Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Artfields Revitalizes Lake City

           
                 
             Until 2013, T.OD Johnson’s place on Saul Street was Lake City’s singular art gallery. His storefront window is a hodge- podge of cheap Asian cups and knick-knacks surrounded arts and crafts (portraits, Eskimo and Indian motifs, hanging mobiles of spiraling cardboard and collaged cereal boxes) that he’d accumulated after years of teaching art in schools.  “When I retired my wife wouldn’t let me bring it home.”  In six years he’d sold three pieces.  His son teaches karate in the front room.  Count him among the doubters that art could revitalize the town.
            Lake City, S.C. is tiny, with a population under 7,000.  On the two hour drive from Charleston highlights included vultures eating road kill and signs for “Dan’s Car Crushing”. “Artfields will be the premier art event in the Southeast,” Lake City native and millionaire businesswoman Darla Moore boldly predicted before last year’s premier event.  She aimed to revitalize the entire town through a unique combination of art competitions and celebrations over ten days.  Huge cash prizes totaling $100,000 for winning artists, funded by Moore herself, would attract the talent.  Crowds would come for free.  There were plenty of skeptics and doubters of course.  Who would have thought that there would be 45 minute waits for tables in the restaurant?  On a Tuesday!  Or a racially diverse crowd discussing paintings in the African American barber 
shop?  The shoe store’s sales went up 75%.  The mattress store even made some sales to arts patrons.  In fact, the economic impact of last year’s event was $5.4 million dollars.  Attendance exceeded 22,000.  Galleries were reclaimed from old warehouses, hotels broke ground, an inventive mini-movie theater was built from a shipping container, restaurants and shops rushed to open in time.  Artfields is “the best thing since the invention of grits,” said Lake City gift shop owner Sophia Powell as she wrapped another purchase.
             “Try to show us something we haven’t seen before.  Share new ways of thinking of the world and be so good at it that it’s impossible to ignore.”  This is advice to artists from Jim Arendt, last year’s $50,000 Top Prize Winner for his cut-denim piece “Jamie”. It catapulted his career.  “Since winning Artfields I’ve had a chance to share my art with people all over the world.”   He was among the over 770 artists who   registered from 11 Southeastern states.  The 400 works that were selected were displayed among 40 downtown venues, all within walking distance.  Many of the artists were present to discuss their work including John Whitman with his sculpted life-size wooden torso.  He lovingly explained how “she”, the sculpture, was created from a downed tree and sanded to accentuate the grain.  Austin Grace Smith stood beside her abstract painting and explained, “The movement of light across sky and water and how that affects color is the focus of my work.  It balances me. What moments balance you?” she asked me.  We spoke like old friends. “The reason I paint is to have these conversations about deep issues,” she said.
 In a beauty shop window another deep issue was depicted as Leanna Knapp displayed the 500 pound sculpture she’d spent a year creating from her unworn wedding gown and plaster.  Viewers were captivated by the poignancy of her story which was awarded the $25,000 Juried Second Place Prize.  Everyone is a judge at Artfields through a cellphone based voting system that determines the winner of the $25,000 People’s Choice Award and weighs the juried prizes too.  As the deadline for voting approached on the last day of the event, nearly everyone in town was punching their cellphones to get in on the action. 
            The interactive “Before I Die” wall turned everyone into an artist and elicited such inscriptions as, “Before I Die I will….stand under the Eiffel Tower…be loved by a good man…dance with the stars…”  The portrait contest drew a large audience as 24 artists were pitted against each other to create a portrait of a local farmer within one hour.  Four rounds ended with Joe Begnaud’s painting of Butch Rodgers winning the $1,000 first prize.  “This was the most athletic thing I’ve ever done,” said the artist.  “It feels like an endurance sport.  The idea of art as sport is funny.”           
            “Look around you.  See how our town is changing.  It’s buzzing with new life, replete with masterworks of artists,” a triumphant Moore asserted.  This year’s Artfields will include music, dancing, community art, food, workshops and contests throughout the ten days and $100,000 in prizes.   Perhaps best of all, almost everything is free to attend, no tickets necessary.  If you doubt that art can change the world, or at least a small town in South Carolina, come to Artfields.  You’ll become a believer too. 

If You Go:
Artfields will be held in Lake City, SC on April 25 to May 4, 2014.  For more information: www.artfieldssc.org

For more images, please see Artfields
           
           
           



Monday, March 3, 2014

Big Laughs in Myrtle Beach

      My parents raised me by example to not mind making a fool of myself which was a big asset on a recent trip to Myrtle Beach.  It was the off-season and the town’s garishness and crowds were dialed down.  My girlfriend and I were not entirely disappointed at not being able to chomp on turkey legs while watching jousting horsemen or hit a golf ball past dinosaurs at one of the dozens of miniature golf courses.  They were all closed.
            But because it was winter we could book an inexpensive 2-bedroom cabin complete with a little kitchen and a screened porch at the Myrtle Beach State Park without much notice.  Horsemen were galloping their picturesque steeds through the waves, a winter privilege. There was no need for the assigned fishing spots on the pier and the pompano and whiting were still biting. The park bills itself as “The Last Stand on the Grand Strand”. Its 312 acres are the only undeveloped maritime forest left in the area. We rode bikes in the park’s extensive nature trails and strolled along its undeveloped beach.
            While returning from a walk up the pier, our ears caught the piercing sound of a familiar but unexpected horn.  “That sounds like a shofar!” I said.  Previously I had only heard one during Jewish religious services. Following the sound, we came upon Steven Smith with a table full of different sizes of ram’s horns.  “You called the Jews?” I asked.  “Well here I am!”  He was practicing for his Shofar Ministry and explained that the pattern he was sounding meant “Wake Up!  Something major is underway.  Make yourselves ready!”  That was a good segue for our other Myrtle Beach experiences.
            We woke up our taste buds at Redi-et Ethiopian Cuisine.  The nearly empty dining room was simple and colorfully decorated.  The menu required some translation:  doro wat, ye beg wat, alicha, shire, atkilt… but the exotically spiced split peas, collards and chicken were all delicious.  When I asked the beautiful Ethiopian waitress for a fork she kindly acquiesced but the injera, a flatbread, proved to be a better way to scoop up the morsels and eat with our hands. 

            You can’t go to Myrtle Beach and not do something cheesy.  It’s a rule. Rich and Beth Wild’s “Wild for Hypnosis Comedy Show” sells out throughout the tourist season but the winter audience was much smaller.  We sat next to a young woman with a “Bite Me” t-shirt and waited with expectation. “With hypnotism, we go into the mind to find what’s in there” Rich began.  He used to be a cow foot doctor but began his two-year study to become a hypnotist over 18 years ago and has been performing ever since.  “It’s kind of a truth serum” he explained. I didn’t need much encouragement to volunteer with about a dozen others and submit to Rich’s power of suggestion.  Over the next hour or so I was convinced that a puppy had licked my face then messed in my lap, that I’d milked a miniature and then a giant cow; I danced enthusiastically, got extremely hot and then freezing cold, and held my nose when Beth sang because we’d been told she stank.  When Rich commanded “Sleep!” in between each bit, the young woman next to me collapsed into my lap.  One woman catapulted out of her chair and sprawled onto the floor, still sleeping.  A skimpily dressed teenage girl belted out “I Kissed a Girl” complete with choreography. Then Rich planted a post hypnotic suggestion that every time we heard a particular song in the future we were to jump out of our seats, slap our butts and yell, “Who’s your daddy?”  It was a mysterious experience.  “The biggest thing is to see smiles on the people’s faces and know I did it” Beth said.         
      Our spirits woke up again at the rollicking House of Blues Gospel Brunch. Fortified with our make-your-own Bloody Marys, we heartily sang with the grooving house band “I’ve Got a Feelin’ Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”.  We   so believed it.  Even without rock ‘n roll shows or the abundant Sunday brunch it’s worth a visit here because of the 55,000 square feet of art that encrusts every surface.  Isaac Tigrett built all 13 of the House of Blues venues before selling to Live Nation.  His collection of outsider art rivals museums and includes Al Capone’s bar and a “God Wall” made by Andrew Wood that covers the ceiling with plaster casts of dozens of Blues legends.  Much of the building’s materials and art are reclaimed and found objects, like the bedazzled shoes that encircle the entry.  “Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits” is a good start to Sundays in Myrtle Beach
        We’d received religious messages, eaten exotic food and made complete fools of ourselves, all within a couple hour drive.  And so….WHO’S YOUR DADDY?...hey what made me do that??

If You go:
Myrtle Beach State Parkwww.myrtlebeachsp.com
Redi-et Ethiopian Cuisine:  www.redi-et.com      
Wild for Hypnosis Comedy Show :  http://big-laughs.com
House of Blues:  www.houseofblues.com/MyrtleBeach


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dropping in on the Neighbors


            In the spirit of visiting a neighbor who’s suffered a hardship, my girlfriend and I made a call on Georgetown.  Just four months earlier, a devastating fire had ripped through the downtown. Seven buildings on the scenic boardwalk were destroyed, 130 people put out of work and 13 residents lost their homes. I thought of the boardwalk as the only reason to stop in Georgetown since the gritty industrialized route up Hwy 17 past the hulking steel mill hadn't enticed me.  But I had missed something. 

             John Cranston hadn't missed it.  Unaccountably he recognized opportunity when his friend Peter Scalise suggested that there was a market for a sophisticated menu amidst the fast food and Calabash seafood.  And they were right.  Their boardwalk eatery Zest with views of the harbor and Sampit River was immediately successful.  But one fateful night John got a call from his landlord.  “The restaurant is on fire,” he was told.  Rushing downtown, he stood with a somber crowd in the dark and watched his enterprise burn.  This was the part of our visit where stories of resilience and resolve first emerged and kept coming up.  “By 11 A.M. the morning of the fire, we were drawing up the lease to open a restaurant on the 900 block,” said Scalise. “We named it Seven Hundred Modern Grill+Bar, in honor of the 700 block of Front Street.” More tragedy lay ahead as their sushi chef was killed in a motorcycle accident just weeks later.  But they persevered.  Each dish is homage to what was lost. Art created from burned rubble is now decor.  “We just spread our wings and the community pushed us,” John said. 

            Just ten minutes outside of town is another epic story, The Mansfield Plantation.  The oak tree-lined driveway passes the partially restored slave quarters as it meanders to the main house.   Looking like images from Southern Living, a bride a groom were staging a photo shoot under the Spanish moss-draped trees as we arrived.   Stephanie and Greg Farbo met as pilot and co-pilot while flying commercial airliners all over the world but they chose Mansfield for their picturesque wedding photos.  Many romantic occasions are celebrated there but its background is more of a Gothic novel than a love story. 

            After a restful night in the former kitchen cottage that has been converted into two adjoining luxurious guestrooms, we joined innkeeper Kathyrn Green in the formal dining room for a lavish breakfast.  No stranger to tragedy herself, Kathryn came to Mansfield after a series of personal hardships that devastated her family and left her unemployed.  It was a place where she would recover and rise to become an essential part of the bed and breakfast enterprise the 1,000 acre Plantation has developed. She loves sharing its story, especially about the Parkers, their ancestors and their newly discovered relatives.   
           
       The Plantation began in 1718 as a land grant and became one of the largest producers of rice in the country. In fact, when the Dr. Francis Simons Parker married into the dynasty in 1836 he relinquished his medical degree from the College of Charleston to concentrate on rice cultivation, a much more profitable enterprise.  Using his scientific background, Dr. Parker experimented with different fertilizers on the soil (bat dung proved to be the most effective) and increased the production from 375,000 pounds in 1850 to 1,440,000 pounds in 1860.  The remnants of the rice fields provided us with terrific bicycling terrain to tour the Plantation.  But after the war when slave labor was gone, the rice cultivation ended and eventually the Plantation was sold as a vacation home and hunting lodge to rich industrialists, ending the Parker family’s ownership in 1912.  Eighty two years later John and Sallie Parker realized their lifelong dream and bought their ancestral Plantation back.  Sally said, “The first time I saw Mansfield, I said ‘John I’m home’”.  They weren’t the only ones drawn back to Mansfield.  Dwight Parker had been assiduously researching his ancestry for years and discovered that he was the descendant of slaves from the Plantation.  “I’m drawn here,” he said when he visited and made fast friends of the owners. Together their foundation is restoring the slave cabins, school house and church as well as the cemetery.  It’s a daunting task but John Parker explains that it’s nothing compared to the work of the 100 slaves who dug the rice fields by hand. 
            Back downtown we slowly toured the tree-lined streets.  Graceful 18th and 19th century homes with broad verandas and giant columns are abundant.  On Front Street, cars jockeyed for parking spaces and restaurants and shops were busy.  Plenty of pleasure boats and commercial fishermen crowded the still picturesque boardwalk and optimism filled the air.  It was good to see our neighbor recovering from its hardship. 
More photos: Georgetown, SC 

If You Go:
Mansfield Plantationwww.mansfieldplantation.com
Georgetown County Tourismwww.hammockcoastsc.com
Seven Hundred Modern Grill + Bar:  916 Front Street 843-520-5720

 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Matzo Balls in the Land of Magnolias

Once a year in Savannah, Georgia the aroma of corned beef fills Forsyth Park as Shalom Y'all, one of the country's largest Jewish Food festivals takes place. 
Read the whole article on page 13 here: 
 Reform Judaism Magazine, fall 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

In The Footsteps of Len Foote



             Here’s a plan for future fun:  put a trip in your pocket.  Even if you think you have no time to travel, once it’s on your calendar months away, your life will mysteriously clear a path.  Some of the Southeast’s most popular adventures require advance planning anyway.  I booked our trip to Len Foote’s Hike Inn six months ahead to coincide with the fall colors.  The moderately easy five mile trail to reach one of our country’s few hike-to inns passes through a forest of hickory, pine and oak trees and across some pretty little streams.  It’s Georgia’s most popular hike and one of the 36 best hikes in the country according to Backpacker Magazine.  After about three hours of walking, my husband and I caught sight of our destination peaking through the fall leaves like the candy house from Hansel and Gretel. 

            The Hike Inn provides food, bedding, towels, heat and hot showers so you don’t have to carry in much.  Its beautiful architecture includes roomy porches with rockers, a sunny “Sunrise Room” with games and a large dining room with long tables.  We’d struck up a conversation with a hiker coming down as we went up who aptly described the bedrooms as “closets”.  They’re just large enough for a bunk bed, stool and shelf, hence the opinion of one hiker who described her stay as “one of the most unusual anniversary trips ever.”  Romance is not the idea here.  “Just look around,” said Robert Smith the general manager “We’re here for a reason.  We want to educate and recreate.”  Robert shares the passion of Len Foote himself, a conservationist in the 1950’s who inspired the cartoon Mark Trail. Foote built his own solar heater in the 1970’s which makes his namesake lodge a fitting legacy since they pride themselves on conservation and stewardship.  The showers are solar powered, the toilets are compostable (and odorless) and the leftover food is fed to red worms in a vermiculture program that creates compost.

            The tight-knit staff accommodates 9,000 overnight visitors a year.  Like the others, Terrance the cook, was attracted to Len Foote’s vision of stewardship.  “I quit the computer world, hiked here one day … asked if they had an opening and took the job.”  He’s up early and working late to cook big batches of stews, baked goods, soups, roasts and other hearty food.  To discourage waste all the uneaten food from plates is combined after each meal, weighed and posted on a big sign.  Rachel, the staff naturalist has a degree in biology and ecology.  She delighted in showing us a rattle from a dead rattlesnake she’d found.  When asked about snakes in the vicinity she said, “we caught a fair amount, copperheads mostly” which they removed to another location. 

            Sunrise is the big event.  The Adirondack chairs with the best view filled first as everyone got up early to watch the spectacle of the sun rising over the Blue Ridge Mountains and especially to view it through the “Star Base”.  This huge granite construction was built by Atlanta’s Fernbank Science Center to commemorate the two yearly equinoxes.  During those events, the rays of the sun are channeled to a cave wall through a cylinder in the sculpture.  But every morning you can peer through the sculpture’s rock window as it artfully frames the rising sun.

            Most folks stay overnight at the picturesque Lodge at Amicalola Falls right at the trailhead before or after their hike but we wanted to explore nearby Dahlonega. In the 1830’s this little town was swarmed by 15,000 newcomers who’d heard that the streets were paved with gold.  They weren’t entirely wrong.  The streets glistened from the trailings of the area’s numerous gold mines which were mixed into the pavement.  For almost 100 years the area mined gold commercially.  Today the town’s draw is recreation.  A huge bicycling race was going on, dozens of waterfalls beckoned, wineries dot the area and optimistic folks still pan for gold. 

            We rewarded ourselves with a stay at the historic Smith House.  The roomy villa guestroom was a welcome contrast to the bunkroom we’d shared the previous night.  One of the Historic Hotels of America, Smith House began life as a private home but was converted into a quaint guest house in the 1920’s.  Each comfortable room has a unique character.  The original owner, Corporal Frank Hall, struck a rich gold bearing vein several feet wide while excavating the site in 1899. Local restrictions prevented mining the shaft but it remains as a glass-enclosed curiosity under what is now the hotel’s popular restaurant.  Just off the town’s pretty little square, Smith House provided a great location for strolling around the small town.
People often exhaustively plan all kinds of things but balk at planning fun.  The Southeast if full of adventure.  Put a trip in your pocket. 
 
 More photos are at

If You Go

Hike Inn:  www.hike-inn.com  Reservation are available up to 11 months in advance.

Smith House:  www.smithhouse.com

The Lodge at Amicalola Falls: www.amicalolafallslodge.com

 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tasty Travels


            I’m not a food writer but I often travel with some.  We’re lucky recipients of lavish meals meant to impress. Sometimes they’re delectable and sometimes you have to wonder what they were thinking like a dinner recently at a sprawling golf resort in Georgia.  The tuna tartare was grandly displayed on a gilded platter like a huge cow patty.  That should have been my first clue.  As the servers began to distribute dozens of artfully arranged plates with three appetizers, the chef rhapsodized about the pigs we were about to eat and what they’d eaten… local this and that…but the words that caught our attention were “fromage de tête”.  You don’t have to speak much French to know that means head cheese.  “This is dog food!” the writer next to me said (a little too loudly I thought).  Meanwhile the chef went on, “It’s something that you’ll never see.”  Well let’s hope not! 

            At Fire on the Dock, a reality-show type cooking contest in North Carolina, chefs are given secret ingredients and have to quickly include them in a three course meal for about one hundred voting diners.  The night I attended the secret ingredients were buttermilk and chocolate.  A remarkable praline crusted quail with buttermilk biscuits and tartufo sauce had diners rushing to their ballot sheets.  And then there was the do-I-really-have-to-taste-it dessert of sturgeon chocolate cake.  Points off for that one. 

            Cities try to impress us with honey tastings, moonshine cocktails, flaming absinthe and garnishes like popcorn shoots.  They lay out hors d’oeuvres on the lawn of the governor’s mansion, serve breakfasts in farm’s barns and give us the password to speakeasies.  But what impresses me is a good story about people and their food.  I found one at the 75 year old Sea View Inn on Pawley’s Island.  It’s really more of a boarding house on a beautiful beach.  Family style meals are the epitome of Southern hospitality.  Their Palmetto Cheese was developed by proprietor Sassy Henry with Vertrella Brown, the inn’s cook.  This version of pimento cheese became so popular that it has spawned a much larger business than the inn and is now sold nationwide. 

              On Eagle Island Andy Hill cooked us up a story in the scenic outdoor kitchen of his private island.  “This is not a five star resort, it’s a five-moon one,” he said as he poured a conch shell of bourbon into the steaming oysters before adding cheese, diced scallions, crumbled bacon and jalapeno peppers for a Five Moon Oyster dish that rivaled any Rockefeller.  Watching him cook on the lantern-lit patio surrounded by sea oats, the smell of the oysters and salt marsh…the food became more than a recipe. 

            Stories come from what inspired the food.  Chef Peter Pollay developed the menu at Posana’s Café in Asheville for his wife who follows a gluten free diet: creative dishes like lobster mac and cheese made from ricotta gnocchi and zucchini “noodles” standing in for pasta.  “This is my version of the Taj Mahal,” he said referring to how the palace was built as a tribute to the king’s wife.  Without that story, the menu was just a delicious but forgettable meal. 

            Foods that symbolize their locale intrigue me.  On St. Simon’s Island which our guide Captain Fendig described as “an eat-stroll-eat-stop-stroll” sort of place,  we were instructed in the proper way to poach shrimp by the chef at Halyard’s Restaurant:  immerse them in very hot but not simmering water with onions, lemons, Old Bay, carrots and letting them sit just a moment.  On the other end of the culinary spectrum Palmer’s Café served us reinvented pancakes: Buddy’s Banana Pudding Cakes, along with poached eggs over collared greens.  That’s local flavor. 


            Hikers who spend the night at Len Foote Hike Inn near Dawsonville Georgia come away with a new appreciation of food.  After the five mile trek up the mountain, the hearty dinner is a welcome amenity but it’s what happens afterwards that is the story:  they weigh the uneaten food from the dinner plates.  The goal is zero waste, just one part of their sustainability goal.

            Occasionally I stumble upon something so good I have to have the recipe as I did at Smokin’ Gold BBQ, a trophy encrusted hole-in- the-wall in Dahlonega, Georgia.  “Most everyone orders the award winning corn casserole,” the waitress told me.  So I did or course. Laurie Dieterle, the owner, was kind enough to share the recipe with me and tell me how it developed from a “failed” attempt to make cornbread that she quickly repurposed.  I premiered it at a pot luck shortly afterwards.  Now my friends want the recipe too.  

            On the other hand, I could do without another swig of kombucha or one of the highly touted Britt’s Donuts from Carolina Beach.  I know more than I ever wondered about peaches from Georgia, Muscadine wine and Vidalia onions.  The long winded descriptions and the photo-ready plates that the food writers are seeking are wasted on me.  What I hunger for are the stories behind the food.   

                                                      Corn Casserole from Smokin'Gold BBQ
2 cups corn 
2 cups creamed corn
2 sticks melted butter
2 cups sour cream
2 boxes Jiffy Corn bread mix
Mix all together and pour into buttered shallow casserole dish.  Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

                                                     Five-Moon Oysters
1 bushel of oysters
1 conch shell-cleaned and sanitized to use as a measuring cp
4 ounce bags of shredded Mexican mix cheese
4 bundles of scallions, chopped
10 jalapeno peppers, sliced
2 pounds of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 box of saltine crackers
3 cups of favorite bourbon
Steam the oysters with water and bourbon, measured in the conch shell.  Shuck them and put them on the half shell in a cast iron skillet.  Cover each oyster with cheese, scallions, bacon and a jalapeno pepper slice.  Cover and cook until the cheese is melted.  Turn off the heat and keep covered for another 2-3 minutes.  Spoon each oyster onto a cracker to eat. 

 
 






 
 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Inspirations and Artists

 
                    What inspires an artist or a chef?  Where do they get their ideas?  George Harrison got the idea for the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by opening a book in his parent’s library and randomly pointing to the phrase “gently weeping.”  Paul McCartney’s conversation with a cab driver who described his busy life as “Working hard, working eight days a week” became a hit song.  Dave Brubeck’s encounter with the exotic rhythms of Middle Eastern and Indian music inspired the meter-busting “Take Five”. 
          If you ask some of the 25 artists and 7 chefs who will be at Creative Spark’s Art on the Beach and Chefs in the Kitchen, they’ll tell you that inspirations come from some surprising places. Like being distracted. This year’s poster artist Carol McGill for example was painting colorful houses when her eyes were drawn to a white one nearby just as a shaft of sunlight struck the tin roof.  “That’s what I wanted to capture.  All those hot colors.  If I drove you to that house, you would insist it couldn’t be the one on the poster.”  Artists notice these things.
          Chef Jane Smith who will provide desserts for the “Toast the Artists Reception” that ends the tour threw her plan for a Farmer’s Market demo out the window when she saw the variety of tomatoes being sold. “Instead of making salads, I set up a tomato tasting station complete with condiments and herbs. People, including growers, lingered and told stories of their family traditions…. Many seemed to be searching for a match with a taste memory of a childhood tomato.”  Flexibility paid off.
          Although the beach at sunrise was her intended subject, a field of brightly colored wildflowers caught Deanna Walter’s eye along the way.  Especially one solitary yellow one.  The one yellow flower represents the viewer.  Even among all the other flowers, each one of us is lovely and unique” she thought.  The painting “Wildflowers” has this deeper meaning.
     Other artists also told of profound
insights that were sparked by unlikely
scenes. Take Kristy Bishop.  If you saw a holey, woody skeleton of a bush would you be inspired? She was. Through hand dyed silks she explored the idea of what is left behind when life ends.  This is art that speaks with emotion.
          Sandy Logan’s photograph was sparked by a mystery.  While examining the ruins of a house being torn down “I noticed the strange outline of what appeared to be a post box near the top of the stair.  The arched shape was only about two inches deep, thus not allowing for either mail or some reliquary to be placed therein. Clearly, something else had been its early purpose, but what?”  Through his eyes, the mystery became art.
          Art can be transformative too.  After an injury ended her career as an EMT, D. Page started creating with glass.  Her whimsical art was an antidote to the recovery she endured.  The recycled materials she uses resonate with her situation, “Like me, my art is not ready to be put out to pasture.  We are working on our second chance at life...”
          Skip Shaffer was inspired by family heritage, the memory of his grandmother making spicy crab cakes at the legendary Henry’s Restaurant.  Her recipe for Henry’s Crab Cakes was preserved for decades as a family treasure.  Skip’s father turned it into a business, selling the delicious creations to a few restaurants.  But last year Skip took it to the next level with his creative input.  Now sold in several supermarkets, it has become a new career and a passion for him which he’s eager to let patrons taste.   
            To kick off the fundraiser, Creative Spark has begun a community mural on Sullivan’s Island. The headline “I Am Inspired By…” has prompted passers-by to write: “the barrier islands and animals”, “playing with my sister”, “running the island”, “my new school”, “upbeat music” and dozens more.  During the Nov. 10 event, the mural will be one of 12 stops on the self guided tour on Sullivan’s Island which includes extraordinary houses, artists’ studios and two after parties.
Creative Spark’s motto is “Everyone has a creative spark”.  Art on the Beach is a great place to ignite yours.
If You Go
Art on the Beach and Chefs in the Kitchen is a house tour on Sullivan’s Island that celebrates artists and chefs.  It will be Sunday, Nov. 10 from 1 to 5 PM with after parties until 7PM.  Tickets are available in advance for $35 at www.creativespark.org, at the Sandpiper Gallery, 2210 Middle Street on Sullivan’s Island and at Everyday Gourmet 1303 Ben Sawyer Blvd., Mt. Pleasant.
On Nov. 10, tickets are available for $40 starting at noon at Battery Gadsden, 1921 I’On, Sullivan’s Island.