It's Ya Ya Time & Artists, the Spotlight is on YOU! - a message from Cindi

mardi grasHey Guys, Most of you who know me know that I like to think of myself as a giant deflector. When a spotlight shines my way I try to bounce it off in another direction like it's my job.

That's because - it's my job.

It's not that I don't appreciate the sentiment -- but as much as it makes me feel warm inside, I just stink at handling attention. Heart palpitations, sweaty palms, dry throat -- the whole awkward shebang. So when I found out that I had somehow been chosen to be this year's Mardi Gras Queen (I guess Nikki Haley wasn't available), I panicked at first. Visions rushed into my head of me falling face-first off the parade float and breaking my nose on the pavement (again - for the third time - on the pavement), drunkenly nip-slipping into a wardrobe malfunction, or worse, laughing so hard that I pee a little.

Then I remembered my job.

If you know me you also know that I love the arts almost as much as I love my children. There are a lot of reasons why, but mostly it has to do with the hope the arts give me in this sometimes depressingly off-track, money-hungry, corporate-driven world. I can't do anything about the fact that Tiger Woods makes $59.4 million dollars a year and Microsoft's new CEO will take home almost $18 million in 2014 (all the while someone as talented as local artist Jarid Lyfe Brown sold me a painting on Thursday night for only 133 bucks). But I can do something about the wonderful little world we live in down here in Columbia, SC, and I'm going to use every jewel in my metaphorical Mardi Gras crown to shine a spotlight on the local artists who make Columbia so amazing.

To that end, Artists, both established and emerging, are invited to join the Mardi Gras Columbia parade this year like you own it!

Some groups are already being organized. Join them! The more the merrier! (See below.)

Some groups NEED to be organized. (I have a fantasy of the crazily talented folks at (and friends of) the Columbia Marionette Theatre creating some beautiful big-headed puppets for the parade.) Lyon Hill? Payton Frawley? Kimi Maeda?

And some folks like to march to their own drum solo, and that's an absolutely glorious way of joining in on the fun.

So, here's the thing. Mardi Gras Maven Jodi Salter came up with (stole & re-appropriated) the idea of a Krewe des Muses under which to loosely organize our community of artists. (Something like a Queen's Court, if you will.) While there are usually 10 muses, we're going with the six muses, or arts disciplines, covered by Jasper Magazine: music, theatre, dance, film, and the visual and literary arts.

  • Music -- We've already invited Girls Rock Columbia to serve as the Queen's Wymyn in Waiting, and musicians of all types are also invited to march in the parade carrying the musical instruments of your choice.
  • Visual Arts -- Established and emerging visual artists are invited to recycle a scarf into an original work of art, wear the scarf in the parade, then hopefully donate the art piece to be auctioned during the Mardi Gras concert with proceeds benefitting Girls Rock Columbia.
  • Literary Arts -- A Poetry and Prose Throw is in the works -- stay tuned for more info on how you can be involved in that.
  • Theatre Arts -- Plans are in the works for this, too. See local Theatre Bees Sumner Bender, Mandy Applegate, Frank Kiraly, Frank Thompson, Roz Graverson, Jennifer Moody Sanchez, Bobby Bloom, or EG Engle for more info as it develops.
  • Dance -- Dancers of all types and ages are invited to participate in the parade wearing  your costume or dancewear of choice. You'll meet up with a Dance Captain on the parade grounds and quickly learn a few easy "hand dances" that you may -- or may not -- choose to participate in.
  • Film Artists and Photogs -- This is a tough one but I'm sure that there are Friends of the Court who will come up with something and then let me know so I can help spread the word.

But remember, Mardi Gras is about extravaganza, excitement, and excess.

There are few rules other than being good, being kind, and being your most outlandish self.

Everyone is welcome to march in the parade, but this year, COLUMBIA ARTISTS ARE THE GUESTS OF THE QUEEN. You'll march with me at the head of the line.

Saturday, March 1st -- Assemble at 11 am -- roll at noon!


Ya Ya, Y'all! We're gonna have a ball!



(Pictured above - my favorite Krewe.)

Please check out the work of Jarid Lyfe Brown at and Girls Rock Columbia

Visual Artists -- here's an organizational event for you -