Past Comments

August Issue 2009
by Tom Starland

The Long Hot Summer

Well, here we are again, asking ourselves that annual question - when will this summer end? -as if we forgot where we live. It's at times like this when I remind myself of my first winter spent in Charleston, SC, after arriving from Michigan in November of 1974.

On Christmas day I called my parents back in Michigan - one to touch base on the holiday and two to let them know that I had been to the beach that day and had gotten a sunburn - it was a very sunny 72 degree day. It was 10 degrees below in Michigan. We won't even go into the windchill factor. I think New Year's day it was even 75 degrees. For a Michigan boy, I thought I had found heaven, but as May came around I discovered I may have been mistaken and by the time August arrived - I was sure I was in the wrong place.

I later learned that the winters are not always so warm and the summers are not always so hot - it's all relative. And, after 35 years I've just learned to deal with what Mother Nature gives us. In fact, Linda and I just spent a three day weekend with friends, some coming all the way from Australia, where we had exceptionally pleasant weather for this time of year.

In Australia it's winter time right now. And, days before the gathering of these friends I had spent a typical summer day in Charleston where I felt like all my fluids had been drained and I e-mailed my friend and former contributor to Carolina Arts, Judith McGrath, in Australia to see what she was up to during her winter days.

She responded with some comments about how it seemed like the visual art community there had come to a place where nothing new was being offered and that she had seen it all, which left her with not much incentive to write reviews for her own website. You can read her full comments on Carolina Arts Unleashed at ( in a June 30, 2009 posting.

Just before receiving my e-mail, McGrath had been viewing a posting about a sculpture exhibit in North Charleston, SC - we have always shared a near scary experience of thinking about similar things throughout her near decade of writing for us. We have not always agreed on everything, but she has proven to me that the art world in general is similar around the world - we're all suffering from the economic doldrums and in the Carolinas - the summer months are adding to our woes. But the good thing is - there is still lots of art making going on and it is being offered for public viewing and purchase - all over the Carolinas. And, most places are fully air-conditioned, so you have no reason to just sit at home. Get out and see something and if you can - buy some art.

Fall Just Around The Corner

Now, although the temps might not feel like it - the summer will end at the end of this month when many parents will be sending their children back to school and back to college. You can already see the displays of school supplies popping up it stores. And, by September, the visual art community will be gearing back up to full capacity as colleges and universities present exhibitions, arts councils and arts organizations replace summer art camps with exhibits, and commercial art galleries plan their fall schedule of exhibits. All are hoping that the economy will be a little further along in its recovery. Some will be adjusting to life with less or without government funding, but the show must go on - as best it can. The real question on all their minds is will the "public and private" sectors show up to support the arts - hopefully making up for government cuts.

I have no knowledge of what will happen, but it is my guess that the public and private sectors will not recognize those who have become invisible during these hard times. Those who do will get and those who cry will still be crying - all the way to their end. This is not the time to launch blame or cry about the shortcomings of funding for the arts or to brag about economic impact studies the arts have on communities. These government entities - cities, counties, states, or Uncle Sam, just don't have money for the arts - people are losing their jobs and their homes and it's just not the time to try and convince these folks that life is better with the arts. That's a phrase that will fall way short of reality in these times.

If anything, this is a time when the arts should be doing everything they can to offer as much as they can - free to the public - in thanks for all the support we have already been given - as relief from their daily worries.

Now, is a great time to show the public why they have supported the arts - not whine about budget cuts or a lack of funding.

I have always said that we in the arts must wake up every day and pinch ourselves to see that it's not just a dream. It's hard work, but we are lucky to work in the arts - it's a privilege.


[ | What got printed | What didn't get printed | What no one would talk about | Past Commentaries | Home | ]


Carolina Arts is published monthly by Shoestring Publishing Company, a subsidiary of PSMG, Inc. Copyright© 2009 by PSMG, Inc., which published Charleston Arts from July 1987 - Dec. 1994 and South Carolina Arts from Jan. 1995 - Dec. 1996. It also publishes Carolina Arts Online, Copyright© 2009 by PSMG, Inc. All rights reserved by PSMG, Inc. or by the authors of articles. Reproduction or use without written permission is strictly prohibited. Carolina Arts is available throughout North & South Carolina.