hundreds of black and white photographs and negatives, which were probably the leftovers of a former photographic studio. Lapid has reprocessed the found material to create an atypical “family album” composed of moving portraits that fluidly fade into black before revealing their main features. By reversing the conventions of documentary editing, the video focuses on marginal details such as body posture, clothes and accessories to suggest the habits and costumes of Jerusalem in the 70s, providing hints of the atmosphere of that time.

Clint Enns resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and is currently a masters student in mathematics at the University of Manitoba. His interests include cinema, model theory of rings and modules, natural language as a biological phenomenon and the logical vocabulary of natural language. Clint has been an avid cinephile for many years, and has only recently started making films. Sacrificial Memories, is an experimental film made from discarded film footage found in thrift shops and flea markets in Winnipeg.

Blu is a graffiti artist and muralist from Bologna, Italy, and is known for his very large, often surreal and aggressive but always-breathtaking pictures in the public space. His playful and comic-style works often carry an ethnic, political or moral message, yet without being patronizing. What is unique about Blu’s work is that it is very process oriented. He creates large-scale drawings on walls all the while taking photographs of its evolution and then uses these pictures to create mesmerizing animated/ stop motion films.

Robert Fraher’s New Media work, No Horse In Particular, explores the concept of meaning in visual imagery. No Horse is a mixed media piece combining photography, digital illustration, interactivity, and custom software development. The composition utilizes shape simplification, quantitative reduction, and software aided simplification as modes of abstraction. Through interaction, viewers are able to explore the continuum of representation, from depiction to abstraction. The purpose of this exploration is for people to develop a more acute mode of interpretation in light of the complexity of today’s New Modern imagery.

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Robert Fraher

Jen-Kuang Chang work, OM, is an audiovisual piece, which explores the universal sacred syllable found in various Eastern religions. Both sampled and computer generated sounds are incorporated in order to achieve the intended variety of sonic landscapes to match the vivid, but delicate visualization.

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Jen-Kuang Chang

Magsamen & Hillerbrand, a collaborative husband and wife team, work with video and installation while investigating ideas about relationships, perception and our daily interactions with each other. Using abstraction and illusion to create a new lens or way of looking at the world they create visceral works of which include everyday visual vocabulary of our lives such as bubble gum, a kiss or a cup of coffee. They show the familiar to us in an unfamiliar and cinematic way.

Bill Domonkos’ The Ambient Medium, is a beautifully nuanced fusion of manipulated archive film footage, special effects and animation. The Ambient Medium is a testament to the powers we may not see but can certainly feel. This work takes inspiration from 19th century spirit photography, the experiments of Nikola Tesla, science fiction and paranormal phenomena

The overall goal of the Accessibility 2009: Cross Currents is to enrich the lives of the Sumter-area community through an ongoing series of very public art projects that will include the visual, performing, and media arts. Accessibility 2009 public art events will include art education projects in order to give Sumter-area teachers and student’s insight into the process of the art forms being featured during the various exhibitions. Regional schools, colleges and universities will be encouraged to participate in the event as well. The Sumter County Gallery of Art will play a major role in the education component by conducting site tours and conducting discussions about the art forms being featured during each exhibition.

Accessibility 2009: Cross Currents takes place on Sumter’s “Main Street Corridor” and will promote collaboration with Main Street businesses, organizations and agencies. The focus on the Main Street Corridor will, hopefully, provide increased pedestrian traffic along Main Street’s sidewalks encouraging area commercial businesses to participate in and promote ongoing revitalization through future projects. Accessibility 2009 plans to use the art and the increased pedestrian traffic to showcase the architecture and beauty of the historic buildings located along the Main Street Corridor.

For further information about this event contact: Frank McCauley, Asst. Director, SCGA by calling 803/775-0543 or e-mail at (frank@sumtergallery.org); Booth Chilcutt, Exec. Director, Sumter County Cultural Commission by calling 803/468-2389 or e-mail at (bchilcutt@sumtercountysc.org); and Ray Reich, City of Sumter Downtown Development Manager by calling 803/436-2535. You can also find more info at (http://www.accessibilitysumter.com/access_2009.html).

Post Script to: A Major Arts Program That Seems Kind of Minor

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Well, it seems that things just get more revealing every step of the way. I received an e-mail from someone at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, MS (it seems our blog is far reaching) and I was informed that their facility, damaged during Hurricane Katrina (Aug. 2005), has still not re-opened and isn’t scheduled to be open by Nov. 2010. That is their main facility – they have a transitional facility set up in Biloxi. But they won’t be hosting this exhibit, Tradition/Innovation: American Masterpieces of Southern Craft and Traditional Art – as stated in the press release we received from the Sumter County Gallery of Art. You would think that someone at the Southern Arts Federation would have been keeping up with the folks in MS on their rebuilding schedule or maybe this is another PR problem.

This is no fault of the Sumter folks – they’re using the info they were provided – by either the SC Arts Commission or the Southern Arts Federation. After searching the SAF’s website I found that the location in Mississippi was changed to the Hattiesburg Historic Train Depot in Hattiesburg, MS (Nov. 1 – Dec. 23, 2010) – another prime location, I’m sure. I would have offered a link to the Depot, but I couldn’t find any direct link to it – even on the Hattiesburg, MS, site.

I would think that the Southern Arts Federation would have more pull, but the Hattiesburg Historic Train Depot? Hattiesburg is also home to the University of Southern Mississippi – which has an art museum. Come on, this time slot is more than a year away – is that the best place they could find to show this exhibition? Is this the best the National Endowment for the Arts can do for its American Masterpieces program? It’s a good thing the Sumter County Gallery of Art could be so flexible with their schedule – who knows where the SC Arts Commission would have ended up putting this exhibit – after three years of planning.

And, remember, Harriett Green is the Director of Visual Arts at the SC Arts Commission.

A Major Arts Program That Seems Kind of Minor

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

We recently – after deadline – received a press release about a major exhibition taking place in South Carolina. The exhibit, Tradition/Innovation: American Masterpieces of Southern Craft and Traditional Art, organized by the Southern Arts Federation is coming to the Sumter County Gallery of Art in Sumter, SC. It will be on view from Sept. 10 through Nov. 12, 2009.

First off I’ll state that I have not seen this exhibit, but I expect that is an excellent exhibition based on the artists involved and past exhibits organized by the Southern Arts Federation. The problem comes in execution and the concept of this basic “major” initiative.

The press release included this statement: “The Sumter County Gallery of Art will be honored as the only South Carolina venue for the Southern Arts Federation (SAF) touring exhibition, Tradition/Innovation: American Masterpieces of Southern Craft and Traditional Art, an ambitious exhibition that is part of the American Masterpieces program of the National Endowment for the Arts, a major initiative to acquaint Americans with the best of their cultural and artistic legacy, featuring more than 100 artworks created by 58 traditional artists and contemporary craftspeople, living and working in the South today.”

Well, at least that is from the nine southern states the Southern Arts Federation represents.

The Southern Arts Federation (SAF), headquartered in Atlanta, GA, is a consortium of nine Southern states (NC, SC, GA, FL, TN, KY, LA, MS AL) and their respective Arts Commissions. Tradition/Innovation: American Masterpieces of Southern Craft and Traditional Art is the largest, most ambitious touring exhibition ever coordinated by SAF. These efforts began over three years ago. Each member state has selected one venue in the state to present the exhibition. For South Carolina, the Sumter County Gallery of Art (SCGA) is the venue (recommended by the SC Arts Commission).

You would think with three years in the planning, someone could have gotten the press release to us by our deadline. But I’m not sure this exhibit was planned that well in South Carolina, North Carolina, or most of the other states for that matter. For one thing, I know the Sumter County Gallery of Art had a different exhibit planned during this time-frame – just six months ago. I won’t tell you which artists got screwed due to this three years of planning, but I’m sure they will be compensated for this disruption. They took one for the team.

Here’s the schedule for this exhibit: March – May 2008, Atlanta History Center, Atlanta, GA; June – August 2008, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville, KY; October – January 2009, Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN; February – April 2009, Pensacola Museum of Art, Pensacola, FL; May – July 2009, Asheville Museum of Art, Asheville, NC; September – November 2009, Sumter County Gallery of Art, Sumter, SC; January-April 2010, Jule Collins Smith Museum Fine Art, Auburn Univ, Auburn, AL; July – October 2010, Louisiana Art & Science Museum, Baton Rouge, LA; and November – December 2010, Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, MS.

If you look at this list and know anything about these states or at least a few of them – some of the host sites for this exhibition were in big major cities, capital cities, centrally located cities, and some are in some unusual locations – at least as far as a lot of people getting to see the “major initiative to acquaint Americans with the best of their cultural and artistic legacy.”

Sumter, SC, may be centrally located but it is not a place where many people go to see art exhibits. The Sumter County Gallery of Art is a great facility and they put on some really great exhibits, but people – art gallery and art museum visitors don’t travel there that much to see art. Granted, these same people in SC don’t travel far from home to go anywhere in SC to go see art. In North Carolina, this exhibit was shown in Asheville. I doubt many people traveled from Wilmington or Raleigh to see this exhibit – perhaps if the show was shown in Oct. and Nov., but it was shown in May – July. In Florida, the exhibit was shown in Pensacola – about as far away from most of the population in that state.

The point is – there is no way hosting this exhibit in just one location in each state, no matter how centrally located would provide people an opportunity to see an exhibit that is meant to “acquaint Americans with the best of their cultural and artistic legacy”. If this is such a major initiative, why not take the time to schedule this so it could have been seen in several locations and in each state’s biggest art venues? What’s the hurry? After all, they say they took three years to plan the exhibit.

And, don’t forget, this exhibit is “an ambitious exhibition that is part of the American Masterpieces program of the National Endowment for the Arts”. A regional part of a national program by our country’s top arts organization.

The artists included in the exhibit from South Carolina are: Alice Ballard, Clay Burnette, Philip Simmons (1912-2009), and Henrietta Snype. The artists included in the exhibit from North Carolina are: Elizabeth Brim, Cynthia Bringle, Vernon Owens, Mark Peiser, Richard Ritter, Kristy Higby, Billie Ruth Sudduth, Enrique Vega, Carol Welch, and Virgil Ledford.

There are a couple artists listed who will make some reader’s eyes open wide, but overall – they are excellent artists who would make any exhibit worth seeing. Those couple of artists are not my problem with this exhibit – I accept the selection of artists for these kinds of shows for what it is and who does it. The problem is execution and followthrough.

Like I said we didn’t receive this press release about this exhibit that starts on Sept. 10, 2009, until after the deadline for our Sept. ’09 issue of Carolina Arts – which was Aug. 12, 2009. But due to the importance of the exhibit I managed to make the change in our gallery listings in the back of the paper.

As of the posting of this blog entry – there is not one word about the exhibit on the SC Arts Commission’s website. I checked all places it might be hidden: Visual Arts Exhibit (just old news of exhibits over in Jan. 09), Works by SC Artists, Dates & Events, Press Room, and E-Publications. I even took the time to search the Arts Commission’s own events calendar – Art Daily – all 239 entries and not word about this exhibit and there were a lot of things listed taking place up to the end of this year and beyond.

But this is not new, the last show the Arts Commission did with the SAF didn’t get any publicity on the Arts Commission’s website until I pointed it out. And this is the group who presumes to instruct other arts organizations on how to do things.

Neither the Sumter County Gallery of Art or the Arts Commission placed this exhibit on Arts Daily. Remember – three years of planning and a major initiative. But I bet you it appears there very soon.

After searches on Google and Google News, the only item I found mentioning this exhibit in SC was posted on Nov. 6, 2007, on the State of SC’s Official Website for news, and it was an announcement of the selection of SC’s artists for this exhibit.

So with this kind of publicity – how are people even supposed to know about this exhibit – much less make an effort to go see it.

I’m giving it more publicity than they are and I didn’t receive any funding from the NEA or SAF to host this exhibit – but I can guarantee you that the Southern Arts Federation, SC Arts Commission and the Sumter County Gallery of Art did.

Now you can bet they will start beating the bushes for all the publicity they can muster after this hits the Internet and you can thank me for that – I’ve been down this road before. But we are less than three weeks away from the opening of this exhibit and I can tell you they are already too late for a lot of the publicity they should have had. And, we’re going into a very competitive time for publicity for the arts.

One last point – Harriett Green is the Director of Visual Arts at the SC Arts Commission.