New this year – Verner Award nomination process has moved online

(Image: Quentin Baxter of Charleston receiving the 2017 Verner Award in the Artist category from Gov. Henry McMaster and S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz.) Recognize South Carolina innovators, supporters and advocates of the arts with a nomination for the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts — the state’s highest arts award! The nomination process is now a simple online process  — just upload a letter of nomination by Nov. 1. Verner Award StatueThe nomination letter should describe the nominee’s exemplary contributions to the arts in South Carolina and address any characteristics included in the category descriptions (see below). It should include specific examples and relevant data wherever possible. The letter should be structured to answer the following questions:

  • What makes the nominee superior or extraordinary?
  • How has the nominee demonstrated leadership in the arts?
  • What exceptional achievements or contributions has the nominee made, and what has been their impact on the community, state or beyond?
  • What other information about the nominee is important to know as they are considered for the state’s highest award in the arts?
Note: a nomination letter is different from a support letter. Letters of support are not required as part of the nomination process. Nominations are accepted in these categories:
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION – open to S.C. individuals and institutions whose primary function is arts education. May include arts educators (teachers, consultants, principals, administrators), schools, school districts, college/university arts departments, etc.
  • ORGANIZATION – open to S.C. organizations that contribute to the advancement and/or support of the arts. May include arts discipline organizations, arts councils, arts advocacy groups, guilds, arts departments of organizations, educational institutions, etc.
  • GOVERNMENT – open to S.C. agencies and institutions generally described as units of state, county or municipal governments that have served their communities in outstanding ways through the arts, OR elected or appointed officials who, in their official capacities, have demonstrated notable support for the arts through leadership and public policy.
  • BUSINESS/FOUNDATION – open to SC individuals, or companies and foundations whose participation, support, and/or contributions have benefited the maintenance and growth of the arts.
  • INDIVIDUAL – open to S.C. individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievement and statewide impact through their leadership, support, and advancement of the arts. May include arts professionals such as managers, administrators; or arts supporters such as patrons, promoters, donors, etc.
  • INDIVIDUAL ARTIST – open to S.C. artists of exceptional talent and creativity, in any discipline, whose contribution to the arts has helped guide and influence directions, trends and aesthetic practices across the state or to national or international levels
Find complete nomination guidelines and submission instructions online.

SC.Fellows exhibition celebrates exceptional artists

SC.Fellows Part I, a retrospective exhibition of the South Carolina Arts Commission's visual arts and craft fellows, is on view in two Columbia locations through Sept. 17.  701 Center for Contemporary Art and the McMaster Gallery at the University of South Carolina School of Visual Art and Design have partnered with the Arts Commission to present this exhibition as part of the S.C. Arts Commission's 50th Anniversary celebration. Several solo and group exhibitions of current and past fellows are being developed around the state. SC.Fellows is drawn from work of the 89 artists who have received fellowships since the program launched in 1976. Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of South Carolina's exceptional individual artists. Fellowship awards are made through a highly competitive, anonymous process and are based on artistic excellence only. “The 50th anniversary of the South Carolina Arts Commission provides an ideal opportunity to survey the breadth and depth of art made in South Carolina,” says New York art critic and author Eleanor Heartney, who curated SC.Fellows Part I & II. “The recipients of the award were selected solely on the basis of artistic merit, and as the works reveal, they work in media ranging from ceramic, papermaking and textiles to painting, sculpture, photography, installation and assemblage. The work is equally diverse in content. The fellowship winners present private worlds, wrestle with social and political issues, explore the expressive potential of abstraction, and celebrate the complexities and beauties of the natural world.” Heartney is a contributing editor for Art in America magazine and the author of several books, including Art & Today (2008). In 2004 she curated Thresholds, the traveling exhibition of art from five Southern states organized by the S.C. Arts Commission. In 2009, she curated The State Art Collection: Contemporary Conversations, a two-part traveling exhibition organized by the commission and 701 CCA. SC.Fellows Part II takes place in spring 2018 at 701 CCA and Benedict College Henry Ponder Gallery.  The exhibition is supported in part by First Citizens. 701 CCA is located at 701 Whaley Street (2nd floor).  During exhibitions, hours are Wed–Sat, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sun, 1 - 5 p.m. The McMaster Gallery is located at 1615 Senate St. During exhibitions, hours are Mon–Fri, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Find out about other 50th Anniversary Fellowship exhibitions.

The rise of public art in South Carolina

From the Charleston Post and Courier Article by Adam Parker; photos by Brad Nettles and Adam Parker (Image above: This mural is located at the corner of Huger and Hanover streets in Charleston.)

In West Ashley’s Avondale neighborhood, an alley behind the shops and bars near Magnolia Street has become an outdoor exhibition space filled with large and small murals. Artists have painted images ranging from an enormous turkey vulture to small cartoon-like figures on the sides of the buildings. On the Charleston peninsula, three murals by Shepard Fairey and several more on Huger Street by a variety of artists can be viewed. David Boatwright’s work — part art, part commercial signage — is scattered throughout the downtown area. In Columbia, a growing number of murals and sculptural pieces are adding a colorful dimension to a city so enthusiastic about public art that it has a dedicated nonprofit organization whose main purpose is to facilitate more of it.
This deliberate approach adopted by Columbia now is taking hold in the Holy City where efforts are underway to introduce more curated public art to the shared environment, and not just downtown. One advocate is even calling for a “1 percent for art” program that would set aside money in every public building construction budget for the purpose of procuring artwork. “I love public art,” said Mark Sloan, director of the Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art. “It does serve a vital role in terms of meeting people where they are. It’s in the public way; you have no choice.” Sloan thinks public art is important enough to warrant more consistent support from patrons, civic leaders and private interests. Mostly recently he helped arrange the public display of five Fairey works in conjunction with a 2014 Halsey exhibition. (Three of those pieces remain.) Sloan also curated a big 2016 project in the Upstate called “Seeing Spartanburg” which featured nine outdoor light installations by Erwin Reidl. “Innovative, temporary public art can spur creative thought,” Sloan said. “That has unintended positive consequences.” It democratizes art, giving residents a chance to appreciate it outside the often rarified museum or gallery environment, he said. It also inspires dialogue about the urban landscape, city life, acute issues confronting the community and more. “The role of public art is to help us formulate better questions,” he said. In Columbia, a nonprofit established in 2012 that is almost entirely funded by the city has worked to cultivate public art, commission projects and establish a procurement and review process. One Columbia typically partners with private donors (individuals and companies) on these projects, according to its director Lee Snelgrove. To date, it has been involved in about 24 mural, sculpture and installation projects, 15 of which have come to fruition just this year. A mural in Columbia by the Milagros Collective, made for the Indie Grits Festival earlier this year. (Adam Parker/Staff) Several murals and sculptures are located downtown near Main Street, providing an important dimension to the city’s ongoing revitalization, Snelgrove and other civic leaders said. Public art also is helping to connect the Main Street area with the Vista neighborhood across Assembly Street, and it's being embraced by the Richland County Library, too. “It’s kind of all coming to a point where people want more coordination,” Snelgrove said. When an opportunity comes along, One Columbia hashes out some basic details with the organization sponsoring the art; helps to identify an appropriate location, coordinating with city planners; then assembles its public art selection committee. The committee, which consists of an artist, architect, developer, curator and others, meets quarterly, Snelgrove said. They issue a call for artists, assess submissions and determine a short list of candidates. They flesh out the project plan and budget, which includes a 20 percent earmark that goes into an art maintenance fund for use by the city. Each project takes about a year to fully implement on average. The process can be adapted for art projects on private property, Snelgrove said. The response has been positive. One Columbia might receive a few complaints about the aesthetics or design of a particular work, but no one has expressed any dissatisfaction about the concept itself, the process or the fact that the cityscape now includes numerous artistic landmarks, Snelgrove said. The city has been an essential partner, helping with site preparation, installations, safety issues and more. When one project required the creative painting of crosswalks, the city balked at first. Would it endanger pedestrians? But when they witnessed the results (no one was confused about where and how they trod), city officials became enthusiastic supporters of the quirky crosswalk initiative. “There is an appetite for (public art), but they don’t always know they have an appetite for it until they see it,” Snelgrove said. Lately, One Columbia has turned its attention to places outside the downtown area, such as the Five Points neighborhood, the Vista neighborhood and the Columbia Bethlehem Community Center a mile and a half north of downtown. It's also involved in the "Southern Lights" project, a laser installation at the Congaree River. An installation at the Richland Library (Provided) Meanwhile, the Richland County Public Library has embraced Sloan’s concept of a “1 percent for art” program. Currently in the midst of an extensive facilities improvement project, funded by a $59 million bond referendum passed in 2013, the library network is ensuring that each of 11 branches has at least one commissioned work of art, according to Emily Stoll, media relations specialist. The four-story central library on Assembly Street includes a gallery space temporarily showcasing the works that will eventually find a permanent place in each of the branches. Most of the artists are local, Stoll said. The art project is part of a larger effort to transform the library system into a robust public space. “It’s a hub of information, but also a conversation hub, a place where people can learn and share,” Stoll said. And they do. The main branch soon will include a new department of studio services where artists and writers can work. Another floor will be devoted to children and teenagers. Another level will have research and career materials. Think of it as a community center, Stoll said, one in which art plays a central role. Art also plays a central role for nine days each April in Lake City, the small town in Florence County that hosts the big — and growing — Artfields event, a multifaceted, multidiscipline showcase and competition. And in Myrtle Beach, an effort was launched a few years ago to improve the area with public art. "The Myrtle Beach Downtown Public Art Initiative was created to lead the process of establishing physical and performing arts in the (Downtown Redevelopment Corporation) District," its website states.

Public art evolves

In Charleston, public art efforts so far have been ad hoc. The Halsey Institute coordinated Fairey’s mural-making. The nonprofit Enough Pie, which is concerned with responsible development and arts advocacy on the upper peninsula, arranged for the murals on Huger Street. There are a couple of remnants of Spoleto Festival USA’s landmark 1991 public art show called “Places with a Past,” the most prominent being David Hammons’ odd-shaped “House of the Future” on America Street. Some of the mural art in Avondale is graffiti-like, some fantastical, some representative. (Brad Nettles/staff) The murals in Avondale were largely facilitated by the chART Outdoor Initiative & Gallery and include an enormous turkey vulture by the well-known Italian street artist Hitnes. Hitnes happens to be in town working on an exhibition to be mounted at the Halsey in the fall of 2018. He said he got his start 20 years ago making rogue art — unauthorized graffiti, but after a few years graduated to street art that required more planning and cooperation with others. He has painted large murals all over the world and gained a reputation as a leader of the street art movement. In recent years, Hitnes’ work has taken a naturalistic turn. His Halsey show is called “The Image Hunter: On the Trail of John James Audubon.” Hitnes spent three months traveling through the eastern half of the United States, following the ornithological trail Audubon forged in 1820-22. He collected bird samples (photographic), make a video documentary and created art along the way. One of the murals he painted was the Charleston turkey vulture. Another was a barn owl at a friend’s residence.
Hitnes said the nature of painted public art — which is clearly divided into two categories, graffiti and street art — has changed significantly in the past 20 years. Graffiti is unauthorized yet relies on strict codes and rules, he said. It’s the same everywhere. Street art is illustrative, comprehensible, often commissioned. With the advent of social media, the availability of digital tools like Photoshop, the emphasis on graphic design and the introduction of moneyed interests, the public art enterprise changed, and along with it the way galleries work, the way street artists are treated and the way art is perceived. “Street art became curated, desirable, more like contemporary art,” he said. Now, one local nonprofit is seeking to become a public art facilitator, not unlike One Columbia. The Charleston Parks Conservancy has been awarded a $50,000 National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant for the purpose of installing artwork along the West Ashley Greenway and Bikeway. Think of it as a pilot program, said Harry Lesesne, executive director of the Parks Conservancy. The organization, now 10 years old, has worked closely with the city to improve its greenspaces. Its last big capital project was the renovation of Colonial Lake. The Parks Conservancy remains dedicated to this kind of work, Lesesne said. “But we felt it was time for us to expand our horizons a bit,” he said. He and his colleagues hope to become standard-bearers for public art, facilitators akin to One Columbia, advocates who argue that engagement with art enhances the park experience and improves quality of life, he said. “It’s kind of a void in our city, so that was something we thought we could catalyze some attention around,” Lesesne said. Half of the NEA grant will be spent on planning, the other half on art. “Number one, we want to incorporate an artist into the master-planning process and have that artist help us with the design,” as well as identifying other artists who might participate, good sites and necessary infrastructure, he said. “Number two is to install pieces of art along the greenway.” The effort should take less than a year, Lesesne said. It is meant “to show people what can be done and that more is coming, both on the bikeway and all over the city.” For example, Lesesne said, one other piece of public art —coming to Hampton Park in the fall — is a sculpture by Joe Dreher of Decatur, Georgia, whose work was featured in Lake City's Artfields this year. Scott Watson, executive director of the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, said his goal is to define a sustainable public art process based on the Parks Conservancy project and other models, such as One Columbia’s. It’s useful, he said, to take into account the recent dustup in Mount Pleasant over a Sergio Odeith mural at Moe’s Southwest Grill that some town officials initially took to be a sign and therefore not allowed. Watson said public art is a good way for communities to express their aspirations and initiate change, especially in areas in need of improvement, such as West Ashley. “Why wouldn’t we want public art to be a crucible for how revitalization can happen?” And not everything needs to be a mural, he added. “We could have light installations, sound installations, an eclipse-related project — if we had a process to get it done,” Watson said. “We (at the Office of Cultural Affairs) would like to help frame out and organize a structure that’s sustainable and scalable. We don’t want it to be arbitrary. At end of the day, it should be something that pushes boundaries.”

SC Humanities invites applications to host Crossroads: Change in Rural America

Eligible host sites include small museums, libraries, historical societies, cultural centers and other community venues in towns of fewer than 20,000 residents. SC Humanities announces a special South Carolina tour of Crossroads: Change in Rural America, an exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution. Developed as part of the Museum on Main Street (MOMS) program, this exhibit is designed especially for small cultural organizations and rural audiences that lack regular access to traveling exhibitions due to space and cost limitations. The exhibit will tour six South Carolina communities from September 2018 – June 2019. Eligible host sites include small museums, libraries, historical societies, cultural centers and other community venues in towns of fewer than 20,000 residents. Applications are due by September 1, 2017. Host sites receive free exhibit rental, a grant to support local community programming, opportunities for professional development, and more. Crossroads: Change in Rural America offers small towns a chance to envision their futures by exploring the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. The exhibition will prompt discussions about what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred. Dr. Randy Akers, executive director of SC Humanities, is pleased to be bringing Crossroads to South Carolina: “SC Humanities is one of the first three states to host this new Smithsonian exhibit, joining Illinois and Florida.  I grew up in a farming village of 600 people in rural Illinois and have seen the devastating changes as small farms collapse, industry moves out, young people move to the city, and schools close. South Carolina is such a rural state, and its numerous small communities have suffered the past decades. Yet there are people, values, and cultural and historical assets that offer hope.  The exhibit and programs which accompany it will challenge us to think about the future. What can we do to bring new life to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in our state? This is a timely and extremely important exhibit addressing one of the most pressing social issues of this century.” Crossroads: Change in Rural America has been made possible in South Carolina by SC Humanities. Crossroads is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress. Find the application online. For more information about Crossroads: Change in Rural America in South Carolina, contact T.J. Wallace at 803-771-2477 or tjwallace@schumanities.org.

Upstate Musicians Registry aims to create database on local performers

From The Greenville News Article by Donna Isbell Walker; photo by Bart Boatwright

The city of Spartanburg is looking to make a name for itself as a music city.

The Downtown Music Trail offers a look at the singers, songwriters and bands that Spartanburg has spawned over the past several decades, and the Downtown Cultural District was launched last fall as a center for entertainment events, art galleries, music venues and more.

Now, Chapman Cultural Center is putting together a registry of musicians with ties to Spartanburg in particular and the Upstate in general.

“Chapman Cultural Center is the main local arts agency here in Spartanburg, so what we’re trying to do is live up to our mission, which is basically to provide cultural leadership, and that includes music,” said Rachel Williams, director of marketing and communications for Chapman Cultural Center. “So we want to be a resource, not only to community organizations, but also the musicians that we serve, to make sure we are identifying them in the community,”

Since Chapman Cultural Center opened up the application process, around 40 musicians have signed up, “and it’s growing daily,” Williams said.

The registry focuses on musicians and bands based in Spartanburg, but performers from other cities in the Upstate may also submit an application to be considered, she said.

One purpose of the registry is so that organizations or individuals looking for a performer of a certain genre, or a recommendation for a local musician or band, can receive a list of recommendations that fit their request.

“It’s about putting musicians to work. That’s our main goal, our No. 1 reason why we want to create the musicians registry,” Williams said. “And then we are getting ready to launch, at the beginning of August, our Downtown Cultural District programming, which will essentially be 12 different gigs for street musicians Wednesday through Saturday in the cultural district here in Spartanburg. And we’ll be doing our own hiring from that registry. And it just kind of streamlines things for us. We just want to make sure we’re including all types of music, and we’re representing all of the music that’s available here in Spartanburg.”

The Downtown Cultural District was launched in November 2016, and one of its goals has been to make sure that downtown Spartanburg has plenty of entertainment events and options.

“The music programming that we’re getting ready to do … was kind of the the jumping-off point. We needed this for our own personal use, but then we realized this could actually be something greater than that. And so it could be a community resource as well.”

Eventually, the registry may be accessible to the public, but in the beginning, someone who is looking for a local musician can contact Chapman Cultural Center to get the info, Williams said.

For more info, go to www.chapmanculturalcenter.org.

Creative Pillars forum coming to Hartsville

“What are some of the pillars needed in a community for a creative professional to have a high quality of life?” That’s the question the South Carolina Arts Alliance is asking at a Creative Pillars forum in Hartsville August 8. The free forum takes place at Black Creek Arts Council from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Beer and wine will be available for purchase. Advance registration is requested and is available on the Arts Alliance’s website, www.scartsalliance.net. The forums, which are open to any creative professional or those with an interest in a creative field, will include group activities meant to identify key amenities that help attract and retain creative professionals and targeted discussions to dive deeper into specific topics. The Arts Alliance is interested in hearing from every kind of creative professional, from the freelance graphic designer to the touring musician to the nonprofit fundraising professional. “We wanted to create a way to gather insight into areas other than pure arts and culture and how they play a role in the quality of life for a creative professional,” said GP McLeer, SCAA’s executive director. “We know that a high value on arts and culture is important, but what about access to healthcare, public safety, recreation, or even trash pick up – where do these kinds of issues lie in the hierarchy for the creative professional? Whether you’re an architect, designer, actor, musician, nonprofit arts manager, or even a board member, this is an important discussion to have as people look for ways to effectively make a difference in their community.” Creative Pillars is also serving as a pilot for a new statewide leadership development program, CreativeSC, being planned by the South Carolina Arts Alliance in partnership with the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the University of South Carolina, and Together SC, with additional partners expected to join in the coming months. The comprehensive program will include networking, workshops/forums, and a selective leadership program. The Arts Alliance is targeting an early fall 2017 launch of CreativeSC. The series is supported by a grant by the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. About the South Carolina Arts Alliance The South Carolina Arts Alliance is the only statewide nonprofit dedicated to advancing the arts for all South Carolinians through advocacy, leadership development, and public awareness. The SCAA is housed at the Younts Center for Performing Arts in Fountain Inn, SC.

Greenwood Performing Arts executive director stepping down; will be teaching art in school

From the Greenwood Index Journal Article and photo by St. Claire Donaghy
After six years at the helm of Greenwood Performing Arts, Cecily Bradford Ferguson is stepping down July 31 to focus efforts fully on her art classroom and teaching.
“If you love what you do, it makes you more motivated to learn new things,” Ferguson said, noting she’s learned a lot in her time with GPA, including how to use small business management software. “I have been really happy to see lots of things happen during my time with GPA that I had as goals for the organization...I think I’m going out on a good note.” A nonprofit, Greenwood Performing Arts celebrated its 70th anniversary this year with a gala. Its mission is to present diverse professional artistic performances that entertain and educate, to enhance area quality of life. Funded in part by donor and sponsor contributions, GPA is also supported through the City of Greenwood, Greenwood County, and the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Fundraising for GPA is key, Ferguson said, noting ticket prices don’t fully cover costs of performances. “Approximately 800 people attended our June antiques show and sale that included vendors from all over,” Ferguson said. “One of my favorite pieces was a blue Andrew Wyeth painting. It was breathtakingly beautiful and, as an art teacher, I really appreciated it. To see the types of things that were there was educational.” Throughout the event, local musicians and vocalists performed. Ferguson said goals met during her six years include:
  • Developing an updated logo and brand, with help from Lander University graphic arts students.
  • Bringing in nationally recognized performers such as Sandi Patty, 2015 Grammy winner Mike Farris, New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, with a full orchestra,
  • and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra with John Driskell Hopkins.
  • Finding space for the organization in Uptown Greenwood’s cultural arts district. GPA’s offices are in the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and its performances are now staged at Greenwood Community Theatre. Previously, they were at Lander University’s Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium.
  • Successfully completing two fundraisers, including an anniversary gala with beloved Greenwood native performers Keith Jameson, Nat Chandler and Ethan Flowe and the recent Antiques Vintage Design Show and Sale during the second week of the South Carolina Festival of Flowers.
Ferguson said she notified GPA board members in May of her decision to resign as executive director. The job opening has been posted and resumes are being accepted. Outgoing GPA board president, Lisa Sanders, said she’s excited for Ferguson to be able to return to the classroom. “Those students are fortunate to be in the hands of a gifted artist,” Sanders said. “I’m really tickled she has said she will stay involved with Greenwood Performing Arts. I look forward to seeing what the future holds. “Cecily just has such a passion for all the arts,” Sanders added. “She was with us from the transition from Lander to the community theater and she brought performers from all over the world to Greenwood. She formed partnerships with different local organizations and collaborated.” Sanders said several people who’ve taken part in GPA fundraisers, namely the antiques show and vintage design sale, have indicated they would like to participate again. “She has been instrumental in bringing the performing arts to a new level in Greenwood,” Sanders said. “It’s exciting to see what the next chapter holds.” Ferguson said her successor doesn’t have to be an artist or performer, but should be someone with a love for the arts and the creative process. Ferguson said it’s also important to know the community. “If you expect the same things that go over well in Greenville to do so here, they might not,” she said. The caliber of entertainment brought to the stage has often also brought “super fans” of some of the acts to Greenwood to see shows, Ferguson said, noting these devoted fans travel from far and wide to follow their favorites on tour. “That happened last season with Melinda Doolittle, an American Idol finalist,” Ferguson said. “People from three different parts of the U.S. attended both her outreach and performance here.” Ferguson said as executive director of an arts-related nonprofit “you quickly learn not to be awestruck” by famous performers. She’s shuttled a Dancing with the Stars performer from the airport and kept watch over a multi-million dollar violin while violinist Ray Chen grabbed a bite to eat, and she received a handwritten thank you note from Sandi Patty. Keeping ticket prices affordable and making art available for everyone, especially children, is important, Ferguson said, noting intergenerational outreach is a key component of the present day GPA. It brings together senior adults and school children, with the performers. “It’s important too that who you put on stage mirrors the demographics of the community,” Ferguson said. “That’s one of the things we’ve been working on. “When we had the Crystal Trio perform this past season, it was really neat to see children and older adults trying to play the group’s specially made glass instruments from Russia,” Ferguson continued. “Some students had a better grip on how to do it and they were showing the seniors. It was neat to see that, and they were all awwsking questions.” In conjunction with GPA, while a sophomore theater major at Lander University, Mary Evan Giles took a master class with Franc D’Ambrosio, an American singer and actor, best known for his role in the stage version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.” “It was really cool to be able to receive feedback from him when we sang for him individually,” Giles, 23, said. “I was completely shocked when he chose me to sing at his (GPA) concert the following night.” Ferguson said everyone who participated in that master class was profoundly impacted. “It was one of the most incredible things I’ve seen,” Ferguson said. “These performers are incredibly hard workers and most are very, very humble. Many take selfies with the entire audience in the background behind them and meet them after the show.” Ferguson, 58, of Abbeville, is a graphic artist who has worked as a teacher in Greenville and Abbeville county school districts. She was assistant principal and on-site supervisor for the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice middle and high school programs at a juvenile facility formerly in Greenwood. For five years, she was principal of McCormick Middle School. She retired from that position in 2009 and returned to the Abbeville school district to teach art at Wright Middle School. She is a married mother to four children, all of whom enjoy the arts, Ferguson said. “I have always loved the education system,” Ferguson said. “I’ve loved it as a teacher and principal both. I’m happy to be able to go back to the classroom full-time, teaching art at Wright Middle School.” For two years now, Ferguson noted she has been teaching in the morning and working for GPA in the afternoons. “It will be nice to have one full-time job,” she said. Ferguson received a bachelor’s degree in studio art and a master’s in education from Furman University. At Furman, she got involved with a social activities board, negotiating contracts with nationally known performers. Ferguson has long been a patron of the arts, attending a variety of performances at different venues and acting in Abbeville Opera House productions. She’s also an accomplished calligrapher. “I love art in all forms and fashions,” Ferguson said. “Every well-rounded individual needs exposure to the arts, both performing and visual arts...There’s merit to all. So much today is seen on a screen. Nothing can compare to live performance.”

Statewide Arts Conference to feature two national keynote speakers

Special anniversary pricing of $50 is valid through July 21. The Statewide Arts Conference will feature two national leaders as keynote speakers: Dr. Jane Chu, (left) Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts, and Elizabeth Merritt, (right) Founding Director, Center for the Future of Museums and Vice President for Strategic Foresight, American Alliance of Museums. Merritt will also lead a session during the conference. The conference kicks off at the S.C. State Museum in Columbia's Vista Cultural District Thursday, September 14 with an evening plenary and a reception for the exhibition Eclipsing 50: The State Art Collection 1967-2017. The conference continues Friday, September 15 with a full day of sessions and museum experiences. A sample of conference sessions:

  • South Carolina's Creative Cluster: A Look at New Data About the Arts and Economic Development
  • Making Your Life as an Artist: A Guide to Building a Balanced, Sustainable Artistic Life
  • Advocacy and NASCAR
  • Recycle & Renew: Hands on Art Making
  • Peering Into the Financial Future - Finding New Strategies for Sustainable Support
  • Moonshot! Exploring the State Art Collection in Eclipsing 50
  • Have Exhibition, Will Travel
The conference also includes customized tours and presentations by State Museum staff members. Take advantage of special anniversary pricing!  Registration is only $50 through July 21. After July 21, registration is $75 per person ($65 per person for two or more participants who register at the same time.) Area hotels are offering special rates  for conference attendees. Find out more and register today! Thank you to Wells Fargo, our Statewide Arts Conference sponsor.

Congratulations to the new S.C. Arts Commission Artist Fellows!

The South Carolina Arts Commission Board has awarded Individual Artist Fellowships to four South Carolina artists in the categories of visual arts, craft, media: production and media: screenwriting. Each artist receives $5,000. This year's fellows:

Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of South Carolina's exceptional individual artists. Fellowship awards are made through a highly competitive, anonymous process and are based on artistic excellence only. The fellowship awards bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and employment opportunities. “A fellowship can be a life-changing experience,” said S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. “Fellows share stories about how the award dollars made a transformative difference and how this validation affected their spirits and their self-perception. South Carolina’s artists are the core of our creative economy and indispensable contributors to quality of life in our communities. A fellowship is one of the best ways that we can say thank you, and we are proud to deliver these tokens of gratitude on behalf of the people of South Carolina.” The S.C. Arts Commission board approves fellowships based on recommendations made by out-of-state review panelists, who select fellows based solely on a review of anonymous work samples. This year's judges for visual and craft were Irwin Pickett, fine art appraiser and co-owner of Heike Pickett Gallery in Versailles, Kentucky; Geno Rodriguez, New York curator, artist and founder of the Alternative Museum; and Clarissa Sligh, artist, lecturer and essayist of Asheville, N.C. Media judges were Sabine Gruffat (production), digital media artist, award-winning filmmaker and associate professor of art at the University of North Carolina; and Joy Goodwin (screenwriting), writer, filmmaker and teacher -- most recently at Elon University. Individual artists working in prose, poetry, acting and playwriting can apply for the FY2019 fellowship awards. Applications open Aug. 7, 2017, and the deadline to apply is Nov. 1, 2017. For more information about S.C. Arts Commission programs and services, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

Florence County Museum launches first 50th Anniversary Fellowship Exhibition

Terry Jarrard-Dimond Terry Jarrard-Dimond The Florence County Museum is the first organization to launch an exhibition of South Carolina Arts Commission Fellows as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration. Evidence, an exhibition of works by veteran South Carolina artist Terry Jarrard-Dimond, is on display June 20 - December 3. Jarrard-Dimond received the S.C. Arts Commission Craft Fellowship Grant in 1987 and is represented by three works in the State Art Collection. The Florence County Museum has a unique relationship to the history of the S.C. Arts Commission. The first president of its board of trustees was E.N. Zeigler, who later became a state senator and the author of the legislation that created the Arts Commission in 1967. The Fellowship Exhibition program was developed to celebrate 50 years of public support for the arts in South Carolina, with emphasis on the achievements of artists who have received the commission’s Visual and Craft Fellowship awards. The exhibition is supported in part by First Citizens. Since 1976, the South Carolina Arts Commission's Fellowship program has recognized the artistic achievements of South Carolina's exceptional individual artists. Fellows are among the most artistically accomplished artists in the state. Find out more about the exhibition. Find out about other 50th Anniversary Fellowship exhibitions.