Past Comments

April Issue 2006
by Tom Starland

The Power of Color

Last month's color cover was an unqualified success. We heard from people who haven't called in years - as if they were seeing the paper for the first time. This month's cover should be just as big a hit - thanks to Brian Rutenberg, who is having an exhibition at the SC State Museum in Columbia, SC. A must see exhibition!

As nice as the cover is (I've seen the proof) - it is just a reproduction of a photograph of the original painting. We will never be able to match the beauty of originals, but we will try to get as close as possible. Much like I always said about our images offered in black and white - if you like it in the paper - you'll love it in person.

And, that's what Carolina Arts is all about. We don't want you to just read about these exhibitions - we want you to go see them - see the real thing.

The Freudian Slip

Last month while giving credit to our printer for our first color cover, I and my wife Linda - who is my editor - both made a Freudian slip.

Our printer is Tri State Printing Company, which is owned by Piggly Wiggly. I meant to say we were printed by "The Pig" - but it came out "The Big". We both missed the typo - because to us Tri State Printing is the "Big" in our business. They're the people we write the "Big" checks to.

I'm sure that most people figured we meant to say The Pig, especially since we mentioned Piggly Wiggly.

The Curse of Color

After all the elation wore off from doing our first color cover we finally came down to earth and began discovering some of the screw-ups that happened while we were focused on "color".

First there was "The Big." Then there was the fact that we forgot to update the ad for the Jerald Melberg Gallery, in Charlotte, NC - which promoted an exhibit which took place last year. Then there was the lack of updating the gallery listings for the Waterfront Gallery in Charleston, SC. They were showing works by Victoria Platt Ellis, but we forgot to put her name in the space where it belonged.

It's not that we don't make mistakes every month - it's impossible not to. You just can't do that much text and graphics and not have something go wrong. The problem is that you won't see the mistakes until after the paper is printed - and then they stick out like a sore thumb.

Then there is the fact that we forgot to tell some people that we were going to be doing a color cover - even though I mentioned it in my commentary in our February issue. I even said at that time that there were still a few open opportunities for people to get color ads on our cover, but they had to call - right away.

Well for the record - the ad spaces for 2006 are sold out and all the covers are booked up. I asked for people to submit cover images in last month's commentary and people responded so fast that all the slots we had left were quickly taken.

As I explained in February, we were able to do this color cover at some sacrifice and risk on our part - one being that in exchange for advertisers agreeing to commit for a year, we would let them select a certain number of cover images.

We've had people ask us outright - "How much does it cost for a cover?" Well I explain that the covers are not for sale - per se - but in figuring what some people had to commit to - to get one - it came to about $6,000.

That's a lot of money for a cover. It's a good thing they are getting their color ads too.

Now I wish our paper could have three or four front covers and about the same amount of back covers, but it can't. So I apologize for that.

Some have asked about signing up for next year. The only problem there is that someone who is signed up for this year would have to not want to do it again next year. That might not happen. Some of those folks are already talking about next year.

The next step is to add four color pages in the center of the paper, but it's going to take some time to work that out. If you are interested - call now and tell us what you are interested in doing. We're making a list.

And, hopefully we'll settle into doing this color thing and not make many more slip-ups in doing so.

Artista Vista

This year's Artista Vista celebration of the visual arts which takes place throughout the Vista area of Columbia, SC, is bigger and better than ever. Artista Vista - Art Night, takes place from 5 - 9pm on Apr. 28 and å, takes place 11am - 5pm. We have articles on Pages 12 and 14, and in case you don't notice, there is a big full page ad promoting the event on Page 13.

This is not an event for just the folks in the Columbia area. In fact, if you live in the Charleston, SC, area or Greenville, SC, area - you might want to go - because it offers something you may never see in your area. Well, maybe not never.

You see, this year one of the big components of Artista Vista is the South Carolina Watercolor Society's annual member exhibition, plus 10 other exhibits featuring works by SCWS members.

Now you may have read in these pages before that this year's exhibition was hoped to be taking place in Charleston, SC - either at the Gibbes Museum of Art or the City of Charleston's new City Gallery at Waterfront Park - but the Watercolor Society was turned away. The story seems to be the same in Greenville.

So, I think you folks from those areas should make the effort to go see what some are keeping you from seeing in your area.

You'll be shocked and a bit puzzled why some people think this show is not worthy to be seen in your city. I know I am.

Luckily for Columbia, City Art - a commercial gallery with a very large exhibition space - came to the rescue. And, for the record, The Columbia Museum of Art and the SC State Museum had SCWS exhibitions in recent years - so they are off the hook. Besides it seems that these museums are not as - snooty as some are acting.

Another bonus this year is that the SC State Museum is presenting a large exhibition of works by SC native, Brian Rutenberg - who is making a big name for himself in the art world. When you see Rutenberg's work, you'll agree he deserves it.

During Artista Vista the Museum will also offer a lecture (by Rutenberg) and a panel discussion on contemporary art - plus its annual Congaree Arts Festival on Saturday.

Although it's not a part of Artista Vista, you can also visit the exhibit, Accessibility Columbia: Making History on Main Street, a collaborative exhibit that tells the story of a progressive southern city through the lens of 12 contemporary artists. This exhibit is being organized by the same folks who have done Accessibility in Sumter, SC.

And, of course there are all the exhibits taking place at the other galleries and businesses in the Vista - featuring about 100 artists in 17 locations. (See Page 13)

It sounds like a great time to take an art road trip to Columbia. Make it a weekend and check out the Columbia Museum of Art and the City's other art galleries.

Folks in the Charleston area can get all pumped up for "Big May" when art from all corners of the world descends on Charleston, and the folks in Greenville will already be charged up after visiting Artisphere 2006 - Apr. 21 - 23. (Details at

I hope I have the May issue finished by then - so I can go!

Hold the Keyboard!

I just got a call from the Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, SC. They wanted to take exception to the remarks I made about them last month - and, find out what was behind them.

For the record I said the following in comments about the new director coming to the Gibbes Museum of Art - "I wish the new director well and I hope he's the kind that embraces the local art community instead of the kind that stands off, apart from the community from which he will need support. I would suggest the new director look at the Columbia Museum of Art as a model for community relations and not the Greenville County Museum of Art."

They felt that was a low blow.

I was just reacting to things I have been told by folks in Greenville and others - and from my own experience. Remember the Greenville County Museum of Art is the only art museum in SC which doesn't want Carolina Arts to "clutter" any space in its facility - so we don't include them in our paper. That only seems fair to me.

Why should they get free publicity without even the price of distributing our paper so their visitors could learn about all the other wonderful things going on in the Carolinas? Or do they think they are the only people offering wonderful exhibitions?

I don't know what they think, but it doesn't match my views on the situation.

Then they tried playing the journalism card - that as a newspaper we should report all the news and not be selective. That's a laugh. When has your local paper - any newspaper - ever reported all the news they know of - never! They are extremely selective in what they print - especially when it comes to their big advertisers.

They next tried to imply that we're just covering our advertisers. Well, you all know that's not true. This issue and every one we have done for 18 years has been full of articles about folks who don't advertise with us and many who have never spent a penny to support us financially. All we ask in exchange is for them to help distribute the paper - be a part of the overall visual art community. But the Greenville County Museum of Art wants their cake and they don't want to share it with anyone else.

Are we picking on them - excluding them? Yes. But, you'll also notice I don't like mentioning them at all. I prefer to think of them the way they think of us - as if we didn't exist at all. So if they take exception to my comments again after reading this, you won't see another follow-up.

The conversation ended with the fact that I was entitled to my opinion - which I agreed.

But you have to wonder - how far did they have to go to find the paper and why are they reading it at all. Obviously they don't care for it. Too bad - they could be just walking down to the lobby to see one.

I wish the situation would change. What it would take is very clear on our part - it's only fair to our supporters. We'd love to be bringing you news about the Museum's exhibitions and we would love to see them find a place for our paper. But we're not going to treat them differently from the rest of our supporters - even if they start supporting us.

May 15, 2006 is the deadline for SC Fellowship!


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