Supper Table Spotlight: Emmy-Nominated Filmmaker Laura Kissel Honors Modjeska Monteith Simkins

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 6th in our series on Supper Table Artists.

Filmmaker Laura Kissel

Filmmaker Laura Kissel

Columbia native Laura Kissel is an Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker. Kissel’s work explores contemporary social, cultural and political landscapes through multiple film genres, specifically the use of orphan films.

 

Kissel has nearly 20 films to her name including short documentaries Tan Mian Hua and Window Cleaning in Shanghai which both premiered at the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in 2011 and were included in The Flaherty’s touring festival City Symphonies in 2011-2012. Her most recent feature length documentary, Cotton Road, is about the global supply chain of cotton; the film follows cotton’s life cycle, alongside human labor, as it travels from farms to consumers. The film has won eight festival awards and been translated into four languages.

 

Named the South Carolina Arts Commission’s Media Arts Fellow for 2007-2008 Kissel has received numerous fellowships and grants for her work, including a Fulbright Award, a MacDowell Fellowship, funding from the South Carolina Humanities Council and the Fledgling Fund. Currently, she is a professor of Media Arts and Film at the University of South Carolina where she also serves as the Director of the School of Visual Art and Design.

 

We’re honored that Kissel has joined us in our project. For the Supper Table, she is creating a film to honor the pervasively influential Modjeska Monteith Simkins.

 

Modjeska Simkins was, as the National Park Service refers to her, “the matriarch of the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina.” She was a leader in African-American public health and social reform across the state, specifically in Columbia. Simkins referred to herself as a human rights activist, and that she was.

 

Simkins lived a life of power and turmoil. She was the Director of Negro Work for the South Carolina Tuberculosis Association before she was fired for her increased involvement in the NAACP. For this same involvement, unnamed individuals shot at her house in the mid 1900s, despite which Simkins remained unwavering. Any fear she may have had, she did not show, instead allowing it to propel her forward into defending the rights of those who did not have the opportunity to use their voices in the way she used hers. 

 

Kissel’s film will be unveiled, with 11 others, at the Supper Table’s premiere events at Trustus Theatre this September 6th and Harbison Theatre on the 8th.

 

On our Kickstarter campaign, at the $300 level, Laura Kissel’s film on Modjeska Simkins is available to sponsor. In sponsoring this, you will become the film’s exclusive producer, plus you will receive tickets to see the films at the Harbison event. 3 of the 12 films are already sponsored, and our Kickstarter only has a week left, so if you want this opportunity, click on the following link to claim it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table?ref=user_menu

 - Christina Xan

 

 

 

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Supper Table spotlight: Olga Yukhno and Carla Damron Honor Sarah Leverette

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 5th in our series on Supper Table Artists.

An overhead view of Olga Yukhno’s place-setting honoring Sarah Leverette

An overhead view of Olga Yukhno’s place-setting honoring Sarah Leverette

Originally from Russia, visual artist Olga Yukhno lives in Columbia, South Carolina, where she is the Gallery Director for the School of Visual Art and Design at the UofSC. After learning and creating in multiple art forms, Yukhno found a home in ceramic sculpting, where she feels that she has no limits.

With ceramics, Yukhno can create anything that she can imagine and even those which she can’t. No two of her completely handmade pieces are identical. Yukhno has used the limitless possibilities of her craft to create a place setting in honor of Sarah Leverette for the Supper Table.

Sarah Leverette was, and is, a powerful inspiration to women in and outside of South Carolina, having spent her life breaking glass ceilings wherever she went, from the Civil Air Patrol to the School of Law at USC.

Yukhno’s place-setting honors all the different aspects of Leverette’s remarkable life. The artist says she wanted to use her piece to “show the parts of her life that were the most significant and impressed her the most personally.” Having been impressed by Leverette’s quotations, she incorporated them all around the border of her place-setting, using small wing symbols with the logo of the Civil Air Patrol.  From there, each layer from bottom to top represents a different period of the subject’s life.

As Yukhno says, the book represents her contribution to the library system of South Carolina, to which she dedicated 15 years of her life. Despite her contributions, school officials at USC would not make her faculty because she was a woman. The next tier of Yukhno’s place setting contains multiple nails, which represent the obstacles Leverette faced to become a full professor.

The very top culminates in a bowl showing a fist having just broken through a glass ceiling. As Yukhno says, “Leverette’s whole life was dedicated to fighting for women’s and civil rights, and the element of this broken glass is repeated throughout the piece to show the relevance of this pursuit throughout her lifetime.”

Finally, the goblet was created with multiple hands supporting it, to “show that in everything she did, she always built other people up.” Leverette was a mentor to many well-known lawyers who themselves brought about significant changes and continued the fight for people’s rights.

 

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Carla Damron is a professional writer (The Stone Necklace, USC Press, 2016) who uses her experience as a social worker throughout her work, as witnessed in her novels Keeping Silent and Spider Blue. Damron has spent over 20 years focusing on her work in mental health, where she connects this to her novels in hopes to fight stigmas surrounding the topic of mental illness. Her very own clients have been her best teachers.

Damron used her background to tackle the task of writing a creative non-fiction essay about the life of Sarah Leverette, a task she was more than ready to tackle and conquer. As Damron says, “[Leverette’s] words, and her spirit, live and breathe in our state’s constitution, its code of laws, and in all the people she touched.”

The following is an excerpt from Damron’s essay on Leverette:

Sarah always wanted to emulate her heroes Lindbergh and Earhart. And now, as a member of the Civil Air Patrol, she was about to take her first flight.

She climbed a ladder to the biplane wing, grabbed hold of the edge of the cockpit, and hauled herself into the copilot’s seat. She grasped the seatbelt and clicked it into place. Snug goggles covered her eyes. Behind her, the pilot started the plane, which gave a little shimmy as it roared to life. Breath entered her lungs in short gasps. She was nervous. Excited. Ready. 

They moved. The plane bumped and rattled up the runway, getting louder and louder as the pilot lifted the throttle. Sarah held to her seat and swayed with the movement. 

Faster. She couldn’t see the speedometer but knew they were approaching eighty-five, full throttle, as the nose of the plane tilted up. As they lifted off, all smoothed.  

She looked above, the sky a vast blue bowl with a few feathers of white. She looked down: Trees became green pencil pricks. A wide, turbulent river was just one of many of Earth’s many arteries. Everything was different here. How wide the world is, she realized, when you are away from the clutter of land.

To read more of Damron’s essay and to see more of Yukhno’s place setting, be sure to reserve your copy of Setting the Supper Table at the $50 sponsorship level or above on the Supper Table’s Kickstarter campaign page at the link below, and join us this September as we unveil the Supper Table for the first time.

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table.

 

Supper Table Spotlight: Eva Moore and Laurie Brownell McIntosh Honor Eliza Lucas Pinckney

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 4th in our series on Supper Table Artists.

Paper Mache Bowl with Indigo Ink, hand-dyed indigo napkin, and indigo branch flatware by Laurie Brownell McIntosh

Paper Mache Bowl with Indigo Ink, hand-dyed indigo napkin, and indigo branch flatware by Laurie Brownell McIntosh

Each of the 12 (actually 13 with the Grimke sisters) honored & historical women seated at the Supper Table is being celebrated by four different artists including a visual artist, a literary artist who writes an essay about the subject for the book Setting the Supper Table, a filmmaker who creates a 90 second film, and a theatrical artist who will perform a staged oration during our premiere in September.

Laurie Brownell McIntosh and Eva Moore are, respectively the visual and literary artists honoring Eliza Lucas Pinckney, the colonial entrepreneur who, with the vital assistance of the enslaved individuals who were attached to the Pinckney plantations, cultivated and developed indigo as a cash crop accounting for 1/3 of the total exports from the colony.

About her place-setting McIntosh writes, “I sought guidance on all things indigo from South Carolina, indigo dye artist, Caroline Harper. I attended two workshops with her to learn the growing and dying process used in dying fabrics with traditional indigo. She supplied me with some of her precious South Carolina grown indigo pigment that she and her husband harvest and produce yearly... as well as the seed and roots from the plant.”

McIntosh continues, “All of the blue you see in my piece is made from this dye mixed with different paint mediums. (the exception being the writing on the bowl... that is just dark blue ink... after many tries I realized I could not get the consistency to flow freely enough for handwriting). The yellows in my piece represent the middle phase of the dying process. Once the fabric is submerged into the dye vat of the indigo mixture the fabric surprisingly turns yellow and stays this way until it is pulled from the vat and the oxygen turns it the rich dark blue associated with indigo. The three apothecary bottles in the setting represent this graduated process.”

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Eva Moore is a Columbia-based writer who cares about food, local government, and outdoor places. The former editor of Columbia’s Free Times newspaper, she now works in state government. In her eloquent look at the controversial Eliza Lucas Pinckney’s contributions, Moore writes, “At Wappoo plantation, where Eliza lived when she first came to South Carolina, her family enslaved 20 people. In later years there would be more. … Eliza Lucas Pinckney lived a remarkable and fortunate life, but did so at the expense of other lives.”

Moore continues, “Indigo is not like other natural dyes. It doesn’t come out of the indigo plant easily; in fact it doesn’t come directly out of the plant at all. After harvesting, the leaves must be pounded and fermented over hours or days to create a chemical reaction. Depending on who you ask, fermenting indigo smells like ammonia, urine, cow poop or wet dog, and the odor is so intense that the fermentation must be done well away from places where people live and eat. Done at a large scale, it can attract flies and other insects.”

“In colonial South Carolina, in the mid-1700s, indigo processing took place during the hot summer and fall,” she writes.

“It’s hard to comprehend the horrors of the process, because lately, indigo dyeing has made its way into the boutique textile category in South Carolina. … Eliza Pinckney almost certainly didn’t pound the indigo leaves or stir the stinking vats. She didn’t till the ground, or weed the fields, or harvest the leaves. That work was done by people enslaved by her family.“

To read more of this fascinating essay and 11 others, be sure to reserve your copy of Setting the Supper Table at the $50 sponsorship level or above on the Supper Table’s Kickstarter campaign page at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table.

We're Setting the Supper Table & You'll Be Able to Feed Your Soul There Soon - A Message from Cindi

 

The Supper Table – Honored Subjects

Mary McLeod Bethune Alice Childress

Septima Clark Matilda Evans

Althea Gibson Angelina and Sarah Grimke

Eartha Kitt Sarah Leverette

Julia Peterkin Eliza Pinckney

Modjeska Monteith Simkins Elizabeth Evelyn Wright

Laurie Brownell McIntosh’s place-setting inspired by Eliza Lucas Pinckney whose development and cultivation of indigo accounted for 1/3 of colonial SC’s economy prior to the Revolutionary War.

Laurie Brownell McIntosh’s place-setting inspired by Eliza Lucas Pinckney whose development and cultivation of indigo accounted for 1/3 of colonial SC’s economy prior to the Revolutionary War.

It’s all coming together.

More than 10 year ago I started having this dream of using Judy Chicago’s iconic feminist arts installation, The Dinner Party, as a model for an arts project that would honor some of the amazing women from South Carolina history whose work in the arts, sciences, education, business, athletics, and human rights literally — and usually without a lot of fanfare — changed the course of human history. I realized that 2019 would be the 40th anniversary of Chicago’s project and, about 4 years ago, decided to try to make this fantasy a reality using the structure of the Jasper Project to do so. It was terrifying. I appreciate so dearly all the people I spoke to who, when I told them how terrified I was said, “yes, you’re supposed to be” because there are any number of times I might have chickened out had they not.

But with the support and advice of people who are smarter and more experienced than I am, especially my board of directors at the Jasper Project, I jumped in. Central Carolina Community Foundation was kind enough to invest in us with a Connected Communities Grant funding almost two thirds of the project. Friend and arts patron Bill Schmidt stepped up as soon as I told him about the plans and committed to sponsoring not just a place-setting (he chose the Grimke Sisters) but also a third of the table itself. But more importantly, he gave me his faith and he shared the project with others.

THANKS, BILL SCHMIDT!

THANKS, BILL SCHMIDT!

So, I was off!

The first thing I needed to do was to gather together the first two groups of artists — the visual and literary artists — as well as to find a woman to build the actual table for the Supper Table. I can’t remember who recommended the amazing Jordan Morris to me but, whoever it was, thank you.

Jordan is the Maker Coordinator at Richland Library and has been a maker most of her life. Grade school consisted of macaroni ornaments and sugar cube igloos, but it wasn’t until she met an inspiring high school teacher that her creative mind was ignited and took flight. That journey continued on through college at the University of South Carolina where she earned a BFA in sculpture. She continued with ceramic work and expanded into woodworking and computer numerical control production. Jordan’s professional journey led her to an art museum, tech startup, and teaching, but nothing felt quite like home until landing at Richland Library as the Maker Coordinator in February 2016.

Jordan rose to the challenge of creating the table for the Supper Table magnificently, integrating a Southern aesthetic into her design all the way down to the wood she chose. I couldn’t be happier with her finished product.

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On January 20th of this year we brought together the 25 literary and visual artists who would inaugurate the Supper Table project with their work on place-settings and essays honoring the 12 women at the Supper Table. Over the next few weeks we will be posting daily blogs featuring these artists and the gifts they have brought and are bringing to the project.

While the essays and place-settings are complete there is still much work to be done before we premiere the project on September 6th at Trustus Theatre and move the next day to Harbison Theatre at MTC for our first installation.

The film artists are all at work now under the direction of Mahkia Greene, and Vicky Saye Henderson is casting the actors who will portray out 12 honored women in the theatrical productions.

Kathryn Van Aernum has taken all the photos for the book and the poster and is working on those now.

We still need to frame the 12 portraits Kirkland Smith created which will accompany the installation and we are working on our walls to display the 120 tiles created for our Array of Remarkable SC Women by Brenda Oliver, Bohumila Augustinova, and Diane Hare and embellished by local women and girls.

Lee Ann Kornegay is working on a long-form film that won’t even be ready to view until spring 2020.

I’m editing constantly with the help of assistant project director Christina Xan, who will also be sharing some blogs with you.

So, please stay tuned as we roll out as much information and celebration as we can through summer’s end and into the fall.

The Supper Table will be touring in 2020 and we’d love to talk to you about bringing the installation, along with the book, films, portraits, and tiles your way.

But most importantly, we really need your help raising funds to put some change in the pockets of these artists who are honoring these amazing 12 women from SC. You can sponsor a place-setting, a tile, a film, or the portrait collection or you can share this info and link with someone with the resources to do so.

Here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table

Thanks for helping us along.

The plate from Mana Hewitt’s place-setting honoring the legendary Eartha Kitt.

The plate from Mana Hewitt’s place-setting honoring the legendary Eartha Kitt.

Fall Lines Volume VI Announces Winners - Kimberly Driggers and Derek Berry!

Jasper is delighted to announce the winners in this year’s competitive Fall Lines categories.

Congratulations to Kimberly Driggers whose poem, IMAGINE THE SOUND OF WAVES, is the winner of the Saluda River Prize for Poetry and to Derek Berry whose prose piece, SASQUATCH, is the winner of the Broad River Prize for Prose.

Both literary artists will be published in Fall Lines - a literary convergence, Volume VI which launches on Sunday, August 18th from 2 - 3:30 with a reading and awards ceremony at Richland Library. The event if free and open to the public.

Fall Lines is sponsored by the Jasper Project in partnership with Richland Library and One Columbia for Arts and Culture. The two winning authors will each receive a check for $250 sponsored by the Richland Library Friends & Foundation.

Judges for this year’s contests included Judy Goldman (prose) and DeLana Dameron.

~~~

Additional authors whose work will appear in the 2019 volume of Fall Lines include:

Teresa Haskew

Ellen Malphrus

Loli Molena Munoz

Libby Bernardin

Len Lawson

Susan Craig

Lawrence Rhu

Worthy Evans

Curtis Derrick

Terri McCord

Al Black

Ruth Nicholson

Heather Dearmon

Randy Spencer

Tim Conroy

Suzanne Kamata

Frances Pearce

Bo Petersen

Jon Tuttle

Kathleen Warthen

Kristine Hartvigsen

Gil Allen

Andrew Clark

Kevin Oliver

Yvette Murray

Ed Madden

Ray McManus

Nathalie Anderson

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REVIEW - Heathers at Trustus Theatre by Frank Thompson

Here she is with two small problems

And the best part of the blame

Wishes she could call him heartache

But it's not a boy's name…

-From the song “Appetite” by Prefab Sprout (1985)

Lisa Baker, Brittany Hammock, and Katie Leitner

Lisa Baker, Brittany Hammock, and Katie Leitner

While the music and lyrics for Heathers: The Musical are all original, created for the stage version by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe, I couldn’t get the above Prefab Sprout song out of my head when pondering how to address the production from a critical standpoint. For those unfamiliar with the Daniel Waters film upon which the stage adaptation is based, the story centers around Veronica, a seventeen-year-old high school student who develops a darkly romantic relationship with a charismatic nihilist, J.D., whose moral relativism is softened by a genuine concern for the underdog. Coming from a dysfunctional, single-parent home, J.D. is cynical beyond his years, and quite capable of handling himself in just about any situation. Veronica comes from a different world, with an almost-stereotypical loving-but-clueless “Mom and Dad” straight out of central casting.

Veronica’s life isn’t a horror story, but she suffers all the usual travails of a cute-but-nerdy young woman navigating the world of geeks, jocks, outcasts, and the rest of the archetypes that exist in high school to this day. In a funhouse-mirror version of the Pygmalion myth, Veronica finds herself thrust into the world of the uber-cool girls who rule the school’s social scene. Her malevolent new mentors, each named Heather, decide to make a sport of transforming Veronica into one of their own, yet maintain social dominance over her. After utilizing Veronica’s skill at imitation handwriting, the Heathers enjoy unlimited hall passes and excuse letters, and decide to play a cruel trick on a nerdy girl who happens to be Veronica’s best friend. The joke goes terribly wrong, resulting in the breaking up of a party and Veronica’s expulsion from the group by ringleader Heather Chandler. While attempting to make amends, Veronica (with J.D. at her side) accidentally poisons Heather Chandler, having just dismissed J.D.’s suggestion that they do exactly that. A hastily-forged suicide note covers their tracks, but their victim’s ghost remains prominent in Veronica’s psyche. After several comparably dark experiences, Veronica wants nothing more than to return to her previously-normal life, but J.D. has the conflicting goal of essentially murdering the entire student body. Without spoiling the denoument for those seeing the show for the first time, I will simply say that the final few minutes will not only have you on the edge of your seat, but also leave you pondering the concepts of right and wrong in this particular situation. This is by no means meant to suggest that Heathers: The Musical is without lighthearted moments, but even the hilarity is grounded in a macabre reality that never completely releases the audience from a feeling of impending disaster.

The cast is comprised of an outstanding brio of Trustus regulars, familiar faces from other venues, and a few first-timers, all of whom come together to create a believable and cohesive ensemble. Katie Leitner’s Veronica is immediately relatable and sympathetic, falling (as did most of us) somewhere around the middle of the school’s social spectrum. Presenting her as a latter-day Carrie, minus the pig’s blood, would have not only been overdone, but would also have somewhat absolved Veronica for her actions. Leitner displays her strength at creating three-dimensional characters by making Veronica a normal kid caught up in a disturbingly abnormal set of circumstances. As with her recent portrayal of Daisy Fay in Trustus’ The Great Gatsby, Leitner succeeds in being likeable but flawed. As her figurative reverse-mirror image, Michael Hazin provides a level of sync with J.D. that brings to mind a well-choreographed ballroom dance. Hazin offers a darker reflection of Leitner’s image, with J.D. flying (for the most part) under the social radar, as opposed to swimming midstream. Each character has the potential to survive through relative social invisibility, but neither their respective personalities nor the situations that arise allow either to embrace that option. Both Leitner and Hazin are in fine voice, and only a small suspension of disbelief is required, but their clearly trained and experienced vocal work almost cracks the façade of their being teenagers. Both are youthful twentysomethings in real life, and are physically believable as high school students, so this is hardly a negative point, but when they sing, it’s obvious that these are well-taught professionals.

Clearly reveling in every malignant power move and verbal smackdown, Brittany Hammock deliciously chews the scenery as Heather Chandler. Her alpha-of-all-alphas interpretation of the role is spot-on, taking command of the triad in everything from physical presence to the occasional “putting in place” of the other two Heathers. Interestingly, once she becomes a ghost, Hammock asserts her new quasi-immortality through a slightly softened approach to Veronica. Sometimes a whisper is more frightening than a shout, and Hammock utilizes both between her corporeal and ghostly forms. Though not physically connected to the world of the living, Heather Chandler becomes even more of a puppeteer after her death, as we see her leisurely chip away at Veronica’s sanity. Her eponymous cohorts, Heather McNamara (Rachael Mitchum) and Heather Duke (Jazmine Rivera) initially appear to be Heather Chandler clones with slightly less authority, but after her death, they begin to reveal more depth of character. Mitchum, while never coming across as deferential, is somehow the most humane of the three, heaping slightly less attitude and intimidation on her fellow students. It’s a subtle choice, but Mitchum makes it work well in setting up a moment of high drama in the second act. Rivera’s Heather Duke, by contrast, brings out the fangs and claws when Heather Chandler’s death leaves an opening for the group’s leader. Though not mentioned in the script, the performances of all three Heathers suggest a variety of control mechanisms employed pre-mortem by Heather Chandler. Combining Hammock’s dead/undead personae, one could easily see her slightly softening to control Heather McNamara, while displaying a more fierce approach to managing Heather Duke. Kudos to all three for creating a depth and texture that enhances the story while remaining faithful to the playwrights’ dialogue.

As “bad boy” football stars, Kurt and Ram, Paul Smith and Josh Kern are less defined by the script, yet never allow themselves to slide into caricature. At first they appear to be nothing more than bullying jocks, but a set-up midnight encounter with Veronica displays their more vile and predatory natures. Jordan Harper’s ever-put-upon Martha adopts a similar style, introducing herself as a stereotypical nerdy girl, then revealing herself to be much more emotionally textured in a second-act spotlight number that showcases her impressive vocal range. The rest of the cast fills in the remaining students and adults orbiting the main story, and there truly isn’t a weak link in the bunch. A particular standout is Cassidy Spencer, whose work I’ve not seen before, but look forward to seeing in future productions. As an ensemble member, Spencer may have had two or three lines, but most of her acting was done through face and body language, which she presented most memorably. (In reviewing my notes, I referenced her several times as “girl in denim skirt,” each time with a comment on her commitment to the scene, her character, and the reality established by the principal players.)

On the technical side, Heathers: The Musical is mostly successful. Sam Hetler’s set is streamlined, yet totally evocative of a neon-hued, white-tiled 1980s, Amy Brower Lown’s costume design is scrupulously faithful to the period and gives a respectful nod to the film, while maintaining an originality and freshness of vision, and Lighting Designer Frank Kiraly brings his customary skill at creating multiple settings with different combinations of shading and color. Choreographer Grayson Anthony and Musical Director Randy Moore keep the movements (both physical and musical) brisk and sharp, and Stage Manager Brandi Smith nicely corrals all of the elements into a cohesive and smooth production. My only real complaint is that the vocals, even in ensemble numbers, were a bit difficult to hear over the band. In talking with Moore and several cast members following the performance, I found out that there were several mic and sound issues the night I was there, and I feel confident that those small issues have since been ironed out. One other small issue is entirely script-related, as I had the same reaction when reviewing another production of the show earlier this year. The adults are double/triple cast, often with little or no time for costume or wig changes, which can lead to a bit of confusion as to which is whom at any given moment. Matthew DeGuire, Jonathan Monk, and Lisa Baker turn in delightful performances as the multiple grown-ups, but I do wish the script made it easier for them to change back and forth more easily.

Director Dewey Scott-Wiley has, as usual, assembled a winning cast and created a world which is both believable and captivating. I frequently find myself using the word “thoughtful” to describe her work, and Heathers: The Musical is no exception. In her Director’s Notes, Scott-Wiley observes that in today’s more violent society, things like murdering your classmates aren’t as outrageous as they were thirty years ago, and this level of directorial awareness is part of what makes the show work. By immersing the audience in an era-specific set of mores, she succeeds in getting stylized-yet-believable work from her cast while essentially giving the audience permission to laugh at things that would strike too close to home in today’s world.

Heathers: The Musical runs through 27 July, and tickets can be purchased online at Trustus.org, or by calling the Box Office at (803) 254.9732. They’re likely to go quickly, so don’t delay in making your reservations.

-FLT3

Frank Thompson is proud to serve as Theatre Editor for JASPER.

 

REVIEW: Fierce & Fabulous Cabaret - an Entertaining Concert with Potential for Growth

by Frank Thompson

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   (As always, I open with the disclaimer that I am a frequent director and a member of the Board of Trustees for Workshop Theatre.)

   The Fierce & Fabulous Cabaret, running through Sunday at Workshop’s new home at Cottingham Theatre on the Columbia College campus, bills itself as “celebrating the women of Broadway,” and there’s certainly no shortage of celebrated talent onstage. Featuring several well-established Midlands-area chanteuses alongside a few new faces/voices, last Saturday evening’s performance brought the audience to its feet more than once with multiple show-stopping bravura turns by some of the best female vocalists in town.  The acoustics at Cottingham are nice and hot, and while live mics are utilized, I doubt if even half the cast needs any amplification. These ladies know how to project and sell a song, and if you’re looking for a showcase of outstanding music plucked from Broadway hits from the 1950s to today, you’ll find it at The Fierce & Fabulous Cabaret.

   Following a full-cast rendition of  “I’m A Woman” from Smokey Joe’s CaféRegina Skeeter sets the bar high with “Home,” one of the lesser-known but most vocally powerful ballads in The Wiz. (This was my first time seeing Skeeter perform, and she delivers strength as well as a sense of dreamy wonderment to her turn in the spotlight.)  Columbia legend Valdina Hall absolutely soars with Sondheim’s  “Send In The Clowns,” and Robin Gottlieb’s signature number, Cabaret, quite literally had the crowd shouting for an encore. The second act rocks open with Katrina Blanding  delivering  Dreamgirls  “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” with her usual powerhouse voice and innate storyteller’s gift for conveying a song’s emotional foundation. On Jason Robert Brown’s  “I Can Do Better Than That,”  Emily Northrop engages the audience from intro to post-applause, demonstrating  not only impressive vocals but also an understanding of  true cabaret technique, and Mandy Applegate Bloom’s  “She Used To Be Mine” from Waitress brings down the house in classic eleven-o’clock-number style.

   The rest of the cast offers solid work across the board, and there truly isn’t a weak link, though those mentioned above are particular standouts. While watching the performance, I began to realize that I was missing the sense of an overall emotional arc, framing piece, or central theme to segue the audience from each number to the next. Some of the performers simply took the mic and started singing, others utilized a few lines of dialogue, and a few (see above) took a moment to connect with the audience. If this sounds nit-picky, it’s because The Fierce And Fabulous Cabaret is of such high quality, I truly hope it comes together as a more thematically cohesive piece. Who are these women? Are they the actual people we see onstage? If so, great! I would suggest having each song tied to the singer's life experience, allowing a glimpse of the real-life woman known to many only as her onstage personae.  (Gottlieb and Northrop are particularly skilled at bonding with the audience, as is Emily Clelland, who relates a personal experience that motivated her as a performer, followed by an enthusiastic song-and-dance rendition of  “If They Could See Me Now” from Sweet Charity.)  A few of the pieces, while quite splendidly performed, seemed randomly inserted. Kathy Seppamaki’s  “Christmas Lullaby” (Songs For A New World) is one of the best-sung ballads in a show full of A-list talent, but feels somewhat out of place between two comedic bits, and without context . Lou Boeschen’s  “On The Steps Of The Palace” (Into The Woods) is lovely, and dovetails nicely into Rodgers and Hammerstein’s  “Stepsisters Lament,” yet nothing is said about the Cinderella myth. This would have been a perfect opportunity to comment on any number of themes relevant to modern womanhood. Once I realized that I was seeing a sort of hybrid concert/cabaret, I just sat back and enjoyed the music, all the while thinking how interesting it is to watch the artistic process unfold. With a stronger sense of identity and a commitment to one specific reality/style, The Fierce And Fabulous Cabaret could easily tour as a professional show. The talent is there, the music is solid and representative of classic and contemporary Broadway, and the basic structure is in place. All it needs is a more defined sense of identity and an answer for “why is each song in its particular spot?”

   The set is simple and sleek, designed by Patrick Faulds to provide tiered seating for the cast, who stay onstage the entire show. As usual, Dean McCaughan’s steady hand keeps sound well-balanced and smooth, though I was disappointed to see that the production utilizes pre-recorded music tracks instead of live accompaniment. For future gigs, I would suggest a single pianist who could also serve as a narrative voice, presenter, and general point of connection between the singers and their audience.

   The Fierce And Fabulous Cabaret is well worth your time and money exactly “as is,” and I strongly recommend you see it now. With a little scripting revision and specific motivation behind each number, it could have a significant future, and you’ll want to catch this act from the very start of its evolution.

   There are only three performances left, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling (803) 799.6551 or visiting Workshoptheatre.com

-FLT3

Columbia Museum of Art Curator Will South Reflects on the Loss and Future of Art

We made them, and it is we who must preserve them. Or, in extreme cases, remake them.

-Will South

The young artist Will South on the bank of the Seine

The young artist Will South on the bank of the Seine

Art is not forever. Paper fades to yellow then brown and turns to dust. Rust never sleeps, and corrodes sculpture. Canvas and panels swell and shrink, paint cracks and falls away. Objects are stolen, bombed, and buried beneath the ocean.

And then there is fire, the universally feared and ever-present threat to the survival of objects. Buildings can and do burn to the ground, and all that is inside may be destroyed completely. The number of paintings, drawings, books, furnishings, inventions and—most importantly—people that have perished in flames is incalculable.

The burning of Notre Dame in Paris is the latest, and one of the greatest, reminders of the fragility of all things. Even the largest, most impressive monuments need protection. We made them, and it is we who must preserve them. Or, in extreme cases, remake them.

The burning of Notre Dame raises other issues injurious to our global cultural life. In the wake of the fire, some have mourned “the loss of a thousand years of history.” Not so. We know as much today about the history of Notre Dame as we did before the fire. History is judgement, and is made by people—it answers the question: how did we get from A to B? Those judgments are with us (and subject to ongoing revision). Many have already declared that Notre Dame “witnessed so many seminal events” and observed such historical luminaries as Napoleon and Joan of Arc. Actually, the stone and glass that made Notre Dame witnessed nothing. Our tendency to anthropomorphize everything on earth only serves to keep us thinking that everything is about us. Notre Dame is an object, not a living thing.

Why is it so special then? Because not all objects are equal. Size varies, weight varies, colors, texture and so on. When something is made, it functions (most often) to serve a purpose: we use forks to eat, shoes to protect our feet, bowling balls to entertain. A massive Gothic cathedral such as Notre Dame was made to express in a grand holistic manner the faith and world-view of a civilization. Arguably, this was a more ambitious purpose, if less perfunctory.

Study a fork, and you quickly get the point: it’s necessary to eat and a fork helps. Shoes, however fetishized in the modern world, help us navigate the environment by preventing cuts and blisters. Bowling balls are part of a very broad narrative of how important it is to have leisure time—play is not frivolous. It is part of forming a balanced personality.

Now, study Notre Dame, and the entirety of a complex belief system unfolds, as does the economic and social fabric of Europe in the Middle Ages. For Notre Dame to have been built eight hundred years ago remains an astonishing feat—what social force could have been so powerful as to propel its construction?

One answer that must be considered is status. Whichever city had the largest cathedral could claim preeminence. This status would attract kings and pilgrims alike, driving the local economy and serving to consolidate the power of that city. To build the tallest cathedral (one sign of its superiority) was no small task, it required all available resources and over one hundred years to build. Cities competed for this status, as they do today.

And, study of Notre Dame inevitably leads to the centrality of faith in human history. Status exists across the animal kingdom, thus the top dog and the queen bee. But it is the human species that has experienced a profound and relentless belief in a non-material world beyond the one we directly encounter each day. Faith, perhaps more so than status or economics, has driven creativity to its most glorious heights, whether in the Sistine Chapel, the Taj Mahal, or in Milton’s Paradise Lost. To understand ourselves as a species, we need to access the most complete expressions of our desires. Which are not forks, shoes or, however useful, bowling balls.

We need Notre Dame. Though it is an object, it is one that arose from magnificent forces, and one that can be a factor in transformative experiences. Meaning, an individual standing inside that incredible architecture may experience the most exalted of human ambitions, as opposed to the most ordinary. It is in us to feel that magnificence, that exaltation. Notre Dame, a work of art as well as a house of worship, enables those precious experiences, whatever one’s beliefs.

Notre Dame can be rebuilt, and must be. Not to preserve history, that is not its function. Nor to be an ongoing witness, that’s a physical impossibility. We need to experience it. That experience—to see and smell and hear an object designed and built to touch the miraculous—can become part of us.

In a world of endless needs, where children starve and veterans go homeless, perhaps this year we can stretch just a little bit more and contribute to the rebuilding of one of our priceless treasures, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, a testament to our search for the transcendent. — Will South

How to Help —

 Please visit the Friends of the Notre Dame de Paris to make a financial donation.

http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/friends/donate/

Visit Jasper’s specially created Facebook “event” to share your own thoughts about the Notre Dame fire and preserving/protecting/rebuilding the places that create our cultural landscape — at https://www.facebook.com/events/2071745049605312/

Jasper Project Announces Names of Women Honored for the Supper Table's Array of Remarkable SC Women

Become a part of the Jasper Project’s most ambitious multi-disciplinary project thus far in one of two ways:

Women and girls are invited to join Jasper on one of six occasions to paint tiles honoring an Array of Remarkable SC Women

Support the Supper Table by sponsoring a tile ($100), educational panel ($300), place-setting ($1000), or table segment ($3000)

(see below)

Supper Table 1x.png

The Supper Table – An Array of Remarkable SC Women, Categorized by Contribution

 

Activists & Politicians

These women spent/have spent their lives fiercely advocating for what they believe in either through the work they do or by working in government positions.

 

  • Bambie Gaddist, M.D. (September 21, 1955 – present) HIV/AIDS activist; Executive Director of The South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council.

  • Bernice Robinson (February 7, 1914 – September 3, 1994) activist in the Civil Rights Movement and education proponent who helped establish adult Citizenship Schools in South Carolina; first African American woman to run for a political office in the state.

  • Candy Waites (February 21, 1943 – present) former president of the League of Women Voters of Columbia; served on Richland County Council for twelve years; former State Representative for House District 75 

  • Elizabeth Hawley Gasque Van Exern (February 26, 1186 – November 2, 1989) Congresswoman elected into the House of Representatives on September 13, 1938; first woman elected into Congress for the state of South Carolina.

  • Gertrude Sanford Legendre (March 29, 1902 – March 8, 2000) American socialite who served with the American spy agency, Office of Strategic Services, during WWII; owner of Medway plantation in South Carolina; known as a noted explorer, big-game hunter and environmentalist.

  • Gilda Cobb-Hunter (November 5, 1952 – present) Democratic member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, representing District 66 in Orangeburg County; first African American woman to be elected into the State House for this county.

  • Harriet Hancock (Unknown) Co-founder of the South Carolina Pride Movement and longtime activist. The Harriet Hancock LGBT Center is named after her, offering a supportive meeting space for those of the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Harriet Keyserling (Unknown – December 10, 2010) First woman to represent Beaufort in the South Carolina Legislature; an advocate for Women’s rights who advocated for the arts and environment.

  • Harriet McBryde Johnson (July 8, 1957 – June 4, 2008) Disability rights activist who was disabled due to a neuromuscular disease; American author and attorney who was named Person of the Year by New Mobility.

  •  Irene Dillard Elliott (August 7, 1892 – April 5, 1978) The first Dean of Women at the University of South Carolina; involved in many civic, educational and cultural organizations.

  •  Jane Edna Harris Hunter (December 13, 1882 – January 13, 1971) African American social worker and founder of the Phillis Wheatley Association of Cleveland, formally known as the Working Girls Association.

  •  Janie Glymph Goree (Unknown – January 2009) Political activist who was elected the first African American female Mayor in South Carolina.

  • Jean Toal (August 11, 1943 – present) First woman and Roman Catholic to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

  • Keller Barron (Unknown – present) Actively involved in the League of Women Voters where she has served as local and state League president, Barron advocates women’s rights, voters’ rights, improved race relations and education reform.

  • Linda Ketner (May 12, 1950 – present) philanthropist who was a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina’s 1st congressional districts; activist for the LGBTQ community, women, and affordable housing.

  • Malissa Burnette (Unknown – present) Certified specialist in employment law; has a history of fighting for cases that involve discrimination, civil and constitutional rights, sexual harassment, breach of contract, non-compete agreements, wage claims, and academic tenure and promotions issues.

  • Marian Wright Edelman (June 6, 1939 – present) President and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund; activist for children’s rights.

  • Marjorie Hammock (January 24, 1936 – Present) Licensed clinical social worker in Columbia, South Carolina; former President of both the SC Chapter NASW and the Columbia Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers; social justice advocate.

  • Nancy Barton (Unknown - present) Founder and Executive Director of Sistercare, an organization who provides services and advocates for domestic violence survivors and their children.

  • Nancy Stevenson (June 8, 1928 – May 31, 2001) American politician who served as Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina from 1979 – 1983; first woman to be elected to the South Carolina statewide office.

  • Nekki Shutt (Unknown – present) attorney and activist from Columbia, South Carolina; honored as Lawyer of the Year for 2019.

  • Nikki Haley (January 20, 1972 – present) The first female governor for South Carolina who went on to serve as United States Ambassador to the United Nations; governor who took down the Confederate Flag at the State House.

  • Reshma Kahn (Unknown – present) Founder and Executive Director of the Shifa Free Clinic; passionate about serving the uninsured at the same level of the insured.

  • Ruth Ann Butler (Unknown – present) Civil rights icon and founder of the Greenville Cultural Exchange; worked to preserve the history of African American stories. 

  • Sarah Mae Flemming (June 28, 1933 – June 16, 1993) African American woman expelled from a bus in Columbia, SC, for refusing to give her seat up, several months before Rosa Parks. Her lawsuit played a massive role in the Parks case months later.

  • Susan Dunn (Unknown – present) Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Carolina; a fierce advocate for the advancement of women in the practice of law.

  • Tamika Gadsden (Unknown – present) State leader of the South Carolina Chapter of the Women's March and longtime women’s rights advocate.

  • Tootsie Holland – (Unknown – Unknown) women’s rights activist; former Regional Director of NOW (National Organization of Women).

  • Vivian Anderson (Unknown – Present) Founder of Every Black Girl, an organization supporting justice for African American girls; recognized by Essence for being one of the 100 woke women of 2018.

 

Actors

These women were/are actors on either the stage or screen with many of them being recognized for their talent with nominations and awards.

  •  Andie McDowell (April 21, 1958 – present) Golden Globe nominated actor and model; known for roles in Groundhog Day, Green Card, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

  • Anna Camp (September 27, 1982 – present) actor, known for her roles in TV Series True Blood, Mad Men, and the Pitch Perfect movies.

  • Danielle Brooks (September 17, 1989 – Present) actor and singer; known for her role as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson on Orange Is the New Black; received a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Sofia in the 2015 Broadway production of The Color Purple.

  • Lauren Hutton (November 17, 1943 – present) American actress and model who signed, at the time, the biggest contract in the history of the modeling industry with makeup brand Revlon (1973).

  • Mabel King (December 25, 1932 – November 9, 1999) American film, stage and TV actress whose roles include Mabel “Mama” Thomas on the ABC hit show, What’s Happening!! and Evillene the Witch on the stage musical, The Wiz.

  • Mary Louise Parker (August 2, 1964 – present) American actor and writer who has received both a Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy Award for roles that she has played; known for her roles in the TV series Weeds and the movie Fried Green Tomatoes

  • Monique Coleman (November 13, 1980 – present) Actor and producer who is known for her roles in the hit movie franchise, High School Musical.

  • Nina Mae McKinney (June 12, 1912 – May 3, 1967) American actor who got her start on Broadway; one of the first African American film stars in the United States.

  • Viola Davis (August 11, 1965 – Present) American actor and the first African American actor to have won an Academy Award, Emmy Award and Tony Award; known for her role on the show How to Get Away with Murder.

  • Virginia Capers (September 22, 1925 – May 6, 2004) Broadway and stage actor; won the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her role in Raisin.

 

Artists

These women were/are artists of any medium or contributed greatly to the arts in South Carolina.

 

  • Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (July 14, 1876 – February 3, 1958) watercolorist, painter, and printmaker; one of the leading figures of the Charleston Renaissance

  • Anita Pollitzer (October 31, 1894 – July 3, 1975) photographer, charcoal artist, and suffragette who was a member of the National Woman’s Party and was instrumental in the passage of the 19th amendment.

  • Anna Vaughan Hyatt Huntington (March 10, 1876 – October 4, 1973) American sculptor who both created the first public monument by a woman in New York City and created the city’s first monument dedicated to a historical woman

  • Betsy Teter (unknown – present) co-founded the Hub City Writers Project in 1995, opened Hub City Bookshop; winner of Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts

  • Elaine Nichols (Unknown – Present) Supervisory Curator of Culture at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; curator of the Black Fashion Museum collection.

  • Elizabeth O’Neill Verner (December 21, 1883 – April 17, 1979) Known as the “best-known woman artist of South Carolina of the twentieth century,” Verner was an artist, author lecturer, and preservationist who was one leader of the Charleston Renaissance; helped found the Southern States Art League.

  • Gail M. Morrison – (Unknown - Present) educator and philanthropist; longtime patron of the arts in Columbia; her and her deceased husband were major benefactors of the Philharmonic, City Ballet, CMA and others; former director of the Commission on Higher Education

  • Georgette Seabrooke (August 2, 1916 – December 27, 2011) Best known for her mural, Recreation in Harlem, displayed at Harlem Hospital in New York City; South Carolina native known as a muralist, artist, illustrator, art therapist and non-profit chief executive and educator

  • Georgia Harris (July 29, 1905 - January 30, 1997) One of the Catawba tribe’s former master potters; award-winning nurse who received the National Heritage Fellowship Award.

  • Helen Hill (May 9, 1970 – January 4, 2007) American filmmaker, artist, writer and social activist; known as one of the most well-regarded experimental animators of her generation after the release of her final film, The Florestine Collection.

  • Kitty Black-Perkins (Unknown) Chief Designers of Fashions and Doll Concepts for Mattel’s Barbie, where her “Black Barbie” was the first doll of color to take the name Barbie (1979-1980).

  • Lily Strickland (January 28, 1884 – June 6, 1958) Composer, painter and writer who published 395 works including sacred music and children’s songs.

  • Mary Jackson (February 3, 1945 – Present) African American fiber artist who received the MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 2008 for “pushing the tradition in stunning new directions” with her sweetgrass basket weaving.

  • Suzy McCormick Shealy (Unknown – present) American artist; was awarded the Order of the Palmetto in 2017; served on the Board of Trustees of the Walker Foundation at the School for the Deaf and Blind

 

Athletes

These women were not only athletes but often broke boundaries for women and people of color in their fields.

  •  Alice Coachman (November 9, 1923 – July 14, 2014) track and field athlete, first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal

  • Dawn Staley (May 4, 1970 – present) Hall of Fame basketball player and coach; three-time Olympic gold medalist

  • Jackie Frazier-Lyde (December 2, 1961 – present) American lawyer and former professional boxer; born the daughter of former Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier.

  • Katrina McClain Johnson (September 19, 1965 – present) Retired American basketball player who has played for many USA teams and three Olympic teams; inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

  • Louise Smith (July 31, 1916 – April 15, 2006) Known as the “first lady of racing,” Smith was a NASCAR racer who became the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999.

  • Lucille Ellerbe Godbold (May 31, 1900 – April 5, 1981) American athlete who competed in the 1922 Women’s World Games; the 1st woman in South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

  • Mamie Peanut Johnson (September 27, 1935 – December 18, 2017) Professional female baseball player who was the first female pitcher and one of only three women to play in the Negro Leagues.

 Businesswomen & Executives

These women spent/have spent their lives either founding their own businesses or working their way to the top of their respective businesses, breaking the glass ceiling both gender and race wise.

  • Darla Moore (August 1, 1954 – present) investor and philanthropist; has been mentioned in Forbes Fortune, Working Woman, Worth, Wall Street Journal, and CNN; school of business at USC is named after her.

  • Debra L. Lee, Esq. (August 8, 1954 – present) businesswoman; currently the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET; named one of The Hollywood Reporter’s “100 Most Powerful Women in Entertainment”

  • Kathy Riley (Unknown – present) Executive Director and Founder of the Columbia Women’s Shelter.

  • Kay Thigpen (Unknown – present) Co-founder and Managing Director of Columbia, South Carolina’s Trustus Theatre.

  • Laura Bragg (October 9, 1881 – May 16, 1978) First woman to run a publicly funded art museum, the Charleston Museum, in 1920. 

  • Marva Smalls (Unknown – Present) Entertainment executive; Vice President of Public Affairs and Chief of Staff at Nickelodeon Networks.

  • Sylvia Woods (February 2, 1926 – July 19, 2012) American restaurateur who founded the restaurant Sylvia’s in Harlem, New York City. She is known as the “Queen of Soul Food.”

  

Educators

These women spent/have spent their lives educating/mentoring groups &/or the community to better understand both the history and current societal structures of South Carolina.

  • Augusta Baker (April 1, 1911 – February 23, 1998) African-American librarian and storyteller, renowned for her contributions to children’s literature

  • Barbara Williams Jenkins (August 17, 1934 – present) educator who greatly contributed to the library profession on a local, regional and national level; first African American President of the South Carolina Library Association

  • Brooke Bauer (unknown – present) – first Catawba Indian to receive a PhD; professor of History at USC – Lancaster

  • Charlotta Spears Bass (February 14, 1874 - April 12, 1969) educator, newspaper publisher-editor, and civil rights activist; first African-American woman to own and operate a newspaper in the US; first African-American woman nominated for Vice President.

  • Cynthia Graham Hurd (Mid-1900s – June 17, 2015) librarian who fought for literacy for all; housing rights activist; victim of Charleston AME church shooting

  • Dr. Wil Lou Gray (August 29, 1883 – March 10, 1984) Influential educator focusing on adult literacy who was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame; only female of 34 nominations for the South Carolina Man of the Hall Century Award.

  • Lucy Hampton Bostick (November 6, 1898 – July 8, 1968) Devoted librarian and citizen who contributed to the development of the library system in Richland County & South Carolina; served as Secretary of the SC State Library Board for almost 40 years.

  • Martha Schofield (1839 – 1916) Abolitionist and Educator who opened Scofield’s School in 1870 in an effort to teach her students to become “themselves” while still teaching them basic skills such as reading, writing and math. 

  • Millicent Brown (Unknown – present) Claflin professor; one of the first African American children to integrate South Carolina schools with the case Millicent Brown vs. SC School District 20 (1963).

  • Rev. Sharonda Coleman- Singleton (Unknown – June 17, 2015) Speech-language pathologist for Goose Creek High; track and field coach who brought many athletes to the state tournament; victim of the Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston who is honored by many.

  • Victoria Eslinger (Unknown – Present) litigator; mentor at the USC School of Law; winner of the 2012 Bissell Award, 2009 Advocate of the Year, and a Compleat Lawyer Platinum Award.

 

Scientists & Medical Professionals

These women were/are scientists, astronauts, nurses, and doctors, who spent/have spent their lives saving the lives of others and making scientific breakthroughs.

 

  • Catherine Coleman (December 14, 1960 – present) –American chemist, former United States Air Force officer, and retired NASA astronaut

  • Hilla Sheriff (1903 – September 10, 1988) South Carolina physician who became one of the most respected medical officials during the twentieth century; held positions such as Health Officer in Spartanburg County and the Director of the Board of Health’s Division of Maternal and Child Health in Columbia.

  • Juanita Redmond Hipps (July 1, 1912 – February 25, 1979) Known as one of the Angels of Bataan during the early months of war; a nurse for the United States Army Nurse Corps and the author of bestselling book, I Served on Bataan, which spoke on her experiences in the Philippines.

  • Maj. Gen. Irene Trowell-Harris (Unknown – present) Commissioned in the New York Air National Guard in April 1963; held the positions of chief nurse, nurse administrator, flight nurse instructor and flight nurse examiner; first female in history to have a Tuskegee Airmen Inc. Chapter named in her honor

  • Maude Callen (November 8, 1898 – January 23, 1990) Nurse and midwife whose work was brought to national attention through the photo, “Nurse Midwife,” by W. Eugene Smith when it was published in Life in 1951.

 

Singers & Performers

These women were/are singers, dancers, models, or other performers who either helped the state in some way or represented SC as they performed around the world.

 

  • Ann Brodie (December 13, 1929 – March 9, 1999) internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer; founding director of Columbia City Ballet.

  • Bertha “Chippie” Hill (March 15, 1905 – May 7, 1950) blues and vaudeville performer who recorded with Louis Armstrong

  • Dorae Saunders (unknown – present) transgender woman of color from Columbia who was a finalist on season 3 of America’s Got Talent

  • Etta Jones (November 25, 1928 – October 16, 2001) American Jazz singer who received three Grammy nominations for her albums Don’t Go to Strangers, Save Your Love for Me, and My Buddy. Her album, Don’t Go to Strangers, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

  • Gwendolyn Bradley (Unknown – Present) American soprano born in Bishopville, South Carolina, who has performed on both opera and concert stages around the world.

  • Linda Martell (June 4, 1941 – present) Country and blues singer who was the first African American Woman to sing at the Grand Ole Opry.

  • Mariclare Miranda (Unknown – present) Prima ballerina for Columbia City Ballet since 1997; founder and principal instructor of the Columbia Conservatory of Dance.

  • Marlena Smalls (Unknown) Gospel Singer known for forming the Hallelujah Singers in 1990 in hopes to promote the Gullah heritage.

  • Maxine Brown (August 18, 1939 – present) American soul singer whose track “We’ll Cry Together” reached #10 in the Billboard R&B chart.

  • Melanie Thornton (May 13, 1967 – November 24, 2001) American pop singer who was the lead singer of the band La Bouche from 1994-2001.

  • Ophelia Devore-Mitchell (August 12, 1921 – February 28, 2014) First African American model in the United States; helped establish the Grace Del Marco Agency, one of the first modeling agencies in America.

  • Sarah Reese – (Unknown - Present) instructor and opera singer who has traveled and performed throughout the world; praised by a plethora of sources such as The New York Times; won on the “Ted Mack” show.

 

Writers

These women are poets, novelists, essayists, journalists, playwrights, and more who were often inspired by their own lives in the works they wrote and frequently used their written works as a form of activism.

 

  • Annie Greene Nelson (December 5, 1902 – December 23, 1993) novelist and playwright; first African American woman from South Carolina to publish a novel

  • Betsy Cromer Byars (August 7, 1928 – present) author of children's books; won a Newbery Medal, a National Book Award for Young People's Literature, and an Edgar Award 

  • Beryl Dakers (Mid-1900s – present) Emmy nominated broadcast journalist; first black person on air reporting news for WIS radio; worked for ETV.

  • Blanche McCrary Boyd (1945 – present) novelist, essayist, and screenwriter; feminist & LGBTQ+ advocate  

  • Carrie Allen McCray (October 4, 1913 – July 25, 2008) novelist and poet;
    one of the founders and first board members of the South Carolina Writers Workshop

  • Charlayne Hunter-Gault (February 27, 1942 – present) journalist; former foreign correspondent for National Public Radio; Civil Rights Activist

  • Dori Sanders (June 8, 1934 – present) African-American novelist, food writer and farmer; winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award

  • Dorothy Allison (April 11, 1949 – present) best-selling author; nominated for the 1992 National Book Award for her novel Bastard Out of Carolina

  • Dot Jackson (August 10, 1932 – December 11, 2016) Novelist and longtime journalist for the Charlotte Observer.

  • Elizabeth Allston Pringle (May 29, 1845 – December 5, 1921) Female rice-plantation owner; author of the best-selling novel A Woman Rice Planter; wrote about her childhood and women during the Civil War.

  • Elizabeth Boatwright Coker (April 21, 1909 – September 1, 1993) Author of nine novels with plots revolving around the legends and family histories of South Carolina; inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 1992 for her impact on South Carolina and American culture and history.

  • Essie Mae Washington-Williams (October 12, 1925 - February 4, 2013) Daughter of former Governor of South Carolina, Strom Thurmond; a teacher, author and writer known for her pro-racial segregation policies.

  • Grace Lumpkin (March 3, 1891 – March 23, 1980) American writer of proletarian literature with much of her work focusing on the Depression Era. Her first book, To Make My Bread, won the Gorky Prize in 1933.

  • Gwen Bristow (September 16, 1903 – August 17, 1980) American Author and Journalist known for her best-selling western romance, Jubilee Trail; inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1989.

  • Helen von Kolnitz Hyer (December 30, 1896 – November 14, 1983) American Poet named the second South Carolina Poet Laureate from 1974-1983 by Governor John C. West.

  • Josephine Humphries (February 2, 1945 – present) Author who wrote many novels inspired by the landscape of Charleston, SC, and her own life in the South; recipient of the 1984 Hemingway Foundation/PEN award.

  • Mary Boykin Chestnut (March 31, 1823 – November 22, 1886) American author; known for her book published as her Civil War diary, which outlines the society and its struggles throughout this time.

  • Mary C. Simms Oliphant (January 6, 1891 – July 27, 1988) South Carolina historian; updated the 1860 history of South Carolina textbook, which was adopted by the State Board of Education.

  • Nikky Finney (August 26, 1957 – present) American poet who advocates for social justice and cultural preservation; inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors in 2013.

  • Peggy Parish (July 14, 1927 – November 19, 1988) American author known for her children’s book series; published over 30 books in her lifetime.

  • Sheila R. Morris (Unknown - Present) author and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights; wrote Southern Perspective of the Queer Movement, a collection of the true stories of LGBTQ+ individuals in South Carolina. 

  • Sue Monk Kidd (August 12, 1948 – Present) American author whose work has debuted at number 1 on The New York Times Best Seller List; best known for her novel, The Secret Life of Bees, which was turned into a fairly well-critiqued movie.

  • Vera Gomez (Unknown – present) Greenville based poet; founding member of the first Greenville Poetry Slam team that won the 1998 Southeast Regionals, bringing the first, all-women team to Nationals.

  • Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor (April 4, 1937 – September 3, 2016) Culinary anthropologist, food writer, and broadcaster on public media; produced two award-winning documentaries.

  • Virginia Mixson Geraty (1915 - 2004) American Author who published books in the Gullah Language; Gullah Scholar and defender of the language.

 

The Jasper Project presents

An Array of Remarkable South Carolina Women – an ancillary project of The Supper Table

When Judy Chicago created her monumental 1979 art installation, The Dinner Party, the artist knew she wanted to highlight the accomplishments of more than just the 39 women who have place-settings at the table. So Chicago created the Heritage Floor upon which the names of 999 women were written on more than 2000 tiles.

The Jasper Project’s Supper Table* takes further inspiration from Chicago’s installation with an ancillary project called an Array of Remarkable South Carolina Women, consisting of 120 ceramic tiles, each embossed with the name of an exceptional SC woman, embellished and signed by a woman from the Midlands community, and set into wall-like panels for display.

You are invited to embellish one of these tiles, each of which honors a SC woman, living or deceased, whose life’s work has improved or continues to improve humankind. There is no cost to participate and all ages are welcome. All you need to do is sign up for one of the designated time slots, go to the Columbia Arts Center at 1227 Taylor Street, choose your subject and then paint and sign your tile. Your name will be recorded in our commemorative book, alongside the bio of the woman whose tile you paint, and you will be invited to an opening reception for the tiles later this summer.

Times to paint:

·        Wednesday, April 17, 6 – 8 pm

·        Wednesday, April 24, 3 – 5 pm

·        Tuesday, April 30, 6 – 8 pm

·        Wednesday, May 1, 3 – 5 pm

·        Wednesday, May 8, 3 – 5 pm

·        Saturday, May 11, 1 – 3 pm

*The Supper Table is the Jasper Project’s most ambitious project to date! A SC-centric homage to the 40th anniversary of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, the Supper Table honors 12 women from SC history who devoted their lives to breaking barriers and improving humankind including Mary McLeod Bethune, Alice Childress, Septima Clark, Mathilda Evans, Althea Gibson, Angelina and Sarah Grimke, Eartha Kitt, Julia Peterkin, Eliza Pinckney, Modjeska Monteith Simkins, Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, and Sarah Leverette.

Participating Artists include:

Bohumila Augustinova – Columbia Art Center, Anastasia and Friends

Eileen Blyth – www.eileenblyth.com

Tonya Gregg – www.tonyagregg.com

Mana Hewitt – www.manahewitt.com

B. A. Hohman – www.facebook.com/bahohman

Heidi Darr-Hope www.darr-hope.com

Lori Isom

Flavia Lovatelli – www.flavia-lovatelli.com

Laurie Brownell McIntosh – www.lauriemcintoshart.com

Michaela Pilar Brown – www.michaelapilarbrown.com 

Renee Roullier –www.reneerouillier.com

Olga Yukhno 310art.com/olga-yukhno

 

Literary Artists

Jennifer Bartell – poet and educator - https://jenniferbartellpoet.com/

Carla Damron – social worker and author of The Stone Necklace - http://carladamron.com/

Joyce Rose Harris – poet, The Watering Hole

Kristine Hartvigsen – editor, author of To the Wren Nesting

Meeghan Kane – founder, editor UnSweetened

Monifa Lemons – poet, founder The Watering Hole

Eva Moore – editor, Free Times

Marjory Wentworth – SC poet laureate

Qiana Whitted – USC professor of English and African Studies, author of Comics and the US South

Candace Wiley – poet, founder The Watering Hole

Christina Xan – poet, adjunct English professor, USC 

Claudia Smith Brinson – The State, Columbia College

 

Additional Artists

Kirkland Smith – portraitist

Jordan Morris – table artist

Betsy Newman –filmmaker advisor

Mahkia Greene – filmmaker coordinator

Vicky Saye Henderson – theatre artist coordinator

Lee Ann Kornegay – long-form and short-form filmmaker

Brenda Oliver – ceramicist

Diane Hare  - ceramics assistant

Kathryn Van Aernum – photographer/graphic artist

Cindi Boiter – project director/editor

Christina Xan- assistant project director

Filmmakers (4/15/19)

Betsy Newman, Lee Ann Kornegay, Laura Kissel, Roni Nicole, Ebony Wilson, Tamara Finkbeiner, Josetra Robinson, Katly Hong

Deckle Edge Literary Festival Announces Dorothy Allison as Keynote Speaker

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In its 4th year as the grass roots answer to the SC Book Festival, Deckle Edge Literary Festival announces South Carolina author Dorothy Allison as the keynote speaker for the 2019 festival and the recipient of the second annual Deckle Edge Literary Festival Southern Truth Award. Allison will speak at the Booker T. Washington auditorium at the University of South Carolina on Friday, March 22nd at 7 pm in an engagement sponsored by the USC Women’s and Gender Studies Program. On Saturday, March 23rd at 10 am, Allison will address the Deckle Edge Literary Festival in a conversation with Bren McClain, author of One Good Momma Bone (2017, USC Press) at the Richland Library on Assembly Street in downtown Columbia, SC.

Allison is the author of Trash (1988), a collection of semi-autobiographical short stories, the multi-award winning Bastard Out of Carolina (1992), Cavedweller (1998), which became a New York Times bestseller, and more. She has written for the Village Voice, Conditions, and New York Native and won several Lambda Awards. Bastard Out of Carolina was a finalist for the National Book Award, the winner of the Ferro Grumley Prize, was translated into more than a dozen languages and became a bestseller and award winning film directed by Anjelica Huston. Allison is a recent inductee into the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

A native of Greenville, SC, Allison’s writings frequently reference the class struggles and social alienation she experienced as a child growing up gay, impoverished, and the first child of a 15-year-old unwed mother in the conservative SC upstate. Bastard Out of Carolina also details the sexual abuse she endured throughout childhood at the hands of her step-father. The New York Times Book Review calls the book, “As close to flawless as a reader could ask for.”

Allison will be awarded the Deckle Edge Literary Festival Southern Truth Award on Friday evening, March 22nd. The Southern Truth award, whose first recipient in 2018 was Nikky Finny, is awarded to a Southern author whose body of work exemplifies the complexity of the South’s history, celebrates the gifts of the South’s diverse peoples, and enhances the narrative of the South by focusing on the progress we make and the continued work before us.

The 2019 Deckle Edge Literary Festival includes an exciting roster of authors, panels, and interviews including, among others, printmaker Boyd Sauders; Chieftess Queen Quet who is an elder of the Gullah/Geechee Nation; Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Kathleen Parker and more.

For more information please visit www.DeckleEdgeSC.org

 

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JAY Music Finalist Marina Alexandra hosts Southern Guitar Festival Competition

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Guitar Gala is an elegant evening that will feature wine tasting, delicious dining from Dupre Catering, comedy and superb performances by such popular musicians as  Ukrainian-born guitarist,  Marina Alexandra, Charleston based guitarist, Chris Teves, Tony Lee (drums),  nationally recognized soprano, Janet Hopkins, and award winning actress Martha Hearn Kelly from Trustus theater.

Janet Hopkins

Janet Hopkins

Renowned dramatic mezzo-soprano Janet Hopkins, a 16 year veteran of the New York Metropolitan Opera, continues to thrill audiences on her concert tour of symphonic stages across America. Recent performances include The Defiant Requiem (Verdi Requiem) at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC,  El Amor Brujo (South Carolina Philharmonic), Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (Bowling Green Symphony Orchestra, Kentucky) and Alexander Nevsky (West Shore Symphony Orchestra, MI).

Known for her innovative style and approach to bringing classical music to broader audiences, Miss Hopkins won critical acclaim from the New York Times and USA Today for the limited edition ARIA. A first-of-its-kind music and fine wine project, ARIA is the marriage of a world class wine personally blended by Miss Hopkins with Tulip Hill Winery and her recording of well known classical Italian love songs at historic Capitol Records in Hollywood. The boxed set was an immediate mainstream hit.

Miss Hopkins made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera during the 1991 – 1992 seasons. Since then, opera lovers have appreciated her diverse repertoire on the world’s greatest stage.

She debuted at The Met in The Ghost of Versailles, and has since returned many times over the years, pleasing audiences in Die Walküre, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Der Rosenkavalier, Katya Kabanova, Elektra, Jenufa, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, War and Peace, Les Mamelles de Tiresias, L’Enfant et les Sortileges, Khovanschina, Doktor Faustus,The Makropulos Case, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, The Bartered Bride, and Parsifal. Miss Hopkins has toured Japan three times with The Met in Der Rosenkavalier, Die Walküre, and Rigoletto. While in Japan the mezzo-soprano sang a series of solo recitals in Tokyo, garnering much critical acclaim.

Away from touring and performing, Miss Hopkins enjoys her position as a member of the voice faculty at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

 

Marina Alexandra

Marina Alexandra

Marina Alexandra has established herself as a dynamic performer with a powerful stage presence. Finger Style Guitar Magazine described her as an “amazing player that commands the guitar with world-class technique and musicianship that is uncommon.” Marina Alexandra was listed by the Aaron Shearer Foundation as one of the most influential female classical guitarist in America.

She has received awards in several guitar competitions including the Music Teachers National Association State and Regional Competitions and semifinalist in the 6th annual Edwin H. and Leigh W. Schadt National String Competition for classical guitar. Marina has a concert career spanning the last fifteen years, taking her to Piccolo Spoleto Festival, National Public Radio, Allentown Radio, and hundreds of venues including colleges, guitar festivals and museums throughout USA.  She has released three albums   including; Timeless Enchantment (Baroque, Classical, Modern, and Latin-American music) , A Moment of Magic (modern music by Russian composer, Nikita Koshkin) and Americas from North to South (flute and guitar music). Her albums received high praises from such prestigious music magazines as Soundboard, Classical Guitar (UK) and American Record Guide.

Marina Alexandra was born in the Ukraine, where she began her guitar studies at the age of six. In 1996 she immigrated with her family to the United States, and in 1998 she was awarded an assistantship to earn her Master of Music degree at the University of South Carolina.  She has served on the faculties of Furman University, University of South Carolina- Aiken, SC, Wingate University, and Columbia College.  Her students have been awarded scholarships to attend music schools such as the Eastman School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, and University of Southern California.  Under Marina’s direction, many students have also received top prizes in national guitar competitions.

Marina performs regularly on stages throughout the southeast United States. In addition to her concert solo career, Marina Alexandra participates in the group Duo de Vista (with flutist Teri Forscher-Milter).

Marina is a major contributor to the guitar community on both the local and national levels. Mrs. Alexandra is the founding president of the Guitar Muse Society, which  hosts yearly concert and educational events in Columbia, SC.  Mrs. Alexandra is also the artistic and executive director of the Southern Guitar Festival and Competition, which attracts participants from all over the US and abroad. Mrs. Alexandra plays a major role in advocating for the arts, she was invited to be on the planning committee for Midlands Art Conservatory (SC) as well as grant approval  committee for the  South Arts non-profit organization, that represents nine Southeastern states.

REVIEW: Workshop’s Jake’s Women an overlooked gem in Neil Simon’s Oeuvre

 

“He said, I got tongue-tied by a teacher in Tallahassee

I got french-fried by a waitress in Idaho

I got way-laid by a widow in Wyoming

Oh Lord, he said, women gonna be the death of me but what a way to go.”

Dr. Hook – “What A Way To Go”

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by Frank Thompson

Hello, friends! Happy to be back in the saddle, following a nasty couple of weeks under the weather. (Drink your juice, get a flu shot, and dress warmly!) My first review of 2019 requires that I play “Full Disclosure” (see The Addams Family: The Musical for the reference.) I am a frequent director with Workshop Theatre, and serve as Vice-President of the Board of Trustees. I do my best to remain completely objective, but feel it only ethical to establish the relationship up-front. That said, let’s talk about the show.

Jake’s Women, the first official production in Workshop’s new “home” at Columbia College’s Cottingham Theatre kicks off a new era, a new venue, and a new optimism for all involved. Last season saw “guest appearances” at Cottingham, with a show-by-show arrangement. Without revealing anything classified, I can say that Workshop and Cottingham have come to a more substantial relationship. With a full-sized, legitimate theatre space, and the amenities and advantages that come with it, Workshop is poised to re-establish its position as one of Columbia’s premiere performing houses.  I say this in my capacity as a critic, not as Workshop “family,” but the venerable theatre group seems strongly poised to re-capture the glory days of Bull Street. Special props to Executive Director, Jeni Decamp McCaughn, for steering the ship through a few stormy years, yet holding a steady hand at the helm, with husband Dean McCaughan dedicating countless hours to helping his wife weather the storm, and a mostly-volunteer staff and crew devoting their talents to resurrect Workshop’s past identity. We’re straying into promotional territory, so I will shift my focus to the show, not the organization.

“With a full-sized, legitimate theatre space, and the amenities and advantages that come with it, Workshop is poised to re-establish its position as one of Columbia’s premiere performing houses.”

Jake’s Women tells the story of a widowed and remarried man, Jake, who is struggling with the devastating loss of a beloved spouse, attempting to re-build his life by dating and falling in love with Maggie, his second wife. Maggie is loving, pretty, and embrace’s Jake’s daughter with sincere affection. Throughout the performance, the all-female cast (minus Jake) remain far upstage, watching, ignoring, and occasionally reacting to his experiences. While hilarious, Jake’s Women jumps between reality, (possible) dreams, and manages to work in a couple of tear-jerking moments internal to the hilarity. The plot is somewhat meta-on-meta, and it takes a few minutes to understand the structure and symbolism of the ever-present women in his literal and figurative background.

Another confession: I am not a huge Neil Simon fan, with the exceptions of Barefoot In The Park and Murder By Death, a mid-70s TV film that BEGS for a stage adaptation. Director David Britt is, however, a Simon aficionado, and his love of the material shines through in every scene.

Without dropping spoilers, I can say that Jake encounters various women in his life, including his daughter, his shrink, his deceased ex-wife, and his potential new wife, should he and Maggie divorce. Through a series of flashbacks, we meet ex-wife Julie, who hasn’t let death remove her from the realm of the living.

If this sounds Quentin Tarantino-esque, that’s because it is. Realities and perspective frequently swap places, and, (again, no spoilers) and it takes a few minutes to understand the conceit. For anyone who knows Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Simon’s Jake’s Women provides a similar feeling of “eureka!” when the structure becomes obvious. Trust me, you’ll have a difficult time not shouting “ah-ha!” when things become clear.

“If this sounds Quentin Tarantino-esque, that’s because it is.”


Re the cast, Director Britt has assembled an A-plus group of performers. In the eponymous role, and as the sole male perspective, newcomer Damian Garrod displays a level of skill that will likely place him at the forefront of casting calls, should he continue in the Columbia theatre community. Jake is clueless and mildly chauvinist, but tries to be a genuinely nice guy, and Garrod nails the role. In my notes, I wrote “Young George Clooney,” “Jimmy Stewart,” “Joey Tribbiani,” (Friends) “Charlie Brown,” and “Mark Hamill in Star Wars.” Garrod channels these, and other actors/characters with seeming effortlessness , never allowing himself to slide into caricature, or shatter the illusion of his own interpretation of the world surrounding him.

As Maggie, Jake’s second wife, Lou Boeschen shines while demonstrating dramatic acting skills that I had never before seen, knowing Lou from “big, happy, musicals.” While she is certainly adept at roles in shows such as Anything Goes and The Marvelous Wonderettes, she also has the chops to believably portray a hopeful but world-weary Maggie. I was quite impressed with this new discovery from someone whose musical talent I have always admired.

The rest of the cast is uniformly strong, featuring Dee Renko as Jake’s funky-meets-hip sister, Karen, who truly wants the best for her brother. H. Loretta Brown provides a sympathetic gravitas as psychiatrist Edith, while Riley Campbell and Raelyn O’Briant share the role of Jake’s daughter, Molly, with Campbell taking the role as a young girl, and O’Briant picking up as the older Molly. As the deceased Julie, Jennifer Lucas O’Briant straddles the line between dream/hallucination and corporeal presence. Rounding out the cast is Melissa Frierson as Sheila, the new girlfriend we meet in act two. Each of the above presents a fully-developed, serious, yet entertaining character in Jake’s life. There’s not a weak link in this ensemble cast, which makes it a pleasure to enjoy.

The set, designed by director Britt, is minimalist without seeming skimpy, and fits the shifting times, perspectives, and realities of the story. Alexis Doktor’s Costume Design perfectly fits both the characters and period. Stage Manager Caleb Carson does an excellent job of keeping the show moving. Though Jake’s Women is almost two hours long, counting the interval, I was shocked when each act ended. Britt has clearly emphasized pace, which is always a good idea with Neil Simon. Dean McCaughan, as always, runs a tight sound/light board, and Columbia College’s Patrick Faulds delivers an effective and creative lighting design, which moves the show along while enhancing specific moments.

Jake’s Women is not the most well-known of Simon’s work, but it is one of the most engaging and entertaining shows I’ve seen in some time. The entire cast is onstage for the full evening, with the actors playing semi-detatched, yet still-aware figures in Jake’s psyche.

As for the drawbacks, they are few. A couple of actors need to project more, which shouldn’t  be difficult, and (as much as I love minimalism,) I’m ready to see the newly–rebranded Workshop bring us a fully-realized set. The script, while clever and enjoyable, is benignly surreal. Fans of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction will enjoy a Tarantino-esque gradual reveal, which lets us know that various time periods and flashback sequences prevent approaching the work as a linear timeline. It takes a few moments to catch onto the conceit. If you’re confused at first, just give it a few minutes.

Jake’s Women is a bit of a mind-bender, and (quite honestly) not quite up there with Simon’s absolute best, but it’s a charming, enjoyable show, performed by a talented cast. There are, as the saying goes, worse ways to spend an evening. It didn’t change my life, but I laughed, I cried, and I had one hell of a good time. Jake’s Women runs Thursday-Sunday, so don’t miss your chance to see this hilarious, heart-warming, and occasionally tear-jerking “sleeper” show by the master of urban comedy.

On a final note, I couldn’t suppress a guffaw when the twenty-something “ghost” of Julie, misunderstanding the timeline, shouts at Jake with “EEEEW! You’re 48 and I SLEPT with you last night?”

I will be 49 in June. Ouch.

Make sure your weekend plans include Jake’s Women. It’s a lighthearted show that has moments of sincere pathos and seriousness, and a lesser-known work by a master of American comedy. You’ll be glad to have “discovered” it, and have a delightful time laughing at the mirror-image of life that Simon artfully crafts.

-FLT3

Jake’s Women continues its run Thursday-Sunday at Collingwood Theatre, Columbia College. Tickets can be reserved by ringing the Box Office on (803) 799. 6551, or by visiting WorkshopTheatre.com

New Beatles Ballet from Columbia City Ballet Means NEW Choreography, Music, and Dance Experience

by Hallie Hayes

Soloist Abby McDowell rehearses for Beatles - The Ballet (photo Ashley Concannon)

Soloist Abby McDowell rehearses for Beatles - The Ballet (photo Ashley Concannon)

In an original ballet conceived by Columbia City Ballet’s artistic director, William Starrett, one has the opportunity to relive, or to experience the ‘60s for the first time through the inspiration of one of the most famous bands of the century: The Beatles.

 

While the opportunity to experience the beautiful classics from Columbia City Ballet is often presented, Beatles The Ballet embraces a new experience, following The Beatles’ careers and impacting the audience through the social awareness that The Beatles presented decades ago.

 

The ballet features 40 classics from the band, all producing short form pieces which allows viewers to experience ballet and this prolific journey in a new way.  The Beatles create dialogue through their music- producing a cultural impact and still today, topics that they covered in the ‘60s make appearances in our conversations; this inspired Starrett.

 

Under the artistic direction of Starrett himself, 12 guest choreographers from all over the country have been brought in to help him with creating this production, including Sherry Horton, Carolina Lewis Jones, Racheal Leonard, James Atkinson and Jerry Opdenaker.   All 32 company members active with Columbia City Ballet will play a role in this production.  Starrett has also brought in two performers from Nashville, TN, who have toured internationally with a The Beatles impersonation group called Rain.

 

The Beatles, generations later, still play a substantial role on young listeners and Starrett acknowledges this, making this a show one for a wide-ranged audience.

 

The ‘60s loved The Beatles.  The ‘80s loved The Beatles.  Today, listeners love The Beatles.

 

In a recent interview with ABC News, Starrett explains the impact that putting the journey of this prolific band into a ballet can have: “Through the dance, the music can have more intensity and you can really see some of the lyrics.”

 

You’ve heard the lyrics.  You’ve sang the lyrics.  Come see the lyrics.  Come experience the lyrics.

 

Before the ballet, a ‘60s themed VIP reception will be held where Starrett will discuss the creation of the ballet.  Enjoy an open bar and travel back in time, as your best 60s attire is highly encouraged.

 

Beatles The Ballet will take place on Saturday, February 2nd at Kroger Center for the Arts with two performance: 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are available at www.krogercenterforthearts.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Announcing the 2018 Jasper Artist of the Year Finalists -- TIME TO VOTE!

We asked. You answered. Which members of the greater Columbia area arts community are finishing up particularly good years? Who has had that shining good year of success or accomplishment or growth? Who is a different artist today than they were in July 2017?

And based on your nominations and the material you provided we asked a panel of experts to narrow down the contenders to just three in each discipline.

Now, the ball is back in your court.

Check out the following 12 JAY finalists in Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, & Literary Arts and cast your votes for who you think should take home the awardS.

Then join us at the Historic Seibels House on Friday, January 18th for the Jasper Artists of the Year Awards Ceremony and Celebration.

Let’s get started.

~ MUSIC ~

Marina Alexander -  Over the last 15 months Marina Alexandra has been invited to perform concerts at: the Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities, Greenville, SC, Furman University, the Public Library (at Sandhills), the National Flute Convention (DC), Ohio International Guitar Festival, Tuesday Concert Series (Augusta, GA), University of South Carolina (Linguistic Department, Russian program), Midtown Theater, North Charleston, SC. Marina founded a unique group called the Maritone Duo consisting of herself on classical guitar and Tony Lee on drums, and she has released 3 videos with the Maritone Duo. She was accepted to a prestigious Ivy League program sponsored by University of Pennsylvania, the Executive Program in Arts and Culture, and was invited to conduct a multi-day artists residency at East Point Academy and Irmo High School. She was invited to judge the SC All State Guitar Competition; she continues to direct the Southern Guitar Festival (since 2012). Marina Alexandra was listed by the Aaron Shearer Foundation as one of the most influential female classical guitarists in America.

Marina Alexander - Over the last 15 months Marina Alexandra has been invited to perform concerts at: the Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities, Greenville, SC, Furman University, the Public Library (at Sandhills), the National Flute Convention (DC), Ohio International Guitar Festival, Tuesday Concert Series (Augusta, GA), University of South Carolina (Linguistic Department, Russian program), Midtown Theater, North Charleston, SC. Marina founded a unique group called the Maritone Duo consisting of herself on classical guitar and Tony Lee on drums, and she has released 3 videos with the Maritone Duo. She was accepted to a prestigious Ivy League program sponsored by University of Pennsylvania, the Executive Program in Arts and Culture, and was invited to conduct a multi-day artists residency at East Point Academy and Irmo High School. She was invited to judge the SC All State Guitar Competition; she continues to direct the Southern Guitar Festival (since 2012). Marina Alexandra was listed by the Aaron Shearer Foundation as one of the most influential female classical guitarists in America.

Marcum Core -  Over the past 15 months Marcum Core has realized the following accomplishments and more. In May, Marcum was featured in  Jasper  Magazine. He has released or performed the following: July 12 -  Prolific Vol 1  (Instrumental Album), July 27 -  Vol 2  (Instrumental Album) hosted in August - First Annual Pigeon Party @ The War Mouth (Curated Playlist), September 1 - Featured Artist on WUSC “The Columbia Beet,” September 3 -  Prolific Vol 3  (Instrumental Album) September 26, Oct 5 - FatRat Da Czar released his latest album  ETHX  completely produced by Marcum. October 15 - Bandcamp Exclusive release  Dawgone Shame  (Instrumental Album). In Oct 27, he played for the Seuss Slam and served as the host and background music production for the readers. In November he opened for EZ Shakes and King Vulture (Live Beat Set).

Marcum Core - Over the past 15 months Marcum Core has realized the following accomplishments and more. In May, Marcum was featured in Jasper Magazine. He has released or performed the following: July 12 - Prolific Vol 1 (Instrumental Album), July 27 - Vol 2 (Instrumental Album) hosted in August - First Annual Pigeon Party @ The War Mouth (Curated Playlist), September 1 - Featured Artist on WUSC “The Columbia Beet,” September 3 - Prolific Vol 3 (Instrumental Album) September 26, Oct 5 - FatRat Da Czar released his latest album ETHX completely produced by Marcum. October 15 - Bandcamp Exclusive release Dawgone Shame (Instrumental Album). In Oct 27, he played for the Seuss Slam and served as the host and background music production for the readers. In November he opened for EZ Shakes and King Vulture (Live Beat Set).

Zach Seibert -  Among Zach Seibert’s accomplishments over the past 15 months we include that he formed E.Z. Shakes as a duo the summer of 2017 and released a self-titled EP in August 2017 then went on to expand to a full band and play their debut show with Boo Hag in December 2017. Zach recorded a full-length album in March 2018 at Fidelitorium Recordings in Kernersville, NC, He submitted a video to NPR Tiny Desk competition of the title track "The Wolf" in April 2018 and had the full-length album release of  The Wolf  album in July 2018. He performed in a number of local and regional shows and festivals, both solo and with the band, such as the Jam Room Music Festival September 2018 and he recorded a follow up 7” inch EP titled "Eyes on fire" in the fall of 2018. Zach was also featured on the Kendallprojects podcast in October 2018.

Zach Seibert - Among Zach Seibert’s accomplishments over the past 15 months we include that he formed E.Z. Shakes as a duo the summer of 2017 and released a self-titled EP in August 2017 then went on to expand to a full band and play their debut show with Boo Hag in December 2017. Zach recorded a full-length album in March 2018 at Fidelitorium Recordings in Kernersville, NC, He submitted a video to NPR Tiny Desk competition of the title track "The Wolf" in April 2018 and had the full-length album release of The Wolf album in July 2018. He performed in a number of local and regional shows and festivals, both solo and with the band, such as the Jam Room Music Festival September 2018 and he recorded a follow up 7” inch EP titled "Eyes on fire" in the fall of 2018. Zach was also featured on the Kendallprojects podcast in October 2018.

~THEATRE ~

Michael Hazin -  Michael Hazin has been busy performing in  Rock of Ages  in July 2017, in the title role in  Evil Dead The Musical  in October 2017, the  Love is Love  Cabaret; The Restoration’s  Constance ; The Lexington Festival of the Arts, and as a member of The Mothers for their 2017-2018 season. He is currently rehearsing for  Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

Michael Hazin - Michael Hazin has been busy performing in Rock of Ages in July 2017, in the title role in Evil Dead The Musical in October 2017, the Love is Love Cabaret; The Restoration’s Constance; The Lexington Festival of the Arts, and as a member of The Mothers for their 2017-2018 season. He is currently rehearsing for Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

Christine Hellman -  Christine Hellman served as a Resident Acting Coach for Workshop Theatre from the Summer 2017 to present. She played Barbara in  Barbecue  at Trustus Theatre, Juliet in  Romeo and Juliet  at Columbia Children’s Theatre in the fall of 2017, Jan in  Speech and Debate  at the Lab Theatre at University of South Carolina in the fall of 2017, as well as multiple roles in  String of Pearls  at Workshop Theatre in the fall of 2017. In  Misery Is Optional – Recollections of Recovery , Christine served as the co-playwright, actor, and winner of the Harbison incubator grant (Feb 2018), which was given a special run at Trustus (September 2018) and at TedX Columbia (October 2018). Christine put together  Girls Out Loud  (in collaboration with Ilene Fins), an acting workshop and all-female exploration of Shakespeare about finding our voice in this world through classic text. Christine also became the Intimacy Liaison, Compliance Coordinator in October 2018 at Trustus Theatre, working with the cast, crew, and director of every show at Trustus Theatre to help ensure and facilitate consent in moments of intimacy during rehearsals and performances, implementing (with Chad Henderson) the Chicago Theatre Standards as compliance coordinator.

Christine Hellman - Christine Hellman served as a Resident Acting Coach for Workshop Theatre from the Summer 2017 to present. She played Barbara in Barbecue at Trustus Theatre, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at Columbia Children’s Theatre in the fall of 2017, Jan in Speech and Debate at the Lab Theatre at University of South Carolina in the fall of 2017, as well as multiple roles in String of Pearls at Workshop Theatre in the fall of 2017. In Misery Is Optional – Recollections of Recovery, Christine served as the co-playwright, actor, and winner of the Harbison incubator grant (Feb 2018), which was given a special run at Trustus (September 2018) and at TedX Columbia (October 2018). Christine put together Girls Out Loud (in collaboration with Ilene Fins), an acting workshop and all-female exploration of Shakespeare about finding our voice in this world through classic text. Christine also became the Intimacy Liaison, Compliance Coordinator in October 2018 at Trustus Theatre, working with the cast, crew, and director of every show at Trustus Theatre to help ensure and facilitate consent in moments of intimacy during rehearsals and performances, implementing (with Chad Henderson) the Chicago Theatre Standards as compliance coordinator.

Darion McCloud -  Darion McCloud played MacDuff in SC Shakespeare Company’s production of  MacBeth  in Finlay Park in October 2018. And he co-wrote, directed, acted in, and designed a one man show,  Fireflies: A Dave the Potter Story  - with an education grant provided by the SC Arts Commission. In  The Gift That Ran Away/Carnival of Animals , Darion wrote, directed, acted in and partnered with the SC Philharmonic and Richland School District One an original theatrical companion piece written by Darion to help introduce kids to orchestra instruments (think  Peter and the Wolf  meets Mr. Rogers). Darion co-wrote and directed an NiA production for families at Edventure called  WHATCHAMACALLIT!!!  and he directed a staged reading of  The Drama of King Shotaway  by playwright/USC professor Marvin MacCallister in February 2018. As a storyteller and performance artist, Darion performed in Augusta Baker’s Storytelling Festival as well as in Storyfest, participating as individual teller (over twenty years) and also directing and acting in NiA’s reader’s theatre performance based on children’s literature, as well as in Pigskin Poets, through a partnership with Richland Library, where he is also the creator and emcee of an annual event bringing together the USC Football team, families, storytelling , and children’s literature. He performed in NiA’s  HOLLA!!!@The Eclipse,  Newberry Opera House in August 2017, directed NiA’s production of  A Song For Coretta  by Pearl Cleage, Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, as well as Storytelling in many locales throughout the state including Colleton, Columbia, Camden, and more. Darion was awarded the Andrew Billingsley Community Leadership Award by the University of South Carolina African American Studies Program and Institute for Families in Society in November 2018. He emceed the March for Our Lives event at the Statehouse, March 2018, became an Indie Grits Fellow in 2018, co-wrote and directed community theatre project for Indie Grits Festival addressing gentrification, called  DISSONANCE  in April 2018. Storyfest-directing and acting in NiA’s reader’s theatre based on children’s literature through a State Library partnership, participated in the Read to Succeed in partnership with SC Governor’s School, Williamsburg County School District, and SC Arts Commission. He was also one of five theatre educators using children’s literature and theatre practices to address (Summer Slide) literacy as part of a new arts education initiative. In the All American City competition City Project, he co-wrote with musician and USC professor David Cutler and directed 13 city employees in an original theatre piece in Denver, Colorado. Darion served in school residencies in the following institutions: Allendale Elementary-Allendale/Fairfax Forest Hills Elementary-Walterboro, Camden Elementary-Camden, Doby’s Mill-Kershaw, Forest Heights-Columbia, and Gadsden Elementary-Gadsden.

Darion McCloud - Darion McCloud played MacDuff in SC Shakespeare Company’s production of MacBeth in Finlay Park in October 2018. And he co-wrote, directed, acted in, and designed a one man show, Fireflies: A Dave the Potter Story - with an education grant provided by the SC Arts Commission. In The Gift That Ran Away/Carnival of Animals, Darion wrote, directed, acted in and partnered with the SC Philharmonic and Richland School District One an original theatrical companion piece written by Darion to help introduce kids to orchestra instruments (think Peter and the Wolf meets Mr. Rogers). Darion co-wrote and directed an NiA production for families at Edventure called WHATCHAMACALLIT!!! and he directed a staged reading of The Drama of King Shotaway by playwright/USC professor Marvin MacCallister in February 2018. As a storyteller and performance artist, Darion performed in Augusta Baker’s Storytelling Festival as well as in Storyfest, participating as individual teller (over twenty years) and also directing and acting in NiA’s reader’s theatre performance based on children’s literature, as well as in Pigskin Poets, through a partnership with Richland Library, where he is also the creator and emcee of an annual event bringing together the USC Football team, families, storytelling , and children’s literature. He performed in NiA’s HOLLA!!!@The Eclipse, Newberry Opera House in August 2017, directed NiA’s production of A Song For Coretta by Pearl Cleage, Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, as well as Storytelling in many locales throughout the state including Colleton, Columbia, Camden, and more. Darion was awarded the Andrew Billingsley Community Leadership Award by the University of South Carolina African American Studies Program and Institute for Families in Society in November 2018. He emceed the March for Our Lives event at the Statehouse, March 2018, became an Indie Grits Fellow in 2018, co-wrote and directed community theatre project for Indie Grits Festival addressing gentrification, called DISSONANCE in April 2018. Storyfest-directing and acting in NiA’s reader’s theatre based on children’s literature through a State Library partnership, participated in the Read to Succeed in partnership with SC Governor’s School, Williamsburg County School District, and SC Arts Commission. He was also one of five theatre educators using children’s literature and theatre practices to address (Summer Slide) literacy as part of a new arts education initiative. In the All American City competition City Project, he co-wrote with musician and USC professor David Cutler and directed 13 city employees in an original theatre piece in Denver, Colorado. Darion served in school residencies in the following institutions: Allendale Elementary-Allendale/Fairfax Forest Hills Elementary-Walterboro, Camden Elementary-Camden, Doby’s Mill-Kershaw, Forest Heights-Columbia, and Gadsden Elementary-Gadsden.

~ VISUAL ARTS ~

Trahern Cook -  Trahern Cook is a plein air artist who has become a part of the Columbia area arts events landscape by setting up his easel, popping on his porkpie hat, and painting the life of the city. Trahern had this to say about his work over the past 15 months: “I have the privilege of getting up every day and painting. I paint in my hometown and all over the United States. Connecting with people where they are and sharing their stories through my paintings is what speaks to my soul right now. My paintings are experiential and relational. I endeavor to find and share sanctuary with as many of my fellow citizens as possible. In the last year the easel has been my old wooden vessel that's carried me to many different sanctuaries, but all tell a uniting story. That most of us are all looking for the same thing; love, friendship, family, and a place to chill for a bit to mend the soul. When I can share that through my work, there's no greater fulfillment.”

Trahern Cook - Trahern Cook is a plein air artist who has become a part of the Columbia area arts events landscape by setting up his easel, popping on his porkpie hat, and painting the life of the city. Trahern had this to say about his work over the past 15 months: “I have the privilege of getting up every day and painting. I paint in my hometown and all over the United States. Connecting with people where they are and sharing their stories through my paintings is what speaks to my soul right now. My paintings are experiential and relational. I endeavor to find and share sanctuary with as many of my fellow citizens as possible. In the last year the easel has been my old wooden vessel that's carried me to many different sanctuaries, but all tell a uniting story. That most of us are all looking for the same thing; love, friendship, family, and a place to chill for a bit to mend the soul. When I can share that through my work, there's no greater fulfillment.”

Flavia Lovatelli -  In addition to being a member of the Operation Bedroll Steering Committee for Columbia’s Homeless project, which organizes and teaches the community to create plarn (plastic yarn) out of recycled shopping bags and crotchet bedrolls, Flavia is the founder of Art Ecologie Group which organizes the yearly ecoFAB Trash Couture. Since last July her work as been accepted into Time for Art Gala - COR Awards at the Columbia Museum of Art, Craft Hilton Head 2018 at the Art League Gallery in Hilton Head Island, SC, Inspirations - Webster Arts Center in Webster Groves, MO, The Winter Show Exhibition - GreenHill Center for North Carolina Art in Greensboro NC, the 30th Anniversary Juried Show - South Carolina State Museum, and was the main attraction at the Deja Vu Show for the 30th anniversary Gala fundraiser for Anderson Art Center. Her Re-Current show exhibited for the month of November in Anderson, SC, and showed at Guinan Gallery at The Art Institute of Charlotte, NC, at an Art Residency - Midlands Arts Conservatoy, at an exhibition at Tapp’s Art Center, at Recycle 2018 Art Exhibition - BWAC Gallery, Brooklyn, NY. At ArtFields 2018 she showed “The Great Barrier” in Lake City, SC and later at the Motor Supply Company Bistro. She also had the ReInvented Solo Show at the Bullpen Gallery at the Gaston City Museum of Art, Denver NC. She also showed “Free for All” at the Hart Witzen Gallery in Charlotte, NC. “The Great Barrier” was the culmination of a three-month Residency at Tapp’s Art Center. An installation made entirely of recycled plastic and paper depicting the Great Barrier Reef that is dying due to pollution and global warming, the piece offers a message to invoke the help of our community in becoming more conscientious in curbing our wasteful living. She also participated in Figure Out 2017, a Planned Parenthood Fundraiser at Tapp's Art Center and LookOut 2017 for AOA - National Outdoor Advertisers Convention, New Orleans LA. Flavia was commissioned 15 garments made with recycled billboard vinyl of their top clients.

Flavia Lovatelli - In addition to being a member of the Operation Bedroll Steering Committee for Columbia’s Homeless project, which organizes and teaches the community to create plarn (plastic yarn) out of recycled shopping bags and crotchet bedrolls, Flavia is the founder of Art Ecologie Group which organizes the yearly ecoFAB Trash Couture. Since last July her work as been accepted into Time for Art Gala - COR Awards at the Columbia Museum of Art, Craft Hilton Head 2018 at the Art League Gallery in Hilton Head Island, SC, Inspirations - Webster Arts Center in Webster Groves, MO, The Winter Show Exhibition - GreenHill Center for North Carolina Art in Greensboro NC, the 30th Anniversary Juried Show - South Carolina State Museum, and was the main attraction at the Deja Vu Show for the 30th anniversary Gala fundraiser for Anderson Art Center. Her Re-Current show exhibited for the month of November in Anderson, SC, and showed at Guinan Gallery at The Art Institute of Charlotte, NC, at an Art Residency - Midlands Arts Conservatoy, at an exhibition at Tapp’s Art Center, at Recycle 2018 Art Exhibition - BWAC Gallery, Brooklyn, NY. At ArtFields 2018 she showed “The Great Barrier” in Lake City, SC and later at the Motor Supply Company Bistro. She also had the ReInvented Solo Show at the Bullpen Gallery at the Gaston City Museum of Art, Denver NC. She also showed “Free for All” at the Hart Witzen Gallery in Charlotte, NC. “The Great Barrier” was the culmination of a three-month Residency at Tapp’s Art Center. An installation made entirely of recycled plastic and paper depicting the Great Barrier Reef that is dying due to pollution and global warming, the piece offers a message to invoke the help of our community in becoming more conscientious in curbing our wasteful living. She also participated in Figure Out 2017, a Planned Parenthood Fundraiser at Tapp's Art Center and LookOut 2017 for AOA - National Outdoor Advertisers Convention, New Orleans LA. Flavia was commissioned 15 garments made with recycled billboard vinyl of their top clients.

Andy White -  Andy White says the list of his accomplishments over the past year or so doesn’t “capture how I've grown as an artist over the past year (thanks in part to the support and encouragement I receive from our local arts community). His sculpture “Call It In” was awarded First Place in the 3D category at the Rosewood Art and Music Festival (September 2017) and he contributed a piece ("Old Ben") to the Columbia Zoo's ZooFari fundraiser (September 2017). His sculpture (“The First Owl”) won first place in the professional sculpture division at the South Carolina State Fair (October 2017) and he was featured in a story by Rachel Haynie ( “Andy White: Ex-scrap-olator” ) in Columbia Living Magazine (November 2017). Andy was also featured in a story by Nic Jones (“Making Something from Nothing”) broadcasted on WLTX (March 2018). He produced a large seahorse sculpture (“Rocket Queen” ) for the first Kinetic Derby Day in West Columbia (April 2018) and built "The Rabbit Hole" for the Tapp's Invitational Mini-Golf Tournament (April 2018). He competed in ArtFields 2018 with his piece “Beauty and Grace” (May 2018) and was one of the featured artists at the 2018 Theoretical Archaeology Group conference at the University of Florida (May 2018). He had three pieces at the 2018 ecoFAB/Re-Current shows at Tapp’s (June 2018) and his sculpture (“My Father’s Hammer”) won first place in the professional sculpture division at the South Carolina State Fair (October 2018).

Andy White - Andy White says the list of his accomplishments over the past year or so doesn’t “capture how I've grown as an artist over the past year (thanks in part to the support and encouragement I receive from our local arts community). His sculpture “Call It In” was awarded First Place in the 3D category at the Rosewood Art and Music Festival (September 2017) and he contributed a piece ("Old Ben") to the Columbia Zoo's ZooFari fundraiser (September 2017). His sculpture (“The First Owl”) won first place in the professional sculpture division at the South Carolina State Fair (October 2017) and he was featured in a story by Rachel Haynie ( “Andy White: Ex-scrap-olator” ) in Columbia Living Magazine (November 2017). Andy was also featured in a story by Nic Jones (“Making Something from Nothing”) broadcasted on WLTX (March 2018). He produced a large seahorse sculpture (“Rocket Queen” ) for the first Kinetic Derby Day in West Columbia (April 2018) and built "The Rabbit Hole" for the Tapp's Invitational Mini-Golf Tournament (April 2018). He competed in ArtFields 2018 with his piece “Beauty and Grace” (May 2018) and was one of the featured artists at the 2018 Theoretical Archaeology Group conference at the University of Florida (May 2018). He had three pieces at the 2018 ecoFAB/Re-Current shows at Tapp’s (June 2018) and his sculpture (“My Father’s Hammer”) won first place in the professional sculpture division at the South Carolina State Fair (October 2018).

~ LITERARY ARTS ~

Libby Bernadin -  For several years Libby has worked with Susan L. Meyers and Linda Ketron on the Tea & Poetry series, which Susan turned over to Libby prior to her death. From January to April of 2018, she, along with her co-facilitator, Cliff Saunders, invited poets and organized the monthly readings. Libby will continue with this endeavor through 2020. She is a life member of the Board of Governors of the SC Academy of Authors and a member of the Poetry Society of SC and the NC Poetry Society. In the last year she judged grades 3-6 poem entries for the SC State Library. In March of 2018 she presented a workshop for students attending the Montessori School at Pawleys Island. While she now lives in Georgetown, she has an apartment in Columbia and spends time frequently here. Bernadin is retired from teaching at the University of South Carolina-Columbia but continues to present workshops at the Waccamaw Library. Poems accepted from July 2017 to July 2018 include  2018 Poetry Society of South Carolina Yearbook : “Habitat, Home, Harbor,”  2017 Poetry Society Yearbook : 2nd Place in The Gertrude Munzenmaier Prize, not published in Yearbook, “Black-eyed Susan” --  Free State ; “Grief Works It’s Way” in the Summer Issue, 2018 of  Anthology: Archive SC Poetry Since 2005 (Published in 2018 ); Transmigration” (First published in Pinesong, nominated for a Pushcart Prize); “After your funeral” (First published in Kakalak) -  South Carolina Voices: Poetry and Prose (2018);  and “Transmigration” - The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics (ed. Diana Lockward, 2018, Poem accepted in Summer)- book:  STONES RIPE FOR SOWING  (Press 53, 2018).

Libby Bernadin - For several years Libby has worked with Susan L. Meyers and Linda Ketron on the Tea & Poetry series, which Susan turned over to Libby prior to her death. From January to April of 2018, she, along with her co-facilitator, Cliff Saunders, invited poets and organized the monthly readings. Libby will continue with this endeavor through 2020. She is a life member of the Board of Governors of the SC Academy of Authors and a member of the Poetry Society of SC and the NC Poetry Society. In the last year she judged grades 3-6 poem entries for the SC State Library. In March of 2018 she presented a workshop for students attending the Montessori School at Pawleys Island. While she now lives in Georgetown, she has an apartment in Columbia and spends time frequently here. Bernadin is retired from teaching at the University of South Carolina-Columbia but continues to present workshops at the Waccamaw Library. Poems accepted from July 2017 to July 2018 include 2018 Poetry Society of South Carolina Yearbook: “Habitat, Home, Harbor,” 2017 Poetry Society Yearbook: 2nd Place in The Gertrude Munzenmaier Prize, not published in Yearbook, “Black-eyed Susan” -- Free State; “Grief Works It’s Way” in the Summer Issue, 2018 of Anthology: Archive SC Poetry Since 2005 (Published in 2018); Transmigration” (First published in Pinesong, nominated for a Pushcart Prize); “After your funeral” (First published in Kakalak) - South Carolina Voices: Poetry and Prose (2018); and “Transmigration” - The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics (ed. Diana Lockward, 2018, Poem accepted in Summer)- book: STONES RIPE FOR SOWING (Press 53, 2018).

Tim Conroy -  Tim’s recent literary accomplishments include his first collection of poetry,  Theologies of Terrain , being published by Muddy Ford Press and edited by Ed Madden as part of the Laureate Series late in the summer 2017. Tim wrote the introduction for  Blue Mountain Review  Issue 10 and, in that issue, his poem “Assurances” was republished. Tim’s poems “Last Call” and “Water Aerobics” were also published in  Blue Mountain Review  Issue 11, and his essay “The Great Yes” was included in  Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy,  published by UGA Press. Tim’s narrative poem “Home Fires” was published in  Fall Lines Volume V  and his poem “Columbia: A Convergence” was published in the most recent iteration of  Poetry on The Comet: Two Cities . Tim wrote and read 11 original poems responding to the permanent collection of the Columbia Museum of Art for their Write Around Series arranged by the Poet in Residence at the CMA, Ray McManus, this fall. He performed at The Local and gave a presentation on conviction to students at University of South Carolina-Beaufort for Professor Ellen Malphrus' class in October 2018. He participated in the Pat Conroy Literary Center Educational Outreach Series and Pat Conroy's Great Love of Poetry Presentation at the Irmo Library Branch in Columbia, SC, as well as the Kick-Start Poetry Month Annual Series at the Hilton Head Library. Other events include the Poetry of Andrew Clark, Tim Conroy, Kacy Jones, Susan Madison, Bill Newby, Meryl Newell, Elizabeth Robin, Guitar and original songs by Denny Baer; the March Forth on March Fourth Series; Pat Conroy Literary Center With Nikky Finney, Tim Conroy, Anthony Grooms, J. Drew Lanham, and Cassandra King Conroy; Deckle Edge Literary Festival on “Editor and Poet: A Presentation by Ed Madden and Tim Conroy”; The Moveable Feast Event at the Burry Book Store in Hartsville, S.C.; the Fall Lines Volume 5 release and reading; at the Pat Conroy Literary Festival in a Poetry Reading with Tim Conroy, Kate Daniels, Ray McManus, and Daniel Cross Turner, and Adam Vines in Beaufort; a Cool Beans Poetry Reading as the featured Poet with featured singer-songwriter Lang Owen; in Bones of the Spirit with poets Michael Murray and Nicola Waldron. Tim was interviewed by Clifford Brooks and the story was published in the Blue Mountain Review; by Emily Chavez in the  Daily Gamecock ; on Henry McCarthy’s radio show, Poets and Writers, at the 2017 Pat Conroy Literary Festival in Beaufort, South Carolina and again a year later. He enjoyed A Public Conversation with Cassandra King about Pat Conroy and by Margaret Evans, editor for the Low Country Weekly and on  Walter Edgar’s Journal  which originally aired on 1/12/17.

Tim Conroy - Tim’s recent literary accomplishments include his first collection of poetry, Theologies of Terrain, being published by Muddy Ford Press and edited by Ed Madden as part of the Laureate Series late in the summer 2017. Tim wrote the introduction for Blue Mountain Review Issue 10 and, in that issue, his poem “Assurances” was republished. Tim’s poems “Last Call” and “Water Aerobics” were also published in Blue Mountain Review Issue 11, and his essay “The Great Yes” was included in Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy, published by UGA Press. Tim’s narrative poem “Home Fires” was published in Fall Lines Volume V and his poem “Columbia: A Convergence” was published in the most recent iteration of Poetry on The Comet: Two Cities. Tim wrote and read 11 original poems responding to the permanent collection of the Columbia Museum of Art for their Write Around Series arranged by the Poet in Residence at the CMA, Ray McManus, this fall. He performed at The Local and gave a presentation on conviction to students at University of South Carolina-Beaufort for Professor Ellen Malphrus' class in October 2018. He participated in the Pat Conroy Literary Center Educational Outreach Series and Pat Conroy's Great Love of Poetry Presentation at the Irmo Library Branch in Columbia, SC, as well as the Kick-Start Poetry Month Annual Series at the Hilton Head Library. Other events include the Poetry of Andrew Clark, Tim Conroy, Kacy Jones, Susan Madison, Bill Newby, Meryl Newell, Elizabeth Robin, Guitar and original songs by Denny Baer; the March Forth on March Fourth Series; Pat Conroy Literary Center With Nikky Finney, Tim Conroy, Anthony Grooms, J. Drew Lanham, and Cassandra King Conroy; Deckle Edge Literary Festival on “Editor and Poet: A Presentation by Ed Madden and Tim Conroy”; The Moveable Feast Event at the Burry Book Store in Hartsville, S.C.; the Fall Lines Volume 5 release and reading; at the Pat Conroy Literary Festival in a Poetry Reading with Tim Conroy, Kate Daniels, Ray McManus, and Daniel Cross Turner, and Adam Vines in Beaufort; a Cool Beans Poetry Reading as the featured Poet with featured singer-songwriter Lang Owen; in Bones of the Spirit with poets Michael Murray and Nicola Waldron. Tim was interviewed by Clifford Brooks and the story was published in the Blue Mountain Review; by Emily Chavez in the Daily Gamecock; on Henry McCarthy’s radio show, Poets and Writers, at the 2017 Pat Conroy Literary Festival in Beaufort, South Carolina and again a year later. He enjoyed A Public Conversation with Cassandra King about Pat Conroy and by Margaret Evans, editor for the Low Country Weekly and on Walter Edgar’s Journal which originally aired on 1/12/17.

Monifa Lemons -  Among Monifa’s many activities and contributions this past year we will find her work at Girltrek Storyteller, Poety vs Hip Hop Feature, a feature in  Jasper  Magazine, a feature on ETV classroom, and Typewriter Poetry at the Statehouse. Monifa opened for MC Lyte at the Love, Peace and Hip Hop festival and she served on a panel and did a reading at Deckle Edge Literary Festival. She was the Coordinator and Host of The Watering Hole Winter Retreat, the Curator of Poetry Performances and Reader at the Brian Stevenson event at Township Auditorium, the Facilitator at Writer's Well Poetry Retreat for Teen Girls, a Judge for State Library Poetry Contest for teens, an Art Therapist SC Department of Corrections, and she published in  Sinister Wisdom .

Monifa Lemons - Among Monifa’s many activities and contributions this past year we will find her work at Girltrek Storyteller, Poety vs Hip Hop Feature, a feature in Jasper Magazine, a feature on ETV classroom, and Typewriter Poetry at the Statehouse. Monifa opened for MC Lyte at the Love, Peace and Hip Hop festival and she served on a panel and did a reading at Deckle Edge Literary Festival. She was the Coordinator and Host of The Watering Hole Winter Retreat, the Curator of Poetry Performances and Reader at the Brian Stevenson event at Township Auditorium, the Facilitator at Writer's Well Poetry Retreat for Teen Girls, a Judge for State Library Poetry Contest for teens, an Art Therapist SC Department of Corrections, and she published in Sinister Wisdom.

NOW IT’S ALL UP TO YOU —

GO TO

http://jasperproject.org/2018-jasper-artists-of-the-year

AND VOTE YOUR GUT!

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Ginny Merett Wins Jasper's Time for Art Best in Show Award

Congratulations

Ginny Merett!

Corsage by Ginny Merett

Corsage by Ginny Merett

Jasper congratulates artist Ginny Merett on winning The Jasper Project Time for Art Best in Show Award on Saturday night, December 8th, at the Time for Art Gala, presented by COR at the Columbia Museum of Art.

Merett’s work, Corsage, was unanimously chosen by the judges from the works by 14 artists who had been selected by the Jasper Project to be honored at the event. The judges remarked on the painting’s “unique attention to detail and dedication to the artist’s innovative aesthetic” as well as her “vivid choice of color palette.” Jasper will explore more of Merett’s work in the spring issue of Jasper Magazine.

Other honored artists selected by The Jasper Project include Kathryn Van Aernum, Michael Krakewski, Olga Yukhno, Sharon Collings Licata, Pat Gilmartin, Flavia Lovatelli, Sean Rayford, Lucas Sams, Thomas Washington, Herman Keith, Keith Tolen, Jan Swanson, and Cedric Umoja. Through an arrangement with the Jasper Project COR purchased a piece of art from each of these artists at an artist-stated fair market rate then auctioned the art pieces for a volunteer hour currency at the Saturday night gala.

~~~~

Artist Statement, Ginny Merett: I never forget a face. There are no two alike. I’m inspired by the faces in my grandmother’s 1920s photo albums, faces of strong women and ordinary faces in the crowd. Using collage techniques, I create new faces and personalities that focus on eye-to-eye contact, and the connection between the viewer and my work. Collage is tactile. I get to feel every piece of paper in several ways. Tear. Cut. Glue. Embellish. I plan and gather my color palette from found papers just like a painter gathers paint. I glue papers as varied as maps, sheet music and pages from old textbooks to fill in all areas. Once the glue has dried, I outline each shape to show emphasis and unity. I’m reserved yet my art is loud and gaudy and complex. This is my alter ego. My art is me on the inside.

 

Artist Bio: 1954) Art has sustained award-winning artist Ginny Merett throughout her life and is the cause for her every success. She studied Art Education at the University of Georgia and earned two masters degrees from The University of South Carolina. She devoted 30+ years to teaching art to children of all ages while developing her style in painting murals, creating watercolor paintings, and drawing portraits in graphite. Currently, Ginny uses collage techniques to create portraits and figurative works of art. Her influences include David Hockney’s 'joiners,' Hannah Hoch’s timeless collages, and the beautiful execution of John Singer Sargent’s portraits. Ginny is a member of FigurativeArtists.org, Trenholm Artist Guild and South Carolina Artists. She lives in Lexington, SC with her two dogs, Bingo and Jack.

REVIEW: Trustus Theatre Provides a Hauntingly Delightful Ride with Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol

 

“Marley was dead to begin with…”
Charles Dickens – “A Christmas Carol”

L to R — Richard Edward III, Kevin Bush, Krista Forster, Jeff Driggers

L to R — Richard Edward III, Kevin Bush, Krista Forster, Jeff Driggers

These six words are well-known by just about anyone who has ever read or seen a production of Dickens’ now-immortal (pun intended) holiday classic. The undeniability of Marley’s having left the realm of the living is also the first point established in Tom Mula’s Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, running through 22 December at Trustus Theatre. As a huge Dickens fan, as well as a Christmas nut, I eagerly anticipated seeing this production, and was not at all disappointed. Time, finances, and practicality usually prevent me from seeing local shows more than once, but I’m going to do my best to catch this gem again before it closes. Like its inspirational predecessor, this is a story with many layers and subtleties beneath the deceptively simple plot, and the combination of acting and directorial skill lives up to Trustus’ long-cemented reputation for professional and artfully crafted work. For those familiar with the BBC series, Dickensian, this script takes a similar approach to the world(s) created by Dickens well over a century ago, and turns perspective on its ear, giving us a glimpse of how certain events came to be, and an intriguing semi-prequel as seen from the viewpoint of a secondary character. (On a side note, if you haven’t seen Dickensian, look for it online. By coincidence, the plot centers around the murder of Jacob Marley, and characters from multiple Dickens novels are interwoven throughout.)

…but, I digress. I’m here to discuss what’s being presented onstage at Trustus, so let’s get to it. As Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol opens, a recently-deceased Marley has arrived in a posthumous waiting room, where he encounters a sort of eternal book-keeper who has tallied up Marley’s good deeds and his sins, with the latter taking up the lion’s share of the ledger. As he is assigned, as Dickens described them, “the chains he forged in life,” Marley realizes that each condemned soul experiences his or her own personal Hell, where a manifestation of one’s particular sins serve as the tools of eternal torture. Marley’s punishment for his heartless greed and miserliness arrive in the traditional form of literal chains, bearing heavy cash boxes and other tools of his ruthless pursuit of wealth as a money-lender. With assistance from a damnation-borne, yet playfully charming sprite called Bogle, he is offered a single chance for escape from his fate; to redeem his partner, Ebenezer Scrooge, whose avarice and cruelty exceeded even Marley’s. (In a cheeky aside, Marley refers to Scrooge as the only man in the world worse than himself.) At first he is reluctant, but a shot at a reprieve is too tempting to resist, so Marley sets out, with Bogle in tow, on what seems an impossible mission. From here, the story takes on a sort of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-esque quality, with familiar scenes and experiences seen through Marley’s eyes. His backstory is provided, and we discover that his childhood was as traumatic and depressing as Scrooge’s, with the two first meeting as teenage employees of Mr. Fezziwig, whom they eventually betray and drive out of business, taking over the firm for themselves. As the show progresses, we realize that Marley was actually all three of the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet-To-Come, taking on different forms, but all the while witnessing Scrooge’s life choices and literally watching him turn into the “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner” of A Christmas Carol. Throughout the long night’s journeys, Marley softens on Scrooge, whom he actually despised in real life, and gradually replaces hatred with pity. To avoid a significant spoiler, I will simply say that Marley’s animus was well-placed, as we learn in his death scene, which makes his journey toward compassion all the more effective.

The script makes ample use of Dickens’ dialogue, and tosses in a few subtle references that die-hard fans of the original will enjoy. (“Easter eggs” in a story of Christmas, if you will.) Here I will give away one plot point that is not only clever, but completely changes the context of one of Scrooge’s lines in A Christmas Carol. Another apprentice at Fezziwig’s, Dick Wilkins, is seen cruelly bullying Marley, and it is Scrooge who comes to his defense, eventually leading to Wilkins’ fall into disgrace and penury. While taking Marley’s part in matters, Scrooge explains that he, too, has been bullied by Wilkins, and suggests that the two of them can bring an end to his cruelty as well as his situation. Devotees of the original will recall Scrooge seeing his tormentor in the Christmas Past flashback, and shouting ““Dick Wilkins, to be sure! Bless me, yes. There he is. He was very much attached to me, was Dick. Poor Dick! Dear, dear!” (As he was yet to have been reformed, Scrooge’s seemingly affectionate comment takes on a sinister tone when Wilkins’ true nature is revealed in this version.)

The rest of the show follows along fairly closely to the events of the original, with Marley growing more human as he watches Scrooge grow into the ogre he knew in life. It’s certainly no secret that Scrooge eventually repents and changes his ways, so we can assume that Marley manages to escape his torment.

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As for the performances, there isn’t a weak link (pun once again intended) in the show. Kevin Bush, well-known to Columbia audiences, steps outside his usual wheelhouse of lovable and/or sympathetic characters to portray Marley as an absolute scoundrel and hard-edged “bad guy,” retaining a definite gruffness even as his humanity blossoms. Having always been impressed with Bush’s talent, my respect and admiration for his versatility cannot be understated. This is a role unlike any I have ever seen him tackle, and he succeeds as only a true master of his craft can. (He’s also a very nice guy in real life, which made it even more darkly delightful to watch him channel a hateful old bastard like Marley.)

All the other characters are played by three actors who match Bush’s skill and stage presence. Krista Forster’s Bogle manages to be otherworldly, cute, menacing, and fun simultaneously. Her physicality and use of the playing space often suggested the movements of a spider, yet her vocal and facial expressions maintained an undercurrent of saucy friendliness. Bogle is sassy, playful, and hilarious at times, yet always clearly in command of the situation, as well as Marley’s trip through his memories. Forster approaches it subtly, but leaves no doubt that Bogle is in charge and fully at ease, which provides a nice contrast to Marley’s initially stern (but eventually pointless) resistance to his task. Richard Edward III delivers an appropriately nasty and duplicitous Scrooge who is somehow even more tyrannical than Dickens’ character, yet never crosses over the line to caricature. While definitely making the character his own, Edward embodies his role with several Spirits of Scrooge Past (that was the third one, so I promise, no more puns.) Hints of George C. Scott’s interpretation are there, as well as a dash of Albert Finney’s and a moment or two of Kelsey Grammer’s, all connected by the fresh work of Edwards, who obviously did his research and then added his own vision. Jeff Driggers’ Bob Cratchit is as endearing as one would expect, but Driggers somehow makes him more three-dimensional than the too-kindly-to-be-true Cratchit often seen in A Christmas Carol. This Cratchit comes across as more of a decent fellow who has accepted the fact that he must take whatever his employer dishes out, as opposed to a simpering innocent. One of the things that has always perplexed me about Cratchit is his loyalty to Scrooge. Even in 1840s London, demeaning, low-paying jobs were not impossible to find, so why did Cratchit work for the worst employer in the city? Driggers artfully justifies this by adding a slight resignation to his fate, leaving the audience with the impression that while he could likely do better, it just isn’t worth the risk of missing even a few day’s pay, and he has decided to just make the best of his lot. Without giving away which plays whom, which would ruin the fun, I must emphasize that Forster, Edward, and Driggers all bring the same artistry to each of their additional roles.

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On the technical side, Curtis Smoak’s lighting dovetails perfectly with Sam Hetler’s set, which is somewhat minimalist, but definitely evocative of the early Victorian era. As we follow Marley and Bogle, we visit a myriad of locales, which Smoak and Hetler manage to believably create. Costume Designer Jean Lomasto has, as usual, done outstanding work in dressing her actors in period style while maintaining the script’s eccentric nature, and Christine Hellman’s Hair Design deftly supports all of the above. This is a production crew that has obviously communicated well and brought the same sensibilities to each of their creations.

Director Patrick Michael Kelly has cast his show well, assembled a highly-skilled production team, and paced the show briskly, yet allows the actors to take the time they require in the moments where the audience needs to ponder and process what’s happening onstage. The smoothness of the production’s flow, and the undercurrent of suspense in what is, even in forced perspective, a well-known story are testimonials to Kelly’s vision and commitment to treating Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol as the fresh, new(ish) piece that it is.

There are quite a few dark moments, even more so than in the original story, so this may not be the show for pre-teens who still enjoy Frosty and Rudolph, but should delight both Dickens aficionados and those encountering Marley, Scrooge, and the Spirits for the first time. Tickets are sure to sell quickly, so don’t delay in making your reservations for this splendid addition to the holiday canon. (And yes, there’s always wine and popcorn.)

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Frank Thompson is proud to serve as Theatre Editor for JASPER, and can be reached at FLT31230@Yahoo.com

Artist, Christopher Lane's Exhibition Resist Division Opens December 7 at Frame of Mind

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“Collectively, what I’m trying to say is we throw away 2/3 of what we produce because we’re in such a hurry to produce it,” local artist Christopher Lane passionately speaks on his upcoming art exhibition, “I would like to take 1/3 and give it to the people … there shouldn’t be any reason why anybody is hungry in this country.  There should be no reason why some kids not getting an education.”

 

50-year-old, full-time artist, Christopher Lane, relinquishes a collection of work that reflects on the individual and delivers a message that contains the true form of who we are as a whole, as a community: we are one.  Lane’s exhibition, “Resist Division,” opening Friday December 7, 2018 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Frame of Mind and lasting through January 28, 2019, expresses the desire to accept one another as one in the same and to reach a point of complete equality rather than the cruel reality that we often face: division.

 

“I don’t know if it’s because my family is so diverse.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve made every mistake and I need a break sometimes.  You know, you can throw Winston Churchill in there, ‘divided we fall,’” the artist describes his ideas behind this collection of work, “So, I think it’s just, we’re better together.  We’re all the same, basically.”

 

Lane is aware that we are separated by aspects such as beliefs, race, and geography; however, through his collection, “Resist Division,” he takes notice that we are separated by our unique individuality but we should not be divided.  We all have the same basic rights and we all have needs and desires.  The things that separate us should not also divide us.

 

“ … I went back through Arlington, you know, I went through all the monuments and if you look at all the tombstones it’s like, men and women in there.  And it’s every religion, people that don’t believe in religion, gay people, straight people, whatever,” the artist softly laughs as he describes the monuments he saw coming back from a DC trip, “It’s like, they’re all on there and to me, you know, you’re an American.”

 

Lane studied art at New Mexico University and minored in photography.  He began painting as a child, where he found the trade therapeutic.

 

“I have dyslexia … so, I guess I would paint to kind of escape,” Lane speaks on painting at a young age.

 

Though he began painting at a young age, this collection shows the passion and desire he has developed to create a world where we decide not to let our physical appearances or personal mentalities separate us.  Where we accept the truth, and come together as one.

 

 The artist often paints dreams that he has had, but he gets much of his inspiration from simply watching the news and seeing what’s going on globally.  Though he doesn’t always understand it, he studies it and learns from it, until he can create artwork to represent his discovery.  Here is what Lane passionately describes when asked about the process of creating this collection:

 

“… watching this,” Lane eagerly points to the news running on the TV screen, “… everything’s the same basically… I watch this and it’s like the run off and I’ll see something and I don’t understand it, and I’ll dig into it.  Normally, my first opinion on something when I first see it and I’m really passionate- I’m completely wrong, you know?  And then, if I look at it for a while, then start maybe taking it aside, I realize, ‘well, I understand where they’re coming from and, well, this is what I think,’ and then we talk and then that person goes, ‘well, I didn’t know that was that.’  And when I try to paint, it’s all of that.’  He continues to eagerly express his ideas, “And I don’t know if I’m smart enough to do it …  I don’t know if I can change anybody but I can at least speak and send a message, and maybe it will make the other person think.”

 

As the veteran and current artist describes one of his paintings found in his “Resist Division” exhibition, you can see the fire within him to really send a message and to bring the division that has become our society to one:

 

“That one was like a year ago and they were kind of questioning what a real American is,” Lane points at a painting hanging on his studio wall, “ ... but I was just like, well, what is that?  You know, it’s like, I’m Norwegian.  I’m all Norwegian except for Iroquois Indian, and that’s what that painting is.  You know, am I good enough for you?  Do I qualify?  And it just really made me mad.”

 

 

Lane’s work isn’t just a lovely painting for you to admire.  It is a striking collection of paintings that send a passionate message that not only needs to be heard, but understood.  That is Lanes desire with this exhibition: to share his thoughts through his craft, to share the one truth and to bring a divided world together.

 

“Resist Division,” is an exhibition that all should come together for.  It is a collection that will make you think, make you question and make you reflect.  Reflect not only on the division of our society, but on the constant rush that we seem to live in.  How did things end up this way?  How can we resist division? 

 

 As best said by Christopher Lane, ask yourself this: “What led us here?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Frank Thompson

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There are good kids, there are bad kids…and then there are the Herdman kids. Between community theatre and school productions, most of us are at least passingly familiar with The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which has long been a holiday staple for young theatre-goers and their parents. It’s a simple tale about a church Christmas pageant which finds itself with a family of uncontrollable hellions in the cast, the less-than-enthusiastic reception they get from the parish, and the travails of a young boy named Charlie Bradley, who despairs at the invasion of the “horrible Herdman” kids into the one place he has always felt safe from them. Along the way, Charlie and his family deal with all the usual Yuletide hustle and bustle, exacerbated greatly by Charlie’s mother, Grace, being roped into directing the show when the original director suffers a broken leg. (I guess she took the traditional “good luck” wish for theatre people a bit too seriously.) It’s a charming little play, which Columbia Children’s Theatre has taken to a new level of engagement and fun by presenting the relatively-new musical version. Director Jerry Stevenson has assembled a tight, well-rehearsed production that retains the sweet simplicity of the original, while adding a glossy layer of professionalism and energy to what could have all too easily been simply another staging of a holiday chestnut. Having directed the non-musical version myself, I can say without hesitation that the revised musical version is livelier and the characters are more developed and three-dimensional. Stevenson and Musical Director Paul Lindley II have obviously cast thoughtfully, with an eye for acting and an ear for singing, complimented by Lisa Sendler’s energetic and creative choreography. Housed in their new location, (still at Richland Mall, but in a much bigger space downstairs, next door to Barnes & Noble) CCT has more room than before to create an impressive set, complete with hinged flats and moving pieces. Kudos to Scenic Artists Jim Litzinger (who serves double duty as Sound Technician,) Sallie Best, Dawn Cone, Gresham Poole, and Alex Walton, whose design combines a dollhouse’s functionality with a Transformers-style “coolness” factor. The perennial CCT duo of Litzinger and Stevenson both wear multiple hats, as Stevenson, along with Donna Harvey, have assembled a delightful costume plot in which a soupcon of each character is reflected in his or her clothing. The expression “a well-oiled machine” may be cliché, but it describes this production perfectly. From the seasoned pros in the cast to the first-timers, there is never a moment of hesitation or uncertainty, yet the audience is led quite successfully to believe that the events of the show are taking place for the first time, with believable moments of surprise and legitimate responses to the events surrounding them.

Much of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’s success can likely be attributed to CCT’s education program, which is quite clearly providing quality instruction to the next generation of stage performers. To put it simply, these guys (cast and production team) know what they’re doing, and do it well.

In what is pretty much an ensemble piece, it is difficult to single out specific actors and moments as standouts, but there are a few. Many of the roles are double-cast, but I strongly suspect the cast I enjoyed at last Saturday’s 2:00pm performance is indicative of the other cast’s aplomb. In both casts, the role of kindly but frazzled Reverend Hopkins is played by CCT regular, Lee O. Smith, who brings his customary goofy jollity to the role while managing to work in several moments of pastoral sincerity. Jordan Harper is hilariously shrill and shrewish as the injured Helen Armstrong, who manages to assert/insert herself into the proceedings, leaving gentle, non-confrontational Grace to try and direct around Helen’s many suggestions and unwanted “advice.” (I especially enjoyed Stage Manager Mary Miles’uncredited silent role as Helen’s nurse. Having seen Miles as the pretty young ingénue in multiple productions around town, it was a hoot to watch her channel One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’s scowling Nurse Ratchet.) Despite her character’s passive demeanor, Grace (Courtney Reasoner) gets the opportunity to show off not only her celebrated singing voice, but also a set of acting chops that one seldom finds in younger actors. Along with Henry Melkomian’s Charlie, Sara Jackson’s Beth, and (again, a double-duty pro) Paul Lindley II’s Bob, Grace helps to create a family unit quite reminiscent of the Parkers in A Christmas Story (minus the leg lamp and turkey-snatching Bumpus hounds.) This wink to the film is quite subtle, as are several other in-joke homages to other shows. (I couldn’t suppress a guffaw at Smith’s most frantic moment, when his voice rose two octaves while he ran and flailed his arms in what had to have been a tribute to Kermit the Frog.) Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol is referenced, and when all the kids join together to stop the Herdmans from stealing Charlie’s lunch, the steady echo of “take mine!” conjured images of The Hunger Games “I volunteer!” protectiveness. (BTW, the “This Is A Peanut-Free Zone” sign was a nice touch of verisimilitude which immediately established the grade-school lunchroom.)

As for the Herdman kids, (Sarah Krawczyk, Julian Deleon, Annie Varner, Baker Morrison, Cort Stevenson, and Will Varner) each has a spotlight moment or two, but function mostly as a group. At first, this bunch is more of a gang of scroungy street toughs than a set of siblings, yet by the end of the show they have become part of the church family, and seem destined for at least semi-respectability. This transformation always seemed a bit deus ex machina in the non-musical, but an added scene in this version shows us the Herdman home, which is a place of hunger and squalor, with a deceased father and an oft-absent mother who works multiple jobs to (barely) keep the family afloat. When the kids sing in awe over a charity basket of simple food, the audience gets not only an insight to their unhappy lives, but also an explanation for their bad behaviour. To use one of my favourite portmanteau words, the poor urchins are “hangry” most of the time, and have little adult attention or guidance. The gift of food touches their hearts while filling their tummies, which makes the motivation for their softening more understandable.

The score is eclectic and fun, and no matter what your musical tastes may be, you’ll love at least a couple of the songs, which vary in style throughout. (With numbers ranging from country to rock-n-roll to classic musical theatre, and beyond, there’s something for everyone, much in the style of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.) I particularly enjoyed the Doo-Wop 1950s-esque “Take The Job, Grace” and “The Telephone Call,” which could have easily been composed by Lerner and Loewe. Among the handful of adults in the cast are a trio of Church Ladies, who become a quartet when Harper gets the Christmas spirit and lends her outstanding voice to those of Carol Beis, Jill Peltzman, and Kristin Young for a spirited gospel number. Their harmonies are tight, and there’s clearly not a weak singer amongst them.

Stevenson has included several “total immersion” moments, with actors entering and exiting through the aisles, and at one point handing out mini candy canes to the real-life audience, which serves as the church’s congregation. (Having stopped for a coffee on my way to the show, I was especially pleased to receive a peppermint treat.)

With expanded chair-seating for grown-ups and a larger floor-seating area for the little ones, CCT has successfully grown without losing any of the informal warmth of the previous upstairs venue. Stevenson, as usual, greeted the audience with a warm welcoming speech before the show, which always kicks off CCT performances on a cheerful note and informs the audience of upcoming events. (If you have a school-aged daughter who would like to learn stage combat, a class called “Girls Fight” is being offered in the spring.)

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical may never sit alongside A Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker as an immortal holiday classic, but if you’re looking for a fun, upbeat, joyful show for the whole family, head on down to Richland Mall for a sweet confection of a show put on by a dedicated and skilled group of artists. (Tell ‘em the Herdmans sent you.)

Frank Thompson is proud to serve as Theatre Editor for JASPER, and can be contacted at FLT31230@Yahoo.com

Highlighting the Jasper-Selected Artists Being Honored at Time for Art

When COR (Columbia Opportunity Resource) came to Jasper and asked us to help with their annual Time for Art project we were excited to say yes. Time for Art is a unique project in that bidders attending the swanky gala held this year on Saturday, December 8th at the Columbia Museum of Art bid for art not with dollars and cents, but with volunteer hours. Jasper likes the idea of valuing a person in terms of the time they have to offer over the money they have to spend. But we wanted to make sure that the artists whose work is being auctioned are not only paid a fair price for their art, but that the artists themselves are honored for the important contribution they make, not only to the Time for Art event, but also to the Midlands area everyday by practicing their art.

So Jasper agreed to select a panel of artists who we wanted to honor and introduce these artists to the folks at COR, who then purchased or will purchase their art to auction this weekend. In addition to choosing the artists, we also asked that COR treat the artists and their guests to free admission to the gala, that they recognize the artists at the gala and give them a round of applause, and that they allow judges for the Jasper Project to award a Jasper Project Best in Show award consisting of a feature article in the spring issue of Jasper Magazine.

Over the next few days leading up to the gala, Jasper will be highlighting the 14 artists we selected as Time for Art Honorees. Yesterday we highlighted Michael Krajewski, Olga Yukhno, Flavia Lovatelli, Sean Rayford — Here are today’s honorees:

Keith Tolen

Keith Tolen

Keith Tolen is a retired arts educator from Kershaw County who just closed a solo show at Harbison Theatre.

Lucas Sams

Lucas Sams

Lucas Sams studied art at Temple University, the University of SC, and the SC governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities, He lived for a while in Japan.

Kathryn Van Aernum

Kathryn Van Aernum

From Ann Arbor, Michigan, Kathryn Van Aernum is a photographer, painter, visual arts educator, and creativity coach.

Sharon Collings Licata

Sharon Collings Licata

Sharon Collings Licata is a Sculptor/Photographer & Instructor, Shamanic Practitioner, Sand a member of the faculty for SC Faculty for Foundation For Shamanic Studies.