Friday, November 12, 2010

Redux's Annual Art Auction

It’s one of the art world’s best resources in Charleston, so patrons and artists do their best to make Redux’s annual art auction a success.

“Everybody’s work in the show is just as special as all there other pieces. Artists will always make something new for our auction. Artists love Redux for obvious reasons, and they want to make sure that we stay here, so they give us their best piece. It’s a really eclectic mix of work this year. There’s something for everyone,” says director Karen Ann Myers.

Over 50 local artists have created 75 pictures of work for Saturday night’s live auction. Favorites of Myers’ include a bench side table that has grass growing from it. An original piece from Tess Thomas. She also likes Bennett Goodman’s “inventive” take on a side table: He added a suitcase to the side for extra storage.

Myers also notes that there’s lots of “really great sculpture” to be had.

The price range of art is from $50 to $1000.

Myers says, “There are all different retail values. One piece might just retail for $10. Say it’s a small print on paper. But depending on how rowdy the crowd gets will dictate what it goes for.”

Redux’s annual auction outgrew its own space four years ago. This year it’s at the Charleston Center for Photography. The spacious venue allows for separate auction and lounge rooms. For those who’ve already made their purchases for the night, the auction will be projected in an adjacent room.

There guests can enjoy donated food and drink from Social Wine Bar, Poogan’s Porch, and Caviar and Bananas. The food selection will be just as eclectic as the art, with even a specialty rosemary and pomegranate cocktail.

Silent auction items include a New Music Collective season pass, an ad in Charleston Art Mag, and a dinner from Charleston Grille valued at over $600.

Tickets can be purchased at the door.

If you go:
Saturday November 13, 2010, 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm, with bidding to begin at 8:00 pm

Charleston Center for Photography, 654 King Street, Suite D

Tickets: $25 /$15 for Redux Members

Monday, September 20, 2010

Robert Francis Opens for Jason Mraz Wednesday

What's that lame country song we all liked in high school? "Two People Fell in Love?" The lyrics are cheesy, yes, but the idea is universal enough: We all exist because two people fell in love (or the modern adaptation, lust).

Robert Francis' creation story sounds improbable; his parents were from different countries and walks of life. It seems as if they grew up in two different worlds. "They did grow up in two different worlds," Francis says, "My mom came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 18, worked a few different jobs. One was as a nanny. Then she got a job filing different things for a record company. It was a pretty entry level position."

Francis' father was the opposite, a classical music producer who was living in L.A. He's known as the owner of one of the largest sheet music collections in the country.

"My parents met at a Christmas party at the record company."

And that's how this musician came to be. Once content to just play on other people's records, finding love himself is what made Francis start writing music. "Growing up in L.A. is really fast-paced. She was really beautiful and charming, and it was easy to see that she was being sucked away into the vapid Hollywood world. When I put this relationship to rest that was the only part that was killing me: They are out there on their own, and I can’t do anything to help them. I was happy to record on other people’s records until that happened, and then I started writing music."

That revelation produced Francis' first album "One by One." What he describes as a "fairly naive record," was what gained the attention of Atlantic Records, and got him in the studio to record "Before Nightfall."

He has toured state-side with Fanfarlo, Noah and the Whale, and now with Jason Mraz. "Jason's good to tour with because his crowd is a loving group of people that support the opening act, buy their cds."

Francis is playing larger venues in Europe as a headliner. He selling out records overseas. His single "Junebug" has reached number one in France. "I'm like Lady Gaga over there."

He's opening for Jason Mraz, Wednesday night at the Carolina First Arena. Doors at 7. General admission is $35 pre-sale, $40 day of the show.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Holy City Artists and Fleas

Flea markets to me have always been about old tires, do-it-yourself furniture, boiled peanuts, and black kittens. Read: My grandmother dragged me to the Ladson Flea Market in the heat one too many times when I was younger.

Eye Level Art has a whole new take on those things. Every month the art gallery opens its doors to jewelry makers, shoe designers, and consignment shops to give artists a start. Holy City Artists and Fleas showcases the off-the-beaten-path talent in Charleston.

The monthly event started in June and has grown. With 19 vendors and counting lined up to sell their goods on Saturday, you're sure to find something more interesting than a refurbished bike tire.

Stella Maris makes what she calls Affirmation Bracelets. Hand-hammered bronze reassure their wearers with phrases like "I'm my favorite person" and "I take in the light." Her line, Polyester Stella, centers around bronze metal-working. A metal her website says "Copper bracelets have been worn for thousands of years. Copper inhibits the growth of bacteria. It is natural and the most recyled industrial metal world wide."

Love Me Again Clothing offers "ever so lovely vintage and gently loved clothing for women, men, and even the little loved ones."

Taashki Handbags come in both the leather and the vegan varieties.

Charleston Fashion Week Emerging Designer Jamie Lin Snider will also have her designs for sale this Saturday.

The event starts at 10 a.m. at Eye Level Art. 103 Spring Street.

Photos courtesy of Eye Level Art.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Artist's Competition

Karen Ann Myers knows she doesn't have the time to always find new artists. "I can't know every artist in the world, so this is a way for them to find us."

The "way" is the annual call for entries; the "us" is the Redux Contemporary Art Center in Charleston, S.C.

Myers, Redux's director, says, "As a young artist, I need to be exposed to good art to be inspired. We don't have to put on shows that pay our rent, so we can astonish, upset, please our audience. Showcase thought provoking art."

With a deadline on October 23rd, the Redux is now working to fill its roster of cutting edge artists Though they do try to have two or so local artists showcased throughout the year, they are looking for submissions from all over the country.

Currently hanging are sculptures by Tennessee artist Travis Graves. He uses earth magnets. Yes, I had to ask what exactly those were, and yes, I came home and googled it too. Learn a bit here.

Also on display are videos of Pennsylvania artist Cary Graves displaying her sexuality with and in nature. People have commented that it must make father a little uncomfortable, but, no, he actually helped with the videos.

The Redux is willing to go to great lengths for an artist. "We work to make it their dream exhibition. They can paint the walls, floors, ceilings. If someone wants to put a hole in the wall, they can. They have complete freedom to utilize the space."

I met one of the 2010 Redux artists in residence Cory Oberndorfer. The subject matter of the D.C. artist's work is roller derby. Basically candy infused with derby girls. Myers says, "Cory's aim with his art is to create a spectacle. So, I thought, 'What can we do to make that happen?' A parade of derby girls!"

Cory also painted a mural on the side of local bakeshop, Sugar. Became good friends with the local derby team, the Lowcountry Highrollers.

"We also make sure to find people interested in working with the community. Educational programming is a big part of what we do, so we give lectures, hold discussions."

They're looking for exhibitions for the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. For application and guidelines, visit their website.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Sounds of Charleston

During its first year, Charleston Sound Studios released a compilation CD to get out the word. "Last year we wanted to let everyone know we were here," says Jeff Hodges, owner of and producer and mixer at the studio. So, they gave local artists the chance to record a song for the compilation, to get their name out there on a CD that is shipped nationwide.

Charleston Sound Studios began with Hodges seeing a need for high-end recording space in the city. To put Charleston on the map musically and to help out local acts--indie bands are only charged half of the studio's usual daily rate.

And he definitely didn't skimp. "I feel like it's a studio where even Paul McCartney could be comfortable."

Over the past year, 50 or so local and traveling bands have recorded at Charleston Sound Studios, including big names like Band of Horses, The Indigo Girls, and Grace Potter. They've put together their second compilation CD comprised of 13 local bands. Stand-outs of the album include Megan Jean & The Klay Family Band, Sky Paige & the Original Recipe, and Mary's Got a Band.

Of Mary's song "Polka Dot Tears" Hodges says, "I think their song can be subbed for any pop song on the radio right now."

The CD will be released tonight at the Pour House. 9 p.m. It will also be on sale at local record stores like Cat's, Monster Music, and 52.5. All proceeds go to the Charleston Animal Relief.

Hodges isn't in it for the money. "It's all about the artists, the town, who we're giving the profits to."

He says, "You know how they say you make a million dollars in the studio world? You start with two."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Gulf: Really, What Can I Do?

I haven't bought a six-pack of canned soda in a while, but if I did, I know I'd still feel the same need to cut the plastic holder into pieces. So that no small circle remained. "A turtle's head can get stuck in those!" My sister and I would so smartly repeat to one another during our youth. And at 10, that is environmentally responsible. Now it takes a little more.

The Gulf Oil Spill has luckily not affected our Atlantic beaches. Yet. The Charleston Aquarium is still doing its part though. Its staff has gone down to the slick waters to save the wildlife. They are dealing with the unseen victims—those that, unlike birds, don’t have a noticeable absence until they wash up on the shores with discolored shells, pneumonia and worms.

Shelley Dearhart, an Aquarium biologist and educator, and Dr. Shane Boylan, the staff veterinarian, have been down to the Gulf to track dolphins and save sea turtles. Working alongside the NOAA and the Audubon Nature Institute, Dearhart and Boylan are hoping to give the animals of the Gulf a brighter future.

On a personal level we're all wondering what we can do.

According to JoBeth Edwards, Charleston Aquarium's Assistant Director of Institutional Advancement, Charleston as a community has been very interested in what they can do. "The community has been so wonderful to reach out to us and ask how they can help on a local level with the Gulf Oil Spill situation. Several board members reached out to partners in the community and the concept of 'Save our Seas' came together."

“Save Our Seas” is a charitable event meant to benefit the aquarium’s efforts to help turtles and other marine wildlife in the Gulf and at home. With the help of Awendaw Green, Sewee Outpost, and Palmetto Brewery, on Saturday, July 17th, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., the aquarium will host musical acts the Red Top Ramblers, Henry’s Attic, and will have special appearances from Mark Bryan of Hootie and the Blowfish and Doug Jones and Gary Greene from Cravin’ Melon.

The event will be catered by the Cajun inspired Krewe.

Most importantly, Dearhart will be on hand to discuss her work in the Gulf, what she saw and what to expect for the future as a result of the oil spill. Boylan's colleagues will discuss his findings in Louisiana and Mississippi.

All proceeds of the evening will go towards the aquarium's wildlife care, conservation, and rescue programs.

In her blog, Dearhart suggests a simple way to help the environment. "An easy way to help a sea turtle or dolphin from your own home is simply to shop using reusable bags instead of plastic bags." And if I knew plastics were bad at 10, then it's easy enough, right?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Contemporary Charleston

Sitting in the City Gallery at Waterfront Park Friday night, an interesting question was posed: "Is this a poetry reading?"

It was actually both poetry reading and art show. The gallery brought poets and artists together in Contemporary Charleston 2010. Poets included Marcus Amaker, Paul Allen, Ellie Davis, Bryan Penberthy, and Denny Stiles, who were all to read that evening.

The local poets were matched with local artists for a give and take of inspiration.

Allen says of his partner Benjamin Hollingsworth's mural-like painting: "It may be $60,000 for the whole piece, BUT you get to take me home too. And the arrows." This was after he introduced his first poem by saying, "I always like to throw in a divorce poem, so people know they can go home with me."

Stiles inspired his artist, Sarah Haynes, to paint a portrait. "Denny."

Artist Lynne Riding said of working from Davis' poetry: "It was different for me. This isn't usually what I do, but it's where the poems led me. It was fun." Riding used cracked eggshells to enhance her pink-based paintings.

Amaker opened the reading by saying, "I definitely want the poetry scene in Charleston to be bigger, so this is good. Thanks for showing up."

Juxtaposing talent, blending genres has always been the best way to pull attention from one artistic avenue to another.

Penberthy put it best by saying that the show helped to "blur the lines between disciplines." His poetry also makes it easy for painters; his similes conjure great images: "Like a honey bee--perplexing and dull, dying to end for something sweet."

Someone brought their little girl to the reading. At first, you can't help but think, "How cool! I'm going to do that too one day!" It's like seeing kids at a gay pride parade, a presidential inauguration, college football game or Rolling Stones concert. "They're learning cool things!"

But when Allen read the lines, "The world fully understands. It just doesn't give a damn," the crowd chuckled knowingly. And unknowing, the little girl peered backwards to her mother, asked, "What does that mean?"

"I'll tell you later," the mother hushed.

Which left you thinking, "Maybe this isn't appropriate." Well, more so, it made you realize (the depressing truth), "Damn. She won't have to be told. She'll learn."

But, what better way to learn than through poetry?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"What's brown and rhymes with Snoop Dogg?"

With local record labels gaining ground in Charleston, it was only a matter of time before vinyl itself did as well. There's something to be said about small joys and habits associated with records. The smoother sound. There's more room for art. Splitting open just the top of the plastic, so the jacket remains unscathed--don't be like my father and write "D. Bowers" on the front of every record you own, especially not Michael Jackson, "Thriller." It's even almost fun having to remember to tread lightly on the floor around the player.

David Sedaris described the joy of a new record best when referencing his O.C.D. in his essay "Letting Go", "My room was clean and orderly, and if I'd had my way it would have smelled like an album jacket the moment you removed the plastic. That is to say, it would have smelled like anticipation."

Websites like United Record Pressing make self-production of an album easier for musicians. (They change specials monthly. This month they're offering completely recycled vinyls and jackets.) And the production of new albums make the old ones even cooler.

Jimbo's Rock Lounge in West Ashley is enriching the trend. DJ D-Rock has been spinning in Charleston for years. You may have seen him at Voodoo. He's now switched his cause to Jimbo's, the bar hidden by D.D. Peckers on Hwy. 17. Every Thursday night Jimbo's hosts Vinyl Night, where local DJs take to the tables with full creative liberty.

D-Rock says, "I'm just trying to get a better following. My set up makes guys really accessible, and that's what I want: real guys with their own collections coming out."

Two of the guys he's attracted are Dr. Fuzz and Matt Blaster. Dr. Fuzz plays vintage tracks from the 50s and 60s, obscure records he's found for sale. Matt Blaster slides from old school rap to Steely Dan.

There's definitely something everyone can dance to.

And to answer the question posed in the post title: Dr. Dre! Yes, I heard that joke at my first Vinyl Night experience, so you know it has to be a good time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Charleston, S.C.! (To Be Sung to the Tune of Y,M,C,A!)

I kept remembering that I wasn't just walking.

I was marching.

Today, Charleston started a tradition, a movement of love. The first annual Pride Festival paraded its way down East Montague down to Riverfront Park.

Before the event started, I listened to reasons of why gay pride parades are important, how they change and promote growth in a community. Tracey, a parade-goer, says, "When you're coming out to people, they learn something about you, and you learn something about them too. By how they respond."

The same can be said of the parade: You learn something about those that show up and those who don't, the positive and the negative. Well, it's almost that cut and dry. Surprisingly, and thankfully, no protesters showed up. Their absence was positive.

Charleston as a whole showed up in full force.

Churches marched with their banners.

The Lowcountry Highrollers--Charleston's own derby team--skated as Roy G. Biv.

A local politician made a huge, and very commendable, statement. He was also handing out bottles of water, so if nothing else, he's smart enough to think ahead. (I can't say the same for myself.)

We asked around, "About how many people do you think are here?"

"I'd say a 1,000," said one lady.

"At least 4, 500," said another.

So, we'll go with anywhere between 400 and 1,000 marched for gay rights in Charleston over the weekend.

That's a start.

Friday, May 14, 2010

My One Year Anniversary!

It's been six years since I went through the Senior Thesis process? Really?

And the differences are astounding.

Though the process is the same--a one hundred page manuscript written over the course of several months then beautifully published by a local publishing company--the venue in which it's completed has drastically changed.

Wes Snell is one of the 13 students in this year's Senior Thesis Creative Writing class at School of the Arts. In his collection of poetry Spelunking, Snell has a poem named "Projects." Of the government housing, he references the boxes of houses held together "by duct tape and prayer."

That was the School of the Arts I remembered: the one held together by duct tape and talent, right in the middle of project housing. Now, after joining with the Academic Magnet, the campus across the street is pristine. Complete with separate wings for the middle and high schools and a new performance space, which pretty much looks like a mini-North Charleston Performing Arts Center. Jean Olsen, teacher at School of the Arts, says of the new Rose Maree Myers Theatre, "Now we have a venue worthy of our student's talent."

(Sidenote: To check out the new campus, go to the school's open house this evening. Performances and tours are lined up.)

Split pretty much down the middle between novels and poetry, the students honestly shared their work in the new theatre, their glossy book covers hanging from the ceiling. (My cover wasn't glossy.)

First up was Allison Hilton and her novel Letters to My Grandmother. At a funeral, the narrator of the novel notices "the best looking black man with smoky gray eyes heavier than the clouds outside."

"Why, thank you," whispered Marcus, my editor, sitting next to me.

Part of the school-year-long process is seeing a mentor once monthly, who will help find your voice, critique your work. Marcus was mentor to Caroline Rogers. In her introduction, Caroline mentioned that she finds religion in nature. Illustrated that fact with the opening lines, "I will talk to God for days, until I realize that I am talking, like Sylvia, to the sky."

Following tradition, Mrs. Miles, the Creative Writing teacher who started the process at the school, closed with a poem written for the class. Before she began--both crying and reading--she announced that this was her last year working with the Senior Thesis class. She commenced to read, no, choke through, beautiful phrasing like, "You are stones that have settled at the bottom of my heart." The poem ended with, "Now is the time for letting go." And more crying.

Maybe the upcoming students will have a better performance space, glossy book covers, but I--and I don't mean to brag--had Mrs. Miles.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Derby Name Would Be Beezlebeth

Redux's artist in residence, Cory Oberndorfer, and I went to the Lowcountry Highroller's practice on Sunday. We overheard one girl saying to another, "You have crappy wheels."

"Is that the equivalent of 'I think you're fat' in the derby world?" I asked Cory. He's got the derby knowledge; the subject matter of the majority of his paintings are derby girls infused with candy, so I figured he'd have a good answer.

"No, I think it's more like 'You have ugly shoes,'" he replied quickly.

"Yeah, you're right," I agreed, "'She's a bad skater' is probably the taboo phrase."

Oberndorfer is using the local derby team as inspiration for an installation at the Redux. He just got into town and will work through the 26th. The public is encouraged to stop by and see his progress.

For more information on the artist, visit

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Reggae Infinity

What I learned first last night: Keyboards have a steel drum setting.

Reggae Infinity is a band out of Columbia, S.C. They introduced themselves by saying, "We're here to bring you positive vibrations with reggae music."

The performance was part of the North Charleston Arts Festival. The week-long event held a children's festival, a film screening, and tons of music. Gospel, Irish, Australian, you name it. The main event of the festival was held at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. Four stages showcased music, and the rest of the venue housed photography, crafts, and other art.

The event was described as "sensory overload."

The reggae block party was one of the concluding shows of the North Charleston Arts Festival. It was held in the re-vamped Park Circle area. Olde North Charleston--more specifically the part of East Montague Avenue past North Charleston High, that's home to EVO, Madra Rua, and The Mill--is becoming a popular hang out. All the street's businesses opened their doors for the block party. Cork even served drinks in to-go cups. Music blasted until 10 p.m.

Block parties are becoming more prevalent in Olde North Charleston. Cop cars park horizontally, a stage is erected, and chairs are set up in the street. The crowd thickens, but ample room is left for dancing.

And speaking of dancing: What I learned second on Friday night was the difference between 13 and 23. At 13, dancing in front a crowd with your mother is totally embarrassing. At 23, it's fun.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Like an Animal or a Manimal?

The night started with a stripper name--Crystal Chandelier--shouted from the audience.

Theatre 99, Charleston's home for improv comedy, held a 3 on 3 Tournament Saturday night. Six groups of 3 took the stage in 10 minute intervals to win the audience's vote.

The Full Monterey Jack Cheese Quesadilla--a play on "The Full Monty" I presume--was a group of 3 boys who continually stripped off clothing. Until left only with the words "Magic" and "Last Layer" and some booty shorts.

Also in the first half were Wild Card, a group of three who put their name in a hat for an opportunity to compete, and So Good You'll Think There's At Least Four of Us. The latter--who dressed in tourist gear and walked onto stage saying "Hello, Charlestown! We're from Ohio! We love Hyman's!"--was the victim of an unruly, bandaged audience member who thought it a good idea to join the skit, which, at that time, was the firing of a baseball coach right before a game. One of the group's members says "I wanted to open up a trap door and just slide down. Only three people were allowed on stage!" The guys backstage were, by nature, quick on their feet and came on stage as "stadium security" to escort him off.

Brandy Sullivan, a member of the group Trio Loco and main fixture at Theatre 99, says "In all of the 10 years of the theatre, something like that has never happened. No one has ever just walked up on stage!"

The crazy man with a bandage on his hand was used as a punchline all night.

The most fluid performance of the evening came from One at a Time. Their 10 minutes started with three roommates reliving a party from the night before. Two of the three had slept together in true "party house" form, and shortly thereafter the girl roommate turned into an "animal."

Which garnered the question: Is she like an animal or a manimal? An animal-animal, or a man and an animal.

I guess the second is curable?

She was an animal-animal, and the skit went on to produce great animalistic one-liners like "She's like a gazelle that's a bat on the weekends," "I think we should mate and then you kill me," and "When you have the baby you can't eat it." In the end, the girl roommate tries to denounce her party animal ways.

Trio Loco was the night's winner.

Sullivan and her troupe members--one improv-ed it on the piano--sang, in thick Southern accents, about peel and eat shrimp and spearing ghosts.

Hidden behind the Bicycle Shoppe on Meeting, Theatre 99 is a comedic gem in Charleston. There are shows every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and Sullivan and hilarious member of One at a Time Greg Tavares also teach improv classes.

Sullivan says, "We teach all levels. There's something for everyone."

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Went to Outer Space.

They let you paint on the walls.

I've had my doubts about Outer Space--the venue voted "best hipster hang out in Charleston"--but as an art gallery, they won me over last night.

Anson Cyr, one of its co-founders, says he knows sometimes people can get "wigged out" by the intimate setting. "I think it just depends on what you come to," he says. And he's right. Before I'd only been to small music shows and swing dancing lessons, walked away feeling like the setting was far too intimate to enjoy--more like a living room full of people I didn't know singing and dancing around me. But as an art gallery, it has a laid-back feel that's refreshingly different from all those places where you're terrified you might knock something off of the wall.

Cyr says of his role as art director of Outer Space: "We're moving soon, and when we do, I hope to be less curator and more into helping artists transform the space."

The most recent artist to transform the space is Brian Bustos. In his show "Deux," Bustos had literary inspiration. "I read a lot of Jack Kerouac, and he writes spontaneous prose. I used that idea in my art. You know, your first thought is your best thought, and just get it done. Go with it."

And yes, he got to paint on the walls as part of his show. So cool.

Local musician Chris Thomas has also put together a show to compliment the art. Bustos' fiancee says of Thomas: "He's shaving his head and eyebrows, painting his face white, and wearing a blue hoodie to look like that guy."

That's dedication.

The art-side of "Deux" is mostly drawings, accompanied by words. Some are just "random thoughts" according to Bustos, others sentences clipped from old books. My favorite was a drawing of a person whose head grew into a roof. It read: "Thus we have a heaven presented to us as mansions in which we are to dwell." Then, at the bottom was: "It held no meaning."

Bustos felt the above piece--being able to paint a black dot on the wall to tie together the art and the writing--was "aesthetically pleasing." The display started with, ironically, a picture of a NASA spaceship and the wording, "They said I could be whatever I wanted when I grew up. I wanted to go to space. Now I just draw unrealistic pictures of spaceships." Other introspective and quirky statements include: "I don't feel like a bear" and "Birds were probably really great people once. That's why they don't have to do shit all day. And they can fly."

Perhaps Outer Space was the perfect venue for "Deux." Bustos says of his chosen method: "Paintings you can change. Drawings are intimate."

"Deux" starts at 8 p.m. tonight, 623 Meeting Street.

Monday, April 19, 2010

You Know That's an Old Camel Saddle, Right?

There was a sign on the door. "Hussey. Top Floor."

A part of me didn't want to go up, didn't want there to be any confusion. But I did, and found local artist Tim Hussey's "yard sale."

Hussey won me over with his Shrimp Records t-shirt and guacamole. A Chinese Acupuncture statue and rantings in his mother's direction to "Not cross the tape line!" Oh, and his art was pretty cool, too.

But back to why I was there. A yard sale. Ayoka Lucas, style editor of Charleston Magazine, was hanging out in the kitchen. "You've got to get to yard sales early," she says, "I got all the best stuff." She took me in the other room to show off her loot. One score was even better than she thought: A friend pointed out that a wooden stool was actually made out of a camel saddle.

Hussey's yard sale was really more of a moving sale. "I'm downsizing," he says, "I'm an artist, and I'm going to start living like one."

Hussey is known as a painter and photographer in Charleston. Represented at the Rebekah Jacob Gallery downtown, Hussey's work is the product of layering and found objects. He's been described as "puzzling and astonishing."

Every table--which was probably for sale too--was piled with jumbled iron letters, ceramic birds, rusted fans. Another local artist, Nathan Durfee, talked Hussey out of a neon orange chair that wasn't originally for sale.

"I feel like this space was like a painting," Hussey says, "And out of context, I don't think this stuff would work, so I'm selling it."

We helped Hussey's cause and left. Then just had to fit the standing birdcage, picture frame, neon orange chair, local artist, and his bookbag into the backseat of a Camry.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What a Wonderful World

This past Saturday the NNICU nurses of the MUSC Children's Hospital hosted the Neonatal Nurses Reunion. They filled the horseshoe with bubbles, ducklings, Disney characters, and cupcakes. Invited all the children who've ever stayed in their incubators, hooked to respirators or under the phototherapy lights, to come play.

Sheryl Bey, a NNICU RN, remembered a little girl from 15 years ago. "I didn't think I could remember that far back," she says, "She was premature, weighed 1 lb, 15 oz., and that was a big deal back then."

My nephew, David, had a two week stay in MUSC's NNICU right after birth. Elevated bilirubin levels caused brain damage, but since, in his hearing aids and leg braces, David has amazed us all. Walking on a treadmill during Physical Therapy and saying "Bye, bye" to his Speech Therapist. He's just the smiling child that makes this event rewarding: Lets the nurses see the positive side of their care.

Fellowship plays a huge part in the Nurses Reunion. Nurses reunite with their patients. Parents get to re-thank them. And to meet others that have been in their shoes.

From the crowd, we heard my sister's name, turned, and recognized--thanks to facebook, of course--a little boy named Sullivan who was diagnosed with the same rare hearing disorder two weeks after David. In silence, the two boys made friends, pointing and smiling.

Music played the whole time. Twice I heard "What a Wonderful World." Once by Louis Armstrong, once reggae-ed up. How could the lyrics not resonate? "I see babies cry. I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than I'll ever know." I was filled with promise. Of growth, what could be. Of David's possibilities.

When is a day not full of wonder?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shhhhh...Amos Lee was in town.

I went to the Amos Lee show at the Music Farm knowing two things about him: 1. My good friend Allyson said I would like him, and 2. He toured with one of my local favorites, Cary Ann Hearst.

So, he had to be good, right?

Allyson says it was a couple lines from Lee's song "Keep it Loose, Keep It Tight" that made her fall in love with him. "I'm in love with a girl who's in love with the world, and I can't help but follow. Though I know some day she is bound to go away and stay over the rainbow. We all need a place where we can go. To feel over the rainbow."

Lee walked onto stage virtually unnoticed. Started playing a mellow song sans his band. "Is that him?" I asked.

"I think. Yeah. Yeah, that's him," Allyson replied half-heartedly. And perhaps a lot of people were posing the same question, because after the song was over, Lee announced, through the whispering, "If you came to talk over me, I'm not with you."

Bold move. I'm still not sure if I like him more for it, or if I was rubbed the wrong way.

But, it was hard to dwell on an off-the-cuff comment when his planned words were delivered so nicely. Albeit, quietly, but that was actually a nice change from the normal, headache-inducing bands that headline the venue. The constant shush-ing in the audience in response was a bit much, but I guess he scared us.

Lee's guitar playing was effortless, and his range, even more impressive. His song "Colors" seemed the most popular. Probably earned the most shush-ing.

His cover of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" ended the show nicely--the crowd finally got to make a little noise.

That Allyson's always right.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Elements

SCOOP studios on Broad unveiled a new show Friday night during the French Quarter Art Walk.

“Elements” is a photography show that serves as a testament to nature's power. According to co-owner Colleen Deihl, “When something is left behind or abandoned, nature takes over, whether it be rain, snow, wind or sun, or the plants that continue to grow around. And even in the objects. This may not be the most beautiful picture to some, but to us it is gorgeous and fascinating.”

The idea came from a chat between Deihl and one of the featured photographers, Stewart Young. Young says his photography celebrates “the beauty of decay and decline.” His images made it seem like he had an affinity for rust. It was captured on tricycles, old gas pumps, cars. So--hence came the name of the show--his photography showcased the stress of the elements on the man-made.

Cyle Suesz took an interesting approach to the theme. He showed local models in their most natural state: naked. Deihl thinks that the true natural beauty of his work was in his picture “Dandelion.” “Cyle's driftwood trees in 'Dandelion' are constantly changed by the ocean, the salt, the wind and the sand.”

At the opening, I most liked the work of Sandy Logan. With bold colors and duct tape, Logan showed how that which is man-made goes to waste.

When I pointed to the above picture and said I liked it, Logan said it was “an old, ditched semi-truck.” I liked the word “ditched” because I instantly imagined the truck a true mess, left sideways in a ditch. Not just abandoned, though I know that's what he meant. In response to my being a fan of the verb, Logan said, “It was ditched. Because what really else can you do with a beat-up truck? You're not parking it.”

All of his photographs have the same forlorn feel and were the product of a trip to Wilmington, NC. Logan wanted new subject matter, and says that photo ops are everywhere. “My resume says I'm on a first name basis with most junkyard dogs.”

“Elements” will be on display at SCOOP, 57 ½ Broad Street, through mid-April.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Just yesterday I was told I wouldn't like a book because it was “religious.”

Read: It takes a lot to get me riled up when it comes to religion.

On Tuesday in Charleston, the Westboro Baptist Church had a protest tour. They succeeded. They riled me up.

Walking towards College of Charleston's Jewish Studies building, the eerie chanting of one of the church's most recognizable faces set a tone of discomfort and disgust. The group's bold-faced signs--”The Jews Killed Jesus” and “America is Doomed”--only deepened it.

On the walk over, a friend said, “I would be curious to know their goal. If they want to convert me. But if God hates me, why should I?”

It's an interesting question. Totally logical to question their motives. This is the group with the website The ones who picket the funerals of fallen American soldiers. And what exactly do those two things—among their hundred other offensive tactics—accomplish? That's all the Westboro Baptist Church spawns. Not converts, but questions. The main one being: Really?

College of Charleston organized an anti-protest. The plan was to remain silent, down the street. Basically to make the hate-speech unheard. It, understandably, didn't go off as planned. Genius signs were made in retaliation. “Even Voldemort Hates the WBC.” “God Loves Lady Gaga.” “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Those just couldn't go unseen.

And in the face of a group who makes their money from lawsuits, pulling at heartstrings so even the even-keel lose it, who could stay completely silent? Hey, if college kids are up at 8 a.m., they want a show.

Adding to that show was C of C student Arsenio McCormick. McCormick says his first reaction to the protest was, “This is gonna be fun!” From the crowd he chanted “Jesus had two dads!” and “We got healthcare!” He started out light-hearted, but his attitude changed to “really being proud of the people.” The over 200 people who showed up to take a stand for love. McCormick added, “The core of it is that hate is not in religion.”