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.