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2019 S.C. Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Competition and Exhibition winners

Fine craft artists and artisans from across South Carolina were invited to participate in the 18th Annual South Carolina Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Competition & Exhibition, the state’s longest running juried fine craft competition and exhibition. Organized annually by the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department, the show was presented May 1-5 as a component of the 2019 North Charleston Arts Fest. Following an extensive pre-jury process, 53 applicants were asked to participate and 105 entries were submitted in the categories of clay, fiber, metal, glass, wood, and 3D mixed media. Cash awards totaling $6,500 were made at the sole discretion of the juror, Jim Arendt, associate professor of visual arts and gallery director at Coastal Carolina University. "The diverse works on display represent a broad set of styles and themes, but share the common element of being among the best examples of a particular material or discipline. I was excited to be able to see challenging content and exceptional craft throughout the gallery. Even more gratifying is how many artists are working to push traditional models of craft and beauty by exploring difficult techniques and non-traditional materials. Together, these works encompass the finest impulses of artists and craftspeople in command of their disciplines,” Arendt said. After awarding ribbons, Arendt also selected pieces from the show to assemble a South Carolina Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Traveling Exhibition, which will be available to tour the state through the S.C. State Museum’s 2019/2020 Traveling Exhibitions Program. The program gives galleries, museums, and art centers across South Carolina the opportunity to request the exhibit to tour their facilities, thus providing additional exposure for the selected artists. In addition to awards given by the juror, three pieces were selected for City of North Charleston Purchase Awards. These selections will be added to the City of North Charleston’s permanent Public Art Collection, which is on display within North Charleston City Hall throughout most of the year. Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 SC Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Competition & Exhibition:

Best of Show

Kim Keats, Visceral Vessel, mixed media (Okatie) Outstanding Merit
  • Lynn Goldberg, America the Beautiful, fiber (Summerville)
  • Robb Helmkamp, Wailing Box, wood (North Charleston)
City of North Charleston Purchase Awards
  • Lynn Goldberg, America the Beautiful, fiber (Summerville)
  • Dale Fort, Wadmalaw Native, wood (Wadmalaw Island)
  • Rachel Weiss, Inca Royalty Necklace, mixed media (Charleston)
Honorable Mention
  • Tanya Craig, Oblong Platter, glass (North Charleston)
  • Flavia Lovatelli, Cocooned, mixed media, paper (Columbia)
  • Erin Ryan, Turn of the Screw, metal (Conway)
  • Dale Fort, Wadmalaw Native, wood (Wadmalaw Island)
  • Jocelyn Chateauvert, Alight, paper (Charleston)
  • Margaret Weinberg, Snowy Trio, clay (Charleston)
  • Connie Lippert, Undulating Parallelogram, fiber (Seneca)
  • Camela Guevara, Shaker Lids, fiber/mixed media (Charleston)
  • Justin Guy, Clay Menagerie, clay (Edgefield)
  • Tabitha Ott, In Time, mixed media (Cayce)
  • Annie Rhodes Lee, Cementing Our Common Ground, clay (Folly Beach)
  • Fred Prudhomme, Day & Night, clay (North Charleston)
S.C. Palmetto Hands Traveling Exhibition Selections
  • Vernon Bowen, Surface Tension, mixed media (Columbia)
  • Kim Keats, Triskele Totem, mixed media (Okatie)
  • Jacqueline Anderson, Chapter 12, mixed media (North Charleston)
  • Fred Prudhomme, Day & Night, clay (North Charleston)
  • Mary Nicholson, Slice of Life Plate, clay (Johns Island)
  • Tanya Craig, Oblong Platter, glass (North Charleston)
  • Toni Smith, Guidance, metal (Surfside Beach)
  • Kathy Oda, Here Comes the Sun, glass, Lady’s Island)
  • Robb Helmkamp, Wailing Box, wood (North Charleston)
  • Erin Ryan, Turn of the Screw, metal (Conway)
  • Nancy Warren, Oil and Water Harmonics, fiber (Mount Pleasant)
  • Margaret Weinberg, Snowy Trio, clay (Charleston)
  • Arianne King Comer, Norman’s Vision, fiber (North Charleston)
  • Camela Guevara, Shaker Lids, fiber/mixed media (Charleston)
  • Lynn Goldberg, America the Beautiful, fiber (Summerville)
  • Dale Fort, Wadmalaw Native, wood (Wadmalaw Island)

For more information about the South Carolina Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Competition & Exhibition and other exhibition opportunities, contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at 843.740.5854, email culturalarts@northcharleston.org, or visit NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com. Organizations interested in hosting the traveling exhibition should contact the South Carolina State Museum Traveling Exhibits Program at 803.737.4159 or tep@scmuseum.org.

Governor honors Artisphere founder, SCAC board chair

Henry Horowitz receives the Order of the Palmetto

Thursday night at the gala to open the 15th Artisphere, Gov. Henry McMaster honored its founder with the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest civilian honor. Horowitz received the award for his contributions to the state of South Carolina through Artisphere and other statewide arts organizations, according to the Greenville Journal. He is currently chairman of the S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) board of directors. "The South Carolina Arts Commission has known for a long time how much the arts in our state benefit from Henry’s dedicated leadership. He has had significant impact, both in Greenville and throughout the state. His award is well deserved, and we’re very happy for him," SCAC Executive Director Ken May said. Artisphere ran from Friday-Sunday in downtown Greenville. It is a significant point of pride for the Upstate region. The celebration of visual, performing, and culinary arts attracted visitors and artists from around the country as it does every year, making it one of the nation's top 10 arts festivals. (Small South Carolina also boasts Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto in Charleston and ArtFields in Lake City, all nationally-known festivals occurring each April/May). Click here to read the rest of the story.  

Ken May becomes surprise recipient at S.C. Arts Awards

Receives McNair Award from S.C. Arts Foundation

Ken May making keynote address at 2019 S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon As he’d done at nine previous South Carolina Arts Awards ceremonies, Wednesday morning Ken May read the names and brief details of recipients as their awards were handed out—then it was happening to him. May was called to the stage to deliver the keynote address at the luncheon following the public ceremony when Flavia Harton of Greenville, president of the South Carolina Arts Foundation (SCAF), turned the tables. She began describing the Gov. Robert E. McNair Award, which the foundation presents to honor outstanding leaders who have built on the legacy of the award's namesake by working diligently to make South Carolina a place where the arts thrive for the benefit of all South Carolinians. “That sounds like a description of Ken May, and that’s why it is my privilege on behalf of the South Carolina Arts Foundation to present the seventh Robert E. McNair Award to Ken,” Harton said, after she and S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) Board Chairman Henry Horowitz alternated extolling May’s leadership on the national and regional levels, advocacy, and "for leading the agency through turbulent times to flourish afterward." May, visibly moved by the presentation, expressed his gratitude and launched into a "state of the arts" keynote address. Gov. McNair was the first recipient of his namesake award when it was created in 2007 and awarded to him posthumously. Subsequent recipients include Gov. Richard Riley (2010), former State Sen. Wes Hayes (2015), and erstwhile Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley (2017) from the political field and Susie Surkamer (2011), previous executive director of the SCAC, and Patrick VanHuss (2013) who served in leadership roles for the SCAC and SCAF boards of directors. In January, May announced that he will retire from the SCAC after nine years as its executive director and 33 years in total. A search committee is currently reviewing applicants to be the next executive director.
Image by Lee Ann Kornegay

S.C. Arts Awards: Dale Rosengarten

2019 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is taking 15 days to focus on this year's recipients: nine receiving the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and five receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at UofSC. In between the two groups, we'll run a special feature on S.C. Arts Awards sponsor Colonial Life.

Dale Rosengarten, Ph. D.

Advocacy – African-American Lowcountry Basketry & Southern Jewish Heritage Dale Rosengarten has been researching the African American tradition of coiled basketry for more than thirty years. In 1984, McKissick Museum hired her to interview basket makers in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, purchase baskets, and curate an exhibition about the iconic Lowcountry craft. Rosengarten spent the next two years conducting fieldwork with basket makers and pursuing archival research on the evolution of the basket from a humble agricultural tool to a world renown art form. Her work resulted in the exhibition Row Upon Row: Sea Grass Baskets of the South Carolina Lowcountry, which traveled for two decades across the United States and introduced thousands of people to this important tradition. In 1988, Rosengarten helped coordinate a conference on sweetgrass basketry at The Charleston Museum. The gathering marked a turning point in the relationship among public officials, land managers, and basket sewers. Participants addressed the challenges facing the makers and reached consensus about the need to ensure access to sweetgrass and protect the basket stands along Highway 17 from rampant development. The Sweetgrass Conference also created alliances with property owners willing to allow basket makers to gather grass on private land and inspired several horticultural projects aimed at cultivating the plant. Rosengarten’s doctoral dissertation (Harvard University, 1997) placed the Lowcountry basket in a global setting and led to a partnership with the Museum for African Art in New York. With co-curator Enid Schildkrout, she developed the exhibition and book Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art, highlighting the connection between African and Lowcountry baskets and their use in rice production on both continents. The exhibit opened at Charleston’s Gibbes Museum of Art in 2008—where scores of basket makers and their families attended the inaugural gala, and ended its coast-to-coast tour in 2010 with a six-month run at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C. Grass Roots generated a number of educational tools, including a documentary film and a curricular guide, casting basket makers as tradition bearers and teachers. The exhibit catalog remains the comprehensive resource on the African roots of the Lowcountry basket but has not eclipsed Row Upon Row, which still sells steadily. Rosengarten continues to study, support, and promote Lowcountry baskets and their makers. Her knowledge and connections to the basket making community have benefitted cultural institutions across the country, including the Smithsonian, the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, and diverse museums seeking to mount exhibits or to build their permanent collections. A researcher and advocate, Rosengarten has authored numerous articles and book chapters and presented dozens of slide lectures on sweetgrass baskets and their history. One constant has been her spirit of volunteerism—her unflagging willingness to assist artists and arts organizations, basket enthusiasts and collectors, writers and film makers, and her desire to give people opportunities to tell their own stories. Since 1995, Rosengarten has also pursued a second scholarly interest: Jewish history and culture in the American South. Working as a curator in Special Collections at the College of Charleston, she has traversed the state recording oral histories (now numbering upwards of 500) and gathering archival materials that document South Carolina’s Jewish heritage. Again in partnership with McKissick Museum, she developed a landmark exhibition and book called A Portion of the People: Three Hundred Years of Southern Jewish Life. After opening in Columbia, South Carolina, in 2002, the exhibit traveled for two years, spending six months at Yeshiva University Museum, where New Yorkers marveled at the longevity and abundance of southern Jewry. More recently, for Princeton University Art Museum, Rosengarten co-curated By Dawn’s Early Light: Jewish Contributions to American Culture from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War, which had an unexpected second life at the New-York Historical Society under the title The First Jewish Americans. For the catalog Rosengarten contributed an essay on Charleston-born artists Theodore Sidney Moïse and Solomon Nunes Carvalho. She currently serves as editor of the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina’s bi-annual magazine and as associate director of the College’s Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture.
South Carolina Arts Awards Day is Wednesday, May 1, 2019. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a reception that leads up to the awards ceremony at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). The event is free and open to the public. Following the ceremony, the South Carolina Arts Foundation honors the recipients and the arts community at the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon and Art Sale. Tickets are $50. Please go here for more information and reservations.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

S.C. Arts Awards: Voices of Gullah Singers

2019 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is taking 15 days to focus on this year's recipients: nine receiving the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and five receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at UofSC. In between the two groups, we'll run a special feature on S.C. Arts Awards sponsor Colonial Life.

The Voices of Gullah Singers

Gullah Singing The Voices of Gullah Singers—Gracie Gadson and Rosa and Joseph Murray—have performed as an ensemble for five years. Each of these singers has a long and distinguished performing career.
  • Gracie “Minnie” Gadson (right) first learned Gullah songs from her grandmother Queen Singleton, who was a member of the Hopes and John Fripp Praise Houses on St. Helena Island. These praise houses were maintained by Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Gracie has been a member since 1968. In the 1970s and 1980s, Gadson sang with local groups the Soul Survivors and the Praise House Shouters. Her early exposure to the old spirituals and experience singing in performing groups has resulted in a large repertoire of songs, including the shouting song “Adam in the Garden Pickun’ Up Leaves” and the mournful song “Remember Me, Lord,” which date back to the mid-19th century.
  • Rosa Mae Chisolm Murray (center) is one of the few living islanders who attended the famed Penn School. Murray gained early exposure to Gullah songs as a member of the Mary Jenkins Praise House, which still holds Sunday evening services on the island. She later joined the group Gospel Four and the Adam’s Street Gospel Singers in the 1980s. These groups sang gospel songs but also performed reenactments of the slave songs first recorded on St. Helena Island. Murray continues to sing songs such as “Till We Meet Again” and the haunting “Lord Do Something for Me” at festivals on the island. Murray first joined Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1952 and continues to serve as president of the Senior and Adult Choir, thus ensuring the survival of the Gullah spiritual tradition.
  • Joseph Murray’s (left) first experiences with Gullah songs came as he watched his mother Helen Murray dance the ring shout at the praise house in Big Estate, South Carolina. He later sang for many decades with choirs in Huspah Baptist Church in Beaufort. Murray currently serves as a deacon in Ebenezer Baptist Church, one of the few churches on St. Helena Island where the congregation still sings the old Gullah songs. Visitors to Penn Center’s annual Heritage Days Festival are often directed to Ebenezer during the prayer meeting services to hear the old slave songs. Murray’s extensive knowledge of Gullah songs and language has been a critical part of maintaining the tradition within the church.
As the Voices of Gullah Singers Gadson and the Murrays have performed at many events including Heritage Days, The Original Gullah Festival, and local praise house services. Voices of Gullah Singers also features 2018 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipient Deacon James Garfield Smalls. The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina has presented the trio to seven schools in Beaufort and Jasper Counties as part of their program, Reach: A Gullah Musical Journey. The singers truly enjoy singing for students and teaching the next generation their rich legacy of Gullah-Geechee spirituals.
South Carolina Arts Awards Day is Wednesday, May 1, 2019. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a reception that leads up to the awards ceremony at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). The event is free and open to the public. Following the ceremony, the South Carolina Arts Foundation honors the recipients and the arts community at the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon and Art Sale. Tickets are $50. Please go here for more information and reservations.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

Madden ‘beyond excited’ by new laureate fellowship

Academy of American Poets further validates Ed Madden

He's Columbia's poet laureate (since 2015) and he is a previous S.C. Arts Commission fellow for prose (2010). He is further expanding his influence with a new accolade.
Ed Madden Photo by Forrest Clonts Ed Madden was just awarded the Academy of America Poets Laureate Fellowship along with 12 other poets laureate of states, cities, and counties across the U.S. receiving a combined, historic $1 million in recognition of their literary merit and to support civic programs, which will take place over the next 12 months.  (See news release here.) “Poets have an important role in our culture and in communities all across the country. By supporting Poets Laureate at the state and local level, we hope to ensure that more people become acquainted with poets and poetry where they live and have an opportunity to benefit from innovative and groundbreaking programming close to home,” said Michael Jacobs, Chairman of the Academy of American Poets. These new fellowships are made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and, in total, are believed to be the largest awards provided to poets in the U.S. at any one time by a charitable organization. They are also in keeping with this spring’s national poetry programming theme of Poetry & Democracy offered by the Poetry Coalition, an alliance of more than 20 organizations working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Columbia's Free Times has an interview with Madden, who already has plans to put the $50,000 he received to use in Columbia. According to Free Times, they will fit in with his "other initiatives have put poetry on Main Street banners and coffee sleeves. On April Fool’s Day 2017, random cars were tagged with fake parking tickets, no doubt baffling drivers who found on not an official summons but a few lines of verse. Last year, little free poetry boxes — similar to little free library kiosks — sprang up in yards throughout the city. There’s also been 'rain poetry,' where short local poems, stenciled onto sidewalks with hydrophobic paint, magically appear when it rains."

S.C. Arts Awards: Julian A. Prosser

2019 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is taking 15 days to focus on this year's recipients: nine receiving the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and five receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at UofSC. In between the two groups, we'll run a special feature on S.C. Arts Awards sponsor Colonial Life.

Julian A. Prosser

Bluegrass Music Julian A. Prosser was born in the small farming community of Hanna, South Carolina. One of four brothers, Prosser worked on the family farm. Growing up, he loved the sound of music played by his grandfather and uncles. When he was 11, Prosser earned the money to buy his first guitar. “Hillbilly” or bluegrass music was popular in South Carolina at that time. Prosser became a strong musician and entertainer with his own unique style. His guitar playing was clean, with an almost jazzy quality, which added to the hard driving sound of bluegrass. He would later apply that technique to his mandolin playing. By 1938, Prosser and several of his friends had put together The Carolina Hillbillies. The band played regularly on the radio in Florence. With the onset of World War II, the band broke up as its members joined the military. Prosser served in the U.S. Navy, driving a landing craft—or Higgins boat—at both Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Several of his bandmates gave their all in the war, and The Carolina Hillbillies never reformed. After the war, Prosser returned to the farm but soon took his father’s advice and moved to Columbia to earn a degree. Prosser played music occasionally, but when his son David and friend Donald Ashley became interested in learning to play Bluegrass, he was encouraged to play more often and share his knowledge and love of the music. In 1978, they formed The Carolina Rebels bluegrass band and they have been playing ever since. The Rebels crafted a unique sound that combined the early traditional Bluegrass familiar to Prosser with more modern sounds. By the 1980s they were playing throughout the region and had gained a following at the University of South Carolina, The State Museum, Riverbanks Zoo and along the Southern bluegrass circuit. Their USofC connection led to performances for the Conference of Caribbean Nations, and for such notables as the former Prime Minister of Australia, Malcom Frazier, and former Vice President George H.W. Bush. Prosser served as the band manager and guided the direction and sound of the group. His high tenor vocals and talent on the mandolin provided a hard-driving edge that set the band apart. The Rebels are known for their entertaining stage presence, in which Hank is the straight man for jokes. The most stalwart band member, Hank has missed only five shows in almost 35 years. The Rebels have performed far and wide, from Texas to Nebraska, New York and Canada. They have shared the stage with Bluegrass legends Chubby Wise and Carl Story. Over the years, Prosser has mentored many younger local musicians, including fellow Jean Laney Harris Award recipients Ashley Carder, Chris Boutwell, and Larry Klein. Prosser continued to travel with the band until an accident at age 91 prevented him from standing for long periods of time. He remains a passionate advocate for bluegrass music and is recognized as both a pioneer and master of his craft by many local bluegrass performers. At 93, Prosser continues to be a driving force, keeping local bluegrass alive and well in the Palmetto State.
South Carolina Arts Awards Day is Wednesday, May 1, 2019. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a reception that leads up to the awards ceremony at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). The event is free and open to the public. Following the ceremony, the South Carolina Arts Foundation honors the recipients and the arts community at the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon and Art Sale. Tickets are $50. Please go here for more information and reservations.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

S.C. Arts Awards: Dorothy Brown Glover

2019 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is taking 15 days to focus on this year's recipients: nine receiving the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and five receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at UofSC. In between the two groups, we'll run a special feature on S.C. Arts Awards sponsor Colonial Life.

Dorothy Brown Glover

Quilting Dorothy Glover is well-known for her distinctive use of traditional quilt design elements and patterns from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in 1925, she was the child of farmers Essie and William Glover creates exquisite quilt tops incorporating improvisational design methods that were popular among quilters whose social and economic status did not allow for the purchase of store-bought fabric for use in quilt making. Like most farm girls of her time, Glover was introduced to quilting by watching her mother make the quilts beneath which she slept as a child. These family treasures were created from strips and blocks of fabric salvaged from various articles of family clothing that were worn out and no longer wearable. The quilt backings were made from feed sacks and other pieces of old cloth from around the household. As a young adult, Glover took up the tradition and in time, through her patient and persistent devotion, she became a master of the art form. After marrying, Glover and her husband, Curtis, made their home in Lincolnville, where they raised their children. Continuing the family tradition, all three children slept each night beneath the quilts made by their talented mother. Lincolnville Town Hall, across the street from Glovers’ home, became an important artistic oasis. It was there that Ms. Glover embraced a community of women who organized an ongoing quilting bee, via which they shared an infinitude of creative ideas and tales of town history. This unique quilting bee, among other significant achievements, pieced together a group quilt to provide an historical timeline of Lincolnville—a place that had been founded by freed African-Americans following the Civil War. The women’s powerful history quilt paid homage to the days of the Reconstruction era, when Lincolnville became a haven to which formerly enslaved families came for a better life and community support. This special bee came, in time, to capture the hearts (and hands!) of many of the women of Lincolnville. For decades, Glover has inspired countless quilters, young and old, to join her in her artistic journey. Glover’s quilt reputation does not stop at Lincolnville. Quilters from throughout the state come to seek out her impressive quilting knowledge. Interested quilters watch her work painstakingly on intricate patterns like the “The Cathedral Window,” a quilt design known for the artist’s use of “invisible hand” applique stitches and precision piecing. Glover gracefully transforms thoughts and visions onto fabric and encourages other quilters, regardless of skill level, to experiment with patterns, colors, and designs. She generously shares her knowledge with all who want to learn and makes herself available to younger artists who seek out her experience and guidance.
South Carolina Arts Awards Day is Wednesday, May 1, 2019. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a reception that leads up to the awards ceremony at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). The event is free and open to the public. Following the ceremony, the South Carolina Arts Foundation honors the recipients and the arts community at the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon and Art Sale. Tickets are $50. Please go here for more information and reservations.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

S.C. Arts Awards: Andy Brooks

2019 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is taking 15 days to focus on this year's recipients: nine receiving the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and five receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at UofSC. In between the two groups, we'll run a special feature on S.C. Arts Awards sponsor Colonial Life.

John Andrew "Andy" Brooks

Old-Time Music Andy Brooks first plucked the strings of a banjo when he was four years old. He fondly remembers holding his great uncle Sammy Lee Stephens’ banjo at the home of his great grandmother, on the Alice Mill Hill in Easley. Stephens taught Brooks everything he knew on the banjo and lent him his fiddle to try. Stephens’ enthusiasm motivated Brooks to keep practicing. Brooks’ musical journey is inspired by multiple traditions, yielding a collection of hundreds of tunes that he knows and plays by heart. Early on, Stephens taught him tunes like “Under the Double Eagle,” from the textile mill brass band tradition. Brooks discovered the music of Pete and Mike Seeger, and by 17 was fascinated by the flashy performances of bluegrass pioneers Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt. Brooks’ love of the fiddle led him far and wide, seeking out albums, festivals and fiddlers to expand his repertoire and learn a variety of styles. When he heard Roger Howell play old-time fiddle at the 1991 Galax, Virginia Fiddler’s Convention, he felt he had found the real sound of Southern music. Other influences include Al Osteen of 5th String Bluegrass Band and Bill Lowe of Cripple Creek. Old-time music combines diverse cultural sources. The fiddle and the banjo—which is African in origin—were popular instruments among traveling musicians. Immigrants from the British Isles brought their musical traditions to the U.S. and melded them with those of enslaved Africans. Melodies of immigrant tunes fused with the driving rhythms of African music. Old-time music encompasses both secular and sacred songs. In South Carolina’s Upstate region, the sounds of textile mill weave rooms shared the rhythm of many old-time songs played on the mill hills. Brooks’ dedication and talent has earned him recognition, including winning the 2016 South Carolina State Fiddle Championship at Hagood Mill in Pickens, where he also placed second in banjo. He also accompanied fellow musician John Thomas Fowler at the SC State House when Fowler received the 2013 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award and played with The Carolina Relics at the Carolina Music Museum at the 2018 Heritage Green Music Festival in Greenville. A tireless old-time music ambassador, Brooks strives to keep old-time music dynamic and relevant. To him, old-time music is a community-based, rather than performance-based, tradition, in which everyone contributes to the music by dancing, playing or singing. Brooks plays for dances and hosts jams where musicians of different skill levels and repertoires share and learn from one another. In 2016, Brooks co-founded the Old Keowee Contra Dance to benefit the Oconee Heritage Center’s music program. An avid educator, Brooks has taught in the Young Appalachian Musicians After School Program and the Oconee Heritage Center in Walhalla. This summer, he will teach Appalachian banjo at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. When he plays for dances, he encourages students to join him onstage, and is always eager to talk about their musical ambitions. Brooks and his students often play at nursing homes, churches, and charity events. Passionate about sharing his knowledge of the history, songs, and spirit of old-time music, Brooks is keeping the tradition alive.
South Carolina Arts Awards Day is Wednesday, May 1, 2019. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a reception that leads up to the awards ceremony at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). The event is free and open to the public. Following the ceremony, the South Carolina Arts Foundation honors the recipients and the arts community at the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon and Art Sale. Tickets are $50. Please go here for more information and reservations.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

Guest Post

S.C. Arts Awards: Colonial Life

2019 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is taking 15 days to focus on this year's recipients: nine receiving the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and five receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at UofSC. In between the two groups, we'll run a special feature on S.C. Arts Awards sponsor Colonial Life.

Colonial Life

Lead Sponsor The S.C. Arts Commission 50th anniversary umbrellas traveling exhibition on display in the Atrium at Colonial Life headquarters.
When you think of an unwavering commitment to enhancing our community, especially through the arts and arts education, Colonial Life is one of the first companies to come to mind. Strong Schools Grant recipient John Rogers at Cyril B. Busbee Creative Arts Academy in Lexington School District 2. For 80 years, Colonial Life has been providing financial protection to customers and their families during difficult times in their lives to help protect the things they value most. This commitment extends to the community where our employees live and work. Colonial Life believes in giving back to the community and providing opportunities for employees to do the same. We do this through corporate giving, a charitable matching-gifts program, and thousands of volunteer hours. Employees and company leaders work together with community organizations that strive to improve the quality of life for citizens through education, health and well-being and the arts. Colonial Life’s commitment to supporting the arts extends to a variety of audiences and celebrates many cultures as diverse as its neighbors. We believe that a truly vibrant community includes engaging outlets and opportunities for cultural education. We understand for a community to reap the benefits of these institutions, we need to provide opportunities for students and educators to use these places to connect classroom curriculum with real-world experience. Here are a few of the ways Colonial Life supports the arts:
  • Educational outreach with the Columbia City Ballet
  • Professional development for educators at the Columbia Museum of Art
  • Sponsorship of the Youth Theatre at Town Theatre
  • Teacher Appreciation Nights with Second Shift Twosdays at the S.C. State Museum
  • Sponsorship of Link Up concerts with the S.C. Philharmonic
  • Strong Schools Grants program for educators that supports arts education initiatives
  • Arts education sponsorship through the Lexington County Arts Association
  • Underwriting of arts events and exhibits
In addition to these outreach efforts, Colonial Life is honored to feature an Art/Work gallery, in our newly renovated Columbia headquarters, showcasing original pieces produced by artists from across South Carolina. These creations enable members of our extended community to share their stories with our employees and guests. Colonial Life is proud to partner with the South Carolina Arts Foundation as the presenting sponsor of the 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards. We congratulate the Palmetto State’s outstanding award recipients and commend them on demonstrating excellence in the arts in South Carolina.
South Carolina Arts Awards Day is Wednesday, May 1, 2019. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a reception that leads up to the awards ceremony at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). The event is free and open to the public. Following the ceremony, the South Carolina Arts Foundation honors the recipients and the arts community at the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon and Art Sale. Tickets are $50. Please go here for more information and reservations.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.