The Reluctant Writer: Something Else to do When I Should Be Writing

May 2, 2009

Anne Boudreau and 701 Whaley Street

Visiting an artist in residence at 701 Center for Contemporary Art on Whaley Street in Columbia is the equivalent of being allowed into the inner sancta of the heart and soul of art and creativity.  A bold statement, to be sure, but when we consider the history of the facility itself, which is all about creative productivity, and combine it with the purpose of the facility now, again all about the potential for artistic creativity — I don’t believe the fact overstated.

I’ve had the opportunity to visit 701 many times within the past few months.  In addition to enjoying a massive Valentine’s Day party and the Runaway Runway show downstairs, I also took in some of the Indie Grits presentations upstairs in the more intimate but still size-able rooms above.  I saw Miriam Barbosa dance beautifully there around Beth Melton’s huge textile installation, then I saw Martha Brim dance around Ellen Kochansky’s installation in the same space.  Finally, last week, at the preview of Anne Boudreau’s installation, which depicted just a few pieces of her works in progress for her May 7th opening, I was one of a too small number who got to see Thaddeus Davis and Tonya Wildeman-Davis dance with and around some of the larger of Anne’s pieces.  So, at this point, I’m starting to feel pretty comfortable in the facility.

And I can’t say enough good things about it. When I enter the doors and walk down the long halls, my eyes wander to the traces of paint and days and lives gone by that still cling to the walls and ceilings, and my mind wonders at the history still clinging there, as well.  As the grandchild of a mill family, married to the grandchild of a mill family, and a student of southern culture, I often feel a bit of a knot in my throat and a mist in my eye when I contemplate the massive and quite grey contribution that the textile industry has made in the lives of people around whom my life has been built.  Bittersweet.  People who were thankful for difficult and dangerous jobs.  In so many cases, the complete and irrefutable absence of choice.  Making do.  Getting by.  Cradle to grave.

And I can see all that there on the walls of 701 Whaley, scrubbed clean but still reeking of the past, the memories trapped between the layers of paint left for the rest of us to witness.  And without fail, there is one word that comes to my mind every time I enter the building:  integrity.  Here’s hoping the facility continues to live up to that regard.

To read my article on Anne Boudreau, this season’s artist in residence, please click on http://www.thestate.com/static/images/magazines/LakeMurrayColumbia0509/ and flip to pages 22 – 23.

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2 Comments »

  1. I neglected to give you the link to the Center for Contemporary Art’s website in my original message. Here it is: http://www.701cca.org/ — Do check out this powerful arts venue. Another something wonderful that Columbia has to be proud of. — Cindi

    Comment by cynthiaboiter — May 3, 2009 @ 12:46

  2. Loved your insight into 701 Whaley. It is indeed a building with a rich and varied past and is once again living up to its potential. Integrity indeed.
    http://701whaley.blogspot.com/

    Comment by Lee Ann Kornegay — July 13, 2009 @ 20:45


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