Black AF - And Why Columbia Deserves More New Performance Art And Why That Art Must Come from Everyone

"Nothing is more empowering than being able to speak your truth."

 Preach Jacobs - photo by Brodiemedia

Preach Jacobs - photo by Brodiemedia

One of the most telling signs of a healthy arts scene in a city is when performing artists and arts organizations no longer rely solely on art being fed to them from the outside or from a canon of tried and true productions, and instead look within themselves and to their own resources to create new art and make unique contributions to culture. While we rarely see performances of new works from our more heavily funded Columbia arts organizations who seem to be more incentivized to put butts in the seats of the expensive Koger Center than to challenge, stimulate, and yes, grow their audiences, it is the smaller venues and organizations – think Tapp’s Arts Center, Harbison Theatre’s Performance Incubator, and local bars – where we most often find new work being created and performed.

Thankfully, Trustus Theatre has a history of encouraging new performing arts via their Playwright’s Festival and sketch comedy programs and, this season, they brought it all home by presenting Constance, a new musical theatre production composed by Daniel Machado, Adam Corbett, and the Restoration and written by Chad Henderson, all Columbia-based artists. Interestingly enough, Constance sold out and came close to selling out on most nights, challenging the assumption that Columbia audiences are content with the same plays, compositions, and ballets their parents grew tired of decades ago.

Now, just one week later Trustus Theatre offers a brand new one-night-only original production written and performed by Preach Jacobs and directed by Kari LebbyBlack AF.

Black AF originated with Preach Jacobs who, at 34 is a well-known member of Columbia’s local music scene. “My grandmother passed away last year and it took a toll on me,” Jacobs says. “She came from a generation where black folks … didn’t talk about their lives. …But there would be moments where she would begin to talk and those were jewels for me. Her stories were fascinating and she gave me the understanding that everyone deserves to tell their story. Black AF is paying homage to my granny and ancestors because by telling my story I’m telling their story. Unapologetically black. Black as fuck.”

Jacobs enlisted the help of Columbia native actor/director/musician Bakari Lebby, 27, whose previous directing work has included Sunset Baby at Trustus and Some Girls at Workshop, who readily jumped on board. “We had talked about how we wanted to work together on something,” Lebby says, "and Preach said he had this theatre project that he wanted to do that was ‘part TED talk, part stand up, and part hip hop show.’ That sounded dope and innovative to me, and then he told me he wanted to call it Black as Fuck, which also appealed to my interests. Then we started really fleshing out the concept and content together.”

Both artists identify the importance of supporting black art and new art from traditionally marginalized voices as being integral to their decisions to go forward with this project. “Life is scary. Shit is cray. We need art to be able to confront, explore, and express our feelings as well as the feelings of others,” Lebby says. “Any art that is not ‘mainstream’ is critically important right now. Representation. Real representation.”

“It’s important as black people in America to not just have our stories told, but in fact we be in charge of telling our stories,” Jacobs adds. “It may seem like a simple idea but it’s something that we’ve been deprived of. In this current climate it trickles to other groups of people that haven’t had their voices heard. The Me Too movement is proof of generations of women that are finally being heard and able to tell their stories. Nothing is more empowering than being able to speak your truth.”

With any new performance art audiences may be uncertain of what to expect and whether to invest in the not-inexpensive ticket price of $25, but Lebby has faith in the format and the gifts Jacobs brings to the stage. “This show is not the average ‘one-man show.’ Yes, Preach will be occupying the stage the whole time, but there is a DJ. There will be some visual supplements. There will be musical performances and dialogues. The show is funny. The show is darkly funny. It’s also a bummer at times. It is also ceaselessly honest and in Preach Jacobs’s voice. He carries the show confidently.”

Jacobs emphasizes the role of “raw honesty” in the performance, adding that the show is “a love letter to my ancestors.”

With the title of the show being Black AF (Black as Fuck) it’s reasonable to question the audiences to whom the show might most appeal, so we asked both gentlemen why both black people and white people should show up, or even if both black people and white people should show up.

According to Lebby, black people should attend “because supporting black art is lit. It’ll be a good time. The more that we show up, the more opportunities that we can get and give to more artists of color. … These are conversations we need to be having with each other.”

Jacobs says, “Hopefully the black folks that show up can relate to what I’m saying. Having a shared experience is a type of emotional bonding that I look for with my art. Watching Black Panther resonated so much because of that fact. Black folks could relate.”

As for white folks, Jacobs hopes they will “come with an open mind and really hear what I believe are things that could help with dialogue about race relations. There’s not much in the show about black and whites dealing with each other per se, as much as it is embracing and loving myself. To learn that being black isn’t a curse is life changing but also a process. Some of these things might surprise them.”

Lebby adds, “I think checking out perspectives that you haven’t seen on stage before is cool. If you’re a white theatre person, yes, come see this show. It’s important. You don’t get to ‘support black art and then not actually support it.”

 

Black AF is a one-night-only event coming up Sunday, May 27th at 8 pm at Trustus Theatre and tickets are available at http://trustus.org/event/black-af/.
A free accompanying art show will also be held May 26th at Frame of Mind (142 State St., West Columbia, SC).
***
- Cindi Boiter is the executive director of The Jasper Project and the founder and editor of Jasper Magazine

REVIEW: The Restoration's Constance - An Original Musical

by Jon Tuttle

Constance for Trustus.jpg

Eight years and several iterations after its 2010 debut, the Restoration’s Constance is finally and fully on its feet at Trustus, and it is a monolith.  

 

A fictional musical saga set in Reconstruction-era Lexington, the play defies summation except to say they’re all there, all those primal southern tropes, like bigotry, miscegenation, old money, zealotry, revenge, hypocrisy, and violence.   It’s unwieldy and exhausting and overwhelming and an excellent example of what theatre is for. 

 

It’s elemental, is what it is.   It begins with fire—the actual fire set by Sherman’s troops in 1865 at St. Stephen’s Church—and ends in flood, the drowning of an entire town by an embittered native son.   It is earth, in its emphasis on home and land and the genius of place.    And it is air, or rather ayre, an aural palette of (how to describe it?) Americana/heartland/folk balladry. 

 

That Constance is a protracted labor of love between two old friends--Trustus Artistic Director Chad Henderson and The Restoration founder Daniel Machado--becomes obvious in its attention to detail and commitment of resources.   Henderson wrote the book, quilting together Machado’s songs with dialogue so assured you can’t hear the writing.  In directing it, he deployed many of the theatrical gadgets in his Swiss Army knife.  And he hired Tom Beard, always a pro, as musical director, and Jessica Bornick, whose costumes are terrific.  The result is a multi-media, multi-modal theatrical tsunami, more akin to Bernstein’s Mass than to the last musical you saw.

 

The flood scene, for instance, is magnificently effectuated by the “floating” of church pews by members of the ensemble.   The fire is a combination of lighting mayhem, percussive stomping, urgent strings and

choreography.   Virtually every scene introduces a fresh visual element--Brechtian projections, newsreel footage, scrim silhouettes, a cascade of flying paper, and (this was brilliant) an unruly mob armed with creepy flashlights marauding the auditorium.  Meanwhile, hanging ominously on the back wall: heavy ropes, impossible to ignore in a play about race.

 

And there are unmistakable references to Our Town, appropriate in such a panoramic homage to our town, such as the adult Constance’s observation of herself at different ages, or the funeral scene, or in Paul Kaufman’s (riveting) Reverend Harper, at first a unifying and benevolent consciousness presiding over these affairs like Wilder’s Stage Manager,  later reduced by time and tribulation to a ragged, wild-haired, raging alcoholic howling about the “Werewolf of Ballentine” and looking as horrifically grizzled as Steve Bannon on a good day.   

 

The cast itself is colossal, consisting of twenty-five actors led by Trustus veterans Kaufman and, in the role of the adult Constance Owen, Vicky Saye Henderson, whom I cannot review fairly because her singing beguiles me.   I think, however, she might be magnificent because what I wanted most was more of her.  

 

And here begin my apprehensions.  

 

The play is actually two, each its own act.  In the first, we meet teenage Constance (played by Brittany Hammock) and her love interest, the mixed-race Aaron Vale (Mario McClean).  So convincing is their chemistry, so harmonious their voices, so solid their performances, that the play is never better than when they are on stage.  Indeed, their scenes together provide the evening’s best moments and melodies (like “I Can’t Stop Wanting You”).  If such actors are the inheritors of Trustus’ reputation, then the theatre is in excellent hands. 

 

But the first act is so long as to test the limits of the even the most heroic middle-aged prostate.   This being a work-still-in-progress, further pruning is likely to be done.  A good place to start, so say I, would be the subplot involving a local troupe’s production of Othello, which seems to ape Waiting for Guffman and features the embarrassing caricature of a flaming primo uomo.  Or perhaps the glimpses we are given into the troubled marriage of Col. and Mrs. Palmer, he a pompous developer with an eye for the colored help, she a pious shrew competing for his attention.   To be fair, their story is actually quite compelling, particularly as it is embodied by Stan Gwynn and Len Marini, but it tries to compete with the real story here, that being Constance and Aaron’s, whose secret wedding in a short, lovely benedictory would have made an excellent act-closer.  And should have.  

 

Better there, so say I, than much later, at Aaron’s death scene, and for two reasons.  One is that it’s odd.  No sooner has he suffered an infarction than he calls for his guitar, sits up, and begs Constance, through song, not to “let my music die with me.  Don’t let it go into the ground with me.  Write it down, write it down, write it down for me.”   It’s a fine piece of music, but it would have made more sense had it been sung a capella, since he’s, you know, dying.  And until that point he hadn’t really identified so strongly with his music.  He took more pride, or so I thought, in his skills as a builder.   

 

At any rate, I was sorry to see him go, partly because I really liked him, but mostly because I knew the play had just created for itself a considerable structural challenge.  Conventional Dramatic Wisdom dictates that a second act must trump the first; it must quicken the themes and conflicts already established and more deeply develop its characters.   But now a romantic lead was dead, so that story was over.  Where to now? 

 

Conventional Dramatic Wisdom can be wrong, of course. Witness Robert Schenkkan’s 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning The Kentucky Cycle, a play very similar in texture and scope.  It’s actually nine different, barely-connected plays spanning two-hundred years and running six hours.  It shouldn’t work, but it does, and Constance shares its DNA.   And it attempts the same sort of narrative teleportation:  in Act II we are introduced to Thomas Vale, Constance and Aaron’s quadroon son, who now becomes our protagonist because Constance is glimpsed only rarely.

 

In an opening duet, ten-year-old Thomas (Henry Melkomian) and his friend Henry (Christopher Hionis) sing (quite well) that “I don’t understand” why race would separate people, and that refrain interweaves gracefully through the rest of the play, which is essentially a catalogue of young Thomas’ frustrations. These are (a) the death, in war, of Henry; (b) unrequited affection for Willodean, on account of the one-drop rule; (c) the foreclosure on the family home, and (d) there’s this hooker.   And so the stage is set for the violent climax, and when it comes, it’s a cathartic sensory spectacle played out before Constance’s eyes so that the full measure of her loss can be realized.   The whole act has the shape of a perfectly plausible plotline, the closing of a long and vicious circle, really the story of the South itself.

 

And yet….

 

Perhaps there are again too many distractions.   At one point, for instance, two of Colonel Parker’s mill hands interrupt a New Year’s Eve party bearing a bag of bloody cotton testifying to the death of Flora, the object of his unreconstructed lust.   But because the contents of the bag better resemble the offal of a difficult liposuction, his grief seems comical.  And then, for instance, there’s a song about Little Round Shoes, which “I don’t understand.”    And the cast turns over almost completely, as generations do, and I get that, but I kept wondering where Constance went.   When in the coda she is discovered, years later, recounting her story to a stranger on a train, she feels like a stranger on a train. 

 

And yet, and yet.

 

“Constance” means fidelity, commitment, perseverance, which perhaps explains the sensation of comfort attendant to our last encounter with her.   It is comforting, at play’s end, to look back upon her life and see so many familiar stories there, and so much sorrow, and more than that, so much goodness. 

 

The theatre’s purpose is tell stories of other people so that we can find designs for living our own real stories—which are unwieldy and exhausting and overwhelming.  They are epic poems, is what they are, and one ought to appreciate a piece of art that sings one.   

 

Constance may become a permanent part of Trustus’ repertoire, a play it can return to in years to come, and it ought to, because it’s uniquely theirs, and it’s ours, and it’s really quite extraordinary. 

 

Jon Tuttle is Professor of English and Director of University Honors at Francis Marion University and former Literary Manager at Trustus Theatre, where his play BOY ABOUT TEN will premier in August.

 

 

JASPER MAGAZINE Release & Constance Preview Schedule of Events

TICKETS

$20

https://constance.brownpapertickets.com

Jasper theatre logo.jpg

5:30

Doors Open, Supper Starts, Silent Auction is Live, & Magazines are Hot!!

 

6:00

Cover Artist Ansley Adams Gives Artist Talk in Gallery

 

6:30

Concert by Daniel Machado and Adam Corbett

 

7:30

Official Preview – Constance – The Musical

 

Intermission

Performance by The Watering Hole

Auction Closes at Intermission End

 

Post-Show

Kyle Petersen Interview with Chad Henderson, Daniel Machado                    & The Restoration

 

~~~~~

TICKETS

$20

https://constance.brownpapertickets.com

Please note - tickets to this event are offered at a $10 savings over regularly priced shows.

OR ...

Join the Jasper Guild by 6 pm on May 3rd and receive a FREE ticket to the event!

https://squareup.com/store/the-jasper-project

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - today Featuring Al Black

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

 

Today's poem comes to us from Al Black.

 

Wild Geese

by Mary Oliver

 

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

 

A Hoosier in the land of cotton, Al Black was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana.  He has been married 46 years to Carol Agnew Black; they have four grown children and six grandchildren.  Black began writing verse at age nine, but kept his poems strictly to himself. In late 2008, he moved to South Carolina so his wife could accept a job as a professor of Sociology. Unemployed for the first time and free from family and community expectations, he publicly shared his first poetry eight years ago.  Black is co-founder of Poets Respond to Race and hosts several poetry and music events in Columbia, SC; he considers himself a northern born Southern poet because it was here in the South that he felt free to blossom.


 

 Al Black

Al Black

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today Featuring Eric Bargeron

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

 

Today's poem comes to us from Eric Bargeron --

 

spring song 

 

the green of Jesus

is breaking the ground

and the sweet

smell of delicious Jesus

is opening the house and

the dance of Jesus music

has hold of the air and

the world is turning

in the body of Jesus and

the future is possible

 

Lucille Clifton, "spring song" from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright 

 Eric Bargeron

Eric Bargeron

REVIEW: Flight at USC is a Needed Addition to American History and Drama

"We are weightless and unbound by gravity ..."

Flight.jpg

Flight, conceived and directed by Steve Pearson and written by Robyn Hunt, is not an easy play. To start with, it is an historical drama exploring a subject about which little history has been written. Its fictional characters, who lived lives split between the theatrical stage and the aviation hangar, are based loosely on actual female aviation pioneers whose lives were similarly fragmented. Add to this a deep thematic attachment to the work of Anton Chekov, and top it with a singular character whose place in time and space is hard to peg, and the result is nothing less than a study in complexity. But bear with the play’s construct, lean into its sometimes surprising interludes into dance and theatrics, stay with the play, and, ultimately, the viewer is delivered a simple and straightforward message, which is this: Though women are remembered too often for the performative work they do, (and there is a performative nature to far too much of the work of women), it is the unlauded milestones women have made—the ones accomplished when they were not being watched, critiqued, or directed—that have produced the greatest resonance, not just for the individual women themselves, but for humanity writ large.

A production of the University of SC Department of Theatre and Dance, Flight is making its second appearance in Columbia. First presented in 2009 by department professors Pearson and Hunt, Flight took wing on a national tour during which its script was tightened and refined by the playwright Hunt. It returns to Columbia this month with some of the original cast who also served as original researchers into the history and culture of women in aviation upon which the play is based.

The story of two French actress/aviators and a similarly ground-breaking woman documentarian, Flight takes the audience into an airline hangar in which the women appear to be constructing a plane in preparation for a trailblazing flight from Paris to Moscow. In fact, over the course of the play, the actors actually (re)assemble a ¾ scale replica of an early monoplane called the Bleriot XI, (previously hand-fashioned by Pearson). Always in motion, Madeleine, played by Gabriela Castillo, and Sophie, played by Kimberly Gaughan, create strong supporting roles for one another as their characters are juxtaposed in disposition and delivery, with Gaughan as intensely restrained—think tempered drama just below the surface of her character’s personality—as Castillo is light and optimistic. These women require no sympathy, despite the unaccommodating culture in which they work and live. They are empowered by their own dignity and dedication to their science. Gaughan and Castillo do their characters ample justice and should be proud of their work.

As the documentarian Alisse, playwright Hunt lends a diligent gentility to her character—so composed, so professional in the face of adversity—and her blending of the kind of maturity one can only admire with her easy manipulation of the stage, floating in and out of the machinations of filmmaking and the cultural machinations of womanhood are deliberate and nuanced.

Eric Bultman plays the part of the oft aloft Jean Luc, a prescient and somewhat ethereal combination of mystic and mechanic who seems to represent not only science but a more benevolent patriarchy than the one in which the women operate, offering a fluid form of interactive narration that has a grounding effect for the audience. Bultman is inordinately well-suited for the authoritative presence his character demands and, particularly in his tango with Hunt, which seems to so beautifully marry science to art, exhibits an easy command of the stage.

In the role of Gerard, a good-natured compatriot of the women from the theatre, Nicolas Stewart faces challenges in displaying a sense of comfort with his character’s physical form, lacking variability from the easy-going persona to which he so frequently returns. Still, there is much to look forward to in this young actor’s future.

The gradual materialization of an almost full-sized airplane on the stage aside, the rest of the set, also created by Pearson, is sparse but strong, exhibiting a captivating design element in its color and texture. Even more engaging is the costuming of the characters, designed by Lisa Martin-Stuart and Kristy Hall, which makes no apparent concessions to convenience or cost in the adherence to authenticity. It is satisfying to see period costuming so thoroughly implemented with no tell-tale signs of the 21st century sneaking out from around the edges.  A light and lovely score accompanies the play’s progress.

It is cliché to say that Flight reminds us of how far we have come yet how far we still need to go, but it must be said. These powerful characters leave us with the optimistic words that we, as women, are weightless and unbound by gravity. But until we transcend, or at a minimum reconfigure, the performance of womanhood as culture demands it, we may never fully get off the ground.

Flight is at the Center for Performance Experiment and runs through April 29th.

Cindi Boiter is the executive director of the Jasper Project and editor of Jasper Magazine.

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today Featuring Aida Rogers

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

 

Today's poem comes to us from Aida Rogers and here's what she says about it -- 

Here's one my grandmother would read to us. I didn't quite understand it, but the part about Little Bridget under the lake would just freak me out. Plus, what could sound more delicious to your ear and shivery up your spine and more adventurous in life than traveling "up an airy mountain and down the rushy glen"?

 

 

William Allingham (1824-1889)

          The Fairies

    UP the airy mountain, 
        Down the rushy glen, 
    We daren't go a-hunting
        For fear of little men; 
    Wee folk, good folk, 
        Trooping all together; 
    Green jacket, red cap, 
        And a white owl's feather!

    Down along the rocky shore
        Some make their home, 
    They live on crispy pancakes
        Of yellow tide-foam; 
    Some in the reeds
        Of the black mountain lake, 
    With frogs for their watch-dogs, 
        All night awake.

    High on the hill-top
        The old King sits; 
    He is now so old and gray
        He's nigh lost his wits. 
    With a bridge of white mist
        Columbkill he crosses, 
    On his stately journeys
        From Slieveleague to Rosses; 
    Or going up with music
        On cold starry nights, 
    To sup with the Queen
        Of the gay Northern Lights.

    They stole little Bridget
        For seven years long; 
    When she came down again
        Her friends were all gone. 
    They took her lightly back, 
        Between the night and morrow, 
    They thought that she was fast asleep, 
        But she was dead with sorrow. 
    They have kept her ever since
        Deep within the lake, 
    On a bed of flag-leaves, 
        Watching till she wake.

    By the craggy hill-side, 
        Through the mosses bare, 
    They have planted thorn-trees
        For pleasure here and there. 
    Is any man so daring
        As dig them up in spite, 
    He shall find their sharpest thorns
        In his bed at night.

    Up the airy mountain, 
        Down the rushy glen, 
    We daren't go a-hunting
        For fear of little men; 
    Wee folk, good folk, 
        Trooping all together; 
    Green jacket, red cap, 
        And a white owl's feather!

 

 

Aïda Rogers is a writer in Columbia who unfashionably likes poems that rhyme. She is the editor of the anthology series State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love. Volume 3 will be released in August by USC Press.

 

 Aida Rogers

Aida Rogers

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today Featuring Michael Dowdy

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

Michael Dowdy shares one of his favorite poems with us today --

 

If “El Fruto” (The Fruit) is a Garden of Eden poem, in the voice of Eve, it is one in which the Chicano (Mexican-American) poet Juan Felipe Herrera paints that biblical world as strange, sensuous, effervescent, fleshy and feverish, terrible and joyous. But it’s the last line that jabs me in the ribs, for there we fall into our 21st-century predicament, where god isn’t Old Testament or New but a superrich CEO who tempts with the “delicate voice” of dollar bills.

 

El Fruto

 

The apple wasn’t our true origin.

The tree, well, it offered its own brand of shade.

The parrot, can you see him? The witness of this account.

We had just come back from the Serpent Café, rebellious.

We had just washed in black light & oyster sauce.

Our fragrance was of sex, lemon rind and coral.

He mentioned the brutalities of the heavens.

I pointed to the blistered boulevards, the musicians

in stoic delight, their gaping violin wounds.

He mentioned the ecstasy beneath his blonde ribs.

I turned away, called my sisters, Tara, Queen of Illusion,

Mayahuel, Goddess of Dark Jazz Nectars. Then

a delicate voice flashed from above, it ripped away

the milk from my lips, the wine from his eyes.

It was King Executive, Demi-god of the New Business.

 

 

 

  Michael Dowdy  is the author of  Urbilly,  winner of the 2017 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and  Broken Souths: Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization, a study of Latina/o poetry . With the poet Claudia Rankine, he is coediting the forthcoming anthology,  American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagemen t (Wesleyan University Press, 2018). Originally from Blacksburg, Virginia, he teaches at the University of South Carolina.

Michael Dowdy is the author of Urbilly, winner of the 2017 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and Broken Souths: Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization, a study of Latina/o poetry. With the poet Claudia Rankine, he is coediting the forthcoming anthology, American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement (Wesleyan University Press, 2018). Originally from Blacksburg, Virginia, he teaches at the University of South Carolina.

Under the Jasper Tent on the Jasper Arts Fairway at West Columbia's Kinetic Derby Day!

Jasper is delighted to feature work by Columbia-based artists under the Jasper tent along the Jasper Arts Fairway tomorrow at West Columbia’s Kinetic Day Derby. Please join us starting at 10 am as we celebrate the art of movement.

kinetic-derby-day with jasper.jpg

FEATURED ARTISTS

  Bohumila Augustinova  is a 3D artist, focusing often on wire sculptor and jewelry, as well as the director of Yarnbombers of Columbia and the manager and curator for Anastasia and Friends art gallery. Her work is included among the artist at Columbia’s new boutique hotel, Hotel Trundle

Bohumila Augustinova is a 3D artist, focusing often on wire sculptor and jewelry, as well as the director of Yarnbombers of Columbia and the manager and curator for Anastasia and Friends art gallery. Her work is included among the artist at Columbia’s new boutique hotel, Hotel Trundle

  Gina Langston Brewer ’s whimsical and innovative art lifts the spirits of the viewer on sight. An artist who readily makes use of multiple mediums, Gina sees art in unlikely objects and places and facilitates their realization via her unique abilities and talent. Also a poet, Gina will be reading at the  Jasper Literary Salon , hosted by  Kristine Hartvigsen  and located by  Ed’s Editions  book store.

Gina Langston Brewer’s whimsical and innovative art lifts the spirits of the viewer on sight. An artist who readily makes use of multiple mediums, Gina sees art in unlikely objects and places and facilitates their realization via her unique abilities and talent. Also a poet, Gina will be reading at the Jasper Literary Salon, hosted by Kristine Hartvigsen and located by Ed’s Editions book store.

  Laura Garner Hine  - After completing an undergraduate program with the University of South Carolina in 2011, Laura moved to Groningen, the Netherlands until 2013. She continued with her education by pursuing a Masters program in Restoration of Painting with Accademia Riaci and completed the program in the summer of 2014, and is now pursuing a professional career in Historical Preservation and Conservation; with a focus in the restoration and conservation of oil paintings, as well as frames. Check out her website at  https://www.laurakgarnerfineartist.net

Laura Garner Hine - After completing an undergraduate program with the University of South Carolina in 2011, Laura moved to Groningen, the Netherlands until 2013. She continued with her education by pursuing a Masters program in Restoration of Painting with Accademia Riaci and completed the program in the summer of 2014, and is now pursuing a professional career in Historical Preservation and Conservation; with a focus in the restoration and conservation of oil paintings, as well as frames. Check out her website at https://www.laurakgarnerfineartist.net

 Fiber and installation artist  Susan Lenz  is a full time, professional studio artist in Columbia, South Carolina. Her studio is located at  Mouse House , Inc. at 2123 Park Street where she has both a studio for 3D sculptural and installation work and a separate fiber art studio. Susan's work has been juried into numerous national and international exhibits, featured in solo shows all over the United States, and shown on television and in print. She has been awarded six full scholarship art residencies and several "Best of Show" ribbons. Susan can’t be with us for Derby Day because she is on her way to install her art at the  36th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show . Check out her website at  http://www.susanlenz.com/default.shtml

Fiber and installation artist Susan Lenz is a full time, professional studio artist in Columbia, South Carolina. Her studio is located at Mouse House, Inc. at 2123 Park Street where she has both a studio for 3D sculptural and installation work and a separate fiber art studio. Susan's work has been juried into numerous national and international exhibits, featured in solo shows all over the United States, and shown on television and in print. She has been awarded six full scholarship art residencies and several "Best of Show" ribbons. Susan can’t be with us for Derby Day because she is on her way to install her art at the 36th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show. Check out her website at http://www.susanlenz.com/default.shtml

  Lucas Sams  was born and raised in Greenwood, South Carolina and in 2006, Sams left home to live and study at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville. Prior to attending the Governor’s School, Sams had worked primarily with illustrations, graphic arts, and ceramics. Upon graduation from the Governor’s School, Sams traveled to Tokyo where he studied painting at the Temple University Tokyo Campus. His major professor there was the Brazilian-born eco-artist, Walderedo De Oleveira. De Oleveira taught Sams the technique that he most often uses in his work today.  After returning to the US in 2008, Sams enrolled at the University of South Carolina and began working on an undergraduate degree.

Lucas Sams was born and raised in Greenwood, South Carolina and in 2006, Sams left home to live and study at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville. Prior to attending the Governor’s School, Sams had worked primarily with illustrations, graphic arts, and ceramics. Upon graduation from the Governor’s School, Sams traveled to Tokyo where he studied painting at the Temple University Tokyo Campus. His major professor there was the Brazilian-born eco-artist, Walderedo De Oleveira. De Oleveira taught Sams the technique that he most often uses in his work today.  After returning to the US in 2008, Sams enrolled at the University of South Carolina and began working on an undergraduate degree.

  Taryn Shekitka-West and David West  are quintessential partners in all things important in life – especially as artists, parents, and spouses. David will be live painting for us starting at 10 am, and he and Taryn will be showing their work under the Jasper tents.

Taryn Shekitka-West and David West are quintessential partners in all things important in life – especially as artists, parents, and spouses. David will be live painting for us starting at 10 am, and he and Taryn will be showing their work under the Jasper tents.

  Barry Wheeler  is the president of the  Jasper Project  board of directors and the Arts Project Manager for the Jasper Arts Fairway at this year’s Kinetic Derby Day. Barry is also primarily a sculptor and 3D artist working most recently with wood and metals. He and sculptor, installation artist, and environmental artist  Billy Guess  have collaborated on many projects for the Jasper Arts Fairway this year.

Barry Wheeler is the president of the Jasper Project board of directors and the Arts Project Manager for the Jasper Arts Fairway at this year’s Kinetic Derby Day. Barry is also primarily a sculptor and 3D artist working most recently with wood and metals. He and sculptor, installation artist, and environmental artist Billy Guess have collaborated on many projects for the Jasper Arts Fairway this year.

REVIEW - USC Presents the Stars of New York by Susan Lenz

Perfect Ending: The 13th Annual Ballet Stars of New York

nycb.jpg

Last autumn I was introduced as the Jasper Project's dance writer and I went about the assignment from the viewpoint of an expert audience member. Various articles covered positive highlights, personal anecdotes, an occasional critical word, and more than a few comments regarding theater etiquette. I talked about applause and standing ovations. Now that the local season is drawing to a close, I can honestly say that the 13th Annual Ballet Stars of New York presented at the Koger Center in concert with the University of South Carolina Dance Program was a perfect ending. To stand and clap for New York City Ballet principals Sara Mearns, Robert Fairchild, and Anthony Huxley after a stirring performance of George Balanchine's Stars and Stripes was wonderful. Students sitting near me were a-buzz with excitement. Compliments drifted in the air.

 

Some of the reactions were undoubtedly due to the fact that the entire evening included live music under conductor Nyamka Odsuren's baton or on the fingertips of pianist Claudio Olivera. It would have been difficult to miss NYCB principal Ashley Bouder's precise footwork or how she was expertly partnered by principal Jared Angle in Allegro Brillante, another piece performed with permission of the Balanchine Trust. Yet, most impressive was Columbia native Sara Mearns. 

 

In The Bright Motion, a duet set on Mearns by NYCB soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, the audience witnessed exactly what Anna Rogovoy wrote after 2013 Fall for Dance Festival premier:

“I believe that the core of the earth can be found somewhere around Mearns’ spine. Endless length emanates from her center, through fire-dagger limbs and the kind of lines you could write a haiku about; elegant, yet impossibly direct and efficient. She is perhaps the most exciting American ballerina of her generation.”

 

What impressed me was not only the dance steps and lines but the sense of space between and around both Sara Mearns and her partner, Robert Fairchild. As an installation artist, I am acutely aware of a created environment, the physical shapes suggested by movement, and even the weight of air. The physical space was as electrifying as the two dancers controlling it.

 

While Columbia’s audience might have come for the NYCB stars, there were other good reasons to enjoy this one-night-only performance. It was a chance to see USC dance students sharing the stage. Both Creative Director Stacey Calvert (a former NYCB soloist) and Artistic Director Susan Anderson should be rightly proud of their talented students. Dance performance seniors Elaine Miller and Lydia Sanders were stand-outs. John L. Green, II from Orangeburg blended perfectly into the cast of ten professional dancers guesting from Columbia City Ballet. In my opinion, William Starrett, Columbia City Ballet’s Artistic Director who was in the audience, should try to grab this young man (now only a junior) as soon as he becomes available.

 

I couldn’t help but to notice Bo Busby’s excellent partnering skills and the exuberance in Philip Ingrassia’s steps. Both are principals with Columbia City Ballet. Colin Jacob, Camilo Herrara, and Brandon Funk were also excellent partnering USC students in Allegro Brillante

 

Dancing a work from the Balanchine Trust is an excellent line on any dancer’s resume, student or already a professional. These unique works are only presented by arrangement and in accordance with the standards of the Balanchine Style® and Balanchine Technique® established by the Trust. Columbia’s audience is lucky to have the opportunity to see both the NYCB stars and our local talent in these roles. Writing about the performance is for me the perfect ending to the 2017-18 season.

Columbia's Favorite Poetry, Today Featuring Ed Madden

"It’s about who you are inside, but also about how the good and authentic version of who you are helps you to live ethically in the world."  

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

Today, we feature Ed Madden.

 

~~~

 

When I think about a poet and a poem that has always spoken to me, always drawn me and haunted me, I think of Gerard Manley Hopkins and “As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame.” There’s something about Hopkins that feels uncannily personal to me and sometimes resistant to the ways I summarize and explicate and parse in the classroom. I don’t teach Hopkins often, and when I do I find myself getting effusive—about the quirky prayer of praise for the particular and the peculiar in “Pied Beauty,” orr about his desperately exuberant exploded sonnet of theology “That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection.“ Or the poem To what serves mortal beauty,” in which he insists that beauty draws us to the things of this world and thus to the divine, but beauty (he is especially troubled by the beauty of young men) can also become an end rather than a means, may distract rather than instruct. Or I get lost in all those haunting sonnets of melancholy, the writer desperate to be faithful but crushed by darkness and deep depression.

 

I love Hopkins. A quirky writer, driven by sound (sometimes at the expense of sense) and given to idiosyncratic rhythms and syntax. A closeted gay man, repressed and depressed in a religious culture to which he devoted his life. Later, stuck in Ireland as a college teacher and overwhelmed by all the exams he had to grade. Deeply religious, but also deeply in love with the natural world, which is, he thinks—which must be—a revelation of the divine. He wrote in a meditation, “All things therefore are charged with love, are charged with God, and, if we know how to touch them, give off sparks and take fire, yield drops and flow, ring and tell of him.” Several years ago, I participated in a spiritual development retreat at the Lutheran seminary, reading and discussing Hopkins with the seminarians. I felt both out of place and absolutely at home there. Like being in a Hopkins poem.

 

Of all of his poems, it is “As kingfishers catch fire” that I find myself returning to again and again. The syntax is quirky, and the poem is filled with the kind of sonic density I admire in his work (and try, sometimes, to emulate in my own). It is a poem about the beauty of the world, but even more about how the flame of the divine flares most when we embrace our particularity, our singularity, when we live what we were meant to be. Like a bell that sings out its self, its name, so each of us must live out our own authenticities. (The fact that the poem is hard to read aloud just further emphasizes for me the particularities of sound and self.)  Hopkins even makes up a verb: selves. “What I do is me:” he writes, “for that I came.”

 

This “what I do is me” is not the tolerant you-do-you we hear in contemporary culture, not “do what you think is best for you.” It’s about who you are inside, but also about how the good and authentic version of who you are helps you to live ethically in the world. “The just man justices,” Hopkins writes, again making up a verb, suggesting not that we are what we do, but that we do who we are. If we are just, we live justice. And who we are is both us and more than us. What I do is me.

 

That’s the octave, the first part of the sonnet where the writer sets the scene, makes a proposition, states the terms. Then the volta, the turn, and the shorter and tighter sestet draws conclusions, moves toward some resolution. For Hopkins, after his little idiosyncratic sermon about selving, he takes an almost-orthodox turn. The just man acts Christlike—or in Hopkins’s quirky phrasing, “Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is – / Christ.” But he pushes on: Christ may be the model for who we can be or what we can do, but Christ is already present in all of us, in lovely limbs and lovely eyes and in faces that aren’t his. It’s not piety or strict adherence to some doctrine or other; it’s not work, it’s play. Christ—whether you read that as the Christian deity or as a figure for our better selves—plays in ten thousand places, and shines through the features of men’s faces. I know, of course, he means the play of a flame, but a good poet can be a punster, and Hopkins wants to say that this is play, not work.

 

Or it should be play. “All things are charged with love,” as he writes elsewhere, charged with God. If only we knew how to touch, how to see and apprehend, they would take fire—like the blue flash of a kingfisher’s wing—flow through, ring out. So he wants to teach us how to see, a lesson found in the last word of the poem: faces. The rhyme places-faces locates the divine in the faces around us. In the other. There is something deeply human (and humanist) and deeply ethical about this theology, and every rhyme in this quirky little meditation confirms the poet’s argument. The flame of the divine—the good, the true, the authentic—is your name, it’s why you’re here. Justice may be what he is, but grace shines in places and faces not his (not His).

 

Though I left the strict church of my youth and now find myself among the unaffiliated Nones, I remain deeply compelled by this poem. It could be my daily meditation, my daily prayer: What I do is me, for this I came. Like the flash of a kingfisher’s iridescence, the divine (the good, the just, the true, the authentic, the ethical) may shine in all of us. Like the bell that rings out its own name, each of us can sing the song we were meant to be. And if only we could recognize the holiness of one another, this could be a world of grace and, yes, justice.

 

Look around you, he says. The world is on fire with love. And God shines in the face of everyone you meet. If only we could learn how to see it.

 

That’s fucking beautiful.

 

 

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; 

As tumbled over rim in roundy wells 

Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's 

Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; 

Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 

Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; 

Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, 

Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came. 

 

I say móre: the just man justices; 

Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces; 

Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is — 

Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places, 

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his 

To the Father through the features of men's faces. 

 

Ed Madden is the author of several books of poetry. He is the poet laureate for the city of Columbia, the poetry editor for Jasper Magazine and Muddy Ford Press, and the director of the Women's and Gender Studies program at USC.
 
 Ed Madden

Ed Madden

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today Featuring Sheila Morris

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

 

Today we're featuring Sheila Morris's favorite poem, Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto VI, [My Native Land] by Sir Walter Scott

My dad loved poetry and recited this poem and countless others from The Best Loved Poems of the American People, his favorite book, when I was very young. He carried his Bible to church every Sunday, but he read poetry the other six days of the week.
 

 Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto VI

 

   Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,

Who never to himself hath said,

   This is my own, my native land!

Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,

As home his footsteps he hath turn’d

   From wandering on a foreign strand!

If such there breathe, go, mark him well;

For him no Minstrel raptures swell;

High though his titles, proud his name,

Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;—

Despite those titles, power, and pelf,

The wretch, concentred all in self,

Living, shall forfeit fair renown,

And, doubly dying, shall go down

To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,

Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.

 

 Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is the editor of Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement published in 2017 by the University of South Carolina Press.

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today featuring Susan Lenz

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

 

The reason I like Trees by Joyce Kilmer:
My second grade class presented a special, springtime play, The Wizard of Oz.  I was not selected for a speaking part. I was to stand in the background in a green pillowcase with green crepe paper attached to my arms (and the ink ran).  I was a tree, not even a tree that got to throw an apple at Dorothy, just a plain-old-boring-tree-standing-still.  I hated everything about it until the day of the performance.  My mother took me aside and recited Trees by Joyce Kilmer.  She then put me back in line to enter the stage and snapped a photo of me, smiling.  The poem saved the day. It was alright to be a tree.
PS  Since then, trees are pretty special too!   

 

Trees

 

I think that I shall never see 

A poem lovely as a tree. 

 

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast; 

 

A tree that looks at God all day, 

And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 

 

A tree that may in Summer wear 

A nest of robins in her hair; 

 

Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 

Who intimately lives with rain. 

 

Poems are made by fools like me, 

But only God can make a tree.

Susan is an internationally renown fiber and installation artist based out of Columbia, SC.
 
 Susan Lenz in tree costume - center

Susan Lenz in tree costume - center

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today featuring Larry Hembree

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

national poetry month.jpg

 

My favorite poet is Hafiz.  c. 1320 to 1389, a beautiful, mystic, Sufi poet from Persia. I heard his work for the first time when I was in a little village in an ashram in India in the late ‘90s.
Hearing his poems makes my cry.

 

 

At This Party

(Translated from Persian)


I don't want to be the only one here

Telling all the secrets -


Filling up all the bowls at this party,

Taking all the laughs.


I would like you

To start putting things on the table

That can also feed the soul

The way I do.


That way

We can invite


A hell of a lot more

        Friends.

 

Formerly of Trustus Theatre, the Nickelodeon, Columbia City Ballet, the SC Arts Commission, The Jasper Project, and the Kershaw County Fine Arts Center, Larry is currently the development director for Columbia Children’s Theatre.
 
 Larry Hembree

Larry Hembree

More About the Jasper Arts Fairway at the West Columbia Kinetic Derby Day

 FEATURING THE JASPER ARTS FAIRWAY & POP--UP PERFORMANCES

FEATURING THE JASPER ARTS FAIRWAY & POP--UP PERFORMANCES

(Columbia, SC) The Jasper Project is excited to announce the line-up for the Jasper Arts Fairway at West Columbia’s Kinetic Derby Day, Saturday April 21st including performing artists every 30 minutes featuring Columbia City Ballet, Cola City Jazz with Mark Rapp, alt folk music with Todd Mathis and Cully Salehi, and more, plus 13 tents packed with interactive visual, literary, and kinetic arts and demonstrations.

Beginning with a 10 am arts kick-off for the Kinetic Derby Day Parade, the Jasper Project has assembled visual artists Justin Vorhis, who is a blacksmith at Ammack Forge, Muddy Ford Press which will feature signings by their authors all day long, Abstract Alexandra, Cola Town Bike Collective, wood artisan Pat Harris, West Columbia Library and We Read SC, visual artist Thomas Washington, interactive tents with Indie Grits Lab and Columbia Arts Center, the Yarnbombers of Columbia, and visual artists Michael Krajewski and Lucas Sams.

Pop up performers include David West, Emma Kate McClain, Airport High School Choir, Monifa Lemons and The Watering Hole, Lucas Sams, Kristen Harris and Sean Thompson, Cully Salehi and Todd Mathis, Mark Rapp, and Columbia City Ballet.

Writer and editor Kristine Hartvigsen will host the Jasper Local Literature Salon featuring our local literati reading original works throughout the day in an intimate courtyard behind Ed's Editions.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information on the Jasper Arts Fairway at West Columbia’s Kinetic Derby Day go to www.JasperProject.org.

All: IN! Columbia Arts Revolution - An Interview with Founder Corey Davis

“I'd like to see us transform our local arts community into the All Inclusive community it SHOULD be with a more diversified variety of art and artists.” - Corey Davis

All In columbia.jpg

Jasper caught up with local artist Corey Davis, one of the leaders in one of the city’s new alt arts groups called All: IN! Columbia Art Revolution to ask a few questions about their organization. With 71 members on their Facebook group, this 6-month-old organization is set to challenge the local arts status quo on the grounds of diversity, inclusion, and basically demanding to make visible some of the long missing, but still active faces of the extended Midlands arts community.

We learned about All: IN! via the process of organizing the Jasper Arts Fairway for West Columbia’s Kinetic Derby Day on April 21st. All: IN! will be one of the arts groups on the Fairway. We asked Corey Davis a few questions and here’s what he said.

~~~

Jasper: Which artists from All: IN! will be involved in Derby Day?

Davis: “I know a few for sure like Doug (Black Atom), Mike Poole, Ben Murray, are coming in the flesh. There are a few who will be leaving work with us to display. Justin Claypool will also be there. Local Concert photographer.

There's a possible 6th... But that's a surprise. He's well known and loved in the community. And a fellow renegade of art.”

 

Jasper: That’s pretty exciting. Can you tell me a little more about the group?

Davis: “Basically the group is like ‘The Island of Misfit Toys’ in our local arts community. A much needed alternative to the arts scene that had seemed to be overrun with the same names, faces, and art that have been attached to the scene for years, with very little diversity in art or artists.

The point of the group is to shatter that narrative that THIS is what art is. The art that's been forced upon us.

Since the art scene here is broken into cliques that create its circle, those cliques aren't made of a variety of artists, they are personal, built on personal relationships and not much in the way of art.

It’s beyond just ‘politics,’ a term that us now more dismissive than anything else.

The name, ALL: IN is a play on,’All Inclusive.’ Which is far from what our local arts scene is. We have come to change that for the comic artists, the hand crafters, the photographers, game developers, graphic designers. And better representation for artists from the black, Latino, LBGT community and the legion of women artists (especially black women), who go unseen in our galleries, museums, and festivals.”

 

Jasper: Have you guys gotten together in formal meetings or is it mostly getting together via social media now?

Davis: “We do meetings. We are long overdue for the next one. Mark Plessinger came in to offer his input and bring about a bit more structure. This [Kinetic Derby Day] will be our first public outing.”

 

Jasper: What would you like to see your group accomplish?

Davis: “I'd like to see us transform our local arts community into the All Inclusive community it SHOULD be with a more diversified variety of art and artists.”

 

Jasper: OK - cool -- How do you guys plan to accomplish your goal?

Davis: “By no longer ASKING to be a part of the community. We are kicking the door down. I've been privileged for the past decade almost to have a choice of where I want to show in the community but a lot of my fellow artists haven't. So this is bigger than just me. I'm using whatever privilege I have in the community to bring them to the forefront.”

 

Jasper: Is your group primarily visual artists?

Davis: “We range from crafters, visual artists, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, you name it. Pretty much every genre you can think of that's not openly represented in Columbia.”

 

Jasper: Is there anything else on the upcoming calendar that we can help plug?

Davis: “Right now I know there's a lot of separate shows we are doing outside of the group, but we are still kicking the idea around for an All In gallery show or event once our schedules permit.”

 

Jasper: how can folks become involved in your group?

Davis: “Check out the Facebook pages. Shoot a message or ask to join. If you see any of us at the events in the community just approach us and say, ‘I wanna be all in.’ Anyone is welcome - Professional or hobbyist.”

 

Check out All: IN! Columbia Arts Revolution at https://www.facebook.com/groups/125581774771636/

 

Check out the West Columbia Kinetic Derby day at https://www.kineticderbyday.com

 

Check out the Jasper Arts Fairway at the West Columbia Kinetic Derby day at https://www.facebook.com/events/526414867755639/

http://jasperproject.org/derby-day-arts-fairway

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today Featuring Tony Tallent

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

 

 

Thanks to Tony Tallent for sharing a poem with us today.

One of my favorite poems is “Wild Birds” by Judy Goldman. To me, this poem conveys being in that place between anxiousness and hopefulness, ready to break free.

 

WILD BIRDS

 

I like to think that anything

is possible. Look at me,

a breath holder,

a person well-armored in forms

and channels, caught in the short orbit

of an orderly world. Surely

I can escape

 

with serious practice, of course,

 

to a time when I will begin to sing

an accidental song,

peel a tangerine

the color of my hair,

take scissors to the straps

of the sweet-smelling gown I wear,

 

open my door suddenly to wild birds.

 

-Judy Goldman

 

 

Tony Tallent loves words and loves sharing them in many ways. He is the chief program and innovation officer for Richland Library.
 
 
 Tony Tallent

Tony Tallent

And while we're on the topic of Tony, why not check out some of his original work at http://www.vestalreview.org/fallen-birds/ and give it your vote?

Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today, Featuring Nicola Waldron

national poetry month.jpg

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

 

Today we're featuring Nicola Waldron's favorite poem by Wendell Berry-

I think of this poem as the anti-panic. Berry reminds us that the natural world offers us confirmation of the constant existence of uncomplicated beauty and a model of the power of slowing down. When I feel overwhelmed, I can read this and feel as if I’ve actually been out in nature. If you read this aloud, it will actually help you breathe. Try it!

 

 The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

 

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 

Nicola Waldron is a writer-mother-teacher and would-be hermit, who tries to operate out in the human world as a bold truth-speaker, while maintaining an internal, prayerful kind of howling.
 
 Nicola Waldron

Nicola Waldron

Jasper Magazine Release Party Featuring THE Exclusive Preview Of The Restoration's Constance - The Musical

Exclusive Preview. Pre-Show Concert. Gallery Opening. Supper. Silent Auction of Stuff You Love. Intimate Talk-Back with the Director and Composer. ANND the New Jasper Magazine?

Yes, Please!

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In a celebration of the release of the 34th issue of Jasper Magazine, The Jasper Project presents an exclusive preview of the Restoration’s Constance – The Musical on Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 at Trustus Theatre. The party includes the opportunity to be among the first in Columbia to see and hear the long-awaited original production of Chad Henderson’s Constance, based on the album Constance by Daniel Machado, Adam Corbett, and The Restoration, in its entirety.

But in keeping with The Jasper Project’s mission of bringing multidisciplinary artists together we will also feature an intimate pre-show concert by Daniel Machado and Adam Corbett; the opening visual arts exhibition of Jasper cover artist Ansley Adams in the Trustus gallery; a post-show interview with former roommates playwright Chad Henderson and Constance creator Daniel Machado; a silent auction featuring signed books, dinners, bar tabs, and art generously donated by supporters of Jasper Magazine; a potluck picnic dinner that you don’t have to cook for; door prizes, and more.

Tickets are $20 – a savings over regularly priced tickets via The Jasper Project (you’re welcome!) at Brown Paper Tickets – https://constance.bpt.me