Sunday, November 11, 2007

St. Helena's Island; The 25th Heritage Festival

On Saturday I went to St. Helena's Island for the 25th annual Heritage Festival. This is an event that celebrates the Gullah and Geechee culture...the African-Americans of the sea islands along the South Carolina/Georgia coast. I was accepted into a juried art exhibit focusing on emerging, local (South Carolina) artists. Black God XXIII won the first prize in one of three categories...mixed media. The entire day was an experience.

First, let me say for the record, that I have no problem being among the racial fact, I felt perfectly comfortable all day. Because I "stood out", I made a few acquaintances and had a great time. South Carolina is my adopted home. This is now part of my is where I live, who I live with, where I work, what happens here, and is every bit a part of my artistic sphere of influence.

So, here's some photos:! Above is one of the shrimper at Chisholm Seafood. Below is a detail of the shrimp he is preparing.

This nice guy told me, "I's catch 'em; I's clean 'em; I's cook 'em". I asked if he also ate the shrimp. He said, "some times." Personally, I could eat these every day. The smell alone was intoxicating.

Above is a view to the "center stage"...a platform on which every local wannabe talent performed. All of it was heart-felt. None of it was any good whatsoever but totally enjoyable at the same time.

Above is an image of a house sign I passed while walking into the festival. I had a provided parking pass...there was, however, no way to actually drive to the parking lot! This is an area of the United States that is still totally laid back and relaxed.

Above is internationally acclaimed artist Jonathan Green signing autographs at the juried art reception. Amazingly, this opening was a ticketed event. People (other than accepted artists) had to pay $25 to attend. Jonathan Green delivered an intelligent speech that urged everyone to put original art in homes, insist that churches collect art, and said that citizens ought to demand that government agencies also make art collecting a top priority because visual artists are the best and truest recorders of history. It was quite inspirational...but he was "preaching to the choir".

Bus loads of people arrived on the single-lane road from Atlanta and elsewhere. Most of the festival resembled a county fair....but instead of stuff animals, people were eager to carry off stocks of sugar cane, yams, collards, and styro-foam packaged dinners of fresh caught fish.

I got a lead on a gallery in nearby Beaufort, South Carolina that specializes in African inspired artwork. I drove by it on my return trip and will definitely look further into this possibility.

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