Announcing the 2015 JAY Gala Line-up

JAY 2015 graphic It's no coincidence that we patterned this week's 2015 JAY Awards Gala after the Italian Renaissance--a fertile time of humanism, art, architecture, science, and literature. In so many ways, we've been living through our own renaissance over the past several years in Columbia and we want to celebrate this fact at the same time we celebrate the 15 artists honored as Jasper's Artists of the Year Finalists and Winners.

Join us for an evening of Renaissance inspired food, drink (open bar), and entertainment, and the announcement of the Jasper Artists of the Year in Dance, Literature, Music, Theatre, and  Visual Arts.

  • Musical performance by the classical guitar duo Duo Cortado who will be playing Renaissance tunes and more
  • Renaissance inspired spoken word performances by members of Jasper's Wet Ink Spoken Word Collective, featuring Kendal Turner, Debra McQueen, & Kenneth Denk
  • Mini cello concert by Catherine Hunsinger
  • Impromptu performances by Al Black and Catherine Hunsinger
  • Leonardo daVinci (Michael Krajewski) will be creating his own version of the Mona Lisa from a live model
  • Michelangelo (Alex Smith) will be our guest throughout the evening embodying the Enlightenment, inciting evocative conversations, inspiring us with his multiple talents, (and maybe even creating art!)
  • Roving Renaissance entertainment from the Trustus Apprentices will keep the spirit of the Enlightenment alive and a smile on your faces
  • Il Magnifico's own Court Jester (Chris Carney) will meet you on the walk with fire eating demonstrations
  • USC Theatre Students are cooking up a surprise performance for us all
  • Bier Doc (Bob Jolley) has a rich selection of special biers and wines
  • Be sure to arrive in time to sample the Editor's Punch, created specially for this gala
  • Enjoy a sample feast of Renaissance-inspired dishes created by Chef Joe Turkaly
  • And, of course,the announcement of the Jasper Artists of the Year!

Tickets are $25 in ADVANCE and $35 at the door. Or join us at 6 for a special champagne reception in which you can sip bubbles, nosh on special treats, and hob nob with some of the greatest of the city's artists.

Come out and support your local arts magazine, celebrate its release, and congratulate the Jasper Artists of the Year Finalists and Winners: Martha Brim, William Starrett, Dale Lam, Eileen Blyth, Kimi Maeda, Russell Jeffcoat, Jullia Elliott, Ray McManus, Al Black, Jordan Young, Craig Butterfield, Heyward Sims, Dewey Scott-Wiley, Jennifer Moody Sanchez, and Kendrick Marion.

Special Thanks to Coal Powered Filmworks, Mouse House, Bert Easter of Easter Antiques, Richard Durlach and Breedlove of The Big Apple,  and Singing Fox Event Planning.

Where is Your Next Stop? Launching Poets on The Comet This Sunday, November 1!


Rosa Rode the Bus Too A revolution began on a city bus. Where is your next stop? - Len Lawson

By: Literary Arts Editor and City Poet Laureate Ed Madden

On Sunday, November 1, One Columbia and The Comet will host the launch of our city’s first major poetry as a public art program—poems on city buses—with a rolling poetry reading on a downtown bus route followed by a celebration and reading at Tapp’s Art Center (1644 Main).

The rolling reading will take place on route 101—so we’re calling it Poetry 101. (Clever, right?) The route, which runs up North Main from the Sumter Street transit station, takes approximately an hour. There will be limited seating, first come, first served. Three sets of poets will read their work for Poetry 101, and thanks to the generosity of One Columbia, all rides on the 101 route will be free all day. For the Poetry 101 rolling reading, meet at the Sumter Street station (1780 Sumter) at 3:30. If you can’t join us on the bus, join us at Tapp’s Art Center for the celebration, with food and drink and readings by more of the poets.

The project is a collaboration One Columbia Arts and History and the Poet Laureate with the Central Midlands Transit Authority. Thanks especially to Lee Snelgrove at One Columbia and Tiffany James at CMTA.

This is my first major project as the city’s poet laureate, and I’m really excited that we have been able to do this. One of my charges as the city laureate is to incorporate the literary arts into the daily life of the city, and to get poetry into public places. The Comet project does that. We have poems on printed CMTA bus schedules (check out some online at:, we have poems on the buses themselves, and One Columbia has also published a small book of poems selected for this project—an exciting collection of South Carolina voices, and short poems ranging from the punchy to the political to the poignant. The books will be available at Tapp’s.

Earlier this year, 89 South Carolina writers submitted over 200 poems for Poems on the Comet. Our theme was “The Story of the City,” and poets wrote about favorite places, historical events, daily life in the Midlands, even poems about riding on the bus. We narrowed it down to 51 poems by 45 writers. There are poems by established writers, emerging writers, writers active in the local spoken word and arts communities, musicians, and young writers—seven of them students in Richland and Lexington County middle schools.

At Tapp’s we will also announce the theme for next year’s poetry project.

You can find out more at our Facebook event site:

Learn more about this project and get updates on what I’m doing as laureate at the laureate website:

Here are a few poems featuring in this year’s project.


Jennifer Bartell

As a turtle suns on the boulders of the river so my soul stretches forth to face the day.

Downtown Grid

Kathleen Nalley

No matter your starting point, here you’re never lost. Each right turn, each left turn leads you to a familiar place. The city itself a compass, its needle, no matter the direction, always points you home.

Small Winds

Jonathan Butler

All morning the wind has collected the incense of fields, the smell of grass like the sweet breath of the dead, the scent of earth pungent with sorrow and hope, the perfume the rain shakes from its long hair.

The wind has collected these things in fields and forests, cities and towns, to bring them to you this morning, small winds carrying chocolate and smoke blown from the black lake of your cup of coffee.

Who Sees The City?

Drew Meetze (age 14)

Who sees the city best? The tourist, the resident, or the outsider? The tourist sees the bronze stars on the capitol, the cramped racks of key chains and postcards. The resident sees little coffee shops on Main Street and hidden alleyways. The outsider understands that everyone they see has their own lives, first loves, or tragedies.


K. LaLima

Time flows like water Eyes of Cofitachequi Watch the Congaree


Under watchful gaze Five Points remains guarded by That naked cowboy

Milltown Saltbox Bedrooms

David Travis Bland

You can dance in the passenger seat— I'll hold the wheel. Five in the morning traffic Between an emaciated bridge And chicken factory steam Blurring the red neon sky. We're vegetarians in a pork town Dancing in milltown saltbox bedrooms On the banks of a river we all cross.

Soda City Cirque - ‘Finding Elysian’ is the Cat’s Meow

Soda City Cirque 4  By Kristine Hartvigsen

It’s pretty clear that cats “own” us humans and sometimes revel in ignoring us when we’re baby-talking our best to get their attention. But imagine if the humans were to ignore a cat. And what if that cat were a neglected feline goddess from an idyllic celestial world called Elysian – a world experiencing the dire consequences of its citizens’ emotional neglect. Resolving these conflicts is the premise behind Soda City Cirque’s stunning new show “Finding Elysian.”


“Finding Elysian is about the idea of co-existing worlds and time travel,” company member Kendal Turner explains during a company rehearsal at an Irmo gym. “It’s the case of a missing cat,” Artemis, who has been stolen and carried back to Elysian, where she was the goddess ruler before she ran away, unhappy about being taken for granted.


Soda City Cirque 2

The delightful 90-minute play opens in the laboratory of scientist Tess (played by Kendal). Artemis the cat (played by Rachel Hipszer) plays on the floor while Tess conducts experiments in the hope of finding an alternate world and a vehicle for getting there. It is late, and Tess decides to go to sleep. She soon is awakened by a commotion in the other room, and she finds that Artemis is missing and there is a magic porthole now glowing from her wall. Believing she must be dreaming, Tess steps through the porthole.


What follows is a medley of discoveries accompanied by Elysians performing various vignettes that include fire-handling, trapeze, hula hoop, pole and belly dance, acrobatics, and more. Tess learns her cat’s true identity and that Artemis’s absence has created darkness and tumult where joy and love once resided. Ultimately, Tess joins forces with the Elysians to save Artemis and restore their ailing utopia.

Soda City Cirque 1

The story is loosely based on the mythical Elysian Fields, which represent paradise or heaven in Greek mythology. “We are 100 percent collaborative,” Kendal says. “Anyone in the group can introduce an idea. … We all come up with the story idea together, and I write the script. Everyone is in charge of the individual pieces that they bring to the show.”


Standout performances abound. As Artemis, Rachel Hipszer is dazzling on an apparatus called the “canes” on which she seems to defy gravity (as cats are known to do). Exemplifying polish and enormous physical strength, she executes a number of amazing moves from a handstand position atop vertical canes. She also later performs a mesmerizing aerialist routine hanging from fabric silks that descend from above.

Soda City Cirque 5

Mike Tanner, who plays Mason, makes spinning plates on a stick look easy. But his pièce de résistance defies imagination. He places three planks separated by spacers atop a single spindle, climbs on top and balances on the constantly rolling contraption while simultaneously maneuvering his body in and out of hand-held hoops. It is, truly, out of this world.


There a number of “firsts” in this – Soda City Cirque’s fourth official performance. “This is the first show when we have had multiple speaking characters,” Kendal says. It’s also the first time Soda City Cirque has had several fire performers on stage all at the same time.

Soda City Cirque 3

For this performance, the troupe is partnering with Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter and giving free tickets to children from the shelter. “It’s always fun when there are kids in the audience,” Kendal says. “And they get to experience the magic that is live theater.”


As the visionary Gidget, Elizabeth Feretti is hypnotic on the trapeze, epitomizing grace and determination high above the circus floor. As faerie Lenora, Eva Romero captivates the audience with a pole performance that celebrates feminine strength and beauty. As Celeste, Gina Wolfe performs a trapeze-like routine hanging from a hoola-hoop and also carries out an exciting piece with a flaming hoola-hoop while she is flanked by several other fire performers. There really is so much to love in this production.


Kendal is especially proud of the show’s opening act, during which six company members pull off a grand acrobatic performance, creating geometric structures with their bodies.


“We have never done that before, multi-person ‘builds,’” she says. Troupe members are regular people, and most work a full-time day job. “We are all normal people with extraordinary talents. We are normal people with normal bodies.”


It is imperative that the company continually challenge itself. “We have three new members for this show. We are trying a lot of new things. We don’t want to stagnate,” Kendal explains. “In order to get our audience to come back, we have to keep testing ourselves. … Every time we do a show, I worry that no one will come out and see it. Is anyone going to care about this as much as we do?”


In the end, Finding Elysian is about finding balance, living consciously, and celebrating diversity. “For me, it symbolizes the simple act of saying thank you,” Kendal says. “A lot of us don’t take the time to say: ‘I see you; I hear you. Thank you!’”


Finding Elysian will be presented over two consecutive weekends, September 4-5 and September 11-12 at 7:30 p.m. at Conundrum Music Hall in West Columbia. Bring a lawn chair. Tickets are $20 for general audiences and $10 for children under 10. Available for purchase online at Find Soda City Cirque on Facebook.  


Columbia Children’s Theatre’s Spaghetti and Meatball Players Stir Up Delicious Fun - Melissa Swick Ellington reviews "The Commedia Snow White"

SnowWhite-PosterWe’re smack in the middle of that sweltering heat for which Columbia is famous, so thank goodness for the cool, original commedia play at Columbia Children’s Theatre. A rollicking band of players bring to life the meaning of commedia dell’arte, or “the very creative comedy of actors,” as described by the gifted (and hilarious) director and writer Jerry Stevenson. The collaborative nature of this Italian theatre tradition soars through the vibrant efforts of an exceptionally talented cast. Melding popular culture, current news items, Broadway musicals, and classic fairy tales with high energy slapstick, the ensemble sparkles in this gem of a production. Skillfully staged by Stevenson with special commedia choreography by Cathy Brookshire, The Commedia Snow White and the Seven Dwarves features five excellent actors who play traditional commedia characters: Punchin (Paul Lindley II), Rosetta (Beth DeHart, with Kendal Turner in the role for certain performances), Pantalone (Julian Deleon), Columbine (Elizabeth Stepp),and Arlequino (Anthony Harvey). These “Spaghetti and Meatball Players” take on various roles within the story, leading to some nifty meta-theatrical moments (such as Stepp’s matter-of-fact observation on what can’t happen if she’s playing Snow White instead of another role.)


The actors capitalize on the fun interplay of the commedia characters’ tension and discord through the fairy tale framework. Lindley realizes his character’s desire to star in a musical with brilliant commitment and impressive vocals; musical theatre fans will be particularly enthralled by his Broadway mash-up. DeHart’s gift for physical comedy fuels zany sequences like an uproarious running gag with sound cues. Her wicked queen is a hoot, especially in scenes with the magical mirror (the delightful Harvey) who belts out hit singles with attitude. Harvey’s considerable talents are put to good use throughout the engaging production. In a charming performance, Deleon creates effective rapport with the audience as Pantalone the narrator. Stepp achieves both the ridiculous (in a good way) and the sublime in her hilariously enchanting portrayal of the title role. One of the veterans from past commedia productions, Stepp is a marvel onstage; you don’t want to miss her magnificent “All By Myself” breakdown among other triumphs.


Some of the wit (Voltaire, anyone?) will be over the heads of younger children, but there are plenty of jokes that land for the kids while the grownups giggle over references to Instagram, Photoshop, Divergent, and Twitter. My six-year-old loved the wordplay of homonym humor such as “hair/hare” and “pi/pie.” This is definitely a show that works on multiple levels. When Snow White can’t eat gluten or high fructose corn syrup, hilarity ensues. The ingenious staging of the seven dwarves is simply too good to describe – go see the show and be ready to laugh yourself silly.


Production design choices hit all the right notes. Ragtag patched curtains frame anappealing proscenium with simple backdrops for efficient scene changes. Costumes by Donna Harvey and Stevenson evoke the stock commedia characters vividly while also giving a nod to contemporary figures such as a certain well-known animated female mouse. Extraordinary attention to detail went into the sound design (Stevenson) and operation (Jim Litzinger), and David Quay provides effective light board operation. Stage manager Crystal Aldamuy must possess superb organizational skills to keep track of all the mayhem this production instigates.


These actors are quick-witted, clever, and multi-talented (singing, dancing, the ability to turn awesome cartwheels in a big puffy princess gown...) They are also experts at connecting with the child audience members who seek autographs after the show. I continue to be impressed by how the CCT performers relate to individual kids. It is no small feat to deliver a raucous performance and immediately thereafter exude kindness and intuitive understanding of young people.

The only thing I’d like more than attending a performance of The Commedia Snow White and the Seven Dwarves? Watching what must have surely been a laugh riot of a rehearsal and development process. CCT has produced commedia offerings for five consecutive summers; let’s hope for more delicious fun in future from the Spaghetti and Meatball Players.

~ Melissa Swick Ellington


Show Times:

Friday, June 20: 8:00 p.m. Late Night Date Night for Mom and Dad Saturday, June 21: 10:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. Sunday, June 22: 3:00 p.m

Weekday matinees (perfect for day cares & camps):

Thursday, June 19, 10:30 a.m.

Thursday, June 26: SOLD OUT Thursday, July 10: 10:30 a.m. Thursday, July 17: 10:30 a.m. Thursday, July 24, 10:30 a.m.

Call 691-4548 to reserve seats for your campers at a discounted group rate.

For more information, visit


"Puss in Boots" is the cat's meeow! A review of the new show at Columbia Children's Theatre

boots1 Columbia Children’s Theatre brings back a hit play from their very first season, and audiences will enjoy a wild and clever journey with the current production of Puss in Boots. The lively tale chronicles the adventures of a suave cat and his master Tom as adapted from the original Perrault story by director Jerry Stevenson. In Stevenson’s version, Puss and friends cavort through the Old South, complete with lavish costumes and splendid scenic elements. Cast and crew deliver high quality performances at CCT, and this solid production is no exception. Children will enjoy sassy Puss in Boots and his companions, relishing the rollicking slapstick humor and broad characterizations, while adults will snicker (and snort, truth be told) over the more sophisticated wordplay.

Columbia’s beloved storyteller Darion McCloud played the title role at the performance I attended. His infectious charisma infuses the character with irresistible charm and saucy swagger. With McCloud at the helm, the entire cast achieves energetic commitment and memorable magnetism. In the central role of Tom, Paul Lindley II creates an appealing character that pursues “riches beyond compare” through a riotous escapade guided by the wily Puss in Boots. Along the way, the pair encounters a vivid assortment of villains and heroes portrayed by top-notch actors, including Denzel Devereaux (Lee O. Smith), Miss Sassafrass St. Simmons (Toni V. Moore), Prissy Pat (Elizabeth Stepp), Voodoo Vickie (Kendal Turner), and Governer O’Grovener (Julian Deleon). Matt Wright and Stepp deliver memorable performances as Tom’s dim-witted brothers Buford and Shuford. Bonita Peeples plays the role of Puss in Boots at certain shows, and her captivating portrayal of several other parts in the performance I attended suggests her certain success in the title role.

(L-R) Julian DeLeon, Darion McCloud, Paul Lindley II

Stevenson (Director) and Evelyn Clary (Assistant Director) have crafted a strong production that looks great and will “wow” audiences. Clever staging, inventive scenic design, and impressive costumes invite viewers into an entertaining version of the Old South. Donna Harvey and Stevenson achieve considerable success with costume design and construction, particularly with many actors playing more than one role. Crew members pull off a complicated production with nary a hitch, thanks to stage manager Crystal Aldamuy and light board operator David Quay.

Julian DeLeon and Darion McCloud

While physical humor abounds in this production, the cunning use of words provides much hilarity as well. McCloud’s rapid delivery of a speedy recap of the entire plot is astonishing. Word-based jokes (“catastrophe,” “catapult,” “catwalk”) appeal to viewers of all ages. During the “chipmunk” sequence, my preschooler laughed himself silly; the kid actually exhausted himself with full-on belly laughs. (Go see the show and you just might do the same.) As the actors keep young audiences engaged with visual surprises, they also challenge children’s minds with thought-provoking words. My six-year-old guffawed at wordplay with “Grovener” and “red rover,” while her parents chuckled at Gone with the Wind references. The convoluted plot can be a bit perplexing to follow, especially during the fast-paced conclusion, but this will not diminish audience affection for Puss in Boots.

Opportunities for audience involvement include children providing Puss and Tom with “gifts for the Governor” as well as more informal moments, such as an onstage drum roll that inspired my four-year-old son to join in with his own impromptu drumming. After a vibrant performance, actors demonstrate admirable energy when interacting with the young audience members during the post-show autograph session. (This “meet and greet” opportunity has become such a highlight for my kindergartener that she now proclaims “Time to get autographs!” during every curtain call.)

Check out Puss in Boots and add a delightful spark of warmth and laughter to your winter weekend. At CCT, theatre artists love kids, and they inspire kids to love the art of theatre. Visit for ticket information; the show runs through Sun. Feb. 16.

~ Melissa Swick Ellington

Book Review -- John M. Starino: The Phoenix Returns

I moved to Columbia in 2006 by way of Ithaca, NY. Ithaca is a place where hippies are alive and well, not just in attire but in politics. Children protest the asphalt invasions of their favorite parks and being a vegan isn’t viewed as some passing college phase. In other words, it’s a bit different from our dear ole Soda City. In an attempt to reacquaint myself with this sometimes artistically challenging locale I scoured the Free Times for any familiar outlet I could plug my live wire self into. My “lights from heaven” moment came in the form of a tiny little ad under the literary column announcing a weekly open mic. A number was printed below. I had recently graduated with a degree in creative writing and thought reading poetry was just the greatest. This might be the perfect way to shake hands with my new hometown. I called the number.


“Umm hi, I was calling in regards to the posting for the open mic?”

“Yes! It’s a group called Phoenix Tongue that meets every Wednesday night at 9pm at The Red Tub in West Columbia. Are you a poet?”

“Sort of. I just moved here and wanted to try something new.”

“Well, then we’ll see you Wednesday.”

I have an awful memory but that’s about the way it went. What I thought was the number for the bar itself turned out to be the cell of Phoenix Tongue’s master chief, John M. Starino aka SilDag or Silver Dagger. In the world of spoken word poetry stage names are very important. They let the audience know what to expect before you even begin to speak. John Starino has a very distinct way of speaking. You won’t forget the first place you met him and you won’t ever mistake him for anyone else ... except maybe Castro. He looks a LOT like Castro. Artistically scruffy salt and pepper beard, vivid blue eyes and a knowing grin. His typical attire includes a well worn hat, a blazer, and jeans. He appears, for lack of a better term, like a poet. A Bukowski/Ginsburg love child with enough grace and passion for his art to keep him from seeming ungrateful. A character. An individual.

John is the reason I became a part of Columbia’s poetry community. He took me to my very first slam and introduced me to my current friends and mentors. He told me that I did not suck and encouraged me to dream big. But most of all, to keep moving forward. To John everything is possible. He successfully ran Phoenix Tongue at the Red Tub for over two years. An event that started at 9pm but would typically continue until the wee hours of the morning. I remember Thursdays at work were always a bit rough but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Poetry was alive there. It was lovely and ugly and sweaty. Full of heat and life. John ran it like a well oiled ship, one careful hand always on the wheel, while the other wove the stories of his life. I had no idea poetry could be so honest.

Since the Red Tub’s closing, an event much mourned by all, John has held Phoenix Tongue in several locations throughout Columbia and Lexington. Each boasting a different vibe but all saturated in the air of art and sharing. This is what John is. This is what John does. He creates opportunities to share your voice, tell your story, and scream outside your pillow. His new event, “The Library Series,” is held Thursday nights at Cafe Chartier in the Old Mill in Lexington. It is currently on summer vacation but will be back again in the fall. Join John for a cup of coffee and a poem or two. It may well be the first step on a long and lovely journey towards self discovery.

As no journey is complete without a souvenir, John’s newest collection of poetry, Onion Season, Pt.1 is now available online through,, and the Columbia Writer’s Alliance online bookstore at He emphasizes that it is though his membership with Columbia Writers Alliance that this publication was possible due largely to the support of its founder, Jerlean S. Noble, as well as its offering of various workshops. John is heading off on tour this summer along with another local legend, THE Dubber, but will be back in July to shine his light on Columbia. John M. Starino is a poetic figurehead and someone worth knowing. Next time you run into him buy a book, shake his hand and ask about a certain “beer poem.” Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

-- Kendal Turner

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.



Jasper Presents Wet Ink Poetry Series with Kendal Turner

A message from your host ...

I believe that art all comes from the same place. Somewhere between the backs of your eyes and the spot where the stars touch the moon. A safe atmosphere full of inspiration, know how, and elbow grease. I want to create a space where all artists can commune with one another. Where a poet can write along to the sound of violins being played while an artist illustrates the way a dancers feet whisper across the floor. This is the environment Jasper wants to establish with its new poetry series, Wet Ink.

When a poet reads a poem for the first time they call it "wet ink." Brand new work never before heard. Art not shared is lonely. When we present our gifts, that's when the seed is planted. Because not only do you share your soul with others but you influence others to do the same. That small seed will germinate in many hearts and you will see a garden of creativity blossom from the influence.

Wet Ink will rotate throughout various art spaces in Columbia the 4th Sunday of every month. This will allow participants to see and feel a different visual atmosphere every time they attend. We encourage all to come and participate. No judgement, no competition, no rules. Just by showing up you have already succeeded.

I want established artists to mentor the new voices emerging in our community and I want everyone to walk away feeling that their body of work has grown, even if only by a single stroke. Join Jasper this Sunday, the 22nd, at the Tapp's Art Center from 7-9 pm as we premier an event like no other.

Without limitations... how far can you soar?

-- Kendal Turner

Visit the Wet Ink Facebook page by clicking this magic spot.



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.)



Writing about creating & Poetic Awakenings -- A (particularly lovely) Guest Blog by Kendal Turner

Poetic Awakenings is a journey.
It is a chance to take risks and to grow deeper within yourself. I have been hosting open mics and other poetry related events for 5 years now. I love the energy that people share with one another when presenting their work. Poetry, short stories, comedy sketches, songs, dances, play excerpts, etc, these are all ways of putting light into the world or relieving pain from ourselves. No effort is too small and I love giving people the opportunity to share their voices.The concept for Poetic Awakenings came to me after a conversation with a dear friend and fellow poet. I was asking why I hadn't heard any new work from him lately and he looked down, saddened, and shared that he believed he'd forgotten how to write. The muse had dumped him. I was shocked. This once prolific writer was stuck in a sea empty of words. A sea that I had found myself drowning in one too many times. Sometimes we isolate ourselves from the truth, believing that our experience is unique unto us, everyone else is doing "it" right. So silly of me. Humans are so closely woven together we are almost touching at all times. Artists are no different. We become bogged down in expectations and forget how to breathe around our creations. We gasp and struggle and suddenly this art thing... isn't so fun anymore.Sometime must be done! How do we quench the creative drought? The answer was so simple I almost tripped on it. We just do. We pick up our pen, our brush, our shoes, our voice, and we use them. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece every time. It's exercise. You sweat and curse and say you'll never do it again but everyday you come back because you know, in the end, it will make you stronger.

I have created a space for artists, especially writers, to go back to school. Like a traditional open mic, anyone can come, sign up, and read what they have brought. It's a pretty simple format: put your name on a list and you will be called to read in order. Art Bar is a free speech venue so, you can say whatever the hell you want. Each poet is allotted approximately 5-7min to share their work. If time allows they are more than welcome to sign up again later in the night. Unlike a traditional open mic there is also an educational aspect. Paper and pens are on every table. Some of the pages contain quotes or words of inspiration. These are to be used as "prompts" to create a new piece of work. I also lead breathing exercises and ask questions that participants are asked to respond to in their journals. No one is made to share what they've written, but many do. My only rules are:

1. Clap for everyone,
2. Respect the Mic (meaning give the speaker your full attention) and
3. Write at least one new sentence. That's it.

I'm not big on production but instead like to create a room full of peace and creativity. I'm scaled down and I'm humble but each new poet who gets up to the mic for the very first time sets my heart on fire. I am so in love with this art form and, as long as I'm able, will be bringing it to the community as a whole. Whether you're a page poet, a spoken word artist, a slam poet, an emcee, or a barista with a collection of sonnets written on the back of receipts, there is something for you at Poetic Awakenings. I am by no means an expert at anything but I do know what I love and more than anything I love seeing artists come out of their creative winters, place pen to page, and bloom.

-- Kendal Turner


A message from Cindi about Kendal Turner, Pink Power, Virginia Scotchie & Gallery V, Al Black, USC Dance & Stacey Calvert, Corey Hutchins,Wade Sellers, Passing Strange & it's Art

Dear Friends, A few things are coming up this week that might fall under your radar but you probably don't want to miss. Let's take a look.

On Tuesday night at the Art Bar, spoken word poet Kendal Turner -- yes, the same amazing lady who put together the All Woman Entourage for the release of Jasper #4 the Pink Power Issue last week -- will be presenting Poetic Awakenings. Here's what Ms. Turner posts about the event on Facebook:

"This is a place for everyone. To share, to listen, to write their next big masterpiece. This is where to go when you're not sure where to turn. A peaceful refuge in the back room of a bar that's been the safe haven for many weary wanderers. Join me for VerseWorks at the Art Bar for an open mic like no other. I invite you to share what's in your heart and open to the highest form of grace. Art is the backbone of the universe and we, we are the architects." -- K. Turner

To RSVP for this event and for more information click the magic button. And to read more of Ms. Turner's impetus for creating this event, look for a blog post in the next day or so.


On Thursday night, a new gallery space is opening in 5 Points and, as you know, Jasper is all about finding more and more walls for all the art being generated in our town. This is Virginia Scotchie's gallery and she's calling it Gallery V - Contemporary Art and Fine Craft. Her first show is called "10 Women in Clay" and it features work by Isabelle Caskey, Heyley Douglas, Laura VanCamp, Virginia Scotchie, Allison Brown, Frieda Dean, Katherine Radomsky, Emily Russell, Brittany Jeffcoat, and Kristina Stafford.

Gallery V (as in 5) is located just above Good for the Sole shoes at 631-D Harden Street in Columbia. Opening reception hours are from 5 until 8. For more info or to RSVP, your magic button is here.

We'd also like to plug the newest issue of the magazine, Jasper #4, in which Ms. Scotchie wrote the guest editorial. Turn to the back of the mag and give it a read, please.


Two fine arts events will be happening at the same time on Friday night -- a problem Columbia rarely used to have, but which we seem to be plagued with now. I complain about this a lot myself, but it's a purely selfish complaint. If we lived in NYC or Seattle or Boston, we would  have long ago become accustomed to making choices of what arts events to attend on any given evening. This is something artists and arts lovers have to get used to if we're going to live in an arts hub like Columbia, SC. (For more on this, please refer to the recent Facebook exchange between myself and local poet Al Black that I have posted below.)*

At 7 pm on Friday, the USC Dance Company once again presents the Stars of the New York City Ballet at the Koger Center for the Arts.  I've written a piece on this for the Free Times, so I'll leave you to read that on Wednesday. (And, by the by, big props to Free Times for taking home a boatload of awards from the SC Press Association -- the SCPA paid for a portion of my undergrad tuition so I am still a fan -- and especially to Corey Hutchins of the Free Times for being named SC Journalist of the Year.)

But in the meantime, please know that to say that Stacey Calvert, former soloist with the NYC Ballet, has changed the face of ballet in Columbia, SC is no exaggeration whatsoever. I am overwhelmed by the misinformation being tossed around out there concerning who knows what about ballet in this city. If anyone really wanted to know what the bottom line on professional ballet is, rather than asking those who try to preserve their ephemeral positions of authority simply by clinging to the long gone skirt-tails of long dead people, they would ask Stacey Calvert. Read about her on page 42 of Jasper #4 and be aware that if we don't keep this woman in Columbia by giving her a position of real authority in which she can use her talent and her connections to put Columbia on the map for professional ballet, then this will be a shameful and disastrous loss -- as well as a likely remnant of the internecine conflicts mentioned in * below.


Also on Friday night, The rock musical Passing Strange opens at Trustus Theatre. I hope you've been reading and hearing about this performance and the collaboration between Jasper and Trustus as we brought 10 local artists together to create the set of the musical. We previewed the art last Friday and were treated to another magnificent example of what happens when artists from different disciplines come together to cooperate and inspire one another. (See photo below.) Now you have the opportunity to see the art on the stage. The show opens on Friday night and runs through April 14th. For ticket info punch here.


On Saturday, March 24th, local filmmaker Wade Sellers will be premiering his new film Lola's Prayer at the Expecting Goodness Short Film Festival in Spartanburg, SC. Mr. Sellers shared a guest blog with us previously. It's not that far to Spartanburg -- and if you're brave you can go early and eat at the Beacon. The festival starts at 7 and is only $5 -- but is expected to sell out, as well it should. I hope you'll join me in representing Columbia and supporting Mr. Sellers and his fine cast of Columbians who are in this film.


*Finally, here's a cut and pasted copy of the exchange between Mr. Black and myself from Facebook -- we'd love to know what you think, Columbia.

The first lines are from Al Black --

My thoughts on the 'Poetry Community' & the 'Arts Community' in general:We should stop looking at the 'Columbia Arts Community' as a pie and that the more artists and arts events the smaller our piece of pie.The 'Columbia Arts Community' is a fabulous psychedelic mushroom and when people bite off a piece spores are released into the atmosphere and mushrooms start popping up in more locations and more minds are fed.

The more we share the faster our crop grows & spreads - the potential is endless not finite.

With Warm Regards,

Albee In Wonderland Jefferson Starship once sang, "Feed your head!"

· · Thursday at 4:00pm

  • You and 3 others like this.
    • Jasper Magazine - The Word on Columbia Arts At Jasper, we couldn't agree more. And not to get all socio-political on a perfectly pleasant Sunday afternoon, but there is something to be said for the theory that internecine competition once held our fine burg back -- too much energy spent hating and not enough invested in supporting our sisters and brothers in the arts. As we grow in numbers, we grow in strength and power and visibility. We can become an arts destination by growing our arts community exponentially and via multi-disciplinary patronage.


Thanks for reading this far. Have a great week in the arts, my friends.





                         ~~ Cindi

Sometimes it's all I think about, too.

Jasper is hosting the upstairs performance space in the Olympia Room at this year's What's Love evening of art and performance on Feb 14 at 701 Whaley.  We've got Shane Silman, Andrew Quattlebaum, and Alex Smith recreating the Beat poets, NiA Theatre Company offering a little teaser of a play, some poets and slammers, some short films, a freaky cool little installation of altered dolls by Susan Lenz, and Dr. Sketchy.

And one of the really cool things that Jasper Magazine is doing for this year's will be a little chapbook of sexy, quirky poems about love, sex, and technology.  The theme of this year's event is "input/output," so we invited poems and fiction writers to submit poetry and flash fiction that addressed love and sex and especially the ways that technology has changed our emotional and sexual relationships.  We got about 130 submissions from 40 SC writers.  There were text message poems, Skype poems, poems about voicemail and sexting, telephones and digital cams and iphones, a faux blog by a teenage girl, and story written in Facebook posts.  Girl crushes, long-distance calls, a Grindr post, lights left on all night--oh, and a lurker.  And we narrowed it down to 17 powerful, punchy little pieces.

Poets included are:  Ray McManus, Betsy Breen, Eric Kocher, Carol Peters, Worthy Evans, Nicola Waldron, Julie Bloemeke, Dustin Brookshire, Daniel Nathan Terry, Kristine Hartvigsen, Kendal Turner, Lauren Wiggins, Libby Swope Wiersema, Ed Madden, and Barbara G S Hagerty, as well as a poignant little bit of flash fiction by Carl Jenkinson.

The book is published thanks to Jasper and to Hip-Wa-Zee.


Jasper's Ghost Story Salon at 701 Whaley = Scarily Fun

The Jasper family has been busy of late putting together the finishing touches on your next issue of the magazine, but we took some time to celebrate All Saint's Eve by staging a Ghost Story Salon on Halloween night as part of the 701 Whaley amazing Halloween Costume party staged by Tracie Broom and Debi Shadel of Flock and Rally.  We were fortunate to have some of the most talented story tellers in the community share their gifts of conjuring up a mood with us. Sometimes it was a little hard to hear, but it was always a lot of fun. Have a look below at the tellers of the tales.

Coralee Harris