Posts Tagged ‘Leo Twiggs’

A Visit to Downtown Charleston, SC’s Art Walks – May 6, 2011

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Even though I haven’t been to many art walks in Charleston lately, it’s still our backyard as far as art communities go. I don’t know everyone there now and many don’t know me, but for a lot of the folks who have been there more than a few years, it’s hard for Linda and I to just slip into a gallery and not be spotted. Gallery owners and artists seem to gravitate to us – one because we’re friends with a lot of these folks – at least we feel we are, and two, we haven’t seen most of these folks – face to face in a long time. So we’re like a blast for the past.

It would be nice to do an art walk and not be working, but the nature of these events is always social/working. I want to write the trip up for our blog and they hope I’ll write it up – everyone needs publicity. The problem in Charleston is we know and meet so many people we want to talk to that I end up doing more talking than taking photos. So, I have some images to not make this blog all words, but in no way all that I should have. I’m sorry for that. We got some from the galleries or their websites.

I’ll refresh people’s memory of the weather on May 6, 2011, in the Charleston area. A forecast called for scattered showers, but it seem to be raining most of the day up here in Bonneau, the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing Company on the shore of Lake Moultrie. And just as it was about time to leave, the rain came down hard, but the weather wizards said the system would clear out of the area by 6pm. This time I was hoping they were right. It rained pretty hard all the way to Charleston’s borders, but as we crossed that border the rain stopped and the sky opened up.

By the time we found the same parking space I used in visiting the April art walk, the sun was shinning. Thanks to whoever saved it for us. The rain had cleared the air and cooled it down to a very pleasant 75 degrees. We’ve had some great weather as far as temps go lately – although dangerous at times.  At least there weren’t any tornado warnings on May 6.

Our first stop, due to location, was Nina Liu and Friends, at 24 State Street. The gallery is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. The exhibit being presented that evening was Defining Moments, featuring works by Susie Miller Simon of Colorado, on view through June 30, 2011. Simon couldn’t be there for this opening, but will come in a few weeks.

Nina Liu’s gallery is spread throughout three levels in her home – which is still up for sale – if anyone is interested in living in the heart of Charleston’s French Quarter district and wants to also have a gallery – or not. She’ll sell – either way. Liu is hopping to retire one day to the home she has waiting in Mexico – someday. But, we’re not in any hurry to see her go.

We noticed something strange going on. People were coming into the gallery, saying hi as they passed by, heading upstairs. Liu noticed the strange look on our faces and explained that they were regulars to her openings and they know the food and drink is upstairs. I rolled my eyes, thinking to myself that they could have at least glanced at the works in the exhibit before – running upstairs, but it doesn’t seem to bother her as another group zoomed by. Her food is very popular.

Work by Susie Miller Simon

Simon’s works give reference to imagery of the Southwestern United States – a million miles from Lowcountry art, which is refreshing at times and I’m sure a reason why her works are so popular here. I’ve included an image, that I’m sure wasn’t in this exhibit. I got it off the Internet just to give you an idea of what the work is like. But you’ll see some images like this and some very different, but you’ll be able to tell it came from Simon.

It was reassuring to see some of those folks who rushed upstairs eventually filtered down to see the exhibit, one even asking about the price of a work found upstairs. A good time for us to move on.

For the second month in a row, I was focused on going to Smith-Killian Fine Art, at 9 Queen Street, at the corner of Queen & State Streets. Last month it was to see an exhibit by Shannon Smith and this month to see “abstract” works by her mother, Betty Anglin Smith, as well as works by a very strong group of SC’s contemporary artists including: Carl Blair, Eva Carter, Matt Overend, Laura Spong, Leo Twiggs and Scott Upton. The exhibit, Contemporary Carolinas – an Invitational Exhibition, will be on view through June 12, 2011.

Works by Laura Spong (L) and Leo Twiggs (R)

The week before we had talked with Laura Spong at Vista Studios in Columbia, SC, during Artista Vista (read about it at this link) and knew she would be there. And, I was hoping to see and talk with Carl Blair, whom I haven’t seen in a while. Blair, was the one and only member of the Commission of the SC Arts Commission who listened to my complaints and tried to do something about them. The one and only! A true arts leader in SC – a rare exception. Unfortunately he didn’t make the trip from Greenville, SC.

That’s OK – I’ll take the hugs from Betty, Eva, and Laura any day.

Work by Eva Carter

In my opinion, the day William Halsey passed on, Eva Carter became Charleston’s top “abstract” artist, if not one of the best in SC. After closing up her gallery a few years ago, this was the first of her work in an exhibit in Charleston. Although she has now opened a studio just around the corner from her old gallery, at 16 Gillon Street, we haven’t been able to catch her there when we were in Charleston – so we were also looking forward to seeing and talking with her and seeing what she was painting these days.

But, the real kicker in this show was to see more “abstract” paintings by Betty Anglin Smith. I mentioned in my write up of the April 2011 art walk in Charleston that we saw an unexpected work – an abstract painting by Betty at Shannon Smith’s show. We loved the work and I wanted to see if it was a one hit wonder or if we have a new abstract artists in town. Folks – we weren’t disappointed.

Work by Betty Anglin Smith

Of course as Betty put it – she’s not quitting her day job of painting landscapes – just yet. We all know there’s a smaller audience for “abstract” art in the Carolinas. But, every day we see more of it all the time – and that means more people are buying it. I tip my hat to Smith Killian Fine Art for taking the risk to present such a show – during the Spoleto Festival season in Charleston. I hope it pays off for them – so they can do it again. I know I could have spent a good bit of my lottery winnings there that evening. Now all I have to do is win one.

This was a great show of works from some of SC’s best artists, not painting what most people expect to see when they go to Charleston to see or buy art. But, I’ve always said there is a lot of this kind of art being made in Charleston – you just have to work a little to find it.

What a good time to transition over to Corrigan Gallery, located at 62 Queen Street – one of those places you won’t find what some people call “Charleston” art. But, you will find plenty of art made by Charleston artists. The exhibit, Egg Meditations, the continuation of a ten year exploration by Yvette Dede, was being presented. The exhibit will be on view through May 31, 2011. I swear it’s been that long – ten years since I’ve seen work by Dede on view in Charleston. At one time she ran Print Studio South, which eventually turned into the Redux Contemporary Arts Center (which hasn’t sent a press release about its May/June exhibit yet). But, that’s what happens when you become an adjunct college professor. You spend more time teaching than exhibiting.

Works by Yvette Dede

For regular readers of my views on art – presentation is a big factor with me and this exhibit was a top notch example of how to present a cohesive group of works – in this case based on the egg shape. Dede made special frames for her small works and in the intimate space at Corrigan Gallery they looked fantastic. I’m talking about the presentation of the art. I really don’t care what the wall looks like or the floor – as long as they don’t distract the viewer from the art, and in that case – that’s a bigger problem for the artist. There’s nothing wrong with the wall or floors at Corrigan Gallery – I’m just saying well presented art can look good in someone’s cluttered basement.

Works by Yvette Dede

After checking out all the variations Dede presented, we checked out some of the other works being displayed at the gallery and I came across a work which really fooled me at first in an alcove between the two main rooms of the gallery.  There was a large abstract work on one wall – blue and red. You know how I like abstracts. When I got close enough to see who the artist was,  I was, well not totally surprised, but embarrassed that it was by a good friend of ours -  John Moore. I’ve seen a lot of Moore’s abstract photographs, but for some reason this image didn’t click, I was seeing it from the side and I had just looked through some of his works in a stack and this just fooled me at first.

Work by John Moore

The real joke here is that Moore and I have talked a million times about the fact that it’s too bad he presents his work as photographs – more people would buy them if they were presented as paintings. A sad fact but true. And, the real tragedy is that many people think they are Photoshopped, but these are the real deal. He finds these outrageous colors – in man-made materials touched by nature. And, to top it off – Moore is color blind. Figure that one out and you can help me pick lottery numbers.

Moore is a purest, he doesn’t manipulate his images and he doesn’t want to fool people into thinking these are not photos just for the sake of sales. He just has a good eye, takes his time before he clicks the shutter and knows how to get the best out of his equipment and when the light is right. That’s the real art of photography.

After Linda coaxed me off the soapbox, our next stop was Horton Hayes Fine Art, at 30 State Street. We wanted to see what Mark Horton was painting these days. The gallery also shows works by Nancy Hoerter, Shannon Runquist, Bjorn Runquist and Chris Groves – all skilled painters. Now, I guess these works don’t fit the classic description of “Charleston” art in that although they are landscapes of the Lowcountry and still lifes – I just think of them as master works. You just want to be in these places put on canvas. You can feel them – smell them. We didn’t talk to anyone here – it was too crowded.

Work by Mark Horton

Seeing the works at Horton Hayes made me want to go check out Mickey Williams Studio-Gallery, the next street over at 132 E. Bay Street, at the corner of East Bay and Broad Street. This was our old hangout, once the office for IF Labs, then for Carolina Arts newspaper and Carolina Arts Gallery. I spent many a day and night in that space. It survived Hurricane Hugo as if it was just a thunder storm. This was also Eva Carter’s old gallery space.

Work by Mickey Williams

Williams paints some incredible Lowcountry landscapes. I wanted to go by and see his works and talk to him about facebook. Sometimes I get on facebook by 7am and most days by then Williams has been on for several hours – talking about the birds in his back yard, his garden or the colors in the morning sky. He’s like the good morning guy in the Charleston facebook family – which is funny – as he, like me, is technology challenged. But, he’s got facebook down to a science. I called him and asked him to send me a photo – he had to check with his wife. Sound familiar? We’re two peas in an iPod. We embrace technology – we just don’t know how to make it work.

Our last stop was at Lowcountry Artists Ltd, at 148 E. Bay Street. Their next exhibit is The Power of Glass, featuring blown glass  by Robbie Clair and etched and fused glass by Steve Hazard which will be on view from May 28 through June 11, 2011. This gallery has almost doubled in size since the last time I was in it. As a co-op gallery it has also seen many changes in the group of artists currently showing on the walls.

Another space where we could slip in and get a good look at the art first. Of course we knew some of the artists by name or work and there were a few surprises – like seeing works by Patsy Tidwell on the wall. Her gallery was one of the mainstays of the Charleston art community, but she sold it a few years ago and now it’s closed. I’m sure she is enjoying life now creating artwork vs. trying to sell other artists’ works. It’s not easy running a gallery as an artist – even when you’re doing it as a co-op of artists.

Another surprise was seeing works by Jason Luck, a Seagrove potter who has moved to Charleston. Those Seagrove potters are everywhere. Well they’re not really – but their work seems to be getting everywhere. But, you really have to go to Seagrove, NC, for Seagrove pottery. The chamber of commerce pays me to say that.

Work by Jackie Wukela

Because we didn’t have to answer a million questions as to how the paper is doing we finally got to eat some of the goodies being offered during the art walk. But, our anonymity could only last so long as I had questions I wanted to ask so we went up front and introduced ourselves to – who I felt sure was Jackie Wukela (due to facebook). She is typical of most of the folks we “know” through the paper. We’ve talked on the phone and e-mailed back and forth, but never met – face to face.

The minute we did this, Carolyn Epperly, who I’ve talked to many times at Tidwell’s Art Gallery, but not in a while, said “I thought you looked familiar.” Jackie Wukela and Lynda English, who are members of Lowcountry Artists Ltd. are also part of the visual art community in Florence, SC, where they live and have a gallery. So this was a twofer – we got to talk about Charleston and Florence’s art communities.

Before long the end of the art walk was on us and it was time to head back to Bonneau. On the ride home a few things struck me. We’ve been to two art walks in two months in Charleston and the art walks have changed – as have the galleries and artists who fill them with works since the days when we went to every one of them.

Charleston’s visual art community is moving away from what many people have tagged it as being for years, a city of artists who are in love with the city, a bad rap in my opinion. Sure there is lots of “tourist” art here to be had – it’s what most tourists want and Charleston is a tourist town, but the artists have moved on to creating what they want – hoping that the more discriminating visitors will want to take that art home. And, a good number of the artworks are being made by artists who live elsewhere – all over the US. The so called “Charleston” art is no longer a novelty – it’s now moved into the realm of novelties – souvenirs.

And, the art walks as I knew them have also changed. There was a time when an art walk in the French Quarter was a near festival – one big party event. I used to equate them to going to the Mall during Christmas – you’d run into everyone you haven’t seen since the last one there, but not so these days. There is an art walk every month in Charleston and most galleries stay open whether they’re in the group hosting it or not. So, it’s not such a special occasion any more. Still, lots of people go to them and enjoy them, but if it rains a little it’s easy to say – I’ll just go to the next one.

Of course my memories are from the 1990′s – what I call the golden age of the visual arts in the Carolinas. It might not be fair to make comparisons to current times – an age where many people are attacking the arts to gain political points and the economy has suffered one blow after another.

I for one am glad to be able to go to them again, but it might be some time before I go to the next one. We’re a little exhausted at this point and there’s so much going on all over the Carolinas. If you don’t believe me – just check our paper out at ( See how long it takes you to get through it all – end to end.

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Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, SC, Offers Tour of Exhibition – Feb. 27, 2010

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

We received this press release at Carolina Arts about an exhibit tour of fresh works by seasoned artists representing some of the best artists in South Carolina.

Here it is:

Art Museum Offers Tour of Milestones Exhibit

Bobbie Lawson, a retired Art History professor from Coastal Carolina University, will provide a guided tour of the Milestones: Celebrating 70 and Beyond exhibit at the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum, in Myrtle Beach, SC, at 2 p.m. Saturday, February 27. The tour is free and open to the public.

Joseph Cave, Blue Ridge Dairy Farm, 2008, oil on canvas

Milestones are those momentous occasions that mark our lives, from birth to death and all the important events in between. Milestones: Celebrating 70 and Beyond, (on view through Apr. 25, 2010) comprises 27 South Carolina artists who have reached their 70th year and are still actively creating. The exhibition, features two works by each artist completed within the last two years, includes sculptures, paintings, prints, quilts, batiks, photographs, collages and hand-carved bowls.

Come enjoy the works of the “Who’s Who in South Carolina Art”. This exhibition features works from, Deane Ackerman, John Acorn, Bobbi Adams, Betty Bee, Carl Blair, Ethel Brody, Carrie Burns Brown, Edward Byrd, Joseph Cave, Ray Davenport, Jeanet Dreskin, Dixie Dugan, Maxie Eades, Tom Flowers, Darell Koons, Jean McWhorter, Rose Metz, Dottie Moore, Boyd Saunders, Marlene O’Bryant-Seabrook, Laura Spong, Barbara St. Dennis, Jo Ann Taylor, Carole Tinsley, Leo Twiggs, Sam Wang and Don Zurlo.

Dottie Moore, Om, 2009, art quilt-hand painted cotton fabric

The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum is a wholly nonprofit institution located across from Springmaid Pier at 3100 South Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. Components of Museum programs are funded in part by support from the City of Myrtle Beach, the Horry County Council and the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Regular gallery hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission to the Museum is free at all times, but donations are welcomed.

For further information call the Museum at 843/238-2510 or visit (


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Going Deep Down the Mine Shaft to Extract Info About SC Arts Commission Activities

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

I guess in South Carolina you can’t be critical of a State Agency like the SC Arts Commission without being cut off from the flow of information as to what they are doing on a regular basis.

Yes, I’ve been critical and yes, they have taken Carolina Arts off the list of media they send press releases to, but unless they decide to stop sending press release to anyone – I’ll still find them or someone will copy me – eventually. It’s a sad case, but normal operating procedure for the Arts Commission. You’re right with them or left out. That goes for the media, other art organizations and individual artists.

Information is critical in the arts and if you’re not playing ball the way some folks like – the flow of information is cut off or diverted to put you one step behind those who are informed first – even before the public knows what’s available. It’s nice to be on someone’s speed dial at the Arts Commission. I’m not.

When it comes to the visual arts, I don’t know if it’s Harriett Green, Visual Arts Director; Milly Hough, Communications Director; Ken May, Acting Executive Director; or Charles T. “Bud” Ferillo, Jr., the new Chair of the Commission Board – but someone doesn’t want me to know what’s going on in fear that I will criticize it – under the theory that – what you don’t know – you can’t criticize.

But I can tell you this – that policy isn’t working.

Sure, it’s been awhile since my last critical posting on the Arts Commission, but that’s not because of their – “don’t tell policy”, it’s because they haven’t been doing much – at least much to talk about. They, like the rest of us, are spending more time than they would like budget cutting, but in their case it’s usually funding to others that gets cut instead of their own overhead.

But who is this hurting – me? or the folks they partner with?

We received no press release about the exhibitions being presented at 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, SC, offering works from the Commission’s State Art Collection. We had to go mining for that info from third party sources – not 701 Center for Contemporary Art. No one there seems to know how to distribute info either. Funny thing – we seem to be able to be sent info about their paid events.

So here again, I find a press release about an exhibit involving the State Art Collection that was not sent to us.

The above rant is what I prepared after finding this press release, but I had also sent an e-mail to Charles T. “Bud” Ferillo, Jr asking him if this is the way the Arts Commission was going to be acting under his new leadership. As usual I expected no reply, but you know what? I got a surprise.

Ferillo answered my e-mail within hours asking for time to check this situation out with the Arts Commission and within the day he responded that I would be sent the press release when it goes out the first week in Jan. (That’s a whole other problem altogether, but we’ll deal with that at another time.) I thanked him for his quick response and told him I hoped this was a sign of change between our muddied relationship. (Second positive thing I’ve said about the Arts Commission in a month.) Not that we have a relationship with the Arts Commission, but I’ll look forward to the information tap to be flowing my way again and to you readers from us – if that’s what is taking place.

Here’s the press release I found on the Arts Commission’s website, apparently not planned for distribution to the public until the first week in Jan. Why so late before the event starts? Don’t know, but I know it’s going to miss a lot of deadlines for monthly and quarterly publications. Maybe not the daily and weekly publications, but many others.

Belton Center for the Arts in Belton, SC, Features Works by African-American Artists from State Art Collection

The Belton Center for the Arts in Belton, SC, will present the exhibit, The African-American Voice, featuring works by African-American artists who are among the state’s best-known and widely celebrated practitioners, on view from Jan. 16 through Feb. 26, 2010.

Coordinated by Harriett Green, visual arts director at the South Carolina Arts Commission, the exhibition includes 32 pieces of artwork in all media from the State Art Collection. The pieces are by 21 African-American artists who range from self-taught, outsider artists like Sam Doyle, Leroy Marshall and Dan Robert Miller, to academically trained artists with established careers such as Leo Twiggs, Arthur Rose and Tarleton Blackwell.

“A number of these artists are legendary as arts educators as well as artists. Their influences and contributions extend beyond image and object making,” said Green, who sees the show as an opportunity for area residents to learn more about the contribution of African-American artists in South Carolina.

The Belton Center for the Arts is hosting the exhibition in conjunction with the Anderson International Festival taking place in Anderson County, SC, from Jan. 15 – 31, 2010. “The African-American Voice traveling exhibition is a great addition to the activities we have planned for Anderson County,” said Betsy Chapman, executive director of the Belton Center for the Arts.

The State Art Collection is considered the most comprehensive public collection of works by contemporary South Carolina artists. Established in 1967 as one of the first programs of the South Carolina Arts Commission, the State Art Collection has grown to include 448 works in a variety of media and styles by 277 South Carolina contemporary artists. Small exhibitions featuring work from the collection are organized on a regular basis for rural and isolated areas inside and outside of the state. Works from the State Art Collection are available for loan to art museums, state agencies, and public and private organizations for the purpose of public exhibition or public display. The collection is supported in part by the South Carolina Arts Foundation and Kahn Development Company.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call Betsy Chapman at 864/338-8556 or visit (

Here’s some extra info.

The Anderson International Festival (AIF) is an organization of art, cultural, and civic groups dedicated to presenting an educational and entertaining biennial festival which celebrates the cultural traditions from around the world that have helped shape our local community. Each festival highlights a different area of the world.

The AIF is pleased to present West African Journeys, a celebration of West African culture and its contribution to life here in South Carolina, from Jan. 15 – 31, 2010.

Blogger’s Note: Good luck in mining for information about this festival – the website is one of the least informative I have come across – of course it’s still early – more info could be added later. The calendar of events they offer involves clicking every date from the 15 – 31 to see if anything is going on and then you may have to click again to go to another website for further info. It’s not very user friendly or inviting to people who might find out about this festival.


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Folks Who Didin’t Make the September Deadlines for Publicity

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Each month a few days after our deadline (25th of the month) for inclusion on our website version of the paper, Carolina Arts Online, goes by, our e-mail runs like an open water tap – the late press releases just flow in. They all start the same way – “I think we may have missed your deadline, but if there is any chance you can fit this in…”. That kind of logic always hits me in a funny way. If you think you may have missed the deadline, it means you might have a clue as to when it is, and if so – you know you missed the deadline. Some would plead – why have a deadline for things that will only go on the website anyway? They understand when it comes to the printed version of the paper, but they think of the website as something that’s continuous – in a process of constant updating. But, if we did that, there would never be another printed version of the paper as we would always be updating the last issue. So we have to have deadlines and we have to stick to them.

So, why am I doing what I’m doing? You got me. Occasionally something comes in late that is a shame it didn’t make the deadline and you try to do something to give it some life. I have no idea these days if any other media will publish any of this info and our readers are a different brand all together – so I make an exception and then it just snowballs until you get to the point and say – no more.

I wish people did a better job with publicity, but most just don’t get it. What good does it do to offer a great event, an interesting exhibit or an important gathering and wait till the last minute to tell people about it? No good at all and if you still think it’s the media’s responsibility to go out and gather this info – get real, step aside, and let someone else do the job.

So, here is a few things we might have missed.

“Phillip’s Gate”

Converse College in Spartanburg, SC, is presenting the exhibit, Leo Twiggs’ Hurricane, on view in the Milliken Art Gallery through Sept. 24, 2009. The exhibition commemorates the twentieth anniversary of Hurricane Hugo.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is East Wind Suite: The Hugo Series, 1990, a series of nine batik paintings which Twiggs created the year following Hurricane Hugo’s devastation of the South Carolina lowcountry, his childhood home. In addition to this series, the Milliken Art Gallery will display fifteen of Twiggs’ batiks from his personal collection.

The East Wind Suite paintings have not been shown together publicly since their premiere at the Hampton III Gallery in Taylors, SC, in 1991, at which time the series was purchased in its entirety by Greenville businessman Jack Shaw and his wife, Jane, who have loaned the works for the exhibition.

“Converse College is honored to celebrate the masterful skill and emotional power of Dr. Twiggs’ creative expression. When Hurricane Hugo devastated South Carolina’s lowcountry twenty years ago, this talented artist and visionary educator found beauty, hope, action and inspiration in the destruction. His work is much like a phoenix rising from the ashes. With our focus on creativity at Converse, Dr. Twiggs’ life and work are exemplary models,” said Converse president Betsy Fleming, who authored the forward of the exhibition catalog. “Dr. Twiggs and his layered creations involving signs and symbols, people and places of South Carolina are authentic and original. His life’s story, his painstaking creative process of batik, and his determination and skill as an art educator reveal a pride, purpose and passion for South Carolina.”

“First Breeze”

Leo Franklin Twiggs was born in St. Stephen, SC, in 1934. From early on he knew great responsibility; he was in junior high school when his father died and, as the oldest of seven children, he began working to help support the family.

He was a bright student and a hard worker. Encouraged to pursue a college degree, Twiggs worked odd jobs to finance his education. In 1956 he became the first person in his family to graduate from college, receiving a BA summa cum laude from Claflin College in Orangeburg, SC.

At the time Twiggs graduated, South Carolina graduate arts programs did not admit African-American students. So Twiggs left the South, studying at the Art Institute of Chicago and then at New York University, where he received his MA and studied with Hale Woodruff, the acclaimed African-American painter and muralist.

In 1964 he returned to South Carolina and joined the faculty at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, where he would remain for more than three decades. He was instrumental in developing the university’s Art Department and I.P. Stanback Museum. Twiggs was named Professor Emeritus in 2000.

During his time at South Carolina State, Twiggs also completed a Doctorate in Arts Education at the University of Georgia. He was the first African-American person to do so.

In 1981, Twiggs received the Verner Award (Governor’s trophy) for outstanding individual contributions to the arts in South Carolina, the first visual artist so honored.

Twiggs has presented over seventy-five one-man shows and his work has received international recognition, with exhibits at the Studio Museum and the American Crafts Museum in New York and in US Embassies in Rome, Dakar and Togoland among others. His work has been widely published in art textbooks and featured in several television documentaries. He was selected to design an ornament for the White House Christmas tree in 2001 and 2008.

Hampton III Gallery represents him in the Southeast and his studio is located in Orangeburg, where he is Distinguished Artist in Residence at Claflin University.

“Twiggs’s art is intensely personal but never strident. Whether through depictions of the violence of a hurricane, the complexity of racial relations, the romance of southern rivers, or the bonds of family, he interweaves his experiences into a coherent narrative, because most of his works occur in series, where his symbology of that experience becomes recognizable and revelatory,” writes William Eiland, director of the Georgia Museum of Art.

Twiggs began experimenting with batik, an ancient process that uses dyes and hot wax to decorate fabrics, in 1965. He demonstrated the process during a classroom exercise with students, became intrigued, and began to innovate. It has remained his medium of choice for four decades. “From the outset my aim was to control the viscosity of the dyes and orchestrate the crackles to make them work as plastic elements in the design of my paintings. It is a long and tedious process, but, like jazz, it embraces improvisation and contemplation, important elements in my creative efforts,” Twiggs explains.

According to Sandy Rupp, director of Hampton III Gallery, the medium is one reason Twiggs’ work is so unique. She said, “The batik process is slow. It can take weeks, even months to produce a work. So he never has an abundance of work on hand. It is a unique medium, and no one has used it in the way Leo does. His is a painterly way.”

She added, “He is one of the top African-American artists in the country. He could have established himself anywhere, but he chose to come back to South Carolina and contribute here. We are lucky to have him.’

“It is evident that East Wind Suite: The Hugo Series, 1990, like many of Leo Twiggs’ series, comments on the ways in which humanity is challenged,” writes Converse art history major Erin Cramer, who authored the exhibition catalog under the direction of associate professor of art history, Dr. Suzanne Schuweiler. “It exemplifies Twiggs’ tendency to create art that comments on issues or events that have the capability of exhausting the human spirit, while simultaneously expressing optimism, resilience, and inevitable growth that is born out of adversity and despair.”

For more information, contact Beth Lancaster, director of communications for Converse College, at 864/596-9705 or e-mail to (

Furman University in Greenville, SC, is presenting the exhibit, Ruminations with a Charred Vine, featuring works by Glen Miller in the Thompson Gallery, located in the Thomas Roe Art Building, on view through Oct. 5, 2009.

Miller’s drawings were created at the Sheffield Wood Gallery located at the Greenville Fine Arts Center. The materials used were charcoal and paper. The drawings took 18 working days and allowed for public viewing as well as help from Fine Arts Students.

Miller is from Tennessee and received his bachelor’s of Fine Arts in drawing and painting from East Tennessee State University. He continued his art education for a master’s in Art and Education from the University of South Florida, and furthered his graduate study at University of Tennessee.

Since 1979, Miller has been teaching South Carolinians art, including teaching at public high school for 16 years. Currently he is a professor at Furman University and Converse College. He is also a faculty member at the Greenville County Museum of Art. Several of Miller’s exhibitions have shown in Greenville.

For more information contact Furman’s Art Department at 864/294-2074.

Celebrating the artistic talents of older adults in our community is the focus of Senior Action’s 13th Annual Arts Alive Art Exhibition & Festival to be held Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009, held from 10am to 4pm, in downtown Greenville, SC’s McPherson Park.

“We seek to celebrate and recognize the talents of the seniors in our community by providing a venue to display their works through the Arts Alive Exhibit & Festival,” says Andrea Smith, Executive Director and CEO of Senior Action, the charitable recipient and sponsoring agency for the event. Arts Alive was established in 1996 by Senior Action to promote and bring awareness to the artistic skills and talents of older adults. Arts Alive is also meant to encourage other aspiring senior artists to “pick up a paint brush” or discover an alternative art medium and begin creating works of art.

Artists are invited to submit original works of art in the following categories: painting, watercolor, pottery, sculpture, photography, stained glass, and other three-dimensional design. Artists must be over the age of 55 to exhibit in this event.

An additional, but important, aspect of Arts Alive is that funds raised from this festival serve to support programs for seniors at Senior Action – including the Open Studio art program at the Sears Shelter in McPherson Park. Senior Action strives to meet the needs of the older population of Greenville County and the Arts Alive event and art programming assist Senior Action in meeting these needs.

Artists may request an Exhibitors Application by calling Senior Action at 864/467-3660 or downloading one from Senior Action’s website at ( Sept. 11, 2009 is the deadline for submission.

For more information about the 13th Annual Arts Alive Art Exhibition & Festival visit ( or call 864/467-3660. To become a sponsor in support of this event or to inquire about vendor availability please call J.J. Swartz at 864/467-3660 or e-mail to (

You may have noticed that these first three releases were from Upstate SC – believe me, they don’t have the sole license for being late. And, finally, we have an entry from the Florence, SC, area where they were not late, but they have just discovered us – again. I’m not sure how many times we have re-discovered them in the last 15 years.

The Florence Regional Arts Alliance will continue its 25th Anniversary Celebration with the exhibit, Fry-Grissette Show, featuring works by Francis Marion University Visual Communications Associate Professor Gregory G. Fry and local lifestyle photographer Christina Grissette. The exhibition is on view through Sept. 21, 2009, in the Arts Alliance Gallery, located at 412 South Dargan Street in Florence, SC.

Gregory G. Fry’s collection, Imprinted Aspirations, is reflective in nature. Fry indicates, “In my latest work, much of the content comes from aspects that are happening in my own life, aspects that include external events which happen in the larger world and internal events over which I like to think I have control. One of the issues I am dealing with is terrorism and the impact it is having on the environment and those living in that environment.”

But Fry also turns back the pages of history to the world of ancient Greece. He observes, “There are a number of Greek references in my work that make a strange connection between Greek mythology and the nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare environment of today’s world.” He points out that although his work connects to the environment in which he lives, some of his art remains somewhat esoteric. He also adds, “Much of my work contains typography, which connects the content in a non-linear fashion while still allowing the presentation to remain traditional.”

Fry uses processes such as digital, lithograph, serigraph, collagraph, and monotype in addition to other techniques, both printing and traditional, that may be included depending on the design. His work includes small edition prints as well as one of a kind works of art. Fry indicates that the process of printmaking is very important to him in terms of being systematic and having a personal connection, but he does indicate that “by using multiple techniques in his prints he can find the true nature of the print itself.”  In addition to teaching at Francis Marion University, Fry maintains a studio in Florence, where he works in print and drawing media.

Christina Grissett is a Florence portrait photographer. Her work is distinctive because of her unique use of bright colors and textures. She is motivated by the art of imagery more than mere sales. When asked how she approaches her work, she replies, “I discuss the need of my client, with particular attention to the kind of image desired. My style evolves from selection of clothing to location and lighting.” She further indicates, “Clothing choice elevates the image away from the ordinary. I try to choose a location that is unexpected and that will add to the art of the photograph. Lighting is good old fashioned sunshine, low in the sky and reflected off the clouds. The joy of a unique, intriguing capture is priceless, and I so enjoy offering a tailored experience to my clients.”

In commenting on Florence, Grissette observes, “I love my city, especially downtown. There are so many interesting people, buildings, and stories.” Returning to the subject of photography, she adds, “Photography allows me to be in places I never thought of being and talking to people I don’t know. I get the opportunity to meet some fabulous families and funny children, visit interesting farms and rustic buildings, and make connections.”

For Grissette, connecting with people is what “makes my work an adventure.” Originally from Birmingham, AL, she is married to Russell, and they are rearing a family that consists of three children. She also holds a masters degree in speech-language pathology.

Gallery Director Uschi Jeffcoat reminds theatergoers who will be attending the Florence Little Theatre production of The Producers that the Arts Alliance Gallery will be open an hour and a half prior to each performance.  She indicates, “We invite theatergoers to come a little earlier, park in The Arts Alliance parking lot, and enjoy the works of Gregory Fry and Christina Grissette before walking across the street to Florence Little Theatre. It’s so wonderful that we are all developing downtown and can work together.”

Operating from its base at 412 South Dargan Street in the evolving Arts and Cultural District of downtown Florence, the Florence Regional Arts Alliance is as the “chamber of commerce” for artists, arts organizations, school arts programs, and school arts teachers in the City of Florence and Florence County. The Arts Alliance is committed to preserving, supporting, and promoting a vibrant arts community by providing grants to artists, organizations, schools, and teachers; by recognizing students, individuals, and businesses through a comprehensive program of awards and scholarships; by offering community programming that showcases the visual arts, the performing arts, and the literary arts; and by serving as an advocate for the arts to business, civic, and governmental leaders. All initiatives of The Arts Alliance are premised on the basic organizational core value and guiding principle that a vibrant arts community is fundamental to quality of life, education, and economic development as demanded by today’s knowledge-based economy, an economy that will require innovative, imaginative, and creative solutions to a broad variety of issues that will face the 21st Century.

For further info call the Alliance at 843/665-2787.


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