Past Comments

June Issue 2008
by Tom Starland

Carolinas Together

I was extremely happy to see that North Carolina's Democrats will stand with South Carolina on its support for Barack Obama becoming our next President. I hope both states can show the change in America come this November election. After all - we need a lot of change. And - Yes we can!

Gibbes Update

Long before an announced national search could be completed to replace Todd Smith, outgoing director of the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, SC, Carolina Art Association (the organization which runs the Gibbes) board chairman Tom White announced that Angela Mack was the new Gibbes Museum of Art director. Mack who has been at the Gibbes since 1981 - 27 years - has been serving as chief curator and deputy director.

This, like Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon - is one small step - but a giant leap forward for the Gibbes. All eyes will now be on the board to see if they mess up this opportunity to get the Gibbes back on track to being the art museum they should be - the art museum they once were.

Of course it won't be easy - the Gibbes is still the least financially supported major art museum in SC by its local city and county. The City of Charleston and County of Charleston do not come close to giving the Gibbes fiscal funding compared to Columbia and Greenville. We don't even want to begin talking about art museums in NC.

I'll be watching and waiting for other improvements at the Gibbes.

Website Milestone

Back on Apr. 26, 2008, Carolina Arts Online passed the 10 million hit mark. Back in 1999 when we first launched the site - as an overflow space for info we didn't have room for in the printed version of the paper - we had no idea what the site was going to turn into. The site is now one of the biggest resources for what's been going on in the visual art community in North and South Carolina since 1999. Every article we have received by our deadlines has been posted and archived on the site since June 1999. That month we posted 25 articles. This last month in May 2008, we posted 75 articles - many not seen in the printed version of the paper.

Our server for the site keeps up with stats on visitors and I check it from time to time to see where our visitors are coming from and what they are looking at over a 90 day period of time. It's pretty interesting. On the day we passed the 10 million hit mark I checked to see what the top pages people were looking at. In the top 25 was an article from Nov. 1999. That should show you how the past is really the present to some folks.

The article was about an exhibition at the Weatherspoon Art Gallery in Greensboro, NC, (which is now the Weatherspoon Art Museum). The exhibit was, Drawn Across the Century: Highlights from the Dillard Collection of Art on Paper, on view from Nov. 14, 1999 to Jan. 23, 2000. The exhibit is a retrospective of the Museum's Art on Paper exhibitions.

In 1965, Dillard Paper (now xpedx) inaugurated an annual Art on Paper exhibition at the Weatherspoon Art Gallery. In an effort to establish a collection of 20th century works on paper, Dillard also established a fund, which enabled the Weatherspoon to purchase select works from each Art on Paper exhibition. Today, the Dillard Collection numbers some five hundred works by some of the 20th century's seminal artists.

The names of those artists attract a lot of hits from search engines all over the world. During that 90 day period, 92 visitors viewed that article in Jan. 08; 168 viewed it in Feb. 08; 186 in Apr. 08; and 155 by Apr. 26, 2008. That's 601 viewers in 90 days - nine years after we first posted that article. It's an amazing thing the Internet. Amazing.

Carolina Arts Unleashed

Last month was another one of my birthdays and my wife Linda and a good friend help set me up with a blog. I know - at lot of people out there just groaned and shouted - Oh No!

The blog is called Carolina Arts Unleashed - a name Linda and my friend came up with at the same time after I described why I wanted one and what it would be for - mainly an overflow for my commentary. Much like back in 1999, there is not enough space for me to address all the things going on in the visual art community of the Carolinas. I was having to be selective and from month to month so much was going on - yet falling through the cracks by the time it came to write the next commentary. And, I didn't want to take up space which could be used for more articles about exhibitions. So next month - less commentary in the paper.

A blog would allow me to be more timely and wouldn't be limited by space. Internet space is cheap and can be seen by more people and instantly.

You can do a search for Carolina Arts Unleashed or go to our website at ( A link will be on our Home page.

Now, like I said - this will be an extension of the commentary found here each month - plus more. More opinions, more detail, more volume - lots more volume. Also, more subjects. I just might express my view on politics, music, sports (NFL only - mostly Carolina Panthers), the environment, and many other subjects. Who knows what I'll feel compelled to comment on.

Carolina Arts Unleashed won't be an open community bulletin board allowing anyone to chime in. People can e-mail me comments about what I'm commenting about, but they will have to be timely, stick to the subject, and use their real name to participate. I use mine and I pay the price. There will be no free ride on this opinion blog. This isn't CNN.

I hope readers enjoy this addition to the Carolina Arts family as much as I will doing it.

Subjects found only on the blog: Charleston, SC, artists and art groups search for space is a city with little vacancy; more 40 list from the SC Arts Commission; SC Arts Foundation raises money for celebrations with art auctions - party on.

Good Bye Triennial - Good Riddance

On Apr. 14, 2008, Jeffrey Day in The State newspaper offered what can be only seen as a "whine' piece on the loss of the SC Arts Commission's Triennial exhibition at the expense of the SC State Museum's 20th Anniversary Juried Art Exhibition - which wouldn't open at the time until Apr. 25, 2008. While Day cherry-picked comments by artists (shown in past Triennials) and curators around the state on their feelings over the loss of the Triennial or their dislike of juried shows, he almost implied that this upcoming exhibition just couldn't be any good - before he or anyone else saw it in place. Well, he wouldn't say it - he got others to say it for him and his buddies at the Arts Commission.

While the Triennial was always dished up as a snapshot of contemporary art being made in SC - it was always a picture with the lens turned toward the SC Art Commission and how they wanted people to see art in SC. It was never really a view of the wide spectrum of art being created in SC. At times is was just a look at what college and university art professors and their favorite students where doing in SC - before many left the state for greener pastures.

If a juried exhibition is such a flawed format for a statewide exhibition - tell me why 500 artists from throughout SC, hauled 1000 works of art to the State Museum for a chance to get in the exhibit? Why would they do that?

And, the funny thing is - many of the artists who have been lucky enough to be selected to be in past Triennials entered their work and many got in the exhibition. The good thing - the really great thing is - many other artists who would never get a chance to be in a Triennial - also got in this exhibit. And, in my opinion - this juried exhibit is one of the best views of the type of art being created in SC. It doesn't represent every aspect of SC's visual art community, but like all juried shows - the jurors could only select from the works entered.

The exhibition might have drawn more entries if the jury process was done by a digital process - after all this is 2008. And, a wider variety of artists working in mediums and subjects which have been "deemed unworthy" by the SC Arts Commission might have entered work if they knew that the Arts Commission had taken their bat and ball home since the State Museum was no longer willing to let them dictate what art was going to be seen in SC. That's why there will be no 1/2 inch full-color catalog for this exhibition. The State Museum doesn't have the deep pockets the Arts Commission does.

The really sad thing for artists around SC is that the State Museum doesn't have any plans for doing more statewide juried exhibitions anytime soon.

Jeffrey Day's article seemed more like a warning to the art community than newspaper reporting. The warning is - if you don't play ball the way the Arts Commission wants - you might get chewed up in the press. It's not the first time he has acted as an attack dog for the Arts Commission.

The whole piece was also designed to mask the real issue - that the Arts Commission had dropped the Triennial from its project list - not the State Museum. The Museum was still offering opportunities for SC artists - all its artists.

Go see the exhibition - you'll be glad you did. I was. And, don't forget - most of the works in the exhibit are probably for sale. So you could go home with some great art and a piece of history, from the show that couldn't be any good, but was.

One final thing - Jeffrey Day offered a - surprise - negative review of this exhibition on May 11, 2008. The headline was, " Too much to see, too little to appreciate".

Just in case some of you don't get a chance to see this exhibition, I'm going to tell you who the participating artists are. They include: Julie Adams, Aldwyth, Guy Allison, Brittany Bagwell, Alice Ballard, Sandra Barden, Mike Bowen, Patricia Brisbon, Michael Brodeur, Jake Brown, Bill Buggel, Clay Burnette, Edward Byrd, Julia Cart, Eva Carter, Kathy Casey, Michael Cassidy, Shaun Cassidy, Betsy Chaffin, Steven Chapp, Arianne Comer, Jim Connell, Anthony Conway, Debbie Cooke, Yvette Dede, Gary Dexter, Glovanni DiFeterici, Jeanet Dreskin, Jimmie Edwards, Cathleen Ellisor, Pati English, Amiri Farris, Greg Flint, Isabel Forbes, Darlene Fuhst, Tyrone Geter, Mary Gilkerson, Bob Graham, Debra Gregory, Meg Gregory, Susan Gregory, Sue Grier, Jean Grosser, Suzy Hart, Mana Hewitt, Sandra Hilton, Samuel Hodge, Brucie Holler, Deborah Tidwell Holtzscheiter, Erica Hoyt, Liisa Salosaari Jasinski, Elizabeth Keller, Patricia Kilburg, Joe Lanier, Mike Lavine, Susan Lenz, Peter Lenzo, Katie Lloyd, Monique Luck, Robert Lyon, Treelee MacAnn, Christine Margiotta, Nancy Marshall, Doug McAbee, Linda McCune, Abigail McLaurin, Rose Metz, Phil Moody, Christopher Moore, Paul Moore, Jane Nodine, JJ Ohlinger, Karin Olah, Matt Overend, Patrick Parise, Roy Paschal, Greg Rawls, Lynne Riding, Elizabeth Ringus, Peggy Rivers, Marcia Roof, Seth Rouser, David Russell, Sara Dame Setzer, Adam Shiverdecker, Bill Simpson, David Sims, Lee Sipe, Michael Slattery, Kevin Smith, Kirkland Smith, Paula Smith, Gene Speer, Laura Spong, James St. Clair, Alvin Staley, Tom Stanley, Wanda Steppe, Todd Stewart, Julie Jacobson & Brian Kane, Herman Thompson, William Thompson, Hollis Brown Thornton, Carol Knudson Tinsley, Michelle Van Parys, Susan Watson, Roosevelt Wells III, Wendyth Thomas Wells, Allen Wendt, Enid Williams, Derrick Wilson, David Yaghjian, Paul Yanko, David Zacharias, and Daniel E. Zapata.

For those of you who don't know - 25 of these 116 artists have been in a Triennial exhibit before - that's 21 percent. And we don't really know who the other 384 artists who entered this exhibit but didn't get selected by the jurors.

I'll have more about Jeffrey Day's "review" on the blog. A lot more. Go check it out.

More 40 Lists Results

Well the SC Arts Commission's 40th Anniversary celebration by compiling lists of 40 somethings hasn't turned out that great for the performing arts. The public has only offered 11 names of performers from 6 counties for the list - "Your favorite South Carolina artist from the performing arts." There were 88 visual artists names offered from 19 counties for the - "Your favorite South Carolina visual artist."

How about that?


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