Past Comments

November Issue 2006
by Tom Starland

The Other Folks

Last month we introduced you to the Commissioners of the SC Arts Commission. This month we though we'd introduce you to their brothers/sisters in arms - the board of the SC Arts Foundation.

The South Carolina Arts Foundation
Board of Directors for 2006 are:
Jennifer M. Whittle (Greenville - President); Patrick R. VanHuss (Hopkins - Vice President); Michel Moore (Columbia - Treasurer); Patricia E. Wilson (Columbia - Immediate Past President); Beryl Dakers (Columbia); Chandra J. Foster (Fort Mill); Caroline Freeman (Columbia); Helen W. Hughes (Greenville); Beryl Jaffe (Columbia); Beverly Kaplan (Greenville); Sally Lyles (Columbia); Lorin Palmer (Sumter); Norma Palms (Charleston); Ada Jane Setzler (West Columbia); Donna I. Sorensen (Columbia); Dona M. Smith (Columbia); Linda C. Stern (Columbia); Debra R. Timmerman (Columbia); Leo F. Twiggs (Orangeburg); John Whitehead (Columbia); Louis Wright (Florence); and Suzette M. Surkamer (Columbia - Ex-Officio).

This 22 member board has 14 members from the Columbia area, more than 60% - that's balance for you - so much for representative government. There are 3 members from Greenville to represent the Upstate. There are 4 members who represent the B list cities in SC, and 1 member from Charleston. That member just happens to be the wife of the former USC President - who spent a long time in Columbia making ties.

There is only one member to represent the entire Lowcountry - the largest populated area of the state. Go figure.

Who elects these members? This private club reproduces itself. But don't confuse them with the SC Arts Commission - even if they share the same location, phone and staff. They're different! Some of these folks have been on this board - forever!

Why do we need a separate SC Arts Foundation? Well, the best I can figure - it is a collection fund for money donated by businesses and private individuals that is not accountable to state oversight. They control Artist Fellowships, the State Art Collection, and the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner/Governor's Awards & Luncheon - all the plum prizes for visual artists.

And, since there is no way to obtain private donation info - there is no way to see if the businesses who are giving money to the Foundation are the same ones receiving those Verner Awards for Business.

A New Website

Charleston, SC's historic French Quarter, charming home to roughly 30 art galleries, wonderful restaurants, interesting shops, and historic homes, all within walking distance from one another, is the center of the visual arts community in Charleston. Located within the original walled city and founded by the French Huguenots, the French Quarter has become a national arts destination. The French Quarter is located between S. Market and Tradd, Meeting and the waterfront. Atop the area street signs are labels denoting the French Quarter.

There are just as many galleries located outside the French Quarter area - within a few blocks walking distance.
The French Quarter Gallery Association has now made it easier to find your way through the downtown city streets from gallery to gallery with a new map and an easy to navigate website, found at ( This info is helpful for everyday shopping (don't forget our map on Page 6) or for when you're coming for one of the FQGA's Art Walks.

Art Walks are held seasonally on the first Fri. of Mar., May, Oct. and Dec., from 5-8pm, and are free and open to the public. Maps are available at participating galleries or download one from the website. Stroll the cobbled streets and gas lit alleyways to discover the works of well over 500 artists representing a diverse variety of styles and mediums, from traditional to contemporary.

It should be noted that many of the other galleries in Charleston will also be opening their doors during the FQGA's Art Walks.

Just as those FQGA galleries will be opening their doors during the Charleston Fine Arts Dealers' Association's "Eighth Fine Art Annual," taking place from Nov. 3-5, 2006.

Charleston's visual art community is just one big happy family. Come check it out.

But if you're not coming this way you may want to check out Greenville, SC's growing visual art community during the "Greenville Open Studio" event, also taking place Nov. 4-5, 2006. Here you'll be able to visit 80 artists' studios. And, if you get there early you can do the "First Fridays" art walk/hop/stroll from 6-9pm. There you'll find 20 galleries in Greenville's developing West End area.

Or - do "Vista Lights" in Columbia, SC, on Nov. 16, 2006, from 5-10pm. Galleries in Columbia's Vista area will open their doors with new art offerings - as will many of the shops in the area. This event kicks off Columbia's holiday season.

You could do a two-fer - Charleston/Columbia or Greenville/Columbia. November is a great month to get a look at SC's visual art community.

But, don't forget NC. Many of their cities have art walks/hops/strolls too. Charlotte has two every month. They are even walking to galleries every month in Brevard and Hendersonville. And I hear walking is good for you. I drive mostly - a lot!

The weather is changing - get up off the couch and get out and see some art.

The Art/Walk/Hop/Stroll

So what's so good about these art gathering evenings? What is the benefit to going to these events or visiting galleries any day? It's the communal atmosphere. The artists are in the galleries, visual art supporters come out, there is excitement in the air, people are laughing and having a good time. And there is the food and spirits - not the good cheer kind. I always see someone I haven't seen in a long time.

I'm still a proponent of the private reception, but getting the community together for one big public reception has it merits. And, sometimes people look at and buy art too.


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