5 Questions w/ Kara Gunter About Artista Vista

Jasper Visual Arts Editor Kara Gunter is one of the artists showing her work at tonight's Artista Vista. We asked her to give us a little preview of what she has in the works. kara head lamps 1


JASPER:  What are we going to be seeing from you at Artista Vista this year and where and when will we be seeing it?

KARA GUNTER: I have installed a work in the Lady St. tunnel in the Vista of six hanging, cocoon-like figures.  All are a deep blue, human in form, with a light in each head that will glow brighter as the sun sets.  The pieces are cast from a live model, and layered over with paper and adhesive.  I call them Head Lamps.  Artista Vista opens Thursday the 21st, and continues through the weekend.

kara head lamps 2

JASPER:  How does this fit into your ongoing body of work?

KARA:  My work is always about Self, but specifically, I have been thinking a lot about the corporeality of the human body.  I have dealt with a lot of nebulous health problems throughout my life –nothing life-threatening, but disruptive, and at times, scary-- I come out on the other end having learned something about myself, and who I want to be in this world.  I always try to transform these times of suffering into some sort of evolution or integration of bigger feelings and ideas.  The cocoon is a recurring symbol for me and obviously speaks of rebirth, of change, and personal and spiritual growth.  I chose the tunnel to install in, as it is literally a passage from darkness into light.  Great things happen in the dark—sleep, dreaming, healing, gestation, change, but it can also be a lonely and frustrating experience, and one in which waiting is the only course of action.

I’m also turning 40 this year, and having had the experience these past months of helping my father through a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, I feel as though I’ve “leveled up” as an adult, albeit, reluctantly.  So, that evolution has also been on my mind—what awaits my post-40 self?  I’m thinking it’s an intellectual shift that’s occurring, and that’s referenced in the glowing heads.  Even though my body may not be as hearty as I wish, I feel as though I’m operating with the clearest, strongest, most creative mind I’ve ever had, and there’s something very rewarding about that.  There’s also a bit of an inquiry posed to the viewer—will you come with me?  In an era when emotions are ruling us (as seen in our social-political stances), I wonder if it’s not time to leave those childish things behind and let our intellect guide us from darkness.  Time to grow up, in some respects!

kara head lamps 3

JASPER:  Is there a relationship between your Artista Vista work and the work you're showing at Artfields next week, and can you talk briefly about the similarities or differences?

KARA:  There is definitely a similarity between the work I’m showing at Artfields and Artista Vista.  Stylistically, they are a bit different, but they both utilize the human figure, and both speak to the fragility of the human body.  Rising In Falling, the installation at Artfields is more pointedly about death and dying.  Those figures are in a freefall, but can also appear to be floating gently by paper parasols, so perhaps they are floating instead of plummeting.  I leave the interpretation up to the viewer, and the viewers’ own associations with the process of living or dying.  I wanted to depict the inevitability of the cycle of death and rebirth, and the dependency of life on death itself.  The bottom figure in the installation is holding a skull, and out of it pours flowers and fruits.

kara head lamps 4

JASPER:  What are the challenges of installing art in a tunnel?

KARA:  Working out a way to hang the figures in the tunnel was a bit of a challenge, and I had to revamp my original vision several times.  There are large niches in the wall where it seems as if the mortar has crumbled away from the bricks over time, and because I didn’t want to put bolt holes in the stone or mortar, it became apparent this was the only way to hang the forms.  The overall installation was dictated by these niches, and I really had no idea what the layout was going to be until installation.

The wind blows pretty swiftly through the tunnel, and I was worried about this until I saw the figures swaying in the wind.  I really like this unexpected development as it brings life to the figures, and at the same time, a loneliness and eeriness.

I’m always a bit nervous about public installations.  There is something about art being outside of the gallery setting, that the viewer feels more inclined to interact with the work. That’s not always a bad thing, and I suppose it can be a bit confusing because some works are meant to be interacted with.  Because my work is often made of more fragile things (like paper), I sometimes find it all a bit nerve-wracking!


JASPER:  Finally, what else are you excited about seeing at Artista vista this year?

KARA:  Michaela Pilar Brown has curated this year’s installations, and I’m very excited to see what the other artists she’s chosen will be doing.  I’ve been so busy with my work, I have no idea what to expect from everyone else, and I really look forward to the surprise!

Carol Pittman at City Art for Artista Vista

Women Rule31x31 City Art announces its upcoming exhibition of new works by Carol Pittman opening Artista Vista, the annual spring Vista gallery crawl, April 21, 2016 with opening reception from 5:00 – 8:00 PM.  The exhibit will continue thru June 2016.


These new works are an evolution from her tile work into acrylic paintings. Many of the paintings focus on the circular composition as she sees the world as a continuing entity. The colors that she uses are greatly influenced by her love of colorful clothing for herself and other people and from the vivid colors she experiences in her travels to Greece especially. The circular motif can obviously be interpreted as an expression of the flow of life and hers is always one of great optimism. Her joy and vitality of life come thru her works as rendered in the colors that she uses.  Her tile pieces are an extension of her free spirit.

carol Pittman

Carol Pittman began her art career at eight years old with her mother “dropping” her off on Saturdays at the Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Va.  She moved to Columbia at sixteen and studied art with Moselle Skinner at Dreher High School.  She has attended universities in various locations, while a navy wife and raising three sons.  Universities include Coker College, Old Dominion University in Virginia Beach, the University of Maryland, The Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples Italy, and finally received her BA in Art History, and MA in Sudio Art and a MAT in teaching art, all from the University of South Carolina.


She taught art appreciation at USC for 25 years and has exhibited at many places, including the Asheville Art Museum, the Columbia Museum of Art, Dorothy McCrae Gallery in Atlanta, Nina Liu Gallery in Charleston, the Florence Museum, USC-Sumter, the Fine Arts Center in Camden, and at City Art in Columbia.


Pittman comments, “Byzantine painters used rhythm and the repetition of elements in order to draw the viewer into the work.  Rhythm is also important in my work.  I use rhythm to draw in the viewer.  Sometimes, I also include dancing and musical instruments to show that my women are not passive, but active.


“My years spent in Naples, Italy and travels each year to Greece are also reflected in my art.  While in these countries, I am surrounded by colorful tile, pottery shards, roman and renaissance frescoes, and other evidence of ancient cultures.  I try to make connections between women in the ancient world and the world in which I live.”


City Art Gallery is located at 1224 Lincoln St. in the historic Congaree Vista area in Columbia, South Carolina.  Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday 10:00 a.m. until 6 p.m., Friday 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Have YOU Written Your Six Word Arts Essay Yet?

We did it for the third time last night. Gave people a slip of paper, a Sharpie, and two thumb tacks and asked them to write what the arts meant to them in the form of a six word essay then pin it up on a board. The first time we did it was last Saturday afternoon at Clark Ellefson's new studio space on Huger Street back behind One Eared Cow. (The space is pretty phenomenal -- I can't think of anything in the city that compares to it in quality of design. Look for an article on Clark and his space in the July issue of Jasper Magazine.) We were celebrating Artista Vista with a poetry reading conducted by Kendal Turner. Lots of lovely poets came out to share their words -- and we were all inspired by the display of Jen Rose's exhibition, Neural Foliage. (Jen's work, which involved three constructions of three large canvases, lit from within, is inspired by her work with and interest in mental illness -- fascinating and beautiful.) Congratulations to Jen, by the way -- this exhibition marked the completion of her her work for her MFA.



Back to the Six Word Art Essay Project -- We'd been interested in inviting the community to take part in something like this for a while, having heard about similar projects on NPR, so the time seemed right. We followed up our first session on Saturday afternoon with another one that night at the Indie Grits Closing Party in an old bank building on Main Street. (My condolences if you missed this party. It was one of those nights when the vibe was right and it was just a great event. Special thanks go out to Wade Sellers who put together a pretty tight little interactive film experience, as well as the good and godly gentlemen of the Greater Columbia Society for the Preservation of Soul who spun like mad for us.) Over the course of these two events we chalked up several hundred essays.

People seemed to like taking a moment and making a contribution, so we pulled the board back out again last night for First Thursday and I'll be damned if we didn't collect almost a hundred more essays. Some are serious and some are silly, but they're all worth reading so we'll be running them in the July issue of Jasper. And we may even collect more entries at our next event, the Jasper #5 Release Party in the Garden.




So, if you haven't submitted your are Six Word Art Essay yet -- or if you have and another brilliant insight has been visited upon you, feel free to comment in the spaces below. We'd love to hear what you have to say.



August Krickel on A Behanding in Spokane at Trustus

(A Behanding in Spokane set design by G. Scott Wild above)

If you haven't noticed, we're in the middle of a couple of weeks with quite literally several hundred cultural events going on.  Dance, live music, live puppetry, indie films, theatre, art on display ... well, it's not the worst tragedy in the world when you find yourself having to choose which of many cool things you're going to see.  May I suggest one in particular?

Trustus Theatre has presented a couple of big-name, award-winning musicals and a couple of name-brand serious dramas so far this season, and one more of each will take us into the summer. In the meantime, there's a smaller, lesser-known show going on in their intimate Black Box Theatre.  I saw A Behanding in Spokane on Saturday night, after a long week of work and many of those art events we're all trying to get to, and I was pretty much on arts-overload by that point.  I noted to Jim Thigpen before the show that sometimes by 8 PM at the end of the week, I'm just ready to go home to sleep.  Which means often my expectations and level of enthusiasm going in to see a show are pretty low, especially if you've reached a point in life where you've seen a lot of shows, good and bad.  Believe it or not, however, this can be a good thing, since this means quite often I am very pleasantly surprised.  Even if a show isn't the greatest thing ever, the rich wealth of talent in the Midlands often compensates. And sometimes you discover a wonderful play - several years ago, I went into Caroline, or Change, at Workshop, expecting a fable about singing washing machines, and instead discovered a moving account of the civil rights movement (told from the viewpoint of a little Jewish boy in Louisiana - go figure!)

Sure enough, I was very pleasantly surprised with A Behanding in Spokane, which is a gritty, violent, hilarious dark comedy.  The material is very funny and well-written, and all four performers do a super job.  This is from the press release:

Columbia audiences are no strangers to the work of English playwright Martin McDonagh. Such pieces as The Lonesome West and The Lieutenant of Inishmore have found a home on the Trustus Main Stage in the past, and his Tony-winning The Pillowman was at Theatre South Carolina some years ago. McDonagh is also an Oscar-winning screenwriter and director and Trustus Theatre is thrilled to be producing another work by this comedic and poignant contemporary craftsman as A Behanding in Spokane comes to the Trustus Black Box.

G. Scott Wild (Carmichael) has been featured as Booth in Trustus Theatre's Assassins and Benny Goodman in the world premiere of Swing ’39. Elisabeth Smith Baker and Christopher Jackson playing the bickering lovers selling appendages were recently seen in the Trustus production of Spring Awakening. Ait Fetterolf, who was featured as the lead in Kitty Kitty Kitty, rounds out the cast as the devious bellhop.

A Behanding in Spokane opens Thursday, April 19th at 7:30pm and runs through Saturday, April 28th, 2012.  All Thursday shows start at 7:30pm, and Fridays & Saturdays start at 8pm. The doors and box office open thirty minutes prior to curtain, and all Black Box tickets are $15.

One especially cool thing is that this show opened in New York just two years ago, so once again Trustus is bringing the best new shows to town.  Another cool thing is that it runs just a little over 90 minutes, including intermission.  Meaning that you can go to Artista Vista Thursday afternoon, pop over to the Black Box in time for the 7:30 performance, and be out in time for every restaurant to still be serving. Or catch the 8 PM show Friday and still have plenty of time to catch Alternacirque afterwards at the Art Bar.  Or enjoy Crafty Feast on Saturday, followed by the Jasper-sponsored event EPHEMERA: The Art of Multidisciplinary Improvisation that afternoon at 4 PM, watch the Saturday evening performance, and still make it to the Indie Grits closing celebration afterwards.

You can read my review of A Behanding in Spokane at www.onstagecolumbia.com

Note: G. Scott Wild, who plays the lead, also designed the set.

McClellan Douglas, Jen Rose, Kendal Turner, and EPHEMERA

A couple of months back, Jasper challenged local artists to, in the interest of both creativity and sustainability, come up with an idea for how to use the abundance of corrugated cardboard boxes we have left over after every magazine release. We called it the Creating Out of the Box (with a bunch of boxes) Contest. We're delighted to announce that McClellan Douglas came up with the best idea!

McClellan, who, as an artist does everything from portraits to murals, trompe l'oeil, photography and edible art, plans to create a massive paper mache model of a homeless person right on the streets of Columbia for the Artista Vista festival. McClellan is doing this in conjunction with the Jasper Magazine presentation of EPHEMERA: The Art of Multidisciplinary Improvisation -- which we're doing in conjunction with local artist and Vista pioneer Clark Ellefson.

Join us for This year's Artista Vista starting on the evening of Thursday April 26th -- and then close it out on Saturday afternoon with art by McClellan Douglas and Jen Rose, another fabulous poetry reading by Kendal Turner, and EPHEMERA: The Art of Multidisciplinary Improvisation. (We'll be talking more about EPHEMERA in an upcoming post.)