Friday, June 5, 2009

New arts commission chairman; fellowship winners

Bud Ferillo, owner of Ferillo & Associates in Columbia, has been elected chairman of the S.C. Arts Commission. The commission, appointed by the governor, oversees operations of the state agency which provides funding and support to artists and arts groups.
Ferillo recently directed the movie "Corridor of Shame," which examines the terrible state of public schools in South Carolina. (How did he get on a state agency commission?) He also fought hard (including against some commission members) to give Charles Wadsworth, chamber music director for the Spoleto Festival, a Verner Award. (That's the biggest arts award the state gives, although sometimes it doesn't seem to mean much but when it goes to someone like Wadsworth its value increases.)
He's also, as one might imagine, quite a political player and served as deputy lieutenant governor and assistant to chief of staff to the S.C. House speaker. (We don't hold that against him, it was a long time ago. And his real name is Charles Ferillo Jr. and he's originally from Charleston, but that's OK too.)
Ferillo is someone you'll see at a lot of art events all over the state and he's a liberal.
One of his first task is to lead the commission is finding a new head for the agency, which like most, has been buffered by budget cuts. Long-time director Suzy Surkamer retired last month as 15 years as director and 35 with the agency. He replaces Linda Stern, also of Columbia, who has been chair for six years.

The commission also awarded fellowship to four artists: Terrance Henderson (left) of Columbia for dance performance; Jill Bahr of Charleston for choreography; Kim Keats of Beaufort for craft and Damond Howard for visual arts. The fellowship consists of an unrestricted $5,000 cash award - a big deal for nearly any artists.

Henderson has been artistic director of Vibrations Dance Company for a decade where he works as a choreographer as well as dancer (he's probably more active as a choreographer both for dances and lots of musical theater.)
Bahr is long-time choreographer for the Charleston Ballet Theatre.
Howard teaches at Claflin University in Orangeburg and previously taught at Benedict College in Columbia. (Right, one of his images which explore racial stereotypes.) He's lived in the state for four or five years and his work is impressive, but hasn't been shown very often - because it probably scares most places to death.
Keats has been an active artist in South Carolina for more than two decades and is best known for her wood sculptures. She's won tons of awards, but probably never gotten the kind of widespread recognition she deserves.


  1. don't forget alternate visual arts fellow jonathan brilliant...

  2. well i could make extensive comments about that, but...


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