S.C. Tobacco heritage, Art hits the trail

A new group is hoping to use an old trail to promote area artists and tourism.

The newly formed Artisans of the South Carolina Tobacco Trail aims to bring together artists, artisans and retailers along the tobacco trail, which was one of several efforts established more than a decade ago to boost what’s known as heritage tourism - or tourism for those especially interested in the history and culture of an area. In this case, the history lies along a 70-mile route through Horry, Darlington, Dillon, Marion, Williamsburg, Clarendon and Florence counties.

The artisan group, which is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to the Black Creek Arts Council of Darlington County, hopes to boost interest in the work of area artists and allow its members to enjoy the benefits of marketing, tourism, education and shared resources, organizers said.

The council and the Black Creek Arts Center have worked with artists along the tobacco trail for months to create the organization.

“We were addressing a need which has existed for a while,” said Bruce Douglas, director of the council.

The group is seeking artists and artisans who want to be part of the initiative.

Lon Calhoun, a Conway native living in Myrtle Beach, has already chosen two of his paintings for submission. One is a tobacco barn he did with a mixture of watercolors and pen and ink that has been a favorite of his clients. The other is a watercolor of the Evelyn Snider Oak in Conway.

“I think it’s going to give artists like myself a chance to spread their wings a little bit and be seen in other places. It’s a great chance to move up in the hierarchy of the art world here in South Carolina,” he said.

Calhoun said that hopefully this merging of artists from different areas will lead to local artists showing their art in shows in other areas and having artists from other areas show their art here, allowing all of them exposure to more people who buy art.

Barbara Streeter of Pops Glass in Conway was chosen to work with the group because of the leadership abilities she has shown in working with the Conway Art Walk and CreateConway, Douglas said.

“I just hope that the artists will participate because this program is going to help build a stronger community for the artists in South Carolina,” Streeter said.

Membership in the group is unlimited. Members will be selected through a two-part jury process. The first part requires e-mailing photos of work to a jury. Accepted media includes clay, drawing, fiber, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, natural materials, painting, paper, photography, sculpture, handmade books, wood and specialty food made in the area.

In the final jury stage, selected artists will present their artwork at the South Carolina Tobacco Museum in Mullins on April 9.

The art selected there will be exhibited at the Black Creek Art Center in Hartsville in August, at a reception to publicly launch Artisans of the South Carolina Tobacco Trail.

“I am excited about any effort to promote awareness of the arts,” said artist Ruth Cox of Myrtle Beach. “Artists and artisans devote their time, energy, and resources to the creation of beautiful things. They need support, not only praise and encouragement, but people who buy art.”

“Artists love their collectors,” Cox said. “Collectors make it possible for artists to continue to create. Collectors are the heart of the arts.”

By Peggy Mishoe, The Sun News
March 04, 2010

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