Celebrating Mark

Mark Plessinger Any other First Thursday evening for the past several years, if you were walking down Main Street and someone mentioned the name Mark, most anyone would know who you were talking about.

"Have you been to Mark's yet?"

"I just saw her at Mark's"

"What did Mark have to say about that?"

You wouldn't have to  use his last name, because anyone who knows anything about the arts in Columbia would know you were talking about Mark Plessinger, owner of Frame of Mind optics shop, and one of the founders and certainly the sustainer of the First Thursdays on Main arts crawl.

First Thursday got started back in the day when Mark Plessinger partnered with Mark Pointer who once ran a magazine called undefined. I met Mark (Plessinger) through Mark (Pointer) and we became instant friends. Like a lot of you reading this, Mark (Plessinger) and I share this sense of getting personal validation out of trying to make our immediate environment a place where we really want to live. We're selfish that way. I was lucky enough to watch Mark as he took over the undefined series and made it the FOM series, finally turning it into First Thursdays on Main.

I got to see Mark delve into areas of diplomacy that I'm sure he never thought would come with the job of doing something for the better good. I saw him negotiate with business owners, empower emerging artists, and bend over backwards to make sure that whoever wanted to share their creative gifts with the community were allowed to -- often on a stage he built himself. I don't know how many times I saw Mark reach into his own pocket to pay for security or publicity or any of the other errant expenses that accompany sustaining a major monthly arts event often on one's own. There is no telling how many things he ponied up for that no one knows about. And while he did it for himself, because it made him happy and because it felt good to him to be able to do so, he did if for a city and an arts community that desperately needed his specific contribution at the specific time he offered it.

Despite, or maybe because of his generosity, Mark is not a wealthy man. When circumstances with his Main Street shop and studio changed, he made the incredibly difficult decision to relocate his shop across the river, sadly leaving the business home he had opened for so many artists on Main Street. He will not be in his old space tonight -- though, happily, the precedent he set is being continued and Ivan Segura's art will be there.

Mark did what he was driven to do. He was brave. And he made Columbia a far better place than those of us who sit back and complain that our city isn't as perfect as we would like it to be.

Who knows how many people were impacted by the gracious generosity of time and spirit that Mark Plessinger gave to our city and our arts community. I'm guessing thousands.

Tonight, a few of us will gather with Mark to express our love and appreciation to him for all that he has done for us. We'll be at One Columbia about 6 pm, if you'd like to stop by. If not, and you see this tall, lanky dude on the street with a goofy smile and arms big enough to wrap around the world, you'll know its Mark. Because people will be repeating his name on Main Street, and throughout Columbia, for a very long time.

-- Cindi Boiter

Acclaimed Columbia Artist Stephen Chesley to Sign Claws at Nest - tonight!



Columbia artist Stephen Chesley will autograph copies of his illustrated edition of the Archibald Rutledge adventure story Claws at Nest (Hampton and Main Sts.) during Columbia’s First Thursdays on Main.

First published more than a century ago, Claws is a harrowing tale of an encounter between a young boy and a giant bobcat in depths of a lowcountry swamp.

Chesley’s 24 charcoal sketches bring the story vibrantly to life. Claws is published by the University of South Carolina Press with royalties benefiting the South Carolina Book Festival.

Chesley will sign copies at Nest from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on November 6 as part of First Thursday on Main.

Get more information on Claws from http://www.sc.edu/uscpress/books/2014/7422.htmlhttp://

For more information about the signing check out the Facebook event here.

Stephen Chesley - Artist

A Selected Listing of Chesley's Exhibits and Collections (Courtesy of Wim Roefs and If ART Gallery):

SELECTED COLLECTIONS Erskine College, Bowie Arts Center Savannah College of Art and Design Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman, Rock Hill, South Carolina South Carolina State Art Collection Columbia Museum of Art Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Charlotte, North Carolina Pioneer Electronics, New York, New York National Bank of South Carolina Southern Bell Springs Mills, Rock Hill, South Carolina numerous private collections

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS South Carolina Regional Sculpture Competition, Aiken County Museum, Aiken, South Carolina, 2005 "Stephen Chesley",Carolina Galleries, Fine Art Dealers Association, Charleston, South Carolina, 2004 "Stephen Chesley", Conn Gallery, Landrum South Carolina.2004 Sumter Gallery of Art, "Birds" exhibition, Sumter, South Carolina,2004 "Stephen Chesley", Jackson Gallery of Art, Aiken, South Carolina,2003 Spartanburg Museum of Art, 2nd Hub Juried, Spartanburg, South Carolina,2003 "Mit/Ohn Distanz", Joint international exhibition, Ducati Building, Columbia, South Carolina, 2003 "With Without Distance", Volksbank, Kaiserslautern, Germany, Woolmagazine Artist Group, 2003 "In Response"', National Juried Exhibition, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia, 2002 Spartanburg Museum of Art, Hub City juried Exhibition, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 2001 Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties, Street Gallery (mural), 2001 Savannah College of Art and Design, National Juried Exhibition, Savannah, Georgia, 1999 "Stephen Chesley", Opelika Fine Arts Center, Opelika Alabama, 1999 Spartanburg Museum of Art, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1999 Gertrude Hebert Institute of Art Juried Exhibition, Augusta Georgia, 1998 Savannah College of Art and Design, National Juried Exhibition, Savannah, Georgia, 1998 Oil painters Juried Exhibition, National Bank of South Carolina, 1989-1998 Savannah College of Art and Design, National Juried Exhibition, Savannah, Georgia, 1997 "Terrain" Exhibition, Carrillon Building, Charlotte, mural 15’x15’, 1997 National Endowment for the Arts, Southeast Regional Fellowship, Southeast Center for Contemporary Art, Winston Salem, North Carolina, 1996 Spoleto Juried Exhibition, Charleston, South Carolina, 1996 "Landscape Trilogy", Waterworks Visual Arts Center, Salisbury, North Carolina, 1996 Group Exhibition, Greenville Museum of Art, Greenville, South Carolina, 1996 Gibbs Art Museum, Charleston South Carolina, 1996 "The New Landscape", Center of the Earth Gallery, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1995 Francis Marion College, Florence, South Carolina, 1995 "Southern Range", Converse College, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1995 USC Gallery, University of South Carolina, Sumter, South Carolina, 1995 Spoleto Juried Exhibition, Charleston, South Carolina, 1994 Anderson Juried Exhibition, Anderson Museum of Art, 1994 Montgomery Biennial Exhibition, Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Montgomery, Alabama, 1994 "Lure of the Lowcountry", Gibbs Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, 1994 "Grace and Symbolism", Nations Bank, Art in Public Places, Columbia, South Carolina, 1993 "Expressions", Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina, 1992 South Carolina Arts Commission Triennial, Columbia South Carolina, 1992 National Juried Exhibition, Montana College Gallery, Dillion, Montana, 1991 South Carolina Contemporary Images, Owensboro Museum of Fine Art, Owensboro, Kentucky, 1991 South Carolina Coastal Watercolor Exhibition, Charleston, South Carolina, 1991 Springs Mills Juried Exhibition, Rock Hill, South Carolina, 1990 South Carolina Coastal Watercolor Exhibition, Charleston, South Carolina, 1989 South Carolina Annual Juried Exhibition, Columbia, South Carolina, 1988 Southern Graphics Council Exhibition, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, 1988 Springs Mills Juried Exhibition, Rock Hill, South Carolina, 1988 Retrospective: South Carolina State Art Collection, 1988 Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, Florida, 1988 Joyce Dickenson Invitational, Florence, South Carolina, 1988 Springs Mills Juried Exhibition, Rock Hill, South Carolina, 1987 South Carolina Arts Commission Annual Juried Exhibition, Columbia, South Carolina, 1987 National Park Service National Juried Exhibition, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. 1987 South Carolina Arts Commission Annual Juried Show, Columbia, South Carolina, 1986 Springs Mills Juried Exhibition, Rock Hill, South Carolina, 1986 South Carolina Coastal Watercolor Exhibition, Charleston, South Carolina, 1985 South Carolina Arts Commission Annual Juried Exhibition, Columbia, South Carolina, 1985 " Emerging Artist", Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina, 1981

TONIGHT! - Small Art/Big Heart -- blog by Jasper Intern Kirby Knowlton

Rescue by B.A. Hohman  



Like other aspects of our community, the ARC has been hit with huge budget cuts in the past several years. Anastasia Chernoff, owner of Anastasia & Friends, expressed that she could relate to these cuts, saying “Although some of us may not feel these cuts directly, indirectly they have a tremendous effect on all of us in our community, whether it’s the SC Arts Commission or the ARC, they are vital organizations in our state.” Local artists such as John Allen, Bohumila Augustinova, Savannah Bethea, Jarid Lyfe Brown,Toni Marcus Elkins, Nathan Fiveash have all contributed art work for the exhibit, and half of every sale will benefit the ARC. Friends of the ARC was started to help the ARC continue its vital and comprehensive work with our community’s sexually and physically abused children and continues to raise both funds and awareness in the community.

George by John Allen


Small Art/Big Heart will feature paintings, sculpture and mixed media pieces that are 12" x 12" x 12" in dimension or smaller. The opening reception will take place as a part of the First Thursday art crawl on Main Street on August 7th from 6 to 9 p.m. and run through August 31st.

Anastasia & Friends is located at 1534 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29201. Gallery hours are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


-- Kirby Knowlton