2012 Resolutions for & by Columbia artists & arts lovers

We know that you all have your own resolutions to worry/quickly forget about, but we thought you might like a peek into what's going on in the brains of some of your friends and neighbors. Here's a small sample of what we heard from folks when we asked them

What would you resolve for 2012 for the Greater Columbia Arts Community?

Musician Chris Powell says,

“I'd like to see ColaTown artists in residence resolve to double their output and involvement in 2012. Isn't the world ending this year or something? May as well quit your dayjob and pump out some jams. Nothing to lose!”

Arts Supporter Tracie Broom says,

“For those who extol Columbia's virtues as a cultural destination already, keep it up! Positive talk adds to our city's collective unconscious and its outward appearance, making it more attractive to creatives, knowledge economy workers, investors, & companies who could, down the road, become arts sponsors! For those who range from kind of negatory to downright pessimistic about Colatown, I challenge you to employ my mother's old tactic when you feel the urge to denigrate our city: if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.”

Visual and Performing Artist Alex Smith says,

“Work together, and if you can't, cut the backstabbing rumor-mongering bullshit and address the problem directly. If you can't be adult enough to do that, you are a community of one (or two if you can get your B.F.F. to go along with you) and you are dead weight on the barely floating boat of a community that the rest of us are trying to create here.”

Visual Artist Susan Lenz says,

“A great New Year's resolution for the entire Columbia arts community COULD be to use an all inclusive, good-looking, easy-to-navigate, totally complete arts calendar if Santa brought it to us!

Individually, I've always made "professional" New Year's resolutions. Past years were for Mouse House and dealt with trying to find personal time for art. Like the stereotypical "go on a diet" resolutions, they never worked. Finally, I forcibly downsized Mouse House and my New Year's resolutions started being about my creative process and artistic goals. Amazingly, I've been successful with every resolution. Three years ago my goal was to get "real, quality gallery representation". It took until September ... but I'm now in the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville. Two years ago my goal was to find a professional, juried or adjudicated affliation ... and now I'm a PAM (Professional Artist Member) of Studio Art Quilt Associates. Last year my goal was to get a solo show in an accredited museum ... and I had "Personal Grounds" with my Decision Portrait Series at Waterworks Visual Arts in Salisbury. I haven't set my goal for 2012 but I'm open to suggestions! It's got to be a "big goal" ... something really worth the effort!”

Performing Artist Chris Bickel says, (and we really like this,)

"I'd like to see the arts community resolve to be more self-critical and open to constructive criticism. While it's extremely important for a small and growing art scene to be a supportive community, that support can sometimes devolve into glad-handing which doesn't serve to create an atmosphere where artists challenge themselves. We should seek to be constructive with our criticisms and thick-skinned enough to take them.”


No matter what you reject or resolve, Jasper Magazine wishes you all a wonderful 2012 filled with new projects, cooperation, busy calendars, inspiration, productivity, community involvement, and accomplishment.


Happy New Year!






A Little Bit of Snark and a Good Deal of Praise -- Jeffrey Day's Art Year 2011 Review


Although the economy still sucked the arts community in Columbia just seemed to say “Screw it” and kept going.

For his last few years in the Governor’s office, when he wasn’t on the Appalachian Tail, Mark Sanford tried to zero out the budget for several state agencies, including the S.C. Arts Commission. The General Assembly never let him get far with it until his final year when some sort of deal had been struck. Then an uprising about the cuts rose up – mostly through Facebook – and legislators got an earful from art supporters all over the state. Not surprisingly, the new governor, Nikki Haley, brought out the knife as well, and she got it knocked out of her hand as well.  Made The New York Times. But expect the same fight this year.

The arts on Main Street started to coalesce after a couple of years. A gallery crawl – and all kinds of additional frills like music, theater and fire-eating – is now being held on Main Street EVERY SINGLE MONTH! That’s damn exciting especially when hundreds of people show up for all of them.

The art being shown is still  inconsistent, but there has been lots and lots of good art on display at all the locations (Frame of Mind, Anastatia and FRIENDS, S & S Art Supply, the Arcade, Tapp’s Arts Center) at one time or another. One of the best things has been the window installations at Tapp’s, but beyond the windows, the Tapp’s Art Center is still trying to figure things out. The director said earlier in the years that the upstairs studio spaces would be rented to artists who were juried in, but instead these have been turned into little “galleries” some jammed with work by a dozen artists or so.

The first South Carolina Biennial of contemporary art ran in two parts with about 25 artists at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art. The first show was terrific in every way, the second was rather messy, but had some of the best artists in it. The way the show is selected needs some fine turning. Whatever the shortcomings, the show fills the huge gap left when the Triennial was killed off a few years ago. The center also needs to spend as much time and effort (or even a third as much) getting the word out about its art shows as it does about its parties and openings.

The long-time director of the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties, Andy Witt, has left the building. Neither Witt nor the Council are even vaguely familiar to many in the arts community, but the council still raises about $200,000 a year for distribution to arts groups and that’s an important chunk of change in these times.  It’s time for the council to take a good hard look at itself and figure out what it’s going to do other than tread water.

I’ll go against conventional wisdom here and declare that the Columbia Museum of Art is more important than the Mast General Store to Main Street. It’s actually kind of hard to keep up with everything the museum does because it does so much – from big touring exhibitions, to small shows by locals, to concerts.

The museum is closing off the year and starting the new one with a big show of Hudson River school paintings. My first walk through I thought “Wow there’s some really hackneyed stuff in here” and actually a couple other people said the same to me. Then I went back. Yes, there are sentimental things and a few pieces that are high-end tourist art, but most of it is really truly wonderful.  Except for the fact that all the paintings have glass on them.

The museum started the year with “Who Shot Rock and Roll,” a photography exhibition documenting the history of rock ‘n’ roll.  I figured it would be a door buster without much substance. Instead it was a nearly perfect show that melded documentation, a wide approach to the medium and the music, and a crazy mixed up population of big stars and unknowns. And the show was just the right size – big enough to provide real range and small enough that it wasn’t repetitious. The only thing that didn’t work for me was the huge images of David Lee Roth right by the exit.

Sandwiched between was the show of Michael Kenna’s haunting and technically-dazzling photos of Venice. This year the museum managed to have a bit of everything without stinting on quality.

The Conundrum Music Hall in West Columbia has provided an outlet for all kinds of new music – from improv jazz to contemporary classical to the plain old weird and self-indulgent. One of the highlights was a chamber group from the S.C. Philharmonic. Half the audience had never been to an orchestra concert and the other half had never been to West Columbia. And about 50 people were turned away because it was sold out.

Phillip Bush, the Columbia-based pianist with a rich resume, made his first appearance with a local orchestra, playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major. He and the young players sounded great.

The second concert of the season by the S.C. Philharmonic was all Mozart and all of it good. A seasoned pro playing the clarinet concerto, two teen-agers taking on a piano concerto, and a wonderful wrap-up with the “Jupiter” symphony.

Trustus Theatre founders Jim and Kay Thigpen plan to retire this spring and in the fall Jim Thigpen directed “August: Osage County” as his swan song. What a way to go out: one of the best productions at the theater during the past two decades.

As usual the Wideman-Davis Dance Company provided more surprises and depth with one more new work “Voypas.”

Many people seemed to be excited about the return of installation art to Artista Vista – and so was I since I put the show together. This is not a completely self-congratulatory note. All I did was pick artists who were good and competent and pretty nice. They did the rest. Well I did wash the windows and sweep. It was one of the best experiences of my life.




Christmas Wishes For and From the Columbia Arts Community, Part III

from Jeffrey Day

I still would like Santa – or someone – to bring a 30-foot tall, brightly-painted, fiberglass sculpture of Strom Thurmond standing on his head to be installed in front of the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center at USC. That and more money for the arts. And a governor who doesn’t try to kill all arts funding. Two in a row is plenty. I know, I’m being completely unrealistic, but I’m counting on a jolly fat man who travels in reindeer drawn sleigh and slides down chimneys to take care of all this.

I'd also hope that everyone  – from artists to art lovers – will resolve to open your horizons. Go to art places and events (from exhibitions to performances) you’ve never before been to.

I could go on and on and on, but I will give everyone their Christmas wish and shut up.



from August Krickel

I hope Santa brings lots of  good roles in good shows to local performers, and plentiful audiences to come see them perform. More often than not, in reviews, I find myself saying that while the material may be hokey, or mediocre, or paper-thin, or all-too-familiar, the actors on stage do an awesome job with it. There are literally hundreds of good shows around that rarely if ever get produced, and if you produce good material, Columbia has more than enough talent.  The new age of social media and instant communication only helps the traditional word of mouth that has always benefited local theatre, and when word gets out that there's a good show, audiences will come whether they have heard of it before or not. If the same 4000-6000 people that will flock to see an adequate road company production of 30-40-50-year old musicals at the Koger Center would go see top-knotch productions stretched out over several weeks at places like Town, Trustus or Workshop Theatres, those organizations would have their best seasons ever.  The same is true with music - if the same 18,000 people who pack the Colonial Center to see Carrie Underwood or Jimmy Buffett for the dozenth time would go see local artists in local clubs, 20 local clubs would have shows with standing room only.



from Ed Madden

For there to be more and more interesting opportunities for inter-arts collaborations, more and better bridges between the university and the community.

For those in power to recognize that the arts are a necessity not a luxury, a vital part of education not an extracurricular option.

For more opportunities for young artists.

from Cindi Boiter

What would I want Santa to bring the Columbia arts community for Christmas?

It wasn't until I assigned myself the same question I had asked of other members of the arts community that I realized how difficult the question would be to answer. Difficult -- not because it's hard to think of things we need, but because it's hard to come up with a wish list that doesn't seem entirely too greedy. And really, given our abundance of richness in terms of talent around here, how much more can we ask for?

But I did put my head to the same task I had asked of others and the list below is what I came up with.

That said, I want to go on record as being enormously grateful for the support the arts community has given our magazine, the sense of community that so many people are working to nurture and grow, and the talent -- both humble and expansive -- so many artists share with one another. I'm thankful for how full our arts calendar is and that many days, we have to make choices -- or extra stops --when going out for an evening of the arts.

But enough sap. Here's what I would ask for Santa to bring:

  • More small theatre spaces, black box types with sprung floors where small, sometimes impromptu, theatre and dance troupes could perform in a cost-effective way.
  • Performance art -- whether it's good or bad, it always make people think and talk with one another about just how good or bad it was.
  • More opportunity for discourse -- hence, more talk back sessions after plays, concerts, and ballets and gallery exhibitions. We grow as individuals and a community when we discuss and debate.
  • I'd like for people who publish articles about the arts to actually read, copy edit, and proof the articles they publish. Mistakes will still be made -- we certainly have made them at Jasper (I'm still sorry, Thomas Hammond) -- but at least show a little respect for the written word. Magazines are about communication -- not just design. Even if the publisher doesn't deign to actually read the articles he or she publishes, she or he should be aware that others do. Good writers rely on good editors -- let them do their jobs.
  • More attention to the literary arts. Ed Madden, Jasper's literary editor (above) is working diligently to facilitate literary arts exchanges both via the magazine and via public events. (Find us upstairs at the What's Love Festival this February.) Let us know what you think, and share your ideas with us. We're here to serve.
  • Recognition that craft-persons, amateur artists, and professional artists are all unique entities, and while each operates under its own distinct paradigm, each entity is important to an arts community.
  • I want an arts festival -- a multi-day, multi-genre event that would showcase Columbia as the arts destination it is becoming. Who wants to work with us on making this happen? We're ready to go.

Thanks for reading this three-part shopping list of what some of us would like for Santa to bring the Greater Columbia Arts Community. If you missed part one, you can refer to it here. And if you missed part two, you can find it here.

And there's more to come. Stay tuned to What Jasper Said as we examine Columbia's New Year's Resolutions for the Arts.

Until then, happy holidays from all of us at Jasper, and please check out our ever-evolving website at www.jaspercolumbia.net.



Christmas Wishes for and from the Columbia Arts Community, Part II

(This is a continuation of a blog posted on Christmas Eve -- please start your reading here, and then join this blog post in progress.)  


from Cassie Premo Steele

An inner sense of validation of one's self, spirit, health, and creativity. We no longer need to look outside ourselves to know that we, ourselves, and our work are valid. We can be who we truly are and create from that shining place.

from  Noah Brock

Santa should bring the arts community the power to stand together to remove the confederate flag. The arts community should resolve to do the aforementioned so that artists and performers we enjoy and love will be more willing to play in Columbia. IT’S 2012! LET US GET IT DOWN THIS YEAR!


from Susan Lenz

I'd love for Santa to bring an arts calendar to Columbia ... something easy to navigate, used by all individual artists and organizations ... on a permanent Internet site (not just on Facebook) ... updated regularly ... better looking and more complete than "welcome to the weekend" ... and with images. Maybe Jeffrey can be Santa again ... or at least be part of the present ... with the rest of the gift being the funding that would make it all possible!


from Coralee Harris

Access to Bill Gates checking account so we can fund the myriad of projects that currently exist only in the minds of our talented artists. . .and in the absence of that, we probably need to do more classes on grant writing for the artists and performers so they can have a better shot at getting more funding.


from Robert Michalski

I want Santa to bring the Columbia arts community inspiration and financial success!



from Tracie Broom

For the young orgs, funding for paid staff and infrastructure would be pretty fantastic. For everyone? A few more hardcore, dedicated super-volunteers who take the lead and get things done well. Those folks are like human gold.



from Bonnie Goldberg

I wish for Santa to bring a continued love of the arts to a community already filled with curiosity, creativity, and love and support for one another where we will continue to gather and grow and make our Columbia one of the premiere art destinations in the world....happy holidays, Columbia artists!


Look for New Year's resolutions from Columbia artists and arts supporters coming soon. To add your own wish for the New Year, please comment below or send your resolution to







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

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

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

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

In the meantime, Merry Christmas from your friends at

Jasper - The Word on Columbia Arts.


From Tom Poland

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

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


From Alexis Doktor

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


From Natalie Brown

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

Belly Dancer and Columbia Alternacirque director Natalie Brown


From Chris Bickel

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




From Chris Powell

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


From Alex Smith

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


 From Elena Martinez-Vidal

Funding and audiences!


Merry Christmas from Jasper!


Jasper to give the Jasper Pick Award at Change for Change for the meter art that best embodies the spirit of Jasper

Jasper loves sustainability, whimsy, being smart, and art -- so we're pretty crazy about -- and thrilled to be a part of -- Tuesday evening's Change for Change 2011 Project!

Change for Change is a public art installation exhibition project that benefits the Climate Protection Action Campaign (CPAC) in which defunct City of Columbia Parking Meters were retrofitted with new posts and bases, then re-purposed as pieces of public -- or potentially private -- art.

You can read more about Change for Change here or, even better, get yourself a nice deal on a ticket by clicking here.

We're especially excited because, in addition to the awarding of the prize for the best meter -- chosen by a panel of esteemed judges, Jasper will also be giving away our first ever arts award -- the Jasper Pick Award* for the meter art that most embodies the spirit of Jasper -- think freshness and optimism, integrity and being on the forefront of new arts growth.

Hope to see you tomorrow night from 5:30 - 8:30 at 701 Whaley for art, drinks, food, intelligence and a grand old time. Then be sure to turn to Jasper #3 on January 12th for photos of the winning meters and bios of the artists.



*(Stay tuned to hear about two more awards we'll be presenting in the coming months.)





Jasper is looking for a few good poets, writers, spoken word artists to be part of Jasper's literary salon at the What's Love evening of arts and performance in Columbia, to be held 7-12p.m., Feb 14, at 701 Whaley.  Jasper is hosting an upstairs salon, which will include poetry and spoken word, and film.
THEME - The 2012 theme for What's Love is technology and how it affects our relationships, sex, and love lives.  What's Love - Input/Out.  Along with the use of technology by artists, attendees will participate in exhibits through social media and by using their cell phones at the event.
HISTORY - What started as an alternative for singles and couples who didn’t want the traditional Valentine’s night out has become a major annual event that merges visual and performing arts, with themes that challenge ideas about sex, romance, intimacy and love.  What’s Love attracts one thousand attendees and receives extensive media coverage.   With over 20 participating artists, including visual, performance, literary, media, and music, What's Love has become one of the city’s most talked about parties, but foremost, a major exhibition opportunity for South Carolina artists.
WHAT JASPER IS LOOKING FOR - Jasper wants to host two short sets of poetry—erotic, romantic, straight, gay, good writing, words that can move us, words that make us laugh or make us think (or make us hot).  Jasper is also planning to produce a small, limited-edition, chapbook of poems, to be sold/distributed that evening.  (You do not have to be a reader to be in the chapbook; you do not have to be in the chapbook to be one of our performers.)  We need:
•                4-10 writers to read/perform
•                poems (or short short flash fiction) for a small Jasper chapbook of good writing (approx 12-20 pages)
•                writing should address the themes of the show
Send your writing and a short (2-3 sentence) bio to:  emadden@jaspercolumbia.com.

A Portrait of Columbia Through the Lens of Richard Samuel Roberts

Wherever your eyes drift while viewing the work of photographer Richard Samuel Roberts, they’ll always return to the faces. There’s a story to tell in each one, stories of dignity, determination, and strength of spirit.

  Roberts, a self-taught African-American photographer, is celebrated for the remarkable portraits he took of black Columbians between 1920 and 1936. In the introduction to “A True Likeness: The Black South of Richard Samuel Roberts,” Thomas Johnson notes that Robert’s photographs “of course portray black Carolinians in their role as ‘burden bearers.’ But here also is W.E.B. Du Bois’s ‘talented tenth’ in South Carolina -- the achievers, progressives, entrepreneurs who engaged in individual and communal programs of uplift and self-help, who were concerned not just with mere survival, but ‘making it’ and claiming their piece of the American pie.”

  Thanks to the work of a new membership affiliate at the Columbia Museum of Art, the

Friends of African American Art and Culture, 24 of Roberts’ images can now be seen in a new exhibit in Gallery 15, upstairs at the museum. The images were chosen by FAAAC board members, folks such as Waltene Whitmire, Javana Lovett, Preach Jacobs, Michaela Pilar Brown, and Kyle Coleman. Each board member was asked to write down their thoughts about the photograph, and these insights are displayed alongside the image.

  This is a must-see exhibit for everyone, but especially for Columbians who are not familiar with Roberts and his work. He deserves to be heralded as one of our city’s most historically significant artists, a man whose curiosity and dedication preserved a part of our culture that might otherwise have been lost.

  Roberts and his family moved to Columbia from Fernandina, Florida, in 1920. His wife, Wilhelmina Pearl Selena Williams, was a native of Columbia. Roberts took a job as custodian at the post office and worked weekdays from 4 a.m. to noon. He purchased a five-room house at 1717 Wayne Street for $3,000, and in 1922 he rented space for a photography studio upstairs at 1119 Washington St., a block off Main Street.

  “The fact that Roberts could purchase such a house is ample evidence that he and his family were members of a rising, relatively affluent, middle-class black community,” Johnson wrote.

  Over the years, Roberts took thousands of photographs of members of this community, so the 24 on display currently the Museum of Art only scratch the surface of this historical treasure trove. (A book could be written about the discovery and restoration of the 3,000 glass-plate negatives that were found in a crawl space at the family’s Wayne Street home a half-century after Roberts took the photographs.)

  The exhibition will be on view through April 29, 2012. But don’t wait to go see it, and don’t go just once. Check out the book “A True Likeness” for more of Roberts’ work, and I encourage everyone who has an appreciation for the artistic and cultural contributions of African-American artists to join the FAAAC. Affiliate president Brandolyn Thomas Pinkston says the group’s goal is to provide “a multitude of programs, lectures, and exhibits.”

  The Roberts exhibit is a fascinating and powerful start.

-- Mike Miller


Michael Miller is an associate editor of Jasper Magazine -- read more of his work in the last two issues of Jasper at www.jaspercolumbia.com.

Jasper's Nightstand -- Don't call it a book club, call it a book trust

By now, it should be news to no one that Columbia, SC is a readers' city. I need more fingers than the ones I have on my hands to count the number of book clubs I know about that I don't even belong to.

Some may attribute our propensity for reading to the number of institutions of higher education we have in and around town. Universities and colleges tend to attract not only students and faculty but also literate individuals who are drawn to progressive thought and intellectual engagement, whether they go to school or not. Others may posit that the lack of hard hitting cerebral stimulation from our public education system forces us, at an early age, to seek out our own intellectual adventures in books and, ultimately, establish a life-long love of losing ourselves in literature (and, for some of us clearly, loving the lilt of alliteration).

For whatever reason, last June, Columbia was named by Amazon as one of the Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities in the country.

In fact, we're #16.

You may have heard What Jasper Said yesterday about the new One Book, One Columbia selection of Ron Rash's Saints at the River as our book selection for 2012. Given that, we at Jasper are delighted to announce our new bi-monthly reading group, Jasper's Nightstand and, in keeping with our close association with the One Book, One Columbia Project (Mike and Cindi are both on the selection committee), we are even more thrilled to announce that Saints at the River will be the first book we'll be discussing.

What's on Jasper's Nightstand?

Saints at the River by Ron Rash

Thursday, February 23rd at 7 PM

Wine Down on Main at 1520 Main Street

RSVP here

Jasper's Nightstand is a book club for artists, people who love arts and artists, and people who appreciate the unique insights that artists and arts lovers bring to the complexities of life.


Saints at the River by Ron Rash = Columbia's 2012 One Book, One Columbia selection

It's official. Saints at the River, a novel by South Carolina author Ron Rash, is the One Book, One Columbia selection for 2012.

Jasper couldn't be more pleased!

We've loved all of Rash's novels -- Serena, One Foot in Eden, The World Made Straight (our all-time favorite!) -- not to mention his poetry, which flows with hot honeyed truth, or his short stories that stay on the brain for years after the reading. Saints at the River is the story of two characters who live in Columbia -- one of whom hails from the upstate and is drawn back into the area where she was raised by an environmental conflict. It touches on family, nature, loss, and learning.

The reading period will kick off on January 17th -- but you don't have to wait until then to get started. We'll be scheduling events from the 17th throughout the month of February -- including a two day visit from Rash on February 1st and 2nd -- stay tuned for more about this.

For more information, keep your eyes posted on the One Book, One Columbia official website as well as our One Book Facebook page.

And be sure to pick up a copy of Jasper Magazine at our #3 release event on January 12th at the Arcade Mall on Main Street to read an article about our interview with Ron Rash himself.

Exciting announcement & One Book, One Columbia clues!

Here, at Jasper, we're so giddy about an announcement being made at 5 pm on Tuesday, December 13th -- that's today! -- that you might think that Santa was making the announcement himself.

No, it's not Santa who has something to say, but it is City Councilwoman Belinda Gergel, and she'll be sharing with Columbia the book we'll all be reading together during January and February 2012 as book #2 in our One Book, One Columbia project!

Here's the twist -- two of our staff members serve on the One Book, One Columbia selection committee, so (ahem) we already know what the book is, but just like anxiously awaiting the opening of Christmas presents you've meticulously selected for your family and friends -- we can't wait to see how you like your selection!

Need some clues?

  • Well, the book was written by a SC author.
  • It is set in contemporary SC.
  • It involves subject matter of vital interest to many Southerners.
  • It is fiction.
  • And, the protagonist of the story is the opposite sex from the author of the book.

Got any ideas?

See if you're inclinations are correct by attending the One Book, One Columbia 2012 Kick-Off Reception this afternoon at Richland County Public Library on Assembly Street for a special wine-and-cheese gathering. We'll announce the new book as well as other exciting events lined up for your reading pleasure. All 2011 "Reading Advocates" are invited, friends of Reading Advocates, and anyone who would like to be a Reading Advocate for the 2012 program.

Then, watch this space tomorrow for a special announcement about how Jasper will be celebrating and participating in the One Book, One Columbia program.

We can't wait to see what you think!




Counting Love At First Sight

I’ve really been trying to stick to an art diet during these hard economic times, but my 12-step program failed me. Yes, this admitted art junkie unwittingly fell in love at first sight, again. It happened last weekend at the Midlands Clay Art Society Holiday Show and Sale at Gallery 80808. My good friend Sonia Neal, a wonderful clay artist herself (whose work also is in my personal collection), directed my gaze to the newest object of my infatuation – a cute little clay sheep sculpture (pictured) by a local artist who is new to me, Mary Lou Wu, owner of Bunny Head Pottery in Columbia.

My new woolly friend, who bears some resemblance to the puppet Lambchop (one of my favorite characters from yesteryear), is standing atop a mound of colorful wildflowers with a blue bird perched on its head.

I tried chewing gum. I waited 20 minutes to see if the craving would subside. I tried to resist, but in the end, I had to have it. For myself. Yes, me me me.

So much for unselfish holiday shopping. Oh, I did purchase several gifts from the sale, but I wasn’t supposed to indulge my own desires. So sue me. I have gifted myself early for Christmas with this lovely lamb. To hell with regret. (I am smiling at my new love as I type this. Hah!)

Now back to Mary Lou Wu. She has a shop on etsy.com, that wonderful website for creative artists and crafters that I love to get lost in. Wu has produced an array of colorful, whimsical, even poetic pieces. Some are functional (like bowls, vases, and jars), while others are pure sculpture. All are fabulous works of art.

I’m always saying there’s so much artistic talent in Columbia, and it’s true. Every day we have opportunities to discover someone new whose work we can adore. Wu is a member of the City of Columbia Arts Center at 1932 Calhoun Street downtown. And even though the Midlands Clay Arts Society’s holiday sale is over, you can still browse and even purchase pieces from the artists who work out of the Center through its Backman Gallery.

And if you’re so inclined, you can take classes in clay arts - from hand-building to wheel-throwing - at affordable prices. The City Arts Center is enrolling now for its 2012 classes. If you’re interested, or just want more information about Backman Gallery, call Cultural Arts Coordinator Brenda Oliver at 803-545-3093.

Meanwhile, you can view and even purchase other works by Mary Lou Wu online at www.etsy.com/shop/BunnyHeadPottery.

So go ahead. Indulge your clay cravings. There’ll be plenty of time for rehab next year.

-- Kristine Hartvigsen

December 8th, 1980 -- A Reminiscence by August Krickel

It was 31 years ago today. December 8th, 1980. My parents' generation always remembered December 7th as "a date that will live in infamy."  Pearl Harbor Day.

But. December 8th, 1980.

John Lennon.

Nuff said.

There is a bar in my hometown called Group Therapy. Started in the 70's as little more than a corridor with a roof over it, it was a haven for aging hippies and college kids like myself home for the holidays. Dark draft beer for 50 cents. Santana and Pink Floyd and the Dead playing. And of course the Beatles. In later years, it became the primo college hangout - tripled its size, began featuring bands, etc. I lived away in Tennessee during those years, but there is a story - probably apocryphal, although many swear it really happened - from the mid-80's that sums it all up.  Like the best bars, the music was played loud, from vinyl albums and often vinyl 45's. Bartender's choice. One crowded mid-80's night, a decade or more after the Beatles had broken up, long after McCartney's solo career had dwindled, the bartender put on a Beatles album cut. I've heard it was "I Want To Hold Your Hand," but everyone concurs that it was definitely from "Meet the Beatles." The song started and several hundred college kids (and a few older dudes) began vigorously singing along with the song. Everyone knew all the words, though few had been born when it came out.

The song ended. The bartender was evidently busy filling drink orders, and although he took the first record off, he had not yet put on a second record. Exactly …..4 seconds? 6 seconds? However long the break is between the first song and the second…… everyone launched into the second song on the album. A capella. Exactly on cue. 200 college kids not only knew the songs, they knew the order, and the pause between them.

Probably apocryphal. But maybe not.

In 1980, I was heavily into the Beatles and Lennon. I was not really old enough to appreciate them the first time around. When they played on Ed Sullivan, I was a 4-year old in a house of old-fashioned English teachers who didn't approve of television, and listened to opera and symphonies on a tiny "record player." By the time I saw television, the Beatles were a bad cartoon show on ABC, not nearly as good as Scooby Doo or the Banana Splits. By the time a progressive young Social Studies teacher played "Abbey Road" for my 7th grade study hall, they had already broken up.

But by college, I had corrected my former ignorance, and was majorly into the Beatles. "Double Fantasy" had just come out, and I played it over and over again, even the Yoko songs. "Give me something that's not cold / C'mon c'mon c'mon….."   God, she was bad!

Punk music had finally made it to Nashville, TN, and it sounded remarkably like early 60's Beatles. The Beatles "Rarities" album had come out not too far back previously, featuring several alternate studio takes, and the German versions of "Komm Gib Mir Deine Hande" and "Sie Lieb Dich Yeah Yeah Yeah."  Raw, vital, full of energy and rebellion.  The photos of the lads in Hamburg made them look like doubles for the Ramones.

We figured Lennon would have to tour to support the album, Nashville was big enough to draw him. If not, my Beatle-enthusiast friends Caroline and Karen and I were prepared to drive to Atlanta, Memphis ... wherever. And we just knew that it would be Nashville where the other three would decide to show up, join in and jam with him.

"Our life...together....is so precious…together....we have grown...."

I was studying for a final exam in my British History class. 10:30 PM or so. I went downstairs in the dorm to the little mini-mart, with the intention of getting a frozen pizza. Suzie, a friend with whom I'd done theatre, was working, and asked if I'd heard on the radio about John Lennon. I was mortified. Rushing back upstairs, my roommate Tom and I turned on both the radio - WKDF-FM - and the TV.

The radio was playing "Imagine."

Monday Night Football interrupted, with the news.

I called Caroline. She had just heard too. It was so inconceivable, so tragic, as surreal as if the President or the Pope had been shot (both of which would happen within 6 months.)

The next day at our final, my friend Leslie saw Caroline and Karen walking in. It seems silly now, and almost adolescent, but both were wearing black, and to us all at the time, it was meaningful and appropriate. Leslie mouthed the words "I'm so sorry" as they picked up their blue books. In the cafeteria over coffee after the final, we all conceded that if any of the four were to die, and it to have meaning, it would have had to have been John.

The following Sunday, Caroline, Karen and I went to the parking lot of the local classic rock station, WKDF. A local band, the Piggys, was playing Beatles songs on the rooftop of the station. At 1:00 PM, everything stopped. We all stayed silent for 10 minutes, per Yoko's announced request. And reflected on sublime, divine music. And innocence lost. And after about 9 and a half minutes, the parking lot, full of preppie college kids, and rural middle Tennesseans, aging hippies and Deadheads, scruffy-looking Viet Nam vets and weirded-out punkers - all joined in when someone in the crowd began softly singing …. "All we are saying…..is give peace a chance." I held the hand of an unshaven man in a camo jacket next to me, and we sang with tears in our eyes.


I wrote an earlier version of this in 1999, which I have slightly fleshed out since then, and which I have now updated to reflect current dates, etc.   But originally, as I wrote the last sentence above, 12 years ago, I concluded:  "I'm crying as I type this."

Right now I'm not.  But the day is still young.    Nuff said.

-- August Krickel


Listen to "Starting Over" here.


This is Not a Review of Spring Awakening

There are a couple of reasons why Jasper cannot review Trustus Theatre's current performance of Spring Awakening -- not the least of which is the fact that the director of the play is dating the daughter of the editor of the magazine. The fact that we can't review the play is unfortunate for a couple of reasons, as well -- not the least of which is the fact that the editor of the magazine doesn't hold anything back, and doesn't care who is dating whom.

That said, there are issues of propriety which we will respect. So, as you read, please keep in mind that this is not a review of Spring Awakening.

What this is is the story of how, thanks to the generosity of Coralee Harris, a dear friend and all around lovely person, whom Tracie Broom most aptly denominated as a bon vivant, this writer and more than one hundred other luckies had the opportunity to enjoy one of the last dress rehearsals of Spring Awakening on Wednesday night last week. It was cozy and friendly -- we sipped champagne, munched on our free popcorn, and simply took in all the youthful angst and profundity that the performance offered.

As frequent theater goers, it is unusual for us to attend a play in Columbia in which we know few of the actors, but this was the case on Wednesday night. Of course, we were very familiar with the work of the  director, Chad Henderson, who previously directed such plays as Assassins, Dog Sees God, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and more. And if you live in Columbia and don't know the work of the two people who played the parts of the adult male and female respectively, Christopher Cockrell and  Vicky Saye Henderson , I'm sorry, but it's my duty to inform you that your life would be so much better than it is if you did.

The new faces were universally young and unaffected; their voices, powerful and eager. From the closeness of our second row seats we were easily caught up in the almost palpable atmosphere that their combined energies created -- it was like some kind of youthful and frustrated pheromone. We could sense how thrilled and terrified they were to be on the stage, and how delighted they were by their own abilities to overcome their terror and giddiness and give us a professional performance. While I would usually never recommend sitting so closely, this was one time that proximity paid off.

The contrast of the young and eager cast against the laid-back and experienced persona of the band also needs to be noted. With local legends like professor of Jazz, Bert Ligon, and loyal Trustus stage musical director, Tom Beard, on deck, we expected the music to be exceptional, and it was. The gentlemen were joined by Jeremy Polley on guitar, James Gibson on bass, Greg Apple on percussion, Dusan Vukajolvic on cello, Jerrod Haning on viola, and Jennifer Hill on violin. Their steady, subdued-but-excellent sounds seemed at times to perturb the young actors who, when singing seemed to try to channel to the band the message to play louder and faster so they could metaphorically roll down the windows on the theatre and let their voices and spirits soar.

Our favorite part of the performance happened before the play itself got underway. Director Henderson had his actors frolicking about the stage, as young people are wont to do, as the audience arrived.  Then, they took their places perched atop chairs that were literally hanging off the wall at random heights and order. It was as if the young people had been set on shelves -- out-of-the-way, out of sound, out of mind -- until the performance began, and the young actors were finally in charge -- taking the stage and, with sometimes heart-breaking results, taking control.

It is the little things, like suspending the children on the wall at the beginning of the show, and two young and damaged women singing together and ultimately taking one another's hands in courage, that touch people so much about Spring Awakening. It's the authentic tears of young Patrick Dodds who plays Moritz and the Judy Collins-like voice of Adrienne Lee's Ilse. It's the sad realization that the premise of the story -- adults being fearful and unwilling to affirm the agency of a new generation, and the individuals within it, because of the fear of their own authentic selves -- is just as applicable in modern America as it was in late 19th century Germany.

No, this is not a review of Spring Awakening -- clearly it was a night to remember -- but you can find an excellent assessment by Jasper's own staff writer, August Krickel by clicking right here.


(Like reading Krickel? Tune in tomorrow for his reflections on, for many of us, the day the music died.)

The Aura of Things (or the work of installation art) by Ed Madden


I’ve been thinking about things lately.  That is, I’ve been thinking about things.  Material objects, physical things.  How do things mean?


In part I’ve been thinking about things because of the grotesque consumerism of Black Friday, the greed of the season, and the ways that our culture encourages us to think love and happiness can be approximated and revealed in material objects.  (Jewelry commercials seem especially icky examples of this.)


But I’ve also been thinking of things because of two installation art exhibits I saw during the December Jingle & Mingle on Main Street art crawl: Susan Lenz’s “Hung by the Chimney with Care” at S&S Art Supply and Amanda Ladymon’s “Kindred Harvest” at Frame of Mind.


Installation art is tricky.  So much depends not on the idea, nor the execution, but on the things used. Socks, buttons, old cigar boxes, a Parcheesi board, yarn—things with little value, but weighted, in these projects, with meanings extraneous to the objects but integral to our perception of the art.  A useful word for this for me is aura, not necessarily in the sense that Walter Benjamin uses it to talk about the almost religious authenticity we feel (or once felt, he insists, before photography destroyed it all) for a work of art.  (And let me say here that I’m not an art theorist or an expert on Benjamin, just someone who likes to think about how artworks affect me, and why.)  In both of these installations, the objects had to be more than what they were, and our response depended on the associations those things held in our perceptions, our reactions.


Ladymon’s work depends on our emotional associations with childhood board games and family photos, even those not our own: a couple on a beach, a little girl on a bike, a family portrait, a wedding, an ultrasound fetal image.  I was moved by this display, but must admit that I wondered if there might be a fundamental disconnect in my experience of this work about familial, geographic, cultural connections, since these connections were marked not only by the overlay of photos over maps and images but also by the web of yarn connecting or not connecting these images to the Parcheesi board.  I’ve never played Parcheesi.  Although I have my own emotional and cultural associations with board games, and though I understand her explanation of how our lives and our families are created through unpredictable sequences of events, I sensed I might inevitably be missing something important about this work, since its heart was a resistant object, a thing that I didn’t understand.


Lenz, more perversely, demanded our attention to detritus, leftovers, garbage.  In a piece she produced earlier this year, "Two Hours at the Beach," Lenz incorporated all the garbage she found in two hours on Folly Beach into an art quilt, making an ecological statement as well as a fascinating textile piece.  (The quilt is currently part of a window display at Tapps.)  If that earlier work raised litter to the level of art, Lenz amps up that process with the new installation, layering cultural and emotional meanings (including the kitsch, the cliché, emotional garbage) onto our experience of what is basically, a bunch of junk.


An artshop window filled with old socks, scattered buttons, and a sad artificial Christmas tree with shabby tinsel would be a perverse display, were it not for the explanation prominent in the window: that these things came from the laundry of the old state mental hospital, and that her impulse—foregrounded in the title, a line from that bit of sentimental Christmas kitsch, “The Night Before Christmas”—was to emphasize the idea that not everyone gets to celebrate Christmas with family, either because they can’t be there, or because they’re not welcome there.  Junk here is transformed by our knowledge of its origins, like the beach trash but with a lot more cultural and political baggage.  Not just the mental hospital but also the cultural fictions of family that demand kitsch-ified versions of the holiday that don’t match the experiences of many.  Even our possibility for sympathy was registered in cliché—“There but by the grace of God go I,” a statement Lenz rendered on images of the hospital in cut-up letters like a ransom note.


But there were those socks, all those socks.  Parodies of the clichéd hung stockings.  Anonymous, leftover, but also registers of the authentic, the individual.  If this installation was filled with junk, it reminded me of the ways our culture treats certain people as junk: the mentally ill who are forced onto the streets by budget cuts, those whose lives don’t fit the cheery fictions of the season—the divorced, the orphaned, the rejected.


The window was so weird and powerful for me, filled with junk and cliché but so insistent that the viewer find a capacity for empathy—so insistent on an emotional authenticity in the aura of those things.  And so much depended on the origin of those things.  (Would the window make sense without that explanation in the window?)


I say all this not to diminish these projects.  I loved both, spent time with both, took my partner by to see both when he made it down after doing time eating over-salted food at some office party at a Vista sports bar.


What we do with things, how we think about things, the aura of things—this is part of how art works.


I have an artwork in my office at home: a page ripped from an old book, the poem “Sad Mementoes,” the first words of which are “Bereaved and forlorn.”  Other words are difficult to make out, since the page has been distressed with electric tape.  It’s an object marked by the process of erasure: lighter color, roughened texture, where the paper’s foxing and the poem’s ink have been lifted off the page with tape.  Above the title there is an image of a statue from a photo proofsheet.  Affixed to the page with a remnant of that black tape is pressed botanical specimen.


The work of Barry Jones, MFA student at USC back in the mid-1990s when I first came to the university, it is, for me, a haunting piece.  I don’t have to know that it is about his brother, or mental illness, or a book he found at a local antique shop for it to make sense, though those associations are now part of what it is and how it means.


Put a bone in a box—I’m thinking of my tenth-grade exhibit of animal skulls found on the farm—and it’s an object.  Call it “Reliquary,” and suddenly bones and boxes are weighted with a different kind of meaning—emotions, intimations of mortality.  They mean at a different register, not because of the objects but because of the aura of associations we have now for those objects.


As I type this, I’m wearing my father’s grey and black plaid flannel shirt, its literal warmth surely augmented by the emotion I associate with its wearing.  He passed away earlier this year.  He didn’t speak to me for almost a decade, literally, after I came out as a gay man, and I didn’t go home for Christmas for the past 16 years.  I spent three months earlier this year helping with his hospice care.  On my bookshelf there are three tiny plastic cups.  Clutter to anyone else, litter to another, but to me, a memory: one of those times that folks from church brought by the ritual bread and wine (crackers and grape juice), and we drank from those cups, me, my mother, and my father, lying in his hospital bed.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about things.  What we do with things.  How they mean.


-- Ed Madden




Mingle and Jingle -- Where Credit is Due

Jasper apologizes for not sharing this sooner, but better late than never ...

Mark Plessinger, owner of Frame of Mind and originator of First Thursdays on Main, was the guy who got Mingle and Jingle started as an ARTS EVENT back in the day. We keep hearing all this talk about it being a retail event now -- and, well good, as long as folks are buying art. Jasper likes growth and progress, but we also believe in giving credit where credit is due AND we like being true to original missions and goals.

Mark has done an excellent job of explaining what's going on in his regular First Thursdays on Main blog.

So come on out to Mingle and Jingle tonight, visit some shops sure, but remember that the art is why this whole party got started.

Support your local artists --Give Art this Christmas.

Hung By the Chimney With Care, an installation by Susan Lenz

I know, I know. The weather is getting nippy. You've got a million things to do toward getting ready for the holidays and/or ending the semester. You're behind on sleep and ahead on stress. And just when you were getting used to it being November, damned if December didn't sneak up behind you and go boo. You may be thinking to yourself that, given what a good patron of the arts you are in general, this particularly busy First Thursday in December might be one that you don't really have to attend.

Think again.

Even if you aren't a sap for the holidays like we are at Jasper, if you're an arts lover, this First Thursday -- also known as Mingle and Jingle on Main -- is one event that you really don't want to miss.

We wrote yesterday about Amanda Ladymon's new work, Kindred Harvest -- which is more than enough to go out in the cold for -- but we are equally excited about the multi-artist exhibition at Anastasia & FRIENDS (featuring local arts celebs such as Virginia Scotchie and Susan Lenz) as well as the Tapp's Arts Center Winter Mix, guest curated by Jeremy Wooten and showing work by a whole slew of local artists including Nikolai Oskolkov, Alex Smith, and Fausto Pauluzzi -- not to mention the good folks in the Art Studios in the Arcade at 1332 Main Street including Eileen Blyth, Richard Lund, Debra Paysinger, Bettye Rivers and more.

But one of the main reasons to come out into the cold on Thursday night is to see new work by fiber and installation artist, Susan Lenz.

Though reluctant to admit it, Susan Lenz is an artist who knows no fear, recognizes few obstacles, and to top it all off, somehow has the energy of a 14-year-old and a work ethic that would send Orwell's Boxer the workhorse early to the glue factory in shame. (Witness the fact that Lenz will be participating in no less than three exhibitions on Thursday night.)

Her new work, installed in the windows and interior of S & S Art Supplies on Main Street, is entitled Hung By the Chimney With Care, and has been in the making since last spring when Lenz, ever the forager and scavenger, discovered an abandoned pile of socks in a laundry facility on the grounds of the South Carolina State Mental Hospital. While most people would have looked at the pile and seen crazy people-laundry, Lenz looked at it and saw art. Lenz writes about the installation here.

We haven't seen this new installation yet, but we've seen almost everything else that Lenz has done -- and she's done installations and shown in exhibitions far and wide mind you, (and if you're wondering why Jasper hasn't written about her yet, rest assured that she and her work will hold a place of prominence in the March 2012 issue of Jasper, subtitled All Women -- All Arts). So while we may not know what exactly to expect from Lenz's latest project, we do know that, based on the history of her work, we should expect a thorough and fully realized installation with fastidious attention to detail; in all probability, a somber message; but, knowing Lenz as we do, likely in a whimsical form.

For these reasons and more, we look forward to seeing you on Main Street on Thursday night -- most likely in front of the windows of S & S Art Supplies.


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“Kindred Harvest” -- new works by Amanda Ladymon

kin·dred   [kin-drid]  noun or adj:

a person's relatives collectively; kinfolk; kin.

b.group of persons related to another; family, tribe, or race.

har·vest   [hahr-vist]  noun:

5. the result or consequence of any act, process, or event.


Local artist Amanda Ladymon will be showing some interesting new works during Mingle and Jingle on Main Street this week, though not at her home gallery at S & S Art Supply. Ladymon's work can be found down the street as an exciting installment in the FOM series at the Frame of Mind optical shop.

The new exhibition is composed of mixed media paintings on wood panel and on paper. Ladymon used a new photo transfer method in incorporating old photographs, dating back to the early 1920's through the 1980's. Incorporating biological drawings, she creates a metaphorical dialogue between the event or person in the photo and what is being implied through form and line. While it ranges from subtle to obvious, the shapes are consistently referring to reproductive processes in the female body, starting from the cellular level.

Upstairs at FOM, a special mixed-media assemblage and found object installation occupies part of the loft space.

According to Ladymon, life in so many ways, is much like a game of parcheesi. So many decisions, mistakes, or unexpected encounters happen with just the "toss of the dice." Each decision one player makes will inevitably affect the other players. Ladymon writes that she feels that life parallels this "game" in that, for every action, there is an effective chain of events that lead to everything else, whether we win or lose.

Over twenty-five altered cigar boxes, hang suspended and glowing from the inside. Each box contains photographic images layered with maps and other images, revealing an important clue as to where the photo was taken, or perhaps what memories are tied with that person or specific event taking place in the photo. Some of the boxes are connected with a line of string to different areas on the game board, signifying the connection between not only the people, but the events themselves.

For a better understanding of what brought Ladymon to this work, please read her artist statement below --

“Having recently tied the knot, my husband and I are weaving a new path and creating our own family, which makes me reflect back on my family and its many generations of strong women who held it together. This body of work investigates the many complexities of family and the roles played within those relationships. The mother and child bond and reproductive process is one strong influence on this work. Our upbringing affects us all, especially in determining what kind of person we turn out to be. Within this body of work, there are many photographic images used to reflect on my family’s past – all the photographs and drawings were acquired directly from my family albums. The many shapes and organic drawings interspersed amongst the photographic images represent the connective energy between each person, whether it was the memory of loving or possibly more of a longing. The use of circular forms continues to symbolize the connective relationship we have with one another in a biological or conceptual sense.

 “Another theme I have touched on is the idea of how each moment and decision in life affects another. While I generally feel repulsed by the images and ideas of war, I cannot deny the fact that if WWII hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t exist. World War II was a monumental turning point in America, in which millions of families were created due to strangers meeting and falling in love. My grandparents had such a story. They met while he was recovering from a broken back after his plane crashed.  He was a southern boy from Georgia and she was an adventurous, strong-willed California girl. With every little decision, mistake, and circumstantial event, they met and created a family. This sequence of events eventually lead to my birth and the strong influence their marriage continued to have on me throughout my adolescence and early adulthood.”


Of Ugly Sweaters, Funny Tunes & Smart Fundraising

It's not that Jasper doesn't care for fashion -- he adores a dapper chapeau and a neatly cinched windsor or pratt -- it's just that Jasper doesn't require haute couture of his friends or neighbors and is, in fact, a bit more inclined toward the comfies than the prissies in his own personal trousseau. And, of course, he only wears natural fibers. So the old boy was a bit taken aback Friday last when, in order to attend a night of merry-making at his beloved Trustus Theatre, he was implored to don garb specifically in the category of ugly -- an ugly sweater, to be precise.

It was all part of the plan to raise money for Trustus via their Ugly Sweater Karaoke Night in which lucky patrons paid a mere $10 at the door, filled their cups with $1 and $2 beer, then spent the evening laughing at one another as well as themselves. And while there were many chuckles to be enjoyed over the course of the evening -- both at the sweaters and the singing -- the joke was on the hosts because the impromptu vocals of several of the stage regulars was nothing short of stellar. Special kudos to Kim Harne, Kevin Bush, Terrance Henderson, and Walter Graham -- Jasper even swooned a bit, when the latter took the stage.

Congrats to the young bloods at Trustus for asking for about the only kind of money people can give these days, and giving folks a fun, silly, and easy-going way of giving it.

And now, for a look at those (gasp!) sweaters!

(With thanks to Kristine Hartvigsen for her photography.)



Horizontal Hold

Last month when Jasper Magazine conducted its First Annual Pint and Poem Walk, a few folks asked for a copy of this poem, so here it is for those who asked (and those who didn't.) It's an amusing, odd piece I wrote under the influence of pain medicine after my eardrum ruptured. I was deaf in that ear for nearly a month. Anyway, here goes: horizontal hold

narcotics kill the pain

my mind a barren pool rusty ladder descends into earth and weeds

three lesbians gather wood together they build a Frank Lloyd Wright doghouse

monogamy -- monotony one of them is cheating on her husband

i have weird dreams of my dead father a fire engine Leonard Nimoy and a 19 percent raise

my carpet is the state fair for roaches city pigeons die quietly on my windowsill heads folded neatly into wings

loose audio tape lies in a tangled pile at my feet

i am openly seduced glistening nude in hues of violet by a body without a face

amplified pounding in my head clock ticking blood pumping machine-driven raucous vacuum

find me, bring me down where I can feel again

my antenna flails in the wind please slide on a tennis ball and help ride me of all this static

-- Kristine Hartvigsen