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Jason Rapp

Announcing the six recipients of the 2020 Verner Award

Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award for the Arts to be presented in May

     
For Immediate Release COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s highest award for achievement in the arts is to be presented to six uniquely qualified arts practitioners and supporters announced today by the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC). The SCAC Board of Directors approved panel recommendations for the following recipients from their respective categories to be recognized for outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina:
  • LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Dr. Philip Mullen, Columbia
  • ARTIST: Glenis Redmond, Mauldin
  • INDIVIDUAL: Mary Inabinett Mack, St. Helena Island
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION: Cindy Riddle, Campobello
  • BUSINESS: United Community Bank, Greenville
  • ORGANIZATION: Charleston Gaillard Center, Charleston
“This year’s recipients represent the best of South Carolina. They are talented, successful, dedicated to giving of themselves to ensure everyone who wants to can benefit from access to the arts,” S.C. Arts Commission Chairwoman Dee Crawford said. “By taking our arts community to new levels, they are elevating our state as well. With the Verner Award, we celebrate their achievements and thank them for enriching life and culture here in South Carolina.” A diverse committee, appointed by the S.C. Arts Commission Board of Directors and drawn from members of the South Carolina community at large, reviews all nominations and, after a rigorous process, makes recommendations to the board for final approval after a series of panel meetings produces a recommendation from each category.

The South Carolina Arts Awards

The Verner Awards will be presented with the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards at the 2020 South Carolina Arts Awards on Wednesday, May 6 in a luncheon and ceremony at the USC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and are to be available for purchase by mid-March.

About the Verner Award Recipients

Philip Mullen (Lifetime Achievement) has been a mainstay in the South Carolina arts scene since coming to Columbia to join the University of South Carolina faculty in 1969. Five of his works are included in the State Art Collection and others adorn the collections of Guggenheim Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Brooklyn Museum, Columbia Museum of Art, Greenville County Museum of Art, and McKissick Museum among others. He has had solo exhibitions in at least eight states and Washington since 1972. He is the only living South Carolina artist to have been featured, in 1975, in the prestigious Whitney Biennial by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, regarded as one of the world’s leading art shows. Poet and teaching artist Glenis Redmond has a love of words that’s taken her across the country and Atlantic Ocean to performances at the White House, Library of Congress and London. She is currently poet-in-residence at the Peace Center in Greenville and The State Theatre in New Jersey as well as a teaching artist for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. She is the founder of the Greenville Poetry Slam and co-founder of a youth poetry slam in Asheville, North Carolina. Her work with the Peace Center led to her founding in of Peace Voices, a poetry program dedicated to poetic outreach and engagement in the community, in 2011. As an ex-patriate South Carolinian in New York City, Mary Inabinett Mack became a registered nurse and psychiatric/mental health nursing instructor. She earned a certificate for psychoanalysis and psychotherapy and two National Institute for Mental health fellowships. Mack fed on the New York arts scene and came home to “her Gullah folk and the sweet, salty air of the Lowcountry” in 1977. The art retail business she started became Red Piano Too Art Gallery, a leading folk art gallery that launched the careers of many artists. The first female chair of the Penn Center’s board, she is a lifetime member of its advisory board and was inducted into its 1862 Circle for embodying the spirit of the center and advocating for the enduring history of the Lowcountry, civil rights, and reconstruction it celebrates. Cindy Riddle began teaching art in the Upstate in 1999. She worked at two schools before joining Spartanburg District One as a fine arts instructional coach for a year, then becoming the district’s coordinator for visual and performing arts, gifted and talented services. She is now an assistant superintendent in the same focus area. Riddle has national board certification in early and middle childhood art and is the current president of the South Carolina Education Association. She holds degrees from Anderson and Lander universities and Converse College and has been recognized six times with various awards for teaching. An artist and entrepreneur, she operates and creates and gives lessons from her Chicken Coop Art Company. Headquartered in Greenville and in operation for almost 70 years, United Community Bank has $12.9 billion in assets and operates 149 offices in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. They abide by the Golden Rule, according to Chairman and CEO Lynn Harton, and are committed to maintaining extraordinary culture, creating meaningful relationships and earning the trust of customers, all with the goal of improving lives. Nominators and supporters of United Community Bank pointed to lengthy and generous support of South Carolina arts institutions like Artisphere and South Carolina Children’s Theatre in Greenville and Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg. The support comes from not just funding, but also the investment of time and service by its associates. One of the Holy City’s most notable spaces, Charleston Gaillard Center provides the Lowcountry with a world-class performance hall, elegant venue space, and vibrant educational opportunities. A massive renovation project made possible by a $142 million public/private partnership created an iconic performance and event space appropriate for one of the world’s leading cities. In the last four years, Charleston Gaillard Center’s education and community program has provided arts-enhanced education programs to 130+ schools, covered the cost of transportation for 757 buses, and impacted more than 67,000 students in the tri-county region, all while remaining a 66% barrier-free program.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696.

Correction

The initial version of this news release said Ms. Mack was first female member of the Penn Center board of directors. She was its first female board chair. The copy has been updated. (6 Feb. 2020, 10:44 a.m.)

Glenis Redmond: a passion for poetry

From The Greenville News Article by Paul Hyde

Glenis Redmond laughs when she talks about it. But, yes, the Ku Klux Klan gave the acclaimed poet a considerable career boost. In 1999, the group marched in Asheville, North Carolina, where Redmond lived. A group of Asheville citizens responded with a multiracial unity rally where Redmond, then a struggling poet, read some of her inspirational writings. Booking agents happened to be present at the anti-KKK meeting, and they offered Redmond a contract on the spot. “I literally signed up that next week to speak at schools and universities,” Redmond said. “And I was pretty much booked solid for two years straight.” Redmond relishes the poetic irony — and poetic justice — of the experience. “People ask me, ‘How did you get your start?’ and I facetiously say, ‘It was the Ku Klux Klan,’” she said with a laugh. “It’s an odd intersection but that’s what motivated me to be at that venue,” she said. “It was where my life shifted from being below the poverty level to being able to pay the bills and buy a house.” Redmond’s subsequent career as a poet has taken her everywhere from schools and Ivy League universities to women’s centers, prisons and homeless shelters. “I walk into a lot of doors of people who don’t necessarily know they need poetry,” she said. “Many have never even considered poetry before.” Redmond, whose uplifting work often focuses on the black experience, doesn’t justread her poetry. She performs her poems with an emotive, stirring voice and gestures that reflect both grace and strength. (Several of her poetic performances can be seen on YouTube.) Redmond also teaches students, young and old, how to put their feelings into concentrated, rhythmic and powerful verse. “They’re learning how to reflect deeply as a human being and how to write about that experience,” Redmond said. Redmond believes in the transformative power of poetry as an antidote to a fast-paced, competitive society that seems to have little time for self-reflection. “We don’t take time to listen to the world and to ourselves,” Redmond said. “That’s the role of the poet, to say, ‘Yes, there’s struggle here but there’s also beauty.’” Most recently, she mentored five young people from around the country who had been chosen, from among 20,000 entrants, to recite their poetry at the White House for an audience of dignitaries that included first lady Michelle Obama. Redmond held workshops with the young writers online before meeting them in Washington, D.C. and taking them to the White House. “It was exciting,” Redmond said. “In addition to Michelle Obama, there were representatives of the top poetry organizations in the world. These five students were reading for the elite even though they had never done a reading before. Michelle Obama is such a supporter of the arts and was a wonderful host for our young people. She really put them at their ease.” Redmond encourages young talent but cautions aspiring poets that it’s not an easy life. “I tell them that if you can be anything else, do that,” Redmond said. “When you work for yourself, the work is 24-7.” Poetic entrepreneur As a poet, Redmond is also an entrepreneur. Like any contractor, she often has to juggle several jobs at the same time. Right now, she has at least four. She’s poet-in-residence at Greenville’s Peace Center and at the New Jersey State Theatre. She’s a teaching artist at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. She also maintains a lively free-lance career that keeps her booked a year in advance. All of her affiliations involve performing her own work and mentoring young people. At the Peace Center, where Redmond spends about five months every year, she conducts poetry workshops and public readings with young people and adults. The sessions are free and open to any aspiring poet. She also hosts a series called Poetic Conversations in the Peace Center’s Ramsaur Studio. On Jan. 27, as a part of events honoring the life of Martin Luther King Jr., Redmond and blues musician Scott Ainslie will perform their piece “Southern Voices: Black, White and Blues,” followed by a conversation with the audience. (The 7 p.m. event is free and open to the public but reservations are required by emailing Taryn Zira at tzira@peacecenter.org.) On Feb. 18, Redmond hosts a Black History Month Conversation with performance poet Joshua Bennett in the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre. (Tickets are free and reservations can be made by calling 864-467-3000 or visiting the Peace Center website at www.peacecenter.org.) Redmond, 52, has had to grapple with some of the usual challenges that an entrepreneur faces: dealing with contracts and taxes, purchasing health insurance, identifying her niche and then marketing her product, which happens to be herself. “The poetry is always the thing I’ve focused on, but at the same time I’ve had to make a living doing this, so I’ve had to figure out the business side of it,” Redmond said. “Even before I signed with an agent, I thought about how I might fashion myself so that a school district would be interested in me as a teaching artist,” Redmond said. There’s considerable travel involved in being a performance poet as well. She calls herself a “road warrior for poetry,” alternating between homes in three cities: Greenville, Charlotte and New Brunswick, New Jersey. “My present car, which I just put out to pasture, had 360,000 miles on it,” Redmond said. “All of those are poetry miles.” Redmond had an office manager for 14 years to help with scheduling and other administrative matters. Now, the Peace Center and New Jersey State Theatre assist her on many of those responsibilities. “They keep my calendar straight because I’m in so many places during the year,” she said. Early on, Redmond embraced entrepreneurial risk. She gave up a job as a counselor in the early 1990s to take what she called “a vow of poetry”: She would make her living only by poetry. Or bust. “I poured my life into poetry,” Redmond said. “I took that vow seriously. There were a couple of years where I was living below the poverty level but I was dedicated to being a poet. The work was volatile. It was often feast or famine.” Learning the business of poetry involved mostly on-the-job training. “I’ve had a lot of mentors and good fortune in terms of people who believed in what I do,” Redmond said. A love of words Redmond, who was born in Sumter, knew by age 11 that she wanted to be a poet. “I knew in middle school that I loved poetry and loved writing,” Redmond said. “But now that I look back in hindsight, I think I was a poet all along, even before I could write because I was cataloging. I was taking snapshots of memories. I was holding on to them. I was also a voracious reader and I loved words and I loved story.” Redmond came from an artistic family. Her father, who was in the Air Force, was a blues, jazz and gospel pianist. Her siblings sang in choirs. During her teen years, Redmond wrote occasional poetry for her Baptist church. “If someone died, I wrote the obituary poem,” she said. “If someone got married, I wrote a marriage poem.” Later, Redmond graduated from Erskine College with a degree in psychology and worked as a drug and alcohol abuse counselor in Greenville for seven years. It was in 1993 that Redmond took her “vow of poetry.” In some ways, it was merely an extension of her work as a counselor. “I don’t see poetry as therapy but I do see it as therapeutic,” Redmond said. In 1994, she created the first Poetry Slam in Greenville, featuring dynamic performance poetry. Later, she was appointed a teaching artist with the South Carolina Arts Commission. She traveled the country also with “Poetry Alive!” — taking classic and contemporary poetry into schools. She became a teaching artist with the Peace Center before being appointed poet-in-residence at the performing arts venue three years ago. Along the way, Redmond got married, had twin girls, got divorced and earned her master’s degree of fine arts in poetry from Warren Wilson College. “It was an unconventional life,” Redmond said. “I was a single mom with twin girls who made her living by being on the road. In order to survive, I had to leave home.” Her girls, now 26, “were raised on poetry,” she said, “and they’re doing really well.” For the latest in local arts news and reviews, follow Paul Hyde on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7. YOU CAN GO What: Poet Glenis Redmond and blues musician Scott Ainslie perform “Southern Voices: Black, White and Blues,” followed by a conversation with the audience; the event honors the life of Martin Luther King Jr. When: 7 p.m. Jan. 27 Where: Peace Center’s Ramsaur Studio Tickets: Admission-free but reservations should be made by emailing Taryn Zira at tzira@peacecenter.org Information: 864-467-3000  

Milly

S.C. teaching artists highlighted on Americans for the Arts blog

The South Carolina Arts Commission was honored to be asked to contribute to an Americans for the Arts blog salon on teaching artists. Many thanks to the four artists highlighted: Bob Doster of Lancaster, Patz Fowle of Hartsville, Francee Levin of Columbia, and Glenis Redmond of Greenville. (Image: Glenis Redmond with student)

Rich in Rewards: Why Teaching Artists Teach Glenis Redmond with studentWhy do some artists decide to teach? For many, the attraction is a desire to connect students to a creative process and to the larger arts community. For others, teaching fuels their work as artists. The South Carolina Arts Commission’s Roster of Approved Artists includes more than 900 artists who have been approved to conduct residencies and performances in schools. Many have been teaching for as long as they’ve been artists. We wanted to know more, so we asked four Roster artists about their experiences. Read the artist interviews here: http://blog.artsusa.org/2014/03/13/rich-in-rewards-why-teaching-artists-teach/

Students to perform original poetry at Peace Voices event

Students from throughout the Greenville, South Carolina community will perform original poetry at the Peace Center on Jan. 8 as part of the new Peace Voices program. Peace Voices is a special collaboration with nationally acclaimed poet and performer Glenis Redmond. As the Peace Center's artist-in-residence, Redmond is building a program that fosters creative expression through writing and performing poetry with young and mature writers. Peace Voices creates a platform for youths and adults to express themselves through poetry, for the first time providing a space and a stage where the community can share their original poems in a performance setting. This initiative allows the Peace Center to reach diverse populations of all ages and backgrounds, while unlocking the artistic voices and stories inherent in the community. The event begins at 7 p.m. in the Gunter Theatre and features a special performance by Redmond. The performance is free, but tickets are required as space is limited. Contact the Peace Center box office at (864) 467-3000 to reserve tickets. Visit the Peace Center's website for more information and to read poems created through Peace Voices. Contact Staci Koonce with additional questions at (864) 679-9203. Via: The Peace Center