Before I die ... Guest Blog by Karl Larsen

photo courtesy of In February of 2011, visual artist and motivational speaker Candy Chang struggled to cope with the loss of a loved one. During this difficult time, she found herself lost, searching for a way to express herself and to make sense of death. Eventually she turned to her friends and community for inspiration. Little did she know that what she was about to create would not only serve as a personal escape, but would be a source of inspiration and public expression for the entire world for years to come.


Chang’s canvas? An old abandoned building in the Upper 9th Ward, New Orlean’s largest and most distinctive region devastated by the floods of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The exterior wall chosen spanned a length of approximately 40 feet, and would become the site of the very first “Before I Die…” wall. With the help of friends, the entire wall was painted end to end with chalkboard paint. Then, in the top left corner, in big white stenciled letters, the words “Before I Die…” set the tone for this soon-to-be interactive public forum. To allow the curious and the brave to interact, “I want to _______________.” was repeatedly stenciled across the wall, inviting the passing public to complete the phrase; soap trays were mounted to hold chalk.


"Before I die" stencil photo courtesy of

Chang didn’t know what the coming days would hold for this project that was so close to her heart. What she saw the next day left her astounded. Dozens of colorful reactions decorated the once-dilapidated wooden wall, turning it into the purest form of public art… transforming an eyesore into an attraction.


Within days, the wall was completely filled. In the months following its public début, the wall collected hundreds among hundreds of wishes, dreams and personal aspirations — some funny; others, uplifting and motivational. The newly revitalized corner of Burgundy and Marigny streets became a hub for the weary wanting to love again and the ambitious wanting to keep their undying passions alive in a world filled with unrest and uncertainty.


I want to learn another language.

I want to live my best life.

I want to abandon all insecurities.

I want to teach yoga.

I want to see equality.

I want to be published.


“Before I Die… I want to _______________.”


It was a phrase I knew all too well and what initially attracted me to Candy Chang’s work. The topic of personal desires is a tricky one and the inspiration behind my first book, published in October of 2011. “W a n t.,” as it is titled, is a glance back at my life as I struggled to come to terms with an identity crisis, the decisions I had made as a young adult and the consequences that followed. Lost, and desperate for inspiration, I turned inward to find that I had the answers hidden deep within my long-forgotten desires, leading me to become the last thing I’d ever believed I could become: an author. It was then that I began to harness the energy of my positive desires and turn them into positive actions. The “Before I Die” wall is the perfect visual representation of the messages conveyed in my book. Simple, compelling, captivating.

photo courtesy of Karl Larsen


Today, less than three years after its début, more than 250 walls have been installed around the world, embraced in over 50 countries and translated into more than 20 languages. Though the original wall “died” in October 2011, it’s evident that the “Before I Die” legacy is still being written. Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Montréal… the list goes on. Name a major city; more than likely, a wall has been hosted there. Even Charleston had one of their own from October to December 2011. The message is universal, making Candy Chang’s social experiment a wild success for years to come.


In March this year, after stumbling upon this amazing project and its undeniable ability to capture the hearts of many, I made it my mission to bring it here to the Capital City. With the help of OneColumbia, Mark Plessinger of First Thursdays on Main and many others, “Before I Die” is officially coming to downtown Columbia. The location? The 1600 block of Main Street in front of the future Agapé Senior Headquarters. Set to be unveiled at a 2 p.m. press conference held by Mayor Steve Benjamin, Columbia will have its chance to build the “Before I Die” legacy for the duration of September and, perhaps, longer. As part of an installation for September 5th’s First Thursday on Main, it is expected to attract a considerable crowd, possibly making it the largest and most-anticipated First Thursday ever.


The timing couldn’t be any better. There will be three “Before I Die” walls in Columbia to choose from on September 5. Yes, three. Beginning August 22nd, another installation will open to the public from 5:30–7:00 p.m. in the Goodall Gallery at Columbia College as part of pARTicipate: Projects from the Community Arts Program’s Urban Studio. Jasper Magazine is also hosting a preview and introduction to Main Street’s wall during their monthly Salon Series, 7:00 p.m. on August 27, located in the historic Arcade building. As the highlighted artist for the Salon, I’ll be there to talk about my book and the “Before I Die” project. Jasper’s “Before I Die” wall will also be accessible to the public on September 5th. Whichever location you choose, be sure to reserve your spot and be a part of the worldwide sensation that is the “Before I Die” wall.


-- Karl L. Larsen







"The Journey Home" - a guest blog by Jenna Sach

When the pilot announces that we are 30 minutes to our destination, I stare out the window.  I watch the country below slowly become visible through the grey clouds.   The land is a beautiful patchwork of varying hues of green.  The houses and cars slowly come into view as we get closer.  The wheels touch down, I’m filled with excitement.  I am home. "Grand Canal of Venice" - photography by Jenna Sach

I began taking photos when I was 16.  My high school offered a darkroom course.  The smell of the chemicals, the look of film, the whole art behind photography drew me in.  Ever since then, whenever I traveled, a camera came with me.  Though all I had at the time was a little 35 mm point-and-shoot, I spent most of my time viewing Europe through a lens.  After the first few trips, my mom mentioned the lack of photos of family; it wasn’t until we were visiting Venice together that she stopped mentioning it.

For years, the only people who saw my photographs from my adventures were those who came into my Mom’s house.  She adorned her walls with images from England, Rome, and Venice.  I decided last September that I wanted to showcase photographs from England.  After running the idea by Mark Plessinger, we set up a show at frame of Mind.  My family and I were heading off the England, specifically North Derbyshire for two weeks, and it lined up perfectly.  So I lugged my camera equipment across the Atlantic Ocean and bought tons of film.  We had a few places outlined of where we were going, but I had no preset notions of what exactly I wanted to photograph.

The first few days there, I drew a blank.  However, when we went to visit Chatsworth, a stately home, something clicked.  From that point on, I was always behind the camera.  My mom and stepfather put up with me randomly asking to pull off the road, so that I could jump out and snap a few shots.  Everyone was so understanding when I wanted to spend a few extra minutes at a location, or climb up a hill to get a different vantage point.  And somehow the weather worked out perfectly, though I did stand in a shower or two to grab a shot.




I wanted to illustrate to everyone the beauty of the English countryside and the personal meaning it holds for me.  Each photograph in this show holds a story behind it (which I am always willing to tell.)  I have been in inspired by England for years, and I am hoping to  inspire others who view my work.

~ Jenna Sach


"The Journey Home" is the featured exhibition at Frame of Mind (located at 1520 Main Street, Suite 1e, right across from the Columbia Museum of Art) as part of this month's First Thursdays on Main.

Amelia Mau to perform at Paradise Ice as part of First Thursdays on Main

Amelia Mau, daughter or Sandy and Frederic Mau, will be performing as part of Paradise Ice's celebration of First Thursday. Check out Amelia at 7 pm on Thursday, August 2nd at 1627 Main Street. Amelia Mau is a classical guitarist from the Columbia, SC area. From a young age she fostered a special place in her heart for all of the arts and eventually found her passion in music. In the spring of 2014 Amelia will graduate from Salem College with a Bachelor of Music degree in guitar performance. Amelia teaches individual and group lessons and performs in small venues in Winston-Salem, NC and Columbia, SC.

Here's a shot of Amelia when she played for us at the Jasper #006 Release Party a few weeks back.

And here's a shot of the whole dang Mau family.

Be sure to stop by Paradise Ice, grab a frozen custard or some other yummy icy treat, and have a listen to the beautiful musical stylings of the lovely Amelia Mau.


Art + Community = Photos from Last Night

Art = good

Community = good.

Art + community = lucky Columbia, SC

Below are just a few photos from September's First Thursday Gallery Crawl last night. Inspiring art. Joyous faces. Friends. Family. A community of artists and arts lovers that grows in complexity, diversity, gifts, and talent with every event held.

Don't stay home. Don't be alone. Don't be apart from it all; be a part of it all.

Tonight -- Cola-Con 2011 featuring Talib Kweli at Columbia Museum of Art

And, First September Art Bar Improve Comedy Players at The Art Bar

And, Whiskey Tango Review CD Release party at 5 Points Pub with The Capitol City Playboys

And, Bey's Gays -- name says it all -- at Bey's 711 Harden Street

And tomorrow -- SC Pride 2011 Parade and Festival at Finlay Park

Next Door Drummers with Dick Moons and Lee Ann Kornegay


(L to R), Jasper webmaven Lenza Jolley, Jasper editor Cindi Boiter, Bonnie Boiter-Jolley and Coralee Harris


Natalie Starr Mudd and Terrell Rittenhouse (Terrell modeled for Linda Toro's show below)


Poster for Linda Toro's delightfully non-heteronormative photog exhibit at Frame of Mind


Maria Mungo and Ann Smith Hankins

(Maria and Ann -- Anastasia's Mom -- helped serve at Anastasia & Friends Gallery - glorious peanut soup prepared by Marvin Chernoff & vino courtesy of Roe Young)


Anastasia Chernoff and Roe Young

Art (Tapp's Arts Center) by Kirkland Smith

Artist David West & Baby Boy at Anastasia & Friends


Cindi (right) with Columbia Arts guru & dear friend, Jeffrey Day

Artist, Thomas Crouch in Tapp's Center window

From the Baboon and Wolf Series by Thomas Crouch

(possibly Baboon IV and, if so, now Cindi's)

From the Baboon and Wolf Series by Thomas Crouch

Tapp's Art Center Gang featuring Brenda Schwartz Miller

(More from the Tapp's folks, this time with Molly Harrell, and depicting more of the Crouch exhibit)

Jenny Maxwell with fodder for "Obsessions -- A Fine Line Between Collecting and Hoarding" - still on display at the Tapp's Arts Center, Main Street Columbia

SCA Group -- Abstractalexandra

SCA Group - - Joanne Crouch