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Tuning Up: #SCartists in the news

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...
  Cecil Williams might have a Governor's Award for lifetime achievement, but he sure isn't slowing down. This Times & Democrat story goes into great detail on a new wall art series of his works. Moments of Grace – The South Carolina History That Changed America tells the story of African Americans’ fight for equal rights over decades:

Using his skills in photography, art, and computer graphics, the 84-year-old started the series in 1999. He has just completed 60 of what will be a series of 100 images that depict the state’s history, culture and heritage and how it all intertwines with African Americans’ fight for justice and equality.

Go check it out. Video included! From an award recipient to an SCAC fellowship recipient we go! Per a release from Clemson University comes news on Valerie Zimany (Craft Fellow, 2020): "Professor Valerie Zimany, chair of the Clemson University Department of Art, was one of ten U.S. artists inducted into the International Academy of Ceramics in 2021. Zimany was nominated by members of Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Candidates elected by the Council will be introduced during the 2022 General Assembly in Geneva by the President of the Academy." Read more from the College of Arts, Architecture, and the Humanities here.

Jason Rapp

Donnelley Foundation grants to help tell underrepresented stories

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (the Foundation)—which supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Chicago—announced the 11 recipients of the its groundbreaking “Broadening Narratives” initiative, which aims to fund specific collections projects that bring forward underrepresented stories.

This announcement represents the second round of organizations to receive the Broadening Narratives grant. The projects collectively illustrate BIPOC communities, LGBTQ+ perspectives, working-class narratives, small community experiences, as well as other underrepresented groups and viewpoints.  The three Lowcountry-based projects or organizations are Clemson University, the Gibbes Museum of Art, and The Educational Foundation of the University of South Carolina Lancaster’s Native American Studies Center. The eight Chicago-based organizations are the Bronzeville Black Chicagoan Historical Society, Chicago History Museum, Chicago Public Art Group, Lewis University, Muslim American Leadership Alliance, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, South Side Community Art Center, and Trickster Cultural Center. Additionally, the foundation renewed its $25,000 grant to each of the five Broadening Narratives advisory groups that assisted with the formation of that funding initiative: the College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Digital Library, Southeastern Museums Conference, Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Chicago Collections Consortium, and the Chicago Cultural Alliance. “While the purpose of collections is to ensure that stories are preserved, many narratives are often overlooked because of decisions based on race, gender, sexual identity, educational background, economic or social status, or because they are perceived to be outside the conventional thinking of the day,” said David Farren, foundation executive director. “We are thrilled to announce these grant recipients and want to thank these organizations for being part of this new way forward in collections thinking that shifts focus from the processing of material objects to the telling of broader and more inclusive narratives.” The Lowcountry-based organizations and projects to be funded by Broadening Narratives:
  • Clemson University will partner with the nationally registered Seashore Farmers’ Lodge and the Sol Legare community to provide collections management training; conduct conservation assessment, treatment, and interpretation for objects in the collection; and develop manuals for ongoing care and management. The project will shed light on the site, which was once the heart and backbone of the early African-American community providing farmers aid and insurance in a time of need in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
“The historic African American community of Sol Legare in the Lowcountry of South Carolina is unique in the measures that community members have taken to interpret and preserve their history in the built environment and cultural objects,” says Dr. Jon Marcoux, director of Clemson's Historic Preservation program.  “The community’s historical importance has gone unrecognized in broader narratives of the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights eras. The project has the authenticity of fourth-generation residents playing an intricate role in protecting hundreds of donated objects that represent the full 150-year-old history of Sol Legare. We are honored to partner with the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation to preserve and share this significant collection.”
  • The Gibbes Museum of Art will create an exhibition drawing parallels between noted Charleston Renaissance artist Ned Jennings and British Aesthete and artist Aubrey Beardsley, re-contextualizing the Renaissance by examining the historically taboo topic of LGBTQIA+ contributions to the art world, still largely untold in the South. In particular, the exhibit will consider the role of queer artists in the Charleston arts community and the influence of queer aesthetics on the Charleston Renaissance via an exploration of Jennings’ works and life.
“By considering the impact of the British Aestheticism movement of the late 19th century on one of Charleston’s most original artistic minds, Edward “Ned” I.R. Jennings, we’re able to engage in a long overdue conversation about the LGBTQIA+ influences, histories, and kinship networks that existed between World Wars I and II when the visual arts flourished; a period that would become known as the Charleston Renaissance,” Gibbes Museum of Art Executive Director Angela Mack said. “Thanks to the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation’s commitment to telling this story, we are able to reengage with the work of an artist whose life was tragically cut short and whose originality and impact for too long has been marginalized.”
  • The Educational Foundation of the University of South Carolina Lancaster’s Native American Studies Center (NASC) will continue its study of South Carolina’s Native American peoples, their histories, and their cultures by gathering oral histories, artifacts, and conducting research related to Lowcountry tribes. The Lowcountry was a significant site for Native American tribes across the region for trade and was a nexus for interaction with European settlers and enslaved Africans.
“Very little scholarly work has been done to document and preserve the living traditions of South Carolina Native Americans, particularly in the Lowcountry. The small, often isolated but vibrant Native communities have existed largely under the radar of outside scholars. Some members of these communities were enslaved by European colonists; others found their tribal communities driven to near extinction. Some identified, at times, as white; others were labeled as African American. With the generous support of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the NASC will help document, preserve, and share these rich cultural traditions maintained by the life experiences and in the memories of the elders and leaders of these communities,” said Dr. Stephen Criswell, NASC Director. Criswell, Hub readers might remember, is a 2018 recipient of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award. The Gibbes Museum is a 2019 recipient of the South Carolina Governor's Award for the Arts. Readers curious about the Chicago-based grant recipients can read more about them here.
About Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina. For over five years, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation has convened five advisory groups to assist with the formation and execution of the Broadening Narratives funding initiative by providing important feedback, keeping the Foundation apprised of trends in the field, and serving as valuable connectors and conveners. The groups include Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Chicago Collections Consortium, Chicago Cultural Alliance, College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Digital Library, and the Southeastern Museums Conference. For more information on the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, visit www.gddf.org.

Jason Rapp

Tuning Up: Checking in with Sam Wang + visual artists workshop

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...
Photonola features Sam Wang. It's a shot in the dark to be sure, but if you find yourself in the Big Easy through Dec. 29, there's an #SCartists connection. 2012 Governor's Award for the Arts recipient Sam Wang (individual category) is the subject of a 25-minute film in the Photonola 2021 film festival. Sam Wang: Persistent Discoveries is playing through the 29th. Born in Beijing, Wang has left an indelible mark at Clemson University where he has served on the faculty, teaching photography, for some 40 years. 2D or Not 2D? Next up in the SCAC's Artist Entrepreneur Incubator workshop series is a track for visual artists (though it's open to artists of any medium from across the state!). SCAC Artist Development Director Ce Scott-Fitts welcomes artists Mary Gilkerson and Tiffany Thomas will lead the virtual workshop "2D or Not 2D: Visual Art & Craft" on Jan. 11 from 6-7:30 p.m. Additional information and registration link here. Presented in partnership with One Columbia for Arts & Culture.

Jason Rapp

Artisphere, Ag + Art Tour announce spring plans

In-person opportunities continue to increase


That bright thing is back in the sky today.

One's thoughts inevitably turn to spring on days like today. The days are zipping toward March and there's a warmer weather pattern to enliven the spirit and enhance mood. With so many people yearning for some semblance of routine to return, and time drawing nearer to outdoor events being more palatable, two South Carolina (outdoor) arts festivals announced plans to come back after joining so many on an unfortunate (but understandable) one-year hiatus.

South Carolina Ag + Art Tour (weekends May 29-June 27)

This is an annual crawl across several South Carolina counties that showcases things South Carolina does well. (You probably guessed what from the event's name.) Starting the final weekend in May, and every weekend in June, explore the agriculture and artistic heritage of South Carolina through the South Carolina Ag + Art Tour.  This experience is a free, self-guided tour of designated farms in South Carolina, featuring local artisans and farmer's markets. This year you can plan to make visits in these counties: Charleston, Chester, Chesterfield, Colleton, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lexington, Newberry and Richland + York. The festival is organized by Clemson University Cooperative Extension.

Artisphere (May 7-9)

Hailed as one of the country's top arts festivals, Artisphere announced yesterday that it's returning to Greenville's Main Street for its usual Mother's Day Weekend run. Like so many things, it won't quite be the same—at least not yet. Masks will be mandatory, attendance will be limited and everyone will be funneled through one of three entry points. And, just for this year they say, it will be confined to the West End Historic District on South Main. Reservations for 2.5-hour time slots will be available to the general public starting March 15 for a $5 fee that will be returned upon admission as a credit to buy art. Sign up for notification and learn more about Artisphere 2021 here. (Disclaimer: the S.C. Arts Commission provides operating support to Artisphere that is tangential to this newsworthy item.) The Hub will try to keep readers updated on additional festival announcements as they occur.
Image by kie-ker from Pixabay

Jason Rapp

2020 S.C. Arts Commission fellowships announced

Four honored for achievement in visual art, craft, and music


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina artists in Darlington, Pickens, and Richland counties representing four arts disciplines received individual artist fellowships for fiscal year 2020 after approval by the S.C. Arts Commission board of directors. Individual artists residing in South Carolina full-time whose work covers visual arts, craft, music composition and music performance were invited to apply for fiscal year 2020 awards. Applications were up 25% over last year. Out-of-state panelists from each discipline review the applications and, based solely on their blind review of anonymous work samples, recommend recipients of each $5,000 fellowship. At its June meeting, the S.C. Arts Commission board of directors approved the following recommendations:
  • Adrian Rhodes of Darlington County for visual art,
  • Valerie Zimany of Pickens County for craft,
  • Fang Man of Richland County for music composition, and
  • Craig Butterfield of Richland County for music performance.
Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of exceptional South Carolina individual artists. Recognition from fellowship awards lends artistic prestige and often opens doors to other resources and employment opportunities. “These awards can be transformative; they lift artists’ spirits and self-perception while allowing them to focus on their art. Past fellows talk about how it can be a life-changing event,” S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said. “South Carolina’s artists are at the core of our creative economy and serve as indispensable contributors to quality of life in our communities. Our agency is proud to deliver these tokens of gratitude on behalf of those most affected by the work being honored: the people of South Carolina.” The diverse panelists (above) who judged each discipline’s nominees work in those disciplines. Reviewing the visual art and craft applicants were Wendy Earle, curator of contemporary art at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Bruce Pepich, executive director and curator of collections of the Racine Art Museum and Wustum Museum of Fine Arts in Racine, Michigan; and Marilyn Zapf, the assistant director and curator at the Center for Craft, a national arts nonprofit headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina. Brent Milam, instructor of music theory and composition at Georgia State University; and Dr. Robert Tanner, associate professor of music at Morehouse College, reviewed the music composition applicants. Verena Lucía Anders, a conductor, pianist, vocalist, composer, music educator, and winner of multiple Grammy Awards; and Tami Lee Hughes, a concert violinist, recording artist, and music educator reviewed applicants in music performance. Four fellowships per year are awarded to artists working in rotating disciplines. One artist from each of these fields: prose, poetry, dance choreography and dance performance, will be honored in fiscal year 2021. To be eligible, artists must be at least 18 years old and a legal U.S. resident with permanent residence in the state for two years prior to the application date and throughout the fellowship period. Applications will be accepted later this summer following announcement by the S.C. Arts Commission. For more on discipline rotation, eligibility requirements, and the application process, please visit https://www.southcarolinaarts.com/grant/fel/

About the FY20 S.C. Arts Commission Fellows

VISUAL ART | ADRIAN RHODES | Darlington County Adrian Rhodes, a Hartsville, South Carolina native, received her Master of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from Winthrop University in 2011. Printmaking forms the core of her mixed media practice, resulting in installation, paintings, editioned prints, collage, and sculptural paper pieces. Her work has shown throughout the Carolinas, including select solo exhibitions at the UNC Charlotte, City Art in Columbia, the Dalton Gallery at the Center for the Arts in Rock Hill, and the Rebecca Randall Bryan gallery at Coastal Carolina University. Her work has frequently received awards in juried competitions, including taking the top prize at VAE Raleigh’s Contemporary South 2017 and Best of Show at the York County Juried Exhibition in 2013. Her work was recently featured in the Paper Worlds exhibition at the Spartanburg Art Museum. She currently teaches printmaking at the University of South Carolina. Her work can be seen at www.adrianrhodes.com, and you can follow her studio practice on Instagram: @adrian_rhodes. CRAFT | VALERIE ZIMANY | Pickens County Extensive time in Japan fostered Valerie Zimany’s examinations of complex relationships, to include East and West. She spent several years there after earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia—first as a Fulbright Fellow, then completing a Master of Fine Arts at Kanazawa College of Art as a Japanese Government Scholar, and three more years in residency at the Utatsuyama Craft Workshop in Kanazawa. Her work has been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions and competitions in Japan; Korea; Billings, Montana; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; Columbia; and more and it appears in multiple public and private collections. She was named an American Craft Council Searchlight Artist for 2007, a Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artist for 2008, and was a finalist for the Niche Award (2011) and the Society for Contemporary Craft’s Founder’s Prize 2013).  She is department chair and associate professor of art (ceramics) at Clemson University. MUSIC: COMPOSITION | FANG MAN | Richland County Hailed as “inventive and breathtaking” by the New York Times, Fang Man’s original concert music has been performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra New Music Group under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen, American Composers Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, National Orchestre de Lorraine (France), Minnesota Orchestra, Music from China, and others. She is the recipient of Guggenheim and other fellowships and grants and the National Endowment for the Arts, Music from China, and Toru Takemitsu (Japan) awards. She has received commissions from around the world and has multiple recordings. Fang served as a resident composer in Italy, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. and has degrees from Cornell (MFA, DMA) and Beijing Central Conservatory of Music. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina. MUSIC: PERFORMANCE | CRAIG BUTTERFIELD | Richland County Craig Butterfield is professor of double bass and jazz studies at the University of South Carolina, where he directs one of the largest double bass programs in the Southeast. He has composed, performed, and recorded in genres as diverse as classical, jazz, American folk, and World music. Notable collaborations include touring and recording with jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, three albums of original music with multi-instrumentalist Jesse Jones as the Jones/Butterfield duo, three albums with classical guitarist Matthew Slotkin as Dez Cordas, a collaboration with classical pianist Charles Fugo, and a current recording project of original folk-inspired music with Boomtown Trio. Butterfield’s YouTube channel featuring original performances in multiple genres has more than a quarter of a million views.

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.

North Charleston Arts Fest Reveals 2018 Design Competition Winner

The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department is pleased to announce Hamed Mahmoodi of Greenville, S.C. as the winner of the 2018 North Charleston Arts Fest Design Competition. As the winner of the statewide contest, Mahmoodi’s acrylic painting, titled Atlantic Sun (right), will be used to promote the 2018 North Charleston Arts Fest, taking place May 2-6. In addition, the artist received a $500 purchase award and the piece will become part of the City’s Public Art Collection. Hamed’s design was selected from a total of 85 entries by artists from 11 cities across the state. The selection was made by a review panel appointed by the Cultural Arts Department who judged the entries based on quality, originality, appeal to festival patrons from a broad range of backgrounds, and ability to convey the spirit of the festival as a public celebration of arts and culture. Mahmoodi, who has submitted work into the competition in years past, created a series of abstract paintings in the Art Nouveau manner for his entries in this year’s competition. “I focused on concentrated circles and curves and loaded the pieces with colors in a rainbow fashion that would be pleasing to the viewer’s eye,” he explains. “I believe the vibrancy created by the enticing color scheme and the energy generated by the movement in Atlantic Sun are very representative of the North Charleston Arts Fest. The diverse performances and artwork featured during the event, and the approach to connecting the arts and community members, bring vibrancy and energy to the City that I think is very special.” Hamed Mahmoodi was born in Iran and moved to South Carolina in 1978. He attended Clemson University and received a B.S. in Design Architecture in 1986. After graduation, he worked as an associate architect at Fluor International, then as art director for Naegele Outdoor Advertising. He has been a freelance designer for various architectural firms throughout the Southeast and a full-time artist working in a variety of media since the late 80’s. Hamed has had several one-man shows in museums, universities, galleries, and restaurants, and his design works and paintings can be found from Ground Zero Memorial Park in NYC to the South Carolina Governor's Mansion. He has also earned numerous juried awards, best in show honors, merit awards, fellowships, and art grants and has been chosen as the poster/art design winner of other notable festivals, including Piccolo Spoleto (Charleston, SC) and the Coca-Cola RiverPlace Festival (Greenville, SC). Oil, watercolor, acrylic, metals, wax, paper, furniture, and photography are just some of the media that Mahmoodi has used to create his diverse works of art. His philosophy for creating art is much like Robert Rauschenberg and Christo, whereas he believes that each idea and work deserves its own individual style and medium. Therefore, his approach varies from representational to abstract, with his most recent paintings primarily executed in an abstract style with an emphasis on color and movement. A new series of Mahmoodi’s paintings will be on display at the North Charleston City Gallery throughout May 2018. The exhibit will also feature the winning piece, Atlantic Sun. The gallery is located within the Charleston Area Convention Center at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. Admission and parking are free. The public is invited to meet the artist at the gallery during the Arts Fest Expo from 11:00am-5:00pm on May 5 & 6, 2018. T-shirts and posters featuring the winning design will be available for purchase. For more information about the North Charleston Arts Fest, other competition and exhibition opportunities, or festival sponsorship and program booklet ad placement, contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843)740-5854, email culturalarts@northcharleston.org, or visit NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com.

Submitted material

Public Art by Students, For Students

Atelier InSite is a public art program at Clemson University that allows students to be closely involved with the process of implementing and maintaining public art on campus. With three completed projects since its inception in 2012, and two more in the works, Atelier InSite has been challenging the way art gets put into the public view with its “by students, for students” mantra. The first installation of 2018 was finished in January. Foundation (above) is suspended from the ceiling of Lee III, the newest building for art, architecture and landscape architecture. Co-artists Volkan Alkanoglu and Mathew Au created this piece for “The Wedge”, a large space in Lee III which functions as a review space, public events venue, and common area for students and faculty. A public dedication for the piece will be held on March 28th at the site of the artwork, with a lecture by Alkanoglu and Au. For more information and updates, check out our website: https://www.clemson.edu/centers-institutes/cva/public-art/Lee%20III.html.

Submitted material

Artwork by eight award-winning Upstate women on display at Lee Gallery

Article by Meredith Mims McTigue, Center for Visual Arts [caption id="attachment_146728" align="alignright" width="217" class="wp_custom_caption"]"13th level of the 13th Pit," art by Linda McCune, is included in the exhibit. Linda McCune, 13th level of the 13th Pit. Image Credit: Linda McCune[/caption] CLEMSON — An exhibit celebrating the artwork of eight award-winning Upstate women is being presented at the Lee Gallery at the Clemson University Center for Visual Arts through Nov. 8. The “Upstate 8: SC Fellowship Women Exhibit” is part of a larger endeavor to highlight artists during a yearlong 50th anniversary celebration of the South Carolina Arts Commission. On June 7, 1967, Gov. Robert E. McNair signed legislation that established the South Carolina Arts Commission. This historic moment signaled a new era of public support for the arts. The exhibition highlights the work of artists who were direct beneficiaries of this historic legislation through the support they received from competitive fellowships awarded to them by the South Carolina Arts Commission. These eight women are leaders in the arts, mentors through their creative research and contributors to the thriving cultural climate that the state of South Carolina now enjoys. Students enrolled in an undergraduate Creative Inquiry program called Clemson Curates were charged to develop an exhibit that showcased the fellowship program. The students, advised by Lee Gallery director Denise Woodward-Detrich, reviewed all of the artists and made the final selections. “We are honored to be chosen to curate such an important collection of women artists from the Upstate,” said Woodward-Detrich.

[caption id="attachment_146725" align="alignleft" width="250" class="wp_custom_caption"]This piece by Patti Brady is in the exhibit. This piece by Patti Brady is in the exhibit.[/caption] The participating artists are Alice Ballard, Patti Brady, Diane Hopkins-Hughs, Terry Jarrard-Dimond, Ellen Kochansky, Linda Williams McCune, Jane Allen Nodine and Susan Wooten. Intersecting subject matter presented in the exhibition includes connections to nature through materiality, imagery and the capacity for symbolic meaning. Other related content includes the exploration of feminine forms and sensibilities associated with nature as an embodiment of the female, traditional feminine materials and processes through textiles, connections to family, place, the personal and the emotional. This innovative art collaboration is part of the commitment of the Lee Gallery at the Clemson University Center for Visual Arts to support the university’s ClemsonForward strategic plan to provide educational activities that expose students to research through artistic means. There will be an exhibit reception at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, and an artist panel discussion at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19. The public is invited to attend the reception and the panel discussion exploring the artists’ creative processes, methodologies, work as women artists and the roles they embraced as mentors and educators. The exhibition, reception and panel discussion are free to the public. This project is funded by First Citizens Bank, the South Carolina Arts Foundation and the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For nearly 50 years, father-son faculty members blaze trails at Clemson University

Jack and David Stevenson have made an impact in the Clemson community in very different capacities for almost five decades. Father-son pair Jack and David Stevenson took very different career paths. Jack (the father) spent time as a chaplain for the Navy before travelling south to organize outdoor wilderness camp programs. David pursued classical guitar at the University of South Carolina and has a thriving career as a musician and teacher. Both, however, found their way to Clemson University. Though their tenures did not overlap, the Stevensons have been a fixture in Tiger Town for almost 50 years. Jack began work as the camp director for the Atlanta Presbytery in Georgia, a year-round camp, conference, and retreat center. “Summer camps were the big thing, but we had a lot of other groups that came in,” he said. His experience with the camp led him to pursue a Ph.D. at Indiana University. He originally wanted to work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, so he applied for a position there in 1968. “The Department Chair, Doug Sessoms, said, ‘Jack, I don’t have any hard money, it’s all grant money, and I can’t guarantee that if you came here, that you’d have a job, so I wish you well.’” Then Sessoms sat down and sent all Jack’s application papers to Clemson’s brand new parks, recreations, and tourism management department. Jack was the fifth faculty member hired in the new department. Beyond the nuts and bolts of the curriculum, he enjoyed fostering students’ ambitions during their time at Clemson. “I loved helping students emerge and get enthusiastic about something that they didn’t know about before,” he said. “To learn on their own, I had everybody write in a journal. I asked them to tie in the readings I assigned with their lives. People emerged, and I got the biggest kick out of it.” This passion for helping students extended to his tenure as head of the Calhoun Honors College, which he held from 1981 until his retirement in 1992. Jack helped secure funding from deans throughout the University to help fund the program, which was in its early stages when he began. Jack’s son, David, grew up in Clemson. “I was running around here as a little kid,” he said. He remembers tagging along with his father when Jack took his classes on camping trips. “I would go because I wanted to hang out with cool college kids, and I remember being on a camping trip when everyone was saying, ‘Yeah, next year, this will all be under water.’ We were camping where Lake Jocassee is now.” “We’ve hiked many miles on the Appalachian Trail,” his father adds. The outdoors were not merely an area of study for Jack, but a way of bonding for father and son. Despite his enthusiasm for the outdoors, David took a different path, and discovered a deep love for music. “There was always music in our home – mostly classical,” he said. “But no one else in our family is a musician. It was something I took to.” He attributes his brother with providing him with that first spark of inspiration. “We were both home, the two of us, and we went into the living room, where he played this Led Zeppelin record on Dad’s stereo. The minute that needle hit the record, I said, ‘That is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. I want to be a guitar player.’” David’s early experiences and associations as a teenager in Clemson also heavily influenced his love of guitar. The Barnett family owned Barnett Music Center in downtown Clemson in the 1970s. Bobby Barnett was a faculty member at the Poole Agricultural Center, and David took his first guitar lessons from Bonnie Barnett in 1972. Their twin sons were talented guitarists themselves who once performed as the opening act for an Allman Brothers concert. “I had some of my first rock-and-roll lessons from those guys,” he said. Steve Goggins, an architecture student and talented guitarist, mentored David and was key in turning his interest from electric- and rock-based guitar to acoustic. His friend Robert Johnson, who lived in student housing (which was near the current location of the Brooks Center) with his wife Ann in the mid-1970s, introduced him to experimental music. In addition to being an engineering graduate student, he was a Vietnam War veteran who served in the Air Force. David would often visit the couple to listen to and talk about music. “I find it so interesting that I was visiting them and playing and learning literally where the Brooks Center parking lots are now,” he said. While he played guitar in rock bands around town, David wanted to grow as a musician. He would eventually enroll at the University of South Carolina as a classical guitar major. “Frankly, I didn’t have much talent,” he said. “But I had a lot of determination, so I was willing to work hard. And the classical discipline was really good for me, because I could follow instructions. I wanted what those people knew, and I wanted to do what they could do. I didn’t necessarily love classical guitar at the time that I showed up, but by the time I left, it had taken over my life.” Jack paid his son’s tuition to go to college, but had a little fun when he wrote the check, referencing the Clemson-Carolina rivalry in a subtle way. “Clemson was in a long period of dominance back then in football, and the only way he could write my tuition check was that he would put the football score in the memo line of the check.” “For five years,” Jack chimed in. “And they cashed them anyway!” After graduation, David ended up in Asheville, North Carolina, where he has lived for 26 years. In addition to being a freelance musician, he has taught at the University of North Carolina at Asheville for 28 years, as well as Gardner-Webb University, Brevard College, and, of course, Clemson. “Eventually, when the Brooks Center opened, word came: ‘We’re hiring teachers.’ So I applied and was hired in 1994,” he recalled. As the first faculty guitar instructor at Clemson, David commuted four total hours to Clemson to teach two hours of lessons to four students. Now he teaches three days a week and has over 100 students each semester, including one-on-one private lessons and larger classroom sessions. *   *   * In addition to being a performer and teacher, David is also an entrepreneur: “Part of my patchwork quilt of a living,” he says. With a friend, he began making and selling guitar accessories. He patented the A-Frame in 1991, a device that takes the place of the footstool used by classical guitarists during concerts. The small, compact invention props the guitar up to playing height on the thigh, rather than forcing the musician to put his or her leg in an uncomfortable position for the entirety of a performance. David earned his second patent in 2015 with the X-Strap, an extra strap (hence the name) that secures the guitar more tightly to a musician’s body. He was inspired to create it after seeing an ensemble that stood during an entire performance at the Brooks Center. “They were the happiest, most expressive group,” he said. “It was infectious! I loved it! I immediately thought, ‘We’ve got to get guitarists out of the chair.” There was one problem: David felt the standard guitar strap allowed the guitar too much movement, and classical guitarists need the guitar to be secure. This new, second strap would keep the guitar in place and allow the user to move. “I think it invites the audience in,” he said. “Often when you go to a classical guitar concert, here’s this person sitting very rigidly in a chair way over there, they’re playing a soft instrument and they barely move and they’re looking down all the time. It doesn’t invite the listener in. If you can engage your body a little, it somehow invites them in.” His A-Frame and X-Strap were conceptual solutions to problems he faced as a musician. But for his inventions to be of use to others, he had to do more than conceptualize: he had to find a way to build and distribute them efficiently and economically. With his company, SageWorks, he would develop such a system. Now, he makes both the A-Frame and X-Strap himself, by hand, in a workshop beside his house. “I source all the parts,” he said. “I fabricate everything and put them together when the orders come in.”  The A-Frame went through several iterations before it was finalized for the market. Aaron Shearer, a friend and world-class guitar pedagogue who taught at some of the most prestigious music institutions in the country, endorsed it, and David estimates that he has sold close to 20,000 units over 25 years. *   *   * The Stevenson family has always believed in Clemson, David said, even when he was on the road for lessons in Tiger Town longer than he was in the classroom. The fact that Jack established an endowment in 1989 that was, around 1994, re-designated for use by the guitar program shows how dedicated they are to the community and the performing arts. The endowment, which has grown substantially over the years, is now used to purchase sheet music and instruments, and to take care of other costs related to guitar. There are 18 guitars for use by students at Clemson, and classes are designed to help students of all levels and interests – even total beginners. David is often able to invite guest artists to perform and speak to students: Gaelle Solal, classical guitarist from Belgium; Bluegrass master musician Josh Goforth; the rock band Buster; and master fingers style guitarists Alex de Grassi from California and Al Pettaway from Asheville, to name a few. He points to his experiences in Clemson as a teenager to explain his long-lasting connection to his hometown. “Those early influences have literally kept me right here in almost the exact same spot sharing the guitar with so many Clemson students over the last 22 years,” he said. For many years after retiring from Clemson, Jack kept an office in Clemson as a pastoral Counselor at Fort Hill Presbyterian Church. When in town, David has the privilege, as his father says, of staying with him. Nearly 50 years later, for at least a few days each week, the Jack and David can be found under one roof near the University and city they love. For more information about David, his music, and his patents, visit http://riverpointdesign.com/davidsguitar/Home. Thomas Hudgins is director of marketing and communications for the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts in Clemson.

Thomas Hudgins

Digital production arts degree to be offered at new Zucker Family Graduate Education Center

From Charleston Regional Business Journal Article by Ashely Heffernan

The first two of several degree programs that will be offered at the new Zucker Family Graduate Education Center in North Charleston have been announced. Clemson University will offer a doctorate in computer science and a master’s degree in digital production arts at the $21.5 million facility when it opens in the fall of 2016. Eileen Kraemer, director of Clemson’s School of Computing, said the first two degree programs are just the beginning. “The digital production arts (degree) will probably be the first out of the gate, but by the fall of 2016, we hope to have a presence for all of the programs,” Kraemer said, referring to all of Clemson’s graduate-level engineering programs. Students can begin applying for the Lowcountry programs beginning this fall, and Kraemer said the goal is to have a 10-student starting class for the digital production arts degree, which would eventually scale up to about 70. An additional 200 students are expected over time for the graduate engineering programs. Two professors are already scheduled to move from the Clemson area to Charleston to teach classes for the degrees, including Robert Geist, who is the interim director of the digital production arts program. Geist has taught at Clemson for more than 30 years and was credited in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for his visual effects work. He also co-founded the digital production arts program at Clemson, which prepares students to do animation, visual effects and electronic gaming work. “Our graduates go to lots of the studios, of course, and gaming companies,” he said. “They go to DreamWorks, and they go to Pixar and Disney. They go to Industrial Light & Magic, which is Lucasfilms, as well.” Since the program started in 1999, more than 150 alumni of the program have garnered film credits in movies including Frozen, The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon 2, according to the university. Creating “everything that’s fake” in a movie — most of the water in James Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic was created by a university alumnus, for example — doesn’t come cheap for studios, according to Geist. “I’m sure those who are out there for a few years are making over $100,000. I would imagine the starting salaries are in the 80s somewhere,” he said. The new center, which is expected to be 70,000 square feet, is under construction near the Clemson University Restoration Institute on the former naval shipyard in North Charleston. On top of the $21.5 million building price tag, Nikolaos Rigas, executive director of the institute, said it will take several million dollars more to get the programs up and running. “I think there will probably be in the order of another $5 million to $10 million invested in equipment, startup packages to get professors here, hiring and things like that invested just in the educational programs themselves,” Rigas said. “Obviously those professors then bring in more money to set up their labs.” Students can expect to pay the same tuition at the North Charleston campus as they would if they were pursuing the same program at the Clemson campus, Rigas said.
Image: rendering of Zucker Family Graduate Education Center