Feature Articles

January 2011

Looking Back At Carolina Arts
January 1997

It's been 15 years since we started Carolina Arts and a lot of things have happened during that time - some good - some not so good. We think it might be interesting to look back at our beginnings of covering the visual arts community in both North and South Carolina.

Through the pages of the paper we'll take a look at what was going on 15 years ago during the current month's time frame - making some comparisons and reflect on what's different today.

So let's take a look back 15 years into the past.

On the Cover

Our cover artwork was a photograph by Rick Haithcox of Dallas, NC, who had won the First Place Color award in the Southern Visions Photography Exhibition at the Museum of York County outside of Rock Hill, SC. That museum is now part of the Culture & Heritage Museums in Rock Hill and they don't seem to do any more visual art exhibits.

Our cover articles were about that competition and exhibition at the Museum of York County and an introduction from me about becoming Carolina Arts. The reason I say cover articles is because in those days we folded the paper in half, with artwork on the top half and articles on the bottom half. There’s is nothing but art on our covers these days.

Back then we used to list the cities we covered on the front cover. They included: Aiken, Anderson, Beaufort, Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Greenville, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, Rock Hill, Spartanburg, and Sumter in SC. Then there was Asheville, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, High Point, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem in NC, and, of course many points in between. Within a year we had to drop many of those cities due to a lack of support and interest. We received regular calls from people in those cities we dropped asking us to return, but they never offered any support.

It wasn’t until 2011, when we went electronic on the web were we able to cover all areas of the Carolinas again. At least those who send us info by our deadline.

The Paper

Our first issue of Carolina Arts was 24 pages and we printed 10,000 copies. It was all black and white.

My commentary talked about several things, one why Linda and I started an arts newspaper to begin with, which basically was because we once owned two unsuccessful art galleries which suffered from not having any way to get news out to the public about our exhibits. At one time we had advertised our galleries in The Arts Journal which came out of Asheville, NC - a long, long, time ago.

Another subject was - why North Carolina - despite the obvious name. When we thought about expanding the paper we also sent out feelers to Georgia. We heard back first from North Carolina - mainly the Jerald Melberg Gallery and the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, NC - who both had ads in our first issue. I was also encouraged to come north by a good friend, Blanche Ravenel, who owned a dance company in Greensboro, NC. Charlotte from the start has always been one of our best supporters and still is today.

The final subject was about arts centers in the Carolinas - some with good prospects and some not. We talked about the SC State Museum in Columbia, SC, having problems getting funding to open a new restaurant facility, a group in Charleston, SC, called LOCUS Center for Contemporary Arts, which never had a facility and never did create one, but their name implied that they did. I also talked about my prediction that North Charleston, SC, would have an arts center before Charleston would. We also mentioned how a group of Republicans were cutting funding for the City Gallery of Contemporary Art in Raleigh, NC. Sound familiar? I'm happy to report they were all removed from office in the next election. Maybe that will happen again in the next election.

Articles that stand out were about exhibits taking place around the Carolinas including: Paintings by Linda Fantuzzo at the University Gallery at USC-Sumter in Sumter, SC; An Enduring Spirit: The Art of Three Polish Printmakers at the Guilford College Art Gallery in Greensboro, NC; a Winthrop University Faculty Exhibit in Rock Hill, SC; and the Folk Art Center in Asheville, NC, was presenting three exhibits - Berea College: Student Crafts Program, Selections from the Guild's Permanent Collection of Craft Objects, and African American Quilters. The collection mentioned at the Folk Art Center was that of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.

We also had an article about the SECCA Center in Winston-Salem, NC, which was presenting Southern Arts Federations/National Endowment for the Arts Regional Visual Arts Fellowships. As most of you know, the State of North Carolina had to eventually take over the operations of the SECCA Center.

The Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, was presenting the exhibit, ArtCurrents 22: Richard Jolley. This was before the Mint opened the Mint Museum of Craft + Design - which has now moved to the new Mint Museum Uptown. It's amazing how fast some things change while other things stay the same.

In Jan, of 1997, we had seven pages of gallery listings. Our Dec. 2011 issue had 26 pages of gallery listings. There were 9 1/2 pages just for the NC Commercial Gallery listings. Yes, we’ve expanded our coverage a little.


To me, this is where the biggest changes have occurred. Many of the galleries who were advertising with us back in Jan. 1997 are no longer in business. Try and think of the following list like the kind presented at the Academy Awards each year marking the passing of actors no longer with us. The only order they are in is from front to the back of the paper. They include: Billie Sumner Studio - Gallery, Waterfront Gallery, Art Thomas Gallery, Marty Whaley Adams Gallery, David Simpson Gallery, Bartholomew's Gallery, Beyond The Image, Margaret Petterson Gallery, American Originals, The New Gallery, Blanton's Gallery, Karen Vournakis Studio/Gallery, Jade Easel Art Gallery, Prints Charming, Tidwell Art Gallery, Native Son, Tradd Street Press, Carolina Prints, The African American Gallery, Gallery 12, Sea Gull Gallery, Silver River Gallery, Fischer's Art & Frame, Cameo Art Gallery, Morris Gallery, and Tempo Gallery.

Of course there are some galleries that no longer advertise with us, but we'll protect them from any super fans out there that may want to harass them. Beside you never know when they will wander back.

I'm happy to mention the advertisers who were with us long before we became Carolina Arts, who were there at the beginning and are still with us today. They include: The Pink House Gallery (Charleston), Charleston Crafts, Nina Liu and Friends, Eva Carter Studio, Lese Corrigan - now Corrigan Gallery, Halsey - McCallum Studios, The Wells Gallery, Smith Galleries, Vista Studios, One Eared Cow Glass, Hampton III Gallery, Gaye Sanders Fisher, and The Finishing Touch.

The one thing that hasn’t changed about advertising - we could always use more.

Other Notable Items In The Paper

In the middle fold of the paper we had the Arts in Charleston section, a collaboration between us, the City of Charleston's Office of Cultural Affairs and Piggly Wiggly Carolina. We eventually had to do away with this calender of art events taking place in Charleston, SC, so our paper didn't look so focused on Charleston.

We also offered a full page of info on Connoisseurship, Conservation & Controversy written by Ginny Newell the chief conservator of ReNewell, Inc. in Columbia, SC.

There was a subscription form in the back of the paper - back when we bothered with them. I never understood why you need a subscription to a free paper.

On the very back of the paper we had an ad for the 1997 Sierra Club/Lunz Group Nature Photography Juried Exhibit & Competition, which we helped organize and promote with John Moore, a Charleston photographer, Sierra Club member and good friend of ours. It was just one of the many free ads we have given arts organizations and visual art events taking place throughout the Carolinas.

What Do We See In Looking Back?

This was the first issue of Carolina Arts. There are some people who still miss the printed paper, but to me, we're at a whole different level now and many more people prefer the electronic version. Today's Carolina Arts covers more of the Carolinas - even areas where we get no advertising support. I'm not sure why or how long that will last, but it is what it is. The paper is in full color, available to anyone, anywhere, at any time of the day by simply downloading a copy to their smart phone, tablet, or computer. Under 20mb, the paper can be downloaded in minutes depending on how old your computer is or internet service (dialup make take forever). Ads are connected to websites and cheaper than ever before. And, our readership has gone from a possible 10,000 max to an average of 50,000 and higher at times. What's not to like?

We’ll see you next time when we look back at another old issue of Carolina Arts.


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Carolina Arts is published monthly by Shoestring Publishing Company, a subsidiary of PSMG, Inc. Copyright© 1987-2012 by PSMG, Inc., which published Charleston Arts from July 1987 - Dec. 1994 and South Carolina Arts from Jan. 1995 - Dec. 1996. It also publishes Carolina Arts Online, Copyright©1998- 2012 by PSMG, Inc. All rights reserved by PSMG, Inc. or by the authors of articles. Reproduction or use without written permission is strictly prohibited. Carolina Arts is available throughout North & South Carolina.