Past Commentaries

November Issue 1999
by Tom Starland

The Lucky 100

Last month we didn't have room to fit the names of the lucky 100 artists who have work included in the only big exhibition in South Carolina celebrating the passing of the millennium. Of course, in South Carolina, the powers that be could only look back, barely 100 years and at best 20 to 30 years, since a majority of artists included don't have much of a history in art that goes back more than 20 years in South Carolina. A few (of the living artists) have left the state and won't be looking back. So, here they are.

Artists included in, 100 Years/l00 Artists: Views of the 20th Century in South Carolina Art, Oct. 29, 1999 - March 19, 2000, on view at South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC.

Group I, 1900 - 1918/20
Edwin Harleston, Richard Roberts, Frederick Weber, Edward Gay, Caroline Guignard, Gilbert Gaul, Ann Cadwallader Coles, Leila Waring, William Aiken Walker, and Thomas Isaac Weston.

Group II, 1920 - 1940
August Cook, James F. Cooper, Laura Glenn Douglas, Abraham Lishinsky, Alfred Hutty, William Henry Johnson, Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Anna Heyward Taylor, Walter Thompson, Elizabeth O' Neill Verner, Doris Ulmann, Marion Post Wolcott, and Anna Hyatt Huntington.

Group III, 1940 - 1967
Cecil Williams, Willard Hirsch, Catherine Phillips Rembert, J. Bardin, James Hampton, Thomas Flowers, William Halsey, Jasper Johns, William Ledyard, Corrie McCallum, Jean McWhorter, Edmund Yaghjian, Arthur Rose, Carl Blair, Nell Lafaye, John O'Neil, Robert Mills, Jeanet Dreskin, and Steve McRae.

Group IV, 1967 - 1987
Sam Doyle, Jonathan Green, Bruno Civitico, Jorge Otero, Jean Grosser, Sigmund Abeles, Tarleton Blackwell, Robert Courtwright, Larry Lebby, Philip Mullen, Boyd Saunders, Merton Simpson, John Acorn, Edmund Lewandowski, Linda McCune, Leo Twiggs, Gunnar Strazdins, Michael Tyzack, Sam Wang, Alex Powers, Blue Sky, Linda Fantuzzo, Sydney Cross, Barbara Duvall, Mary Mintich, Tom Feelings, James Edwards, Robert Spencer, Michael Phillips, and Manning Williams.

Group V, 1987 - 1999
Colin Quashie, Phil Moody, Alison Collins, William Thomas Thompson, J. Scott Goldsmith, Cecile Martin, Jane Allen Nodine, Herb Parker, West Fraser, Deanna Leamon, Ed Rice, Harry Hansen, and Virginia Scotchie.

Larry Jordan, Mary Jackson, Philip Simmons, Lee Malerich, Jeri Burdick, Clay Burnette, Sara Ayers, Clark Ellefson, Mike Vatalaro, Susan Willis, Ellen Kochansky, Bob Chance, Steve Ferrell, Alice Schlein, and Grainger McKoy.

In case you were wondering who selected these folks, here is a list of the curators:
Polly Laffitte (Columbia, former Chief Curator SC State Museum); David Houston (Clemson, current Director of Clemson University's art gallery and former Visual Arts Director, SC Arts Commission); Nina Parris, Ph.D. (Columbia, Director of Field Services at SC State Museum and former curator at the Columbia Museum of Art); Martha Severens (Greenville, current Curator of Greenville County Museum of Art); Frank Martin (Orangeburg, Professor at SC State University); Sharon Campbell (Greenville, artist, art consultant and former curator at the Greenville County Museum of Art). These are the listed curators, but I can guarantee you their were other curators who had a hand in making sure certain people's names were placed on the list - directly or indirectly.

This group of curators have pretty much been the same people who have been determining who is selected for our state's major exhibits for the last 20 years.

Some would say that this makes the group the most qualified. Are they the most qualified to select from the entire pool of artists in South Carolina, or are they the most dependable to make the selections the Arts Commission wants? I think they are the most myopic group of curators with way too many conflicts of interest.

But, before I belabor this issue into the ground, let me ask a few questions.
1) Why does this exhibit need to take up almost five months of space at the State Museum? Do they really think there are going to be that many people interested in seeing this exhibit - after the opening reception?
2) Since there were only 15 craft artists selected for this exhibit, why is the Commission giving a third of their fellowships to craft artists? Shouldn't they be getting 1 out of 6? This exhibit is supposed to be a "true" reflection of our State, isn't it?
3) Do the Midlands and Upstate have the only available curators in our state? Or do these people's representation mirror the regional ties of the controlling power of the Arts Commission's board?
4) Since celebrating the turn of the millennium is supposed to be such a special occasion - why not have 10 exhibits of 100 artists each over the two year period giving many more worthy artists their fair share of the state's spotlight? How about 1000 artists for 1000 years?
5) Finally, why isn't the greater art community in SC totally outraged at the continued practice of exclusion by the SC Arts Commission and their pawns?

If anyone has any answers out there, please give me a call and clue me in. I must be missing something that others obviously know.

Trying Something Different

A small group of galleries in Charleston, SC, are trying something different to attract serious collectors to their galleries and the city that for over 300 years has represented fine arts and culture in the Americas. The fine arts and culture have had its fair share of ups and downs over those years, but the city's reputation is still unmatched as far as charm and hospitality go. The city is practically a living museum of architecture, history, and southern tradition. And, that is why people are drawn to the city like moths to a bright light from all over the US and internationally.

A word of warning to the visitor - don't get too close or you could end up having to live here year-round.

In order to take advantage of this reputation and Charleston's growing reputation as a mecca for the visual arts, a group of eight galleries and the Gibbes Museum of Art have planned, "three days of fine art indulgence," called the Charleston Fine Arts Annual. The festivities will take place on Nov. 5 through Nov. 7 and are intended to attract the "discerning art enthusiast" - translation - serious art collectors.

The participating galleries include: Coleman Fine Art, Carolina Fine Paintings & Prints, The Wells Gallery, The Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Gallery, The Charleston Renaissance Gallery, John Carroll Doyle Art Gallery, Eva Carter Gallery, and Jerald Melberg Gallery. For further information you can find addresses and phone numbers in our SC Commercial Exhibit Listings.

Now, Charleston's visual art community has no problem attracting new galleries or art enthusiast. The annual French Quarter ART WALKS which take place three times a year are currently attracting, what has been estimated to be a crowd of 5,000 art enthusiast, each time it takes place.

The Charleston Fine Arts Annual was intended to be a more low-key event, mostly by invitation, but like other best kept secrets in Charleston - the cat is out of the bag. Various media reporters have been tripping over each other in order to be first at reporting this "best kept secret".

It's hard to keep secrets in Charleston, but you can hardly blame the town criers when they learned about the scheduled lecture by Hilton Kramer, the internationally distinguished art historian, journalist and art critic, which will be part of the events. The only problem with all this publicity is that the Hilton Kramer lecture is a ticketed event and you must get a ticket from one of the participating hosts for this limited-seating event. And you know, every time something is limited - more people just have to be included.

If you're a discerning art enthusiast or just an art collector - you know who you are, you have the check stubs and the worried notes from your accountant to prove it - and you haven't heard about this "secret". You need to get to your phone in a hurry and let one of the participating galleries know that you're about to be left out. If you miss this event, you can still let them know that you should be on a list for the next Charleston Fine Arts Annual. But, I'm going to let you in on another "secret" - you can come to Charleston any day and indulge yourself with visual arts - you don't need an invitation.

Another Art Trip

Our cover story this month is about another city in the Carolinas which offers the art enthusiast a bounty of visual delights. Tryon Street in Uptown Charlotte, NC, offers an amazing amount of visual offerings and Jane Grau gives us an up close and personal view of what's to be found on that street from Eriksson Stadium to the Tryon Center for Visual Arts. The article isn't meant to be a substitute for actually going there, so go there and be amazed and then go home and tell your local leaders what you saw and what one man can do to lead his community toward supporting the visual arts. They may not have the resources of NationsBank or Bank of America behind them, but everything is relative. Having a reputation for supporting the arts and actually supporting the arts is two different things. The name, Hugh McColl, the top man at Bank of America, is what you'll find in the dictionary when you look up support for the arts.

Web Site Update -

Our web site is continuously growing in size and so is the number of people using it on a regular basis. Why? Several reasons. One, we can do things on the web site that we can't do in the paper. Example: by the middle of last month we had gotten so many request for the list of the Lucky 100 artists who had work selected to represent art in SC for the century and millennium that we had to post the list on the web site. We didn't have room to include the list in last month's paper and instead of having to wait until the Nov. issue - computer connected artists and others could find the names on our web site early.

That's right, folks who have access to e-mail could contact us, request information, and get a response earlier than the rest of our readers who had to wait for the printed version of the paper. And, it sure beats having to read the list off to people who just can't wait until it's available somewhere.

Margaret Petterson

Reason number two is the fact that we can go into more detail on issues and subjects that we couldn't afford to do in the printed version of the paper. An example of this is our "Special Features" section of the web site. Here we can offer so much more: color images, exhibit catalog essays, and historical documents. Example: The other day I was visiting one of the untold number of galleries now located in Charleston, SC, and I happen to show up just as folks were getting ready to load three 6' x 8' canvases on a truck headed for Rochester, NY. This 6' x 24' piece was a commission piece for Margaret Petterson, just another example of the amazing market brewing in Charleston.

Margaret Petterson

I'm always a little surprised at how people can come to Charleston and see something they don't seem to feel they can get in their own home town or anywhere else. Lucky for Charleston's artists. Petterson's work was soon to be hanging in the entrance of a 45,000 sq. ft. building in Rochester. And, before she was finished with that piece, she had her second commission to do another 6' x 24' work for another building of the same size in Omaha, NE. And, there are more buildings in the works. But, before I go on - the rest of the story is on the web site.

One last thing about the web site. We've finally launched the "Red Hot Links" page. Get in touch with us and be able to touch the Carolinas.

Get off the main road sometime!

When hurricane Floyd came a calling recently, the entire population of the eastern seaboard tried to exit on the same road, I-26, the world's largest parking lot. When it came time for our little family to pack up and move we headed for northern Alabama on nothing but sideroads. It's one of the benefits to delivering papers to every corner of two states - you sooner or later find all the roads that lead everywhere. So, in half the same time it took most everyone else to travel 100 miles, we traveled 350 miles and saw a lot of interesting things along the way. The point is - it's good to get off that road you drive everyday and find another road to where you are going.

Not too long ago there was a story in our local paper by Associated Press about how the pottery galleries in Seagrove, NC, have been hurt by the 220 By-Pass, the soon to be I-73/74. According to the story Seagrove has lost two-thirds of its drive-through traffic. And, that's not good for the galleries. There are over 100 different pottery galleries in Seagrove and now, the new North Carolina Pottery Center.

Next time you're traveling through that part of NC or when you need to have a cultural extravaganza - get off that main road and cruise into Seagrove - you won't be sorry you did. There are plenty of signs on the main highway showing the way to the Pottery Center and after a visit at the Center you can pick up a map of the 100 other galleries in the area. Trust me, I've been there plenty of times and I've always been able to find my way back to the main highway. Or at least I've always discovered a new way home.

Update On Timely Notices

On Oct. 20, I received the Piccolo Spoleto Festival 2000 Performer Application Package which was postmarked on Oct. 19. The deadline for this application is Nov. 15. Now, if you happen to be on the mailing list of the Office of Cultural Affairs of the City of Charleston, this might be enough time for you to respond to the opportunity to perform at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, but what if you're not? What if you don't see this notice, this call for entry, this opportunity knocking at your door until it is printed in our paper or some other publication. I assume that is why it was sent to me - to pass it along. So, if our Nov. issue was on the streets by Nov. 1, (not a usual event) at best someone seeing the notice would have at best 15 days to get their application together. Is that enough time?

The good news is that in the same package other deadlines for other Piccolo Spoleto Festival opportunities were also included, for once, giving ample time for people to respond. You can see them on page 4. Here's a heads up that will save you the time it takes to get to page 4. The Piccolo Spoleto Poster entries are due Dec. 10. For everything else, you've got time to finish reading this issue.

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