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S.C. Arts Awards: Florence County Museum

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 groups, we'll run a special feature on S.C. Arts Awards sponsor Colonial Life.


Florence County Museum

Government Category

The mission of the Florence County Museum is to provide a dynamic sanctuary for the preservation, interpretation and exhibition of objects of scientific, historic, and artistic significance that are unique or of special interest to the people of Florence County and the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.

The vision of the Florence County Museum is to stimulate imaginations and create experiences that transform lives by broadening people’s perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and the world.

Florence County Museum (FCM) reflects the region’s rich artistic, cultural and historic heritage. Through a dynamic range of exhibitions, studios, lectures and family programming, FCM provides an engaging educational experience to visitors of all ages.

The museum’s permanent collection currently includes more than fifty combined works by celebrated 20th century African American artist and Florence native, William H. Johnson and his wife Holcha Krake. This extensive collection includes watercolors, works on paper, oils, textiles and drawings.

It is also of note that FCM is home to The Wright Collection of Southern Art, a prestigious volume of over 140 works representing some of the finest in 20th century Southern art. This collection boasts works by Thomas Hart Benton, Alfred Hutty, Helen Hyde, Alice Huger Smith, Anna Heyward Taylor, Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, Palmer Schoppe, Mary Whyte, and Stephen Scott Young.

FCM is equally committed to providing a platform for contemporary artists as the host of the Pee Dee Regional Art Competition, South Carolina’s oldest juried art competition. The Pee Dee Regional Art Competition has been showcasing the best in southern contemporary art since 1954.

Highlights of a robust local history collection include: Cretaceous period reptile material, an 18 ft. tall Ancient Bald Cypress trunk sub-fossil, Native American and Colonial-period artifacts, Civil War artifacts from the Florence Stockade prison camp and Confederate Naval Yard at Mars Bluff, artifacts related to the life and career of former FBI agent and Florence County native Melvin Purvis, and fragments of the MK-6 atomic bomb that was accidentally dropped on the Mars Bluff community in 1958.

Visit FloCoMuseum.org to learn more.


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.

Submitted material

Meade Agency in production for new ArtFields documentary

Meade Agency Professional Video Production of Charleston and Florence, in partnership with the Darla Moore Foundation, is pleased to announce the launch of production for "ArtFields: The Documentary."  This 53-minute motion picture film will highlight the ArtFields competition and the town of Lake City. The film is set to release in the summer of 2020.


"ArtFields: The Documentary" will capture the story of the revitalization of Lake City through esteemed businesswoman Darla Moore’s visionary efforts coupled with the power of art and community. “We have been a part of the ArtFields team for over five years now,” says Kris Meade, CEO of Meade Agency. “It has been incredible to watch the festival grow, but even more importantly, to watch Lake City’s transformation through the vision of Darla Moore and the Darla Moore Foundation. We are honored to have the opportunity to share this movement through film, and our hope is that it will inspire other communities to follow suit and bring restoration and revitalization to their towns and cities through art.” “The Darla Moore Foundation is excited to partner with Meade Agency to produce a documentary on the positive changes taking place in Lake City, ArtFields and our cultural movement,” says Dr. Marion Fowler, CEO and president of the Darla Moore Foundation. “We have worked with Kris Meade and his team for many years. Their video work product is outstanding. Once Lake City won the USA Today Award for #1 Small Town Cultural Scene in May of 2018, we realized we needed to document our efforts for historical purposes. We also wanted to share the Lake City and ArtFields story in hopes that we could be an inspiration to other small towns. We believe that Lake City’s future is bright.”
ArtFields is an annual nine-day art competition and exhibition in Lake City that awards more than $140,000 in cash prizes to artists from across the Southeast. ArtFields is the flagship art event in a town where an abundance of high-quality art is on view all year long. Aside from growing a collection of public art, the city has several exhibitions running at all times in professional art spaces such as Jones-Carter gallery and TRAX Visual Art Center. New art venues, including a sculpture garden, are on the horizon. This year’s ArtFields competition will be held  April 26-May 4, 2019. “This is going to be a powerful documentary,” says Meade. “We believe that once this story is told, the ripple-effect of ArtFields is going to be felt across the nation.” For more information about ArtFields, visit www.ArtFieldsSC.org. To reach the Meade Agency, visit www.MeadeAgency.cc or call 843.206.3871.

Tuning Up: HBCU artists + Florence arts grants + go for Baroque

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...


Twiggs curates TJC Gallery exhibition on HBCU artists. The recipient of virtually every major arts award South Carolina offers is back in the spotlight with a new exhibition in Spartanburg that coincides quite nicely with Black History Month. “Elevation from Within: The Study of Art at Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” opens tomorrow and runs through May 10. Admission varies; More info here. Grant opportunity for Florence County artists and arts organizations. From the Florence Regional Arts Alliance: apply now for grants from the FRAA's Quarterly Grants Program for Organizations & Individual Artists. It's designed to provide support for a wide variety of quality arts projects, as well as for professional development opportunities for artists and arts administrators. Organizations must be based in Florence County with a Florence County mailing address and be registered charitable organizations with federal non-profit status. Individual artists must be practicing artists in dance, literature, music, theatre or the visual arts and have a Florence County mailing address. Individual artists must be over the age of 18 at the time of application. Application deadline is May 15. Go for Baroque. (It's obligatory, and we're not sorry. - Ed.) And we're back in Spartanburg as Wofford College celebrates the visual art and music of the European Baroque period of the 17th and 18th centuries with a special exhibition, a concert of music from the period and presentations about the exhibit. (Story from GoUpstate.com) And finally... Columbia TV station WLTX looked at the arts in South Carolina with three #SCArtists during a Facebook Live event last night.

Submitted material

Calling South Carolina student artists!

Submission deadline: Friday, Feb. 15, 2019


From now through February 15, 2019 Lake City’s ArtFields Jr. is accepting art submissions from South Carolina student-artists in grades 1-12 who are 18 years old or younger. Submissions are free and over $5,000 is up for grabs in prize money, with individual prizes ranging from $250 for lower elementary students, and up to $500 for first prize high schoolers. Besides the monetary awards up for grabs in four grade categories, selected ArtFields Jr. artists will have their work on display during ArtFields for the thousands of visitors who travel to the event each year and will have the opportunity to win student choice awards voted by fellow students. Each submission will be submitted online through the ArtFields Jr. ArtBooth submission platform. The submission process will include a consent form. If you are a teacher or parent assisting multiple students with submitting artwork, please note that the same email address cannot be used for multiple applications. Each application requires an individual student’s or parent’s email address. ArtFields Jr. will use provided emails for all communications. Artwork will be judged based on the following criteria:
  • Creativity and originality
  • Quality of composition and overall design
  • Technical ability
  • Overall impression of the art. What is the effect of the artwork in general and as a whole? Does the artwork stand on its own as a complete and outstanding work of art?
  • Artist Statement
[caption id="attachment_34666" align="aligncenter" width="563"] The world-famous Hub Calls for Art Megaphone.[/caption]

Tuning Up: History and art at Florence park + Wando band update

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...


We hope you paused to reflect during the weekend and/or yesterday's holiday. While Veterans Day comes but once a year, a park in Florence combines history with art to honor them year-round. Yesterday it added a monument to the Korean War to its six-and-a-half-acre expanse. The park features sculptures and, for history buffs, artifacts such as a 280-pound chunk of limestone taken from the rubble of the Pentagon's eastern facade and the bell from the USS South Carolina, which served during WWI. Last week we brought you the story of the Wando High school marching band's quest for glory at a national competition in Indianapolis. Writer Karen McDonough followed up with The Hub and reported that the band advanced to the 2018 Grand National finals on Saturday and finished sixth in the nation, a first for a South Carolina band. Congratulations!

Win $50,000: ArtFields 2019 now taking submissions

Up to 400 artists to be invited to exhibit during ArtFields 2019 in Lake City

Submission deadline: Nov. 5, 2018 In southern Florence County there sits a small town that's a big player in the southeastern U.S. arts scene, serving as host of one of a major regional arts festival every spring. And you, #SCartists, could be invited to exhibit in Lake City next year and compete for the $50,000 ArtFields 2019 grand prize.

What's New

If selected, you and your artwork will be in one of the Southeast’s major art events, a nine-day April-May, 2019, affair in Lake City, S.C. Your work will be among up to 400 exhibited throughout our downtown in galleries, warehouses, restaurants, shops and other venues. Thousands of people will see it, including art curators, critics and other art professionals and news media of all sorts from all over the place. And then there are the collectors, of course. (Please look at the rules and prize information before you submit.)

For ArtFields 2019, there are new state awards and they revamped existing prizes. And campaigning for the People’s Choice Awards is banned. Furthermore, there's a new submission platform, ArtBooth, that's made specifically for ArtFields. You can read all about that on the prizes and rules page of ArtFieldsSC.org.


Michaela Pilar BrownPrizes

  • Grand Prize: $50,000
  • Second Place Prize: $25,000
  • People's Choice (Two-Dimensional): $12,500
  • People's Chouce (Three-Dimensional): $12,500
  • Merit Prizes (10): $2,000 (now a "best-of-the-rest," 3-12 ranking)
  • Category Prizes (8): $1,500 (now including textile art)
  • State Awards (12): $1,000 (one state winner for each state included in ArtFields)
The 2018 winner of the grand prize, Michaela Pilar Brown, is a South Carolina artist who is no stranger to the S.C. Arts Commission: she received an Artists Ventures Initiative grant in 2014 to help her start an arts-based business.  

Time to make hay

The first weekend in June is just days away, and that means it’s time for another arts festival in South Carolina. More low-key than its larger brethren, the Ag + Art Tour (Ag and Art Tour) continues to grow and in 2018 is spread throughout 12 counties. Ag + Art Tour is a free, self-guided tour of designated farms in South Carolina featuring local artisans and farmer's markets.  During this tour you will have the opportunity to see first-hand where your food comes from, watch artists in action and purchase their works, dance to the melodies of bluegrass and folksongs, and learn more about rural life. It’s the largest free farm and art tour in the nation with more 30,000 visitors participating since it began in 2012. And it’s ready to, ahem, make hay for the next four weekends in the counties of:

  1. Chesterfield County (June 2-3)
  2. Darlington County
  3. Florence County
  4. Horry County
  5. Kershaw County
  6. Chester County (June 9-10)
  7. Lancaster County
  8. York County
  9. Fairfield County (June 16-17)
  10. Newberry County (June 23-24)
  11. Union County
  12. Spartanburg County
2018 Tour Times
  • Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sundays 1-5 p.m.
Once again, yes, admission is free, but there will likely be a charge to purchase food, beverages and a farmer’s and/or artisan’s products. Some activities may also have a cost. Head to the Ag + Art Tour website to begin plotting the course that works for you. (And do them a solid: don’t forget to use the hashtag #agandarttour in your social media posts.)

Florence’s Sensational Brown Brothers have been together 54 years

From SCnow.com:
[caption id="attachment_16768" align="alignright" width="248"]Sensational Brown Brothers From left, Norris Brown, Brandon Brown, Lincolnville Mayor Charles Duberry, George Brown and Billy Brown[/caption] FLORENCE, S.C. – Since the 1960s, the Sensational Brown Brothers of the Savannah Grove area in Florence have been ministering all over the nation through gospel music . Singing did not begin as a choice for the nine brothers. It was a must and something their elders insisted they do.
“We all came from the farm, and it started off with singing for Easter,” said George Brown, one of the brothers in the group. “And from that, to a nickel to a dime, we performed in front of family.”
Billy Brown, another of the five remaining brothers, said they performed once a week for their grandparents while they were still children.
The Sensational Brown Brothers came together as a group in 1960 in Washington. Until then, the brothers sang in different groups.
“At that time, there were nine brothers,” Billy Brown said . “They were singing mostly around Washington, D.C. in the Maryland-Virginia area. Some traveled from there to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and they sang there during that time until 1974.”
In 1970, the group started recording music, Billy Brown said. Around 1974, the brothers moved home to Florence.
“We’ve probably recorded better than 100 songs over the 54 years we’ve been singing,” George Brown said . “We’ve recorded back when there were LPs and 45s, and the 8-track tapes. From there , we had cassettes, and we did videos.”
George Brown said the first national label the group signed with was Malaco Records out of Jackson, Miss. Since then, they have worked with other Southern record labels.
Life experiences are the inspiration behind most of the group’s music.
Over the years, the brothers have worked with notable groups and artists such as the Dixie Hummingbirds, James Cleveland, the Mighty Clouds of Joy and Shirley Caesar.
“You name it, we’ve been there with them,” Billy Brown said. “We did tours in California, all over the East Coast, Milwaukee and St. Louis.”
Billy Brown said the group has recorded music that people have labeled as hits such as “Jacob’s Ladder,” “I tried Jesus,” and “When the Roll is Called.”
George Brown said the group tried to tour only on the East Coast, but sometimes they had to go out west.
“One time we went out there, it was about three or four weeks before we got back home,” George Brown said. “We’ve all gotten old now. We don’t do that anymore.”
Due to age, George Brown said the group tries to work only on weekends now. However, years ago, they would work anytime, and the nine brothers did all of the driving, played all of the music and were responsible for setups for their performances.
They have performed in auditoriums, civic centers, schools, outside venues and churches.
George Brown said he remembers when the group would travel during the ’ 70s and was not able to stay in certain places.
“We had to find places to stay, because we weren’t welcomed in lots of places like Alabama and Georgia,” he said. “We had to make some adjustments to how we would operate during that time.”
He also recalls a time when the group had to sleep at a rest area, because they could not get gas from a certain gas station in order to finish their trip.
“We didn’t have enough gas to go all night, so we had to spend the night in the rest area so we could wait until the regular gas stations opened up during the day. But things have really changed.”
He said it is a blessing that things have changed some.
Age has changed the group.
“We got old, and we started hiring people to do things that we aren’t able to do now,” George Brown said. “We have a six-member band.”
In addition to adding a band, the Sensational Brown Brothers have added other members to sing with them. The brother’s cousin Cleveland Williams now performs with them, as well as Brandon Brown, a freshman at West Florence High School. They also have a road manager now, and a bus driver who takes the group from place to place.
On the second Thursday of every month, the group performs for the residents at Commander’s Nursing Center in Florence.
“And they will be waiting for us to walk through the door,” Billy Brown said. “And I think it does us more good than it does them, because I look around at those fellows singing without any music. Water be coming out of their eyes.”
Billy Brown said it is joyful to see the residents enjoy the message that they sing.
With their music ministry, the Sensational Brown Brothers have touched many lives.
“We had men that have come up and say how over the years, they’ve changed their life because of our singing ministry,” George Brown said. “That makes us feel real good. I guess that has something to do with our driving factor that kept us going through these years.”
Three people in particular have entered into the Christian ministry because of the Brown brother’s music throughout the state, Billy Brown said.
For people such as Terry James, he grew up knowing the Sensational Brown Brothers. James grew up in church. His grandfather was a Baptist preacher.
“Back then, there were a lot of black groups out in this area, and I’ve basically grown with them all my life,” James said. “They’re a good group. It takes a lot of endurance to hang around and sing for that long. You’ve got to be committed to gospel singing and committed to serving Christ.”
George Brown said everything the group does comes straight from the heart. Over the years, he said the group has been blessed.
“I don’t know what else we’ll do now if we quit this,” he said. “It’s gotten late in the day. We’re looking forward to trying to keep doing it for some years to come, if the Lord will give us the health and the strength. We’re going to try to make it work.”

New Florence County Museum set to open Oct. 11

The new Florence County Museum opens Oct. 11. Visit the museum's website for information about grand opening events, including a gala Oct. 10. From SCNow.com:
FLORENCE, S.C. – A headline on October 7, 1953, in The Morning News about the Florence Museum opening reads, “Modern Museum Result of Struggle.” The story, written by Eugene “Nick” Zeigler for the Morning News, told of the trials and tribulations before opening on Spruce Street. As it was then, and is now, the Florence Museum is a product of teamwork and hard work from many people.
The new Florence County Museum will welcome the public this week but the new facility never would have happened if not for a dedicated few who persevered.
The Florence Museum started as the Blue Bird Tea Room, organized by the League for Woman’s Service. The Tea Room raised money for the Red Cross and other organizations during World War I. One of those involved was Jane B. Evans, who later went on to become founder of the museum. The Blue Bird Tea Room went on for three years after the war and deactivated with $2,500 in funds.
In 1924, Evans moved from Florence to Phoenix, Ariz., where she learned of a surplus of post-Spanish Indian pottery. The seller would only sell the pottery to small museums. Evans made a plea to the Blue Bird Tea Room trustees to organize as the Florence Museum. It was incorporated in 1936. Shortly after, $400 was spent to acquire the pottery starting a collection that would grow many times over through the years.
The Florence County Public Library displayed several exhibits from the Federal Arts Project, organized by Evans. Unfortunately her and others efforts weren’t met with enthusiasm as Zeigler wrote.
“ The interest shown by Florentines was evidently not sufficient to keep the project for in February 1937, the state director of the Federal Art Project WPA closed the program in Florence,” he wrote.
Not to be stifled, Evans kept increasing exhibits and in 1939, was able to occupy three rooms in the basement of the library. She died in 1950 and Zeigler wrote, “it created a real void.” In 1951, Eugene “Nick” Zeigler was elected president of the Florence Museum Trustees and planned to complete fundraising efforts started by Evans.
The museum trustees, through City Council put up a public referendum for vote in 1952 on purchasing the Lawton –Willcox – Chase property on Spruce Street. The property was $75,000, with $45,000 contributed by the museum. The referendum was defeated by 71 votes. Ben Zeigler, Nick’s son, said his father was asked if African-Americans would be admitted to the museum. Zeigler’s answer was an affirmative “yes,” which Ben Zeigler said didn’t sit well with segregationists at the time. Another referendum for tax support failed to pass in 1972.
“ When the county eventually took over the museum, it was a very fulfilling thing for my father,” Ben said. “He very much wanted to be alive long enough to see the groundbreaking (of the new museum). He really kept himself alive long enough to see that happen.”
After the groundbreaking, Nick Zeigler visited the grave of Jane B. Evans, his longtime friend, and considered his promise to her that the museum would not fail fulfilled. He died five months later at the age of 91.
Ben Zeigler, now a County Museum board member, said he doesn’t remember a time when he wasn’t involved in the museum. Growing up, he worked there after school and in the summer.
“ When the concept was developed in the 30s by Jane Evans, and pulled along by others in the 50s,” he said, “it was very much an aspirational thing that gave the people of Florence a window to the greater world. It exposed people to art, hands-on history and things of cultural significance in a world before TV and internet.”
Florence County Museum Trustee and Florence Museum Trustee Becky Crawford joined the board in 1982. She said the new museum will have the capability to reach many more people than it has in the past.
“ It’s not a typical museum,” she said. “Ms. Jane felt like we needed to bring the world to Florence. The museum has existed over all these years because people put their heart and soul into it. Nick was a very smart man and had a vision of how it should impact the community and it will continue to do that.”
Florence County Museum Director Andrew Stout said the new museum is a realized dream that started 90 years ago.
“ We’ve had many people who have believed in that foundation that this museum is important to the community,” Stout said. “It’s with great honor that I see how much they believe in this museum. For years, people of the museum did the best they could with the resources they had. This museum is a product of all that hard work. It documents the soul of Florence County.”

Florence photography project shows we are all the same

[gallery columns="4" ids="14560,14561,14562,14563"] From SCNow.com:
FLORENCE, S.C. — Florence is made up of wonderful, unique people, and everyone has a story to tell. Photographers Robin Eaddy Condrey and Harley Pinto-Williams recently set out to tell those stories through a new photography project called “Humans of Florence.” Inspired by a Facebook page that documents the stories of people living in New York, Eaddy Condrey and Pinto-Williams began seeking subjects closer to home.
“We were just talking about the ‘Humans of New York’ Facebook page, and we were like, ‘Oh, did you see this post today? Did you see that post?’ We were talking about it all the time,” Pinto-Williams said. “We were just like, ‘We need to start doing this in Florence.’ We both just felt it at the same time.”
“It was almost one of those, ‘Jinx, you-owe-me-a-Coke moments,’” Eaddy Condrey added. “We went out the very next day looking for people.” (Visit the Humans of Florence Facebook page for more information and photos.)
Both of the women are artists, and Eaddy Condrey said that for her, a camera is simply another tool that she uses to express herself artistically.
“I’ve had a camera in my hands since my mom gave me her brownie camera when I was 6,” Eaddy Condrey said. “I have been taking portraits of everything ever since. In 2002, I started doing photography for a living. In 2010, I put the name Foto Flo on it to honor my town, the town I grew up in.”
Pinto-Williams said that she is not a native of Florence, but she is appreciative of the history and stories of the town and its citizens.
“For me, this project is offering people even more ways to be proud of being a Florence resident,” Pinto-Williams said. “People, with anywhere they live, will say, ‘Oh, I hate this town. It is so small,’ and all these other flaws. But there are so many beautiful and incredible things, like small projects, people and businesses, if you just widen your scope and zoom in.”
Pinto-Williams said she hopes the project will inspire people to get out and explore the place they live.
“We want people to see that they live in an amazing community,” Pinto-Williams said. “We can also offer them things that they might not have known about that they might be interested in, like Keep Florence Beautiful, and they might want to be a part of it and volunteer. It is a great way for people to see all of the beautiful aspects of their community and want to contribute.”
The project is also about showing people that even in their imperfections, or the moments in their lives that are less than ideal, there is beauty, Eaddy Condrey said.
“I’ve never had body-image issues,” Eaddy Condrey said. “But I know that there are a lot of women who struggle with that. This is really about changing the way that people view themselves. We don’t want those people who are going to go put on their makeup or something. We want the rawness of who they are, not who they can make themselves to be. I want to show people that the way they are is beautiful.”
With more than 800 likes on their page since it was started, Pinto-Williams said she believes people understand what they are trying to do and appreciate it.
“I think people have been responding really well, because it is raw,” Pinto-Williams said. “It is like this is where they are from, this is who they are, and maybe they could be on there one day.”
And though the project is still in its infancy, Eaddy Condrey and Pinto-Williams said they are already looking in to ways to fund more aspects of their venture, including the possibility of a book of pictures and stories.
“The sky is not even the limit,” Eaddy Condrey said. “I see art in every person, in everything.”
Images: Humans of Florence