West Columbia Brought the Magic to Friday Night's Fall Back Festival 2017

Alicia Leeke

Alicia Leeke

Tony Brown

Tony Brown

Michael Cassidy

Michael Cassidy

Sammy Lopez

Sammy Lopez

BA Hohman

BA Hohman

Dre Lopez

Dre Lopez

Karl Larsen

Karl Larsen

Herman Keith 

Herman Keith 

Michael Krajewski & Lucas Sams collaboration

Michael Krajewski & Lucas Sams collaboration

You couldn't have asked for a more beautiful night on State Street last Friday when West Columbia threw their first ever Fall Back Festival. With the help of the shop owners on State Street, and a very strong influence from Frame of Mind owner Mark Plessinger, the night was warm and welcoming, full of music, food, drinks, and good and new friends.

Among the artists creating street art -- literally art on the asphalt paving of State Street -- were ten of Columbia's top creators, and you could tell they were having a great time creating art for art's sake. As one artist said, "It was nice to be able to just come out and make some art without having to abide by too many rules or fill out too many forms and applications." The artists, whose works are pictured above, included Alicia Leeke, Herman Keith, Sammy Lopez, Karl Larsen, Michael Cassidy, Dre Lopez, Tony Brown, BA Hohman, and Michael Krajewski and Lucas Sams who collaborated on their piece.

After 10 provided some great cover tunes, Pawleys food truck fed hungry bellies, and all the restaurants and bars had their doors open welcoming folks to come in and buy a drink to take back out on the street.

Frame of Mind featured an innovative art show by IRL couple artists Bohumila Augustinova and Barry Wheeler. ( Full disclosure: Barry Wheeler is the president of the board of directors for The Jasper Project.)

 

Mandala by Bohumila Augustinova

Mandala by Bohumila Augustinova

Converge Above the Plane by Barry Wheeler

Converge Above the Plane by Barry Wheeler

Art for art's sake. Answering the need to create and share that creation. Music in the air. A happy little buzz from a Friday night drink. Friends, old and new, clasping hands, slapping one another on humid backs, giving good deep hugs. Celebrating Friday, fall, art, and one another. 

Keeping it simple. Preserving the joy. 

FUERZA! New exhibit explores reality of domestic violence through art

Fuerza poster  

There’s something that goes on everyday, around the world, country and right here in Columbia. It happens next door, down the street and for some in their own homes. It’s what Palmetto Luna Arts board member Alejandro Garcia - Lemos refers to as “a serious and complicated issue.”

That issue is domestic violence.

The Columbia Museum of Art has teamed up with Palmetto Luna Arts, which promotes Latin arts around the State, to bring a one of a kind exhibit to museum visitors during Latin Month. ¡FUERZA! meaning strength, force, and power in Spanish, Artistas Latin@s in South Carolina, is the effort of Dre López, Sammy López, and Robert Chambers of the Piensa Art Company as well as Lemos, Ashley Berendzen, and Mariángeles Borghini.  Together, the team created panels of art to convey the struggles of domestic violence, specifically in minorities around the country. Aside from the CMA, this group of artists teamed up with the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, which is compiled of 22 sexual assault programs in the state.

Artist - Alejandro Garcia-Lemos

 

The exhibit, which will be located in the Carolina Guignard Community Gallery of the CMA will open on Tuesday, September 23, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will feature music, dance and a lot of meaningful art to take in.

Garcia-Lemos is proud that this art is not solely for the purpose of entertainment, but to bring a necessary awareness to the community.  As an issue close to all the artists in the Latin American community, Garcia-Lemos hopes he can make a difference through this art and bring much more awareness to this often-occurring issue in South Carolina, as well as the entire U.S.

As an issue that can effect any population, gender, race or person, the artists, SCCADVSA and the CMA calls on all members of the community to get a better understanding of domestic violence through a unique form of artistic expression. Opening night of ¡FUERZA! is free to the public and will be on display until November 30., giving guests ample opportunity to experience the heartfelt strength, force, and power.

 

-By Caitlyn McGuire

Book Review -- The Accidental Candidate: The Rise and Fall of Alvin Greene, by Corey Hutchins and David Axe, with art by Blue Delliquanti and cover by Dre Lopez

Before I begin, I should admit to no real expertise with graphic novels. I have read only a handful before tackling The Accidental Candidate, the new book from Free Times reporter Corey Hutchins and freelance war correspondent and graphic novelist David Axe, with art by Blue Delliquanti and cover art Dre Lopez. However, each time I return to the medium, I am amazed by its power to tell a story in a way fundamentally different, but equally as compelling, as a traditional novel. The interaction between word and image and the momentum and movement that a narrative gains from the frame structure has its own beauty, and one should read a graphic novel or two for that experience if nothing else.

But enough about the medium -- let’s talk about this particular book, which is not technically a “novel," but a graphic non-fiction work; an emerging genre in which co-writer David Axe is a leader.  The book chronicles, as the subtitle says, “The Rise and Fall of Alvin Greene,” South Carolina’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010.

If you’ve already forgotten this bizarre, and embarrassing, political spectacle -- the kind of thing that can only happen in South Carolina -- here's the quick and dirty summary. Knowing that unseating Tea Party kingmaker Jim DeMint from his Senate seat was likely going to a be a Sisyphean task, nobody really geared up to take on the charge other than one former State House rep -- who did only minimal campaigning before the primary --  and Alvin Greene, a 32-year-old unemployed Army vet of whom nobody had ever heard, and who didn’t bother to campaign at all. But something strange, improbable, and a little suspicious happened -- Greene won the primary in a landslide. Suddenly Greene became a huge story, as countless media outlets ran interviews of the socially awkward man, who lived with his father in Manning, SC, and who seemed to have painfully little political acumen, if indeed he had any at all.

The depiction of Greene by both the writers and Delliquanti seems to be deliberately unadorned, conveying not only the uncertain sense that Greene might not be “all there,” but also that he lives his life largely in his head as a misunderstood loner whose poor communication skills make him come across as less intelligent than he actually is. Hutchins and Axe don’t shy away from some of the more off-the-wall ideas that Greene came up with during the race -- his suggestion that action figures of himself be made and sold to jump-start the economy and his claim that DeMint single-handedly started the recession, for example -- but they avoid making those moments merely punch lines. Greene's opponent in the primary, Vic Rawl, also comes off pretty well as an embattled defender of election fairness and democratic responsibility. It is primarily party figures on both sides who come off badly, as the writers read the Tea Party riot act and come down on the bumbling ineffectiveness of leadership in South Carolina's Democratic Party.

As compelling as the basic story is here, though, it’s a little too straightforward and limited to carry the book by itself, so the writers use the story as a jumping off point to illustrate some troubling truths about our political discourse. Hutchins himself becomes one of the central characters in the book, as he recounts not only Greene’s story, but also his own role in the debacle. An astute reporter with a knack for long-form intensive journalism, Hutchins was the first and only reporter to cover Greene before the election, and also had the benefit of conducting some of the most in-depth interviews the candidate was willing to give. While his winning portrayal of himself might come off as self-serving to some, it also seems rightly earned, given his extensive coverage of the events in Columbia’s Free Times.

Hutchins and Axe's depiction of Hutchins' own efforts point to a glaring failure, in most traditional media outlets, when it comes to covering politics, as many of the biggest and most important stories go unreported while exhaustive attention is given to the horse race of polling and acquiring the cheap sound bite. Hutchins and Axe draw connections from Greene’s story to a variety of these issues, including the controversy over faulty voting machines (South Carolina bought their current batch from Mississippi, after the latter decided they weren’t reliable enough); the known shady practice by Republican operatives of  planting poor black candidates in races in the South; the rise of the Tea Party; and, DeMint’s connections with the cultish fundamentalist group in DC known as The Fellowship.

In doing this, the team's work fits into the emerging trend of non-traditional reporting techniques made both possible and necessary due to the rise of the Internet and 24-hour cable news. While most of the story comes directly from Hutchins' own reporting on Greene, there is also a deft use of quotes from other journalists and national political figures that lends the book a weighty sense of argument.

-- Kyle Petersen

(In addition to being the music editor for Jasper Magazine, Kyle Petersen holds a master's degree in English from USC and is currently pursuing a PhD in American Literature. He is also a former employee of the SC Democratic Party Headquarters.)

 

 

Playing After Dark -- This Friday and Saturday Nights

Neither cartoons, puppets, video games, nor music sound all too foreign.  Unless you’ve been living under a rather sizable rock (or had the misfortune of attending an artistically disinclined South Carolina public school), you’ve undoubtedly encountered each of these creative media before.  But chances are you haven’t encountered them together as a single, collaborative event.

This Friday and Saturday, Pocket Productions affords you the opportunity to do so.  Since 2009, this local arts organization has been expanding the public’s definition of art by exposing Columbia to innovative examples of interdisciplinary artistic cooperation.  Their “Playing After Dark” series, in particular, has introduced audiences to visual, musical, performing, and even culinary arts.

This weekend’s installment of Playing After Dark (titled “1001”) revolves around the unique collaboration between digital and analog art.  It will feature the following performances: Dre and Sammy Lopez of Piensa Art Company will present a combination of digital and analog drawings; Lyon Hill (puppetmaker and puppeteer with the Columbia Marionette Theatre) and Wade Sellers (commercial producer/director and owner of Coal Powered Filmworks) will perform a marionette/cartoon act; Professor Fripples (brilliant young programmer David Hamiter) will show off an audio controlled video game that runs alongside a puppet show; and DJ Deft Key (Entropy Studios’ producer, sound engineer, multi-instrumentalist, and remix artist) and singer/songwriter Bob Benjamin will perform a fusion of digital and acoustic music.

Playing After Dark “1001” begins at 7 pm this Friday and Saturday at CMFA Arts Space (914 Pulaski).  Tickets are available for $10 in advance (online at www.pocketproductions.org), $12 at the door, or $8 with membership.  In addition to the one free drink with admission, fine IPAs, stouts, Merlot, Syraz, and hors d’oeuvre will be available.  The event may also feature a “puppet” boiled peanut stand courtesy of Happiness Bomb (a diverse group of artists, musicians, designers, programmers, and, of course, puppeteers).

For more information about Pocket Productions, check them out on Twitter (twitter.com/PocketProSC) and Facebook (facebook.com/pocketproductions).

 

-- Austin Blaze - intern, Jasper Magazine