Thursday, December 31, 2009

Get ready for the new year in the arts

Happy New Year’s Eve. 
I hope you’re not behaving yourself.
The arts are still in the holiday doldrums, but in a few days everything takes off again.
Here’s an extended list of what's happening in January so mark it in your calendar, put it in your Blackberry or print out the page. That way, if you lose part of your memory tonight, tomorrow you will still know what's up. You could also head down the right hand column and sign up as a follower so you be notified when there's something new here.
Also make sure you come back Sunday when I'll give you an early look at some of the cool things happening at the Spoleto Festival this year.

The Columbia Museum of Art gets 2010 rolling with a couple of concerts and a lecture.
The Chicago New Arts Trio performs “The Eleanor Concert” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5. The work is by John Lane of Allen University who will give a talk at the event. Lane wrote the piece for the trio and it's named for the daughter of soprano Carolyn Hart.
"They're old friends of mine (from Chicago) and we've stayed in touch," said Lane, who is now a associate senior vice president rather than a music professor at Allen. The group did a six-stop tour of Mississippi with the work and a filmmaker is working on a multi-media piece about the piece.
 Admission is free for museum members, $7 for adults and $5 for students.
The Devil Music Ensemble sometimes does soundtracks for scary movies, but at the museum it will be providing live sounds for the silent western comedy “Big Stakes.” The concert and film, collaboration with the Nickelodeon Theatre, is one of many such performances the Boston-based classically-trained trio playing synthesizers, guitars, violin and various percussion instruments has performed around the U.S. and on a recent tour of Europe.
Admission is $8 for members; $10 general admission and $5 for students. It’s at 7 p.m. Jan. 8.
Art collectors Herbert and Dorothy Vogel donated 50 works each to 50 museums in 50 states. What they gave to the museum is on display and USC art history professor at Brad Collins will give a lecture on it Jan. 10 at 3 p.m.
“Wide Open Spaces: A Sacred Harp Gathering” will be an audience participation event with those attending learning how to do this traditional American form of singing. Don’t worry there will be experts on hand. Jan. 17
Contact the museum at or 799-2810.

The South Carolina Art Teachers Invitational Exhibition that Columbia College mounts each year is generally a strong show - something that may come as a surprise to those who under-estimate the talents of those teaching.The exhibition, Jan. 6 to Feb. 7, is composed of works by 10 artists from around the state.Pictured is "Battle" by Katherine Perry who teaches at Ridgeview High School.
A reception with many of the artists attending will take place at Jan. 22 from 5:30–7 p.m.

Frame of Mind opens an exhibition by Susan Lenz with a poetry reading by Cassie Premo Steele, Melissa Buckner, Kristine Hartvigsen, and Christopher McCormick.Lenz will be showing photographic transfer and fabric pieces that are portraits of people who have made significant life changes or taken a bold stance.
The opening and readings are 6 to 9 Jan. 7. The exhibition will remain up for about a month.

That same night "Olympia" by Gwylene Gallimard and Jean-Marie Mauclet and a whole series of related events get going at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art. The Charleston duo's installation is named for the mill town in which the center is located and is made up of multi-media works based on the mills, the people who have lived in the village and even the 701 building itself which was originally the community center.
Every Wednesday night through Feb. 22 a forum will be held. These will feature Olympia residents talking about the village,  how the art in the show fits into the contemporary art world and an open discussion about the arts in Columbia.On the final day, part of the show will be sold in a public auction.
The show opens with a reception Jan. 7 from 7 to 9 with a performance by spoken word and sound artists Omari Fox and Bill Carson.  Free for 701 center members; donation of $5 for non-members.
701 Whaley St. Go to or call 238-2351.

“Rent” goes back up at Trustus Jan. 7 and runs through Jan. 23.
“The Odd Couple” opens at Town Theatre Nov. 15 and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” hits the Workshop Theatre stage Jan.29

Not too long ago I stumbled upon a new acquisition at the Columbia Museum - a sculpture by Jeff Donovan of Columbia. I was a surprised because the museum usually isn't in the businesses of collecting local arts.In any case that acquisition should be good for Donovan who is getting the retrospective treatment from if ART Gallery. The show of sculptures and paintings from the past 30 years runs Jan. 8 - 19 at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios, where the artist works.
Call 238-2351.

The new School of the Arts opens Jan. 9.
No, not at USC - at the College of Charleston.
The $27-million facility is home to the new and wonderful college art gallery which opened back in October. A public opening, tour of the facility and talk by the artists Aldwyth, whose work is in the gallery, takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. (843) 953-8222 or go to

You might have missed the “Playing After Dark” series that took place at the Columbia Marionette Theatre last summer. The theater was home to various kinds of music, theater, art and odd and oddly-difficult sporting events and now it's back, this time at the Columbia Music Festival Association performance space on Jan. 15.

While some have been taking it easy during the holidays or maybe not taking it easy (shopping, eating, visiting relatives) Jonathan Brilliant has been weaving together thousands of wooden coffee stirrers for his upcoming show at the USC art department gallery.
The Charleston native, who recently moved to Columbia, has been on a whirlwind, world-wide tour but settled into the winter break quiet of the department to work on sculptures made of coffee stirrers, coffee cup lids and sleeves and green straws.
The show runs Jan. 15 – Feb. 23.  777-4236.

The S.C. Philharmonic is back with “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” which has long been billed the orchestra’s casual concert. As if anyone dresses up for anything any more.
Music director Morihiko Nakahara will not be wearing jeans for this concert, because he has another engagement so Erin Freeman,  associate music director of the Richmond Symphony, will lead the orchestra in works by Glinka, Delius, two by Prokofiev and, of course, Beethoven (Symphony No. 2 in D Major.)
Nakahara did contribute greatly by suggesting the alternative theme “Shostakovich and  Snuggies” while clarinet player Doug Graham suggested “Liszt and Liszure Suits” and I came up with “Schickele and Speedos.” Jan. 16.

Columbia Classical Ballet brings out everything from classical to post-modern with its its annual “Life Chance” Jan. 23.

Stephen Chesley, Mike Williams, Edward Wimberly and David Yaghjian will celebrate a decade of annual shows together when they open the next one Jan. 23. It's at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios and runs through Feb. 3.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nude Tuesday!

"Accustomed to Being Appreciated" by Robert Lange of Charleston.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A look back at 2009 and the '00s

This has been a surprisingly decent year for the arts, especially considering the tough economic times. Sometimes the arts strive when times are hard.
As most of you know, arts seasons like the school year and run from autumn through spring. My best and worst and whatever list here includes mostly things from the summer and fall – so let’s call this the high and the lows of the first half of this season. (I recapped the last full season in June.)
And because we're wrapping up a decade I've taken a look back at what the decade has wrought.

Neither my memory nor my archives are flawless, but here goes.

Really important things
Without a doubt what has happened at the Columbia Museum of Art this year has been the top. Thanks in part to the exhibition “Turner to Cezanne” the museum broke all attendance and membership records.
That wasn’t enough so the museum reinstalled its permanent collection (top photo) reorganizing and adding to it during the summer. It looks and works much better. And there’s more. The museum published its first volume of its catalog on the Renaissance and Baroque art collections. It took 20 years, but was worth it.

Morihiko. Morihiko. Morihiko Nakaharma finished his first season as music director of the S.C. Philharmonic with a thundering rendition of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and so far this season has even better than last.

The development of the arts (beyond the Columbia Museum) on Main Street. This is really just starting and has a way to go in terms of organization and quality, but it’s an exciting development.
Compass 5, an architectural firm in Cayce, has been doing some very fine art shows this year. It may not be on the usual art trail but anyone who has been to one of the shows there walks away impressed.

Long-time arts supporter Steve Morrison throwing his hat into the mayor’s race ring.

Opening of Halsey Institute of Art gallery at the College of Charleston in October. (left) You really have to see this place. The inaugural exhibition by South Carolina artist Aldwyth is up through Jan. 9.

Disappointments - a big one
I could make a short list of things that flopped in 2009, but one  thing is the clear winner in the loser category.
The S.C. Arts Commission rolled three failures into one with two exhibitions and a catalog from the State Art Collection. 

Personal favorites

Real Quiet concert at USC music school’s Southern Exposure series. The group didn’t play a planned world premiere, but I didn’t care.

Pipa player Wu Man and the S.C. Philharmonic performing a concerto by Tan Dun, the orchestra’s first outing on a work by Columbia composer John Fitz Rogers and an amazing and really loud performance of  Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” in November.

Phil Moody’s photo-and-text based exhibition at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art. (above)

Wideman/Davis Dance company’s new works, “Balance” and “Rock and My Soul.”

Art shows by Philip Morsberger of Augusta and David Yaghjian of Columbia at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios mounted by if Art Gallery.

“The King and I” at Town Theater and  “The Glass Menagerie” (left) by an all African-American cast and South Carolina writer Jon Tuttle’s newest work “Sweet Abyss” at Trustus.

One thing I have not been able to stop talking about is the international trumpet competition that took place at USC in October. I should also say that the concert lasted about three hours, which is way too long for me, was a competition, which I’m not that fond of, and was jazz, which I don’t know that much about. I loved every minute of it.

And a last look at the ‘00s

Because it’s the end of the decade (depending on how you count these things) it’s worth looking at the most important art developments around here since 1999.
The first two overlap with what happened this year.

The Columbia Museum of Art again is on the top of my list. The museum moved into its Main Street home in 1998, but what has happened in the decade since is just as important. The museum ran into money and leadership problems, watched attendance drop, didn’t do much at all. Since Karen Brosius, left, became director in January 2004 the money is coming in, exhibitions are better, there are more programs and she’s hired some excellent staffers notably curators Todd Herman and Brian Lang.

For most of the past 10 years, the S.C. Philharmonic just lacked energy and innovation. Since Morihiko Nakahara became music director last year the orchestra feels full of life and Nakahara is already part of the city’s life.

Harris Pastides became president of the University of South Carolina in August 2008. He’s the first USC president in a long time who is both interested in and savvy about the arts. Like that other new president, he has a lot of ideas but times are tough.

The Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston doesn’t have a new home, but it has become a new place. Like the Columbia Museum it has been on a roller coaster ride since the new millennium rolled in. After many years of lackluster leadership the place perked up when Betsy Fleming became director for a few years in the early ‘90s. The director who followed her came and went fast.
Last year, the museum’s long-time curator Angela Mack became director.This might look like the museum wanted to take a more conservative stance, but that’s the last thing on the new director’s mind. She has been in the forefront of reexamining what Southern art is all about – and that’s not always what the Charleston elite or tourists want to see.
(Pictured is installation “Prop Master”  for which Juan Logan and Susan Harbage Page used objects from the museum collection to explore issues of race, gender and class in Charleston.)

The 701 Center for Contemporary Art, right, opened in late 2008 just as the economy was tanking. That hasn’t kept the center from doing good exhibitions, artists residencies and connected programs.

The Nickelodeon Theatre’s decision several years ago to move to an old movie house on Main Street, left, takes the independent film forum to a whole new level.

The Southern Exposure new music series at USC is first-rate and has drawn national attention to the school in contemporary music circles. Who would have through a decade ago that a contemporary classical music series would have standing-room-only audiences?

Also at the USC school of music, the Southeastern Piano Festival includes an amazing concert series.

Certainly the Spoleto Festival USA has  put on many incredible performances during the decade and we won’t even attempt to list them. A couple of the most lasting contributions have been the festival’s role in renovating the Dock Street Theatre, reopening for the 2010 festival, and Memminger Auditorium. (above)

The last decade hasn’t been all good news.

The Columbia Museum of Art has made great strides and it has been busy with a collection catalog and reinstalling the galleries, but it needs to do some significant, scholarly exhibitions.

The Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties, an umbrella group that raises money for local arts groups, has had a tough time bringing in the bucks. The amount raised annual has dropped from $600,000 to $200,000 during the past decade.

Also on the museum front, the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina lost staff, space and direction.

The end of the “Triennial,” an every three-year survey of contemporary South Carolina art by the S.C. Arts Commission and S.C. State Museum. It wasn’t perfect, but it filled an important mission.

The State Museum just doesn’t do as many arts shows as it used to.
To give credit though during the last decade the museum created excellent retrospective exhibitions  by South Carolina natives Robert Courtright and Brian Rutenberg and the Charleston artist couple William Halsey and Corrie McCallum.

Workshop Theatre has know the last decade plus four years that it needs to move, but has been so slow in doing something that the very life of the theater is at risk (Although that finally seems to be changing.)

Count how many commerical art galleries selling significant contemporary art - or even insignifigant contemporary art - have opened in Columbia since 2000. You won't even need one hand.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays


I'm not even going to pretend that there's much going on in the arts during the coming few days. Check the calendar at the bottom right to see what exhibitions you can take in during the holidays. Also while you're there sign up as a Follower of Carolina Culture.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nude Tuesday! And some art news.

"Carnivale" by Tyler Blanton of Charleston.
(We need nudes! Sent them to

Some art news 
A bunch of grants for Spartanburg center
The Spartanburg arts center HUB-BUB has just received three back to back grants.
The center is getting $60,000 from the Andy Warhol Foundation, $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts and  $9,000 from the Dedalus Foundation.
The money will be used to pay expenses for HUB-BUB's artists-in-residence program, start a visiting artist series that will bring in six artists a year and for visual arts programming in the center’s gallery and performance space.
HUB-BUM is located in a former automobile showroom in downtown Spartanburg.

"Landscape of Slavery" catalog wins an award
The Gibbes Museum in Charleston has won one of the two top awards from the Southeast Chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America for its catalog “Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art” which was published by the University of South Carolina Press.
The catalog was published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name that was shown at in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia in 2008 and 2009.  The show and catalog explored ways in which plantations, and slaves, were depicted in images from the 18th though there 20th centuries and  to what ends.
The winners were selected from 49 entries.

 "Carolina Concerts" canceled
 The “Carolina Concerts” program on S.C. ETV Radio ends after Monday’s broadcast. The all-South Carolina classical music program will be replaced by Public Radio International’s “Evening Classic.”
That’s the bad news - especially since it means the planned broadcast of the last S.C. Philharmonic concert with pipa player Wu Man is off for now.
The good word is that a new Carolina classical program, “Carolina Live,” starts Jan. 5. The show, a partnership between ETV radio and WDAV in Davidson, N.C., features music made in both Carolinas. It will air at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays.
   The new show will be launched with The American Chamber Players. Other upcoming programs are the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Jan. 12; Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, Jan. 19; Winston-Salem Symphony Jan. 26; Wadsworth and Friends at the Columbia Museum of Art, Feb. 2; Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, Feb. 9.
     “Carolina Concerts” has been running for 12 years. The final show Monday at 8 p.m. is a concert by the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.

Verner Award nominations
This item has been lurking at the end of my "Art News" for months, but I figured I'd pop it up here for a few days. The S.C. Arts Commission is taking nominations for the Elizabeth Verner/Governor's Award in the Arts until Jan. 15. This is the biggest award the state gives out and there are categories for individual, artist, business, organization and so on.
The problem is that many years there are few nominations and there appears to be a great deal of grade inflation going on. So if you know a really worthy person, place or thing and can whip out the paperwork quickly - do it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A rather slim weekend of things to do

Ah, yes it’s that time of the year when the holidays bring up – well not much.
Everyone is busy shopping and eating and drinking, but if you aren’t bogged down by all that, there’s still plenty to do.
For a listing of more events that are continuing look at the arts calendar in the right hand column.

Thursday, Dec. 18

See the art and the movie
The DVD of the documentary “Herb & Dorothy” just came out. And who you ask are Herb and Dorothy?
They’re the New York couple who on the salaries of a librarian and post office employee amassed a very fine collection of art. Early this year the couple donated 50 artworks each to 50 museums in all 50 states. The Columbia Museum of Art was the recipient in South Carolina.
An exhibition of those artworks, mostly minimalist and conceptual pieces, are on display at the museum until Jan. 17. The handsome exhibition includes pieces by Edda Renouf Richard Tuttle, Charles Clough, Peggy Cyphers, Don Hazlitt, Steve Keister, Cheryl Laemmie, Michael Lucero and many other contemporary artists.  (I happen to be very taken with pieces by Renouf's whose "Jan. 1984 #7" is pictured.)
This art can be a little hard to fathom for those not familiar with this sort of work. For me, though, this collection is much more accessible and better than I thought it would be. And it's a real education.

 Sandlappers sing “American Graces”
 The Sandlapper Singers along with voices from Satchel Ford Elementary, Crayton Middle and S.C. Flora High schools perform holiday songs.
Listen for the rattling rafters at Dreher High School, Devine Street and Millwood Avenue, at 7:30. Tickets are $5, $12 and $15. Go to 

Saturday, Dec. 19

Opera at Sandhills
As unlikely as it sounds, you can head to booming Northeast Columbia to hear and see the Metropolitan Opera’s “Tales of Hoffman.” This is one of the live in-theater broadcasts the Met started doing a couple of years ago that have been a big hit everywhere – including here.

This is a new production of the 1881 opera by Jacques Offenbach. Directed by Bart Sher the production debuted in early December to great reviews. It features rising star Joseph Calleja in the title role and his first major role at the Met opposite Anna Netrebko. James Levine conducts.

The opera tells, largely in sometimes surrealistic flashbacks, of several of Hoffman’s doomed love affairs. This production emphasizes the weirdness.
The live broadcast takes place at 1 p.m. at Regal Sandhill Stadium 16. Tickets are $22
It will be re-broadcast Jan. 6 at 6:30. Go to or

Sunday, Dec. 20 
Artists collaborate live (and so can you)

Michael Krajewski of Columbia and Justice Littlejohn of Greenville have a show in Charleston that composed or art each made as well as some the duo made together.
The show opened last month at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park and has gotten a good reponse.
Today at 3 the duo will give a talk at the gallery and then create a new work together. Those who attend the talk can do the same if they wish, so bring an art partner.
  The gallery is right behind the pineapple fountain in the park on the Cooper River downtown. The show is up through Jan. 3.
Call (843)  958-6484.

Monday, Dec. 21
Sing along
To Handel's "Messiah" at the Washintgon Street United Methodist Church at 7. 727-5611

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A little bit of news

 S.C. Philharmonic snags NEA grant for new two-piano concerto
The S.C. Philharmonic has received a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to commission and premiere a two-piano concerto by composer John Fitz Rogers of Columbia. The commission was announced at the last Philharmonic concert, but the award was just made public today.

The piece will be premiered in November by the Philharmonic and pianists Marina Lomazov and Joseph Rackers of Columbia. The Philharmonic is working toward having the piece performed by other orchestras around the country
Rogers, Lomazov and Rackers all teach at the USC School of Music.

New executive director 
at Workshop Theatre

Take a look at my story about Joe Reuter, new executive director of Workshop Theatre in today's Free Times on paper in the purple boxes of online at

Former cartoonist for The State wins big 
Editorial cartoonist Robert Ariail, who departed The State newspaper in March, has won first place in the  Ranan Lurie U.N. Political Cartoon Award. This is the first time the $10,000 award, started 10 years ago, has been awarded to an American cartoonist.
He won for a cartoon, done when he was still at The State, about gas prices.  Elie Wiesel headed the judging committee, which included the crown prince of Serbia and actor Jeff Bridges.
You can see the award-winning piece and his other work at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nude Tuesday! (And a few more things so keep reading after the picture)

                             "Figurescape" by David West of Columbia.

Cool concert tonight
When I wrote about it last week, some of the details about the performance by the Upton Trio tonight were still a little vague. The group - Dusan Vukajlovic, cello, Mary Lee Taylor Kinosian, violin, and Billy Shepherd,  piano - is doing a gig at 9 p.m. at the White Mule, the basement club and restaurant across Main Street from the Columbia Museum of Art. The group is focsing on music from its new recording "These Are Different Times" released in November on Albany Records. The music is by Kinosian, concertmaster of the S.C. Philharmonic.
Admission is $6 in advance and $8 at the door.

Also don't forget to send nominations for the best, the worst, the whatever in the arts in Columbia during 2009.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nice to see more art on Main Street - especially in the Tapp's building

The "Crafty Feast," a fine crafts sale held downtown Saturday, laid out some really nice goodies. A bunch of funny and strange dolls, beautiful hand-crafted jewelry, and purses I insist could also serve as very cool hats. The quality of the work was very high and the crowd for the one-day event looked good to me.

But one of the main reasons I wanted to be on Main Street was because the event was being held in the old Tapp's store - and because the event fit the place perfectly.

I spent most of my time talking about how wonderful the buildings is, so I'll do it here since I didn't talk to all of you.

The main first floor of the building is one huge space - a long rectangle with a ceiling that must be 40 feet above and from which are suspended pointy aluminum light fixtures. Many people may not know that the store actually closed not all that long ago in 1995.
The art moderne style building with its curving line and the clean lettering of the Tapp's sign was right on the cutting edge when the store opened in 1940. Along with those nice lights, the store also had blonde wood display cabinets, streamlined railings and blue glass on some interior walls.
During an expansion of the store in 1952 Gil Petroff did a large mural that's at the far end of the Main floor and it's still there.
The store was also locally grown and the Tapp family ran it up to the end.
After Tapp's closed the upper floors were converted into condos and apartments and the big downstairs space was a gym for a number of years.
The use of such an artistic building for a quality art event is the perfect fit. Let's hope for more of this.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The music and musicians of South Carolina sing out in art show

In the early fall I was doing the gallery crawl thing in the Pendleton arts district of Greenville. It had been a full and fun night and we were getting ready to crawl in the car and head home when I spotted a place we’d missed.
So I said, Wait a minute and headed over. The storefront studio/gallery was filled with mostly huge paintings of musicians. The artist had a musical name – Glen Miller.
I wondered if these painting, which I thought were terrific, would be on display somewhere. Yep. They're in “Story, Song, and Image: A Merging of Musical Heritage and Narrative Painting” opens Saturday at the Pickens County Museum. (And so do a big exhibition of ceramics, “The Upstate of Clay” and “Grateful,” a solo show by April Harrison.)
Miller, who teaches at Converse College and the Greenville County Museum of Art, worked on the show with John Thomas Fowler, from Boiling Springs, a musician, storyteller, and music collector.
The 10 paintings feature musicians of various stripes from throughout the state – bluesman Drink Small of Columbia (top), Hope Nunnery (right) of Sumter who plays old time folk and country, the Brotherhood Brotherhood Gospel Singers of Mt Pleasant, banjo picker Randy Lucas of Swansea and jazz saxophonist Lonnie Hamilton of Charleston.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Miller, who worked on the project for a year. “Many of the musicians weren’t really familiar with visual artists, but they were very open and welcoming. I only knew one and didn’t know him that well. They were willing to tell stories and that was important because it’s part of the paintings.
“I tried to approach the paintings the way you might write a song.”
It helped that Miller is also a musician who plays guitar, banjo, fiddle and bass.
“I try to not get to good at anything,” he said.
 “The project was really the brainchild of Glen and John,” said Allen Coleman, museum director.
Fowler has done musical programs for the museum for a decade and “I’ve always admired Glen’s paintings,” Coleman said.
Although no formal concert is schedule for the opening, many of the musicians are expected to attend and who knows what might happen.

“The Upstate of Clay” is a slight misnomer since a few of the artists are from Columbia. But never mind, this is a how’s who of making ceramics of all kinds in the state.
Among the artists in the show are Jim Connell, Bob Chance, Sue Greer, Peter Lenzo,(left)  Denise Woodward Detrich, Virginia Scotchie and David Zacharias.

April Harrison, a native of Greenville with no formal art trainings, is primarily a painter, but she includes all kinds of materials in her works: coins, various papers, magazine images and pieces of older artworks she has done. The result is art with a rich texture. Her art is also very much guided by her strong religious beliefs.

An opening reception for all these shows takes place Saturday, Dec. 12 from 6 to 8. (The show is also open during regular museum house Saturday.)
 All three exhibitions are up through Feb. 11.
The museum is at Highway 178 and Johnston Street in Pickens which is  about 20 miles west of Greenville.
The museum is open from 9 to 5 Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and 9 to 4:30 Saturdays. or (864) 898-5963

A couple more out of town art shows that would be well worth checking out.
The Sumter Gallery of Art "Collaboration of Fragments" is a joint show by Shaun Cassidy and Tom Stanley resulting from work they've done together during the past two years. The steel, aluminum, paper and canvas collages are both formal and dynamic often incorporating bright colors that is not a trademark of either artists' usual works.
Stanley is long-time director of the Winthop University art galleries and he is chairman of the art department. Cassidy is an associate professor at Winthrop.
"Collaboration of Fragments" can be seen through Dec. 31. The gallery is at 200 Hasel St. Call (803) 775-0543 or go to

If you haven't been to the new College of Charleston art gallery, you must go.
The place is huge and beautiful and based on past experience with the old gallery it will be filled with great art. Right now it is home to the huge 20-plus year retrospective by the artist Aldwyth of Hilton Head. She's worked obsessively and mostly in isolation never giving up or giving in and always doing something intriguing, thoughful and sometimes fun.

The artist is completing a site-specific installation addition to the exhibition and it will be unveiled Wednesday, Dec. 16.
The show is on display through Jan. 9. That day the artist will give a talk and sign copies of the book about her art and the college will thow open the doors of its brand new school of the arts building.
Go to or call (843) 953-5680.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Remember how last weekend I complained about too much going on?
Well I got my wish.
This is normal for the holidays especially in a town where a lot of art takes place at the university. I'd suggest catching up on things you might have missed, but some worthwhile things are going on.

Thursday, Dec. 10
Whose Claws?
Bobby Craft has been a regular on local stage for decades and now he’s in a really perfect role – Santa Claus.
He’s one of the stars of “'Twas the Night Before Christmas, S. Claws” at Workshop Theatre. This strange holiday show includes a guy from an earlier holiday, Halloween, trying to spoil the season and how S. Claus and his crew fight back. The original production directed by Dedra Daniels Mount has a cast of almost 30.
Showtimes are at 8 Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10 – 12 and 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 and Sunday, Dec. 13. $12.  (803) 799-6551 or

Other holiday plays around:
“Christmas Belles” at Chapin Community through Dec. 19
"Miracle on 34th Street" through Dec. 13 at Village Square Theatre in Lexington.

Name that picture of that tune
"The Song Remains the Same – A Study of the Music Memory Connection" by Stephanie Toole  is made up of drawings and paintings. It's at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios today through Dec. 15. A reception takes place Saturday from 6 to 9. It sounds like an intriguing exhibition, but I can't locate the artist.

Friday, Dec. 11

Andie joins Clara
Actress Andie MacDowell, who is from Gaffney, is will be back as narrator of "The Two Claras” for the Columbia City Jazz Dance Company. This is a re-invention of “The Nutcrackers’ following two friends through years of holiday celebrations.
For those of you too young to remember McDowell in “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Sex Lies and Videotape,” “Groundhog Day,” and of course "Hudson Hawk,"  Fort Mill native Dana Vaughns, star of “Kidz Bop” (whatever that is) is also in the show.
 Performances are at 7:30 Friday and 1 and 7:30 Saturday at Drayton Hall Theatre, Sumter and College streets. $15. You can also attend a reception with the stars at 6:30 Saturday for $50. Call (803) 252-0252 or go to

More nut-crackering

I’m no expert on “The Nutcracker,” but last year I made sugarplums for a holiday party. There are no plums involved and some people mistook them for meatballs.
No one will mistake the sugar plum fairies in the Columbia City Ballet for meatballs. The company has been doing the ballet for decades.

Kaitie Massey, a native of Columbia and only 13, returns for her second year in the role of Clara, John Karim will dance the title role of Fritz/Nutcracker Prince for the third time.
 “The Nutcracker” has eight performances today through Dec. 20 at the Koger Center. For times and tickets go to  or call (803) 251-2222 or go to 

Saturday, Dec. 12
Fine and fun crafts

Bracelets, rings, weird dolls, books, beads and blouses by about 40 artists can be found at Crafty Feast. The arts and crafts extravaganza takes place in the incredible Tapp’s building on Main Street from 11 to 5. The artists are mostly from throughout the Southeast. You can find music, food and free workshops for the kiddies – and that much-needed perfect present if you're buying for an interesting person.
Tapp’s is at Main and Blanding. Admission is free. Go to

Lake Murray Messiah
The Lake Murray Symphony performs selections from “The Messiah” along with the Dutch Fork Choral Society. The concert is at 7:30 at McGregor Presbyterian Church, 6505 St. Andrews Road.
It will do the  same concert Monday, Dec. 14 at Chapin United Methodist Church, 415 Lexington Ave.

Tuesday, Dec. 15
Chamber music at a club
The Upton Trio goes underground for a concert featuring music from its new recording.
Dusan Vukajlovic, cello, Mary Lee Taylor, violin Billy Shepherd, piano, perform at the White Mule.
The group, which has been around for 20 years, just released "These Are Different Times" on Albany Records.
The concert is at 9 p.m. The White Mule is 1530 Main St. at Admission is $6 in advance and $8 at the gate. (803) 661-8199.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nude and nominations

Blue nude made from plastic bags by Liza Twery of Columbia.

Something else. 

I'm making my list and checking it four times.

The best, the worst, the whatever in the arts
in Columbia (and SC if you get out there as well) during 2009.

What are your picks?
(I mean other than this fabulous blog. All shameless self-promotion much be acknowledged!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

An all-star chamber concert this week

I was so busy last week trying to reach a couple of the musicians playing at the chamber music concert at the Columbia Museum of Art and the Fine Arts Center in Camden this week that I left the concert off my glorified week-in-the- arts listing. 

Still haven’t heard from them, but I did hear from another musician who happened to mention that he was sorry he was going to be out of town and would miss the “concert of the year.” 

I actually hate to write something as "promotional" as this, but it's what I have and what I have time for and you should know about it.

So even if I don’t get to talk to the musicians in advance I’ll tell you who they are and what they’re playing and why this other musician, who knows a billion times more about music than I, says what he says.

(By the way this is the Charles Wadsworth and Friends series, although Wadsworth has retired.)

Violinists Jennifer Frautschi and Jesse Mills, violists Hsin-Yun Huang and Nicholas Cords, cellist Peter Wiley and cellist/host/series organizer Edward Arron are all world-class soloists as well as ensemble players. Wiley, Frautschi and Cords are making their debuts on the series.

Since 2001 Wiley has been a member of the Guarneri Quartet, considered one of the best and longest-running in the world. The quartet was founded in 1964 and Wiley is the only non-original member (he replaced his teacher and mentor in the group.)
The group has just retired – finished its final concerts in late November.  (Wiley is actually replacement for the originally-scheduled and very popular Alisa Weilerstein, who is off in Venezuela with L.A. Symphony conductor Gustavo Dudamel.)

Jennifer Frautschi has performed as soloist with the Los Angeles and Chicago symphony orchestras and is winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant.

  Hsin-Yun Huang was the youngest-ever Gold Medalist of the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition. Both Jesse Mills and Nicholas Cords play classical, contemporary, jazz and world music. Mills has a Grammy nomination and is a member of the contemporary music group Nurse Kaya while Cords is a regular member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and the New York group Brooklyn Rider.

This batch of brilliant players will perform Antonin Dvorak’s “Miniatures for Two Violins and Viola,” Arnold Schoenberg's “Verklärte Nacht” for String Sextet; and Wolfgang Mozart's “Grande Sestetto Concertante.”
(from top: Wiley, Frautschi, Mills, Huang)

The concert is at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the museum. Tickets are $35 or $30 for museum members. But if you are a student you’re really in luck - $5 the day of the concert. or call 343-0482.
The same group plays the music, and I bet just as well, at 7 p.m. Friday at the Fine Arts Center in Camden. $30 in advance; $35 day of. 425-7676.


Friday, December 4, 2009

A little life on Main Street

I strayed a little from my proposed schedule for hitting all the art show opening Thursday night, but I still had plenty of time to see everything, catch up with a bunch of people and talk to a lot of babies. (Babies, not babes, although I might have done a little of the latter too.)

Like most people, I probably spent the bulk of my time at various art shows on Main Street for the “Mingle and Jingle” event that was an outgrowth of the art shows and other activities that the shop Frame of Mind started last year.

I tried to keep my expectations for the art shows low – and I wasn’t disappointed. Take that as you will.

You can’t help but be impressed when an eyeglass shop like Frame of Mind shows sculptures by an established artist like Virginia Scotchie. The graphic arts team Piensa Art Company took over the empty Silver’s Building (it reminded me of what happened in the early days of the Vista), stuck the art all over the walls in a crazy, fun way and left spare toilets scattered through the space (above left). Eileen Blyth’s installation (top) of found architectural elements in the entryway of another empty building worked well and showed how these vacant spaces can be used effectively. I was happy to see the new Nickelodeon Theatre filled with art (from artists who work at the Village Artists gallery in Columbia’s far Northeast shopping zone, but it is awfully mainstream for an event like this and the quality all over the map.

My favorite artwork was Bill Guess’ installation of Barbie doll legs in a flowerbed.

I can’t do much but admire this grassroots uprising of art on Main Street – god knows Main Street needs something.

Still, I would have loved to see more of the many empty stores, or at least the entryways, and more artists doing installation work and more edgy art created specifically for the spaces. It needs a curator frankly – which is something I mentioned in a column two months ago. And I really wish the big Main Street art place – the Columbia Museum of Art – had a hand in this.
(For more on Main Street and the arts take a look at my story posted Oct. 10. You can find the archives on the bottom right of this page.)

The crowd at the event was OK. It would have been better if the word had gotten out in a more coherent fashion. As far as I can tell what I wrote about the event was the only significant press it received. That’s because no press release was sent out until the last minute (and I think I’m the only one who got it) and the bulk of the information trickled in dribs and drabs. I had about 20 emails from 20 different people. I thought this was an important, if not tidy, event and worth the pain in the butt of gathering the info. One can’t expect everything to be delivered neatly wrapped up. When that’s how one gets the news, they’re no longer a reporter.

Still, I’ve always joked that I’ve spend 50 percent of my career begging people for basic information so I can give their arts event some attention. But that’s another column.