On September 20th, I went to the Michael Mitchell gallery on King street for an art opening. This show was titled “Decade” and featured two abstract artists who did landscapes and cityscapes. Landscape veteran Kevin Harrison has practiced for decades on crazy street scenes and chose Charleston as a creative hub in 1997. Photographer John Duckworth used his “camera to paint” absolutely stunning landscape photos. I was stunned at his photographic skills, as he perfectly described the painted asthetic to his photos. They were beautiful on the white walls of the gallery and support Harrison’s much more abstract downtown paintings.
The Gallery did a wonderful job setting up for the night and theming the art opening with costumes and decorations. By creating an open door event that attracted viewers from King street, it allowed Michael Mitchel gallery to attract a varied audience. I highly recommend all of you attend one of their shows. It includes free alcohol and the employees are more than helpful when it comes to asking questions about the style or characteristics of the features artists. Attending that event changed my perspective on art galleries and since then I have become very close with on of the employees. Even if you can’t afford any of the art, the events teach viewers about the art and immerse you in Charleston culture.
On Tuesday, October 8th, I had the fortune of viewing As It Is In Heaven, by Arlene Hutton, at the Robinson Theatre in the Simons Center – and I mean fortune literally. Arriving 10 minutes before the 7:30 opening and immediately facing an out-the-door will call line, I swiftly became aware that I had drastically underestimated the demand for this show. I ultimately was able to buy my ticket after the will call line ran out, but it left me in wonder: how was so much awareness raised for this play? Was it word-of-mouth praise, or great advertising? I have to think that some was simply the college art community, combined with the fact that it was the last show of its run. After I was able to buy my ticket, only two more people in line received tickets before they ran out.
Tickets were $15, or $10 for students, faculty, and seniors, so income was being generated. However, being a college theater performance, I can only imagine profit was of least importance. The profits generated from these performances, which arguably are great due to the demand and wide range of age seen at the performance (I saw from preteen to elderly), probably went to covering the costs of production and supporting the theater department and thereby furthering education. The production itself was the most elaborate I’ve seen at the college set and costume-wise, but even so seemed relatively simple. The performances by the actors were impeccable, certainly outshining the play itself. This and the relatively low cost (especially student discount) made me optimistic for future productions, very much encouraging me to see more of what the College of Charleston theater department has to offer.
This past Friday marked Tivoli’s first edition of their First-Est Friday art exhibition. The warehouse that houses the company is located on the upper side of King St, right under the bridge that merges Highway 17 with I-26, and next door to the Butcher and Bee. First-Est Friday is a singular event as far as Charleston goes, displaying whatever artwork artists choose to show in their individual studios, which line the inner walls of the building, while also providing a live DJ set for standard party frivolity. I did not notice any overarching artistic theme exhibited in the collective studios, but there were a couple of studios which featured objects that gave off an Americana vibe, such as a CB radio or a 1950s TV set, that were painted or artistically reconfigured. My favorite studio was one of the more spacious ones and had an older record player, seemingly unmarred by the artist, which was surrounded by cover sleeves of vinyl records with paint splattered on them a la Jackson Pollock. I don’t know if it’s fair to lump this brand of art into the broad category of “postmodern”, as that term has come to be limiting in my opinion, but I am a fan of art that is portrayed through unexpected canvases, so this exhibition was refreshing.
Everything seemed to be running smoothly for an art exhibition taking place in an environment that had the constructs of a house party, until around midnight when an incident outside the main entrance forced everybody to remain either indoors or in the patio area (for smokers). Several friends and I entered through the door on the other side of the building when first arriving at the event, not knowing about the five dollar admission fee being charged at the main entrance. Most of us were outside the alternate entrance when the aforementioned incident occurred, which is still a mystery to me, and when we were prompted to return inside we were finally informed of the fee. After I gladly payed admission and received the “Tivoli” logo on my right wrist, the staff member who collected it discussed how they had consistent issues with organizing. It seems like a fairly obvious plan to have an employee working each door to check wrists and collect admission, which indicates a manager not controlling his employees or events very effectively.
It was an interesting show, and the format of an art exhibition you could dance at is something I would like to see more of. I would recommend it to any artistically inclined individual who wants a change from the bar scene elsewhere on King St.
On Monday night, I went to see the CofC Department of Theater & Dance’s production of “As it is in Heaven, a play about The Shakers“. The production was shown in the Robinson Theatre, located in the Simon’s Center on St. Phillip St. I thought overall the production was very well executed. The stage was beautifully crafted and the costumes were simple yet elegant. Personally, I am not a fan of the theater & could not relate to the story, despite my efforts. I have to admit I eventually got extremely bored after about 45 minutes, but that’s because theater is just not my thing. Despite my boredom, I could definitely appreciate the quality of the acting/singing and the amount of time that went into the production.
It was interesting to witness firsthand the separate ticket pricing for students & the general public, something they definitely did to draw a bigger crowd. I was unfortunate enough to forget my student ID and was charged an extra 50%, which caused me to immediately take mental note of their tactical marketing strategy. If you enjoy theater I would recommend going to see the near flawless performance but if you don’t I would steer clear.
(Just to clarify I mean no disrespect to anyone involved in the production, I thought it was very well done)
On September 24 I had the pleasure of attending an exhibition featuring artist Maribel “Mag” Acosta. The exhibit was held at The 827 in West Ashley, which is a killer gallery/studio/events hall space. If not to see the art, I highly recommend going to the space and getting a tour of the gallery, because it’s quite unique. Apart from the space, the exhibition itself is very cool. The paintings track the artists’s journey, as she moved around a lot in her life. I liked it because I enjoy art that clearly represents some kind of life event or connection. A key element of the show was a performance piece about the artist’s travels, and the way that new places have nurtured her. This piece was very cool and a video of the show can be found here!
This event reminded me of our class discussion about planning. After speaking with one of the managers, I learned that the large, six foot canoe used for the performance was bought one day earlier. Through my research, I found that a material like this can be very pricey if bought new. Had the gallery planned for this need ahead of time, they could have minimized costs and maximized authenticity of the prop. There also lacked a plan as the show began. Managers were still hanging up painting descriptions and setting out food even 30 minutes after the event was scheduled to begin. Although this is a new business, this gallery needs to act more official in their presentation. Regardless, the work here is awesome and I would highly recommend checking it out, especially if you enjoy art with some heritage!
College of Charleston’s student organization Center Stage kicked off their season with one of Arthur Miller’s plays, “A View from the Bridge.” Located in the Simons Center on the second floor is Center Stage’s black box theatre. Not too many know that productions go beyond the Emmett Robinson – and great ones too!
I am friends with almost the entire cast of that production and I was honestly impressed with how well some of actors handled the script. Billy Nugent and Elizabeth Watson strongly grasped their characters, even with such a huge age difference. Though the acting was great, the set did not live up to my expectations. It felt unfinished and disconnected to the story.
I personally know the costume designer and I was informed about the challenge her and the lightning designer faced. Their ideas were clashing which made it difficult for their designs to compliment one another. She mentioned that they both had to adjust their color scheme and meet in the middle in order for them to both fulfill their ideas.
Without a doubt, I would recommend this event to others. Mainly because I am a huge advocate of student designers, directors, actors and producers. To see students joining together to collaborate on a production and to sacrifice ideas for the show as a whole is what being apart of the artistic community is all about.
This past Monday night I bought tickets to see the production of Arlene Hutton’s As it is in Heaven, presented by the College of Charleston Department of Theatre and Dance. Located only a short distance from my house at the Emmet Robinson Theatre on campus, it was easy to convince myself to go. I’ve been to some great school productions here before, such as Spring Awakening and Love of the Nightingale, and was looking forward to seeing what the department had planned. I was not let down. Initially I had a difficult time relating to the struggles and lifestyle choices of the Shakers; they were completely foreign to me and their conservative customs were starkly incompatible with my own. This mindset quickly vanished as the acting, staging, and directorial choices quickly made what was once cloudy and confusing into a human, relatable experience. The old jargon of the 1800’s could not mask the unmistakable emotion and crisis of faith these women were going through.
The valuable sources of information for this production were of particular interest: more specifically the feedback from the audience. The demographic of the theatre the night I attended was a high contrast between those probably older than sixty years of age, and the rest being students. It made me wonder what percentage of the students were there for their own enjoyment, or to fulfill a requirement for one of their classes. Would this mandatory attendance affect their willingness to appreciate and respond to the play and its messages? In doing so would the company have a hard time gauging the needs of its audience if part of the audience did not come of their own volition? Despite this one questionable resource of information, surely the department must have a great grasp of their successes and failures from other sources due to their long-standing presence in the arts world of Charleston. Anyone would be guaranteed a great evening if they chose to see this show; I would highly recommend it. Whether or not you can understand the lifestyle choices of the Shakers themselves, you can easy relate to the day-to-day emotional struggles the characters go through.
On Friday Night, October 3rd I decided go to the Charleston Artist Guild Gallery on East bay Street to see the work of Robin Joseph, who is there featured Artist of the Month. The Opening of her exhibit entitled ‘Wings of Charleston’, which featured a series of paintings of southern birds, coincided with the French Quarter Art walk. This was my first time on the Art walk and I have to say I really enjoyed it. The idea for the many small Art houses in the area to all provide small events at the same time, allowing the many art enthusiasts’ of Charleston to see there exhibitions and possibly buy there works seems to me a great idea. Not only for marketing but also for the fuelling of a growing art community in Charleston.
The event itself was extremely crowded and I have to say that this somewhat took away from the experience of seeing the peaces themselves. But I was extremely taken by Ms Joseph’s work, and by the work of the many other artists featured in the gallery. The setting for the exhibit is a wonderful little gallery in the French quarter; from my experience there I can see that it could be a great place to visit on a quieter occasion. Over all I would certainly recommend both a visit to the Charleston Artist Guilds Gallery and to the French Quarter Art walk.
On Thursday, October 3, I saw As It Is In Heaven at the Emmett Robinson Theatre in the Simons Center. The play, written by Arlene Hutton and directed by Beth Lincks, depicts the life of the Shaker community in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky. The production featured a small cast performing on a very basic set that acted as both an indoor and outdoor environment. Initially, the play didn’t seem to have any clear plot. Things just happened and nothing really made sense. As it progressed, however, points came together and I understood the underlying meanings.
As far as management goes, one issue I noticed was the long line to get tickets. Both people who payed online and those who were just buying their tickets were crammed together into one line, causing the play to start a few minutes late. Perhaps there could have been separate lines for each. Other than that, everything else went smoothly. I would recommend this play to anyone with an interest in theater. It integrates history, music, and humor into one production and is easily entertaining to a wide array of audiences.
On September 28, 2013 I attended Redux Contemporary Art Center for the first time for their Redux Revival event. The event included Gwyneth Scally’s Wilderness Management Exhibit , the Outta My Huevos food truck, a live band, and an art yard sale. The 3D exhibit, Wilderness Management, was an attention-grabber as soon as you walked into the gallery as it allowed viewers to walk through the exhibit making the art more interactive than a typical painting on the wall. I did not do much research about the event or the featured artist prior to attending and I wish I would have as the information online about the artist’s exhibit allowed me to have a better understanding and appreciation for Gwyneth Scally’s work, inspiration, and experiences as an artist. I feel that if this information had been featured somewhere within the event patrons would of had a stronger connection with the work instead of just wondering why jellyfish and pine tree branches were suspended from the ceiling.
The event had a wide age range in attendance from young adults to elderly couples viewing the exhibit and looking through the pieces of art on sale. There was an opportunity for the staff and artists of Redux to educate and fulfill their mission of having dialogue between their artists and their audiences and this opportunity was lost. There was no information on the artist on display and there was a loud band playing that stopped much of the talking within the arts center which could have allowed patrons to connect and relate to one another through the art work on display. I would recommend this event to others as I enjoyed the event but learning about what Redux has to offer. I think there are definitely more ways for Redux to reach a wider audience by communicating clearly and creating an atmosphere that allows them to truly educate the low country area about art and our talented local artists.