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Brookgreen to get “green” to create more space for art, animals, more

$20 million capital campaign launches

There is good news from the Grand Strand this morning via The Sun News/The State: Brookgreen Gardens is pressing the upgrade button.

[caption id="attachment_49992" align="alignright" width="251"] A red wolf mother and pup. Provided photo. Click to enlarge.[/caption] A 90-year-old natural and artistic treasure, Brookgreen Gardens announced a $20 million overhaul via an exclusive to things such as its welcome center, and art and teaching spaces. The funds are coming because of a new capital campaign, which has commitments of more than 75% of the $20 million goal. The Hub doesn't mean to create a stir here (its not our news after all), but: there will be cute animals. This is not a drill! Read more about current happenings at Brookgreen Gardens, a wonderful confluence of nature, art, and history, at Brookgreen.org.
UPDATE: 28 April 2022, 08:58 ET: Brookgreen Gardens submitted the following news release to The Hub after the publication of this post. We are sharing it below. - Ed. [caption id="attachment_49993" align="aligncenter" width="961"]A bird's eye artist's rendering of the proposed new conservatory and rain garden. A bird's eye artist's rendering of the proposed new conservatory and rain garden at Brookgreen Gardens. Provided image.[/caption] Brookgreen Gardens, a National Historic Landmark on the Lowcountry coast, has announced an initiative to expand its art, nature, and history programs for the next generation. Brookgreen's first capital campaign in 25 years, the Campaign for the Next Generation includes new and renovated facilities as well as supporting endowments. The $20 million campaign was announced publicly for the first time today, with $16.1 million already pledged. “This campaign, will enable us to expand on the original vision of Brookgreen's founders, Archer and Anna Huntington," says Page Kiniry, president and CEO of Brookgreen Gardens. "This year, we celebrated Brookgreen's 90th anniversary. These new projects support our educational mission and ensure we are offering exciting, diverse, and relevant programs for our guests and members." Brookgreen is home to the largest and most significant collection of American figurative sculpture in the country. It is a leader in sculpture conservation, environmental conservation, and the protection of the plants, animals, and history of the South Carolina Lowcountry. The Campaign for the Next Generation will expand Brookgreen in four key areas: a new contemporary conservatory, new art facilities, expanded Lowcountry history exhibits, and a new exhibit in the Lowcountry Zoo.

A New Contemporary Conservatory

The largest capital project will be a new Contemporary Conservatory and surrounding wetland gardens. It will transform the campus, welcoming guests from around the world and enabling Brookgreen to expand horticulture programs. Guests will enjoy an accessible, year-round garden to explore tropical biomes, including a butterfly garden to educate children and families. The Conservatory and gardens will also add beautiful and unique spaces for events and programming.

The Art Facilities

New art facilities will help Brookgreen maintain its preeminence as a museum and teaching facility. The Brenda and Dick Rosen Galleries opened in February 2021 and offer gallery space for permanent and traveling exhibitions. The Rosen Galleries, generously funded by Brenda and Dick Rosen, include four vast exhibition spaces totaling over 5,800 square feet with a capacity of 600 and displays artworks that underpin Brookgreen's national recognition as a renowned museum. The Simpson Arts Center includes a state-of-the-art studio and sculpture conservation lab where guests will interact with nationally recognized sculptors and contemporary artists and accommodate a wider variety of classes and public programs. About 4,000 square feet, the new studio will support diverse media, including clay, wax, plaster, resin, 3D printing, and direct stone carving.

Expand Lowcountry History Exhibits

As the site of four former rice plantations, one of Brookgreen’s missions is to tell the story of the history of its inhabitants. The first project completed was the construction of the Leonard Pavilion, an open-air space used for events and educational programming. Completed in October 2019, the pavilion was named for Trustee Emeritus Don Leonard, who donated the lead gift for the building's construction. Funded by the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the estate of Alberta Quattlebaum, Brookgreen's Gullah Geechee Gaardin presents the culture and history of the Gullah Geechee people, descendants of enslaved Africans brought to the U.S. to produce cash crops like rice and cotton. The exhibit, open since 2018, presents cross-generational oral histories of Georgetown County's Gullah Geechee residents through audio stations and written narratives. The campaign will also expand Bethea's Garden, which showcases heirloom varieties in an educational garden. Since 2018, the garden has provided flavorful and healthy produce to the diners at Brookgreen's restaurant, and through a partnership with a local food bank, to local families in need. The garden expansion will allow the cultivation of various fruits, berries, herbs, and plants that connect to Native Americans and South Carolina's agricultural history, such as indigo and cotton. The expansion, funded by the campaign, will include the addition of interpretive signage to provide narratives related to history exhibits and programs and additional public garden space for visitors to enjoy. The new Spanish goat exhibit, which opened in October 2021 as part of the Floyd Family Farm, contains a grazing area and barn to continue preserving and exhibiting this heritage breed. The program helps sustain this rare breed, increasing diversity and educating the public about the vital role of domestic animals in the state's history.

New Exhibit in Lowcountry Zoo

One of only five institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in the state, Brookgreen's Lowcountry Zoo allows guests to learn about animals that are native to the Lowcountry, including species seen in the wild. These animals engage visitors in the natural world, inspiring a deeper connection, a sense of wonder, and an interest in preservation. In November 2020, Brookgreen Gardens announced efforts to help protect the most endangered wolf in the world, the red wolf. Creating a new four-acre habitat in the Lowcountry Zoo will allow a pack of red wolves to live safely in their natural environment. The zoo will house two breeding wolf pairs in cooperation with the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan, a program designed to oversee the population management of an endangered species in captivity and enhance their conservation in the wild. In addition to these four key areas, the campaign will also raise endowment funds to support these new exhibits and facilities in perpetuity. "The completion of the Campaign for the Next Generation will position Brookgreen to expand educational programming and improve experiences in every aspect of our mission," says Dick Rosen, chair of Brookgreen's Campaign for the Next Generation board. "Brookgreen is a cultural treasure not just for us but the world. We hope to allow Brookgreen to continue to deliver the finest experiences and continue to be an institution of significant value for future generations." For more information and to donate to the Campaign for the Next Generation, visit www.brookgreen.org/campaign-next-generation. For renderings and images, visit https://spaces.hightail.com/space/RYNTL3QOpw.

About Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens, a National Historic Landmark and 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is located on U.S. 17 between Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island, on South Carolina's Hammock Coast, and is open to the public daily. Founded in 1931 by Anna Hyatt Huntington and Archer Huntington, Brookgreen is home to the country's largest and most significant collection of American Figurative Sculpture. It is a leader in sculpture conservation, environmental conservation, and the protection of the plants, animals, and history of the South Carolina Lowcountry. For more information, visit www.brookgreen.org or call 843.235.6000.

Jason Rapp

IAAM gets third round of support from Ford Foundation

Grant to assist Gullah storytelling, more

The International African American Museum has received a grant of $500,000 from the Ford Foundation that will support its inaugural year of operation, including exhibition installations and early programming, genealogy workshops, and Gullah storytelling programs.

This is the third grant from Ford to the museum since 2017, and it brings the foundation’s total gifts to nearly $1 million. With opening set for late 2022, this investment comes at a crucial time. IAAM President and CEO Dr. Tonya Matthews called 2022 a "momentum year." “As we head down the finish line of artifact and exhibition installation, we are also launching several programs and beginning to connect with educators across the country while we design our K-12 curriculum,” Matthews said. “We are only able to do this with the vision and support of organizations like the Ford Foundation. We are incredibly grateful for their continuing support.” Exhibitions will explore the real human cost and suffering of slavery, but they will also honor ancestors; celebrate cultures, like Gullah Geechee, that were forged in the crucible of the antebellum South; explore the cultural impact that began in Charleston and spread across the U.S. and the Caribbean; and then connect descendants to their ancestors through an award-winning genealogical research center. “We are honored to work with the International African American Museum and ensure that the history of enslaved Africans is preserved for years to come,” said Margaret Morton, director of creativity and free expression for the Ford Foundation. “The museum will be a critical resource for researchers and visitors alike, and we look forward to seeing the lasting impact its programming will provide.” Ford’s support for the International African American Museum will provide visitors—nationally and internationally—an opportunity to experience the African American journey at one of the most historic sites in the nation: the former Gadsden's Wharf, the point of disembarkation for so many enslaved Africans. Matthews is eager to open the museum doors to visitors. "The International African American Museum is excited to have the Ford Foundation among its partners. Both institutions strive to ensure that all individuals, and their stories, receive just and equitable treatment. The stories and artifacts within the museum, alongside the connections made because of them, are being intentionally curated with this understanding. The International African American Museum will prompt difficult conversations, tell a complete history, and spark action to build a more perfect union,” she said.
The International African American Museum (IAAM) explores cultures and knowledge systems retained and adapted by Africans in the Americas and the diverse journeys and achievements of these individuals and their descendants in South Carolina, the United States, and throughout the African Diaspora. IAAM is a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history and is thus one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as it evolves today. Set to open in late 2022, IAAM is positioned to honor the untold stories of the African American journey from Charleston, S.C., at the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf and beyond. For more information, please visit iaamuseum.org or call 843-872-5352.
The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization with assets currently valued at $16 billion. For more than 85 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the Foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Jason Rapp

Launch party announced for new Jonathan Green book

Party with the artist Dec. 16


The Koger Center in Columbia announced plans to celebrate the launch of Jonathan Green's new book with a party on Thursday, Dec. 16 from 6-7:30 p.m.

Jonathan Green Spoleto 2016Green's depictions of the Gullah life and culture, established by descendants of enslaved Africans who settled between northern Florida and North Carolina during the nineteenth century have earned him considerable notoriety. The vividly colored paintings and prints have captured and preserved the daily rituals and Gullah traditions of his childhood in the Lowcountry marshes of South Carolina. In 2010, the South Carolina Arts Commission presented Green the Governor's Award for the Arts in lifetime achievement. From press materials about Gullah Spirit:

While his art continues to express the same energy, color, and deep respect for his ancestors, Green's techniques have evolved to feature bolder brush strokes and a use of depth and texture, all guided by his maturing artistic vision that is now more often about experiencing freedom and contentment through his art. This vision is reflected in the 179 new paintings featured in Gullah Spirit. His open and inviting images beckon the world to not only see this vanishing culture but also to embrace its truth and enduring spirit.

Using both the aesthetics of his heritage and the abstraction of the human figure, Green creates an almost mythological narrative from his everyday observations of rural and urban environments. Expressed through his mastery of color, Green illuminates the challenges and beauty of work, love, belonging, and the richness of community.

Angela D. Mack, executive director of the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, provides a foreword. The book also includes short essays by historian Walter B. Edgar, educator Kim Cliett Long, and curator Kevin Grogan.

Tickets for the event are $65 and available now by clicking here.

Jason Rapp

From The State: Sweetgrass basketry fighting for survival

A tradition in peril


Sweetgrass basketry intertwines with South Carolina heritage in the same way that the grasses come together to form the renowned finished product.

But for how much longer will it be part of the present? Today, Caitlin Byrd of The State tries to get a grasp on the situation (subscription possibly required):

Also driving up the price of baskets is the increased development in the coastal region, which continues to cut off access to the very plants Black families use to make sweetgrass baskets. And then there’s the concern about time itself, as a generation of sewers worry that this craft, which can trace its origins to the 17th century, will not be carried on in the way it once was.

This traditional art form is no stranger to The Hub or the South Carolina Arts Commission.
  • Sweetgrass basketmakers have been Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipients many times since the first in 1990, and the most recent was in 2018. (The Folk Heritage Award is presented annually by the SCAC and its partner the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum.)
  • A basket by Mary Jackson, one of the most decorated artisans, is included in the State Art Collection and is included in The State's story.

Jason Rapp

New Gullah Art Gallery opens in Beaufort

City welcomes only solo Black female Gullah art gallery

The ribbon's been cut at Legacy Art Gallery, LLC in Beaufort.

Owner and artist Lisa Rivers is on location painting and creating beautiful artwork. On this International Women's Day, The Hub notes that hers is the only solo Black female Gullah art gallery in Beaufort. Rivers says each piece is full of love and vivid colors. Find Legacy Art Gallery in Old Bay Marketplace, 917 Bay St., Suite C.

Submitted material

SCAC commitments to DEI, rural aided by grant from Coastal Community Foundation of S.C.

$14,339 grant expands agency work in Lowcountry


For Immediate Release

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A grant awarded to the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) by Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina (CCF) supported commitments to expanding diversity, equity, and inclusion and reaching rural communities.

Visit the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina's website at https://coastalcommunityfoundation.org/That perfectly complements the SCAC’s new strategic plan, released in late 2020, which calls for it to “promote equitable access to the arts” through a renewed focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Additionally, the agency has a commitment to expanding arts opportunities in rural communities through such initiatives as its nationally recognized program The Art of Community: Rural SC. Extenuating circumstances in FY19 led to $500 from that year’s Expansion Arts Fund award being held over to FY20, bringing that year’s funding to $14,839. This is how the funds were distributed by the SCAC:
  • Aldwyth, an individual artist in Beaufort County, was granted $2,500 to support the creation of works for Pictures of Nothing or Mr. Varnedoe, Why Abstraction?, a multi-disciplinary exhibition focused on Kirk Varnedoe’s book, Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art Since Pollock. Pandemic restrictions continue to postpone the public display of the works created by Aldwyth and an assistant.
  • Fletcher Williams, an individual artist in Charleston County, was granted $2,500. He worked with a local fabricator and a team of assistants to create the mobile walls for his Picket Fence – Promiseland Consisting of sculpture and large-scale paper art, the installation encouraged visitors to imagine and observe the Aiken-Rhett House as possibly seen through different eyes, times, and sets of experiences. Though delayed, the project opened and was used as a tool to address current events, serving both artistic and social-awareness goals while engaging new patrons who may have previously been unaware of or disinterested in the arts.
  • Marlanda Dekine, an individual artist in Georgetown County, received $2,500 for research related to the experiences of the artist as a Gullah-Geechee descendant living in South Carolina “with a rootedness in Africana & Caribbean being and creolization.” Written and recorded interviews, community engagement, and tours of local museums and plantations assisted in the completion of written-word poetry. The culmination of this work is to be a serial poem offered through spoken word as a site-specific soundscape, or aural architecture, as well as in live performances for the community, with discourse and audience interaction as part of the final product. In this context, Dekine acts as a conduit and witness of present, past, and future.
  • Community arts organization Colleton Museum, Farmers Market and Commercial Kitchen in Colleton County received $7,339 from the Expansion Arts Fund to support the development of WHAM!, Walterboro History, Art, & Music, a new public festival. They’ve used an indefinite delay to reexamine how they implement content for the rural community they serve. By reconceptualizing the initial project, they’ve seen increased interest from artists representing a broader segment of the community and now have a more flexible framework that can be used and reused at any time.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas: arts education, community arts development, and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on social media.

Jason Rapp

Race in America: How art, and a St. Helena champion, open world’s eyes to S.C.’s Gullah Culture

An interview with Mary Inabinett Mack


Mary Inabinett Mack is a newly-minted recipient of the Governor's Award for the Arts and a legend in her coastal community of St. Helena Island.

Late last week, she was the subject of a story chronicling her community impact through the arts (subscription may be required to read) by David Lauderdale of the Hilton Head Island Packet. Mack was, until recently, owner of Red Piano Too Art Gallery. Her influence in Lowcountry art, in particular Gullah-centric art, is what helped her to the state's highest award for the arts. From the story:

She would get a nursing degree in New York City, raise a family there, and move back home for good in 1977. She was deputy director of the Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services by day, and an art framer by night.

In New York, Mack’s husband took her to an outdoor art display in Greenwich Village, and her walls were never again bare.

“Art fulfills a need,” she said. “It’s like a passion. It lifts my spirit.”

As a student at Penn, Mack sat next to Sam Doyle Jr. They called him “Chubby.”The teacher asked them to bring in something from the community to reflect their lives. Chubby brought one of his daddy’s paintings.We can look back now and see how it changed the course of history.

Jason Rapp

Traveling Gullah Geechee art exhibit to debut in Hampton

The Hampton County Arts Council announced that the Stanley Arts Building will be the first venue to exhibit the private art collection of Gullah native Victoria A. Smalls. A formal gala will mark the opening of this prestigious exhibit, which will then run through the month of February. The public is invited to come enjoy art featuring notable and emerging artists, entertainment, silent auction and authentic Gullah cuisine at the 7 p.m. Grand Opening Gala on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 at the Stanley Arts Building in Hampton. Read more about the art collection from the The Charleston Chronicle here. Smalls is connected to the S.C. Arts Commission through its program the Art of Community: Rural SC, which walks residents of rural communities through reimagining their communities through an arts and culture lens and use those to address long-standing problems. In the process, fresh leaders are identified as new voices bring their own energies to the table and foster greater community involvement.  

Ranky Tanky gets Grammy Award nomination

#SCartists' album up for major award


This has been making the rounds since the announcement on Wednesday, but The Hub would be remiss not to mention the major news for South Carolina's own Ranky Tanky. The folk band's latest album Good Time was nominated for a Grammy Award in the "best regional roots music album" category. According to a release from the College of Charleston, which boast three of the band's five members as alumni, the band's second album debuted in July 2019 at No. 2 on Billboard’s Jazz Chart. The band’s self-titled initial release, which came out in 2017, hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Jazz and Contemporary Jazz charts in January 2018.

Started by alumnus Clay Ross ’98, Ranky Tanky, which is a Gullah term loosely translated as “work it” or “get funky,” takes a modern approach to the traditional sounds of Gullah music. Rooted in the cultural traditions passed down from West African slaves in the sea islands of South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina, Gullah culture encompasses a rich African-American heritage expressed through arts, crafts, cuisine and the creole influenced language of Gullah.

Ranky Tanky features a quintet of musicians including Ross on vocals and guitar, Quentin Baxter ’98 on drums, Kevin Hamilton ’95 on bass, Charlton Singleton on trumpet and vocals, and Quiana Parler on vocals. Ross, Baxter and Hamilton all majored in music at the College. Baxter also previously worked as adjunct faculty at CofC, teaching jazz percussion.

Congratulations to Ranky Tanky on this accomplishment.

S.C. Arts Awards: Voices of Gullah Singers

2019 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is taking 15 days to focus on this year's recipients: nine receiving the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and five receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at UofSC. In between the two groups, we'll run a special feature on S.C. Arts Awards sponsor Colonial Life.

The Voices of Gullah Singers

Gullah Singing The Voices of Gullah Singers—Gracie Gadson and Rosa and Joseph Murray—have performed as an ensemble for five years. Each of these singers has a long and distinguished performing career.
  • Gracie “Minnie” Gadson (right) first learned Gullah songs from her grandmother Queen Singleton, who was a member of the Hopes and John Fripp Praise Houses on St. Helena Island. These praise houses were maintained by Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Gracie has been a member since 1968. In the 1970s and 1980s, Gadson sang with local groups the Soul Survivors and the Praise House Shouters. Her early exposure to the old spirituals and experience singing in performing groups has resulted in a large repertoire of songs, including the shouting song “Adam in the Garden Pickun’ Up Leaves” and the mournful song “Remember Me, Lord,” which date back to the mid-19th century.
  • Rosa Mae Chisolm Murray (center) is one of the few living islanders who attended the famed Penn School. Murray gained early exposure to Gullah songs as a member of the Mary Jenkins Praise House, which still holds Sunday evening services on the island. She later joined the group Gospel Four and the Adam’s Street Gospel Singers in the 1980s. These groups sang gospel songs but also performed reenactments of the slave songs first recorded on St. Helena Island. Murray continues to sing songs such as “Till We Meet Again” and the haunting “Lord Do Something for Me” at festivals on the island. Murray first joined Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1952 and continues to serve as president of the Senior and Adult Choir, thus ensuring the survival of the Gullah spiritual tradition.
  • Joseph Murray’s (left) first experiences with Gullah songs came as he watched his mother Helen Murray dance the ring shout at the praise house in Big Estate, South Carolina. He later sang for many decades with choirs in Huspah Baptist Church in Beaufort. Murray currently serves as a deacon in Ebenezer Baptist Church, one of the few churches on St. Helena Island where the congregation still sings the old Gullah songs. Visitors to Penn Center’s annual Heritage Days Festival are often directed to Ebenezer during the prayer meeting services to hear the old slave songs. Murray’s extensive knowledge of Gullah songs and language has been a critical part of maintaining the tradition within the church.
As the Voices of Gullah Singers Gadson and the Murrays have performed at many events including Heritage Days, The Original Gullah Festival, and local praise house services. Voices of Gullah Singers also features 2018 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipient Deacon James Garfield Smalls. The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina has presented the trio to seven schools in Beaufort and Jasper Counties as part of their program, Reach: A Gullah Musical Journey. The singers truly enjoy singing for students and teaching the next generation their rich legacy of Gullah-Geechee spirituals.
South Carolina Arts Awards Day is Wednesday, May 1, 2019. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a reception that leads up to the awards ceremony at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). The event is free and open to the public. Following the ceremony, the South Carolina Arts Foundation honors the recipients and the arts community at the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon and Art Sale. Tickets are $50. Please go here for more information and reservations.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.