The Best of Figure Out 2016

It's part of the changing seasons. As people all over Columbia anxiously await the suspension of the heat index and a reason to put on more clothes, Planned Parenthood Health Systems sponsors an exhibition at Tapp's Arts Center in which all the subjects of the art take them off. It's no secret; Figure Out, which just finished its 4th iteration at Tapp's Arts Center, is one of Jasper's favorite yearly exhibitions. And though the show came down this weekend, the art will linger on in our memories and on some of our walls.

But if you missed it, here are just a few of Jasper's favorite pieces from Figure Out 2016.

Kristi Berry

Lauren Chapman

Lauren Chapman - detail

Lyon Hill

Ansley Adams

Will South

Billy Guess

Kim Fabio

Anne Marie Cockrell

 

Until next year.

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Cartoonist Tommy Bishop Returns to Columbia to Launch First Book

TOMMY a

"Albert the Appleworm absolutely adores accounting."

~~~

When he left for the West Coast in 2008, cartoonist Tommy Bishop left his mark on Columbia via quirky album cover creations and his unique brand of almost otherwordly illustrations. After much encouragement, the artist is finally releasing his first book of drawings, and he's starting simple -- simply creepy, simply bizarre, simply strange. The Incredibly Strange ABCs by Tommy Bishop is a children's book with illustrative art adults are going to both appreciate and get a kick out of sharing with their children.

A two-part book launch that has every member of the family covered is going down on Sunday, September 18th, and like Bishop's work, it'll take you for a ride.

At 3 pm, bring the little ones to Tapp's Arts Center where they can (literally) sit at the artist's feet as he reads to them with musical accompaniment from Reno Gooch, and then enjoy a cookie and lemonade reception while Bishop signs copies of The Incredibly Strange ABCs for the children.

Then return at 7 pm (sans children) for a launch party with performances from Boo HagLos Perdidos, and Jackson Spells -- a cash bar, snacks, and continued signing of The Incredibly Strange ABCs. Ten dollars admission includes price of book, concert, and launch party. Afternoon attendees who purchase a book will receive a voucher for admission to the concert and launch party on Sunday night, and the publisher will provide a convenient signing and storage system so patrons won't have to pick up their purchases until the end of the evening.

An art poster from the archives created by artist and author, Tommy Bishop.

Bishop is looking forward to returning to his old stomping ground where he left his mark on Columbia's media art scene. "I used to put out music zines, bootleg comps, and a music blog under the name Force of a Revolving Toilet," Bishop says. But he may be best remembered around Columbia for creating art-inspired album covers for such bands as the Unawares, Boo Hag, Los Perdidos, and more.

Album cover for The Unawares created by Bishop.

The 36 year old cartoonist wrote and illustrated The Incredibly Strange ABCs as both a gift for and a way of sharing his art with his 17-month-old daughter, says Bishop, who is expecting another daughter with his wife, Nassim Lewis, later this year.

A founding member of the Greater Columbia Society for the Preservation of Soul, as well as the Christmas in July celebration at The Whig, Bishop returns from his current home in Portland, Oregon, after a stint in California, to a number of friends and family members who look forward to his visit and the launch of his first book.

GCSPS

"Tommy was in attendance for our very first live performance and approached us asking if he could design our flyers. We agreed, but could not ever have imagined the visual/design creative brilliance that was to follow for the duration of The Unawares run," says James Wallace, formerly of the Unawares. "That run included hand inked covers for three CD's, one LP, and dozens of flyers. A newly designed flyer for each show. He refused payment for his generosity, so we sent him steaks and whisky to show our deep appreciation for who we referred to as 'Our Genius.' We had folks interested in our music just from seeing his artwork. Thank you, Tommy Bishop!"

Musician and long-time friend Scott Tempo agrees. "I've watched Tommy create state of the art work for about 20 years now. I've seen how he labors for hours over the smallest details. I've always been a big fan and have come to Tommy numerous times for band artwork over the years. He's always delivered unique pieces that stand out above the crowd,” says Tempo, whose band Boo Hag is one of three bands playing for the book launch concert. “To be able to be a part of his book release is an honor.”

Tommy unawares art bar

An early example of Bishop's work advertises The Whig, North America's greatest dive bar located at the corner of Main and Gervais Streets in Columbia.

 

In advance praise of the publication, Julia "Liz" Elliott, author of The New and Improved Romie Futch and The Wilds, writes, "Combining the subversive silliness of underground comix with the elegant grimness of Edward Gorey, The Incredibly Strange ABCs will enchant both children and adults with addictive tongue twisters and surreal scenarios. Roused from a stupor produced by reading too many humdrum alphabet  books, parents will laugh along with their tots as they explore Bishop's absurd and wondrous world."

Filmmaker and segment director of Drafthouse Films anthology ABC's of Death 2.5, Steve Daniels, writes, "As a father of two budding weirdos, Bishop's The Incredibly Strange ABCs was a revelation; far more fun that the stuffy, homogenized alphabet books I grew up with as a kid. These strange illustrations and clever wordplay never fail to illicit giggles or downright maniacal laughter from my children. The weirder, the better, and this book has it covered."

A selection of the illustrations found in The Incredibly Strange ABCs by Tommy Bishop

Published by South Carolina boutique publishing company, Muddy Ford Press, The Incredibly Strange ABCs is being printed as a limited release and the author will be on hand at both events on the 18th to sign and personalize the book. Pre-orders are available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Tommy ABCs

Fall Lines – a literary convergence launches third issue with a reception and reading at Tapp’s Arts Center July 28th

Fall Lines  

 

The Columbia Fall Line is a natural junction, along which the Congaree River falls and rapids form, running parallel to the east coast of the country between the resilient rocks of the Appalachians and the softer, more gentle coastal plain. 


 

Jasper Magazine, in partnership with Richland Library, USC Press, One Columbia, Muddy Ford Press, and The Jasper Project will release the third annual issue of Fall Lines – a literary convergence on Thursday, July 28th from 7 – 9 pm at a free reception at Tapp’s Arts Center. An annual literary journal based in Columbia, SC, Fall Lines was conceived as a mechanism for highlighting Columbia as the literary arts capitol of South Carolina.

A panel of judges selected 30 pieces of poetry and prose, from hundreds of international submissions, for publication in Fall Lines alongside invited pieces from Ron Rash, Terrance Hayes, Pam Durban, Laurel Blossom, and Patricia Moore-Pastides. Two prizes for the literary arts, sponsored by Friends of the Richland Library, will also be awarded including the Saluda River Prize for Poetry to Kathleen Nalley for her poem, “The Last Man on the Moon,” and the Broad River Prize for Prose, awarded to Claire Kemp for her short fiction, “The Dollmaker.”  Adjudicators included SC poet laureate Marjory Wentworth and award-winning author Julia Elliott. In addition, Fall Lines will also publish the winner of the 2016 South Carolina Academy of Authors Coker Fiction Fellowship, “I Can’t Remember What I Was Trying to Forget,” by Phillip Gardner.

The awards ceremony and reception will also feature readings by selected authors whose work is published in this issue of Fall Lines: Scott Chalupa, David Travis Bland, Matthew O’Leary, Mike Miller, Claire Kemp, Kathleen Nalley. Tim Conroy, Julie Bloemeke, Eileen Scharenbroch, Jonathan Butler, and Mark Rodehorst.

The editors of Fall Lines, Cindi Boiter, Ed Madden, and Kyle Petersen, are deeply appreciative of this year’s sponsors including Jonathan and Lorene Haupt, Sara June Goldstein, Richland Library, One Columbia for Arts and History, Muddy Ford Press, Columbia Museum of Art, the SC Philharmonic Orchestra, Rosewood Art and Music Festival, Deckle Edge Literary Festival 2017, and The Whig.

For more information please contact Cindi Boiter at cindiboiter@gmail.com.

Jake Margle Offers a Run-Down on Artsy Halloween Events

The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli As Halloween approaches the Capitol City, venues and various stomping grounds are rolling out their festive best. From Columbia’s modest holes-in-the-wall to our more grandiose institutions, here are just a few of the smattering of events taking place on this Hallo-weekend.

 

The Tapp’s Center prides itself on tasteful, informing events, and their Halloween special is no different. On Friday they will be hosting Hell’s Belle’s, an event that will combine art–both visual and performing–and discussion. The evening starts at 7 and will be dedicated to exploring and showcasing the history of witchcraft, with the discussion centered around, “exploring feminine identity.” Columbia’s own Ritual Abjects will be conducting a sigil workshop and performance piece. There will be tarot and palm readings as well. Costumes are not mandatory, but encouraged. All donations from the evening will go towards the Tapp’s Nonprofit Programming and Auntie Bellum magazine, SC’s women’s magazine.

 

Toast Improv is putting on a special Halloween show, Friday at the Benson Theater. Doors open at 8:30 to a $5 cover. The show starts at 9, and according to Toast’s Facebook page, will be very “spoopy”–a term meaning comedic and spooky. Concessions will be provided, and if you know anything about Toast, so will the talent and laughs. Those weary of a cover charge will be pleased to know that all proceeds will be donated to aid the flood relief efforts in Columbia.

 

On Saturday the State Museum will again be hosting its annual Tricks and Treats gathering. If you’re looking for a more kid-friendly offering, look no further. All day the museum will be hosting a scavenger hunt, potions lab, crafts, balloon art, and a performance of “Hansel and Gretel” by the Columbia Marionette Theatre. Costumes are encouraged as well, with any child under 12 and in costume receiving $1 off admission.

 

2015 marks the fourth year of Sid & Nancy’s Halloween Explosion. A dance-filled evening starting at 8:30 on Saturday at New Brookland Tavern is sure to put anyone in a festive mood. Music will be provided by local DJ’s Alejandro Florez, Christian Barker, and QT Kapowski. Fort Psych, Columbia’s event and media gurus will supplementing the music with light displays as well. There will be a photo booth set up, so bring your costume game. The two most creative costumes will receive gift certificates to Indigo Rose Tattoo Studio, with first place winning a $100 credit, second place receiving a $60 credit. Those fearful of standing need not worry, as the “most basic” will receive a $10 gift card to Starbucks, and a $20 gift card to Target. There will be a $5 cover for those 21 and up, $10 for under 21. All proceeds will benefit Girls Rock Columbia.

 

The Whig is hosting the aptly and creatively named Whigoween Saturday at 9. Columbia’s favorite hidden gem is keeping tight-lipped on the details, but costumes are most definitely encouraged.

And there's always the Columbia City Ballet's performance of Draculapreviewed earlier this week by Alivia Seely.

-- Jake Margle

PREVIEW: Exhibition John D. Monteith and Everyone Gets Atrophy - TONIGHT

monteith 1 There is a curious beauty to the art of John D. Monteith—his models overly made-up in unnatural eye shades, lacquered lips across bared or parted teeth, breasts just so perfectly presented whether freed or restrained with what you know must be silken sashes from kimonos that at first smell of sweet woodruff or bergamot but, ultimately, when the base notes kick in, smack of ambergris. It is this kind of intrigue and promise of intoxication that crooks a cherry finger toward the viewer in Monteith’s new exhibit opening tonight at Tapp’s Arts Center as part of the city’s long-lasting First Thursday gallery crawl and celebration.

In Everyone Gets Atrophy, a provocative title that fits the exhibit only oddly, Monteith offers luscious and lustrous portraits of a half dozen or so models, going back over as many years, who appear burnished both in visage and presentation. Monteith accomplishes the effect—the sense of a fine skin on his paintings—via his use of oil on Dura-lar matte, a technique he uses almost exclusively now. “Its limits are its virtues,” the artist says of the technique, citing an appreciation for the resulting flatness and fluidity.

monteith 2

“These pieces are somewhat experimental,” Monteith says. “I like creating problems and solving them.” One problem that he recognizes, though not of his own creation, is how to create contemporary figurative work that can be provocative and reticent at the same time. How to find “infinite nuance within a finite set.”

Tonight’s opening suggests that he, in fact, knows the answer.

monteith e

It is rare for Monteith to exhibit in Columbia, but a quick look at his recent exhibition history will find his work up and down the east coast. The artist is represented by Stephen Romano Gallery in Brooklyn. Joining him in the festivities tonight for their debut performance in the Skylight Room will be James Wallace and Rob Cherry as safe_space, “an ambient industrial synthesizer percussion duo” with local band Space Coke performing in the Tapp’s Park Courtyard.

Tapp’s is located at 1644 Main Street.

- Cindi Boiter

Art Bar Rocks for the Jam Room Music Festival by Jake Margle

Art Bar Rocks The Jam Room is hosting a barbecue fundraiser this Sunday, September 13th at the Tapp’s Arts Center, with all proceeds benefiting the Jam Room Music Festival. The festival is in its fourth year and the Jam Room’s Linda Toro has hopes that the fundraiser could help double the number of attendees they had at the first festival. Toro says that the first year of the festival saw about 5,000 attendees, and she would love to see such a large increase in just four events. “We’re always hoping for more people! We’d like to see about 10,000 down on Main St. this year,” Toro says.

 

The fundraiser will be held at the tried and true Tapp’s Arts Center located at 1664 Main St. The barbecue buffet is being provided by Joe Turkaly Catering with beer and wine supplied by The Whig. Tastings will also be provided by Columbia’s own Crouch Distilling Company. Owned by Phil and Jessica Crouch, they’ve been making whiskey, bourbon, and ryes in small batches since 2014. Our non-carnivorous friends will also be catered to, with plenty of vegetarian options on the buffet.

 

Tickets are still available for the fundraiser for the price of $26.87 with all proceeds backing this year’s festival.

 

The Art Bar Rocks Lineup includes: Italo and the Passions Bully Pulpit Boo Hag Due east and more ...

Doors: 6:00 p.m.

This year’s festival is back on Main and Hampton streets with acclaimed alt-rock band Blonde Redhead head-lining for what’s always been an eclectic lineup of artists from around the southeast.

 

Eleven other bands, ranging from the blues-rock of The Distributors to Mississippi-turned-Nashvillian Cory Branan, who rides a wavering line between punk and country.

 

The JRMF has become something of a Columbia staple since its inception, and seeing as it only had 9 bands on the roster in 2012, we’re excited to see this labor of love grow steadily.

 

Here's the lowdown on this year's fest.

The Jam Room Music Festival returns to Columbia's Main Street for it's fourth year!

Don't miss South Carolina's biggest FREE music party featuring:

BLONDE REDHEAD Hiss Golden Messenger Cory Branan The Distributors Patois Counselors Junior Astronomers Rev Matthew Mickens and The Highway Travelers Debbie and the Skanks Colorblind She Returns From War Stefanie Santana Grace Joyner

Not only is this incredible all day show FREE, but admission to Columbia Museum of Art is FREE as well.

FOOD: Village Idiot Pizza and Pub The Wurst Wagen Drip on Main Happiness Bomb Boiled PNUTS Crepes & croissants KC Hotdogs Lowcountry Rocks Lobster K&K Gourmet Sweets

BEER GARDEN by @weirdbeerguysc Featuring: Palmetto Brewing Company Widmer Brothers Redhook Goose Island Kona and more.

The Limelight - A Compendium of Contemporary Columbia Authors, volume II Launches on Wednesday

limelight 2

Join Jasper Magazine and Muddy Ford Press as we celebrate the release of The Limelight: A Compendium of Contemporary Columbia Artists, volume II with readings, refreshments, and signings.

Twenty local authors and artists write about twenty other artists whose work has influenced them, inspired them -- and sometimes changed their lives.

Tapp's Arts Center

Wednesday, August 19th

7 - 9 pm

Admissions is free.

Essays by

Clair DeLune, August Krickel, Brandi Perry, Debra A. Daniel,Jennifer Bartell, Jon Tuttle, Kara Gunter, Kristine Hartvigsen, Kyle Petersen, Laurie Brownell McIntosh, Michael L. Miller, Rachel Haynie, Randy Spencer, Susan Lenz, Tom Poland, Will Garland, Susan Levi Wallach, Don McCallister, Jane Gari, and Chad Henderson

about

Cynthia Gilliam, Cassie premo steele, Drink Small "The Blues Doctor", Ed Madden, Deborah Deck, Darion McCloud Storyteller, Marion Mason, Gina Langston Brewer, Sam  Beam, Lynne Burgess, Pappy Sherill, Boyd Saunders, Carrie McCray, Wim RoefsRobert Clark, George Singleton, Ray McManus, Bentz Kirby, Jean Bourque, and Paul Kaufmann.

With cover art by Matt Catoe. Edited by Cindi Boiter. Published by Muddy Ford Press.

Artist Kendall Jason is a Different Kind of Man by Jasper intern Grace Fennell

kendall Jason dorothy  

Kendall Jason was never “one of the guys”. A wide-shouldered, burly man, one might look at Kendall and be reminded of a lumberjack or construction worker.

 

One might be wrong. Kendall Jason is the new resident artist at Tapp’s Arts Center. His work is largely a commentary on gender roles and an attempt to challenge the perception of masculinity in our society. Jason also puts a spin on the normally accepted concept of framed art, and instead channels his ideas into a combination of sculpture, drawing, video, music, and performance art. Often in Jason’s work he attempts to walk the line between hyper-masculine characters and the feminine strength, dressing up in drag in his visual art performances as well as in super masculine costumes.

 

For Jason’s latest piece, The Dorothy Project, he does away with the concept of gender and performs a visual arts piece in which he dresses as the female characters from The Wizard of Oz. The piece addresses the urban legend of a sonic connection between The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd, creating kind of a trippy, psychedelic feel. He can be seen as a man-ish disgruntled construction worker version of Dorothy, dragging large yellow cinderblocks behind him, in an attempt to re-build the yellow brick road. The idea behind it being what would it look like if he was Dorothy having to return to Oz, and rebuild the yellow brick road and bring the magic back into the bricks. The juxtaposition of the feminine characters and the “masculine” tasks creates a blur between the roles of gender.

 

Jason thoughtfully discusses his football years in college and how he enjoyed playing the game but never bought into the culture that went along with it. He could always physically compete but never felt comfortable in the role. With his long hair and alternative music, he never fit into jock culture, using music and art as his escape. It seemed to him that there was too much of one set version of “masculinity” involved in his environment. He felt that the way he looked made it very easy for him to fit in but mentally he wasn’t there at all. Jason preferred a wide variety of things. He not only enjoyed art, music, and performance, but he also had a completely different outlook on the way he wanted to act and live his life. He didn’t grow up in a household of intrinsic or enforced gender roles, and he continues that tradition with his own family. Everyone does every job in and outside of the house regardless of whether they are male or female.

 

It wasn’t until art school at NYU that Jason finally found his place when a mentor an arts professor advised him to understand the feminist tradition behind what he was doing. He needed to get to know his predecessors. This is where Jason discovered his talent and his unique way of expressing it. He honed in on identity theory and performative art and discovered how free an open one could be from social constructs.

kendall jason 2

 

Through the years, Jason has gained a wider understanding and become more free comfortable with expressing his own gender identity and opinions about the constructs of gender through his art. Often combining elements of masculine sports imagery with strong femininity, Jason questions and challenged why society so often puts women and men in such distinctly different boxes.

 

Jason’s new piece, The Dorothy Project, will open in May. Hear him speak during Peer Review at Tapp’s Art Center this Wednesday at 6 pm.

 

By Grace Fennell, Jasper intern

Come Figure Out what Tapp’s is Excited About (Nudes. It’s Nudes.)

figure out Tapps Art Center presents the second annual showing of Figure Out: A Figurative Art Show.  The show will open on First Thursday and run through Saturday, September 27.


A mix of painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and film, all of the pieces will depict the human form in one way or another.  A panel lunch on art and sexuality including artists, educators, and coalition partners will occur on Wednesday, September 17 at noon.

In addition to the artwork, the event on Thursday night will feature live music by Lindsay Holler’s Western Polaroids and an interactive drawing lesson by Said Bouftass, a Moroccan artist who studied in Paris, and is now the artist-in-residence at Redbird Studio.  Bouftass will teach participants how to do large-scale portraits, pictures larger than life-size in an effort to actually use the body while drawing it.

Opening night is September 4, 6 - 10 pm at Tapp’s Art Center on 1644 Main St.

- Kirby Knowlton

Tapp’s Art Center and Hidden Wounds Present “The Art of Healing” -- byKarla Turner, Jasper intern

Hidden wounds poster

 

 

“Not everything around me can hurt me now,” says Jim Dukes.

 

He has a powerful weapon.

 

A survivor of 12 concussions and two suicide attempts who is living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression, he learned to “turn the world around and see it through the lens of [his] camera,” and then he began to heal.

 

He is sharing his healing journey with the community in collaboration with Tapp's Art Center and Hidden Wounds, a non-profit dedicated to providing creative and artistic healing therapy for military personnel battling postwar challenges.

 

“The Art of Healing,” at Tapp’s Art Center is a unique exhibit which will feature Dukes’ work and include art by Columbia artists Heidi Darr-Hope, Lyssa Harvey, Sandra Carr, Mary How and others who have “found the benefit in using art to heal in their lives,” says Dukes.

 

As Tapp’s artist-in-residence from July through September, Dukes will assist ongoing efforts to promote healing arts programs by working with local organizations and individuals who utilize art-healing techniques.

hidden wounds 1

Steven Diaz, a USMC veteran, and the Director of Strategic Partnership for Hidden Wounds explains, “Not everyone responds to psychotherapy. Everyone is different with their healing process.”

 

The exhibit is not limited to individuals with PTSD or TBI. “People use art to heal from a variety of things. There is a wide range of people who are actually putting work in the exhibit,” says Diaz.  They are living with cancer, depression and other life-changing conditions. Work will represent a variety of mediums; including photography, mixed media, drawing, writing, and painting.

 

The exhibit opens Thursday, August 1st as part of First Thursdays on Main. It runs through the 31st.

hidden wounds 2

Selected artwork from the exhibit will be complied into a book of photos to be released and sold at a fundraiser that closes the show on August 30 at 7 p.m.  The photo book will include the participants’ experiences, as told by area writers.

 

Proceeds from admissions and artwork sales will benefit both Hidden Wounds and the Friends of the Tapp’s Arts Center, to advance healing through art.

 

“We see Tapp’s as a community center and we’re excited about the possibility to serve those individuals who seek and lead recovery through art and share examples of these proven technique with our community,” says Brenda Schwarz, executive director of Tapp’s Arts Center.

hidden wounds 3

Those interested in healing through art and participating in the program should contact Steven Diaz at Hidden Wounds at (803) 873-6540 or steven@hiddenwounds.org or Jim Dukes at (704) 840-9008.

hidden wounds 4

-- Karla Turner, Jasper intern

Mingling & Jingling at Tapp's with a different show by Suzu Scarborough

The Tapp's featured artist this month is Suzy Scarborough's and her new show "Interior Landscapes." She has many large pieces (3' x 3', 3' x 5', 4'x 6') of these surreal landscapes. Some are dyptics and triptics. Collaged backgrounds made from old books with floating islands, flowing bodies of water, and tree forms. There is also a series of ten hummingbirds on a gold leaf backgrounds. all 18" x 24"
Other Artists on the walls tonight:
Lyssa Harvey
Justin Gerive
Brandon Faucett
Dale French
Sarah Goddard
Mike Dixon
Sadia Khan
Bill Sander
And our "Handmaid Holidays" event will be in the Skyline Room and will feature crafts from local merchants. Check us out here:
For more information on Suzy Scarborough, please go to the Jasper website  and read about her in our newest issue.
blog post courtesy of Tapps Arts Center

The Twitty Triplets are back…and front and sideways -- a Guest Blog by Robbie Robertson

“It’s like doing acid while reading a Flannery O’Connor short story in a dark room, illuminated by the reflective light of a twirling disco ball.”

That was the description I recently heard by a much smarter man than myself as he summed up “The Twitty Triplets,” my upcoming musical creation presented by Trustus Theatre in the old Tapp’s Fountain Room. I think it's a compliment and plan to embrace it as such.

 

Yes, after their first performance 20 years ago, The Twitty Triplets are back— brassier, bossier and better than ever. For the uninitiated, I discovered the Twitty Triplets performing back in 1992. They were working girls, night shift operators at the old spork factory on Augusta Highway, simple triplets who dreamed of a glittery, musical future. They had just started to sing in public when I met them at the Triangle City Christmas pageant. You’ll recall town officials would transform the two-story Zesto ice cream cone into an overly large Christmas tree that served as a seasonal centerpiece for Triangle City, Gaston, and other citizens of South Carolina’s “Speed-dee” corridor.

 

I’ll never forget the Twittys when they took the stage and sang All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth wearing seasonal Bedazzled sweatshirts sponsored by Augusta Highway’s Dentures and More. It was a brilliant marketing move and I knew these girls were headed for bigger, brighter, and more legal venues. I took them on as clients right after the spork factory closed (about the time Kentucky Fried Chicken rebranded as KFC and started in house spork production).  With no day job distraction, the Twittys were free to concentrate on their music and we hit the ground running.

 

First off was an opening act for a city of Columbia Animal Shelter fundraiser, where dogs weren’t the only things howling that night. I’ll never forget when Aynor Twitty climbed up on the main dog cage to sing her rendition of  Diana Ross’ popular disco hit, Upside Down. The 13 audience members literally gasped when Aynor’s song culminated in an acrobatic move where she was indeed, held upside down, by fellow triplets Monetta and Cayce. Unfortunately, Aynor passed out from the head rush, blowing limply in the wind, until she was rushed to what was then known as Lexington Hospital and Lawnmower Repair. (She turned out fine but, to this day, Aynor cannot recall the lyrics to Upside Down and the name Diana Ross causes a severe eye twitch and throat flush.

 

But since that time, The Twitty Triplets have built a large and loyal following of nearly 36 bill collectors fans, performing their Happy Half Hour Show at Crockmeyer’s Again (the rebooted name after fire destroyed the original bar); The Blaney Drag Strip Concession Stand Show; and, of course, The Swansea Black and White Ball, (“Where ALL are welcome”).

 

The Twitty Triplets were described as a “musical melee” by late, great State reporter Jeffrey Day and, “A disco disaster that crosses the line of good taste,” by August Krickel, now the theatre editor for Jasper Magazine. And now, they stand proud, poised, and ready to perform for a brand new audience as they bring “Melodic tunes from a professional act in a casual atmosphere” to downtown Columbia in the Tapp’s Fountain Room.

With only six performances for a limited crowd of 60 lucky listeners per night, The Twitty Triplets invite you to open up a cold PBR and enjoy the musical ride, August 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 and September 1 at the Tapp’s Fine Arts Center. Cash bar opens at 7 pm each night and show begins at 8 pm. And on both Friday nights, August 24 and 31, enjoy a post show disco karaoke party. General seating for all shows! To purchase or reserve a ticket, call the Trustus Theatre box office, Tuesday – Saturday, 1-6 pm. Tickets are 15 bucks.

 

And follow The Twitty Triplets online at www.facebook.com/TheTwittyTripletsor on Twitter @TwittyTriplets.

 

(Robbie Robertson is a playwright and screenwriter, and a graduate of both the University of South Carolina as well as UCLA’s professional program in screenwriting. Robertson’s first play, Mina Tonight! was published by Samuel French Inc. and has been consistently produced in regional theatres across the nation. He brought 60s TV to life by directing a staged version of Gilligan's Island at Trustus Theatre and his screenplays have placed in several national contests. His latest—Sweet Child of Mine—was named one of the top 12 comedy scripts in the 2010 Austin Film Festival’s Screenwriting Competition. He recently completed a staged adaptation of the film Satan in High Heels and will revive one of his first theatrical productions—The Twitty Triplets—as part of Trustus Theatre’s New “Off Off Lady Street” series. He is currently developing several independent television and film projects in addition to his work as a marketing and communications consultant.)

Jasper chats with Shane Silman, Director of Plan 9 from Outer Space, Live and Undead

When Jasper walked into the back room of the Tapp's Building on a cold day in January, you could tell that, though the folks sitting behind a long folding table were quiet and contemplative, something cool was going on. We'd heard that there were to be auditions for a stage play of the absolutely horrible movie, Plan 9 from Outer Space, so we thought we'd pop in and see what was up. It was almost as cold inside as out, as Billy Guess motioned us into the space and we stood at the back for a while observing what was going on.

Behind the table in warms coats and, in a few cases hats, sat Shane Silman, Nick Dunn, Chris Bickel, and Kara Nelson. Before them a middle-aged man read from a script marked "Confidential" in red letters. Nobody looked impressed. (He didn't make it into the play.)

Flash forward just three months and a successful Kickstarter campaign later, and here we are on the brink of the premiere of the live action play Plan 9 From Outer Space -- Live and Undead based on the film by Ed Wood. Jasper checked in with director Shane Silman yesterday to see if we could tie up any loose ends. We gave him six questions  -- and he gave us plenty of answers.  Have a look below.

1. What should viewers NOT expect from the show?

They should not expect to be bored. If at any time the audience gets bored, we've failed. But we have taken extreme measures to make sure that we do not fail. Everything is on our side. All we need now are the Live Earth Audiences.

2. What's been the greatest challenge?

The greatest challenge has been fighting against time itself, our universal adversary. The amount of time, money, and sheer human effort that it took to get 25 people together in a room, all at one time, over the course of three months, over and over again, and the myriad setbacks and struggles that we encountered - and are still encountering, even in this final week - in bringing Ed Wood's universe to life, have been unexpectedly Biblical in scope and difficulty.

As a result, I have a completely renewed respect for Ed Wood, the man and the artist, and the trials that he faced in bringing his stories to the world. Creating art - whether visual, film, or performance - is not an easy job. Far from it. Our task, as artists, is to make it look easy.

3. Do you recommend folks who haven't seen the film watch it (or Ed Wood) before attending?

Absolutely. I highly recommend seeing the film before coming to see the play. Don't believe the claims of “Worst Movie Ever Made.” Although flawed, certainly, it is nevertheless incredibly entertaining. In my opinion, the “Worst Movie Ever Made” should equal “The Most Boring Movie Ever Made,” and Plan 9 is definitely not boring. Viewing the original film first will only enrich the experience of the “Live and Undead” version that we have created.

Another reason to watch Plan 9 from Outer Space, the movie beforehand, is that it may help you win your very own copy of it. We'll be giving away 9 brand new special edition DVD copies of Ed Wood's original film before each performance, based on correct answers to a list of 'Plan 9'-related trivia questions devised by me.

And yes, I also highly recommend the film Ed Wood, starring Johnny Depp as Ed Wood. In addition to being a terrific film in its own right, Johnny Depp is especially brilliant as Ed Wood. I would also recommend any of Ed Wood's other films, although I might be biased, since I'm a fan.

4. Who is the most likely of your actors to steal any given scene?

One of the things I really love about this story is that even though it's a huge ensemble cast (18 people), there's not a single thankless role. Everyone gets a chance to shine, everyone has great moments, and every character has classic Ed Wood dialogue - except, of course, for the non-speaking zombie roles. Their reward is that they're the stars of the show in the way that the shark is the star of Jaws. They're iconic, they're everyone's favorite characters from this story, everyone's there to see them, and they didn't have to memorize any lines.

Chris Bickel is incredible as Criswell, Mandy Applegate is perfect as Vampira, Scott Means is the ultimate Zombie, Larry Hembree is the best Bela Lugosi we ever could have hoped for, Nathan Dawson and Emily Meadows are adorable as Jeff and Paula Trent, and Nick Dunn is especially hilarious as Eros. And the list goes on and on. Everyone has the opportunity to steal any scene that they're in.

If I had to choose one person, though, I would have to single out Gerald Floyd, as The Alien Ruler. He's only onstage for about 7 minutes, but he is absolutely going to steal the entire show. He's a comedic genius, and this role couldn't be more perfect for him.

5. What is the appropriate alcohol to drink while watching the play -- and will it be available at the Tapp's Center?

Ed Wood's drink of choice was Imperial brand Whisky, although I'm not sure if that even exists anymore.

The Whig will be operating a cash bar at Tapp's during the show, so whatever gets it happening for you, dive in.

Just designate a driver, be responsible, and watch out for Flying Saucers.

6. Anything else you want to say?

The only other thing I'd like to say is that our main goal with this show, from the very beginning, was to have fun. We've been having fun with this story and laughing and having a blast in private rehearsals, nearly every night, for almost three months. And now we're finally ready to let the rest of the world in on it. We want to share the laughs, the excitement, and the fun of what we've been creating all this time. We're inviting everybody to this show as if it were a three-day party, with Plan 9 at the core of it. We're going out there to honor Ed Wood and the spirit of his work, and to just have fun with each other. We want you to have just as much fun as we're having onstage, and we hope to see you there.

For more information on Plan 9 from Outer Space check out the official website.

 

"Collecting" At Its Best?

Last week’s First Thursday exhibition at Tapp’s Arts Center featured artist and writer Alex Smith reading from Matt Bell’s moving chapbook “The Collectors,” a fictionalized true story about reclusive brothers Homer and Langley Collyer, whose deaths in their beyond-cluttered Manhattan brownstone in 1947 became apparent only after the stench of their remains wafted into neighboring spaces.

Though the reading was nearly an hour long, I sat riveted, alternately feeling horrified, mesmerized, enchanted, disgusted, melancholy, and, ultimately, thoughtful. If you didn’t catch Smith’s reading, you really missed out. And if you haven’t before heard the story of the ultra-hoarding Collyer brothers, you should read about it. Plenty has been published on the case. In addition to Bell’s manuscript, there’s Ghostly Men by Franz Lidz, and Homer and Langley: A Novel by E.L. Doctorow.

Able to get into the home only through an upstairs window, police literally had to bail thousands of pounds of debris for two hours before discovering the blind invalid Homer’s body. Although Langley’s decomposing body was only 10 feet away, it was not located until two weeks later due to the vast accumulation of junk, which Langley had navigated through bobby-trapped tunnels that are believed to have inadvertently collapsed on him, leading to his death. The paralyzed Homer, with his dead brother unable to care for him, dies several days later, slowly, of hunger and thirst.

All of New York City watched as officials, gagging from the stink, removed more than 130 tons of refuse stacked floor to ceiling from the filthy dwelling: items such as farm tools, musical instruments, newspapers, books, and magazines, old stacked furniture, weapons and ammunition, dressmaker mannequins, old medical equipment, a sewing machine, baby carriages, skeletons of small animals, and even a nearly intact Ford Model T. Newspapers at the time featured photos of the rubbish being set on the curb outside the notorious home.

Author Bell takes exquisite liberties in telling the Collyers’ sad story, artfully setting the scene and communicating what each of the brothers must have been thinking and feeling as their final hours unfolded:

Homer experiences the lack of guideposts, of landmarks, of bread crumbs. He knows his brother is dead or dying and that finding him will not change this, but even though he wants to turn around he’s not sure how. He tries to remember if he climbed the stairs or if he crawled upwards or if he is still on the first floor of the house, just twisted and turned inside it. He tries to remember the right and the left, the up and the down, the falls and the getting back up, but when he does the memories come all at once or else as just one static image of moving in the dark, like a claustrophobia of neurons. He wants to lie down upon on the floor, wants to stop this incessant, wasted movement.

He closes his eyes and leans against the piles. His breath comes long and ragged, whole rooms of air displaced by the straining bellows of his lungs. He smells the long dormant stench of his sweat and piss and shit, come shamefully alive now that’s he’s on the move again.

Somewhere beyond himself, he smells, if he sniffs hard enough, just a hint of his orange peels, the last of their crushed sweetness.

Homer opens his eyes, useless as they are, and points himself toward the wafting rot of his last thousand meals. He holds his robe closed with his right hand, reaches out into the darkness with his left. He puts one foot in front of the other, then smiles when he finally feels the rinds and tapped ash begin to squish between his toes.

He slips, and falls, and crashes into the tortured leather of his favorite chair. He pulls himself up. He sits himself down. He puts his heavy head into his hands.

Smith’s dark, dramatic reading was complemented by photographic slides from the 1947 excavation along with haunting music from William Christopher on keyboards and sound effects from Lucas Sams.

Tapp’s window displays featured artists who assembled various “collections” for public perusal. Among my favorites were Billy Guess’s Barbie-themed dolls and mannequins, Jorge Holman’s assortment of superhero action figures and iconography, and Jenny Maxwell’s collection of old hand-held fans from funerals. Perhaps best of the best, however, was Lyon Hill’s mind-blowing 3-D sketches arranged into a diorama of the Collyer residence accompanied by a looped animation film using dioramic images to dramatize scenes from the brothers’ desperate lives. These can be found in the inside foyer window at the Main Street-facing entrance to Tapp’s.

As the exhibition’s theme says, there is a “Fine Line Between Collecting and Hoarding.” I, too, am a “collector” of numerous odd items, including neckties, blazers, and books. So many books. But the collection I love the most is my art collection, which includes oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings, sculptures, batiks, handmade ceramic platters and vessels, and mosaics by both local and non-local artists. I probably started collecting art because my father collected. I have paintings he purchased while our military family was stationed in Europe. I have a nearly 50-year-old California redwood tree trunk table my dad bought back in the 1970s. So much stuff, and I won’t part with any of it. Does that make me a collector … or a hoarder?

Many of my friends are artists. Some have neat, organized studios. Others work in complete disarray. I’ve found no rhyme or reason in the working spaces of creative people. More and more, found objects are material fodder for art. A great example of that is Kirkland Smith’s amazing portrait assemblages.

Among the many, many books in my personal “collection” is Southern Writers, published by USC Press in 1997. Page 49 presents a black-and-white photograph of the late James Dickey sitting at his desk surrounded by piles of books all around him, on the desk, the floor, the credenza. I could imagine him trying to peer over the great wall of books to greet a visitor. He had to know the photographer was coming to shoot the picture for the book that day. Was the result of his tidying up? It makes me curious. Was Dickey a book hoarder?

Well, anyway, I digress. And I apologize for the length of this blog entry. Writing can be a lot like “collecting.” Sometimes you just don’t know when to stop.

NOTE: The collectors/hoarders window exhibit is still up at Tapp’s for the next couple of weeks, so check it out. If you’d like to read The Collectors, you can download it for free in pdf at http://www.mdbell.com/collectors/.

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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