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Art Trail Gallery gets new director, new direction for downtown Florence

From SCNow.com:

The Florence Downtown Development Corporation has decided to hit the reset button on a major cog in downtown as the corporation’s board dissolved the Art Trail Gallery’s board on Monday, citing a need to move forward with the original vision of the gallery acting as an economic engine for downtown. “The volunteers and board have put their heart and souls into the gallery, but we needed to treat the gallery like a business. Changes needed to be made for consistency and ultimately support the operational expenses of the facility,” acting FDDC Board Chairman Karen Leatherman said. “No one will see any difference, except for improvements.” And a new director. David Hobbs, a longtime volunteer at the gallery and a former board member, will replace Gaye Ham. Ham said being relieved of her duty came as a total surprise. “I put in 30-40 hours per week as a volunteer director. We painted, cleaned and did everything we could. I’m upset,” she said. She took over when the gallery relocated in November 2012 to the corner of Irby and Evans streets. Local artist and former board member Bob Feury said he has always been involved since the gallery opened in 2008 by volunteering and showing his own work. He said he was a bit surprised at the decision to overhaul things. “I thought it turned out well with the resources we had. I think it’s a great idea for customers to have a full service place to come to. I would’ve liked to be asked,” Feury, who owns Feury’s Fine Art, said. From the beginning, Florence Downtown Director Ray Reich said the ATG’s vision was to serve two purposes — support arts and culture and be an economic development catalyst for downtown. “We felt it (gallery) needed to make downtown more of a draw, not just for Florentines but also act as a tourist attraction,” Reich said. “There were limited hours that the gallery was open. Volunteers are wonderful to help, but they only have a limited time to give. The plan all along was to become self-sufficient and it’s become less self-sufficient. It needs to operate more like a business. You have to have sales to do that, and eventually we want it to be able to stand on its own two feet.” Hobbs will be the man asked to do that. He comes from decades of managing experience working for DuPont before he retired in 2011. He also serves as the chairman of the Florence County Planning Commission. Working with local businesses, hosting more classes and functions are just some of the goals he has for the gallery. “There’s always room for improvement. I’m going to help make improvements and get the ATG to be more independent. I see potential,” he said. “Things are taking off downtown, and I want to be a part of it. This is just passing the baton.” Two new additions gallery-goers will soon see include bringing in a retailer and giving the Florence Regional Arts Alliance a new home. Roney’s Creative Picture Framing is scheduled to set up a storefront starting in March while the FRAA will be moving in next week. Leatherman said the decision to bring in Roney’s and sign a lease agreement with FRAA will make it possible to have regular hours and be staffed by paid people. Roney’s will take frame, mirror orders on-site. Last month, owners Fran and Charles Gray purchased Kolor Quick and plan to offer enlargements, photo restoration and canvas printing and other services at the gallery. “All of the services will be performed off-site, at Roney’s original location on West Palmetto Street,” Fran said. “I’m excited about getting downtown and in the middle of everything going on.”
Via: SCNow.com

Florence Regional Arts Alliance announces 2013 Arts Awards recipients

The Florence Regional Arts Alliance (FRAA) recently announced its 2013 Arts Awards recipients. Among the winners were two local arts leaders, one arts organization and a global corporation. “We’re very fortunate in Florence County to have more worthy candidates than awards to give away,” said Quincy Kennedy, president of FRAA. “We feel like our board did a great job in narrowing down the nominations we received from the community; it’s not an easy task." Jane Madden, the engine behind the Art Trail Gallery’s quick and continued success, received the John W. Baker Distinguished Service Award. Madden’s efforts over the last five years have been a major factor in the “people side” of Florence’s downtown revitalization. “As improvements are continuously being made downtown, Jane is one of the main people promoting what's going on and what progress is being made,” said Kennedy. The Florence Little Theatre received the Outstanding Arts Organization Award. “Most people are aware of the great shows FLT produces. Not everyone is aware of the outstanding programming they put on for young people and for lifelong learners through their Senior Readers Group. The impact FLT has on Florence County is truly amazing,” said Bruce Douglas, executive director of FRAA. The 2013 Business & Arts Partnership Award recipient is Honda of South Carolina. Honda, which operates out of Timmonsville, supports several community-based programs, projects and events, both arts and non-arts-related. “Honda’s continuous support of the arts, and the Arts Alliance, is why they are receiving this award,” said Kennedy. Honda partners with FRAA to present the Excellence in Arts Education Awards to Florence County’s public high schools. Honda also funds FRAA’s quarterly grants program, which disburses money to organizations, artists and teachers throughout Florence County. The inaugural Frank Crow Service Award winner is Bill Kress. Kress, a long-time Florence Regional Arts Alliance board member, staff member and volunteer, worked with Crow and was honored to receive the award. “This award means a lot to me because it has Frank’s name on it,” said Kress. Crow served as FRAA’s director from 2003-2012 before medical issues forced him into retirement. The Crow Award will be presented annually to an FRAA board member, staff member or volunteer who has had a tremendous impact on the organization. The winners were presented with handmade clay trophies made by Pee Dee artist Patz Fowle. In 2014, FRAA will add a fifth award to its lineup. The Greg Fry Arts Educator of the Year Award will be presented in May of next year. More information about the award will be announced soon. Click the screen below to view a short video produced by FRAA to honor the winners.. 2013 Florence Regional Arts Alliance Awards from Harrison Waters on Vimeo. For more information about these awards or any other Florence Regional Arts Alliance program, contact Bruce Douglas at peedeearts@gmail.com. Via: Florence Regional Arts Alliance

Art on the South Carolina Cotton Trail

[gallery link="file"]   The South Carolina Cotton Trail, stretching from I-95 to I-20 in the Pee Dee, offers a history lesson on cotton's influence in the rural South. It's also a map to the talent and diversity of the region's artists, thanks to the Artisans of the South Carolina Cotton Trail. The group brings together artists, artisans and retailers to attract tourists, share resources and educate the public about the area's tradition of fine visual arts and craft. Through Sept. 28, the Artisans will exhibit their work at the Art Trail Gallery in Florence. The exhibition is free and includes paintings, jewelry, mixed media, photography, glass, ceramics and more. Visit Pee Dee Arts for a list of artists and more information. Photos: Examples of art work by six of the participating artists. Via: Pee Dee Arts