REVIEW: Misery is Optional at Trustus Theatre

"Rest assured there isn’t a weak or underdeveloped character or a wasted moment." - Frank Thompson

 Director and Co-Writer Dewey Scott-Wiley

Director and Co-Writer Dewey Scott-Wiley

Words were spoken, hearts were broken, but now I hope you see it was the whiskey talking, not me.”  - Jerry Lee Lewis

--

Though The Killer’s famous ditty about the perils of drinking was considered humorous in the 1950s (and still has a great tune), it’s no longer acceptable to laugh at alcohol/drug induced misbehavior. That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I laughed during Misery Is Optional, running tonight through Sunday at Trustus Theatre. Developed through the Midlands Tech-based Harbison Theatre Incubator Project, Misery Is Optional is a collection of vignettes and short monologues, taken verbatim from interviews with those suffering from chemical addiction. Their stories are often tragic, but Director Dewey Scott-Wiley wisely includes moments of hilarity throughout the show, without ever abandoning the seriousness of the disease or its impact on its victims and those in their personal orbits. Scott-Wiley’s staging is simple and minimalist, placing the focus squarely on the people and their experiences. While often colorful and eccentric, the many characters embodied by the cast of four are never lampooned or made into cartoonish figures. Scott-Wiley adds a glaze-thin layer of heightened reality at just the right moments, and at other times deals with stark reality head-on. The result is an immersive, emotionally engaging, and accurate-yet-respectful look at the world from the addict’s perspective. Character changes are done seamlessly onstage, with a simple change of hats or donning a pair of glasses, etc.
 

 Co-Writer, Christine Hellman

Co-Writer, Christine Hellman

The cast is uniformly strong, and features Scott-Wiley, alongside Christine Hellman, Arischa Conner Frierson, and Jason Stokes. This ensemble of four well-known Columbia actors flows seamlessly from one character to the next. Many are recurring, while others we glimpse only once. From well-heeled society alcoholics to homeless heroin addicts, the entire socio-economic spectrum is explored, subtly driving home the point that addiction cuts across all cultural lines. There is no linear plot, per se, but there is an unmistakable thematic arc, taking us from the darker, hopeless stories through the process of intervention and treatment, and ending on a bright note of hope.

Each of the four performers presents a chameleon-like ability to seamlessly navigate the waters of dialect, social class, education level, and a spectrum of emotions, which will likely leave each theatre-goer with his or her favorite characters, so I won’t prejudice anyone by sharing mine. Rest assured there isn’t a weak or underdeveloped character or a wasted moment. Scott-Wiley utilizes a circular-pattern style of blocking throughout the show, which creates a perpetually kinetic atmosphere. Whether physically or emotionally, there is always motion, and the overall pacing and fluidity of the show are clearly well-rehearsed and perfected.

Misery Is Optional is a non-season special event, being hosted by Trustus, so there are only three more chances to catch it. I would urge anyone who enjoys good theatre to experience this production. This isn’t a “Hey kids, don’t do drugs” Afterschool Special, nor does it speak only to those in recovery. It has a message, but it’s also a fascinating, funny, and enjoyable show.

The Confluence of Art and Feminism - Figure Out 18 by Christina Xan

Figure Out "supports the mission of Planned Parenthood, which is to empower individuals to make independent, informed decisions about their sexual health and reproductive lives." - Molly Harrell, Founder

-----0-----

 Artist Bree Burchfield - the beginning of girls with fruit, 2017

Artist Bree Burchfield - the beginning of girls with fruit, 2017

Tapp’s Art Center and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic are hosting Figure Out this month, their annual art exhibit that celebrates the human body. Thursday night, as part of First Thursday on Main, Figure Out will hold its first public event of the year, a figurative nude art show that is free and open to the public. What’s a figurative nude art show? It’s a show that gives artists the option to display non-censored, full frontal nudity in a judgment free environment, making it one of the only shows of its kind presented annually in South Carolina.

 

The event, located at Tapp’s on Main, will begin Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m. and go until 10:00 p.m. The works presented will showcase talent from local photographers, painters, sculptors, mixed media artists, and more. Over 40 artists participate each year, and a minimum 50% profit of all artwork sold goes to the artist.

 

An event that is willing to display the human body without censorship is immensely important. Founder of Figure Out, Molly Harrell, says this event is close to her heart because it both, “supports the mission of Planned Parenthood, which is to empower individuals to make independent, informed decisions about their sexual health and reproductive lives,” and “promotes body positivity [and] equality for all people regardless of gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation.” Beyond promoting these themes, the event also gives artists the freedom to express themselves and their experiences involving the human body.

 

How did an event this significant begin in Columbia? It all started in 2010 when Harrell attended RE: Nude, a figurative nude art show in Charleston that celebrates the human body and benefits Planned Parenthood. Harrell, being a passionate photographer herself, knew this was an event she wanted to participate in, so she brought it to Columbia and, with help from the community, rebranded it under the name Figure Out.

 

Many people have helped Harrell along the way. Tapp’s has been hosting since 2013 when the event began, and this year Harrell is working with Brittany Pringle from Planned Parenthood and the Executive Director at Tapp’s, Caitlin Bright, to bring the event to life for a 6th time.

 

The figurative nude art show on Thursday may be the central public event, but it doesn’t stop there. On Wednesday, September 19 at noon, a free panel on art and sexuality will be conducted. An RSVP is not required to attend the event, but those who RSVP in advance will be provided a light lunch. The panel will be an effervescent discussion of art and sexuality featuring artists, educators, coalition partners, and media.

 

The event closes out on Thursday, September 27 at 5:30 p.m. with beer, wine, and live entertainment. This closing reception is an opportunity for anyone to purchase art and enjoy cocktails and music before the show ends. 

 

While there are several events, Thursday’s exploration into the human body will be unforgettable, so you’d be wise not to miss it! There’s no fee or RSVP needed, so be sure to come join us Thursday night to explore and celebrate our bodies in their purest forms.

 

For more information on the events, check Figure Out’s website at www.figureoutppsat.org

 artist - Bree Burchfield - untitled

artist - Bree Burchfield - untitled

~~~~0~~~~

Did you know that the Jasper Project is an all-volunteer organization that relies on contributors and sponsors to do the work we do, such as publish Jasper Magazine?

We need your Jasper Guild membership fees to make our world go round.

Please visit

SUPPORT

and join or renew your membership in the Jasper Guild today.

You'll drink for free at the Jasper release party on September 21st at Stormwater Studios AND you'll see your name in that very issue of

Jasper Magazine.

And, you'll be a part of a pretty fabulous project in Columbia SC that is going into it's 8th year of supporting arts and artists because of people like YOU!

 

Meet New Jasper Intern Hallie Hayes and Read her First Review of Foxing's New Album, Nearer My God

Hi! I'm Hallie Hayes, a new editorial intern for The Jasper Project. I am a Junior at The University of South Carolina majoring in Multimedia Journalism, where I hope to start a career in an entertainment editorial position post-graduation. Coming from the small town of Pamplico, South Carolina, I am proud to have found my way to the talented city of Columbia where local art is appreciated. My first true love is poetry, but my passion lies in the music, arts, and entertainment industries. You will be hearing a lot from me along these lines of subjects. I look forward to exploring the talent found in this city with The Jasper Project and sharing that with you!

 Hallie Hayes

Hallie Hayes

       

For those who have followed the band Foxing through their first two albums, the wait for the third record has been long and highly anticipated. The indie-rock band from St. Louis, Missouri has a fan base that has hung onto their moody melodies, in-your-thoughts lyrics and most importantly, their experimental bravery. As the third album has released, there is one thing that is known for certain: experiment they did.

 

Nearer My God was released on August 10, 2018, and it is a far fetch from the bands prior records, The Albatross and Dealer. Foxing’s prior two records gave fans the self-proclaimed emo hits that the band would become known for. The unique rasp of lead singer Conor Murphy’s voice mixed with soft indie rock tones delivered track after track. The band keeps the moody undertones that fans love, mixing in their own versions of R&B and electro-rock, giving the album a unique twist. Unafraid to mix two genres into one track, in songs like “Heartbeat,” the band begins with a classic instrumental style and transitions into an electro-rock ballad.

 

While Foxing’s first two albums gave us first tracks that are slowed down; almost acoustic, listeners receive a much different take with this album. Nearer My God gives us a first track, “Grand Paradise,” that unexpectedly jumps right into the newly experimental electro-rock instrumental style. It is a bit of an initial shock, but that’s fine. It shows the diversity of the band and their attempt to open new sounds for their fans, while keeping old habits.

 

With their second track, “Slapstick,” the band gives us a sound that combines upbeat electro instrumental music with a low indie-rock tones. They continue to transition their songs in this manner throughout the album. Moving from upbeat, to ballads, to a mixture of R&B with a touch of post-rock. At the same time, however, fans are still given the moody, intimate lyrics that were first brought by the band in tracks such as “Trapped in Dillard’s,” “Nearer My God” and “Crown Candy.”

 

The one consistency throughout the album is that everything is different. The ability to experiment with multiple different resonances is what makes this album a masterpiece. It is like nothing that has been heard from the indie-rock band.

 

Foxing took chances with this album, and it was a chance that truly worked for them and their sound. This is an album for those seeking something new, different, and truly innovative.

 

 

 

Something like a review - Cassie Premo Steele's Tongues in Trees, poems 1994 - 2017

"... Coin by coin, drop your worth into the jar of your heart and feel the equity begin. You are not a commodity...."

from Trust, by Cassie Premo Steele

 

cassie tongues in trees.jpg

I’ve been enjoying spending some time the past week or so with Cassie Premo Steele’s newest collection of poetry, Tongues in Trees, poems 1994 – 2017, published by Unbound Content in 2017. I nabbed a copy from Cassie on First Thursday when Cassie, along with Randy Spencer, so generously read for Kathryn Van Aernum’s opening of Common Ground at Anastasia & Friends. Kathryn’s show will be up for the rest of August, by the way, if you missed this lovely look at the places where we put our feet on a daily basis.

Cassie’s collection is divided into three sections—1994-2004, 2006-2016, and 2017. I met Cassie during the second section of this book when she taught me two classes in the women’s and gender studies graduate certificate program at USC – theory and methods. It was an interesting experience to learn theory and methods from an instructor who was not a social scientist. My first two degrees were in sociology and sociologists live and die by theory and methods. The scientific method validates our work when novices want to compare our work to the findings of Oprah. I was all about the N.

But one of the things Cassie taught me was that there are other important ways to validate reality in addition to statistical significance. And her point was well taken. Just because a person’s reality does not reside within the safe neighborhood of the majority does not negate their reality. Of course, I knew this already but her way of reminding me this, after the fully immersive experience of being a survey research wonk, changed my world. And I thank her for that.

 

 Cassie Premo Steele (photo by Suzanne Kappler)   

Cassie Premo Steele (photo by Suzanne Kappler)

 

In reading Cassie’s collection, I’ve become aware of how much the author’s world has also changed in the time I’ve known her. Without going into personal details, Cassie’s paradigm shifted in several ways over the course of our friendship. And it shifted beautifully to a place of fulfillment and authenticity. Her collection of poems and their shifting persuasions are elegantly emblematic of her growth as a scholar, an artist, and a human being. The nature of this book continues to teach me (remind me) about the importance of fluidity, of being in the moment, of keeping my feet close to the ground but still floating gently enough above it that I can still move easily and purposefully, exploring places and realities from many perspectives, even the most lonely and quiet.

I don’t know how to thank this poet, this friend, for such an important and powerful lesson.

But I can share with you my favorite poem from this lovely collection which is, probably not coincidentally, the next to last poem in the book. This poem tells me that patience should not be so exalted that it becomes a bog of our best intentions, and it reminds me once again that constructs, when they are first born, are made of wishes and fumes. We add the bricks and mortar. And we can tear them down. - CB

 

World

By Cassie Premo Steele

 

I see your boots by the bed and I shed years of straightening

up not sitting till it was right the spoon out of the sink the towel

on the rack the peanut butter capped the coat in the closet the plants

watered and animals fed but none of this straightened me so I threw

spoons until a visitor came and it was you and we threw towels

on the floor ate everything with our fingers took boxes from the

closet and let a spring come up to feed and water the world.

 

~~O~~

www.cassiepremosteele.com

 

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

 

The Jasper Project is a non-profit all-volunteer organization that provides collaborative arts engineering for all disciplines of arts and artists in the South Carolina Midlands and throughout the state. Please help us continue to meet our mission of validating the cultural contributions of all artists and growing community within the arts by becoming a member of the Jasper Guild .  We'll print your name in the magazine, thank you on social media, and love you forever!

www.JasperProject.org

 

 

Laura Spong - A Remembrance

Laura Spong

1926 - 2018

 (photo courtesy of the family)

(photo courtesy of the family)

Laura Spong, the Columbia abstract painter who died August 13 at the age of 92, was a woman of convictions who had a great sense of humor and a difficult-to-match work ethic.

 

She was joking a few weeks ago during what turned out to be a late rally before her health took its last turn for the worst. She said she wanted to live long enough to vote for Democrat James Smith for governor. If she could just hang on until the absentee voting period opened, she could fill out a ballot and mail it in. Then, it wouldn’t matter when she died, she said. Her eyes twinkled at the thought of “voting after death” and the consternation that might bring to voter fraud conspiracists.

 

A few weeks ago was about the time Laura quit painting. My husband, Wim Roefs, and I have known Laura for about 20 years, and have always known that she could be found in her studio whenever she could possibly get there, even though she was in her 70s, 80s and 90s. Painting was a job to her – she woke up, drove to the studio and got to work. But painting was also a joy, the thing she wanted to do more than anything else on just about any given day. And she was good at it. Really good. She only got better with each passing year.

 

Yet she was self-effacing. She frequently had been honored for her talent, but she was kind and encouraging of every other artist who asked for her advice. She wanted everyone to do well, to be able to do what they wanted, whatever that might be.

 

Laura was a genteel Southern woman with a Tennessee accent whose “Coming Out” party as an artist was on her 80th birthday. She had been painting, although irregularly, for about 50 years, and began to work full-time as an artist in the late 1980s.

 

Her 80th birthday show, which she organized through Wim, was a smash hit. It introduced the greater world to the work she was making at Vista Studios in downtown Columbia. After that, she had multiple solo exhibitions throughout the state and beyond, including a retrospective at the University of South Carolina. She also was represented in group shows in the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee. Her work, that from early in her career as well as more recently, has been acquired in the past decade by the South Carolina State Art Collection, the South Carolina State Museum and the Greenville County (S.C.) Museum of Art.

We’ll miss her always. But her work will live on. And, for many of us, she’ll live on through it. Thank you, Laura.

-- Eileen Waddell, director, if ART Gallery, Columbia, S.C.

 

 Laura Spong,  It's Out There Somewhere , 2018, 24 x 30 in. (if ART Gallery)

Laura Spong, It's Out There Somewhere, 2018, 24 x 30 in. (if ART Gallery)

 Laura Spong,  I've Been Known To Float Upstream,  2013, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in. (if ART Gallery)

Laura Spong, I've Been Known To Float Upstream, 2013, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in. (if ART Gallery)

 Laura Spong,  Mostly It's a Journey,  2008, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in. (if ART Gallery)

Laura Spong, Mostly It's a Journey, 2008, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in. (if ART Gallery)

 Laura Spong,  Time Is Taking Its Time , 2008-17, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 in. (if ART Gallery)

Laura Spong, Time Is Taking Its Time, 2008-17, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 in. (if ART Gallery)

Jasper Takes a Turn at Anastasia & Friends with Kathryn Van Aernum

 Phoenix by Kathryn Van Aernum

Phoenix by Kathryn Van Aernum

One of Jasper’s most rewarding missions is supporting independent artists as they move through the various growths and stages of their careers. We have recently been afforded another opportunity to do so by guest curating one show a year at Anastasia & Friends gallery on Main Street.

Our first show opens this Thursday and features the photography of Kathryn Van Aernum.

We had a chance to visit with Kathryn recently and learned more about her history, process, and aesthetic. A graphic artist and photographer, Kathryn also serves as a creativity coach. Her joy, she says, is helping artists “find ways into their work.”

A graduate of Narope University in Boulder, a learning institution founded in the 1970s by Buddhist education Chogyam Trungpa that fosters not only personal and professional growth, but also intellectual development and contemplative practice, Kathryn carries much of what she learned there into her personal and professional lives today.

“I always take the scenic route,” Kathryn says, explaining that she originally went to school for theatre. Born in Ann Arbor, she grew up in the Detroit metropolitan area and spent 15 years living in Key West where she spent some time operating a B and B, then moved on to doing ad work for much of the gay hotel industry in the area. Throughout the time, however, Kathryn was also at work on her art giving solo and group shows and photography exhibitions. Kathryn has exhibited at Artfields twice and copies of one of her photos of the Congaree Fireflies will soon be offered at the Columbia Fireflies Baseball team gift shop thisyear.

Common Ground, the show Jasper is producing for Kathryn at Anastasia & Friends Art Gallery, opening August 2nd, is a photographic contemplation on the common pathways individuals and communities take. “Living in the city, I began to see patterns in the pavement itself and asking myself – how can I render this in a way that will make people take notice?”

Kathryn notes the double entendre of the show’s title as it focuses both on human mobility and common pavement and how we share it. “You can’t really separate humans from nature,” she says. “We erroneously feel like we aren’t really nature, but we can’t escape the natural elements that occur and connect us.”

The show will also feature a few images from a recent trip to Greece the artist enjoyed with her sister, Gail Van Aernum Barnes, who is director of the Strings Project at USC.

 

About the show:

 

Common Ground: Artist Statement

Common: belonging to or shared by two or more individuals or things or by all members of a group.

Common: widespread, general, ordinary

The photographs in Common Ground focus on man-made surfaces, such as pavement, asphalt, cobblestones, concrete etc., with attention paid specifically to the abstract “paintings” created on these ordinary surfaces by the interaction of time, weather and humans. All the artificial terrains portrayed have one thing in common: to facilitate human flow and interaction, with some reaching back as early as the 2nd millennium BC.

 

 

 

More about the artist:

Kathryn Van Aernum’s subjects range from the mundane to the sublime, and she continues to cultivate a sense of spaciousness in her photography. The elements of design: harmony, balance and rhythm present themselves to Kathryn almost subconsciously, allowing her to capture a moment that transports the viewer into their own minds, memories and dreams.        

Ms. Van Aernum holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction in Visual Arts from Naropa University, the premier educational institution combining contemplative practice with academic rigor.

While photography is her main medium, she is also an accomplished watercolorist, mixed media and book artist. As a creativity coach she works with professionals who have buried their creative soul in the daily grind, helping them reclaim creative confidence so they can thrive at work and beyond.     

Her work has appeared in juried competitions, group and solo exhibits, in Key West, FL; Boulder, CO;  Fort Collins, CO; Ann Arbor, MI; and Columbia, Spartanburg and Lake City, SC. and is in many private collections throughout the US.

You can find her on the web at

Kvanastudios.com

Kathrynvanaernum.com

@kvanastudios on instagram, twitter and facebook

 The Artist - Kathryn Van Aernum

The Artist - Kathryn Van Aernum

A Conversation with Heathcliff

Jasper noticed a new face on the performance art scene and thought we should remember our manners and give him a proper welcome and introduction. Here's a peek at a conversation we just had with this lovely older gentleman, Heathcliff.

jonathan Monk as Heathcliff.jpg

Hi Heathcliff! We understand that you’re having a show this weekend at Trustus Theatre and we thought you might want to introduce yourself to the Jasper readers. Would that be OK?

 

JASPER: Can you tell us how old you are, where you’re from, and how you ended up in Columbia, SC?

HEATHCLIFF: Absolutely. Now, Cindi, most of my pictures make me seem younger, but I am actually 78 years old and have the wig to prove it. I don’t want to give away the particulars of my birth as my show will elaborate on that topic via shadow puppetry. I try to explain everything with shadow puppetry if I can help it - you should see the first draft of my answers to these questions! As for how I ended up in Columbia, my accompanist Wanda has spoken of its smiling faces and beautiful places for quite some time. I had to come see what all the fuss is about!

 

JASPER:  What line of work are you in and what do you like most about it?

HEATHCLIFF:  I suppose it could be considered more of a square and less of a line, but I am in the storytelling and empathy business. I think we are all young at heart, and I love giving people permission to exist in a ridiculous world for a time. Right now more than ever, we need to be reminded of our unique capacity to enjoy each other’s company.

 

JASPER:  As a gentleman of advanced age you must have some great memories. Will you share a little something special with our readers?

HEATHCLIFF: Yes, there was this one time…(falls asleep)

 

JASPER:  You also must have met lots of famous people – do you know Diane Keaton perchance? What do you think about her?

HEATHCLIFF: Oh my goodness, yes. Diane is an old friend - we share a mutual love of clown paintings, and she is directly responsible for my leaving the business for a decade. I don’t hold it against her because she was trying to help - I will go into more direct detail in my show. Diane, if you’re reading this, no hard feelings.

 

JASPER:  Now, who is Wanda and why is she horning in on your show?

HEATHCLIFF: I actually play the horn in the show! Wanda is the lovable green squeak toy with a smile in the picture. She is my accompanist and soul mate, and she can play any instrument in the world. She is shy so she normally pre-records everything for our shows. She also was rumored to have had a secret affair with Tom Jones in the 70s, but I’ll let her tell you about that.

 

JASPER:  On a scale of 1 – 17, with 1 being boring and 17 being whoopee, how naughty will your show be this weekend?

HEATHCLIFF: I leave the math to my team of accountants, but I will say that I believe humor is the best medicine. If you weaponize humor or constantly go for the low hanging fruit, it turns into something that can actually make you unhealthy. But since I’m old, I have to occasionally reach for the apple that’s in front of me. Now I’m hungry. The short answer is, there are no swear words or “blue humor” as we used to call it. I’d rate it PG: Probably Good.

 

JASPER:  I think we may have some mutual acquaintances. Have you ever heard of a fellow who goes by the name of Jonathan Monk and a lady named Krista Forster? What do you know about these folks?

HEATHCLIFF: Oh my goodness! Jonathan Monk is my manager, though we never seem to be in the same place at the same time. Krista Forster looks shockingly similar to my distant relative Sheila Murphy of Janitorial Services. These two, I’m told, have been working to devise a new comedic piece in town - I can’t wait to see it.

 

JASPER: Anything else you’d like to tell our readers about your upcoming show?

HEATHCLIFF/JONATHAN MONK: Hi Cindi, this is Jonathan Monk. Heathcliff had to make an emergency trip to Zesto’s. Regarding the show, I’d like to say this is a fantastic opportunity for me to continue to explore a character I created in 2003 during my time as a Musical Theatre major at Carnegie Mellon. While Heathcliff the character is known for his embellishments regarding the truth, I have been fortunate enough to perform as Heathcliff in Pittsburgh at The Andy Warhol Museum, in NYC at Emerging Artists Theatre, Don’t Tell Mama and 54 Below, and in Martha’s Vineyard at the Grange Hall Theatre. What’s exciting to me about this new show is this is the first time Heathcliff has incorporated other human characters. Wanda (his accompanist) is a puppet, so it’s refreshing to be able to discover and interact with other characters in Heathcliff’s world: a mix of Mister Rogers, Pee Wee’s Playhouse and Andy Kaufman, with a dash of Red Skelton. I am thankful and excited to be able to premiere a new Heathcliff show here in my hometown!

 

Shows are this Friday at 11:15pm, Saturday at 3pm, and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $10 / each and will be sold at the door.
http://trustus.org/event/healthcliff/

 

Cindi Boiter is the executive director of the Jasper Project and a big fan of new performing arts. Reach her at Cindi@JasperColumbia.com

CALL for Poetry

News from the North Carolina Poetry Society


Submissions are now open (May 1 – July 31) for the Susan Laughter Meyers Poetry Fellowshipat Weymouth. North and South Carolina poets (age 18 and over) are eligible to apply. Check the NCPS website for details and the link to Submittable: http://www.ncpoetrysociety.org/meyers-fellowship/

The merit-based fellowship, co-sponsored by the NC Poetry Society (NCPS) and Weymouth Center honors the life and work of Susan Laughter Meyers (1945-2017). The recipient will be awarded a one-week stay at the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines, North Carolina, a $500.00 stipend, publication of a poem in Pinesong (NCPS’s annual anthology of award-winning poems), and an opportunity to read or present a program at an NCPS meeting at Weymouth.

CALL for Photography - Indie Grits Labs

Indie Grits Labs is seeking work from emerging Southern artists that addresses and challenges the social, cultural, and physical landscapes of the South through photographic media.

Submission Information

Submission Deadline: July 2, 2018
Entry fee: $5.00 – Purchase through our shop
Notification of Acceptance: July 12
Opening Reception: July 26 at Indie Grits Labs | 1013 Duke Ave.

All Images will be printed center weighted on a 13×19 sheet by Indie Grits Labs.

Prints will be available for sale through Indie Grits Labs. We are suggesting a 30% commision on all sales to be put towards future juried exhibitions and educational opportunities. Prices will be established upon acceptance into the exhibition.

You can submit anywhere from 1-5 photos for the $5.00 fee.

 

Submission Guidelines

All Submissions should be included in one email to exhibitions@indiegrits.org

Subject Line: “Submission: Southern Disposition”
In the body of the email:
Your Name
Titles of Pieces Submitted
1 to 2 sentences about your work if desired
Link to Website
Entry Fee Screenshot/Receipt

File Requirements

1 to 5 images: .jpgs, 1000px on the longest side, 72ppi, sRGB color space
File Name Format: lastname_disposition_1.jpg

  •  

Conundrum and ifArt Host Concert

skot IM.jpg

Id M Theft Able & Reflex Arc @ ifArt on June 25

 

 

Conundrum Music Productions is pleased to announce a concert by the Portland Maine noise artist Id M Theft Able, at ifArt Gallery on Monday, June 25.   Sharing the bill will be Reflex Arc and bigSphinx.

 

Id M Theft Able performs within and without the realms of noise, avant improvisation, sound poetry, and performance using voice, found objects, electronics, and whatever else is available. He has given hundreds of performances across 4 continents in settings ranging from the humblest of squats to the fanciest of festivals.

 

Reflex Arc is a two-piece experimental & improvisational band from Raleigh, NC. Crowmeat Bob plays a variety of horns & sometimes electric guitar while Ginger Wagg plays a variety of body parts, spaces and emotional states.

 

bigSphinx is a solo project of local laptop improvisor Tom Law.

 

The door will open at 8:00pm, and a $7 admission fee will be collected at that door.  The music will commence at 8:30pm.  ifArt Gallery is situated at 1223 Lincoln Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201.   Further information can be obtained on the World Wide Web at conundrum.us, or by using a telephone to dial (803) 250-1295. 

 

 

Id M Theft Able: https://idmtheftable.bandcamp.com/

Reflex Arc: http://www.gingerwagg.com/reflex-arc

bigSphinx: http://bigsphinx.com/tomlaw.html

Review: Workshop Theatre's String of Pearls

Frank Thompson is a frequent theatre critic for JASPER, who is reviewing for his "home theatre.” Mr. Thompson wishes to freely disclose that he is employed as Box Office Manager for Workshop, is a frequent director with the company, and serves as Vice-President of the Board of Trustees. He has put on his blinders for what he thinks is a fair and unbiased review, and will do his best to deliver.

string of pearls.jpg

 

STRING OF PEARLS

 Presented by Workshop Theatre at Columbia College’s Cottingham Theatre, runs this Wednesday-Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling (803) 799.6551

 

****

 

   A “McGuffin” is a term used mostly in film, to describe a single object or event around which a story revolves. The titular jewels in Workshop Theatre’s String Of Pearls serve just such a purpose, as a bevy of female characters find their disparate lives impacted by the temporary stewardship of a string of perfect pearls. Through the passing of several decades, we see the pearls elicit joy, sorrow, confusion, and hope, along with a multitude of different emotions and reactions from twenty-seven women, played by an ensemble of six actresses. Ellen Rodillo-Fowler, Cathy Carter Scott, Christine Hellman, Krista Forster, Sandra Suzette Hamlin-Rivers, and Alyssa Velazquez, each at the top of her game, manage to create believable, three-dimensional characters, some of whom we get to know quite well, and others we glimpse for only a moment or two. Each, however, helps to move along the plot, and there is scarcely a wasted word in the script, which makes for a streamlined, well-paced production.

  Director Zsuzsa Manna has obviously put a great deal of thought and research into bringing each character, no matter how minor, into her overall vision. Watching the chameleon-like changes each actress made physically, vocally, and stylistically, truly created the illusion of a much larger cast. (Having known, and/or worked with most of the cast, even I had to occasionally squint and ask myself “now which one is that?”) Special commendation to Costume Designer Alexis Docktor, who created multiple eras and class levels, each of which were appealing and period-appropriate. Helping her create the magic is Wig Designer, Christine Hellman, whose skills clearly are not limited to performing. At one point, Velasquez, a natural brunette, sported thick, flowing, blonde locks that could have easily passed for a 1970s’ Farrah Fawcett hairdo, and Rodillo-Fowler’s scruffy pink punk ‘do is a true work of retro art.

   The set is simple, but effective. Two small platforms, a handful of moderately-sized props, and two elegant sheer curtains provide the representation for dozens of locales. Minimalism works well with this script, allowing the acting to shine as the central focus. Scenic and Sound Designers, Zsuzsa Manna and Dean McCaughan, respectively), have taken a subtle and most effective approach, with minor changes of lighting and/or the tiny ding of a single bell completely transforming the scene.

   Lest I seem completely biased, I will say that String Of Pearls is not flawless. At Sunday’s matinee, a line or two got dropped, but quickly corrected, and the occasional entrance seemed a bit late, most likely due to costume change issues, which tend to smooth out by any show’s second weekend.

   A word to parents, the extremely conservative, and the easily-offended. String Of Pearls contains a fair amount of grown-up dialogue, some of it extremely straightforward, and several adult situations. And yes, the pun you’re probably chuckling about right now is, indeed, mentioned in detail. (You may want to leave the pre-teens at home for this one, and let them enjoy Workshop’s June production of Shrek, Jr. )

   Columbia College’s Cottingham Theatre is a comfortable, easily-located facility (just GPS 1301 Columbia College Drive, and you’ll be able to drive straight to the door), and the acoustics are top-notch. Even stage whispers could be easily heard. The sight lines are clear, and the seats a bit small, but comfy. That said, it’s an older building without all the fancy bells and whistles that have now become industry standard, and has a slightly-frayed-at-the-edges feel, though I personally find that to be a charming asset to any theatre.

   String Of Pearls is a perfect show for those seeking an intelligent, funny, grown-up look at life. It made me think of the internet meme with words for familiar, but difficult-to-describe, feelings, specifically sonder, which is "the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own." Originally from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, sonder has now entered the vernacular, and it was sonder that I felt while watching the show. One object, twenty-seven complex individuals, and one hilarious, poignant, thought-provoking trip through a cornucopia of human experiences.

-FLT3

21 May, 2018

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.

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