The Top Eight Films I Didn’t See This Year -- By Wade Sellers

I watched a lot of films this year. Thanks to pay cable getting their streaming catalogs stocked with quality films, I may have watched more films than in any year prior. The frustration I have with myself is that I missed seeing many of these on a big screen. There is no substitute for a theater. Netflix will never be able to change this, no matter how dark the room, good the sound, and large the television. Others on this list haven’t made it to our part of the world yet. Either way, I’m excited to resolve myself to go through this list as my new year begins. I suggest you do the same.

45 years

45 Years

If Michael Caine taught that film acting is in the eyes, then Charlotte Rampling is one of the best in the business. Rampling co-stars with veteran English actor Tom Courtney in this film about a couple planning the celebration of their 45th wedding anniversary. A week before the party a letter arrives for Courtney’s character that informs him that the body of his first love has been discovered, frozen, in the Swiss Alps. Directed by Andrew Haigh, this drama opened December 23rd for a limited run. I first remember Rampling’s unforgettable longing stare as she starred with Paul Newman in the 1982 film The Verdict and have loved it ever since. They are a couple of deep eyes that can only be seen on the big screen. Find the film somewhere and you’ll see what I mean.

a most violent year

A Most Violent Year

In my opinion, Oscar Isaac stole the movie Drive from Ryan Gosling. It was the first time I remembered him in a role. I wasn’t the only one. The Coen Brothers picked him to lead Inside Llewyn Davis (on reflection one of the best films of the 2010’s). Along with Academy Award nominee Jennifer Chastain, Isaac stars in the crime drama from J.C. Chandor. Quite honestly, I have no idea how I haven’t seen this film. It was released at the beginning of the year, received mixed reviews, but over the following months has picked up some strong momentum. The poster image is staring at me on Netflix so I don’t have any more excuses.

Room

Room

I’m always wary whenever I see features about a film before it’s release that focus on the production. With Room the focus was on the interior set that was built for the film and how the filmmakers created a set of rules when filming. My first thought is that the distributor’s PR department is pulling a sleight of hand away from the mass appeal of a film. The film’s star, Brie Larson, picked up a Golden Globe nomination for her role as a woman held captive for many years and the resulting adjustment for her and her young son when they are freed and have to adjust to the outside world. I’m excited to see if this film can move past the Mamet view of theater blocking caught on film to small location indie cinema in the tradition of Hard Candy and Reservoir Dogs.

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Carol

Todd Haynes film Safe could be my favorite film of all time. His student film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story is one that made me want to be a filmmaker. I don’t think the man has made a bad film and I get frustrated he isn’t more widely celebrated as one of our great filmmakers. The man just makes great films that reflect on us as individuals and a society; I’m biased. I also anticipate that his film Carol, an adaptation of the 1952 novel The Price of Salt, will do nothing to harm the opinions of his filmmaking. The fact that Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara and Kyle Chandler star only make it more attractive. The film is set in New York City and follows a young photographer and her relationship with and older woman. There is something magical about seeing a film in the city it takes place. I missed seeing this film the week before Christmas while visiting New York City and already regret it.

tangerine

Tangerine

I may have been cheating so I could add Sean S. Baker’s film to this list. Tangerine has been staring at me on Netflix for over a week and at one point I think I hit play but the internet went out. Either way I’ll be watching it soon, probably before you read this list. Baker got his start as the creator of Greg The Bunny, and since then has accumulated an impressive list of small indie films as writer/director. Tangerine is his latest. The drama/comedy follows Sin-Dee Rella, a transgender sex worker just finishing a month long prison sentence who finds that her boyfriend and Pimp, Chester, has been cheating on her. I was worried that the fact that this film was shot entirely on an iPhone was being used as a hook for a film that may be one dimensional in story. After I read a couple of reviews of the film from those I respect it is the first I’ll be watching from this list.

Dope

Dope

I think I missed Rick Famuyiwa’s film Dope because I was out of the country on vacation when it was released. I saw the film’s trailer before a screening at the Nickelodeon and didn’t give it a thought afterwards until I was compiling this list. I feel like a lazy film writer for doing so. Forget the talented list of names that are behind this project, or Famuyiwa’s strong directorial history (Talk To Me was as good as a biographical drama gets), I just like seeing films that tell stories that it seems would never be told if it weren’t for the group who championed it. I also like seeing new young talent take over a big screen and hope they have a bright future. The screen will probably have to be small when I watch this movie in the coming weeks, but I’m sure the talent will still shine through.

hitchcock

Hitchcock/Truffaut

After graduating my college film program, I found out there was a book that was a result of filmmaker Francois Truffaut and Alfred Hitchcock locking themselves away in Hollywood for a week so Truffaut could mine Hitchcock’s brain about his approach to filmmaking. I loved Truffaut and I loved Hitchcock. I was pissed. Why was this never brought up? How deficient was my instruction? I still include it among the three publications that I feel are the only books a film student needs- along with David Mamet’s On Directing and Edward Dmytyk’s On Film Editing. Kent Jones’ documentary collects interviews with well respected filmmakers and mixes their praise with audio that Truffaut recorded during his sessions with Hitchcock. You may have to be a film nerd to make it through the whole film (I couldn’t make it through a film with famous salesmen talking about the two of the best salesmen who met to talk about how they sell), and it is quite possible the film may ruin the way you watch movies, but so what- educate yourself, Son.

forbidden room

The Forbidden Room

If you pushed me for an answer about my favorite filmmakers, there is Guy Maddin and everyone else. His films are, in my opinion, what filmmaking should be about. There is no grey area with this statement. He just gets what being cinematic is all about. He’s not Scorsese or Anderson or any of the great names, but that’s the point. He is his own voice and influence. I watched my first guy Maddin film from a VHS tape I grabbed off of a shelf at the SC Arts Commission Media Center- you know, back when our state supported things like young filmmakers by offering them the tools to make films at reasonably low rental rates. I popped the tape in and instantly knew that I had never seen anything else like what was in front of my eyes. The best part is that over the years I have found that his films work on big screens and small screens. Maddin is a prolific filmmaker and artist and The Forbidden Room is his latest. It may be twenty-five years too late for you, but find a film of his and make it your New Year’s Resolution to watch it.

 

What were the top films you DID or DIDN'T see this year? Share below!

 

Wade Sellers is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and the Film Editor for Jasper Magazine.

Wade profile pic

Tommy Thompson Opening Exhibit at City Art

Tommy Thompson 2 The good folks at City Art, down in Columbia's historic Vista, have announced their newest exhibition of work by Tommy Thompson -- Art 2007 - 2015 opening Thursday, January 7th with a reception from from 5 to 8 pm. This solo exhibition will run through February 27, 2016.

Tommy Thompson has been painting, primarily in watercolors, since 1965. He has taught numerous classes and workshops in the greater Columbia metropolitan area since 1989.

For the past 10 years, in addition to his watercolor landscapes, Thompson has been concentrating on experimental acrylic painting on board and canvas. Both his watercolor and acrylic paintings are included in private, corporate and South Carolina State Government collections. He earned signature status of the South Carolina Watercolor Society and is an active member of several Columbia area art associations. He earned signature status as a Nautilus Fellowship member in the International Society of Experimental Artists 10 years ago.

Thompson says, “For the last several decades the advances in polymer science have had a dynamic effect on art materials. The advent of current acrylic paint and especially the acrylic mediums have opened many new avenues for individual expression.

I have always been fascinated by the intensity of colors and the representation of light and shadow in my work. Now, the new acrylic mediums have allowed me to introduce another dimension to the paintings – texture and relief surface work.”

Tommy thompson

City Art Gallery is located at 1224 Lincoln St. in the historic Congaree Vista area in Columbia, South Carolina.  Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday 10:00 a.m. until 6 p.m., Friday 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

REVIEW: Celestial Stars Performing Arts' "The Christmas Angel" by Melissa Swick Ellington

The Christmas Angel If you are seeking a fresh and innovative holiday arts experience, you won’t want to miss The Christmas Angel by Celestial Stars Performing Arts at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College this weekend. Written and choreographed by artistic director and performer Gabrielle Celeste, The Christmas Angel debuted in December 2001 and is now in its fifteenth year of production. The originality of the story, combined with the quality of dance, create a uniquely gratifying performance.

Celestial Stars Performing Arts is based in West Columbia, where Celeste leads a training program that includes ballet as well as other forms of dance. (Disclaimer: Although my young daughter attends class at the ballet school, we are not directly involved with this production.) While The Christmas Angel engages even the youngest of dance students in the cast, the production value is noteworthy. Theatrical elements such as costumes, scenic design, lighting, and sound are crafted with high standards. At the final dress rehearsal I attended, pride and poise radiated throughout this inspiring production.

The story explores the redemptive journey of the Christmas Angel, who reveals how purity of love and power of forgiveness can transform even the darkest of hearts. As the ballet opens, Father Frost brings the Christmas Angel and magical toys together in Christmas Land, where they celebrate Christmas Eve and look forward to the excitement of Christmas Day. When the Christmas Angel is kidnapped by the Goblin Queen, the brave toys set out on a dangerous mission to rescue their beloved friend. The Christmas Angel’s ability to see the Goblin Queen’s true identity – a banished princess, sister of the Fairy Queen – leads to change and reunion on Christmas Day.

The large company of forty-seven cast members performs with strength and conviction. Nora Mader shines in a lovely heartfelt portrayal of the Christmas Angel. Celeste creates a powerful and mesmerizing Goblin Queen whose vulnerable transformation is truly moving. In the roles of Father Frost and Fairy King, Blade Boulware establishes an appealing stage presence and admirable partnering skills, accompanied by the charming Nyna Dalbec as the Fairy Queen.  Jane Mader delivers a beautiful interpretation of the Bird of Paradise. Two delightful French Dolls (Katie McHugh and Anna Grace Powell) cavort with a crowd-pleasing Jester (Devin McCormick) in particularly exceptional dances. Perhaps the most remarkable accomplishment of The Christmas Angel is the palpable joy that pervades this entire production as each performer from the sassy Black Poodle (Grayson Smythe) to the tiniest of Pixies conveys capable confidence.

Director and choreographer Celeste guides a strong production team, with additional choreography by Debbie Spivey and coaching by Dalbec, Spivey, and Gene Reed. Reed also provides effective set design and construction; the visual transitions into three distinctly different worlds uphold the story line while offering exciting spectacle. Celeste’s costume designs are first-class, from the playful reindeer to the menacing Wraiths to the exquisite Silver Moon and Golden Sun. The production elements and choreography unify in striking tonal shifts, leading the viewer through the light-hearted joyous Christmas Land into the genuinely frightening dark world of the Goblin Queen, yet ultimately rejoicing in the fairies’ celebration of redemption. The impressive Wraiths and Imps succeed with fascinating rhythmic sequences that emphasize the peril of the Goblin Queen’s world, while airy Woodland Nymphs and Butterflies lift the mood into the jubilant fairy realm.

The Christmas Angel demonstrates how a community arts organization can achieve professional performance quality while nurturing a strong educational program. In this fifteenth year of The Christmas Angel, Celeste and her company have created and evolved an original Christmas tradition for our community. Their achievement reflects how performers collaborating in educational settings can make true works of art. Audiences will leave the theatre hoping to treasure this living gem for many years to come.

Performances of The Christmas Angel will take place Friday, December 18 and Saturday, December 19 at 7:00 pm at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College, 7300 College Street in Irmo, SC. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children under 12 and seniors. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.celestialstars.org or contact the box office at 803-407-5013.

Hashing Out the Truth: #InRefugeeShoes Premieres Tonight (12/17/2015) by Haley Sprankle

12339435_1726665004230939_5745986248966202437_o “It's hard for us to put ourselves in other people's shoes, especially if we can't see what is happening.”

That’s how Rosalind Graverson, Events Coordinator of local business Singing Fox Creative, opens up about Syrian refugees. In Turkey alone, there are almost 2 million registered Syrian refugees, fleeing for their safety in the midst of crisis. Backlash against refugees fleeing to America has plagued the media, especially among presidential candidates seeking to gain American approval. Graverson, along with founder of Singing Fox Creative, Catherine Hunsinger, sought to shed a different light on this situation through their short film #InRefugeeShoes.

“Thanks to social media, we live in a world where hate and fear spread faster than wildfire. It's so easy to fight hate with hate; to fight fear with fear - this film is important because it's utterly hate-free,” Hunsinger says. “Our incredible production team, cast, and crew all care about one message and one message only: we are all one. What one of us suffers, we all suffer. If we continue to fight hate with hate, we'll get nowhere. My hope is that this film will inspire others to fight hate with love and to make a positive difference in the world.”

The idea for the project came to Hunsinger while discussing the weight of the refugee situation with friends, and within an hour, she and Graverson assembled a film crew and the majority of their cast.

“I have a few select friends who will allow me to hop up onto my humanitarian soap box and preach from time to time. One day a few weeks ago, I was standing on that proverbial soap box, begging to understand how one can look at a Syrian refugee as anything but a fellow human being - another member of our single most important race: the human race. It hit me that my hushed conversations with friends who already agree with me were making no difference, which is when I decided that I needed to DO something. But how does one have a conversation with someone who doesn't want to listen?” Hunsinger asks. “This was the question that ultimately led us to the film format. How do we ask someone to have a conversation with themselves, with no ideas to argue with but their own? Film. And how do we paint this picture in a way that will help people truly view the Syrian Refugee Crisis through purely human eyes? Paint the picture as if it were happening to US.”

Over the course of three days, the film was shot with a talented group of local film and theatre professionals. Two weeks later, and the film is debuting tonight at Coconuts Tropical Cafe. The premiere event begins at 6:30, with screenings of the film both at 7:00 and at 8:00.

“Before when I thought of refugees, all I saw was the homeless aspect of it. Of course that still is a huge part of it, but these were normal people, with jobs, families, hobbies, pets. Now they're living in fear of ISIS, of losing their families, of each other. It's hard to imagine what it could be like for us, but I'm hoping that the film helps to scratch the surface,” Graverson adds. “My hope is that people will just stop and think. I don't know if it will change anything, but we've already seen some positive feedback so that's really encouraging, telling us that we're on the right path… Maybe this will help us see more kindness and love, or at least some forethought before we post that comment or share that story.”

At the end of the day, this film seeks to bring people together and offer a different perspective to the public about the everyday plight that Syrian refugees continue to face.

“We're in discussions about where to take this project next. I think it's clear that we've got more to do with it - we can make a bigger difference than we imagined. The potential is unreal,” Hunsinger says. “The goal is absolutely to make a difference and to make life easier for our fellow humans worldwide, especially in Syria.”

Preview: if ART's December exhibition One / Group: Michael Cassidy + Mark Flowers + Jaime Misenheimer + Jay Owens

Columbia’s if ART Gallery’s December exhibition, One / Group: Michael Cassidy + Mark Flowers + Jaime Misenheimer + Jay Owens, is now on view. The show opened December 4th and will run through January 2, 2016. With the exhibition, if ART Gallery presents four artists who are new to the gallery: Michael Cassidy, Mark Flowers, Jaime Misenheimer, and Jay Owens. Cassidy and Misenheimer will be giving a gallery talk on Saturday, December 12th at 2 pm. cassidy4 Queen Anne's Lace 5

West Columbia resident and Michigan native Michael Cassidy has lived in the Columbia area for more than a decade. He earned an MFA from the University of South Carolina. Cassidy was included in this year’s 701 Center for Contemporary Art’s South Carolina Biennial 2015.

Flowers HourlyWage

South Carolina native Mark Flowers, who lives in the Ashville, N.C., area, has been a presence on the South Carolina art scene for decades despite having taught for more than two decades in Pennsylvania. Flowers used to show at Columbia’s Morris Gallery, which closed more than a decade ago, where he had his last solo exhibition in 1999. The current exhibition at if ART Gallery presents a new entrance into his home state for Flowers, who earned in BFA from the University of South Carolina. His work is represented in museums throughout the Carolinas, including the Columbia Museum of Art, the Greenville County Museum of Art and the Gibbes Museum in Charleston.

Yellow Cat

Columbia resident Jaime Misenheimer, who is from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, in 2014 received her MFA from the Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art, in Baltimore, one of the most prestigious MFA programs for painting in the country. She holds BFA and BA in History from the University of South Carolina, where she teaches art.

Owens, Jar

Upstate South Carolina native Jay Owens, who lives in Travelers Rest, S.C., attended Winthrop University before earning his BFA from Utah State University. He traveled to Niger, in West Africa, to study pottery. He also studied ceramics at the Peters Valley Craft Center in New Jersey and Haystack Mountain School of Craft in Maine and worked as a studio assistant at Penland School of Crafts.

REVIEW: Jingle Arrgh the Way! at Columbia Children's Theatre by Melissa Swick Ellington

Jingle-Poster-Web-232x300 Holiday cheer abounds at Columbia Children’s Theatre with the lively production of Jingle Arrgh the Way!: A ‘How I Became a Pirate’ Christmas Adventure (book, music and lyrics by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman; based on a story by Melinda Long). Snappy dialogue and raucous physical comedy amuse audiences of all ages in this companion to the popular How I Became a Pirate, also produced previously at CCT. Young Jeremy Jacob goes on another adventure with Captain Braid Beard and his crew; this time, their destinations include the North Pole and his school’s Christmas play. The show’s comedic success was made evident in the enthusiastic audience’s glee at the opening night performance I attended with my eight-year-old daughter and our friends. (My daughter was hooked before the show even started, as she declared with excitement: “I love that the title of the play is a joke! Jingle Arrgh the Way is supposed to be Jingle ALL the Way, get it?”)

Top-notch performers bring the holiday romp to life, led by the engaging Ashlyn Combs as Jeremy Jacob and the captivating Lee O. Smith as Braid Beard. The hilarious pirate crew features talented actors including Julian Deleon as the charming Pierre, Andy Nyland as the irrepressible Sharktooth, and the marvelous Brandi Smith in the role of Maxine. Charley Krawczyk makes a memorable appearance as Santa, and Paul Lindley II delights viewers in the role of Swill as he spouts information to a hilariously excessive degree. (Kaitlyn Fuller plays Swill at certain performances.)

The actors’ appealing banter draws children into the pirates’ world, highlighted by nifty special effects and plenty of “wow” moments. Director Jerry Stevenson steers this ship with gratifying expertise, and Crystal Aldamuy contributes entertaining choreography. Lindley provides strong musical direction; audience members will especially enjoy singing along with “pirate” versions of familiar holiday favorites.  Donna Harvey’s vibrant costumes work beautifully with the inventive set (designed and constructed by Harvey and Jim Litzinger). The capable production staff also includes Mary Litzinger, Toni Moore, Deleon, Nathan Fuller, Natalie Combs, Candice Fuller, Betsy Siemers, and Dianne Lee.

My young companions both gave Jingle Arrgh the Way! rave reviews. Our nine-year-old friend observed: “Swill is really funny. My favorite part was when Santa met the Captain. That was fun.” My daughter contributed: “I loved that the play is about the pirates from How I Became a Pirate. It was great that the pirates helped Jeremy Jacob with his school Christmas play! Also, there are some scenes that remind me of the book Pirates Don’t Change Diapers. I liked that the actors were the same performers from when they did How I Became a Pirate. Jeremy Jacob, the main character, is my favorite. Kids should go see this funny play!” Audiences will want to stick around after the show, as the traditional post-performance cast appearance for autographs and photos is always a hit with families at CCT.

Columbia Children’s Theatre will present Jingle Arrgh the Way! on Saturday, December 12 at10:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 13 at 3:00 p.m. There will also be a special “Late Night Date Night” adults-only performance on Friday, December 11 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for children ages three through adult; tickets for seniors and active duty military are $8. (For Saturday 7:00 p.m. performances, tickets are $5.00). To purchase tickets, visit http://www.columbiachildrenstheatre.com or call (803) 691-4548.

Thomas Crouch presents the Final Act of his Month-Long Arts Project Tonight at 6

Crouch 1

Jasper had the pleasure of chatting with Columbia-based artist Thomas Crouch about his new project at Tapp's Arts Center this month and the Final Act of the project which is opening tonight.

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Jasper:  Thomas, you installed a large exhibit in the Tapp’s Arts Center at the beginning of the month. What can you tell us about the show?

Thomas:  Yes it is called Foundation, Formulation, Failure. It is a working project exploring the physical and conceptual interpretations of a blueprint by a community. I have lined two 46' walls in the central corridor of Tapps with blueprint paper and have been working on the imagery throughout the month of November. Within this corridor I am building a two dimensional imaginary city. There are also 18 pieces of new and old work in the surrounding alcoves.

Jasper:  There are three parts to the exhibit, is that right? Can you explain what each part entails?

 Thomas:  This exhibit progresses in three Acts.

Act I, Foundation, saw the blueprints represented in their literal sense; the basic 2-D designs from which our civilization is built. The opening on November 5 symbolized the population of this city. The public was invited to ask questions, learn about the project and become part of this community.

Act II, Formulation, is the current act [in place until tonight]. This is where the city evolves over time. On one wall the imagery depicts the structures built to tap the natural resources needed to support a city e.g. dams, power plants, farm land. On the other wall the imagery depicts the municipal structures the community needs to access these resources e.g. grocery stores, retail space, government buildings. Communication with the public as I work on these walls will be, and has been, reflected in this imagery.

Act III, Failure, is the final act. In this act, the blueprint fails. The personification of this failure will be realized by a public deconstruction of the work. On Saturday, November 21 at 6:00, the public is invited to pay $20 and cut out any piece of their "city" they want and take it home. Human sensibilities of personal need and the needs of the community will come into play here. As an individual decides how much and which part of the artwork to take home as their own, they will ultimately be effecting another individual's interests.

Jasper:  Why did you go in that direction?

Thomas:  I wanted to utilize this long corridor in a way that would place the public in a new interactive environment. My previous blueprint based exhibit at Tapp's, Wolves Vs. Baboons, was successful in this manner. After discussion and brainstorming with Tapp's as to what we could and could not do with the space, we came up with this idea. Also, we have all been affected as a community recently in an unprecedented way. So, that is fresh on our collective conscience I suppose.

Jasper:  When will the show be completed and what should arts patrons expect from the finished work?

Thomas:  The final act is November 21 and will see the FFF experiment come down. The remaining paintings will remain up until the end of November. I consider this project my most potent and effective to date in regards to the human condition, which is an inherent theme in my work. In my view, these images on blueprint paper that the public chooses to take home will, in a sense, become artifacts of Foundation, Formulation, Failure in its totality.

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Announcing the 2015 Jasper Artists of the Year

It was a beautiful night of revisiting the best of the Italian Renaissance at the Big Apple last night when we announced and celebrated the 2015 Jasper Artists of the Year. Without further ado, the winners are: Martha Brim pictured with Jasper Contributing Dance Editor Bonnie Boiter-Jolley

MARTHA BRIM ~ 2015 JAY IN DANCE

Julia Elliott with Jasper Literary Arts Editor Ed Madden

JULIA ELLIOTT ~ 2015 JAY IN LITERARY ARTS

Craig Butterfield pictured with Jasper Music Editor Michael Spawn

CRAIG BUTTERFIELD ~ 2015 JAY IN MUSIC

Dewey Scott-Wiley pictured with Jasper Assistant Editor Kyle Petersen

DEWEY SCOTT-WILEY ~ 2015 JAY IN THEATRE

Kimi Maeda pictured with Jasper Editor Cindi Boiter

KIMI MAEDA ~ 2015 JAY IN VISUAL ARTS

 

Congratulations to all the JAY Winners and Finalists!

Thanks to Kristine Hartvigsen for photography, Mouse House for framing, Singing Fox for event planning, and Coal Powered Filmworks for Sponsorship. Special thanks to the shared talents of Duo Cortado, Cathering Hunsinger, the Trustus Apprentices, Chris Carney, and Jasper's Wet Ink spoken word poetry collective.

PREVIEW: Circle Mirror Transformation at USC Lab Theatre by Rebecca Shrom

circle Up next at The University of South Carolina’s Lab Theater is Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation. The show opens this weekend and is directed by Jamie Boller, an undergraduate senior majoring in both Theatre and English.

 

Circle Mirror Transformation follows 5 people in a six-week adult acting class taught by a woman named Marty (Jasmine James). In the class the Marty has the other 4 play a variety of theatre exercises and games, including one called “Circle Mirror Transformation”, and throughout the play the story weaves between flashes of these games and bits of the characters’ lives before, during, and after the class.

 

“The show is all about opening up to other human beings and allowing yourself to have a genuine connection with someone else”, Boller explains, “… Baker's dialog is startlingly naturalistic, and I love that. Her story is about real people; it has an incredible rawness about it.” So more than anything, Circle Mirror is about the characters themselves. How they interact and connect with one another, and how we, as humans, can learn from that. Boller states, “And acting, as an art form, is about a lot of self-discovery and self-understanding so when a bunch of strangers start looking through that lens, and just connecting as people do, the things that blossom out of that are random and weird and beautiful.”

 

 

Circle Mirror is a play about real life and therefore is a play that has a genre that is hard to define; for in the world there is suffering, but also humor. It is hard to give life a genre.  First-year MA Theatre candidate Ryan Stevens, who is playing James, Marty’s husband, explains, “There’s also a lot of humor, in the play and in the character, which I always enjoy. And it’s not like stand-up comedian humor, it’s all rooted in emotion and personal connections, so it’s humor that means something and that’s the most gratifying type of joke to land”. Stevens says, “This is a show about sort of finding peace with yourself and the self you wish you were.”

 

But in the end, Circle Mirror is a play about theatre. How is that relevant to those who aren’t heavily involved in theatre, or even art in general? Boller explains that, “It is really about the self-discovery and transcendent connections with others that can occur at the intersection of life and art. I hope audiences leave thinking about the impact art, particularly theatre, has on the lives of everyone--not just those who choose to make art their career.”

 

Boller left with these words: “Sometimes I feel like theatre is a dying art form when all anyone wants to do is ‘Netflix and chill.’ This play reminds me how special theatre is as an art form and how much we really need it. Theatre is all about human connection--actors are communicating with one another onstage and with the audience as well. Theatre is all about being present with one another, and I think we need that now more than ever.”

 

So please come see USC’s Lab Theater production of Circle Mirror Transformation (1400 Wheat St, located in the Booker T. Washington Theater). Showtimes are 8 pm nightly, November 19th-22nd, and tickets are $5 at the door.

 

For more information about Circle Mirror Transformation or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at bushk@mailbox.sc.edu.

 

Announcing the 2015 JAY Gala Line-up

JAY 2015 graphic It's no coincidence that we patterned this week's 2015 JAY Awards Gala after the Italian Renaissance--a fertile time of humanism, art, architecture, science, and literature. In so many ways, we've been living through our own renaissance over the past several years in Columbia and we want to celebrate this fact at the same time we celebrate the 15 artists honored as Jasper's Artists of the Year Finalists and Winners.

Join us for an evening of Renaissance inspired food, drink (open bar), and entertainment, and the announcement of the Jasper Artists of the Year in Dance, Literature, Music, Theatre, and  Visual Arts.

  • Musical performance by the classical guitar duo Duo Cortado who will be playing Renaissance tunes and more
  • Renaissance inspired spoken word performances by members of Jasper's Wet Ink Spoken Word Collective, featuring Kendal Turner, Debra McQueen, & Kenneth Denk
  • Mini cello concert by Catherine Hunsinger
  • Impromptu performances by Al Black and Catherine Hunsinger
  • Leonardo daVinci (Michael Krajewski) will be creating his own version of the Mona Lisa from a live model
  • Michelangelo (Alex Smith) will be our guest throughout the evening embodying the Enlightenment, inciting evocative conversations, inspiring us with his multiple talents, (and maybe even creating art!)
  • Roving Renaissance entertainment from the Trustus Apprentices will keep the spirit of the Enlightenment alive and a smile on your faces
  • Il Magnifico's own Court Jester (Chris Carney) will meet you on the walk with fire eating demonstrations
  • USC Theatre Students are cooking up a surprise performance for us all
  • Bier Doc (Bob Jolley) has a rich selection of special biers and wines
  • Be sure to arrive in time to sample the Editor's Punch, created specially for this gala
  • Enjoy a sample feast of Renaissance-inspired dishes created by Chef Joe Turkaly
  • And, of course,the announcement of the Jasper Artists of the Year!

Tickets are $25 in ADVANCE and $35 at the door. Or join us at 6 for a special champagne reception in which you can sip bubbles, nosh on special treats, and hob nob with some of the greatest of the city's artists.

Come out and support your local arts magazine, celebrate its release, and congratulate the Jasper Artists of the Year Finalists and Winners: Martha Brim, William Starrett, Dale Lam, Eileen Blyth, Kimi Maeda, Russell Jeffcoat, Jullia Elliott, Ray McManus, Al Black, Jordan Young, Craig Butterfield, Heyward Sims, Dewey Scott-Wiley, Jennifer Moody Sanchez, and Kendrick Marion.

Special Thanks to Coal Powered Filmworks, Mouse House, Bert Easter of Easter Antiques, Richard Durlach and Breedlove of The Big Apple,  and Singing Fox Event Planning.

Renowned Printmaker Joseph Norman Visits the CMA -- by Chelxenn Bundick

  Joseph Norman

 

 

On Monday, November 16, the Columbia Museum of Art (1515 Main St.) will welcome the prominent print artist Joseph Norman as he introduces his series entitled Images in Black and White.  Starting at 6:00 p.m., hear the Chicago native speak on his socially enticing compositions and the past experiences that helped enriched their framework.

 

With current works on display at CMA, Norman’s collections of phenomenal lithographs prints can be found in numerous museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, N.Y. and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

 

Supporting the event is the CMA membership affiliate group Friends of African American Art & Culture (FAAAC). In sharing the appreciation for the artistic and cultural contributions of African Americans, through the efforts of FAAAC and board member Delores Logan, the CMA was given 16 prints from two complete series in building the showcase.

 

“Mr. Norman has used his artistic gifts in a way that illuminates the African American experience in America in a way that speaks to all humanity,” says Logan.  “He develops themes which are bold, courageous truth-tellings, and presents those themes in a manner that is redemptive.”

 

The African American’s Images on Black and White showcase displays his high level of artistic skill, baring the ability to synthesize his personal development with his artistic development. Deemed a “master lithographer” by his peers, the Logan describes Norman’s ability to describe his world through an African American world view all while effectively allowing any sensitive viewers to see themselves in his work, encompassing a status and aspirations for all humanity.

 

His unique social perspective that simultaneously reflects his personal aspect of growing up in the windy city all while tackling larger, cultural issues such as social inequality and structural racism.

 

In addition to revealing and discussing his conceptual pieces, a reception will follow the event, to welcome Norman to the Soda City art community.  In the expansion of their collection of art by African American artists, the CMA welcomes all in greeting not only Norman but also fellow members of the art community and partake in illuminating another aspect of our community’s story.

 

More information about the Columbia Museum of Art and the Friends of African American Arts and Culture organization can be found at www.columbiamuseu.org or by phone at 803-799-2810.

"Andy Smith does not spend his time waiting" -- Tony Tallent Endorses Andy Smith

Tony Tallent is the director of learning and literacy at Richland Library  

 

We are all drawn to people who are able to articulate a vision for a brighter future, particularly when that vision touches on things we really care about. Articulating a vision is a powerful action. Implementing it is even more powerful. Too often there seems to be a wait-time for many leaders to act on the vision they have announced. Perhaps they are waiting for a mass of approval or funding or a wave of new insight and personal courage. This wait-time burns through resources, opportunities and trust.

 

Andy Smith does not spend his time waiting. He is already actively making moves to  fulfill the vision he has set for the City of Columbia. He hasn’t waited for superficial permission or for the political climate to be easy. The work Andy Smith does both through his role as a nonprofit director of a notable organization in Columbia as well as an involved community member has already made improvements that surpass the tangible changes many seasoned leaders have made. He has lifted up the lives of disadvantaged youth and has shown a palpable respect to marginalized and vulnerable segments of our community in ways that are remarkable. Andy Smith cares in ways that are real and not only in words.

 

Andy Smith is already doing the work that is moving Columbia toward a brighter future. Imagine how much more powerful this good, earnest work would be if Andy had a platform to reach into our community more directly.

 

We all want to see great, mindful changes in our city. Andy Smith hasn’t waited for others to make this happen. He has stepped in with courage and without hesitation. Why would we want to prolong making Columbia an even better place to be? We know someone who can help make this happen more rapidly. Andy Smith. Andy doesn’t hesitate to do the right thing. Let’s not hesitate anymore either.

 

PREVIEW: Herculine and Lola at USC's Center for Performance Experiment -- By Alivia L Seely

   

Playwright Dipika Guha

“People often think that identifying as transgender or words like 'intersex' are all new things, but the inclusion of Herculine’s story from the 1800s gives a different perspective. Struggles with gender identity and sexuality are not new--it’s just been excluded from the mainstream conversation,” -- Rachel Kuhnle, Lola in Herculine and Lola

~~~

A jump through time and a change in culture, and yet, the same problem is still seen. Will comfort be felt or sexuality understood as playwright Dipika Guha’s script is brought to the stage?

Herculine and Lola is a play that showcases the struggles of gender identity and follows two women in their search to find peace with their bodies. Herculine Barbin is a women from the past. A schoolteacher in 19th century France, Herculine writes a diary conveying her troubles as an intersex person. While leaping forward to present day, Lola is an American teenager who travels overseas with her parents, when they break some complicated news to her about her body.

“Lola looks and acts like a female and in fact believes she is a female until her parents inform her that it’s not so simple,” says Carin Bendas, a second-year MFA acting student at the University of South Carolina and playing the role of Lola.

Guha’s writing paints a picture of what it feels like to be someone struggling with gender identity. “This play has been enormously challenging to wrangle because of its structure and size. I wanted to create a three-part structure for the stage where we would depart and ‘be’ somewhere entirely different in the second part,” says Guha.

Herculine may be a piece of the past, but her problems are still prevalent in today’s contemporary culture, as audiences will see through Lola’s character. Rachel Kuhnle, also a second-year MFA acting student at USC and playing the role of Herculine, mentions never working in any production that takes sexuality and explores it so much. “People often think that identifying as transgender or words like 'intersex' are all new things, but the inclusion of Herculine’s story from the 1800s gives a different perspective. Struggles with gender identity and sexuality are not new--it’s just been excluded from the mainstream conversation,” says Kuhnle.

Most people have come across an intersex person before; we just wouldn’t normally notice it, Bendas mentions. As it seems, today’s culture is more understanding when it comes to an intersex or transgender person. Knowing that people had to deal with gender identity issues at a time when the culture was not as accepting really puts an emphasis on how evolved our culture has become-though obviously not far enough. Despite period differences, Herculine and Lola bond together through their imagination and love.“Our life experiences play a huge part in the characters we create, especially in a play where the characters' journeys are so personal,” says Kuhnle.

Audience members have to keep their imaginations going and remember the unique culture each character belongs to. With such dramatic time period shifts, showing scene changes can be a challenge, even for set designer and director Steven Pearson.“It’s a very cinematic play and to do that with a simple element, to bring to life what is written on the page, is always a challenge, especially to go from one environment to another and from one time to another. We are using more general furniture and props to have the audience’s imaginations anchor on them. But the most important part is the actors in it,” says Pearson.

This will be the first production of the play, and Guha is delighted to have Pearson behind her. “He understands what this play is after down to its marrow and has worked tirelessly to realize the story in a kind of bare theatrical landscape I had imagined when I wrote it,” says Guha. “He has given me the greatest gift that a playwright could ask for, which is the absolute commitment to staging the play as is written.”

The play will run from November 15-21 at the Center for Performance Experiment on 718 Devine St. Tickets are $5 and are available only at the door. Show times are 8 p.m. every night, and on Friday, November 20, two shows will run at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

"Andy Smith has the vision and energy" -- Becky & Kevin Lewis Endorse Andy Smith

Andy t immac Andy Smith has the vision and energy for the effective and innovative leadership that Columbia City Council needs. We have seen his leadership enacted in the story of the Nickelodeon’s move from local community theatre on lower Main Street to the beautifully restored theater on Main Street to form the foundation for the exciting, prosperous, and ongoing revival of our Main Street.

Andy’s successful grant-writing has marked the highly successful and influential programming of the Nickelodeon to provide media education for young people as well as creating partnerships with the University of South Carolina, the Richland County Public Library, the Columbia Museum of Art, religious groups and others to enrich the cultural life of South Carolina. And he is the founder of Indie Grits that has brought thousands of visitors to participate in our own Media Makers Festival!

 

Becky and Kevin Lewis are retired professor from the University of South Carolina

 

FOR MORE INFO ON ANDY SMITH IS RIGHT HERE!

PREVIEW - Blithe Spirit at USC

2nd-year MFA actors Josh Jeffers (left) as Charles Condomine and Candace Thomas (right) as Elvira Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward, and directed by Stan Brown, opens this weekend and serves as a close to Theatre South Carolina’s 2015 Mainstage Season. Blithe Spirit serves as the first Coward production at Theatre South Carolina since Present Laughter was staged in February of 2012. Both Blithe Spirit is a lighthearted and farcical comedy that follows author Charles Condomine (Josh Jeffers), who invites a medium, Madame Arcati (Marybeth Gorman), to his house one evening to conduct a séance in order to study her for his next novel. Charles, wholeheartedly believing the medium to be a hoax, is proven very wrong when he finds himself haunted by his first wife, Elvira (Candace Thomas). He is then caught in a supernatural love-triangle between his living wife, Ruth (Nicole Dietze), and the strong-willed Elvira.

 

Director Stan Brown explains, “I'm intrigued by two questions the play asks. As we move from one relationship to another, what “ghosts” do we take with us? I also believe…as the play implies, that genuine love is eternal.” And despite the show being nearly 75 years old, that is what makes the show still accessible to modern audiences. “Mr. Coward wrote Blithe Spirit in 1941, yet the story deals with what "we" would consider contemporary relationship issues. Its timelessness marks it as a classic”, explains Brown.

 

Coward originally wrote Blithe Spirit in the midst of World War II as a means of escapism. Audiences could go to the theatre for a few hours and enjoy a few laughs together as a way to temporarily flee the problems facing their lives.  And that is something about theatre that will always be relevant. Whether your problems are large or small, everyone can use a good laugh every once in a while. “…There's no reason why it can't be an escape for us during today's dark realities.  My hope is that our audiences have fun and forget their every day burdens for the two hours they're with us,” Josh Jeffers says, “Stan has encouraged us to play because ‘they're called plays for a reason,’ … It's always fun to see what people bring into rehearsal. We've spent a lot of time laughing.”

 

So join Theatre South Carolina for a few laughs with its last Mainstage show of the year! Show times for are 8pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays, with additional 3pm matinees on Sunday, November 15and Saturday, November 21.  Tickets for the production are $12 for students, $16 for USC faculty/staff, military personnel and seniors (60+) and $18 for the general public.  Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 803-777-2551 or by visiting the Longstreet Theatre box office, which is open Monday-Friday, 12:30pm-5:30pm, beginning Friday, November 6.  The Longstreet Theater box office is located at 1300 Greene St.  Drayton Hall Theatre is located at 1214 College St.

-- Rebecca Shrom

For more information about Blithe Spirit or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at bushk@mailbox.sc.edu.

"the entrepreneurial business and infrastructure and commercialvision candidate" -- Ed Madden Endorses Andy Smith

Ed Madden (left) with Bert Easter and Andy Smith Would you rather?

 

Either/or.  That game.

 

Sometimes the options don’t feel very different.  Would you rather watch Seinfeld or watch The Simpsons?  Would you rather be itchy or scratchy?

 

Sometimes they are very different, despite the superficial structure of the game.  Would you rather be telekinetic or telepathic?  Would you rather have the power of invisibility or the power of flight?

 

My dad and I took one of those little personality tests.  I remember one question that clarified things for me.  Would you rather have your head in the clouds or be stuck in a rut?  That’s easy, I thought: head in the clouds.  That’s easy, he thought: stuck in a rut.

 

For him it was about getting something done, even if it was the same old thing.  For me it was about possibility, vision, about doing things better, doing things differently.

 

So, would you rather have Andy or Howard?  Someone emailed me, said here’s the issue: non-arts folks don’t see a lot of difference between Andy Smith and Howard Duvall.  Said we got rid of the regressive element on the council, and either of these guys would be good.

Don't see a lot of difference?  Really?  Are we watching the same news, reading the same webpages, thinking about the same city—and what they  think a city could and should be?

 

Everyone knows Andy Smith is the arts candidate—or to rephrase that, the candidate at the heart of the city’s cultural boom, the candidate with a comprehensive vision for strategic planning.  Everyone cites his transformation of the Nickelodeon Theatre from a tiny arts venue to a central cultural venue for the city—and his creation and direction of Indie Grits, one of the most exciting recent developments in our city’s ongoing cultural renaissance.  (And don’t say you haven’t noticed this cultural renaissance?  Columbia is not the sleepy little self-satisfied city I moved to 20 years ago. It is something better, something more.  It is an urban ecology in transformation.)  And doesn’t that massive film festival suggest he is more than an arts candidate: he is also the entrepreneurial business and infrastructure and commercialvision candidate?  Look at their webpages.  Look at Andy’s response to the flood and the infrastructure and local business issues it addresses.  What have they done, what can they do?  Earlier this year, the Free Times named him one of “50 People Who Get Things Done.”

 

Would you rather…?  There’s a difference.

"It comes down, quite simply, to scale." - Kyle Petersen Endorses Andy Smith

Kyle Petersen There are a lot of reason I, along with so many others, support Andy Smith for City Council.

There’s the surface level stuff—he’s a progressive committed to LGBT and racial equality, a firm supporter and leader of our city’s sense of community and cultural growth, and a savvy administrator who has proven his ability to bring both imagination and expertise to the management of one of our city’s largest and most prominent non-profit arts organizations.

If we dig a little deeper, I might point to his keen awareness of how interconnected the arts are with not just the cultural but economic growth of a city, or that he has an impressive record of envisioning what kind of city he wants to live in and then setting about actually creating that city through his leadership of the Nickelodeon Theatre and Indie Grits.  That he’s proven to be inquisitive and engaged with important conversations about city planning and urban development as he’s continued that work, and that he brings a wealth of experience to the table through his experience with national groups like the Ford Foundation and Nord Family Foundation and serving on boards like the national Art House Convergence and National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC).

And all of that is important—values, vision, and experience. Who are you? What do you specifically plan to do? And how able are you to do it? That’s essentially the three questions of any political campaign. Or any other job interview for that matter.

However, Smith’s opponent in the November 17th run-off has his own qualifications, including a similar set of values, a long history with working in (and leading) municipal governments, and his own clear vision of the kind of role he would take up on the council. So why do I so ardently believe Smith is the superior choice?

It comes down, quite simply, to scale. Andy’s campaign slogan is “Think Big,” a phrase which strikes at the heart of his appeal. He believes, fundamentally, in creating grand, imaginative concepts and then executing them to the best of your ability. The Nick and Indie Grits are prime examples of this, of course. Before Andy, the former was a tiny niche art house theatre and the latter didn’t exist at all. Now, The Nick has grown by leaps and bounds as it has launched new education initiatives and programming ventures while reimagining the role of a community cinema in the 21st century. With Indie Grits, he began a quirky film festival focused on DIY filmmaking in the Southeast and then grew it into a nationally recognized multi-disciplinary arts event that draw submissions from across the country. That both also make huge economic impacts and are key parts of the Main Street revitalization just sweetens the pot.

I want to stress, though, that what’s key here is the way Smith both dreams big and in imaginative ways, and then makes things happen, not just his arts organization prowess. That’s an ability that will cut across all of the issues our city faces, from economic growth to quality of life to maintaining basic services. Andy is not going to simply settle for the status quo, for what’s minimally adequate, or for whatever we’ve done in the past. He’s going to ask ‘what’s the best version of this we can imagine?’ That’s the kind of vision and attitude that I want, and that we need collectively as a community, on City Council.

I implore you, registered voters of Columbia, to go out and vote not just to get a smart, forward-thinking candidate like Andy Smith elected. Go out and vote for the idea that truly is a “best future” for Columbia out there.

Kyle Petersen is Assistant  Editor of Jasper Magazine

 

"... why I decided to leave New York ..." - Caitlin Bright Endorses Andy Smith

Caitlin Bright

Columbia is growing- in size, in stature, in diversity, in population, in national attention... Many stake holders in many different fields and facets have ushered in this growth (developers, cultural leaders, city and university officials...), and we as a community need to strategically elect representatives moving forward that will ensure we stay on track in sustaining this growth.
I went to the arts forum of City Council candidates at 701 Whaley and had my eyes opened to this fact- to just how necessary it is that I be engaged and active in choosing my community leadership. I generally take a back seat, keep my voting opinions to myself, and let our democratic process carry out, but the forum made me realize I need to be more proactive. Who we select can really make a big difference in our community, and vocalizing our needs and wants can identify shared interests and strengthen our voice, so i've decided to speak up and share my own needs and wants for this city with you all, in hopes that it might highlight some common interests.
I know Andy Smith, socially and professionally. I've watched him grow the Nickelodeon and Indie Grits Festival into national tourist destinations, and affectionately blame him for why I finally decided to leave New York and return to Columbia. I met with him in 2012 when I came to visit my parents for the holidays, and was intoxicated by his enthusiasm for the concept that it's not the location of the city, it's what you make of it that makes a city home.
Knowing him already and knowing what he can do, I was still really impressed with Andy's vision for Columbia. He hit target points of need- developing a cohesive cultural plan for the city, adopting a percent for art program (which allocates 1% of all new construction costs to a public art fund for the city), and identifying how creative place making can benefit multiple fields and industries. His understanding of community and inclusion and his tenacious zeal to make this city a dynamic and fulfilling place to live made him stand out.
His belief in this city's potential is infectious, and I definitely caught it.
I moved back to be a part of this growth, to get the opportunity to have a supporting role in the construction of Columbia's new cultural landscape, to foster diversity, opportunity, and innovation. This is everything that Andy Smith has labored to achieve during his tenure as Executive Director of the Nickelodeon and it is what he will continue to achieve as City Council Member At Large.
If you can vote in the run off on November 17th, read all the material you can on Andy Smith, reach out to ask him questions (he's totally accessible!), and seriously consider voting for him. We need smart, forward-thinking representatives ensuring Columbia's quality of life only becomes more dynamic, rich and fulfilling.
Caitlin Bright is the executive director of the Tapp's Arts Center

'His ideas are just that much bigger now." -- Meeghan Kane Endorses Andy Smith

meeghan kane

I met Andy Smith when I moved to Columbia in 2006. He was a native son returning to South Carolina from Los Angeles. His plan was to bring some fresh ideas to the Nickelodeon, in particular, and to Columbia, in general. His enthusiasm was infectious then, and it still is today. His ideas are just that much bigger now.

 

In many ways, I don’t think 2006 me would recognize 2016 Columbia, and I say that with all of the affection in the world. Because Andy worked hard to cultivate and enrich an arts community that was ready to grow, and he’s a big part of the really good change that’s happened here. The potential for that change to continue and expand is key to sustaining growth and progress in Columbia. Andy's plans to keep our arts community at the heart of economic development and public education in the city is the type of innovation in city planning that many of us have been hoping for.

Andy also commits his time and resources to providing opportunities for and encouraging young folks in the city to participate in the arts and take leadership roles in creating and sustaining change. And on that note, he is a strong advocate for progressive social change and racial and gender equality.

 

I think it goes without saying that Andy has my full endorsement for city council, but I’ll say it anyway.

 

Go Andy!

Meeghan Kane teaches history at Benedict College.

A leader tuned into diversity and "openness" - Melanie Huggins Endorses Andy Smith

Melanie Huggins is the executive director of the Richland Library If Andy Smith doesn’t win on November 3rd, I wont lose much.

 

This might seem an odd opener for someone who supports Andy Smith in the at-large City Council election but stick with me…

 

Since I’ve been the executive director of the Richland Library, our nationally regarded and locally beloved organization has never received funding from the City. No H-Tax, no special bonds for capital. Nothing. We are 95% supported by property taxes assessed by Richland County (Thank you!). I don’t even live in the city limits. So my support of Andy is devoid of any self-interest or hope for some greater, immediate benefit for my organization.

 

I support Andy because I believe that if he’s elected on November 3rd, we all have so much to gain.

 

A Knight Foundation report called “Soul of the City” explained why people choose to live where they do; what connects them and makes them happy with the places they live. This report included Columbia and 24 other cities and it found that a city’s social offerings and aesthetics are key to influencing people to move here and retaining the talent we have. In these two areas, Columbia was ranked as strong.  Our city is pretty, we have beautiful natural resources and our calendar of events is full year-round.

 

But one variable—stated by Columbians in this study as important to their feeling connected to the city—is described as “openness” and it that area, we don’t look so good.  “Openness” as described in the report looks at how welcoming we are to different groups and we do the worst job with our young residents (18-34) and with the LGBTQ community. As someone not in either of those categories (I’m in a category that feels very welcome, according to the survey, BTW), as a leader who needs a talented, connected workforce and strong partners, and as a woman who wants her family to live in a diverse, progressive city, this is unacceptable.

 

We need a leader in our city that is tuned in to the issues of “openness” and can ensure our city behaves in a way that welcomes and supports diversity.

 

I know Andy to be collaborative, inclusive and forward thinking. I have seen firsthand how passionately he works to make communities more livable and more vital. He understands that when trying to build community cohesion, you can’t provide solutions FOR people; you have to work WITH the people you serve. I believe he will do this with residents as well as with his colleagues on city council.

 

I know he will advocate for more investments in the arts to make sure our social and cultural offerings continue to be a strength.  Andy will work to make sure our community is welcoming to artists and young innovators by encouraging the creation of affordable spaces for them to live and work. He will support efforts to attract and keep the creative workforce we need to be a city people want to live in and spend their money and time in.

 

Andy has wonderful ideas and a passion for this city which is why I hope he wins on November 3rd. I urge my city-dwelling friends and partners to head to the polls and cast your vote for a more welcoming and creative city.