Getting by with a little help from our friends
“Though not the only way, grants are among the main ways the SCAC accomplishes its work.”
Savvy and/or loyal Hub readers should recognize that sentence as the opening line of the weekly “Grants Roundup” feature from Monday mornings. But did you know that grants from the South Carolina Arts Commission are made possible, except in either infrequent or limited circumstances, by public funding appropriated by the state General Assembly?
One exception to that is the regular generous support of the John & Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina. In FY21, which marked 17 consecutive years of awards, the fund provided $33,197 to support the SCAC’s efforts in subgranting to local arts organizations throughout the state and funding arts projects by individual #SCartists in select counties.
Not all of the artists and projects listed below were directly funded by the John & Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund, but including them all could inspire another artist with a project in mind for which they might need a little help. So let’s take a look at what artists, sorted by county, were up to in recently closed FY21 thanks to the SCAC’s Arts Project Support Grants, funded in part by the John & Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of CCF. (Ed. note: Expect a formal wrap on FY21 to come later this month.)
Julie Hamer | Anderson County
Ceramic artist Julie Hamer upgraded her current kiln and purchased a second pottery wheel with this grant funding. The new equipment allowed her to teach more students and increased her capacity to keep producing her own work while providing facilities for students to complete their projects. During the grant period, she taught in person and online, in group classes as well as private lessons. The second wheel also allowed her to provide demonstrations and introductory throwing opportunities at art events in the area. Her students ranged in age from six to 75, including multiple people who had never had the opportunity to learn pottery and have now gotten experience throwing on a wheel and creating their own works of art. One 75-year-old woman shared that she had wanted to try art her whole life, and Hamer’s pottery class was the very first class ever; now that she has tried it, she wants to do it for the rest of her life. The artist helped multiple students find resources to continue their pottery work, from setting up their own home studios to connecting with established local studios to allowing them to fire their work in her upgraded kiln.
Terrance Washington | Barnwell County
The funding supported artist Terrance Washington’s mobile exhibition of The Lucidity Collection, eight paintings utilizing imagery to evoke thought and conversation, internally or outspoken, colored by aesthetic relevancy of our present condition. The exhibit included live performances by singers and musicians to further elicit emotion and thought along with the visual works. The Lucidity Collection traveled to five different communities (Walterboro, Columbia, Blackville, Aiken, and Hampton) and continues to travel around South Carolina. The mobility of the exhibit allows it to be shown in rural locations without galleries, often in spaces that have other functions such as church halls and conference rooms. The artist reported experiencing professional growth as an artist and inspiring thought within each community.
Bhakti Hough | Lee County
“Jazzy Poetic: The South Carolina Jazz & Poetry Connection – Music and Words for Healing the Nation” was a virtual program featuring poets sharing their thoughts about poetry and reading or reciting from their works. The poets were former SC Poet Laureate Marjory Heath Wentworth; Columbia, SC, Poet Laureate Ed Madden; Len Lawson; and Felton Eaddy. The poets shared their works and explained how they think engaging poetry as reader, listener, or writer can help to ease anxiety and provide hope during the current public health crisis. The event also featured video and audio presentations of Bhakti Larry Hough and the Bhakti Project jazz combo reciting original poetry that paid tribute to other poets, the poetry of Claude McKay, and performing jazz poetry and the music of South Carolina native John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie. The project showcased some of the literary and musical artistry to which South Carolina lays claim, raising awareness of the kind and level of jazz and poetry performance that can be produced in local communities, some of which often “flies beneath the arts radar.”
Historic Marion Revitalization Association | Marion County
This project produced the first artistic mural in Marion, SC’s Historic District. A graphic designer was hired to create a “Greetings from Marion, SC” mural, in which photos of historic and significant places from around the area are rendered within the letters of “Marion” to look like a traditional postcard. The mural includes images of cotton fields, the Marion Museum, palmetto trees, tractors, the courthouse, and magnolia flowers. Artist Narzhio was hired to complete the mural in a little over two weeks. The project is paving the way for more art to come to Marion by inspiring further art creation and conversation within the community. The initial goal of the mural was to provide some artistic content in a town that considered itself to have “a nonexistent art scene.” The positive feedback on the project has expanded to include discussion about the mural both on site and on social media, with memories being shared of what it was like in the “good ol’ days” and people talking about their favorite part of the mural. The artist has been in talks with several local business owners about more work, and the association has been approached about bringing art to other buildings downtown.
Robert Matheson | Newberry County/Bamberg County
Newberry-based artist Robert Matheson is creating “A Different View of Bamberg County,” a short film designed to introduce viewers to the beauty and assets found in the four largest cities of Bamberg County: Denmark, Bamberg, Olar, and Erhardt. Matheson worked with Bamberg artist James Wilson to collect still photography and drone video footage showcasing community assets found throughout the county. The final product will include voice and music. The video will be distributed via YouTube and social media channels, and the work will be shared with local media outlets and statewide art networks.
Dr. Eunjung Choi | Orangeburg County
With the support of this grant funding, musician Eunjung Choi recorded Celebrating Women Composers, a CD of classical music for piano. The project highlighted classical women composers and their musical influences and impact on Dr. Choi’s professional artistry. The featured composers included Cécile Chaminade, Teresa Carreño, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Amy Beach. This project provided Dr. Choi an opportunity to grow as a professional artist through the exploration of women composers’ piano music. The completed CD can enhance the listeners’ knowledge of classical piano music of women composers with diverse cultural backgrounds.
Stephen Winkler | Orangeburg County
Stephen Winkler, graphic artist and CEO of 75 Flavas, showcased vinyl printing to children of all ages at Garden Oasis: Spring Seedling Day 2021 in Denmark, SC. After a demonstration to learn about heat transfers and t-shirt making, Parents and children produced their own unique shirts starting with the creation of their own vinyl design. Children also decorated raised garden beds in the park with precut vinyl numbers, letters, and flowers provided by the artist. The activities inspired the children to ask questions about starting their own graphic design businesses, and the artist was able to connect with a new community through the arts.
Bullets and Bandaids | Richland County
Bullets and Bandaids is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to further a living anthology of veterans, writers, and artists to celebrate our common humanity through a traveling art project spanning North and South Carolina. By giving veterans a platform to speak their truth, as well as an opportunity for civilians to take an active listening role, the program helps alleviate problems on an individual as well as communal level, covering issues like domestic violence, drug abuse, and suicidal ideation. The program also provides a venue for local artists, writers, and businesses to join in the celebration of their own potential in all the communities they impact. With this funding, the organization was able to set up workshops through Veterans Affairs in Columbia to teach creative nonfiction to veterans from multiple demographics; set up workshops through the Arken Media Group to teach veterans photography therapy; and collect stories from across the Carolinas through online linking through the VAs, as well as independent organizations like Brothers and Sisters Like These, the Charlotte Art League, and local VFWs. The organization continues to collect work by artists from South Carolina, create and edit voiceovers for veterans’ stories, create merchandise designs from veterans and artists, and connect with local writers to amplify veterans’ stories. In addition, this project resulted in three-time presidential advisor Henry Lozano joining the organization’s Board of Directors, providing greater connections within the veteran community and guidance and resources to a degree that was beyond their expectation at this point in their development.