Jasper Project Executive Director Cindi Boiter and Denise Gadson Receive the Richland Library Friends and Foundation’s 2018 Awards

By: Christina Xan

The Jasper Project is happy to share that the Richland Library Friends and Foundation is honoring two South Carolina women and their dedication to our community.

The Richland Library Friends and Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to support Richland Library by raising awareness and financial support. Each year they recognize individuals who have supported literacy in Columbia.

This year, the two awards will acknowledge the achievements of women in Richland County who have contributed to our literary community and local libraries in their own unique ways. First, receiving the Lucy Hampton Bostick Award, is our own Cindi Boiter, and second, receiving the Ethel Bolden Minority Scholarship, is Denise Gadson.

According to the Richland Library, “the Lucy Hampton Bostick Award offers a custom, hand-blown glass award and cash honorarium while recognizing a South Carolina author, someone who has written a significant literary work on South Carolina, or someone in the Midlands who has significantly advanced the interest in books or libraries.” This award is named after a long-time head librarian in Richland County and former Richland Library director (1928-1968) who is “credited with fostering interest in Southern literature and history, improving cultural life in Columbia, and promoting library appreciation throughout the state.”

Cindi Boiter has been chosen to receive the award this year as a fierce advocate of the literary arts. Boiter was a freelance writer for 20 years and has published a book of award-winning stories. After teaching Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina for a number of years, she went on to become the founder of The Jasper Project and Jasper Magazine, of which she is the Editor-in-Chief.

Likewise, the Ethel Bolden Minority Scholarship provides $3,500 in financial support for students from “underrepresented ethnic and racial groups, who are working toward the completion of a Master of Library and Information Science degree at the University of South Carolina.” This scholarship was created in 2010 and named after Bolden to recognize her years of service to the Richland County community and its libraries.

Denise Gadson has been chosen for this award this year for her continual passion for reading and for helping others, both children and adults, on their journey towards gaining that same passion as well. Gadson is the author of children’s book Penelope's World Famous Cookies and is currently seeking to further her education along in order to continue aiding others in their quest for knowledge.

The Richland Library Friends and Foundation has plans to formally recognize these wonderful women during a reception in 2019 (date TBA).

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Al Black's New Book of Poetry, Man with Two Shadows, Launches Saturday Night

Praise for Man with Two Shadows

“Black’s experiences are universal, and there is comfort in looking at this profound loss through his eyes.” - Marjory Wentworth, SC poet laureate

“Al Black has put together a gorgeous and heart-breaking collection that is a testament to the dutifulness and responsibility we feel to and for parents we find difficult to understand.” - Ed Madden, Columbia, SC poet laureate

“Al Black’s poetry is astonishing, defiantly original; scrubs our ears with dirty bathtub water; roars with love for a leather belted father and battle-proven mother.” - Tim Conroy, author of Theologies of Terrain

Man with Two Shadows photo.JPG

When asked what inspired his earlier poetry, local poet, Al Black, answers, “Where you’re at. Sometimes you’re angry. Sometimes you’re happy. Sometimes you just see a situation and a metaphor goes through your head.”  This inspiration provides Columbia locals with a captivating voice to not only experience but to feel through Black’s stunning craft.


Local poet and supporter of the literary arts, Al Black, moved to Columbia, SC, nearly 10-years-ago.  Originally from Lafayette, IN, the father of 4 worked at The University of South Carolina in facilities management before retiring to become a full-time writer.


“My wife and I had four children and when the youngest one got old enough- my wife went back to school in her late 40s and got her PHD at 55 and wanted a career,” Black says, “So, I said, ‘I can work anywhere and I’ll go anywhere as long as it’s not further north,’ and so we ended up down here … I worked at The University of South Carolina for a while; I just left them. I’m 66, so I can be a full-time writer now and a trophy husband.”


Black attended college at Ball State, where he was an athlete who studied voice.   “I was one of those weirdos in college,” he says, “I was a voice major and an athlete.”   The poet not only played sports in college, but he would go on to coach college, high-school and semi-pro.


However, most Columbia locals know Black for his stunning craft of poetry and for the near 100 literary events that he hosts and co-hosts in a given year.  The poet crafted his first poem at the age of nine-years-old; however, he didn’t share his first poem until age 58, which resulted in the publication of his first book, I Only Left for Tea, published by Muddy Ford Press in 2015.


“I started really writing at eight or nine, but I never shared … I don’t know if I was afraid to share or if I just didn’t care to share,” Black explains,” When I came here, I didn’t see an event I liked, so I started what’s called Mind Gravy about eight and a half years ago.  I wanted to make sure I stirred it up as far as style, race, culture … about a month or two in, I shared a poem … I read it in a gallery and Cindi [Boiter] and her husband [Bob Jolley] heard me and said oh, they’d like to publish me and I was like, ‘I don’t know,’ but I eventually agreed to it.  And it’s gone from there.” Cindi Boiter and Bob Jolley are the publishers at Muddy Ford Press, a boutique publishing house just outside of Columbia.


Black’s first book was edited by Ed Madden and published by Muddy Ford Press. Madden is the Columbia city poet laureate as well as a professor of English at USC and the director of the university’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program. Since then, Black has co-edited a poetry anthology, titled Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race, with fellow poet Len Lawson, where several of his poems were published along with those of a number of local writers. Black and Lawson founded the Poets Respond to Race Initiative, and the anthology originated from the initiative.

Poet Al Black (photo by Forrest Clonts for Jasper Magazine)

Poet Al Black (photo by Forrest Clonts for Jasper Magazine)

Black has been very involved in issues of race and reconciliation.  This is work that the poet has always been passionate about, even while working at Perdue University in Indiana. “… I worked at a private business but mostly I worked at Perdue.  I was trained as a diversity trainer, and so, it’s been work that I’ve always been passionate about.  And, I believe whatever you do should reflect your values,” the former Indiana NAACP Vice President explains.


Today, most wait in anticipation for the poet’s newest publication, a collection of poems entitled Man with Two Shadows.  The book release will be held at Tapp’s this Saturday, September 22nd at 7pm.  At the release, you can expect live entertainment from jazz band, Vasaboo group, along with poem readings by the author, followed by a book signing.


The new book is a collection of poetry inspired by his father.  After his passing at age 94, the poet wrote for 120 days, eventually compiling a book with the poems he had created during the time-period before and after his father’s death.  Ed Madden, Black’s friend and first publication’s editor, edited this collection of poetry, as well.


“Well, it’s basically shortly before my dad’s passing and then it’s in two parts.  You know, that period shortly before when he’s getting sick and you’re going back to see him … and you’re beginning to worry,” the son says, “and then I was with him when he passed.  He passed a little after one o’clock in the morning.  And then it’s that time and then immediately after … that’s what the book’s about.  It’s about, you know, everybody has a different relationship with their parents.  It’s never all smooth sailing … So, yeah, my dad was the old-world way and you know, I was a baby boomer.  It’s dealing with that relationship, you know, that feeling that’s there.”


Months after the passing of his father, the poet lost his mother who was 93.  Both parents surface throughout Black’s latest poetry, and he is currently in the editing process for a book inspired by his mother.


“My father died at 94 in October. My mother was lonely and died in April at 93,” Black explains, “And so, I wrote for 120 days there, too.  So, now I’m in the editing process of her book.”


When he isn’t writing, you can find Black hosting and co-hosting multiple events, including Mind Gravy (Wednesdays at 8pm), Poems: Bones of the spirit (held once a month at a yoga studio), Blue Note Poetry (every first Tuesday of the month) and Songversation (monthly), along with multiple events surrounding the Poets Respond to Race initiative.  Each event is unique until itself.


Black also hosts and organizes three workshops, where poets, through invitation, work on a prompt, share their work and critique it.  Black stays busy and as evidenced through his dedication and involvement in the literary arts.


At age 66, the poet is still following what he is passionate about and living through his talent.  As said best by Black himself, “You know, if you have the talent for something, you should do.” Most are happy to know that this kind, humble soul lives through these words.

 by Hallie Hayes


If You’re Going

Book Launch - Man with Two Shadows

by Al Black

Saturday, September 22nd - 7 pm

Tapp’s Arts Center

1644 Main Street, Columbia, SC

For more information on Muddy Ford Press go to www.MuddyFordPress.com


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



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.





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!




REVIEW: Proof by the Newberry Community Players Makes the Drive Worthwhile

“If I go back to the beginning, I could start it over again. I could go line by line; try and find a shorter way. I could try to make it... better.” - David Auburn, Proof


There are times when really fine art happens in an elegant theatre with velvet curtains, lush seats, champagne in the lobby, and thousands of people sharing the experience with you. And there are other times when the mustiness of an old theatre is almost overwhelming, your seat is tentative at best, you’re drinking a fuzzy navel wine cooler, and few more than two dozen people share the space. And I’m here to tell you that setting in no way lessens the art if the art is good. And the art was good last night at the Ritz Theatre in downtown Newberry where the Newberry Community Players presented Proof, a play by David Auburn.

Really good.

Directed by Courtney Cooper, a recent Pennsylvania transplant to Chapin, Proof is an older play – it premiered in 2000, winning the Pulitzer and multiple Tony Awards in 2001 – that still holds up well due to the tightness of the dialogue and the timelessness of issues it both touches on and full out embraces, including family dynamics, mental health, gender inequality, and more. In the less than two decades since the play came out our cultural acceptance of (and curiosity about) the vast spectrum of mental health, idiosyncrasies, and function has changed exponentially as we recognize a much broader spectrum of mental capabilities and nuance than ever before. The story of a family both dealing with the end game of mental health issues for Robert, the family’s patriarch, and possibly (fearfully) also looking at the beginning of the same issues for Catherine, the youngest daughter, Proof  is offered in two acts with the single simple set of a back porch and small yard. Additional characters are Claire, an older daughter/sister, and Hal, Robert’s graduate student. With the exception of Claire, all the characters are high level mathematicians and the primary conflict is the discovery (proof) of who wrote a ground breaking proof about prime numbers.

Having seen this story twice before – once on Broadway when the lead role of Catherine was played by Anne Heche and that of Hal was played by Neil Patrick Harris, aka Doogie Howser, and again on film when the respective roles were played by Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Gyllenhaal – it was impossible not to compare the treatment of the characters by both the director and players. For my money, I’d readily toss both the brooding Paltrow and the manipulative Heche off the stage in exchange for the honesty and vulnerability Amy Brower brings to the part. Where both stars created a sense of annoyance in the viewers, probably due to the difficult personalities they created in the character of Catherine, Brower portrays a character with which one can identify and empathize. I felt the anxiety of her fear that she, too, may carry the same imperfections as her father. (With Heche and Paltrow, I almost wanted them to!) Her body language and costuming also helped move the story 18 years into the future.

Playing the role of Robert, Catherine and Claire’s mathematical genius of a father, Lee O. Smith took great pain, too, in making the character his own, offering theatrical skills one would never expect to find in a musty old theatre in Newberry. The scene in which Catherine ultimately reads from his notebook and the response Smith gives was nothing short of mesmerizing. In many ways Smith channels Kevin Pollock if Pollock were a better actor.

Tabitha Davis plays the role of Claire, the older sister you love to hate, with admirable smugness and condescension and Brava to her for that, while Sam Hetler in the part of Hal, is the man-boy you want to do the right thing by Catherine. We’ve seen Hetler’s work behind the scenes at several theatres in town and it was good to see him front and center where he belongs.

Proof runs through February 24th at the Ritz Theatre at 1511 Main Street in Newberry and tickets are only $12. For more information go to theritzonline.com or call 803-597-1636.


-Cindi Boiter

5 Questions for Thomas Crouch

He's Back...

Thomas Crouch octo.jpg

Artist Thomas Crouch is a native of Columbia, SC artist who has paintings in private collections on five continents. Having studied figurative oil painting, figurative drawing, and art theory at the Lorenzo De Medici School of Art in Florence, Italy, Thomas obtained a BA in Art Studio from the University of South Carolina in 1997. Jasper has had the honor of featuring Crouch’s work both on the cover of the magazine as well as in a number of articles. After having been MIA from the Columbia art scene for a bit, Crouch is back in town and we caught up with our friend to get the scoop on where’s he’s been and where he’s going. 


Here are 5 questions for Thomas Crouch.


Jasper: So, you've been painting out west and up north for the past little bit -- tell us where you've been and what you were up to.

Crouch: Yes I had been looking in to residencies and other opportunities to further my painting for a couple years. In 2016 I was invited to participate in the first Sedona Summer Colony in Sedona Arizona, by Sedona Arts Council Director Eric Holowacz.  Eric was an old friend from High school days and invited lots of artists from around the world that he knew and I’d worked with over the years. So we were kind of the first test to see how it could work.

They are in their third year now. Many artists like Max Earnst, Georgia Okeefe, etc worked in the area and I believe had stayed at the same campus we used. So it was nice to be in such a beautiful historic and art centered place.

After a month I moved to the Hudson Valley area to Millerton NY to attend another residency. That residency moved to Hudson NY and was a bit far for me so I just got a job on a farm and rented a small house from my sister who lives in Brooklyn. My brother in law is a sculptor so we share a studio space there. I showed in some galleries in Massachusetts and NYC which are close to Millerton. I spent the first winter there and got a job at a nice restaurant that was co-owned by Jasper Johns when the farm closed. This past winter I was accepted to Con Artist Winter Residency in Lower East Side NYC so I’ve been living and working there since November.

Thomas Crouch bear.jpg

Jasper:  Can you talk about some of the ways you've grown or changed as an artist during this time

Crouch:  In Millerton there’s not much to do but it’s very beautiful so I don’t mind it all. I wanted to concentrate on my painting so it’s the perfect spot. Working at Con Artist in the city was great in a polar opposite way. Working with other artists forced me to explain my work more and having access to galleries and museums was very rewarding. The fast pace loosened my work up a bit I think. My work is becoming more mixed media based and drawing plays more of a role in making the image.

Meeting new artists has open up doors too. I’m still a member at Con Artist and can still show at their exhibits and use the space. Showing at Art Basel Miami at the Con Artist Booth is a good example of opportunities available. Also I did some pieces for Insta Fame Phantom Art which is sort of a guerrilla street art project in the subway trains. So I’ve definitely been exposed to new methods of showing art. 

Jasper:  What about some of the ways you've stayed the same?

Crouch:  Hmmm, I still like southern food. It’s nice being from SC and explaining it to people. Charleston cuisine is a big topic and is very popular now. I made a lot of barbeque at the restaurant I worked at. And explaining boiled peanuts is always fun. 

Jasper: What is the main lesson you've learned?

Crouch: If you go for it 100% success is easier to find. And to constantly look at other artist’s work and talk to them about it. 


Jasper: Now, what are you bringing back to Columbia?

Crouch: The work at Frame of Mind is all of the remaining work I did at Con Artist in Manhattan. Three pieces sold so the remaining 14 are on display plus three that I did in Millerton.  The opening is 6-9  at 140 State St. in West Columbia on Friday 2/16. (That’s tonight!) 

Caustic Bucolic –

These pieces are from my work at Con Artist Collective in Lower East Side Manhattan, NY from November 2017-January 2018. Working in a shared studio space, I expanded my use of blueprints, animals, and current events by working alongside other artists. This allowed my work to more succinctly articulate a metaphorical investigation of human nature.


People relate to animals in a variety of ways. With figures of speech, they use animals to explain mundane occurrences of everyday life. In instances of self-identification, people use animals as a source of spiritual power. The first civilizations depended on animals for agriculture, sustenance, and protection. In ancient mythologies animals are used to represent deities. In religious texts a God may take the form of an animal.


This work encapsulates this progression of thought. Caustic Bucolic invites the viewer to consider their natural world. 


A show at Loft At 115 (115 S. Palmer Street, Rideway, SC) is up through February and showcases work I did in Sedona as well as more ravens. Two pieces have sold and I’m excited to show that work as it has never been exhibited outside of Arizona. 


I’m also working on a window at Tapps. My idea is to transform the window into an aquarium. I got the idea from the pieces I did for Insta Fame Phantom Art in NYC where I painted Octopus on the add inserts on the subway cars. 


Fall Lines Program Announced for Thursday, July 28th at Tapp's

Fall Lines

Thursday, July 28th, 2016 ~ 7 – 9 pm

Tapp’s Arts Center ~ Columbia, SC


7 – 8



8 – 9

Welcome & Recognition of Honored Guests – Cindi Boiter

Awarding of Prizes – Ed Madden & Kyle Petersen


Scott Chalupa

Claire Kemp

Kathleen Nalley

Travis Bland

Matthew O’Leary

Eileen Scharenbroch

Bo Petersen

Mark Rodehorst

Tim Conroy

Julie Bloemeke

Mike Miller

Jonathan Butler


Sincerest appreciation to Tapp’s Arts Center, Jonathan & Lorene Haupt, Sara June Goldstein, Bert Easter, One Columbia for Arts & History, Richland Library, Friends of Richland Library, South Carolina Academy of Authors, University of South Carolina Press, Muddy Ford Press, Columbia Museum of Art, SC Philharmonic, Rosewood Art & Music Festival, Deckle Edge Literary Festival


Fall Lines – a literary convergence launches third issue with a reception and reading at Tapp’s Arts Center July 28th

Fall Lines  


The Columbia Fall Line is a natural junction, along which the Congaree River falls and rapids form, running parallel to the east coast of the country between the resilient rocks of the Appalachians and the softer, more gentle coastal plain. 


Jasper Magazine, in partnership with Richland Library, USC Press, One Columbia, Muddy Ford Press, and The Jasper Project will release the third annual issue of Fall Lines – a literary convergence on Thursday, July 28th from 7 – 9 pm at a free reception at Tapp’s Arts Center. An annual literary journal based in Columbia, SC, Fall Lines was conceived as a mechanism for highlighting Columbia as the literary arts capitol of South Carolina.

A panel of judges selected 30 pieces of poetry and prose, from hundreds of international submissions, for publication in Fall Lines alongside invited pieces from Ron Rash, Terrance Hayes, Pam Durban, Laurel Blossom, and Patricia Moore-Pastides. Two prizes for the literary arts, sponsored by Friends of the Richland Library, will also be awarded including the Saluda River Prize for Poetry to Kathleen Nalley for her poem, “The Last Man on the Moon,” and the Broad River Prize for Prose, awarded to Claire Kemp for her short fiction, “The Dollmaker.”  Adjudicators included SC poet laureate Marjory Wentworth and award-winning author Julia Elliott. In addition, Fall Lines will also publish the winner of the 2016 South Carolina Academy of Authors Coker Fiction Fellowship, “I Can’t Remember What I Was Trying to Forget,” by Phillip Gardner.

The awards ceremony and reception will also feature readings by selected authors whose work is published in this issue of Fall Lines: Scott Chalupa, David Travis Bland, Matthew O’Leary, Mike Miller, Claire Kemp, Kathleen Nalley. Tim Conroy, Julie Bloemeke, Eileen Scharenbroch, Jonathan Butler, and Mark Rodehorst.

The editors of Fall Lines, Cindi Boiter, Ed Madden, and Kyle Petersen, are deeply appreciative of this year’s sponsors including Jonathan and Lorene Haupt, Sara June Goldstein, Richland Library, One Columbia for Arts and History, Muddy Ford Press, Columbia Museum of Art, the SC Philharmonic Orchestra, Rosewood Art and Music Festival, Deckle Edge Literary Festival 2017, and The Whig.

For more information please contact Cindi Boiter at cindiboiter@gmail.com.

Announcing the 2015 Jasper Artists of the Year

It was a beautiful night of revisiting the best of the Italian Renaissance at the Big Apple last night when we announced and celebrated the 2015 Jasper Artists of the Year. Without further ado, the winners are: Martha Brim pictured with Jasper Contributing Dance Editor Bonnie Boiter-Jolley


Julia Elliott with Jasper Literary Arts Editor Ed Madden


Craig Butterfield pictured with Jasper Music Editor Michael Spawn


Dewey Scott-Wiley pictured with Jasper Assistant Editor Kyle Petersen


Kimi Maeda pictured with Jasper Editor Cindi Boiter



Congratulations to all the JAY Winners and Finalists!

Thanks to Kristine Hartvigsen for photography, Mouse House for framing, Singing Fox for event planning, and Coal Powered Filmworks for Sponsorship. Special thanks to the shared talents of Duo Cortado, Cathering Hunsinger, the Trustus Apprentices, Chris Carney, and Jasper's Wet Ink spoken word poetry collective.

Jasper Magazine Endorses Andy Smith for At-large Columbia City Council Seat

andy at the whig Last night, as I sat at The Whig and looked around the room while City Council Candidate Andy Smith spoke from the corner, I was struck by two things.

First, of the full house of individuals gathered there, filling up the tables and bar and jockeying for standing space on the open floor, not only was every single arts discipline represented, but almost every single arts organization in town, large or small, was represented as well. Dancers, visual artists, filmmakers, photographers, theatre artists, writers, musicians, and poets – and more than a handful of head honchos of our leading arts organizations – were all there.

But next, and even more importantly, in a place known for its noise and the rumble of hearty conversation, the only sound that could be heard was that of Andy Smith’s voice as he answered questions on the many ways he can envision improving the lives and work of Columbia artists – and backing up his visions with workable, well thought-out plans.

It was almost thrilling to hear him talk about the dreams many of us have about the future of the arts in our city and realize that, if we elect him, it can be the beginning of making those dreams a reality.

I was there the day the seed of running for office was planted in Andy Smith’s mind. A few of us from the arts community had been gathered in the office of Larry Hembree, when he was still at Trustus, to help another candidate (who is still running) come to some understanding about the arts in Columbia. While this candidate, a good man and possibly my second or third choice for the seat, spoke about the arts in his life mostly involving grandchildren in weekly classes and the occasional trip to see a film at the Nick, it became obvious that the idea of the arts being any part of life – much less the measure of life itself as it is to someone who makes their living as an artist or arts administrator – was foreign to him.

Andy seemed to realize this, too.

While Andy had spent years thinking about ways of improving our city and the major role the arts would play in the machinery that makes a city great, this candidate was on another track entirely and was just at that point beginning to ask if the arts were even important. Try as we might, I don’t think we convinced him they were. And are.

I noticed the difference between Andy and the other candidates again when I attended the City Council Arts Forum that One Columbia hosted a couple weeks ago at 701 Whaley. Once again, candidates spoke about the arts in terms of children’s dance recitals and the one time they took their grandchildren to see The Nutcracker. It didn’t seem to dawn on the candidates that they were speaking to a room almost 100% full of artists, arts administrators, and members of boards of directors for arts organizations.

Until Andy Smith spoke.

Andy spoke about the development of a Cultural Plan for the city which would build the development of the arts into both a flow chart of city improvement as well as a budget for getting it done. He talked about the city investing in its arts and artists both financially and philosophically. He discussed the importance of reforming Hospitality Tax policies, creating incentives for property owners to provide affordable space for artists and new arts organizations in under-resourced communities, and working with school board officials to make the arts a larger and more valued part of public education. And perhaps most importantly, Andy Smith talked then and continues to talk about ways to bolster artists of color and more meaningfully support non-profit organizations led by people of color.

And people listen.

That’s why it is with so much pleasure that Jasper Magazine – The Word on Columbia Arts offers our endorsement of Andy Smith for the Columbia City Council At- Large Seat in the election on November 3rd.

The election of Andy Smith to City Council means more than just seeing our colleague in a position of power from which he will so thoughtfully help govern.

It means the beginning of a paradigm shift in the way our city council approaches growth, development, and quality of life.

It means recognition of the integral role the arts play in building the type of community we want to work, live, and raise children in.

It means a future in which our artists are valued, applauded, and paid for their contributions to culture.

I invite you to join me in supporting Andy Smith for Columbia City Council and helping spread the word about the difference Andy can make in the future of the city we call home. Vote on November 3rd and make sure your friends, families and neighbors vote.




Cindi Boiter is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jasper Magazine - The Word on Columbia Arts, and the 2014 recipient of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award for the Arts.




More information on  Andy Smith is here.

Just say no to Facebook

no This week started out great. Lots of exciting stuff on the calendar, interesting meetings, tasks that I absolutely love to do. Looking ahead and all the way through Saturday morning's game, I was psyched for what the third week of September held in store. My Facebook calendar was full and I was happy!

Monday was a bit of a chore, though. For the fifth day in a row I was still working on a 2nd Act Film Festival project that should have taken less than two days to finish.

Tuesday was a little tougher. It was the last day for Jasper Artist of the Year nominations which means the beginning of a lot of sorting and stuff and I was continuing to work on last week's merciless mess of a project. I ended up forgetting about one meeting and rescheduling another.  I did make it to the Nick to see Grandma that evening and didn't feel too guilty about that since I reviewed it for the blog.

Wednesday meant day seven of the same old project, day two of the JAYs, and only two meetings, both about very exciting stuff.  By the end of the day one meeting got pushed back 30 minutes and the other two full hours, but that was OK because that night was the first night of ARTS101, our much anticipated series of arts history and appreciation presentations from esteemed members of our arts community. I remember when we first announced this series -- so many people were happy about it! And the Facebook event racked up 19 yeses and 19 maybes almost immediately. With a possible 38 people (no, I never expected the maybes to show up but I don't believe in being unprepared) coming out, the mag staff and I, along with two eager interns, were ready to greet our crowd with carefully prepared and reproduced copies of the ARTS101 calendar, a primer on John Constable, who was the subject of Mary Gilkerson's fascinating presentation, a slideshow loving prepared by our buddy Shige at Tapp's, a bar set up by Daniel, and a plate of assorted cookies. Three different kinds.

I'll just cut to the chase. No. One. Showed. Up. No, the maybes didn't show up, of course, but neither did the yeses. None of them. We did have a gentleman come in from off the street but I don't know if he knew he was coming in for a presentation or not. We were glad he was there. And we were glad we were there. It was a casual and informative presentation enjoyed over cold Coronas and cookies and I am thrilled with the knowledge I now have about landscape artist John Constable. (Primer below for your enjoyment and edification.)

Now, we're at Thursday and by the end of the day my buddy and Jasper film editor Wade has ably taken the cursed week-old project off my crippled hands.  I'm still working on the JAYS but the end is in sight, and I've turned my attention back to the next issue of the mag as well as the bones of the non-profit that's at a steady boil on the back burner of my life, waiting patiently to be moved up front and served. I wanted to go to the closing reception for Figure Out at Tapp's, one of my all-time favorite shows in town. In fact, I wanted to blog about the reception and appeal to the powers that be--in this case gallery owners and operators in the city-- that we must not relegate figurative and nude shows to one event a year held behind warning signs on closed doors. We must make the human body, clothed or unclothed, a part of our everyday art experience. As an arts community we can no longer be afraid of breasts and penises! But, of course, I didn't have time to go to the show or write the blog and only sneaked out to the Trustus fundraiser at The Whig (63 yeses and 24 maybes -- I don't think so) because I love Trustus and I love The Whig and I knew my kids would be there. I came home and went back to work.

So here it is on Friday afternoon. I'm tired, it's been raining for the past two days, the temperature is fall-ish, and new episodes of good TV started this week and are waiting on my DVR.

But wait, according to Facebook I have six events to go to tonight. Six different exciting events. Six events that would enlighten me, make me a better person, and allow me to enjoy the company of all the other yeses who want to go to these events and see each other.

You all know how this is going to turn out. I've already taken off my bra, smudged my makeup by rubbing my eyes, and poured myself a glass of wine. I ain't going nowhere.

But on Wednesday night of this past exciting and life-affirming week, in addition to learning about John Constable I learned something else. I learned about the power of the yes and I learned about the power of the no. (Maybes never really count.) So before I poured that vino and unsnapped that brassiere I visited the pages of all the fun events I will not be going to tonight and I changed my status. Yes, I could have done it earlier, had I been more honest with both Facebook and myself. But I'll take credit for doing it at all and I challenge myself to be better about it next time.

And I challenge you. Just say no to Facebook unless you really are planning to attend an event. But if your enthusiasm gets the best of you and you really believe you can make it to all those openings and receptions and concerts and presentations that you want to go to, do what I'm going to try to start doing. (I admit to being the worst about this in my life prior to this evening.) See where Facebook expects you to be and, if you're not going to be there, don't pretend. Change your yes to no and, if you must, leave a little message. You're tired, you're drained, you have a date with Olivia Pope. Doesn't everyone's head hurt a little? Just be honest with Facebook. Change it to no.




And here's that John Constable primer I promised you:

arts101 mary


John Constable

  • Born June 1776 – died March 1837
  • English Romantic Painter
  • Landscape artist known for his paintings of Dedham Vale in the Essex-Suffolk area of England, now known as “Constable Country”
  • Most famous works – ‘Dedham Vale’ (1802), ‘The Hay Wain’ (1821), and ‘Wivenhoe Park’ (1816)
  • Inspirations include Thomas Gainsborough, Peter Paul Rubens, Jacob Van Ruisdael, and Annibale Carracci
  • Known for the sense of realism and vitality that he imbued in his art
  • Known for taking landscape painting in a new direction
  • Believed his paintings should come as directly as possible from nature
  • Made hundreds of outdoor oil sketches, capturing the changing skies and effects of light.
  • Happiest painting locations he knew well, particularly in his native Suffolk. He also frequently painted in Salisbury, Brighton and Hampstead, making numerous studies of the clouds over the Heath.
  • Received little recognition in Britain in his lifetime, but was much better known in France.
  • In 1824, ‘The Hay Wain’ won a gold medal at the Salon in Paris and Constable had a profound influence on French Romantic artists.


Art from the Ashes Final Event - Readings by the Literary Artists Tuesday Night

art from the ashes jpeg Tuesday night, join us for part three of Jasper's Art from the Ashes project -- a reading of the works in the monograph by the writers themselves.

7 pm at Tapp's

Readers include:

Betsy Breen - winner of the Best in Book Award, sponsored by Historic Columbia

Al Black

Jonathan Butler

Debra Daniel

Rachel Hainey

Ed Madden

Don McCallister

Tom Poland

Susan Levi Wallach

Cindi Boiter

Art from the Ashes Book Launch and Gallery Opening on February 1st at Tapp’s - A JASPER Project

art from the ashes jpeg  

Over the course of four evenings in the summer of 2014, more than two dozen literary, visual, and musical artists gathered in the Jasper Magazine office with experts on the February 17th, 1865 burning of Columbia. The artists immersed themselves in the events that took place the night of the burning as well as the days and nights leading to and immediately following it. Six months later, their inspirations have come to fruition in a multi-disciplinary series of arts events – Art from the Ashes.

Art from the Ashes cover


Art from the Ashes: Columbia Residents Respond to the Burning of Their City is a collection of poetry, prose, and even a screenplay by some of Columbia, SC’s most dynamic writers, including Ed Madden, Tara Powell, Ray McManus, Susan Levi Wallach, Tom Poland, Al Black, Jonathan Butler, Rachel Haynie, Debra Daniel, Will Garland, Betsy Breen, and Don McCallister. Edited by Jasper Magazine’s Cynthia Boiter, it is a publication of Muddy Ford Press and the first in the press’s new series, Muddy Ford Monographs.


In concert with the book launch, Art from the Ashes: The Gallery will open on the same evening, also at Tapp’s, and will run throughout the month of February. Participating visual artists include Susan Lenz, Kirkland Smith, Christian Thee, Michael Krajewski, Jarid Lyfe Brown, Whitney LeJeune, Mary Bentz Gilkerson, Cedric Umoja, Michaela Pilar Brown, Alejandro Garcia-Lemos, and Kara Gunter.

artist - Kirkland Smith


Join us as we celebrate the book launch and gallery opening from 5 – 7 pm. Visual artists will be on hand to answer questions about their work and literary artists will be signing and reading from their writings. Musician Jack McGregor, who created a three movement musical composition in response to the burning, will premiere his work as well.

artist - Jarid Lyfe Brown

artist - Kara Gunter

artist - Michael Krajewski

artist - Christian Thee


Additional events include a Visual Artists Panel Presentation on Thursday, February 5th at 7 pm and a Reading and Book Signing on February 17th at 7 pm, followed by a concert by Columbia-based musical artist, the Dubber.


All events take place at Tapp’s Arts Center on Main Street and are free and open to the public


Jasper Announces 2014 JAYS

(L - R) Kathleen Robbins, Greg Stuart, Darien Cavanaugh, Cindi Boiter, Katie Smoak, Rhonda Hunsinger accepting on behalf of her daughter Catherine Hunsinger Jasper Magazine is delighted to announce the winners of the 2014 Jasper Artists of the Year awards. Winners were announced on Friday, November 21st at a fundraiser gala for the magazine at Columbia’s historic Big Apple at Park and Hampton Streets, amongst a crowd of 150 guests.

Winners include Katie Smoak for dance, Darien Cavanaugh for literary arts, Greg Stuart for music, Kathleen Robbins for visual art, and Catherine Hunsinger for theatre.

The evening’s entertainment was provided by swing dance masters Richard Durlach and Breedlove, who are featured in the November/December issue of Jasper Magazine, and who demonstrated and taught attendees how to dance the Big Apple dance, made famous in 1937 at the historic Columbia location. Vicky Saye Henderson and the Apple Jacks, a new period musical ensemble comprised of Greg Apple, Christopher Cockrell, Chase Nelson, and Henderson, entertained with songs from the era, and Terrence Henderson emceed the event. Catering was provided by Scott Hall Catering. Rob Sprankle was the photographer.

Sponsors for the evening included Bourbon Columbia, City Art Gallery, HoFP Gallery, Peter Korper Realty, Coal Powered Filmworks, Burt Pardue, Billy Guess, Jody and Jeff Salter, Pura Wellness Spa, and an anonymous donor. The gala committee was comprised of Lauren Michalski, Bohumila Augustinova, Rosalind Graverson, Margey Bolen, Annie Boiter-Jolley, and Jasper editor Cindi Boiter.

Nominees for Jasper Artist of the Year (JAY) were solicited from the public early this fall based on individual artistic achievement from September 15, 2013 until September 15 2014. Committees of experts in each of the disciplines reviewed the nominations and narrowed the candidates down to three finalists in each field. The public was then invited once again to vote on their choices in each of the five categories. Finalists in dance were Smoak, Thaddeus Davis, and Caroline Lewis Jones; in literary arts, Cavanaugh, Julia Elliott, and Alexis Stratton; in music, Stuart, the Can’t Kids, and the Mobros; in visual arts, Robbins, James Busby, and Eileen Blyth; and, in theatre, Hunsinger, Robert Richmond, and Frank Thompson.

Outgoing JAYS for 2013 include Terrance Henderson for dance, Vicky Saye Henderson for theatre, the Restoration for music, Philip Mullen for visual art, and Janna McMahan for literary art.

For more information on Jasper and the 2014 JAYS visit www.Jaspercolumbia.net.

Expecting Goodness Short Film Festival Showcases Columbia Talent

EGSFF-site-header-post-festIf you're in the mood for a short road trip and short films this weekend then travel up to Spartanburg for the third year of the Expecting Goodness Film Festival. Two films from Soda City will be screened as part of the program this year. So Beautiful, by filmmaker Joshua Foster is adapted from Jasper Editor Cindi Boiter's short story "Alvin & Alvie." So Beautiful tells the story of a father and his struggling relationship with his daughter after the death of his wife. The film is a touching slice of time between father and daughter.

Columbia filmmaker Jeff Driggers presents his short “Happy Hour”. The film centers around the thoughts of one woman in a bar. It is a simple story about a complex character. This is Driggers' second year participating in the festival.

Filmmaker Jeff Driggers

The Expecting Goodness Film Festival will present two shows on Saturday, June 14th at the Chapman Cultural Center. The first screening starts at noon, and the second will take begin at 7 PM. Tickets may be purchased through the Expecting Goodness website at www.expectinggoodness.com.

Jasper Celebrates Fall Lines

Fall lines photo Jasper is pleased to announce that Fall Lines -- a literary convergence is on the streets after two exciting celebrations of its release.

On Sunday, we launched Fall Lines with a celebration and reading hosted by our partner the Richland Library Many thanks to Tony Tallent not only for facilitating the partnership but also for hosting and feting us so well Sunday afternoon.

The Fall Lines Team -- left to right, Ed Madden of Jasper, Lee Snelgrove of One Columbia, and Tony Tallent of Richland Library with Cindi Boiter of Jasper seated (not pictured Jonathan Haupt of USC Press and Bob Jolley of Muddy Ford Press)


Left - Nicola Waldron, winner of the Broad River Prize for Prose; Right - Mary Hutchins Harris - winner of the Saluda River Prize for Poetry -- both sponsored by Richland Library Friends


The next day we were back on the podium with an extended reading hosted by Sara Cogswell at her beautiful gallery on State Street in West Columbia, Gallery West.

photo by Will South


Pick up your copy of Fall Lines at any of the Richland County Library branches, the One Columbia office on Lady Street, Jasper Studio in the historic Arcade at 1332 Main Street, Frame of Mind, Gallery West, and selected boutiques, galleries and venues in Columbia -- or order it online at Amazon.com or BandN.com.  And look for the Fall Lines e-book coming soon from Richland Library.


Many thanks to Roe Young of Roe Young State Farm, Tom Mack of the SC Academy of Authors, and the Richland Library Friends.

Preview - Strength and Beauty - at Indie Grits tonight!

strength and beauty In the 90-plus minute long film, Strength and Beauty:  Three Ballerinas. Three Voices, filmmaker Chelsea Wayant focuses on three different dancers from Charlotte's North Carolina Dance Theatre, each at a different stage of her career. After 17 years of dancing, Tracy finds herself unable to perform some of the more challenging roles in her repertoire with the ease she once did. Alessandra, on the other hand, is just now beginning to be cast in those difficult roles. And Melissa, a contemporary ballet transplant, has just joined the company for her first season. We follow the women across two seasons with NCDT as they discuss many of the topics found most commonly on the minds of professional dancers:  body image, relationships, physical challenges, life outside of ballet, and inevitably, transitions.

A beautifully constructed film experience, Strength and Beauty provides both ballet-lovers and ballet novices an intimate look at the intellectual and emotional machinations of professional ballet dancers. The story arcs are well developed and executed, and the subjects are lovely and engaging. Some innovative camera work and the clever use of Super8  film during which each dancer performs what are clearly improvisational pieces makes for some of the most tender moments in the film.

Jasper advises you to check Strength and Beauty out tonight at 7 pm at the Nick. Following the film Jasper dance editor (and CCB soloist) Bonnie Boiter-Jolley, CCB principal dancer Regina Willoughby, filmmaker John Kirkscey, dancer Dylan G - Bowley, and Columbia Classical Ballet dancer Madeline Foderaro will be discussing the film as part of a panel led by Jasper editor Cindi Boiter.

7 - 9:30 pm at The Nick  -- Check out the Facebook event for even more info.


In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Boiter Receives 2014 Verner Award

"The staff of Jasper magazine congratulates Jasper editor Cindi Boiter, who has been selected to receive a 2014 Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award, presented annually by the South Carolina Arts Commission. The award will be presented at a special ceremony at the South Carolina Statehouse on May 8th. ..." - Ed Madden For the full article, click through the photo below:

Verner Award

Important Stuff About The 2nd Act Film Festival -- What you may not know ...

  2nd act single cam

  • The 2nd Act Film Festival was created to help bring a sense of community to Columbia, SC filmmakers.


  • The 2nd Act Film Festival was created to complement and support the already existing independent film structure in Columbia -- i.e., The Nickelodeon and those (like us) who love and support it.


  • 30 filmmakers applied to participate in the festival -- 10 were chosen.


  • Jurors included representatives from USC, the Nickelodeon, POV, One Columbia, and a private production company.


  • The 2nd Act Film Festival does not and will not charge local filmmakers to participate. (This is in keeping with Jasper Magazine's policy of never charging artists to perform, participate, publish, or exhibit.)


  • All participating filmmakers now have their screenplays registered in the Library of Congress as part of a compilation of all the screenplays published via the generosity of Muddy Ford Press.


  • Through the generosity of Coal Powered Filmworks, all participating filmmakers now have their films compiled with those of other participants on a limited edition DVD.


  • Both DVD and Screenplay Book will be available for purchase at the festival on 10/10.


  • Reserved seats to the festival can only be obtained via our KICKSTARTER campaign -- and that ends Sunday night.


  • Non-reserved seats can be obtained in advance via Eventbrite.


  • This film festival is a labor of love directed by Wade Sellers under the auspices of Jasper Magazine.


  • We did it for you, the filmmakers, and the Columbia arts community that we love.


  • We hope you'll join us on our mission to make Columbia, SC the greatest arts destination in the Southeast.



Cindi & Wade