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.
About the FY20 S.C. Arts Commission FellowsVISUAL 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 CommissionWith 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.
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 email@example.com, or visit NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com.
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.
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"] 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.
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.
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
Clemson University to launch STEAM Network at Artisphere in Greenville
From GSA Business:
Clemson University’s exhibit at Artisphere in downtown Greenville will include an announcement about a new partnership that could change how students learn at the university and beyond. The three-day celebration of visual and performing arts starts Friday, May 8 and runs through Sunday, May 10. Two university deans will announce the launch of the Clemson University STEAM Network. The exhibit is part of an effort to ensure that the arts don’t get left behind as students gravitate to science, technology, engineering and math.As part of the network, 32 faculty and staff members are coming together to find new ways of adding an “A” for the arts into the STEM mix. The public will be invited to see what they can build with common items, such as paper clips and cardboard tubes. Participants will then add their inventions to one continuously changing sculpture. Clemson’s exhibit will be at Main and Broad streets. All activities are free and open to the public. Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering and Science, said that the arts can help inspire creativity and recruit a more diverse mix of students to engineering and the sciences. “The intersection of art and STEM has a long history,” he said. “The Duomo cathedral in Florence, Italy was so big and so important, it helped start a whole new era of art and construction engineering. “Likewise, Taj Mahal is considered both an artistic splendor and a civil engineering jewel.” Rick Goodstein, dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, said that the arts help students develop empathy and creative thought. “The arts not only help individuals lead richer, more well rounded lives but also give them a competitive advantage,” he said. “Good leaders understand empathy, and creativity is crucial to innovation. The exhibit schedule also includes code “Scribbler Robots” to draw in an elevated sandbox and a web-based “morphing tool” that can create designs for keeping.
Collaborative Brooks Center exhibition a good fit for artist and audience
PENDLETON — John Acorn stands on the ground floor of his art studio in Pendleton, mid-afternoon sunlight slanting through windows to reveal dozens of abstract projects in progress: giant foil-wrapped sculptures of a hand and a fish, a ring of sliced bread made of wood. He prepares to give a tour of his studio, the modified two-story garage beside his home filled with work from his career as a professional artist and longtime chair of Clemson University’s art department. He dips into that archive for his latest exhibition, “Trailer Nails and Fish Heads,” on display at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts through May 1. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300"] Left: Portrait of a broken sand dollar created from trailer nails in plywood. Right: Detail of trailer nails in plywood.[/caption] Denise Woodward-Detrich stands alongside Acorn as he pulls out a handful of the trailer nails that make up the exhibit. Director of Clemson University’s Lee Gallery, Woodward-Detrich was responsible for identifying Acorn’s work as a good fit for an exhibition at the Brooks Center. “I was familiar with several bodies of work John has created,” she says, “and I felt his trailer nail pieces had not been that widely showcased in the area. The Brooks Center was a great opportunity for both the artist and patrons.” Each piece in the exhibition is aquatically themed: plywood decked with trailer nails forms portraits of sand dollars, feathers and fossils; metal fish head sculptures lurk on makeshift surfaces. The trailer nails were specially ordered in bulk by Acorn years ago, and the fish heads were created at a fabrication plant and based on his own wooden sculptures. Woodward-Detrich admires the elegant simplicity of the exhibit, but notes that it “also gives the viewer a lot to consider in regards to our relationship to nature.” This is the third exhibition organized by Woodward-Detrich and Susan Kaplar, Brooks Center business manager and current art major. Kaplar fell in love with Acorn’s work immediately during a tour of his studio. “I love the ocean, shells and sea creatures and the serenity I feel when I’m there,” she says. She had also seen similar trailer nail artwork by Acorn at the Anderson Arts Center and took it as a sign. The themes of his work, “a new life for something at the end of its life cycle,” also resonated with her. “He saw art emerge from discarded, broken things,” Kaplar says. “That’s powerful. I hope viewers will realize that no matter where they are in their life, they can give themselves another chance to be something useful and beautiful.” [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300"] Metal fish head cast from Acorn’s original sculpture[/caption] Both agree that the Brooks Center offers a huge opportunity for collaboration between the departments of art and performing arts. “The Brooks Center provides another venue for visual arts outside the ‘whitebox’ of the Lee Gallery,” Woodward-Detrich says. “It’s an ideal partnership. Our Brooks Center exhibitions have an extended showing so patrons are able to appreciate them many times during the year.” Kaplar says, “It bridges all areas of arts on campus by offering opportunities for interdisciplinary exercises and outreach.” A self-proclaimed “art educator,” the Brooks Center showing offers Acorn what he constantly seeks: new audiences. His work is familiar to most, even those who have never heard his name. Acorn is responsible for hundreds of sculptures and large-scale installations that populate business and municipal buildings across the Upstate, including the Hampton III Gallery in Taylors and the Fine Arts Center of Greenville. His work has been showcased in venues as prosaic as small-town hardware stores and as prestigious as big-city museums. He also has a story for every piece and venue. When asked where he finds inspiration, Acorn reveals he refrains from that term. “I talk more about ‘source’ of the artwork,” he says. “I’ve always told students: if you sit around waiting to be inspired to make artwork, you’re going to do a lot of sitting around. The way you make artwork is you start making it!” Acorn’s sources are various. He does not seek them out, nor does he care where he finds them. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="300"] Fish Head 2[/caption] “It’s whatever I’m bouncing off of, whatever I’m reading, seeing,” he says. Sometimes the spark is an article in LIFE magazine; other times, newspapers and television. One of his most prominent motifs is the “Camouflage Man,” which was spurred by an advertisement in the Anderson Independent Mail for a camouflage hunting suit. He shows dozens of larger-than-life Camouflage Man sculptures, lined up like an army in formation. Nearby is one of his fish head sculptures. Acorn says the pieces in this series were inspired by Pablo Picasso’s famous painting, “Guernica.” Spanning the entire the left side of the room is an enormous charm bracelet, which he created after giving his granddaughter a (normal-sized) charm bracelet as a gift. His sources truly have no limits. If Acorn’s studio resembles a workshop, it is not by happenstance. His introduction to art came during his formative years in New Jersey, when he was in fifth-grade shop class. He says he essentially uses the same technology in creating his artwork now as he did in elementary school. The creative spirit of that class, in which he used a variety of hardware store materials for his creations, lit a fire for the rest of his academic career. Acorn’s guidance counselor balked when he told him he wanted to pursue art in college. “He did his best to convince me not to be an artist,” Acorn recalls. “He got out all his books about how much money I would make.” The counselor’s plea failed. Acorn matriculated to Montclair State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts before receiving a Master of Fine Arts at Cranbrook Academy of Art near Detroit. During his final year of graduate school, he presented an exhibition as part of his coursework. At the same time, architect and Clemson University Dean of Architecture Harlan E. McClure was in town for a conference and happened upon it. He liked Acorn’s work and phoned him to schedule a job interview. Dressed in sweatshirt and blue jeans while loading his belongings into his 1955 station wagon, Acorn told McClure, “If you take me just like I am, I’d be pleased to talk with you.” That suited McClure fine. After their meeting, Acorn was beyond impressed. He had already been offered a job at Buffalo State University, but chose Clemson instead. During the winter, he jokes, he is reminded of the rightness of his decision. Acorn would join the faculty in 1961 and become chair of the department of art in 1976, a position he would hold until retirement in 1997. In 1998, he was given the prestigious Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award, which is bestowed by the South Carolina Arts Commission as “the highest honor the state gives in the arts.” He also received Clemson University’s Distinguished Emeriti Award in 2010. As the sun begins to dip behind the trees, Acorn goes to his car and retrieves another fish head. This one, he says, was created by a talented young fabricator based on Acorn’s design, and he has decided to submit it for an exhibition as a jointly created work. Retired for almost two decades, Acorn shows no sign of stopping. As “Trailer Nails and Fish Heads” proves, he is always striving for new ways to bring art to the people. “Trailer Nails and Fish Heads” is free and open to the public in the lobby of the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts from 1 to 5 p.m. on weekdays and before evening performances. Image above: Artist John Acorn in his studio.
Greenville’s Fine Arts Center and Clemson University partner to kickstart student careers
From The Greenville News:
[caption id="attachment_14542" align="alignright" width="262"] Dr. Richard Goodstein, Dean of College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities Clemson University, (left) and Fine Arts Center Director Roy Fluhrer at a press conference announcing partnership. Image courtesy Brooks Center for the Performing Arts[/caption] Greenville County Schools and Clemson University announced a partnership today that will allow high school students to earn college credit for their studies at the Fine Arts Center. Clemson’s performing and visual arts programs will extend credit hours toward a bachelor of fine arts in visual arts or production studies for students who receive high grades in acting, visual arts and theater classes. “This new partnership is specifically career-oriented,” said Rick Goodstein, dean of Clemson’s College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. He said by entering college with a few classes worth of credit under their belts, arts students will be able to “kickstart their careers.” “You get to enter at a higher level. And that’ll develop their talent even further by the time they finish their undergraduate education,” he said. Roy Fluhrer, director of the Fine Arts Center, said the collaboration is a reflection of the high-level curriculum already being taught at the Fine Arts Center, and no changes to class structure or content is planned in order to provide college credit. “This program represents the future of college credit programs, and that is the opportunity to pair with students in their area of interest, their area of skill and the area that they will likely focus on, not just in their post-secondary education but in their later life,” said Greenville County Schools Superintendent Burke Royster. The partnership goes into effect for the 2014-15 school year, including the class of 2014 graduates who are attending Clemson. Fine Arts Center alumna and rising Clemson freshman Elise Huguley said it will help her keep college costs down by shortening the time she needs to spend in school to get her degree.Related article from Clemson University with enrollment information.