Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'm thinking fund-raising event for Carolina Culture

What do you think?

Get naked early! Now it's Nude Tuesday!

"After Lightening" by Diana Farfan.
The artist, a native of Colombia, South America, is a graduate student at the University of South Carolina. She has a solo show "We Human Marionettes" opening Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Friday Cottage, at 1830 Henderson St.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Follow the route of contemporary art in South Carlina through two exhibition covering half a century

Last week the 701 Center for Contemporary Art was filled with art - most of it leaning against walls and some of it still wrapped in protective plastic.

Mike Williams’ big, colorful swamp painting from 1999 was already hanging. Nearby stood a 1968 sculpture by John Acorn made from a Volkswagen engine. Scattered around the room were the biggest batik painting (below) Leo Twiggs ever did, from ’84, and small photographs from the 1980s of Scottish tradesmen by Phil Moody.

A dark abstract painting "Pond" from the ‘70s by Walter Greer (above) caught the attention of Harriett Green, visual arts coordinator of the S.C. Arts Commission.

“It’s like seeing old friends,” Green said. “That Walter Greer piece I haven’t seen in 10 years,”

She and others have been traveling around the state picking up works from the State Art Collection that have been on loan to various institutions as well as state agencies which display the in their offices.

All the pieces have been rounded up for “The State Art Collection: Contemporary Conversations.”

The first installment of the two-part exhibition opens Thursday at the Center for Contemporary Art. Each show consists of about 60 works by 45 artists.

The oldest piece in the first show is a wood engraving from 1958 by August Cook. The newest is a photo by Michelle Van Parys done in 2000. The ‘80s dominate, making up half the show.
he art ranges from more academic and formal works to that of outsider and self-taught artists. The best-known artist in the show is Jasper Johns, who is represented by a lead relief sculpture from 1970. (right)

The exhibitions were organized by Eleanor Heartney, a New York curator, critic and writer who has worked with the Arts Commission on other shows.

“The idea was to put the collection in a broader perspective of what was going on nationally and internationally,” Green said. “This is the first time we had a curator select from the entire collection.”

40 years of art

The Arts Commission, a state agency, started the collection in 1967. It holds nearly 500 artworks by 277 artists, all of whom have a Palmetto State connection.

Except during financially lean times, the commission has added a few pieces most of the last 42 years. A few years ago, partially because of budget cuts, purchases were cut back to every two to three years. The collecting policy also changed slightly in recent years with more of an emphasis on adding artists or mediums that have been overlooked.

“We wanted to keep collecting, but wanted to do so with more of a long-term plan,” said Ken May, interim director of the Arts Commission.

The collection is like the rings of a tree providing a record of what was going on in South Carolina art during a particular one or two year period. Usually the artworks were purchased around the time they were made. The commission has had a tendency to purchase works from young and emerging artists many of whom have gone on to become older and established artists making very different kinds of art.

The collection often reflects the social and artistic concerns of the times, such as the construction “Smoking by Pregnant Women” by Jean Grosser and Jesse Guinyard Jr.’s “White Flag/Refugee 2” both from the late ‘80s. Materials and styles in vogue at a particular time can also be traced in the collection.

How each artist links to this place and the time they made the artwork in the show can be excavated.

The exhibition breaks the works down into thematic areas by subject matter, such as landscapes, or those addressing political or spiritual concerns. Because of that, the exhibitions may not explicitly address each artists’ impact on South Carolina and its impact on them. A catalog coming out the day the first show opens will provide some of that information.

(The catalog includes art acquired from 1987 to 2006; works added to the collection before that were covered in an earlier catalog.)

Natives, transplants, just passing through

The artists in the show are very much like the rest of the U.S. population in that they’ve moved around a lot.

Bing Jian Zhang was a graduate student at USC and now lives back in his homeland of China where he works as a filmmaker. (Right, Zhang's "Doors of the Forbidden.")

Some, such as Mike Williams are lifelong residents of the state. He grew up in Sumter and has lived in Columbia two decades.

Sigmund Abeles was reared in Myrtle Beach and moved away after college, but has stayed in touch with the people and art of the state and counts his time here as formative to all his art.

Leo Twiggs left his hometown of St. Stephen to attend college, and then returned to spend his career at S.C. State University.

Many moved here and settled in. Jim Edwards of Columbia and Herb Parker of Charleston came to the state to teach college and have stayed for decades. In the case of the late Edmund Yaghjian and others they stayed the rest of their lives.

Not every artist who has made it into the art collection has kept producing, but most have. Many have scattered, some have died. But of the all those with art in the collection only one cannot be located.

“That’s pretty good I think,” Green said.

Looking back, meeting oneself

The exhibitions have started some artists thinking about the art they made early in their careers. How do they feel about it being shown now? How is it connected with what they’ve done since?

Jack Girard spent part of his childhood in Columbia, went away to school, then came back to work in a gallery and study at USC for a time before moving away again. His 1978 drawing “One Star, Lonely Star, Red Box, Deadly Box” (left) is in the exhibition.

“I haven’t seen it in 30 years,” said Girard, who is chairman of the Transylvania (Ky.) University art department, where he has taught for 29 years. “But it is connected with the work I still do.”

Linda Fantuzzo’s painting “Unstable Painting with Table,” from 1991, is the kind of painting for which she has become best known. She stared doing these after a fire, a storm and then a re-roofing mess destroyed many of her earlier works – sculptures that often included found objects. Some of the objects that she once used to make art became subjects for her paintings.
The piece is richly painted, both a still life and a landscape with an aura of mystery to it.

“There’s a landscape in background – like another painting or window,” said the Charleston artist. “I didn’t want to have to do one thing or another, so I found a way to do it.”

Although her style has changed during the past 20 years, it isn’t difficult to recognize the same hand in “Unstable Painting with Table” (left) as a work Fantuzzo finished last week.

Heidi Darr-Hope’s “Artmates” was purchased right out of her master of fine arts show at USC in 1982. The piece is reflective of the times. She majored in fabric art – a fairly new field at the time that grew out of the feminist movement.

It also explores ideas of identity and self-discovery. And it is connected to the art she’s still making.

“What I’m trying to talk about has stayed the same – I’ve stayed true to my voice,” said the Columbia artist. Not only will this work show that artists have stayed true to ideas and ideals, but that they’ve kept working.

“For a lot of us it is so hard to remain producing artists – but here it is 2009 and she’s still at it,” Darr-Hope said.

She’s also interested in how people who don’t know her old work will react to it.

“At first I wondered what the hell the piece would look like, what kind of condition it’s in and if I’d still like it,” she said. “I think it will be fun to see it again.”

The Arts Commission has been in touch with the artists in the shows and expects many to come to attend. Although she’s worked in the arts in South Carolina for three decades and knows nearly everyone it will be her first face-to-face encounter with some.
“Some of these artists I’ve never met,” she said, “but I know their work.”

“The State Art Collection: Contemporary Conversations,” part one runs Thursday, Oct. 1 through Nov. 1. An opening reception takes place from 7 – 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1. The second installment runs Nov. 5 -. Dec. 6. 701 Center for Contemporary Art, 701 Whaley St. 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Wednesday; 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 1 – 5 p.m. Sunday. (803) 779-4571. Curator Eleanor Heartney will give talks on “The Biennial Paradox,” Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. and “Art Tales of Plastic Surgery, Genetically-Altered Rabbits and Other Acts of Art,” Oct. 19 at 6 p.m.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Check out my review of "Cyrano de B" at USC

I take little pleasure from writing bad reviews, but if you want to read one, you can find it at

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Old plays made new, touring Shakespeare, erotic art, and music, electronic music, art at the rapids

Director takes a new
view down a long nose

This summer director Robert Richmond was thinking about noses.

He was reworking Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play “Cyrano de Bergerac” for a Theatre South Carolina production when Michael Jackson died.
Cyrano, a great poet and soldier, was hampered by his extravagant nose; Jackson was known for his ever-shrinking nose.

“It was a real inspiration in a creepy way,” said Richmond, a visiting professor at USC.
Nearly everyone, when they look in the mirror, sees something they’d like to change, he said.
“We all have something about Cyrano in us,” Richmond said.

As is usual with Richmond, doing a standard-issue of the play about a man with a romantic heart and great love, but hampered by his looks, was not in the cards. He decided to re-write much of the play, set it in the late 19th century rather than the original 17th century and pull out all the stops on the production design.

As associate artistic director of the Aquila Theatre Company, which was in residence at USC in the early 1990s, Richmond (left) was known for simplifying and bringing new life to classics. Staring his third year as visiting professor at USC, Richmond, has continued that innovative approach for “As You Like It,” “A Tale Told by an Idiot,” “The Skin of Our Teeth,” and “A Cabal of Hypocrites” at the Theatre South Carolina at USC and “Elephant’s Graveyard” at Trustus Theatre.

As Richmond did with “Oh, What A Lovely War” in 2007, he has transformed Longstreet Theatre. A theater-in-the-round, it will be more of a vertical theater for “Cyrano” with the show occupying the theater from basement to the lighting grid high above the stage. (The look is somewhat influenced by “steam punk,” a kind of style that melds 19th century technology, such as steam engines and cast iron, with futuristic content. ) The set is by Kimi Maeda, who holds a master’s degree in theater design from the university and works at the Columbia Marionette Theatre.

The play also reunites Richmond with Anthony Cochrane, who is playing Cyrano. The two were college roommates in Great Britain 30 years ago and worked together for 15 with Aquila. Now an independent actor, Cochrane played dozens of roles in Aquila productions and was also the company composer. He has performed in number of off-Broadway plays.

"Cyrano" starts Friday and runs through Oct. 4. Performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays. A Sunday matinee takes place at 3 p.m. Oct. 4.

Something new for Theatre South Carolina are performances at 7 and 11 p.m. Saturdays. The 11 p.m. show is half-price. Longstreet is at Sumter and Green streets. (803) 777-2551.

(The theater department has another unusual show coming up next week - Louis Nowra’s “Cosi” about a group of mental patients staging a production of Mozart’s opera “Cosi Fan Tutte.” Like the opera in the play, the play will be performed in a gym. It's Oct. 1 – 4 in Hamilton Gym at Pickens and Pendleton streets)

Thursday, Sept. 24

Shakespeare on the move
A touring company from England makes a stop for some Shakespeare in Columbia.

The group from Cambridge University will stage “Two Gentlemen of Verona” at Columbia College. The group has been coming to the states for a decade, but as far as anyone tells this is the first time they’ve been to Columbia.

“Two Gentlemen” is one of Shakespeare’s early comedies and like all his comedies it has a lot of mixed up stuff going on in it, some cross-dressing, several confused lovers, two clowns and a dog.
The show starts at 7:30 and admission is $10. (803) 786-3850.

Landscape art
The About Face art group opens a show of landscapes from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibition at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios, 808 Lady St. remains on display through Sept. 29.

Friday, Sept. 25

Making music with odd things
Electronic music duo, Beatrix Jar, turns on the juice at 8 p.m. using beats, sound samples and noises from toys, circuit boards and radios. It’s at the Columbia Museum of Art. $10 or $8 for museum members.
If you’re really into what they’re doing you can take a workshop with the Minneapolis group the next day for $62.50. (803) 799-2810.

Saturday, Sept. 26

Up the river with art
Get in a boat at the east coast and head inland on a river. In a hundred miles or so you’ll have a hard time going any father upstream. You’ve come to the fall line.

And for hundreds of years people have met the river rapids that mark the fall line, got off the boat and settled down. This is where sand and mud of the coastal plane meets the upland bedrock.

If you want to get a good idea of where the fall line falls get out a map and connect there dots - Philadelphia, Baltimore, Richmond, Fayetteville, Cheraw, Camden, Columbia, Hamburg, Augusta, Milledgeville, Macon, Columbus. It’s the line where the water falls – and is a good place to set up a grist mill or sawmill run by the water’s flow.

The S.C. State Museum examines life along the fall line in the exhibition “From the Pee Dee to the Savannah: Art and Material Culture of South Carolina’s Fall Line Region.”

The exhibition will include decorative and fine arts as well as more utilitarian objects. (Pictured is an early 19th century painting by Eugene Dovilliers of Columbia seen from the west side of the Congaree River.) The exhibition, a project of the South Carolina Fall Line Consortium, a group of museums and libraries, runs to March 22, 2010.

Many museums free today

This would be a good day to see that show at the State Museum because you can get free admission there as part of a the Smithsonian Institute's Museum Day. The Columbia Museum of Art, the Bob Jones University Museum and Gallery in Greenville, the Morris Museum in Augusta and various historic houses and sites are taking part.

To get a list of participating place and print a pass go to http://microsite.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/admission.html

Sunday, Sept. 27

Music and art
You have a choice of musical events at 3 this afternoon.

The first Art of Music program at the Columbia Museum of Art and the next to last Cornelia Freeman concert at the USC School of Music.

For the first, music historian Peter Hoyt will talk about William Bouguereau’s painting “Far From Home.” The painting shows two young girl musicians begging for a few pennies, but the talk “Victorian Eroticism and Bouguereau’s Bohemian Violinist” will examine the sexual content of this work and others. Music for will be provided by violinist Neil Casey, assistant conductor of the Augusta Symphony Orchestra and the USC Symphony Orchestra.

Bouguereau was one of the most famous artists in the world during the late 1800s. His paintings dominated by perfect female bodies with were popular in his native France, throughout Northern Europe and in the United States.

He mainly created extremely realistic, highly finished scenes from history and mythology with forays into subjects like “Far From Home” portraying peasants and farmers. He even did religious subjects - you've never seen the Virgin Mary like this before.

But, Hoyt said, “the division between the secular and sacred in his work is hazy.” The paintings are often loaded with sexual symbols.

Nearly every major art museum owns his paintings. “Far From Home at the Columbia Museum is on loan from the Art Museum of Ponce, Puerto Rico.

The art of Bouguereau and other academics fell from favor with the rise of the Impressionism and modern art. “BouguereautĂ©” became a derogatory term for old-fashioned paintings.

The program is suggested for mature audiences. Free for museum members; $7 for everyone else.

Other Art and Music programs are “American Images in the South” with High Lonesome bluegrass band Nov. 3; “Wide Open Spaces: A Sacred Harp Gathering,” Jan. 17; and a viola d’amore, a rare early violin, concert Feb. 14; and “The Great American Songbook” with the Ron McCurdy Quartet May 7. Times and prices vary. Contact the museum for details. (803) 799-2810.

Just music
At the same hour, USC music faculty will start playing “Pastorale” by Igor Stravinsky (left); "Choral Fantasy" by Jan Koetsier; “Summer Journey” by Eric Ewazen “Music for Brass Instruments” by Ingolf Dahl; and several Frederic Chopin piano pieces.

As with the previous concert on the series, most of these works are from the 20th and 21st centuries.
The concert has a couple of vocal works, obviously from the title a piece for lots of brass, and most intriguingly, one that is for tuba and organ.

What ties all the music together, says series organizer Peter Kolkay, is they all explore themes of fantasy.
Hear it at the USC music school. Tickets are $12. (803) 777-4280.

Tuesday, Sept. 29

Speaking Spanglish
“Migration Letters in Spanglish,” an art installation by Alejandro GarcĂ­a, opens at 701 Whaley at 6 p.m. The project uses an alphabet designed to reflect issues of immigration. Garcia is a native of Colombia who lives in Columbia.
The show will be on display through Oct. 15 at 701 Whaley St. It then travels to two Georgia galleries. (803) 397-7686.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Birth of Venus" from 1879 by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
in the collection of the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.
Bouguereau's painting "Far From Home" is on loan to the Columbia Museum of
Art from the Museum of Ponce, Puerto Rico. It and other art by Bouguereau are the subject of an Art of Music program at the museum Sept. 27.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Black and plastic and completely full

Flowers, chairs, ducks, angels, soldiers, spatulas, spoons, candles, dogs, soccer players, eggs, horses, sheep, alphabet letters, screws, dinosaurs, a minotaur, sheep, sticks, apples, shingles, springs, frogs, birds. These are some of the things you will find in Andrew Norton Webber’s artworks. All stuck together; all painted black.

The Columbia artist gathers materials – mostly plastic crap, mostly toys – and attaches one thing to another to another to another in a rather amazing way.

One can read much into the work. Is it about the end of the world, when everything is burned? A kind of mourning for what we’ve done to the environment. To kids? Our culture? Is it a formal exercise in making something beautiful from a bunch of junk? A metaphorical blacking out of the stuff that pollutes our land and minds. Or is it just something really cool looking?

All of the above and probably a few more, although the list might not be as long as the actual objects used.

Webber is an artist one doesn’t see that much of. He’s often on the road at the big high-end arts festival held in Florida and Colorado and California. While Webber has won a number of awards at these shows, his dark work isn’t the sort of thing that sells to folks looking for more decorative, but quality art for their homes - or their second homes or third homes. (He’s mainly there working with his partner the painter Suzy Scarborough who sells very well at the shows.)

Webber rarely shows in Columbia where he lives, so his exhibition, with the sculptor Robin Jones, at Compass 5 Partners architects in Cayce is a welcome event.

In the past Webber’s sculptures have mostly been small, but some of the new pieces have gotten almost gigantic.

One is made of a dresser topped with a pile of junk as high as the piece of furniture itself. It’s about six feet tall.

The majority are approximately three-by-three feet in size – still twice as big as the work he was doing a few years ago. Each piece is also nearly as deep as they are wide and a few have extensions that cantilever out from the main body of the sculpture. They really hold up in this new size – just as well constructed, just as visually interesting, just as content-laden.

Webber’s art has a quality that called as horror vaccui in which every available space is filled. That’s one of the appeals of it. But he shows that he doesn’t need all that stuff to make good work.

A rare spare work, titled “Air Box,” is mostly a few sticks and some fencing with a small dolphin floating in the center. Another that’s much simpler is made from a small table soccer game – painted black of course.

Webber's art provides much fodder for the eye and the mind. Come with both open.

An architecture firm in Cayce, on State Street between the Lizard’s Thicket and the railroad switching yard isn’t he place most people go looking for art shows. Especially good art shows. Although the exhibitions at Compass 5 are in a working office, they are still well displayed, but more importantly the art is good.

Owner Maryellyn Cannizzaro has sought out excellent and edgy artists. These are by and large artists from Columbia who are well-known and respected – but only by a small group of art aficionados. (Shows are coming from Suzy Scarborough and John Monteith among others.)

With about six shows a year and a rapid change-over of shows Compass 5 is adding a much needed edge to the local art scene.

The show is up through Oct. 7. Compass 5, 1329 State St. (803) 765-8538.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Review of "The King and I"

My review of it can be found sometime today at http://www.onstagecolumbia.com/
Great show.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nude Wednesday!

Drawing from model by
Taryn Shekitka.
Done during a session of the About Face art group
it is in an exhibition by group members at the Columbia Museum of Art education gallery.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Go to college (art shows)

Three art exhibitions at colleges (Columbia College, Benedict College and the University of South Carolina) cover a span of mediums (textiles, painting on glass and printmaking) all done well.

A diverse printmaker

At the USC art department gallery are the excellent prints, mostly etchings and woodcuts, by Bill Hosterman. The Michigan artist takes a range of approaches: realistic bordering on the surrealistic black and white etching; more chunky woodcut prints; elaborately constructed and colored abstract pieces; collages.
Many of the black and white etching are intricate images of inter-woven branches and brambles trapping or protecting birds as human hands reach in uncertainly. In another the brambles engulf a large isolated house.
The fine lines and gradations of tone are expertly handled.
At the other extreme is a tiny work of a flayed human figure, which has deeply embedded the paper, in rich colors with a background composed of oversized letters.
The most satisfying and engaging of all the works are the abstract color pieces. With their interwoven lines and shapes, layers of ink and subtle colors they’re simply beautiful.
Also in the show, titled “External Signings,” are a series of collages made from portions of prints. One might wonder if Hosterman’s is recycling not-so-perfect prints. That doesn’t matter – they bring all his approaches together for a whole and are the best works in the show.
The gallery also includes a brief intro to the printmaking process. This is always a welcome thing in a world filled with art called "prints" which are actually reproductions.
Through Oct. 2. Senate and Pickens streets. 9 a.m. – 4:30- p.m. weekdays. (803) 777-7480.

Textile abstractions

A different sort of college can be found at Columbia College with upstate artist Terry Jarrard-Dimond’s “Textile Constructions.” Jarrad-Dimond’s fabric pieces are inspired both by quilt making and abstract painting (mostly of the hard edge type.) One piece is even called “Thank You Morris Louis,” an homage to an abstract painter of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
The artist creates harmonious, but exciting compositions with cloth and thread. Oftentimes, bright colors dominate, but she’s not afraid of using expanses of white (sometimes more than one shade of white.) The various shapes are most blocky but these compositions are complex and she throws in some unexpected curves (both literally and figuratively). The work also has a rich surface created with overlays of sewing and sometimes dyed patterns.
The downstairs area of the gallery is given to about 12 large pieces, which range in size from a couple feet across to about six-by-six feet while a sampling of eight smaller framed pieces are shown in a loft space.
The pieces in “Textile Constructions” have many seams, but they are nearly seamless as is this show.
The exhibition is on display through September.
The gallery, located in the music and art building at Columbia College, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; and 1 to 5 p.m. weekends. (The college is located about three miles north of downtown Columbia at Main Street and Columbia College Drive.)
The artist will give a talk during a reception Sept. 17 from noon to 1 p.m.
Call (803) 786-3088.

Fragility and glass paintings

J’Renee uses an old-fashioned, decorative-arts technique:
reverse painting on glass. The New Orleans artist also incorporates elements of collage with photo-based images meshing well with the richer surfaces and colors of the paint. The artist has a big show of the paintings at Benedict College called “Surviving Katrina.”
The paintings capture the tumult and tragedy, and sometimes triumph, that the title of the exhibition refers to. Several artworks in on display actually survived the storm, others were created in response to it and some are done on windows salvaged from the wreckage left by the 2005 hurricane.
Most of the paintings indirectly speak to the storm and incorporate well-known New Orleans references – jazz, historic buildings, religion.
J’Renee’s works are built into a tottering makeshift structure that threatens to collapse. While at times, this approach can look sloppy, it is perfect for the subject matter and the material and when it works it really works.
Often times a face, looking directly at the viewer with a kind of beseeching accusation, pushes to the forefront – right up against the glass so to speak.
The show has a couple of drawbacks. The artist’s collage approach is often too close to that of Romare Bearden and visitors are greeted by a printed reproduction of one of the originals. The latter sends folks into the gallery wondering if they are seeing originals or some version of high-definition copies
The show is in the fine arts building at the college, located at Harden and Blanding streets. Through September. The gallery is open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The artist will give a talk during a reception taking place September 16 from
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (803) 705-4768

Extra credit

A couple of other things, sort of connected, to the other shows.
The exhibition space on the first floor of the Richland County Public Library on Assembly Street has a delightful show of textile works by the group The Devine Quilters.
In a small conference room just off the gallery you can see a group of dynamic original drawings Benedict College gallery director Tyrone Geter did for the 1996 children’s book Little Tree Growing in the Shade. The artist gave the drawings to the library earlier in the year.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Workshop Theatre executive director makes fast exit

Elfe Hacker has resigned as executive director of Workshop Theatre after only nine months.
Hacker, who studied theater in Europe and has been president of a laboratory equipment company, Hacker Industries, was hired at the start of the year. She lives in Winnsboro where Hacker Industries moved in 2004 after many years based in New Jersey.
Workshop, founded in the late 1960s, has looking for a new home for about a decade and needs about $4 million to build a new place. It has to move from its current location at Bull and Gervais streets (land formerly owned by the Columbia Museum of Art) to make way for a new USC law school.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A new year, a new life

This is the first time in 20 years I haven’t been looking at the coming arts season from inside a newspaper office. During the early 1990s, I started an annual arts guide at The State newspaper, called Arts Ahead, which provided full calendars, stories about what was coming up in the arts and tips for best enjoying and affording the arts. While I can’t do all that on this site (at least not yet) here are a few of my thoughts on what’s coming up.

I love contemporary music, so the Southern Exposure new music series is high on my list. It starts in October with the group Real Quiet.

The Cornelia Freeman September Concert Series has been around for a couple of decades – quite a bit of the music being played this year is younger than the series. The series started Sept. 6 with works from the 17th through the 19th centuries and the next one Sunday, Sept. 13 is all pre-20th century too.
But through the whole series, which takes place every Sunday at the USC music school, about 15 of 23 compositions are from the 20th century and half of those by composers 65 or younger (most considerably younger.) Among them are Graham Fitkin, Carter Pann and Roshanne Etezady (left). Not that there’s a thing wrong with Bach, Mendelssson and Mussorgsky.
Concerts with newer music have a tendency to attract younger audiences. Sunday afternoon concerts don’t. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

(By the way, the concerts are named for Cornelia Freeman a giant of music education here. Her grand-daughter Erin, associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony in Virginia, will guest conduct the S.C. Philharmonic in January.)

The College of Charleston School of the Arts is moving into its brand new home at the corner of St. Philip and Calhoun streets. This means a new home for the Halsey Institute of Contemporary art, its gallery and excellent programs.
The new place opens to the public in October with an exhibition by the solo-named art
ist Aldwyth. (right) The artist, who lives in Hilton Head, has long been one of the most respected artists in the area – but the appreciative audience has been small.
The show is traveling around the county and includes a hard-back catalog and DVD.

At the Columbia Museum of Art Larry Clark’s bleak images from 1970s Tulsa will be sure to be a bummer (in a good way.)
The museum is also unveiling 50 works it has received from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection. The middle-class couple put together a huge art collection which they are distributing throughout the county in a program called “50 Works for 50 States.” Both open in October.
The Chemistry of Color: Contemporary African-American Artists’ will bring art by some giants - Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold – to town in February.

The Charles Wadsworth and Friends concert series, now run by cellist Edward Arron, also promises some surprises. I ran the names of some of the players and works past pianist Phillip Bush and he gives lots of thumbs ups.
Among those playing are Jeremy
Denk, piano, Alisa Weilerstein, cello, and Angela Jones-Reus, flute. Oh, and Charles Wadsworth. The series starts in October at the art museum.
The museum’s Art of Music series also promises some intriguing offerings.

Looks like another good S.C. Philharmonic season under new music director Morihiko Nakahara. The first concert is Saturday, Sept. 12.
He’s looking forward to the Hayden during the second concert in October, as am I. Also for me is the Mozart concerto for bassoon played by Peter
Kolkay of Columbia in October. The orchestra will also play “Verge” by Columbia-based composer John Fitz Rogers in November.
And don’t forget that Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (right) will join the orchestra in December.

The USC Symphony also has an interesting looking season. Playing with the orchestra in October is the Shiraz Trio, a percussion group and Haim Avitsur, who plays the shofar (ram’s horn) and trombone, will do a new piece by Columbia composer Meira Warshauer.
Early next year, Columbia native Angelia Cho (left) will perform Dvork’s Violin Concert in a minor with the orchestra. Cho, who won the 2006 Concerto Competition at The New England Conservatory, has performed with many orchestras and is a member of The Academy, a fellowship program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and The Weill Music Institute.
The season wraps up with pianist Marina
Lomazov and trumpeter James Ackley playing Shostakovich’s “Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings.” http://www.music.sc.edu/ea/orchestra/

Theatre South Carolina has its usual mix of the popular with the more academic (that old romantic “Cyrano de Bergerac” and a worker-rights play called “Radium Girls.”) The new deal is that on the first Saturday it will do two performances – one at 7 and one at 11. http://www.cas.sc.edu/thea/

S.C. State University used to do some significant exhibitions at its museum, but that stopped several years back for reasons that are still a mystery to me. The good news is that the university now has a new art gallery, run by artist and educator Jim Arendt, which is turning into a real showcase for young and upcoming South Carolina artists. This year the gallery will have shows by Kara Gunter, Lee Swallie and others.

The McKissick Museum at USC has a long history of exploring traditional crafts. Early next year it opens “Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art.” It’s a craft with roots on the South Carolina coast. The exhibition was organized by the Museum for African Art in New York in collaboration with the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston and the McKissick Museum. It was curated by Enid Schildkrout and Dale Rosengarten. Rosengarten is one of two South Carolina MacArthur “genius" grant recipients. The other is Mary Jackson, who makes sweetgrass baskets in Charleston.)
Before coming to Columbia, it will be one of the inaugural exhibitions at the new Museum for African Art when the museum opens in January.
To watch a video of Jackson talking about traditional functional baskets to to: http://www.craftinamerica.org/artists_fiber/story_118.php?

For a while I’ve wanted to write something about double reed instruments.
I’m not joking – even if there are many oboe and double reed jokes out there. (None very good.)
These are instruments I don’t know much about and they sound great. Also, double reed players have to make their own reeds and are notoriously high strung about this and the fact that they have to blow a lot of air through a very narrow opening making it likely that their heads will explode at any moment.
So, I’m thrilled that Nov. 21 is
“South Carolina Double Reed Day”!
It will bring together players of oboes and bassoons - and with any luck someone with a
heckelphon. The day wraps up with a concert at USC - without exploding heads.

And a few other things:

The South Carolina Poetry Initiative will have a week or so of Edgar Allen Poe related- reading and events in October. We hope it will include Raven Eating.

I plan to hit Town Theatre’s opening show “The King and I,” which has a great story and music and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. I’m not a big fan of “The Producers” which opens the Workshop Theatre season or “Rent,” which Trustus is doing, but I’m sure no one will miss me when the shows sell out.

Painter Philip Morsberger of Augusta will have what I think is his first show in Columbia. It’s at Gallery 80808/Vista Studio organized by if Art Gallery. The very fine veteran artist Alex Powers of Myrtle Beach is at City Art Gallery. Both are in October.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing what sculptor Jonathan Brilliant, who recently moved to Columbia from Charleston, will do with tens of thousands of coffee-stirrers in the USC art department gallery. We’ll all find out in January.

I’ve been writing about Brian Rutenberg and his art for 15 years. Needless to say I won’t miss his newest batch of paintings when they go on display at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston in October.

Tom Stanley and Shaun Cassidy, both of Winthrop University, will do a collaborative show at the Sumter Gallery of Art in November. Candice Ivy, a South Carolina native who has created compelling installations in Sumter and Columbia, will have a show there in February.

The USC dance lineup looks excellent and varied.

Former USC dance instructor Miriam Barbosa unveils her new group, the South Carolina Contemporary Dance Company in a few weeks.

The names for USC’s Caught in the Creative Act visiting writer’s program may not be as familiar as those in past years such as Salman Rushie and E.L. Doctorow. They are: Lev Grossman, Ron Rash (from South Carolina), Tom Perrotta, Terry Tempest Williams, Ceridwen Dovey. All are excellent writers.

The fall festival of authors
hosts poet Billy Collins in
He was poet laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. Despite that he is very smart and very funny.

“The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music
barking, barking, barking,
and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven had included a part for barking dog.’”
(From the poem “Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House.”)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Small, naked presidents, candidates, queens, dictators, gods and monsters

Little famous naked people, ceramic sculptures by Russell Biles of Greenville.
Biles has been creating politically and socially-charged sculptures for 20 years.
His work can be seen at the Center of the Earth Gallery in Charlotte.