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

January 30, 2010

Think about W. Heyward Sims & Cage Match: Clarity vs. Chaos

It may just be me, but I think the local visual artist/musician W. Heyward Sims is a bit of a character.  He’s pretty young now, but he already has this quirky, alt-hipster thing going on and, being a woman of a certain age, I can almost see the old coot he is one day going to be.  I like it that the boy has this uncultivated scruffiness about him — affectedness in an artist (in anybody, really) drives me crazy — people need to just be, dammit, and see what happens.  And I like it that he can hold up his end of a conversation.  Hell, I’m thrilled when I can talk to anyone who came out of  the South Carolina public education system and they voluntarily introduce subjects like Mark Rothko and Marcel DuChamp into the conversation.  So, I’m feeling a bit intrigued by Sims’  upcoming show at Frame of Mind.  He’s calling it Cage Match:  Clarity vs. Chaos.  I’m thinking we might just have some thought-provoking art coming our way.

Sims works in mixed media and, from the handful of pieces I’ve seen and heard will be in this show, it looks and sounds like that’s what we’ll get a lot of — think the addition of paper, glass, or even appliance for that matter, to oil, acrylic, or another medium.  I also know for a fact that he is introducing one or more pieces that by their very nature will be controversial.  Hmmm …, art that makes you think, and possibly banter and debate.  I’m down.  One of the pieces already has my feminist ire on end, as much as I appreciate the potential race-relation subtext — without even seeing the piece, it contextually makes me want to laugh at the silly little white  boys I grew up with and the men I fear too many of them became.  But hey, that’s just me — it’ll be interesting to see what other people think.

Thinking is the thing.  The whole premise of Sims’ show demands the viewers to think or walk away confused.  This is good.  I mean, flowers and landscapes are nice but we can all pretty much agree on that.  There’s certainly a place in the art world for pretty.  But what I really like is art that I’m not sure that I like or not.  That sounds antithetical, I know, but think about it.  Isn’t it more challenging to you as a viewer — and more rewarding — if you have to spend some time with a piece of work before you feel like you know it — and possibly love it?

I’m not pretending that the world isn’t full of too many people who feel way too comfortable in their little black and white realms.  It’s easy when you only have two choices to make:  chocolate or vanilla, good or bad, hate or love, right or wrong.  But that kind of artificial reality, and the reticence to recognize that life takes place in the gray areas, is nothing more than a sham existence for lazy people, fearful people, and wimps. As much as those of you who  know what I’m talking about should come out and see Heyward Sims’ show, those of you who don’t, should come and see it even more.

Thinking.  It’s a good thing.

Cage Match:  Clarity vs. Chaos, the February installation in the FOM series, opens on February 4th at 7:05 at Frame of Mind — 1520 Main Street.  See you there.


December 30, 2009

I get to be Susan Lenz for the night — at the FOM First Thursday opening January 7th

As most of you know, one of the first big arts events of the new year will take place on Thursday night, January 7th at Frame of Mind on Main Street, just across from the Art Museum and in between The White Mule and Gotham Bagel.  Mark Plessinger’s FOM series is presenting Reflections with Columbia’s own world renowned fiber artist Susan Lenz, featuring her Decision Portrait Series, as well as a few of Susan’s smaller pieces for those of you who can’t resist taking home some of Susan’s art and letting it become a part of your lives.  There are big things in store for the Decision Portrait Series, which is to say, it has future engagements scheduled, and the items are therefore not available for purchase at this time.

It seems, in fact, that Susan’s dance card is quite full these days.  Her glorious installation, Blues Chapel, which honors amazing blues divas like Billie Holiday and Ma Rainey and the glorious Bessie Smith, has been showing at The Gough Gallery in Denton, Texas for more than a month now.

Along with one of Susan latest projects, Last Words, an exhibition based on epitaphs and gravestone rubbings the artist has gathered, honored, and embellished throughout her travels, Blues Chapel will open here in Columbia at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios on February 4th and run through the 16th.  (More to come on this in a later post — suffice it to say, however, that Susan’s opening on Friday, February 5th, in combination with the Blue Martini’s tribute to her work on the self same night, which includes Eboniramm’s vocal tribute to the subject matter, has got your first Friday night in February covered.  Really — don’t make plans to do anything else.)

Unfortunately for Columbia though, Susan will be in Texas during the FOM opening night festivities on the 7th, closing down the Blues Chapel’s run in Denton.

But Columbia’s misfortune is my gift because I get to be Susan Lenz for opening night!  No, I will not sign autographs, however I will have on hand a list of FAQs about the artist’s work as well as a cell phone in hand with the artist’s number on speed dial.  (Susan and husband Steve will actually be en route to Texas during the gallery opening — fingers crossed for good cellular reception as they traverse the deep South.)

Some of you have had the pleasure of seeing a few of the pieces in the Decision Portrait series already, as Susan has exhibited some of them in her gallery space as they were completed.  You folks already know how moving the faces and phrases on these pieces are; you know how the xylene transfers on the muslin fabric seem to both personalize and distance the subject and patron; how the sparsity of the words favors the intent of the message.  You are the ones who know not to miss this exhibit.  Those of you who have yet to have the pleasure — take my advice, pay a visit to Frame of Mind during the month of January — better yet, be there on January 7th – opening night, when I get to be the amazing Susan Lenz.

For more on Susan’s work and the Decision Portrait Series visit her website at

November 6, 2009

Feedback on Frame of Mind

You guys know I don’t usually do reviews, but I do want to give a little report, if you will, on the Frame of Mind series tonight on  Main Street.  There was a wonderful turn out, and with a free showing from Miriam Barbosa and Serguei Chtyrkov from the SC Contemporary Dance Company, Erin Jaffe Bolshakov from Vista Ballroom, Mimi Worrell and John Whitehead’s Carolina Ballet, Dale Lam’s Columbia City Jazz Company, and the beautiful Ashley Bennett and Sherry Warren — not to mention Evelyn Wong’s visual arts — why wouldn’t it have been?

Sure, there were a few glitches and things started a little later than expected.  But you know what?  They started, and that is the only thing that matters. Thanks to the artists who put themselves out there and performed under significantly less than ideal circumstances.  Their muscles were cold, the stage was raked — they were dancing in the street, for god’s sake.  But the gift that each of the performers gave us cannot be underestimated — they let us get a glimpse of what it looks like when someone fulfills their heart’s desire.  I often find the intimacy of this exchange overwhelming in the best of circumstances — but to see people who love their work so much that they will take the risk of letting complete strangers witness them perform it under less than ideal circumstances — in the freaking street, for example — it just blows me away.  I don’t care what anybody says — that is art.

Big fat kudos to Mark Plessinger for taking a chance and putting this stuff out there.  Thanks to the industrious and kind hearted Robert Michalski for helping Mark make it happen, as well as to the tech guy from White Mule, whose name I admit I just don’t know, for doing his quite significant part, too.  And thanks to all of you who came out to support local art — in the community and on the street.

November 5, 2009

addendum to FOM post — Bill Guess — aka Billy G

Filed under: Bill Guess,Frame of Mind — cynthiaboiter @ 13:54
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Just found out that horticulturist extraordinaire Bill Guess, (Billy G to some), will also be providing some of his on-site works of flora-rific art.  Look for them — they’ll be hiding in plain sight where you least expect them– and they’ll be ingenious, innovative, and glorious.  Love this stuff!

September 10, 2009

This week at FOM — Jeane Bourque, Barbie Mathis

Filed under: Frame of Mind,Mark Plessinger,writing — cynthiaboiter @ 00:00
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You’ve heard me sing the praises of Mark Plessinger, the FOM Series and all the glory that is the (usually) first Thursday night of the month on Main Street before, but this month there’s even more artsy goodness for your discriminating dollar and — oh wait — dollars aren’t even involved — these good times are free for the price of showing up!

This Thursday night, September 10th, Main Street Columbia is the place to be for art, music, wine and good times, and it makes me so happy to say that.  Mark Plessinger will host the opening exhibit reception for September’s FOM featured artists, Jean Bourque and Barbie Mathis, from 6:30 until 8 pm at 1520 Main.  Come down and see what Jean and Barbie have been working on before you wonder next door to Gotham Nights and take in some of the quite decent jazz renderings of Sonny D and Friends.  There’s also a wine tasting followed by music next door at the White Mule — don’t know anything about the wine or the tunes, other than they are happening, but its worth a visit for the surprise if nothing else.

In any event, please do come on out and lend your support to what Mark is trying to do for you and the arts on Main Street.  Every month the crowd grows larger and larger.  A good thing is happening down there.  Be a part of it.

August 6, 2009

The Productive Writer, Mark Plessinger, Bohumila and the FOM Series, the White Mule (& Van the Man!)

Yes, it’s been a while since I blogged, but that’s because I have NOT been being the Reluctant Writer lately:  I have been being the Productive Writer!  And it feels great!  

The beer book is coming along nicely as we plow through the early days of Bob’s beergrimmage — the time before we had actually decided to write the book — and reconstruct the route and stories and beer experiences we enjoyed during this time of year, two years ago.  (Much of the book after that period has already been written — so we’re sort of writing the beer beginnings at the end.)  It has been exciting reliving those thirty some odd early days of beer exploration with Bob and the wonderkins and I’m pleased with how the project is progressing.

In the meantime, I do want to share with you an upcoming event that I’m going to have to miss.  But first a little background.

Mark Plessinger is a local optician and business owner who shares my love of art for art sake and recognizes the importance of placing a limelight on new and exciting local artists.  His business is called Frame of Mind and it is located on Main Street across from the art museum.  There you will find the most spectacular spectacles with a decidely European flare.  But more than that you will also find a little something extra.  Whether it is the work of Anastasia Chernoff or Claude Buckley or Pamm Collins, Mark and his wife Wendy always have a gallery of  new and intriguing art hung amongst their wares.   They call these revolving monthly shows the FOM (Frame of Mind) Series and this week they’re bringing someone extra special.

Bohumila Owensby is a designer of fashion and jewelry and the key word in describing Bohumila’s work is innovative.    After winning second place in the Columbia Design Guild’s 2008 Runaway Runway show she walked away with first place in 2009 and people haven’t stopped talking about her yet.  Her original jewelry designs are also featured in the gift shop at the Columbia Museum of Art.

Mark chose Bohumila as the featured artist for August in his FOM Series, and the opening night reception is tonight, August 6th from 5:30 – 8 PM.   There will be light refreshments, something special to sip on, an assortment of Columbia’s loveliest folks and, best of all, Bohumila! 

Do not miss this wonderful free event! 

And when you find that you are able to tear yourself away from Mark and Wendy and Bohumila, just slide your sassy self next door into Main Street’s newest bit of coolness, the White Mule (formerly Jammin Java) where yet another art exhibit awaits you, complete with an Ed Hardy wine tasting. 

Sadly, I will not be joining you for either event, but don’t cry for me.  I will be enroute to Obamaland where I will be spending an intimate evening with one Van the Man Morrison who is going to flat out rock my gypsy soul, just like back in the days of old, and sail my sorry ass into the Mystic.  Have mercy.

So in my absence, please enjoy the gifts that these amazing artists and generous business owners have for you on this wonderful summer night.  Give them back your time and attention.  Being a part of the creative act is one of the most stimulating, humanizing and, yes, precious parts of being alive.  And the opportunity is waiting for you, right there, on Main Street, Columbia, SC.  Damn — did you ever think you’d hear those words?

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