Art from the Ashes Final Event - Readings by the Literary Artists Tuesday Night

art from the ashes jpeg Tuesday night, join us for part three of Jasper's Art from the Ashes project -- a reading of the works in the monograph by the writers themselves.

7 pm at Tapp's

Readers include:

Betsy Breen - winner of the Best in Book Award, sponsored by Historic Columbia

Al Black

Jonathan Butler

Debra Daniel

Rachel Hainey

Ed Madden

Don McCallister

Tom Poland

Susan Levi Wallach

Cindi Boiter

Art from the Ashes Book Launch and Gallery Opening on February 1st at Tapp’s - A JASPER Project

art from the ashes jpeg  

Over the course of four evenings in the summer of 2014, more than two dozen literary, visual, and musical artists gathered in the Jasper Magazine office with experts on the February 17th, 1865 burning of Columbia. The artists immersed themselves in the events that took place the night of the burning as well as the days and nights leading to and immediately following it. Six months later, their inspirations have come to fruition in a multi-disciplinary series of arts events – Art from the Ashes.

Art from the Ashes cover


Art from the Ashes: Columbia Residents Respond to the Burning of Their City is a collection of poetry, prose, and even a screenplay by some of Columbia, SC’s most dynamic writers, including Ed Madden, Tara Powell, Ray McManus, Susan Levi Wallach, Tom Poland, Al Black, Jonathan Butler, Rachel Haynie, Debra Daniel, Will Garland, Betsy Breen, and Don McCallister. Edited by Jasper Magazine’s Cynthia Boiter, it is a publication of Muddy Ford Press and the first in the press’s new series, Muddy Ford Monographs.


In concert with the book launch, Art from the Ashes: The Gallery will open on the same evening, also at Tapp’s, and will run throughout the month of February. Participating visual artists include Susan Lenz, Kirkland Smith, Christian Thee, Michael Krajewski, Jarid Lyfe Brown, Whitney LeJeune, Mary Bentz Gilkerson, Cedric Umoja, Michaela Pilar Brown, Alejandro Garcia-Lemos, and Kara Gunter.

artist - Kirkland Smith


Join us as we celebrate the book launch and gallery opening from 5 – 7 pm. Visual artists will be on hand to answer questions about their work and literary artists will be signing and reading from their writings. Musician Jack McGregor, who created a three movement musical composition in response to the burning, will premiere his work as well.

artist - Jarid Lyfe Brown

artist - Kara Gunter

artist - Michael Krajewski

artist - Christian Thee


Additional events include a Visual Artists Panel Presentation on Thursday, February 5th at 7 pm and a Reading and Book Signing on February 17th at 7 pm, followed by a concert by Columbia-based musical artist, the Dubber.


All events take place at Tapp’s Arts Center on Main Street and are free and open to the public


Wishes from and for the Columbia Arts Community for Christmas - Part I

One of the best Christmases I can remember celebrating with my friends happened over twenty years ago. We were all young and economically challenged -- Coles, Cathy, Natalie, Margaret, and I -- but we loved each other dearly and wanted to give one another the world. So we decided to stuff each others' stockings with wishes for the things we most wanted our friends to have. Once we let go of the obligation to give one another material things, we were free to give them any wish we chose. Vacations, book deals, confidence, sleep. It was liberating and it made us seriously consider how we might improve the lives of the people we loved if money and time and power and even magic were at our disposal.

In this same vein, Jasper asked Columbia artists and arts lovers what they would like Santa to bring to their beloved arts Community this Christmas. Answers are still coming in, but here's a start on what folks had to say.

Please feel free to comment on these wishes below, and do add some wishes of your own.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas from your friends at

Jasper - The Word on Columbia Arts.


From Tom Poland

I’d like for Santa to bring the arts community a big bag of confidence, commitment, and energy. Being an artist often means working in isolation wondering if your work is good or wondering if it makes a meaningful contribution to society. Being sure of your work and

yourself generates the strength to keep plugging away at your chosen craft. When you believe in and commit to your art it does make a meaningful contribution. The journey is a long one, a marathon, and rewards go to the patient and persistent.


From Alexis Doktor

I feel that most often the problems that I'd love to see fixed don't lie within the arts community, but those that hold the strings. I wish Santa could bring a new found respect and intrigue to those that don't currently appreciate the arts. That maybe people would see the beauty in our movements, our music, our work, our soul, instead of which gamecock has the most field goals or who just got benched. The artists I've met in Columbia, whether performers or fine artists, all share something: passion. And it seems that every year funding gets smaller, and concerns are turned elsewhere. The artists here live out their resolutions every day... do what you love, and do it often. Personally, I'd love to see the Main Street first Thursday arts fair grow and grow. It's such a wonderful forum for artists of all kinds. I'd like to see more funding given to the companies that work SO hard on SO little (i.e. Workshop Theatre, Columbia City Ballet, Trustus, SC Shakespeare Company, and the list goes on). I'd like to see a new governor who understands and appreciates that taking away arts and good education from our children hurts everyone, because they are the future!


From Natalie Brown

I would love to see an arts incubator space open up, and/or live/work artist spaces in the downtown area. Bonus points if the ceilings are high enough for a circus arts school.

Belly Dancer and Columbia Alternacirque director Natalie Brown


From Chris Bickel

I'd love to see Santa bring us more alternative spaces for display of works. I'd like to see more businesses open up their walls to local artists. We're seeing more of this lately in Columbia, and it's a trend I'd like to see continue. It's an aesthetic improvement to the business and good exposure for the artist.




From Chris Powell

I'd like Santa to bring us all some unification, concrete goals both as a community (and as individuals), continuing inspiration gleaned from our daily lives, and the energy and eagerness to help our fellow artist in THEIR work as well as the open mind to accept their criticisms.


From Alex Smith

Integrity. Honesty. A ten ton sack full of hundred dollar bills.


 From Elena Martinez-Vidal

Funding and audiences!


Merry Christmas from Jasper!


Tom Poland reflects on his play, Solid Ground -- Guest Blog

I wanted to send this little news release of sorts to friends, former students, special clients, and those of you who knew I was writing a play this summer. Some of you expressed a desire to see the play but let me tell you it is one exhausting drive down to south Georgia. My drive, roundtrip was almost 900 miles and 15 hours. If I go down in March 2012 to see the play again, I'll fly into Tallahassee, rent a car, and drive up to little Colquitt, Georgia.

I am glad I went. Everyone down there is so gracious and friendly and the countryside is beautiful ... brilliant cotton fields, massive live oaks, and majestic pecan orchards draped in Spanish moss. Being a native Georgian, I was glad to see many parts of the state I'd never seen.

"Solid Ground," my play, uses a cast of more than 50 people. It's directed by Phil Funkenbusch of the Abraham Lincoln Museum Theater in Springfield, Illinois. The two-act, two-hour show is about a man's route to salvation. It deals with the after effects of the Depression, the harsh realities of farming, and the beauty of the land. The stories it's based on are true. Life was vastly different back then. No daycare for instance. One young couple, poor and struggling to make ends meet, took their infant daughter into the cotton fields and laid her down in a blanket. While they were picking cotton, a rattlesnake bit the child and she died. Lots of true stories like this and beautiful original music truly make the play an event. It has sad moments and funny moments but not one dull moment. Lots of crying by the audience ... it's moving the way they do it. I could get intellectual on you but I'm not that kind of guy. It's just a good story based on oral histories. I heard from several people that it's their favorite play of all they've staged in 19 years. I was humbled by the cast and crowd's reaction to me when I was introduced around and after the show.

The sweetest moment for me was right after the play, three little girls about nine years old walked up to me and handed me a promotional brochure about the play. "We want you to have this," said one little girl with her front teeth missing. Each little girl had signed the brochure for me! It's something I will keep forever.

Would I write another play? Yes indeed. It's really something to see ideas and words that bounced in around your head all summer find their way to a stage.

Swamp Gravy, the theater company down there, by the way, began on Broadway in New York City when a citizen from Colquitt met Director Richard Geer (No not that Richard ... he spells his name Gere) and the two talked about a way to revitalize Colquitt. That's where the idea for Swamp Gravy began. Today it is acknowledged by the Georgia General Assembly as "Georgia's Official Folk Life Play" and its plays have been performed at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, at Atlanta's Seven Stages Theater and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.