Jason Rapp

Love at first arc for S.C. welder

New direction leads to arts entrepreneurship


The Hub was honestly not expecting a don't-miss story from The Welder.

Shame on us. Do yourself a favor and read the story of Kristen Albro of Charleston from the Illinois-based trade publication. Writer Amanda Carlson does a terrific profile of the unexpected blacksmith. Here's a small excerpt:

As a veteran of the Air Force, Albro spent her time in service as an aircraft mechanic. Later she earned a degree in criminal justice with a minor in intelligence and homeland security from The Citadel. Seeing the writing on the wall about a white-collar desk job, the lifelong artist did a little soul-searching about what exactly would make her happy. Working with your hands can lead to many pathways, but she landed on welding because she wondered if she could somehow incorporate that into her art.

Carlson mentions Albro's techniques and inspiration and how the two came together to form her entrepreneurial artistic venture. We'll stop there, because you should just go read it right now (TheFabricator.com).
Photo by Kateryna Babaieva from Pexels

Jason Rapp

Tuning Up: NFL features S.C. artist, new Orangeburg Co. FAC website

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...
It's a cold damp morning, and more coffee is in order. Grab yourself a cuppa and check out these tidbits:
  • New Year, New You Website. The Hub got word yesterday that Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center just introduced a new-look OrangeburgArts.com for the new year. If you have ever been involved with such a project, you know that they deserve kudos for this undertaking (IYKYK, as the kids say). The home page uses eye-catching images to drive home their mission and uses other pages to highlight 14 area communities and artists who call the area home. Great work!
  • Game recognize game. The NFL playoffs began this past weekend (and abruptly ended for The Hub Sunday night). Maybe not the most important thing on most Hub readers' radars, but the NFL rolled out a new program, NFL Artist Replay, to bring recognition to BIPOC artists. One happened to be Ija Charles, whom the league asked to contribute to Artist Replay. #SCartists' Charles is known around the Midlands for mural work in Cayce, West Columbia and the Richland Library Main branch. Her work for the NFL is below, and you can read more and watch video from WLTX TV 19.
Ija Charles' work for NFL Artist Replay. Ija Charles' work for NFL Artist Replay. Image courtesy of WLTX.com.

Jason Rapp

Six emerging artists to receive inaugural SCAC grant

Up to $1,500 grant includes mentorship, more


Visual artists working in ceramics, sculpture, and photography and performing artists working in dance and music are inaugural recipients of the South Carolina Arts Commission’s new Emerging Artist Grant.

For the purpose of the grant, emerging artists were defined as being at an early stage in their artistic career development with no basis in age. The six South Carolina artists each receive an up to $1,500 Emerging Artist grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) in the current fiscal year (2021). They are:
  • Luke Hodges of Columbia (photography)
  • Chris Jenkins of Irmo (performing musician)
  • Kimberly Washburn Motte of Florence (visual artist, sculpture)
  • Kela Portee of Ravenel (film photography and multimedia artist)
  • Sonny Sisan of North Charleston (craft artist, ceramics)
  • Ashlea Sovetts of Myrtle Beach (performing dance and choreographer)

In addition to financial support, the artists will benefit from mentorship and professional support facilitated by the SCAC and Artist Services Director Ce Scott-Fitts. The combined benefits are intended to deepen artistic practice and foster artistic excellence; encourage career growth, advancement, and sustainability; and provide professional development and opportunities for collaboration. “It means a lot to be recognized as an artist in your state. Programs like this will not only propel our next generation of artists, but also provide the fuel for them to keep the legacy alive for years to come,” Jenkins said. “As a full-time professional and mother of two children, my own art making is often pushed to the back burner. To have the opportunity to build community with a group of talented artists and to meet regularly with a mentor allows me to prioritize my own artistic process,” Motte said. While the mentorship and networking components of the program begin next month and run through June 2021, several of the artists expect the benefits to last well beyond that. Sovetts is eager for the additional insight from the group to help her grow, and Hodges points to the validation the program provides. “This opportunity is so much more than a confidence booster—it's an affirmation that my creative work matters,” he said. Portee foresees the opportunity to be challenged, while Jenkins added that he hopes other South Carolina artists will see they no longer have to travel or leave altogether for the knowledge he hopes to gain. The application period for the next round of the Emerging Artist Grant is to begin in Fall 2021. The SCAC will announce it here on The Hub, on its social media at @scartscomm (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), and other channels.
About the South Carolina Arts Commission The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued, and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC 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.

Submitted material

Poetry Society of S.C. turns 100

Join us for our centennial year


The Poetry Society of South Carolina turns 100 years old this coming January.

Since 1921 the Society has sponsored readings, lectures, and other events featuring the likes of Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Amy Lowell, Harriet Monroe, Archibald Rutledge, and legions of other renowned and emerging poets. If you write poetry or enjoy it as a reader or hearing it in recitation, we invite you to become a member and join us this spring as we launch our centennial year. Beginning in January, we have monthly readings and writing workshops scheduled for broadcast over Zoom and hopefully in-person, should pandemic protocols allow. All readings are open to the public and free. In addition to a Poetry Showcase, our January reading at 7 p.m. on Jan. 8 will feature a brief history by President Jim Lundy, who has written a book, due out soon, about the society’s first 100 years. We’re also pleased to announce that thanks to generous support from South Carolina Humanities, writing workshops—which are normally for a fee—will be free this spring as well. Registration through our website is required to receive the Zoom link for each event. You can become a Poetry Society member at our website (www.poetrysocietysc.org) or by sending a check to The Poetry Society of SC, P.O. Box 1090, Charleston, SC 29402. An individual membership is $30 ($15/student). Benefits include:
  1. monthly newsletters with member news along with dates, times, and locations for each month’s readings and writing workshops;
  2. online access to readings and writing workshops;
  3. eligibility for spring and fall poetry contests with cash prizes and winners published online and in the Yearbook.
To be eligible for our spring contests, you must join before the February 15 contest deadline. Consult Arts Daily for details regarding monthly events.

Submitted material

College of Charleston’s Valerie Morris announces retirement

Long-time, accomplished arts dean exiting the stage


For 22 years Valerie Morris, dean of the College of Charleston School of the Arts, has sat in the audience at music and dance performances, theater productions and art lectures and presentations.

She has served as a member of various boards and joined committees to raise funds. A perennial champion of the arts, Morris has always been there, standing off stage, determinedly cheering. And it’s an essential role in a city where the arts often take center stage. “I have known Dean Morris for years as a fellow Rotarian and through her leadership in Charleston’s thriving arts community,” says Charleston Mayor John T. Tecklenburg. “Simply put, she’s been amazing in her impact on the arts scene here in Charleston, along with her personal joie de vivre!”
Morris’s “joie de vivre” or enthusiasm for the arts began at a young age. Growing up in Beverly, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, she first became interested in the arts at the age of six after an aunt took her to see the movie Hans Christian Anderson starring Danny Kaye. Then she became very active in the local children’s theater and “used every excuse to spend backstage” at the North Shore Music Theatre, the largest operating regional theater in New England. “I guess from the age of 6, I always felt pushed towards the arts,” Morris said, noting that in high school her focus shifted to public speaking and promoting the arts, which won her an award for marketing her high school’s productions. “First, I wanted to perform, then I realized I wanted to be around artists of all types, and to help them achieve their goals.” And that first meant achieving her goals. Morris received her bachelor’s degree in speech arts from American University and a master in speech with a theatre administration emphasis from the University of Michigan. Her career in the arts really picked up when she joined the faculty of American University’s Department of Performing Arts, where she became the founding director of that institution’s Arts Management program. According to Karen Chandler, associate professor of arts management at the College, Morris forged a path for women in the field. “When I entered the field in the early ’80s, Valerie was one of a handful of women arts leaders who had founded and very successfully developed a program in arts management (at American University),” says Chandler, who also worked alongside Morris at American University.
Morris came to the College as dean of the School of the Arts in the fall of 1998. Since then, she has helped establish the undergraduate Arts Management Program and the Graduate Certificate in Arts and Cultural Management, as well as the Historic Preservation and Community Planning Program. Under Morris’s leadership, the School of the Arts has grown and flourished, including earning the South Carolina Governor’s Award for the Arts, the state’s highest award in the arts. Other highlights of Morris’ tenure include helping to launch the Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts in January 2010. The $27.2 million dollar, 70,000-square-foot building is a testament to the growth of the school from a small fine arts department into a comprehensive arts school with seven academic departments and programs. Morris also expanded the School of the Arts Council and, in 2003, established the Friends of the School of the Arts, a membership program that funds scholarships, student travel for competitions and productions, visiting artists, faculty research and development, and international recruitment efforts. And Morris’s hard work has garnered the attention and support of some of CofC’s most esteemed arts alumni, including acclaimed painter Brian Rutenberg (Class of 1987). “To excel as an artist, one needs to be organized, possess a clear-eyed vision and have a great sense of humor. These same qualities apply to leading an entire art school,” says Rutenberg. “Valerie has all of these attributes, plus she is a skillful communicator. Her creation is the world-class reputation that the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston enjoys today. We are all the beneficiaries of her effort.”
As for what comes next, Morris says her future will always include the arts as well as a focus on family. “I’m keeping active on local, regional and national boards,” she says. “Eventually, my husband and I plan to spend considerable time on the West Coast, where my children and grandchildren live.” To honor Morris’s 22 years of service to the College and the School of the Arts, longtime College of Charleston advocates, donors and volunteers Jean and Tap Johnson have established a scholarship in her name. It’s a fitting honor for someone who has done so much for CofC. “Valerie has been a consummate mentor, advisor and colleague over the past 25 years. But more importantly, she is a trusted supporter and dear friend,” says Chandler. “She deserves to do whatever she wants now, feeling satisfied about the outstanding contributions she’s made to the arts infrastructure in so many places – and especially here at CofC.”

Jason Rapp

A look at SLED’s forensic artists

Bringing descriptions to life


Most of the time, being the subject for a professional artist is an aspiration, if not a treat.

If you are a subject for artists Deborah Goff or Lara Gorick, you've made some questionable life choices. Both are senior special agents with the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and both use their artistic skills to help law enforcement find alleged criminals on the lam. WCBD TV-2 in Charleston aired a fascinating story with the SLED agents last week. It takes a good look at the process of putting a forensic sketch together and the services these unique #SCartists provide:
  • composite sketches
  • forensic facial reconstructions
  • post-mortem images
  • and age progressions.
It's definitely worth a watch:

Jason Rapp

Greenwood arts giant retires

But Anne Craig has not gone away


Anne Craig officially retired as director of the Arts Center of Greenwood in March this year, but continued serving through September in an advisory role.

Anne Craig (Index-Journal photograph) Though she no longer has a title, she can still be found in the anchor facility of the city's cultural district (which she is credited with turning into a reality). Instead of meetings, her time is spent developing watercolor skills in a downstairs studio office. St. Claire Donaghy of the Greenwood Index-Journal has a new story online that is a nice look back over Craig's professional accomplishments:

Craig said renovation of the federal building, GCT and The Museum contributed to momentum for shops and restaurants to open in Uptown.

“Before the three cultural entities of the district were renovated and open, you could ride through Uptown on the weekends and there was not a car to be seen,” she said. “Now, I ride through, and it’s packed.”

Jason Rapp

S.C. non-profits requested $76 million in SC CARES Act relief

Nearly 1,600 applications submitted


Gov. Henry McMaster and the South Carolina Dept. of Administration (Admin) announced late yesterday that 11,217 applications were received for the SC CARES Act grant programs for the Minority and Small Business Relief Grant Program and the Nonprofit Relief Grant Program.

These programs award grant funds to small and minority businesses and nonprofit organizations to reimburse qualifying expenditures for providing services or for revenue loss due to COVID-19. Beginning on October 16, Governor McMaster, Admin, and other state leaders held events in Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Greer, and Myrtle Beach to raise awareness of the program and encourage business owners to apply for the program. “Small businesses are the cornerstone of our state’s economy and they were hit hard by the pandemic,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “We knew we had to quickly get them the help they need through an easily-accessible program, and I’m happy to say that the results have exceeded our expectations.” Act 154 of 2020 allocated $40 million for the Minority and Small Business Program, with grant awards ranging from $2,500-$25,000. The total number of application submissions for the Minority and Small Business program was 9,627, with a total requested amount of $213,297,112.30. Act 154 allocated $25 million for the Nonprofit Program, with grant awards ranging from $2,500-$50,000. The total number of application submissions for the Nonprofit program was 1,590 with a total requested amount of $75,980,037.43. In early December, applicants will receive a notification indicating grant approval and the dollar amount of the grant. Grant awards will be issued to qualifying grant recipients by mid-December. If other CARES Act funds are not utilized, both the Nonprofit and Minority and Small Business Grant funds are eligible to be replenished and additional grants may be distributed at a later date.
In accordance with Act 154, applications for the Minority and Small Business Relief Grant Program will be evaluated and awarded by a panel consisting of:
  • the director of the Commission for Minority Affairs, or her designee;
  • the Secretary of Commerce, or his designee; and
  • the director of the Department of Revenue, or his designee.
Act 154 further provides that priority must be given to minority businesses, to applicants that did not receive other assistance, such as a Paycheck Protection Program loan or other CARES funds, to businesses with fifteen or fewer employees, and to businesses that demonstrate the greatest financial need. Applications for the Nonprofit Relief Grant Program will be evaluated and awarded by a panel consisting of:
  • the director of the Department of Social Services, or his designee;
  • the director of the Department of Mental Health, or his designee;
  • the director of the Department of Consumer Affairs, or her designee;
  • the director of the Department of Health and Human Services, or his designee;
  • the director of the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, or her designee;
  • the Secretary of State, or his designee;
  • the director of the South Carolina Arts Commission, or his designee;
  • the director of the Department of Archives and History, or his designee; and
  • the executive director of the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority, or her designee.
For the Nonprofit Relief Grant Program, priority must be given to applicants that did not receive other assistance, such as a Paycheck Protection Program loan or other CARES funds. Then, priority shall be given to applications for expenditures related to food assistance, including prepared meals, rent or mortgage assistance, utilities assistance, mental health counseling, health care services, including access to health care supplies, mental health, and behavioral health, criminal domestic violence and children’s advocacy services, and arts and cultural items or activities. Additionally, the panel will give consideration to the geographic distribution of services provided by the nonprofit organizations, so that grants are awarded on a statewide basis.

Submitted material

McCormick school a beneficiary of new murals

MACK program completes three new murals at elementary school

Artist Darion Johnson sits for an interview in front of his mural Artist Darion Johnson sits for an interview in front of his mural “Science Discovery: Oceans” at McCormick Elementary School.

There are now three new murals on the McCormick Elementary School campus that provide engagement for specific educational goals: science, inquiry, and innovation.

These murals, painted by South Carolina artist Damion Johnson, are made possible through the McCormick Art Council (MACK) program "Painting a Brighter Future," a public art program designed to engage our community members, students, and visitors. We are able to combine the intentions of this public art program and help our schools deliver a series of engaging, rich, and vibrant paintings designed to make the student feel immersed in the learning environment. Each mural at McCormick Elementary School adheres to the curriculum standards and pacing guides for lesson plans and utilizes the arts as an important learning partner in providing a quality educational experience to our students.

BONUS CONTENT: Artist Darion Johnson discusses Science Discovery: Oceans on YouTube

This project was made possible through an Arts in Education grant provided through the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts. It is also an extension of the school district's participation in the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project mission to provide students with quality art education and advance our student's educational experience by providing access to the arts for daily learning experiences. Most importantly, our students and teachers have celebrated the project and are actively enjoying and creating moments of learning engagement. The sheer scope and presence of the learning murals has transformed our school hallways with a quality project that excites, engages, and celebrates art in education. The images are truly spectacular. Our greatest accomplishment is to deliver these high-quality discovery walls for our students to enjoy. The look of awe and amazement on our littlest community members was worth every challenge this school year. We also are very encouraged by the continued greater commitment and value that art has to offer non-art curriculum. We believe these projects have accomplished achieving support and recognition for the value art has in enhancing our student's educational experiences. MACK extends its thanks to everyone involved.

Meet the Artist: Damion Johnson

“Art is the one thing that makes you enjoy the world. Art is far more important, far more than just being important to the world, it is the world. It is the world.” - Damion Johnson

Damion Johnson, a talented artist and native South Carolinian, is the featured artist for this series of educational murals. He is a regional artist, educator, and entrepreneur. His work was featured at the McCormick Arts Council (MACK) in October 2014 and again in September 2016. He is the visual arts teacher at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School and was notably selected to represent his school as Teacher of the Year for 2018/2019. He is a professional artist and small business owner who represents the Orangeburg community. Johnson’s artistic journey formally began under the watchful eye of his middle and high school art instructor and uncle John Scott, who planted the seed for developing his artistic trade. Damion continued his studies and earned his bachelor's in professional art from Claflin University and now teaches and operates a successful art studio, as well as a barbershop, to serve his community. His current work honors a process Damion uniquely coins as the ‘capturing what is felt" ideal. His artistic work transforms song lyrics, phrases, and emotions into visual statements. Damion’s art features collage-style compositions where figures often exist on different planes in very involved ways and defines the character of his unique painting style.

Jason Rapp

Emerging Leaders of Color application deadline approaches

Sept. 15 deadline announced by South Arts


Heads up, South Carolina arts leaders of color.

South Carolina is a partner on the southern pilot of this program, and we're doing our part to make sure the first cohort is a strong one. (You might remember we talked it up once or twice this spring. Don't worry; there's no quiz.)

To promote representative leadership and equity in the arts, a small cohort of cultural workers and arts administrators located in seven states in the southern region will be selected for this partnership program between South Arts and our colleague regional arts organization WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation). Building on the success of WESTAF’s ELC program, which has been attracting, training, networking and promoting a new generation of diverse arts leaders since 2010; the South Arts program will serve to advance southern vitality through the arts through leadership development.

If that piques your interest, or might for somebody you know, full program information, including guidelines and eligibility are found here: https://www.southarts.org/programs-conferences/emerging-leaders-color.