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Take a creative journey to the foothills with ‘Communal Pen’ series

Two-part writing workshop 'visits' Westminster

[caption id="attachment_44954" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Medlock Bridge Park
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area[/caption]
Communal Pen, a creative writing workshop presented by the S.C. Arts Commission and South Carolina Humanities, is back for starting Saturday, March 20 to help you write to celebrate memories, stories, and traditions of place... continuing its reimagined virtual format with a brand-new theme! SC HumanitiesWhat are the memories, stories and traditions that make your community home? What landmarks, customs, sights and sounds connect us with family, friends and neighbors, while highlighting our unique experience and identity? Sometimes, you’ve just got to write it down!
Facilitator EBONI RAMM will lead the virtual workshop as you write to celebrate and explore connections to place and community. Often, it is in our written words that memory lives. The writing process can itself help us to awaken and preserve thoughts and traditions, offering insight, understanding and respect to present and future generations. In conjunction with the traveling exhibit Water/Ways, the city of Westminster is co-host of this two-part writing workshop, which will be conducted over two Saturday mornings next month:
  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 20
  • 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, March 27
Space is limited; registration is on a first-come, first-served basis online or call 803.734.8680. The new format does not support walk-ins as previous workshops have. Share it with your friends on Facebook! NOTE: marking yourself as "Going" on Facebook DOES NOT register you for Communal Pen. No previous experience necessary! Although Communal Pen is a virtual program, the Water/Ways exhibit will be on display in Westminster Train Depot (129 E. Main St.) from March 6 through April 17.
The Communal Pen writing workshop draws inspiration from the new Smithsonian exhibit, Water/Ways, which is touring South Carolina with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) Traveling Exhibition Service from June 2020-April 2021. MoMS provides access to the Smithsonian for small-town America through museum exhibitions, research, educational resources, and programming. Exhibit themes and images are a springboard for igniting our own stories, giving voice to our shared and individual experience of place. Communal Pen is developed through the S.C. Arts Commission’s place-based initiative, "Art of Community: Rural SC," a new framework for engagement, learning, and action in rural communities. The writing workshops are coordinated through the SCAC’s Folklife & Traditional Arts and Community Arts Development programs, with generous support from South Carolina Humanities.
Deeply rooted in South Carolina, "Communal Pen" writing workshop creator and facilitator Eboni Ramm fell in love with the arts at a very young age and was encouraged throughout her youth to express herself. Today, an accomplished poet and jazz singer, she invites audiences of all ages to share her passion for combining these art forms, highlighting her belief in the powerful influence of jazz on the American literary experience and aesthetic. She has taught her unique Jazz Poetry Salon at residencies with the Richland County Public Library, Arts Access South Carolina, Youth Corps, Fairfield Middle School, McKissick Museum, and ColaJazz’s partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center, among others. Other selected accomplishments include her publication, Within His Star: The Story of Levi Pearson, celebrating Eboni’s ancestor who added strength to the unprecedented Brown vs. The Board of Education case, and the release of her poetry CD, Passion, and her jazz CD, The Look of Love. Learn more about Eboni at www.EboniRamm.com. "Communal Pen: Water/Ways" coordinator Laura Marcus Green is program specialist for community arts & folklife at the S.C. Arts Commission, where she provides statewide outreach and project coordination through the Art of Community: Rural SC initiative and other projects, while managing folklife grant and award programs. She holds a Ph.D. in folklore from Indiana University and an M.A. in folklore/anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. Selected prior positions include folklife & traditional arts program director at McKissick Museum, community engagement coordinator for the Museum of International Folk Art’s Gallery of Conscience, and work as a folklife fieldworker and researcher, writer, curator and consultant for various arts and culture agencies nationwide. Having attended, coordinated, and facilitated diverse workshops, she is a devoted believer in the power of community writing.

Jason Rapp

Unified auditions coming for Upstate actors

Registration deadline: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019

Be seen by casting directors for Upstate theatres

Brought to you by the South Carolina Theatre Association
  • Actors should prepare a 60 second monologue
    • Must be from a published play
    • Must be memorized
    • No costumes, please
  • Musical theatre actors should prepare 90 seconds of monologue and song
    • Must be from a published play or musical
    • Must be memorized
    • Must provide your own sheet music (we will provide the accompanist)
    • You can use the 90 seconds however you wish (all song, or song and monologue)
  • Technicians should prepare a presentation of their work.
    • Must bring your portfolio
    • May bring any examples.
    • You and your portfolio will be posted in a room for the casting directors to come visit and chat with you during their lunch break.
  • All auditionees including technicians will be included in the e-book that will be provided to participating theatres.  Upon registration you will receive and email requesting you to submit your resume and headshot.  If technicians have an on-line portfolio they can submit that link as well.  No paper copies will be accepted.
  • Please note: the Upstate Unified Auditions are opens to theatre artists age 8 and up. (18 and older on 2/16; ages 8-17 on 2/17)
  • If you have questions or issues registering, please contact Anita Sleeman: asleeman@southcarolinatheatre.org.
Go here to register now!

Oconee County quilter brings lifelong lessons to her art

CENTRAL, S.C.— Anna Willis' knuckles are swollen, and her fingers remain curved no matter how much she tries to straighten them. "I have had arthritis a long time," she said. "As long as I can remember."
Yet, she still works with those fingers. The artwork they produce still makes it into galleries and museums. Anna Willis is a quilter, and has been since she was a child. Her mother first taught her to sew when she was 5. Willis was a young lady, in the 1940s, when she completed her first quilt by herself. She still has it, all these years later. "It's a sunshine and shadow pattern," Willis said. "I have never been able to part with it." Two folding tables pushed together dominate her living room in her small brick home in Central. On it is a sewing machine. All around it, and underneath it, are sacks of material. Small drawers hold spools of thread of every color. One couch is stacked with folded quilts. Some of the quilts are large enough to cover a queen-size bed. Others are made for babies or for hanging on the wall. Some are decorated with beadwork and hand-sewn patchwork. All have been made by Willis. Quilting is her art. Her work is on display at The Arts Center of Clemson and is part of the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail, a series of wooden, painted quilt squares that are mounted on public buildings, tourist sites and homes in the Upstate. The squares are a form of public art, meant to generate tourism. "This is what I do now, when I take a notion," Willis said. "As soon as I retired, I went right into quilting. I don't have anybody here. I had to find something to do." She has been a widow since the 1960s. Her only child, an adopted son, died last year. Her quilts keep her busy. She recently worked on a king-size Christmas quilt, one she meant to finish in time for the holidays, but the schedule was delayed when she came down with a cold. Some of her creations will take a couple of months to make. This king-size cover will take three months. She has taught others her art at local elementary schools, community centers and at Tri-County Technical College. Willis was raised in Seneca, near the Oconee County Training School. Then, flour sacks, salt sacks and feed sacks were used to put quilts together. Her mother had a large quilt frame that was held up with ropes at the ceiling. She would lower it in the morning and work on quilts until dinner time, Willis said. "We didn't have much," Willis said. "Mama made quilts, and I had to help her. Mama could make anything she wanted. Everything I knew about sewing, knitting and crocheting, I learned from her." That started a lifetime of working with fabric and sewing for Willis. She worked for 15 years at Gallant Belk on Seneca. But the longest span of her career was spent in a mill, sewing collars on blouses. About 23 years ago, she retired. "The doctor made me stop working because of my heart," she said. Her health is not what it once was. Those fingers will ache sometimes, and her arthritis will keep her awake all evening if her joints become too cold. But many days, Willis is still here, sitting at this table, working on her art.

Furman University seeks local artists for permanent collection

Deadline is Sept. 18. Furman University in Greenville is seeking local artists to be part of a permanent collection that will be housed in the school’s Herring Center for Continuing Education. Artists are invited to submit work for a juried exhibition that will be displayed in the Herring Center’s Baiden Gallery Nov. 4 – Dec. 16. Selected works will be purchased and form the core of the Herring Center Permanent Collection. The deadline for electronic submissions is Wednesday, Sept. 18 by 5 p.m. Artists will be notified of acceptance on Oct. 2. For The Herring Center Juried Exhibition: Transformation, Community and Self, up to 12 accepted works will be considered for purchase awards. The call is open to artists age 18 or older working in any two-dimensional media and who reside in the following North and South Carolina counties: Anderson, Laurens, Greenville, Henderson, Oconee, Pickens, Polk, Spartanburg and Transylvania. Each entry is $10 with a cap of three entries per artist. Jurors for the exhibition include longtime Furman art professor Bob Chance; studio ceramics artist Diana Farfan Valente; and Joe Thompson, chair of the visual arts department at The South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. The Call to Artists document is available online here. For more entry requirements, specifications and forms, contact Michael Brodeur in Furman’s Department of Art, michael.brodeur@furman.edu, or Alison Search in Furman’s Center for Corporate and Professional Development, alison.search@furman.edu, 864-294-2154. Via: Furman University

ELEVATE UPSTATE grants available for community vibrancy projects

Application deadline is September 15. Ten at the Top, an organization created to foster collaboration and partnerships across the Upstate, is accepting applications for its ELEVATE UPSTATE grants program. The initiative will award two $5,000 grants annually from 2013-2017 for programs that promote community and economic vibrancy in local areas across the Upstate. Eligible applicants include neighborhood associations, civic or community-based organizations, non-profit organizations or local governments that are committed to developing and implementing programs designed to increase local vibrancy in Upstate communities. Applicants must be located in and do their work within communities in one of the 10 Upstate counties: Abbeville, Anderson, Gaffney, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg or Union. Proposals may seek to produce a physical result, such as a mural, sculpture or signage that will increase the vibrancy and sense of place within a community, or implement the first of a recurring or annual event or program that helps grow vibrancy within a community. Check out examples of community vibrancy projects -- some from South Carolina and some from other states -- on the Ten at the Top website in the Great Ideas for Community Vibrancy booklet. The application deadline is September 15, 2013, and the first grants will be announced in late 2013. Visit the Ten at the Top website for more information or to apply. Via: Ten at the Top

Nurturing new arts lovers: the Brooks Center’s Tri-ART Educational Series

By Sallie McKenzie For years, performing arts at Clemson University left footprints all over the community. From performances in the 1940s in Littlejohn Coliseum and Tillman Hall to the completion of the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts in 1994, cultural arts opportunities for adults were vast. However, offering performances only for adults did not fully satisfy Clemson University’s mission to provide education and public service to all. The reach needed to be greater and the audiences more diverse. What better audience to serve first than the children who would one day lead the community? This is where the Bill and Donna Eskridge Tri-ART Educational Series began. To determine what type of educational program was important to Clemson's surrounding community, the Brooks Center worked with educational leaders in Anderson, Pickens and Oconee counties. Through discussion and planning, the Tri-ART program emerged – a series for children ages 3 to 18 who are brought to the Brooks Center from public, private and home schools throughout the Upstate to attend live morning performances in music, theatre and dance. As final details were fleshed out for the inaugural 1995-1996 season, program administrators made an important and benevolent decision about the admission price. Each Tri-ART performance would be available for either $2 or free of charge for every student who attended -- and that admission price has not changed in 16 years. The goal was never to make money, or even to cover costs, but rather to be inclusive by presenting quality performing arts programming for all students. However, artists’ fees, production costs and other expenses had to be covered. Brooks Center patrons Bill and Donna Eskridge of Seneca, South Carolina, responded generously by creating an endowment for the series, and so it was named in their honor. When asked why they chose this area of giving, their answer was passionate and purposeful. Bill quoted from the poem Priorities: "A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child." The Eskridges believe that the Tri-ART Series provides that difference and enlightenment. Their generosity will continue to bear fruit in the life of each child who passes through the doors of the Brooks Center. Nearly 200,000 students from 58 public and private schools, as well as 164 home schools, have taken part in the program. Annually, the series presents nearly 20 interactive performances by world-renowned musicians, singers, theater companies and Clemson student ensembles. From classical concerts to performances such as the African Children’s Choir and Golden Dragon Acrobats, and from productions dealing with current issues to puppetry and narration of beloved children’s stories, the series provides something entertaining and educational for students from pre-school to high school. Each show is selected based on artistic quality and for its ability to expand the minds of the students through diversity, creativity and awareness. Christine Custer, a long-time supporter and attendee of Tri-ART, has watched the program impact her family. “Tri-ART has given my family many opportunities to see some wonderful performers in music and drama,” she explains. “I think it has inspired some of my children to continue their music lessons.” “The wide-eyed faces of countless students as they enter the doors and the energetic conversations and smiles as they exit is worth more than any artist fee or ticket revenue,” says Brooks Center Director Lillian “Mickey” Harder. “Oftentimes, these performances are an escape for the children. The shows can transport them to a truly magical place where their imaginations and dreams can run wild." For more information about the Bill and Donna Eskridge Tri-ART Educational Series. visit the Brooks Center website. Sallie McKenzie is director of marketing and communications for the Brooks Center.

Sallie McKenzie

Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail Celebrates 100th Quilt

[gallery link="file"] Crazy Quilt, Double Wedding Ring, Rocky Mountain Road, Grandmother’s Flower Garden, Carolina Mystery, Churn Dasher, President’s Wreath -- the pattern names of quilts are just as creative as their makers. Visitors who travel the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail in South Carolina will find these quilt patterns and many more painted on wooden blocks and displayed on homes, arts centers, businesses, schools and historic or public buildings. Each painted quilt panel is a copy of an existing quilt that usually has some historical connection with the sponsoring family or organization. In September, the 100th quilt block was mounted on the City of Westminster's Municipal Building. Essie Jane Spencer Smith of the Madison (Old Liberty Baptist Church) Community of Oconee County made the original quilt sometime before August 1945 as a wedding present to her son, Spencer and his wife, Lelline Smith. Donna J. Smith Campbell, Essie Smith’s granddaughter, sponsored this addition to the trail. The quilt trail concept was born in Adams County, Ohio in 2001, when Donna Sue Groves, a field representative with the Ohio Arts Council, decorated her family’s barn with a quilt square pattern from one of her mother's quilts. Today, more than 4,000 quilt blocks can be found in 43 states. In 2009, Oconee County became the first in South Carolina to embrace the quilt trail concept. The first quilt square was mounted on the Oconee Heritage Center in Walhalla. Today, the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail includes Anderson and Pickens counties and is a collaborative effort by organizations, businesses and individuals who want to preserve the area's heritage and promote the Upstate. Before setting out on the actual trail, visit the Upstate Quilt Trail website to view quilt blocks, learn about their history and find their locations. Check out this article in Sandlapper Magazine for more insight into how group leader Martha Fife and a band of volunteers produce and manage the installation of quilt blocks. Via: Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail, Sandlapper Magazine