Sunday, February 28, 2010

Viewing art and the city

This is my last posting for Carolina Culture by Jeffrey Day. (Unless 40 people want to donate $1,000 each a year - or some variation of that- for the next three years or so.) I have taken a job at the Arts Institute at the University of South Carolina spreading the good news about the institute and all the arts at USC.
As things shake out with that I hope to be able to continuing writing for various publications. I have also partnered with writer Cindi Boiter and designer Mark Pointer to re-launch Undefined magazine. It will have the same great look, but more in-depth writing about a wider variety of the arts.
This month, the shortest in the year, has had the highest number of visits since I started the site last April so I'm going out on a high note.

Carolina Culture has been a lot of work and fun and I think important as well.
 - Jeffrey

Teri Tynes left Columbia in 2006 for New York where she lives in a mid-1950s apartment building of glazed brick just south of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

During her nine years in Columbia, Tynes did several things. She was City Art Gallery director, art editor and then editor of the alternative weekly newspaper Free Times and taught at USC.
Not long after re-locating, Tynes launched the blog “Walking Off The Big Apple” that she calls “a literary, arts-minded, and sometimes totally fanciful strolling guide to New York.”

A recent posting went through a lineup of art exhibitions opening around the city. Another took a gander at the things that punctuate Columbia Circle - the monument to those killed when the ship The Maine blew up and started the Spanish American War, Trump International Hotel and Tower and the Museum of Arts and Design located in a racially re-designed 1964 building by Edward Durell Stone (who gave Columbia the Thomas Cooper Library and the now-gone “honeycomb” dorms at USC.) She’s written about where to eat in various neighborhoods, subway stations in which to seek refuge during bad weather and the places mentioned in Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar.” She tracked Milledgeville, Ga., writer Flannery O’Connor’s six months in New York.

Tynes will be back in Columbia this coming weekend to explore the urban landscape and public art for the Columbia Design League. She’ll give a talk Friday night at 6 and lead a walking tour Saturday at noon. The cost is $5. The talk will be at the Fox Theatre at Main and Taylor streets and that’s where the walk starts too.

“I will be talking a lot about public art, but mainly in relationship to pubic space,” Tynes said in an email interview. “I’m interested in what makes a successful public place - where people want to gather together. In New York, there are now a set of guidelines in designing or renovating small and large spaces - things like movable chairs, water features, giving people a variety of things to do. “

She’ll show examples of public spaces in New York such as the recent remaking of Broadway into a pedestrian space, an old railroad line transformed into a linear park and waterfront parks. 
"I want people to think about the fundamentals of designing a space for art, and I'll be advocating the creation of more pedestrian spaces that link neighborhoods and places - like the riverfront – together,” she said. “It's not just a ‘green" solution.’ It's about good design. You just can't commission a work of public art without thinking about how the work will function in a social space.”

A couple of public artworks in Columbia have lodged in Tynes’ memory: Mariah Kirby-Smith's sculpture of Mayor Kirkman Finlay and Blue Sky's mural of parking spaces at Crayton Middle School.

The public art we have, or don’t have, has been on my mind for several years. What we do have is a mixed bag – some good well-known works, several solid, but largely hidden, pieces and a lot that could be called “plop art,” a term the architect James Wines coined 40 years ago.  That’s art that has been “plopped” somewhere without much consideration of what’s around it or how people will relate to it. So much public art is like wallpaper – it’s just there and you don’t really notice it. Often times it’s too there for the public and they feel it insults them or is imposed upon them. But often such artworks initially reviled become beloved such as the “Chicago Picasso,” a 1967 piece by Pablo Picasso.

Certainly the best-known and admired public artwork in Columbia is Blue Sky’s 1975 “Tunnel Vision,” a giant mural on the back of the AgFirst Farm Credit Bank. When he was trying to convince the bank and the S.C. Arts Commission to do it, he kept running into walls – and not just the one at the back of the bank. Eventually Blue Sky got a $3,000 grant for the piece which took about a year to do. The bank, the Arts Commission and the people of Columbia, and elsewhere, came to love the work.

Close to “Tunnel Vision” is another later less successful by Blue Sky as well as a giant water-spurting fountain that looks like a fire hydrant, but actually doesn’t look much like a fire hydrant. No one seems to love them much – partially because they detract from “Tunnel Vision.” Another of the artist’s pieces that almost everyone digs is a giant chain that links two buildings on Main Street.
It’s even better knowing that he installed it in the middle of the night without any official approval.
Across from the chain on the Columbia Museum of Art plaza are a couple of good sculptures from the museum collection which get lost on the barren plaza and a fountain/sculpture that somehow ended up costing $500,000 and looks like it was picked out of a catalog.
You can find a beautiful and striking mural by Eric Lake on the rear of a building at the corner of Park and Gervais streets recording the the history of the area with a Thomas Hart Benton style.

One of my favorite public artworks is on one of my favorite buildings. The Byrnes Building at Sumter and College streets is a modern masterpiece, although it’s a bit run down.  At the entrance is a large abstract mosaic mural by the late Gil Petroff that’s losing bits and obscured by a line of newspaper boxes. (Top and bottom photos)

Just across the street is the gargantuan and impressive, but not only because it is gargantuan, equestrian stature by Anna Hyatt Huntington. (I first saw it after slogging my way through a grim Jasper Johns exhibition at USC’s McKissick Museum when I was interviewing for an arts reporting job at The State. I wrote a test review of the Johns’ show that mentioned the Huntington sculpture. I got the job, but I had a lot to learn. Also it's not usually covered with the white stuff.)

Another mosaic mural, this one by Catherine Rembert, and in much better shape that the Petroff piece, wraps around the SCE and G building on Lady Street.

Not all the public art in Columbia is on walls or made of paint or chips of glass or steel or bronze. In front of the S.C. State Museum you’ll find public art that requires watering – Pearl Fryar’s topiary sculptures. Unlike the rest of the public art in town, they keep getting bigger.

A rather stiff metal woman shows up in a couple of spots. She’s standing in the shrubbery outside the Koger Center with a quilt (it’s an AIDS memorial) and in an oddly prominent spot in front of the USC art department where she is accompanied by a dog. (What she’s doing there – rather than a piece by professors Robert Lyon or Virginia Scotchie or USC alumnus and super-famous artist and theorist Ron Jones is beyond me.)

About a decade ago the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties embarked on a public art program that scattered some good and not so good works around. The program was badly managed and works didn't get final approval from those on the selection committee who had art knowledge.

The council’s public art foray culminated in one really tragic work – the little bronze people jumping through the plastic square in Maxcy Gregg Park.
Although people talk about how the city needs more public art, I think most people would rather do without than have something half-baked which is mostly what we’ve gotten. But of course what looks like a terrible idea for a public artwork in 2011 might in 2022 appear to be a work of genius. (Although I don't see a lot of people coming to the defense of the Cultural Council project a decade on.)

To get good public art, one needs a significant budget, consideration of the site, a strong selection committee that understands the function of public art, a good artist and a vision that is bold – so bold people might hate it for a while.
My dream public artwork for Columbia is a 30-foot-tall plastic, full-color sculpture (like those created by the late Luis Jimenez) of Strom Thurmond standing on his head at the entrance to the Roman bathhouse that is the Strom Thurmond fitness center at USC.
I’m completely serious. 


Friday, February 26, 2010

Southern Exposure concert off due to snow

Looks like I made a bad call about what to feature this weekend. The Southern Exposure concert Saturday night has been canceled. The duo is stuck in the snow in New York.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New music, old music, lots of books, some art and dance

Concert gives an electrifying musical experience

The Southern Exposure new music series can take many guises:  Chinese lute players, contemporary chamber music, solo piano, opera. One concert is always devoted to electronic music and it goes by the catchy and slightly dangerous sounding name Exposed Wiring.

This concert is organized by Reg Bain, a composer who runs the experimental music lab at USC. The concert started as a showcase for student, but since last year has turned things up a bit.
“We wanted to elevate the computer music concert to a professional level and bring in performers with a national and world-wide reputation,” Bain said.
The next concert taking place Saturday features Odd Appetite, a cello and percussion duo, and soprano saxophone player Susan Fancher. Both combine acoustic instruments and electronics.
The New York-based Odd Appetite consists of cellist Ha-Yang Kim and percussionist Nathan Davis, who are trained in classical and contemporary music and also compose. They’ll play “Cant” by Matt Tierney, “Oon” by Ha-Yang Kim and other works in various configurations combining live performance with electronic enhancements and computer-processed sounds.
The group has been together for a decade and met performing Handel’s “Messiah” in New Hampshire.
“Both of us were practicing odd contemporary music during the breaks in rehearsals,” Davis said. “Everyone else was getting coffee.
“We are kind of zealots. We try to live and breathe the music. The repertoire is the identity of the group.”
Because of the unusual cello/percussion combination, most of the works Odd Appretite plays are written specifically for it.
The 14-minute “Cant” is “a real tour de force,” Davis said. “The composer is a long-time friend and he wrote this fantastic piece for a song. We’ve played it dozens of times all over the world.”
And for those with more mainstream tastes the group,  which has performed in Indonesia, Turkey Russia and Cuba, will do its version of Radiohead’s “Like Spinning Plates.”

Fancher (left) is coming to Columbia to play just one piece – Bain’s “Jovian Images.” It is based upon photographic images of planets the composer transformed into audio data.
“It’s a beautiful piece,” said Fancher, who has known Bain since the two were students at Northwestern University. Fancher, who teaches at Duke University, commissioned him to write it for a CD she released last year. In the work, she plays saxophone live with some computer-processed sounds. Because it calls for improvisation the work is different each time.
The concert is at 7:30 at the USC music school. Free, but it fills up fast. Davis will give a talk at the USC music school Friday at 2:30.
Call (803) 777-4280.

And what else
I can hardly believe it, but things have slowed a little. Several events are ongoing – “Always … Patsy Cline” at Town Theatre, “Crowns” at Trustus, “Arabian Nights” at Theatre South Carolina, exhibitions by Anna Redwine and Laura Spong at Gallery 80808 and John Drews at Compass 5.
If you’re anything like me you’ll spend a good chunk of the weekend at the S.C. Book Festival. Along with all the readings and panels, there will be a couple of concerts and films and even an art show.
Also – this is going to be a black and white weekend.

Thursday, Feb. 25
Catching up with art
Several art shows recently opened, one of which I mentioned several weeks ago and one I didn’t find out about until the day before it opened.
“Color Vision” at the Columbia Museum of Art augments the traveling show “The Chemistry of Color.” It’s a small show, consisting of a dozen works on paper by African-American artists in the museum collection including Lorna Simpson, (right) William Henry Johnson and Willie Cole. The show is up through May 30. 

A show at the museum that slipped through the cracks is “Skate and Create” the annual exhibition showcasing the talents of (get ready) skateboarders. The show consists of a lot of customized boards (without wheels) and it is really good. Through March 21.
(803) 799-2810.
"ABC : Acorn, Blair, Callahan” at Columbia College is made up of paintings, drawing, monotype prints, sculptures and a few more things by Pat Callahan of Columbia, John Acorn of Pendleton and Carl Blair of Greenville.
Callahan is a designer for USC Press who does figurative drawings, but most recently has shown shallow boxes filled with little drawings and found object sculptures. Acorn was long-time chairman of the Clemson University art department who creates wood and metal sculptures. (left) Blair taught at Bob Jones University for many years and does landscape-inspired paintings. Through March 20 and at 1301 Columbia College Drive. (803) 786-3088.
Flute and viola  
Violist Constance Gee, flautist Jennifer Parker-Harley and pianist Lynn Kompass join forces for concert. They’ll play “Romance pour flute et piano” by  Phillipe Gaubert; “Faith and Hope” by Carl Nielsen; “Elegie” by Igor Stravinsky; “Duo pour Flute et Alto” by Edison Denisov; and “Prelude, Recitatif et Variations, op. 3 by” Maurice Durufle. The 7:30 concert at the USC School of Music, where the three teach.  (803) 777-4280.

Emerging playwrights
Take a look and listen to the young talent at the USC theater department. The plays “Interruptions” by Steven Kopp and “Ralph and Mary” by William Renken will be performed tonight through Saturday at 8 p.m. You’ll find them at the USC Lab Theatre on Wheat Street between Sumter and Pickens. $5. (803) 777-4266.

Saturday, Feb. 27
Lots of books and writers and even some art
Frankly, it’s a little hard to know where to start writing about the S.C. Book Festival. You can wander around the big hall and see what people are selling; line up to have you books signed by writers; go to panels on women writers, hanging tough as a writer, mysteries, writing for young people, writing about food; see an exhibition by South Carolina artists; hear a gospel group sing and so on and so on. (See last Sunday’s posting for more about the art and music.)
The keynote speaker is John Hart, (left) a North Carolina author of three novels (he replaces Rick Bragg who canceled due to an illness.) Among the other notables are Ron Rash, a native of South Carolina who has moved successfully from poetry to novels; Jon Tuttle (a professor at Francis Marion College) who has had several plays produced at Trustus and elsewhere; food writers and Charleston native Ted and Matt Lee; and big seller Dorothea Benton Frank.

You will be hard pressed to get to everything worth going to, but give it a try.
The festival is at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center at Senate and Lincoln streets (That’s one block about two blocks southwest of the Capitol.) It runs 9 to 5:30 Saturday and 11:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
For details go to

Food and music from Italy
“An Evening in Italy” at 7 p.m. is a fund raiser for The Palmetto Opera and provides those who ante up the $75 ticket price with food, drink and songs – in Italian of course.
For tickets call (803) 776-0526 or 315-8866. 

Sunday, Feb. 28
New dance redux
The S.C. Contemporary Dance Company is back at the Columbia Museum of Art doing what it did last week – a piece inspired by the artist Alvin Loving’s “Midtown” series of jazzy painted cutouts that are part of “The Chemistry of Color” at the Museum. The piece was choreographed by company director Miriam Barbosa, with original music by John Valerio of the USC music school. 3 p.m. Admission is $10 or $8 for museum members. or (803) 799-2810.

Tuesday, March 2
The contemporary sax
French saxophonists Jean-Michel Goury brings his award-winning playing to USC.  Goury performs a great deal of contemporary music and will do so at the 7:30 concert at the USC School of Music. He’s a champion of new works and has recorded pieces, many written for him, by Aperghis, Berio, Boudreau, Lauba, Goto, Gabriele, Seffer, Bedrossian, Sauguet, Levaillant, Rossé, Rolin, Carlosema, Karlins, Gubler, Kuehn, Mintche, Pavlenko, Savouret, Schilling, Jakubroski, Giner, Lemay, Schrude, Isaksson, Buen, Knüssel, Zimmerlin, Wissberg, Sciarrino, Dulat, Fournier, and Minamikawa. You’re gonna have to look up what they are yourself. (803) 777-4280.

Wednesday, March 3
Life is still a cabaret
Cait Doyle got Manhattan's Best Cabaret Performer prize in 2008. You can find out why why when she performs tonight at Trustus. The Columbia Alternacirque opens with belly dancing, fire eating and so on. (803) 254-9732

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

End of an artwork - taking apart Jonathan Brilliant's sculpture at USC

Nude Tuesday! Arts forum report, pianist and composer on Boston radio, taking apart art

"Insouciance" by Pat Gilmartin. 
Gilmartin, of Columbia,will be one of 27 artists in a 
show at the S.C. Book Festival  Saturday and Sunday
at the Columbia Convention Center.

Talking about the arts
Lately we’ve been having a lot of meetings about the arts. A couple have been forums that have revolved around candidates for city of Columbia and Richland County offices, but a meeting Monday night was aimed more at those in and interested in the arts.
It was part of the S.C. Arts Commission getting input for its once-every-decade “Canvass of the People.”

Some good, interesting things got talked about, but first the bad news. About 30 people attended and 10 of those work at the Arts Commission; several people who spoke were only concerned with their own tiny portion of the art world; I spoke up several times.

The first big question tossed out by the moderator was “What’s working in the arts.”

Here are a few of the offerings:
The “healing arts” program in Kershaw County.
The impact of the arts on economic development in York County.
The good attendance at a local choral group’s concerts.
The Columbia City Ballet performing in Chicago (offered by the artistic director of the ballet company).

To the question the biggest challenge:
Providing more funding for programs about Native Americans (offered by someone who does such things)
Letting people know the difference between the restoration and conservation of artworks.
Getting churches to do arts programming. (Although I do like where the guy who talked about this was coming from it certainly doesn’t seem like big issue.)

It seems to me that one of the biggest challenges is getting people to look beyond their self interest.

I said (I told you I talked too much) that some of the things that are working are the Columbia Museum of Art doubling its membership and attendance in the last couple years, the way the 701 Center for Contemporary Art opened just as the economy tanked and hasn’t pulled back from its ambitions and how the S.C. Philharmonic has turned into a really good orchestra. Someone else gave props to the Southern Exposure new music series. Debra Smith, director of the Newberry Opera House which does all kinds of varied and quality programs, said that attendance and individual donations are going strong.

Everyone agree that getting enough money is a challenge.

Dancer and arts organizer Sherry Warren said getting organizations to work together and to coordinate events so they aren’t competing directly is an issue. (At the time the forum was going on there was an event taking place at the Center for Contemporary Art.)

“You have to change the political climate,” said artist Noree Boyd. “Everyone says ‘The arts are great and a tool for everything that cures everything, but we’re not going to fund it.’”.

Several people pointed out how difficult it is to get young people, especially teenagers, interested in the arts. Some of them, noted art conservator Craig Crawford, are discouraged from pursing an arts career because it is seen as impractical. Aaron Pelzek who is behind the fun “Playing After Dark” series, said even his group, which is aimed at younger people, has trouble reaching them. (My response: hormones. Also, I’m amazed at how many younger people do take part.)

I looked around the room and noted all the people who were missing – city council members, city administrators or anyone from the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties co-sponsor of the event. Lack of interest among those who should be interested – even for the wrong reasons – is the biggest challenge. And money. And an educated public that understands and appreciates art or least wants to.

Piano on the radio - at the big Boston station
Marina Lomazov, who teaches at USC, recently performed on a live broadcast from WGBH radio in Boston. She played pieces by Schubert, Chopin, and John Fitz Rogers, who also teaches at USC. She played Rogers' "Blue River Variations" which Rogers wrote for Lomazov. You can listen to the concert for a few more days at the WGBH website. Go to and scroll down a little and you should see it.

Unstacking sticks
Don't forget - you can go to the USC art department gallery today at 5 and help take down Jonathan Brilliant's coffee stirrer sculpture.  And if you haven't seen it yet better hurry on down.

Apology and credit
The very cool stacked television video installation at "What's Love" was made by Betsy Newman. Here it is again.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Art at the book festival

What’s coming up next weekend is called the South Carolina Book Festival. But I’m going to write about art. Art and the book festival.
Each year the festival, which is put on by the S.C. Humanities Council, uses an artwork on its promotional materials and posters. Usually this is a pre-existing artwork.
The artist this year, Claire Farrell of Columbia, did a painting specifically for the festival of a woman reading a book.  Actually she appears to be looking at picture in an art book. Still the painting captures the pure pleasure of sitting down and relaxing with a book.
 “They called after the last festival and asked me,” said Farrell, “and I really wanted to do something of someone reading.”
Just a few blocks from the festival at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, Farrell has a solo exhibition. The show at City Art Gallery, at Lincoln and Lady streets, opens with a reception Thursday night from 6 to 8 and remains up through March 27.
Best known for her landscape paintings, Farrell’s show of about 40 paintings and monotypes about equally divided between figurative and landscape. (One work actually consists of about 16 small portraits displayed as a group so the individual count is about 55.) This show will have more figurative works than just about any she has done.
 “To be perfectly honest the galleries find figurative work harder to sell,” she said.
But Wendy Wells, an owner of City Art, decided on the figure-heavy show.
“I’m really excited about it,” Ferrell said.
One doesn’t even have to leave the convention center to see an art show. The festival has put together its first in-house art show. Among the 27 artists are Farrell, David and Ellen Yaghjin, Mike Williams, Pat Callahan and Christian Thee of Columbia, Tarleton Blackwell of Manning, Phil Garrett of Greenville and Edward Wimberly of St. Matthews.
The art show is a way to reach across disciplines and appeal to a wider range of people, said Paula Watkins, festival director and assistant director of the Humanities Council.
The festival also has an arts panel this year, somewhat tied to recent art books. Lynn Robertson, director of the McKissick Museum at USC, moderates the panel that includes Harriett Green, visual arts coordinator of the S.C. Arts Commission, Todd Herman, chief curator of the Columbia Museum of Art, and George Stewart, a photographer. That’s Saturday at 10.
A musical ties in is also part of the festival. Reverend Floyd Knowlin and the choir of the Lighthouse of Jesus Christ will perform during the 4:30 Saturday session with authors Stanley Lanzano and Charles Joyner. Lanzano is author of True Places: A Lowcountry Preacher, His Church, and His People a photographic documentary of the lives of Knowlin and his congregation. Joyner will be at the festival in conjunction with publication of the 25th anniversary of his ground-breaking book Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community. Blues singer Drink Small plays Sunday at 4
One person who will be missing from the festival is Rick Bragg, who was to be keynote speaker. He canceled every this week due to an illness. It appears that only today was a replacement found. That’s John Hart of North Carolina and author of The King of Lie, Down River and most recently The Last Child.
The festival, 9 – 5:30 Saturday and 11:30 – 5 Sunday, has all kinds of panel discussions, book signing and other events. Go to the festival website at

Friday, February 19, 2010

Forum provides plenty of ideas for the arts

A few nights ago a few dozen people gathered at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art to talk about the arts in Columbia. 
The floor was open to anyone 9the title of the event was “What I Want The City of Columbia to Do For the Art Is ….”), but it turned in a question and answer session with the candidates for city of Columbia and Richland County offices. And that turned out to be pretty good. Certainly much better than the candidates forum on the arts at the Columbia Museum of Art a couple weeks back.
Here are some of the things everyone talked about and a few of my own thoughts.
•    The candidates, and a few others, complained that the city hospitality tax isn’t used for what it’s supposed to be used for: creating and promoting things that get people to buy food and drinks. The money, several said, had been siphoned away for other uses.
•    Council member Belinda Gergel, who is not up for re-election,  asked all the candidates to say if they’d support continuing the 2-cent hospitality. They all more or less said yes, although candidate for mayor Aaron Johnson said he didn’t believe the hospitality tax provided stable enough funding. Mayoral candidate Joe Azar said later that some of that money really needs to go to fund public transportation.
•    The idea of an “arts czar” who would work for the city came up. Several people objected to the very notion. Kirkman Finley,(top) a council member running for mayor, noted that the city had what amounted to an arts czar with Dot Ryall, former head of the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties. And, he said, that was a disaster. The arts groups would be better served if the city provided funding for infrastructure rather than operating expenses and then got out of the way.
•    Mayoral candidate Steve Morrison (right) questioned the role of the Culture Council as it raises less and less money and is unable to provide basic advisory services to arts organizations. “It’s not functioning,” Morrison said. “If it’s not working let’s look at setting that aside.” (No Cultural Council board members or staff attended the meeting. Also missing were all the museums, theaters, dance companies and the arts at USC. )
•    Aaron Johnson suggested that the city have an art services office to promote the arts and assist arts groups and artists.
•    Several people brought up areas that would be good areas for artists: abandoned big box stores, the Tapps building on Main Street, the former State Hospital on Bull Street and Olympia. It was also suggested that empty buildings on Main Street be used by artists, but that’s been tried unsuccessfully because owners don’t want the liability. The importance of arts in redevelopment, as happened in the Congaree Vista 20 years ago,  were stressed.
    “Artists are like earthworms,” Azar said. “They go through the soil and make it     fertile again.”
•    Anne Sinclair, a former council member, said she’s always felt that the city should have a center where art classes could be taught possibly with a shop where artists could sell their work. (Surprisingly none of those in the commercial gallery ownes objected. And the city actually already has an arts center where classes are taught.)
•    She also wishes the city had more public art.
    “You go to other cities and they have art on every corner,” she said.
    The city through the Cultural Council has tried to do this and ended up with a lot     of second-rate art because the shortcuts were taken in the vetting process.)
•    The need for a couple of smaller performance centers, one seating about 1,500 and 500, came up.
•    County Council candidate Scott Winburn talked about his wife’s knitting shop.
•    Mayoral candidate and presumed front-runner Steve Benjamin did not attend.
•    Gergel said the city council has not sat down talked about the arts and she’ll push to make that happen.
(City council candidate Kevin Fisher sent me an email saying he said some really good things and that I should note who cared enough about the arts to show up and who did not.)
(Fisher sent me another email saying I should have said he was laughing then he said the first and was serious when he said the last.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weekend arts: not as crazy as the last one, but still some goodies

Theater piece uses old stories to tap into today's truths
Most of us know at least some stories from “One Thousand and One Nights” – "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor." Those stories had been kicking around from India to Egypt for thousands of years when they were first collected and published in Persia (centered in today’s Iraq and Iran) around 1300. They came west mainly through 19th and 20th century English translations.
Playwright, theater and opera director, Tony Award winner and MacArthur “genius” grant winner Mary Zimmerman wrote her play version “Arabian Nights” during the 1992 U.S. invasion of Iraq.  The play, which hews closely to original stories, has won accolades nearly everywhere it has been performed. The Chicago Tribune last year called it “Zimmerman’s most theatrically complete and perfect creation.”

The play, being produced by Theatre USC starting Friday, tells some of the lesser-known stories from “One Thousand and One Nights.” It starts with King Shahryar preparing to kill his latest bride Scheherazade, as he does often. She starts telling stories which come to life on stage and keep her alive. The play includes erotic, comic and satiric tales, stories about love and justice and one about a man some forced into exile because of his excessive flatulence. These stories often contain other stories and the play comes apart like a set of nesting dolls.
 The USC production is being directed by Mary Boyce Holtcamp, a visiting artist who has directed several USC Lab Theatre shows and others at the Culture Project and Soho Rep in New York.
Although it is not overtly political, it doesn't complete ignore the recent wars in Iraq. Holtcamp notes that the loss of many Persian literary treasures during the Mongol invasion in 1250 has its modern parallels.
“The story reminded me that in my own lifetime (in 2004, in fact, during the chaos of the U.S. invasion of Iraq), the National Library of Baghdad was also bombed and looted,” Holtcamp said. “Priceless artifacts from the Ottoman Empire were lost and much of the collection was damaged or destroyed.  In the years that followed, Iraqi citizens attempted to reopen the library.  They were met first with threats from the insurgents and two library workers were kidnapped.  One was killed, the other tortured and sent back to the library with the message: ‘Do not reopen this library.’  The library had become a target, but the library workers did not abandon the place.  It is an open, public library today. “
Appropriately the director has set the play in a burned out library.
“The ruined library where real people work to preserve their nation’s culture in the midst of violence seemed the perfect setting for this play,” Holtcamp said. “It presents a world where books, stories and tales are important: important enough to kill for and important enough to die for.”  
Oh and those really popular stories about Ali Baba, the genie and Sinbad: they weren’t part of the original Arabic collection, but were added by European writers.
“Arabian Nights” runs through Feb. 28 at Longstreet Theatre, located at Sumter and Greene streets. Call (803) 777-2551.
From top: Top cast members in the USC production, a 14th century book of the tales from Syria, and a 19th century illustration from the book.

Thursday, Feb. 18
The low end

A concert of solo bass might sound like a kind of low concert – unless you’ve experienced one. Jason Ajemian dances up and down the four strings in a solo performance tonight at 8.  Ajemian’s music has been called "intoxicating, impressive and innovative" and his newest recording, “The Art of Dying,” dubbed “a brilliant document.”
The concert is at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art, 701 Whaley St. $5 for non-members and $4 for center members. (803) 238-2351.

Expression and the common object
Like a lot of artists Josh Drews makes his living by teaching, in his case at spring Valley High School which is where he went to school. Drews’ first solo exhibition, composed of about 16 monotype prints, opens tonight at Compass 5 Partners.
Drews often uses common objects as the central iconic figure surrounding them with expressive marks. As the name implies, a monotype print is a one-of-a-kind print. The artist will give a talk about his work and the process during an opening for the show tonight from 6 to 8. Through March 18. 1329 State St., Cayce.  (803) 765-0838.

Off the Wall and off to Chicago
The Columbia City Ballet gives “Off The Wall and Onto the Stage: Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green,” a send off before taking it to Chicago.
The ballet, based on colorful, narrative and often nostalgic paintings by South Carolina native Green, is usually done in large halls. Tonight and Friday the dancing is in the Drayton Hall Theatre at USC which means not all the giant scrim images of the paintings will be used, but it will not be a bare-bones production either.
The ballet by company director William Starrett was premiered in 2005 and got a lot of attention. My bottom line on it was and is this: the first act is four times better than I thought it would be and the second ten times worse than I could have imagined.
Admission is $20 for the 7:30 shows. (803) 799-7505.

Friday, Feb. 19
Dancing to “Africa”

“Off the Wall” isn’t the only black roots dance this weekend. DANCEWORDZ premieres its theatrical-poetic-ballet “Africa” at 8 tonight and Saturday at the CMFA Art Space, 914 Pulaski St. Tickets, $15,

Two art shows – one place
 “Anna Redwine: Frauenau” and “Laura Spong: Renovations” both open tonight at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. Both artists live in Columbia.
Redwine’s show of paintings were created during a one-week stay in Frauenau, Germany, in 2004. The pieces blend washes of color, jagged marks and some representational elements. (right)
Spong’s abstract paintings are connected to a recent renovation of her home.
An opening reception takes place from 5 to 9 tonight and can be seen through March 2. The gallery is at 808 Lady St. (803) 238-2351.

Jazz down the hall
If you're going to see the Spong and Redwine shows, stroll down the hall to hear jazz pianist Jangeun Bae at the Blue Martini. The Korean musician is playing in a trio setting tonight and 9 p.m. It’s free.  (803) 256-2442.

Falling to pieces again
Country singer Patsy Cline never died – at least not at Town Theatre.  “Always … Patsy Cline” is back for third time  once again with Shannon Willis Scruggs as Cline and Kathy Hartzog as her friend Louise. The show by South Carolina native Ted Swindley is based on a true story of the friendship.
The show opens tonight and runs through March 6. For tickets, $20, call (803) 799-2510 or go to

Sunday, Feb. 21
The chemistry of dance and color

The new S.C. Contemporary Dance company unveils a new work inspired by the artist Alvin Loving’s “Midtown” series of jazzy painted cutouts that are part of “The Chemistry of Color” at the Columbia Museum of Art. The piece was choreographed by company director Miriam Barbosa, with original music by John Valerio of the USC music school.
The piece will be done at 3 p.m. today and Feb. 28 at the museum. Admission is $10 or $8 for museum members. or (803) 799-2810.

Musical giants turn 200

Retired USC professor John Kenneth Adams will be back on the piano for "Piano Portrait: Ruins and Eagles' Feathers" focusing on the music of Robert Schumann and Frederic Chopin. This is the 200th anniversary of the births of the two giants of the piano. "Piano Portrait" is composed of the music  along with commentary and visuals. 3 p.m. at the USC School of Music. (803) 777-4280.

Monday, Feb. 22
Speak up

You had a chance to speak out on the arts last week at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art. Hang onto those ideas and share them at the S.C. Art Commission’s “Canvas of the People” taking place at the Columbia Museum of Art from 6:45 to 8. Call (803) 734-8696.

Olympia goes on sale today
Well, not the mill village itself, but artworks based upon it.
These works are part of what has been a terrific show at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art by Gwylène Gallimard and Jean-Marie Mauclet of Charleston. Everything must go starting at 7:30 p.m., but you should go see the exhibition while it is still intact.
701 Whaley St. (803) 238-2351.

Tuesday, Feb. 23
Stick up take down
Everyone is invited to help take down Jonathan Brilliant's coffee stirrer sculpture at the USC art department gallery at 5 p.m. If you can keep it together you can carry a chunk of it off. The department is at Senate and Pickens.

Wednesday, Feb. 24
Columbia native back to read

Columbia native Percival Everett gives a reading and talk at the Richland County Public Library at 6 p.m. A professor at the other USC – the University of Southern California – he is the author of Wounded (2005), Erasure (2001),  American Desert (2004) and I Am Not Sidney Poitier (2009). The event is free and the library is at 1431 Assembly St. (803) 799-9084.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Nude Tuesday!" Sex talk. Classical music.

Since it is “Nude Tuesday!”  this seems the appropriate time to recap the “What’s Love” event that took place Saturday night. It's an event mostly aimed at being a fun, but with all the talk that goes on around it and the large number of people who attend, it's hard to understand why it can't be good and fun.

I’ve found past “What’s Loves” rather tame and not very good. This year’s (held at 701 Whaley  which is not the 701 Center for Contemporary Art) sounded as if it might push things a bit in terms of erotic content and quality.

No such luck.

Most art in the show was not particularly well executed or erotic. Nudes do not make for an erotic art show. The performances I saw (I missed some) were vaguely funny and again not what one would call edgy. As the night worn on a band played, but why the band didn’t play songs with strong love and lust themes just the vagueness of this entire undertaking.

This year the organizers brought in quite a few people selling things – mostly jewelry and various gewgaws few of which had anything to do with the theme.

Among the artworks that stood out was Billy Guess’ installation of doors which offered a little peek show through the keyholes. Leslie Pierce once again came up with a truly weird and wacky installation based on some sweet images from magazines of fey naked young men. Michael Kwejewski showed prints where the printing plate was a vagina. (top) Not terribly interesting to look at, but give him points for audacity.

The most erotic thing about the show was the people there. I speak mostly of the women who attended wearing, or barely wearing, some really wonderful, revealing outfits.

In many ways “What’s Love” is just a new wrapping on an old and unattractive part of the art world: social or “society” event masquerading as an art event. In the old days, the ladies showed off their ball gowns and furs – now it's butts and boobs. I’d rather see the latter two, but my desires don’t change the equation.

The event was to end at midnight, but everything kind of started petering out an hour before. “They should have to throw people out at 2 a.m.,” I shouted at a dancing friend over the din of the band.

“They got all charged up and are at home shagging,” she shouted back.

Good point. I was at home in bed by 1. Alone. Brushing my teeth  I noticed I had a lot of lipstick on my face.  

A stellar concert from the Philharmonic

Before heading to “What’s Love” I was listening to the S.C. Philharmonic. As orchestra concerts go this one in advance sounded pretty tame. It would start with the familiar and often overexposed “Romeo and Juliet” Overture by Tchaikovsky, move on to the Piano Concerto in D Major for the Left Hand by Maurice Ravel and wind up with Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3.

I’m a big fan of contemporary music and while the Ravel and Rachmaninoff are both from the 1930s they still fit into what most people would consider more traditional classical music. Because it didn’t cater to my particular tastes, that made it all the more wonderful that this was one of the best S.C. Philharmonic concerts I’ve ever heard.

Most people know the “Romeo and Juliet” overture even if they don’t “know” it because the music has been used so often in so many ways. The orchestra breathed new life into it and made it sound fresh.

The Ravel was played by Sean Yeh, the 17-year-old winner of last year’s Southeastern Piano Festival competition here. The composer wrote the piece for Paul Wittgenstein, an Austrian who lost his right arm in World War I.  (He was brother of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.) If Yeh plays this well with one hand – well who knows where he’ll go using both.

The Rachmaninoff got a rotten reception when it was premiered in 1936 – just too many unexpected twists and turns for the traditional twits of the time. That of course is what makes it a memorable work and especially when it is played as well as it was Saturday night – and this after a rehearsal cut short because of the white stuff.

The Philharmonic concert was titled “From Russia With Love” didn’t strike me as all that romantic, but then again I didn’t have a date.

Old music with old art

Sunday morning I watched the snow melt while listening to pop music -  something I don’t do that often. There was the romantic side of socialist Billy Bragg singing “She’s Got a New Spell” and “Sexuality” (“I’ve had relations, with women of many nations/I’ve made passes, at women of all classes”); the original version of “Tainted Love” by Gloria Jones; “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House (“Now I'm walking again to the beat of a drum/And I'm counting the steps to the door of your heart.”); and Leo Kottke: “I said that I’d come back to stay, she laughed at what I said.”

The afternoon held a concert of 17th and 18th century music played on lute and violin d’amore (of love or of the Moors depending on who you believe) at the Columbia Museum of Art.

The violin d’amore looks a viola you might have picked up in the big and tall section of the music store, but the first thing you notice is that it has 14 turning pegs instead of the four you’d find on a violin or viola. Seven strings are bowed and the other seven vibrate.  Joining those bowing strings was a lute player and it was all taking place in a gallery full of art from the time the music was created and the viola d’amore was a popular instrument.

A well-attended and lovely concert. But no lipstick.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

An amazing journey through the long tradition of Lowcountry basketry

In the early fall, I was driving from the Francis Marion National Forest down toward Charleston on Highway 17. It had been a while since I’d been down the road and I was appalled. The sprawl of shopping centers and developments stretches nearly all the way to Awendaw.

My dismay at this rapid and ugly development has to be dwarfed by that which must be felt by the basketmaking communities and the basketmakers who have lived and sold their work along the highway for almost 100 years. It’s a bit ironic since the paving of the highway in the 1920s and the tourist traffic it brought was what helped keep the basketmaking tradition, that goes back to the first African slaves brought ashore at Sullivan’s Island, alive.

You can learn about the pressures development puts on the basketsmakers, the history and technique of the craft and its roots in the extraordinary “Grass Roots: African Origins of American Art” at USC’s McKissick Museum.

The exhibition, which is touring the nation with stops at the Smithsonian Institute and the Museum for African Arts, draw heavily upon the McKissick collection of baskets. The museum began collecting them in the 1970s and in 1986 mounted the show “Row Upon Row.” That exhibition was curated by Dale Rosengarten who is also curator of “Grass Roots.”

The exhibition is about equally divided among baskets makes from Mount Pleasant down to St. Helena Island and from many parts of Africa. The research never uncovered a direct link between one place in Africa and the baskets of South Carolina, but it follows the many possible links. One of the major links was rice cultivation. It was a big crop in African and became one in South Carolina making rice plantation owners some of the richest people in the world. Of course they made it through the sweat of slaves. The exhibition does address the issue of slavery with reproductions of ads for slave sales as well as the early 20th century nostalgia white expressed for those lost times that were so good for them without every addressing how horrible they were for blacks. (This is particularly pointed in the watercolors of Alice Ravenel Huger Smith; she was not too long ago held up as a someone who created lovely romantic images, but has more recently become poster girl for the brutal racism of the region.)
Most of the South Carolina baskets in the show were made during the 20th century, sold largely to the tourist trade. They’re practical sorts of things – a place to toss keys and change, maybe serve as a bread tray or sewing baskets although some are modeled on the large shallow “fanners” used to separate rice kernels from the husk. (That’s a method still used in many third-world countries.)
The baskets are made mostly of golden green sweetgrass with contrasting details in deep red-brown pine needles. Some incorporate heavier rush reeds which were the dominant material pre-tourism. In the distant past men were the basketmakers, but in the early 20th century basketmaking became the craft of women although more and more men have returned to it.

The African works (also included are wooden sculptures used in harvest ceremonies) are much more colorful and in recent year the basketmakers there even started using brightly colored wires in their work.
Few really old baskets exist – they were worn out or rotted. This exhibition though has two very old recently discovered baskets: one from around 1850 and another thought to be nearly 100 years older than that. Both are dark and noble with age and solidity.

One of the best parts of the show is several videos.
In one Leroy Browne St. talks about making baskets at the Penn Center on St. Helena Island; the baskets were part of the early 20th century movement to use traditional crafts to create jobs in rural areas. Others show basketmakers working or hanging their wares on the stands that still dot Highway 17. Many of the basketmakers talk about the difficulty of continuing the craft – especially how hard it is to find grass. When traditional harvesting areas like Seabrook and Kiawah islands were developed into gated communities baskermakers were no longer welcome. (That’s changing a bit.)

The major problem with the exhibition is that the McKissick Museum simply does not have enough space or the right space to display “Grass Roots” properly. It is broken up into two wings of the museum’s second floor as well as into a couple of side rooms which makes it disjointed and confusing. 
Although the text panels in the exhibition are extensive, they barely graze the surface of the subject. A catalog published in conjunction with the exhibition contains extensive, in-depth, but accessible essays by Rosengarten and her husband historian Ted Rosengarten, co-curator Enid Schildkrout of the Museum for African Art, one on rice cultivation and “Plantation Painting as Progaganda” by John Michael Vlach. Anyone who sees the show should take along
$35 for the book.

“Grass Roots” continues through May 9. Call (803) 777-7251 or go to

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I don't even know what to say about this weekend, well actually I do - a great deal

 USC dancers just briefly resting up for intense weekend

Before you dig into the listings today I’m going to provide you a little guidance.
Tonight go the Wadsworth and Friends concert or the USC dance performance (above.) The go by and see "Blues Chapel" and "Last Words" (until midnight) at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios and stop in down the hall and hear jazz at the Blue Martini.  
Friday go either to Vibrations or USC Dance or Columbia College dance or “Crowns” at Trustus. "Blues Chapel" and "Last Words" with a Haitian relief concert at Blue Martini. Saturday go to opening day of “Grass Roots” an exhibition on Lowcountry and African baskets with lectures and tours and/or go see the films about mill village and mills at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art. After dinner attend one of the three dance performances or go the S.C. Philharmonic and after that go to the “What’s Love” art event at 701 Whaley.
Sunday see “Chemistry of Color” at the Columbia Museum of Art where at 1 you can see a movie about the Harlem Renaissance and all afternoon there’s a Chinese New Year’s celebration. Stick around for the 3 p.m. concert of Baroque music or attend the USC chamber music concert a few blocks away.
This give you some idea of how full your weekend can be with arts?

Thursday, Feb. 11
Wadsworth coming to Wadsworth concert
He’s no longer running the chamber music series that bears his name, but Charles Wadsworth will be at the next concert in body as well as spirit. The pianist and founder of the Spoleto USA Chamber Music series joins series director and cellist Edward Arron, soprano Courtney Budd, pianist Jeewon Park,  violinist Chee-Yun and flutist Angela Jones-Reus in a concert of music by Bach, Saint-Saëns, Amy Beach, Weber, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Piazzolla and the man himself.
The 7 p.m. concert is at the Columbia Museum of Art. Tickets are $35 or $30 for museum  members. Call 799-2810.

Art for the heart
Just in time for the heart holiday Cindy Saad, Penny Baskin, Mana Hewitt, Betty Holland and Becky Blair will show and sell their hand-crafted jewelry at City Art. Bring your money for your honey 5 to 8 p.m. today. (803) 252-3613.
Two shows and two artists
A native of South Carolina and a long-time resident take over the Sumter Gallery of Art..
“Candice Ivy: Black Tide” and “Linda Fantuzzo: The Space Between” look at the land around us and how it shapes us.

Ivy, a native of Hartsville who lives in Boston, has created a multi-media work that explores the sometimes troubled relationship among family, community, history and landscape. It consists of wall projections of furrowed fields that speed past the viewer leading them toward a looped video clip of young men and a pit bull in a yard. The piece was shown at the Laconia Gallery in Boston and Ivey has also exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, the Rhode Island International Film Festival and the Sguardi Sonoir Festival in Venice.

Linda Fantuzzo is a long-time and well-known Charleston artist who creates atmospheric paintings that meld the landscape, interiors and sometimes paintings of those things. She has shown extensively throughout the country. “The Space Between” consists almost entirely of never-before-seen paintings.
An opening reception takes place tonight from 5:30 to 7:30. Admission is $5, but other times the gallery is free. The Sumter Gallery, 200 Hasel St., Sumter, SC 29150 (adjacent to Patriot Hall on Haynesworth St.) The exhibitions remain on display through April 16. (803) 775-0543.

New dance at the U
USC dancers will be moving in new ways for “Innovative Works,” a performance of mostly just-created pieces.

Guest choreographer Celia Rowlson-Hall’s  “Cinderella at the Bar” examines how beauty and identity are intertwined. She has done music videos, is a filmmaker  and presented pieces at Lincoln Center Clark Theater, Dance New Amsterdam, Dixon Place, Galapagos Arts Space, Theater for the New City, Manhattan Theater Source and La MaMa Festival

Other new works are “Between You, Me and the Lamppost” by faculty member Thaddeus Davis and USC dance artist director Susan Anderson’s “Piano Concerto #2.”
Performances are tonight through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Drayton Hall Theatre, Sumter and College streets. $16. 777-5112 or 251-2222.

Friday Feb. 12
More dance
If you like young dance, this really is the weekend for you. USC dance is joined by two more dance performances starting tonight.

”Musicality” by Vibrations Dance Company is a brand new evening long series of pieces by company artistic director Terrance Henderson. The title of the night refers to the fact that all were directly inspired by and connected to soul, rock, and rhythm and blues, hip-hop and pop music.

It’s at  7:30 tonight and Saturday at the Columbia Music Festival Association, 914 Pulaski St.
Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 ($10 cheaper for students.) Saturday includes

Columbia College dancers will take the stage in some cases doing works choreographed by other students. T0night and Saturday at 7:30 in the Cottingham Theatre at Columbia College. 803.786. 786-3850. $10.
You can leave your hat on
Trustus Theatre is for the third time bringing out the big hats and songs for “Crowns.” The musical uses the fancy hats women wear to church to tell stories in song. It also sets up a bit of a culture clash when a young women returns from a northern city to stay with her South Carolina aunt.

Jocelyn Sanders is directing once again but the show has a new musical director. Three returning cast members are joined by four new faces.
The show opens tonight at 8 and runs through March 6. For tickets call (803) 254-9732 or

Saturday, Feb. 13
South Carolina's greatest artists
One of the biggest and most important exhibitions Columbia has had in a while opens today at the McKissick Museum at USC. “Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art” is an in-depth look at the baskets created along the South Carolina coast for hundreds of years and counterparts in Africa. Many of the baskets are from the USC collection and the show will travel to the Smithsonian and the new Museum for African Art in New York. In the show is a rare, recently-discovered basket from the mid-19th century (pictured)

The show opens today at 11. Between then and 4 you can take tours with curator Dale Rosengarten and basketmaker Nakia Wigfall and listen to a lecture on rice plantations.
Call 777-7251. (I’ll have more about the show Sunday. You can also check out a piece I did for Free Times last week at freetimes)

Young talent and old composers
The South Carolina Philharmonic has is calling tonight’s concert “From Russia, With Love,” but it might have dubbed the whole weekend “Young Love.” The soloist tonight is 17 and Sunday three ensembles of the Philharmonic Youth Orchestras play.

Sean Yeh is performing as winner of the Southeastern Piano Festival held in Columbia each summer. He has plenty of other awards too and made his orchestral debut with the Chicago Symphony in 2008. He’ll play Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand.
The concert opens with the “Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture” by Tchaikovsky – one of the most popular orchestra works– and the Rachmaninoff Third Symphony.

A silent fund raising auction starts in the Koger Center lobby at 6, music director Morihiko Nakahara  (to right in his 007 pose) gives a talk at 6:30 and the music starts at 7:30.
Tickets are $18 to $50. (803) 251-2222 or 
The Youth Orchestras concert is at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Koger Center where tickets can be purchased for $10 (half that for kids.)

Movie about the mills
The exhibition “Olympia” has gotten the 701 Center for Contemporary Art deeply into the mill aesthetic. Today is set aside for movies about mills and mill workers.
"The Cry of the Children" is a 1912 film about child labor in the mills and "The Uprising of 1934," a 1995 documentary about a textile strike during which 500,000 workers walked off the job. Tom Terrill, a retired history professor who worked on “The Uprising,” will lead a discussion after it is show at 1:30. “Children” runs at 11:30 and 4.
This event is free and open to the public.
The center is at 701 Whaley St., second floor. 779-4571.

You sexy thing
The “What’s Love Fest” is back for the third year. The popular party has food, drinks, music, dancing and art all tied together by love and lust. Some of what’s served up is temping, some tame, some tempestuous.
The party is at 701 Whaley from 7 to midnight and admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. The exhibition will also be open from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday.
You can buy tickets online at

Sunday, Feb, 14
Innovative Innovista unveils new music by dean

Two new works by Tayloe Harding, dean of the USC Music School, have public world premieres today as part of the Chamber Innovista series. “Love Songs” consists of two parts, “Paul to the Corinthians – Agape” and “Inmost Heart – Romantic’ and will be performed by be Tina Stallard, soprano; Jessica Leeth, flute; and Christopher Berg, guitar.

The two short works are part of a four-song cycle Harding is writing. Both use text exploring varieties of love and came about in unusual ways. “Agape” was written for Harding’s daughter’s wedding which takes place the day before concert (so the composer will not be at the concert.)  The second was a commission auctioned at a fund raiser for the music school. The first piece is based on a text from the New Testament, the second from the I Ching, the classic Chinese text.

Also being played at the 3 p.m. concert  is “Dover Beach for Baritone and String Quartet, Op. 3” by Samuel Barber;  “The Summer Knows” by Michel Legrand; “Cabaña Cubano” by Bert Ligon; and “Terzetto for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, Op. 22” by Theodore Lalliet
The concert will take place not at the music school by at 300 Senate St. Admission is $15. Call 777-4288.

Go for Baroque (you’ve heard that before)
At the same time, the Columbia Museum of Art’s Baroque gallery will be filled with the sound of Baroque music played on Baroque instruments (viola d’amore and lute). Thomas Georgi, who has recorded more viola d’amore music than anyone in the world, will lead the group in the 3 p.m. concert that is part of the “Art of Music” series.

The viola d’amore looks like a viola, but has six-stringed and beneath those a set of “sympathetic” strings that vibrate when the main strings are bowed. The instrument, widely used during the 1700s, often has a carved blindfolded face atop the nick representing the blindness of love. Ah don’t we know it. Now we can hear it.

Admission is $7 or free for members. (Members must make reservations) $5 student tickets at the door. 799-2810.

Monday, Feb. 15
Out and online

Chicago artist Doug Smithenry discovered that young people were  “coming out” and announcing their sexual orientation on Youtube. It inspired him to create “Coming Out Online” consisting of 48 small paintings. The show stops at Columbia College for for a two and a half day showing .

 “I have transformed these online testimonials into an installation of paintings that literally waves the colors of gay pride as it reflects and celebrates how the Internet has provided a sense of community for isolated queer youth,” Smithenry said.

The show opens today and the artist gives a talk at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. It closes Wednesday at 2.  The college is at Main Street and Columbia College drive about two miles north of downtown. Call 786-3088.
Tuesday, Feb. 16
A familiar and a new face
Columbia native Angelia Cho is back home to play Dvorak’s Violin Concerto in a minor with the USC Symphony. The new face is guest conductor Nicola Giuliani, who will also lead the orchestra in Dvorak's Slavonic Dance in G major and Brahms' Symphony No. 1.   Cho, who holds degrees from the Curtis Institute and the New England Conservatory, has performed throughout the world both as a soloist and chamber musician.

A native of Italy, Giuliani conducts throughout the world, mostly in Europe. He has conducted international tours with the Enescu Philharmonic of Bucarest, the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra of Kiev. He has taught during the annual conductor’s training institute at USC.
Neil Casey, assistant Conductor of the orchestra, will give a talk at 6:45 and the concert starts at 7:30 in the Koger Center. Tickes are $25; $8 for students. (803) 251-2222 or

Wednesday, Feb. 17
Life is a cabaret at Trustus
Trustus Theatre gets all New York on us with the first of three cabaret performances that also serve as fund raisers for the theater. The performers are well connected and known in the cabaret world, which seems to exist mainly in New York and Europe. First up is Marjorie Barnes, who has been in performed in a number musicals including “Hair,” “Bubbling Brown Sugar” and “Dreamgirls.” The Columbia-based Wideman/Davis Dance company opens the show. The series continues once-a month through May. The lineup: Cait Doyle, March 3; Columbia native Jonathan Whitton returns home April 13; and Molly Poe, May 12. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door or you can buy a pass to all for $110. 254-9732.

Make your voice heard
Head to the Contemporary Art Center a bit before 7:30, sign up and you get up to five minutes to say what you’d like for the arts in Columbia. Some local officials and candidates (including most running for mayor of Columbia) will be there. 701 Whaley St. 779-4571.

Jazz from Korea
This is quite saving the best for last, but it's pretty close.
Jazz pianist Jangeun Bae brings her blend of classical and jazz, east and west to Columbia for several concerts. The pianist has played around the world and has two CDs out, one called "Mozart and Jazz."
Bae will be joined by bassist Craig Butterfield, trombonist Kevin Jones, guitarist Bert Ligon and others in a concert tonight at 7:30 at the USC School of Music. It's free. Call 777-4324.
Then next Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20, she'll be at the Blue Martini. 808  Lady St., in a trio setting. Those gigs start at 9 and are free as well. 256-2442.