November Issue 2001
by Tom Starland
How Ya Doing?
That's a wiseguys phrase meaning - you hangin' in there buddy? - is it gettin' too hot for ya? - you gonna make it?. So I guess in these times of War, Terrorism and a shaky economy, it's a good time to ask - how ya doing?
Well here's what I've heard in my travels over the last month and while talking on the phone to folks in the Biz: It's been worse. It's not that bad. It's no worse than usual. We're keeping our head above water. It's surprisingly not that bad. And, I'll throw in my own favorite phrase - it's better than a sharp stick in the eye - and it is. It's all those things and more for different people.
Our biggest problem is other people's fear. Fear over the economy, fear over flying, fear over going to where large numbers of people gather, fear over opening their mail, fear of War, fear of loosing a friend or loved one. All of these are valid fears, but fears that we should have been aware of everyday, even before Sept. 11.
People say I'm a natural born skeptic, a doubting Thomas, one who looks on the negative side of things. I say I'm a realist. I don't have any more fears today than I had on Sept. 10, but that doesn't mean I'm not angry and saddened over what happened and wish it didn't happen. But as far as fear goes. . . Learn to live with it, be aware of it, and don't let it rule your life - danger is everywhere and will always be there. You have a better chance of being killed by a falling meteorite, a cloned dinosaur, a cyborg from the future, choking on a boiled peanut, a mosquito bite, or the common cold. Thinking that you will be killed by a terrorist attack or by Anthrax in the mail places a higher power in the hands of a bunch of nuts than God and nature.
Well, now that I've cheered you up, you can put your fears in check and get on with things. Actually, as an artist, you have a greater fear of someone asking you for an updated resume or a photograph of your latest work. As a gallery owner or gallery director, you have a greater fear that the press release you "dated" Oct. 10, but was mailed or faxed on Oct. 23, will be understood to be making an Oct. 15 deadline. As an art consumer, you have a greater fear of someone actually calling in your charge card purchase for verification or whether the bank has received your minimum payment. These are real fears we live with everyday, why think of more?
One of my biggest fears is laying out the paper on the last day that it is in my hands and the phone rings. Should I answer it? Is it someone who forgot to send in their press release for a very important exhibition and was just wondering if we had a big empty space left in the paper? They were just wondering. Or, is it the worst of all calls - someone who wonders if it is too late to get an ad in this issue? There goes my commentary!
We all have our fears - we just need to put them in their proper order of probability.
A Special Alert!
No its not another warning of exposure to Anthrax by another news headline wannabe - this is really important news. Corrie McCallum will be having an Open Studio Nov. 9, from 3 to 6pm, at her studio located at 20 Fulton Street in downtown Charleston, SC. The studio is just a little off the beaten path of historic King Street in the shadow of the Saks Fifth Avenue in Charleston - Saks Fifth Avenue, that's right - in Charleston. Why not, the good Mayor (Mayor Joseph P. Riley) and his developer friends (the gang) have crammed every other chain store in America into downtown Charleston - a city that used to be known for its unique shopping district. But anyway, there are still unique offerings in Charleston and one of them is Corrie McCallum's studio.
Unique? I know, it's an overused word these days, but McCallum is unique in many ways. At 87 she still gets up everyday to create art. I know a lot of people who say they are artists, but I don't know what they could be producing down at the local coffee shop - all day. Has War and Terrorism stopped her? McCallum started life during WWI, worked for the WPA/Federal Art Project during the Depression, was raising a family and educating school children about art during WWII, and has continued to produce art through every war, conflict, and police action we have been involved with since the first Big One - that's pretty unique.
Anyway, I went to her Open Studio earlier this
year and was amazed - it was like being a kid in a candy store
- a kid with a real sweet tooth and a pocket full of money. Like
any prolific artist who has lived a good number of years and stayed
active, McCallum still has a lot of work available for sale -
in a variety of media, spanning a number of years, and good news
for people like me - many works available at reasonable prices
- meaning ones I could afford. I picked up a reproduction print
of an original drawing of a rooftop scene in Charleston (before
the developers took over) for $50. There were fine art print originals
there in the $200 - $500 range, as well as many other bargains.
I know I'm forced to get the most with my money. I wouldn't call myself cheap, but I do like a bargain. I'm going back on Nov. 9, so you better get there on time, or you'll be looking at works I've already picked over.
Big is Beautiful? Big is Better? Big!
On Dec. 1, a day that used to be known as "A Day Without Arts" but is really World AIDS Day, Eric Waugh of Montreal, Canada, will assemble (with the help of 184 volunteers) the work entitled, "Hero", at Museum Park on the grounds of the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC. Officials with the "Guinness Book of World Records" will be on hand to designate Hero as the World's largest painting by one artist. Waugh's work is 41,400 square feet in size. It measures 180 feet wide by 230 feet high, twice the height of the Statue of Liberty. The work consists of 1,656 five-foot square stretched canvas panels. Now that's a BIG painting. I guess you have to have an extra large portfolio case to carry that work around. Of course some art critic will say, "The work was too large for the space it was shown in".
What Happened to the Artists' Needs
I can remember the day, during the awards ceremony a few years ago at the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Show in Marion Square in Charleston, SC, where Mayor Joseph P. Riley was giving his regular "art" speech. He was assuring the artists who spend several weeks in a park (somewhere in Charleston) offering their works to the public that when the Marion Square park was renovated, planners and designers were going to keep their needs in mind. He said there was always going to be a place for the artists at Marion Square - hopefully in the shade of the park's trees.
Well, the renovations are almost complete, but when I drive by, I don't see much space left for artists and their works under the trees. Don't tell me the Mayor forgot. Say it ain't so, Joe!
I hope there is time for renovations to the
renovations before the next Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Show. It's
time the City of Charleston gave some respect to one of its best
and most revered events during the Festival. The Mayor who claims
to be a friend of the arts and garners awards for such a reputation
needs to show that he deserves such accolades.
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