Past Comments

February Issue 2006
by Tom Starland

Last of the Black & White Papers

It seems that Carolina Arts is one of the last black & white newspapers around - color is the new fandangled thing. After 16 years of owning and running a black & white custom photo processing lab and now 18 years of doing a black & white newspaper - I guess I could say, "Black & White has been very good to me!" So I guess it's time to give this new color thing a chance - in part.

Starting next month Carolina Arts will have a glossy color cover. Now when artists talk about Carolina Arts, they'll have a special sparkle in their eyes and a dream of seeing images of their artwork on our cover - in color.

Not so fast! Everything comes with strings attached and at Shoestring Publishing there are lots of strings - most of them are worn thin.

Contrary to what some people are thinking right now - we have not struck the motherload or won the lottery. We're making this move at considerable risk and sacrifice to us and with the help of some supportive gallery owners with vision in this paper's future. We have not forgotten that many in the visual art community just don't have big budgets for advertising, but there are some who do.

There are some in the visual art community who will only advertise in color publications. So, they have not been doing much business with us. We hope to maintain a balance for all.

The inside of the paper will remain the same. More color pages can be added in the future - as demand warrants, but for now we will start with our cover.

This is the first public notice of this change. We have been talking with some people who have been doing color advertising, but there is still some opportunities left as far as the cover goes - at this time. If you're interested - call us. We're already making a list for the next four pages - they come four at a time.

The other change for the cover will be - no more articles on the cover - only art, our logo, and the dates and number of the issue. We want the images to be as large as possible.

This also means that since Page 2 will be a color ad - the commentary will be moving to Page 3. I'm always taking a back seat to everything else - and of course the commentary will still snake throughout the paper filling all those leftover spaces. As always, I am sorry about that, but it's just the best use of space.

Hopefully next month, some people will stop hiding our paper and will be placing it out front of everything for everyone to see.

No more black ink on your hands by just picking us up!!!!!!

In the future, we hope to be making other changes which will make Carolina Arts a better paper, but we'll be taking little steps.

SC Arts Commission Watch

I'm keeping one eye on the SC Arts Commission's website these days - as should all artists interested in the opportunities they offer. You won't likely see much notice anywhere else.

I'm waiting to see some notice about Fellowship awards and Verner Award announcements. Something seems amiss at the Arts Commission. Word has finally trickled down to me that not many people are applying for the Arts Commission's highest awards for artists and others involved in the arts. Apparently several Fellowships cannot be awarded as too few people applied and we just got a notice of an extension on the deadline for Verner Award nominations. What can this mean?

Does it mean no one wants the money or prestige of these awards? Does it mean no one knows when the deadline for the awards are? Does it mean people have lost faith in the system and feel the awards are tainted? Or, does it mean that the artists in SC are just too lazy to apply for such awards?

It's a puzzle. But whatever reason you select to believe - it's not good news for the Arts Commission, because people are beginning to notice and ask themselves questions.

I'm sure one more reason the Arts Commission might come up with - it's all my fault for attacking them and their policies or people who have been given these awards. Who wants to win an award and then be attacked by someone - like me - in public? Take Jack Gerstner. He was given a Fellowship award (when someone should have known better) and look what's happened to him - he's headline news - under investigation.

I'm not sure I'd want to receive an award I might not deserve if there are going to be people who question it. Either way, I can't wait to find out who this year's recipients are.

I bet you Jack Gerstner has even been nominated for the Verner Award at some point - a lot of people in Columbia, SC, really thought he was special - turns out he was.

The real problem here is that many, many deserving people have won these awards over the years, but you can't overlook the special awards - that just don't make sense or hold up over time.

They - the Arts Commission or their twins the SC Arts Foundation (can't see the difference) once gave an art supply business in Beaufort, SC, a Verner Award - they went out of business shortly after receiving it and were not in business that long before they got it - in respects to other art supply businesses in the state.

They gave a Verner Award to Chopstick Theatre, a theatre group in Charleston, SC, but not too much later that (non-profit) group left creditors in Charleston holding the bag - with over $250,000 in unpaid debts. But they were an outstanding theatre group with all the right friends - in all the right places.

What's the solution? We need more accomplished and deserving artists to apply for the Fellowships so they can't make "special" choices. And, there needs to be more nominations for the Verner Awards - for people and businesses which have really done something to deserve it - over a long period of time. And, there needs to be some "sunshine" directed on how these awards are selected and who is making the selections.

OK - enough about our Arts Commission for this issue.

A Warning To Artists

I hate to be the one to tell you this - but you're all going to die one day - me too.

In Dec. 05, I commented on the passing of Nicholas Drake, who was in his early 50's. Between our last issue and this one a quickly organized auction of his "art estate" took place in Hanahan, SC - at The Old Barn. This was not a pretty scene.

First, I thought I was going to an auction of Drake's works. His work was "piled" in one section of the "Barn" and was auctioned in-between furniture, dolls, plates, and old guns. Second, the bids were to start at $10 and many ended there - at first. Third, the people running the auction knew nothing about art or Drake that they didn't read off a small slip of paper.

Because of the short notice and bad weather, only a few people who knew Drake were there. Some of these folks won the high bids on Darke's work, but soon the "regulars" of the "auction house" began to think there might be some value in this work and they started bidding - up and up. Nicholas picked up some new patrons that evening - fame after death and all that. I just couldn't participate.

The point is - plan ahead for your death before this happens to your artwork or it's The Old Barn in Hanahan, SC. Do I have $10?

Attention: Internet Update

Here's an update on Jack Gerstner. On Jan. 18, 2006, The State newspaper in Columbia, SC, ran a story which reported that a Columbia developer was stepping in to purchase the Gallery 701 building - which would keep Gerstner out of jail.

It's still a mystery of how Gerstner purchased the building, with a corporation he controls, which was supposed to be property of a nonprofit organization, which he also controls - without the board of directors of the organization knowing.

The transaction with the developer took place just before the jury trial of Gerstner was to take place on numerous charges of city code violations involving the building.

The story stated, "Gerstner faced 30 days in jail and a fine of $500 on each of seven counts of neglecting the building, whose roof collapsed in a rainstorm in 2000 and has not been replaced."

"Gerstner pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 105 days in jail - 15 days per count. The judge agreed to suspend the sentence if Gerstner pays $1,400 in fines and sells or repairs the building within 90 days. Also, the city agreed if the building is sold to drop a suit seeking to demolish it."

This means Gerstner is getting off - almost Scott-free (whatever that means). Justice is served?

The judge and the City of Columbia is bending over backwards to sweep this whole situation under the rug.

What a lesson they are teaching us all and Gerstner. He'll be back at it again soon with a big smile on his face.


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Carolina Arts is published monthly by Shoestring Publishing Company, a subsidiary of PSMG, Inc.
Copyright© 2006 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© 2006 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.