Rosewood Arts Festival, After the Rain, Celebrates 5th Year This Sunday, Oct. 25th

Tom Hall & the Plowboys performing at Rosewood Arts Festival by: Jasper Intern Jake Margle

After a necessary rain check, the Rosewood Arts Festival will be back at Rockaway’s this Sunday, October 25. Hurricane Joaquin may have put a damper on spirits, but with the return of the sun comes Columbia’s much-loved, family-friendly arts festival, back for its fifth year and better than ever.

This year’s festival will have all of the familiar elements that made past festivals such a hit. With around 100 artists booth expected to fill the Rockaway’s parking lot, there is sure to be an eclectic mix of work to view and purchase, all the while keeping the intimate feel that has put the Rosewood Arts Festival at the top of local arts supporter’s favorite annual events.

New for this year is a literary section set to feature 15 authors, including the work of Robert Ariail, a prominent political cartoonist whose work is featured regularly in The State.

The festival makes good on its promise to features artwork of all types. This year the Columbia Children’s Theatre will be performing Pinocchio, sure to keep those performing arts lovers in the crowd happy.

Festival regular and Lexington local “Abstract” Alexandra will be returning once again with her unique brand of contemporary paintings and sculptures. She’s been featured in the festival since its first year and is pleased to see it stick to its roots while also growing.

“I love how every year they get new collectors and performances to come,” she said. “There’s always something new to see.”

In five years the festival has grown steadily out of the single parking lot behind Rockaway’s, where they had just a few booths and one stage. The growth has been far from explosive, but Festival Director Arik Bjorn thinks that its small size is part of the allure.

“The point of the festival has always been to be a family-friendly, pro-artist, pro-patron festival,” Bjorn said. “We’ve got a community that really likes art. We’ve got Shandon right over here and other neighborhoods that really aid in that community feel.”

Patrons and artists alike benefit from the intimacy of the event. Entering a booth in the festival only costs the artist $30, less than half of what other festivals charge. The public pays nothing to enter, an aspect that Bjorn thinks inspires more people to attend and may increase the likelihood that they will purchase a piece.

“They do a very good job at organizing,” Alexandra said. “Artists, we’re marathon runners. We have to create the art and then set up this little retail outlet and fix that up, we do so much work already. Arik and all the volunteers pick up any slack and offer so much help, and that means a lot to the artist.”

The question on everyone’s mind is, will the festival expand past its current state?

“Oh no, it will always be here,” Bjorn said. There are plans to make room for more booths in the surrounding areas, but Rockaway’s will always be its home.

“We do this so artists can showcase their wares and make it worth their while,” Bjorn said. “We’re very content right now just to grow at the speed that we are.”

Music at the Rosewood Arts Festival by Annie Brooks

rosewood arts fest 2014 The Rosewood Arts Festival is a day of family friendly fun centered around the celebration of music and art. Hosted by Rockaway’s Athletic Club, the festival is in its fourth consecutive year. From 10 am to 6 pm there will be two stages featuring music from various genres. This year has gathered Chase Asmer, Dreher High School Chorale, Tom Hall and the Plowboys, the SC Philharmonic Orchestra Musicians, and the Tonya Tyner Trio. There will be something for every ear to enjoy.

Of the musical talents he has brought together to perform at the festival, creator Arik Bjorn said, “I know one thing, and that’s that this is the best group of Columbia musicians and entertainers you’re going to find in a single place on a single day this year.”

The various musical groups participating are just as passionate about the event.

The SC Philharmonic has been a returning presence to the festival. This year they will be represented by two small ensembles on either stage; a string quartet and a wind duo. Executive director Rhonda Hunsinger said, “We are excited that the SC Philharmonic has been a part of the Rosewood Arts Festival since its inception. The festival has done a wonderful job of making sure a wide variety of musical genres is represented, from contemporary to classical. The Festival gives the SC Phil a great opportunity to share classical music with the public, and introduce it to those who may not have ever attended an SC Phil performance.”


Tonya Tyner

This will be the second year that Tonya Tyner has played with a group for the festival. She is proud to be a returning artist to a festival that brings so many different components of the arts community together. Thrilled with the group she has joining her, Tonya will play guitar, along with Brodie Porterfield, and L.J. Errante on the mandolin. All of their songs are original and offer a folky bluegrass vibe. Tonya also offered that the festival is a great way to meet the artists and discuss their art.


It is not often that one is given access to such rich talent for no cost of admission. The Rosewood Arts festival is a wonderful opportunity to be submersed in local art and music. There will be entertainment all day with crafts, face painting, and good food as well. It is a free event cohosted by Rockaways Athletic Club and the Trenholm Artist Guild, held at Rockaways (2719 Rosewood Drive) on September 20th from 10 am to 6 pm.


Coloring the City: The Rosewood Arts Festival by Haley Sprankle

Artist - Justice Littlejohn Throughout history, art has defined culture.  Art exhibited the grandeur of empires and kingdoms, depicting their great struggles and triumphs.  Art evolved over time through different techniques and perspectives.  Art brought people together and encouraged community.

Four years ago, Arik Bjorn and Forest Whitlark spawned an idea to create an artistic festival that would bring the community together to celebrate local artists’ work, and so the Rosewood Arts Festival was born. “Our intent from day one has been to create a family-friendly, easily accessible arts festival, which is why we don’t charge admission and only charge a nominal fee for booth,” Bjorn says.

For many local artists, fees play a great deal into whether or not they can afford to showcase their work in festivals such as this one.  Fortunately, the low fees and the wonderful time of year creates the perfect environment for this festival.

Artist - Abstract Alexandria

“He [Bjorn] told me about it and I immediately thought it was a great opportunity for me to share my creations.  It’s the perfect time of year to be outside among so many talented folks from all creative outlets,” local painter Justice Littlejohn says.  “I am looking forward to being surrounded by so much creative energy and hopefully meeting some new friends.”

With over 100 different artists being featured in this festival, tremendous diversity is featured in the artwork.  Artist Sean McGuinness, or That Godzilla Guy, adds an eccentric twist to his photography by featuring Godzilla in his work. “My artwork is very eclectic, but it is also focused, unique, and enthusiastic.  I bring art appreciation through Godzillafication.  Whereas other artists use charcoal or paint, I use photography and toys,” McGuinness says.

Artist - Charles Hite

As art shapes and influences the community, the community also shapes and influences art.  Local photographer Charles Hite only began taking photos seriously around 2009 and gained an appreciation for the world around him. “Although I’ve seen a lot of changes around here, I’ve been guilty of rushing by things, not paying attention or taking things for granted. In the last 20 years or so, I’ve come to deeply realize we have beauty all around us, and I have a greater appreciation and contentment of my surroundings,” Hite says.  “I hope my photos will encourage people to take a pause, become curious and go out, and experience some of the beautiful and interesting places we have here in the Midlands and across our beautiful state.”

While some artists have hopes of prompting the community to be more involved or influencing the way they view their lives, painter Abstract Alexandra has simpler goals. “I hope my art will bring a bit of color and joy that others may hang on their wall and enjoy for years to come,” Alexandra says.

The festival is cohosted by Rockaways Athletic Club and the Trenholm Artists Guild and will be held at Rockaways (2719 Rosewood Drive) on September 20 from 10 am to 6 pm.  In its fourth consecutive year, the festival has more than doubled its featured artists, making more art directly available to the public while also allowing artists to put themselves out there.  Come on out to experience some color, live music, and great food!

Rosewood Arts Festival -- by Deborah Swearingen

rosewood 2013 “Let’s start an arts festival.” These simple words came in the form of a bold proposal over drinks by local writer Arik Bjorn and Rockaways owner Forest Whitlark a little over three years ago. Out of this, a day filled with affordable artistic fun evolved.

The third annual Rosewood Arts Festival will be held Saturday, September 28th at 2719 Rosewood Drive, on the grounds of Rockaways, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Co-hosted by the Trenholm Artists Guild (TAG) and Rockaways Athletic Club, the festival features art in a variety of forms, including but certainly not limited to painting, jewelry, ceramics, and fabric art. As the festival has grown, more eccentric forms of art have been introduced. This year’s addition? Garbage art.

“Our vision has always been to have a neighborhood festival that benefits the artist,” said Bjorn, co-founder of the festival. For this reason, the Rosewood Arts Festival is affordable for vendors and free of charge for attendees.

Entertainment has always been integrated into the day, and this year, South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra Musicians, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company, Tonya Tyner & Friends, Tom Hall & the Plowboys and several student groups are performing, along with a variety of other acts.

tom hall at rosewood

Competitions are held each year; one for best art and one for best booth but arguably the most well known – the Paint-A-Cheeseburger challenge. $150 is the going prize for the artist who can create the most impressive cheeseburger. In years past, painted cheeseburgers have been the only art form competing for the prize, but both gourd and ceramic cheeseburgers will be entering the mix this year.

The festival is sponsored by the City of Columbia, The State, Pepsi, US Foods, First Citizens Bank and Beverage South.

To find out more, visit “Rosewood Arts Festival” on Facebook.

-- Deborah Swearingen, Jasper Intern

Rosewood Arts Festival This Saturday

  The second annual Rosewood Arts Festival, presented by the Trenholm Artists Guild, will take place on Saturday, September 29th from 10 am until 6 pm at 2719 Rosewood Drive, in the parking lot of Rockaways. Featuring visual arts galore – think ceramics, painting, fiber arts, print making, furniture making, photography, and more – the festival will also serve up live music performances ranging from the classical, courtesy of members of the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra, to the next-door neighbor kind, courtesy of Tom Hall and the Plowboys. Even the South Carolina Shakespeare Company will perform.

As an homage to host Rockaways, visual artists are invited to enter the Paint - a - Cheeseburger  competition with the winning painting being awarded $150 on the day of the festival. Artists who display may submit their paintings on festival-day morning. Entries will be displayed as a group and the winning entry will be on display at Rockaways for one year.  Even if you aren’t an artist yourself, come out and offer your appraisals of the cheeseburger art and take home a selection or two from the myriad other artists and arts venders on hand.

Artists participating include but aren't limited to -- Abstract Aleandra, Stacy Baker, Ellen Baskin, Kimberly Bookman, Mark Conrardy, Tamara Day, Sara Grace, Michael Krajewski, Dave Phillips, Lucas Sams, John Williams, the USC Art Department -- and many, many more!

The Trenholm Artists Guild (known locally as TAG) is located in Columbia, South Carolina. Members include, but are not limited to, amateur and professional artists who work in watercolor, oil, acrylics, pastel, sculpture, fiber, and photography. Residents of the Greater Columbia area over 18 years of age are invited to join. Meetings are held monthly September through May on the 2nd Monday of the month at Forest Lake Park, 6820 Wedgefield Road. Visitors are invited to attend the meetings.

For more information on the Rosewood Arts Festival, please contact David Phillips at 796-3352 or Karen Jamrose at 790-5224. For more information about TAG, please call Mary Lou Benton at 776-3839.