Lake City is a small town about halfway between Columbia and Myrtle Beach in an agricultural area that once produced a large percentage of the green beans in this country. That crop changed over to tobacco and now I'm not sure what the major crop is. There's a wonderful old downtown area with small stores and shops--everything from motorcycles to musical instruments to shoes and clothing.
The art was displayed all over town. My piece was in the library. There was one huge building--an old warehouse with brick walls that housed a large group of art works. Everything was first-class. The art was displayed professionally with great lighting. The art itself included every kind of medium imaginable, from the sublime to the ridiculous. It was wonderful to see the diversity and to think about the different ways people choose to express themselves.
The big draw for artists to enter this show is the possibility of significant prize money. The awards are decided by a two-tier system. There are 3 judges with some pretty prestigious credentials who choose the top prize winner--a cash prize of $50,000. Then there are 2 prizes awarded that are a combination of the judges selections and a vote by viewers on their favorite--$25,000 each. Finally, 2 prizes are awarded that are strictly viewers' choice--$12,500 each. So, you can see, winning one of these prizes could be life-changing for an artist.
One of the real bonuses of my trip was the fact that my favorite (and only) daughter-in-law, Robin, went with me. We left on a Friday afternoon and took the scenic route, staying off the interstate as long as possible. We saw some beautiful countryside and even stopped to take pictures at an old mill on the side of the highway. Thankfully, Robin is an avid photographer, so she didn't think I was crazy when I pulled off the road and circled back to get some shots. We were both busy with our cameras. A lot of people I know would have been embarrassed by our behavior, but Robin is a kindred spirit.
After spending the night in Columbia, we arrived in Lake City on Saturday morning and spent the entire day walking and looking at the art. Even though we worked hard at it, we didn't see everything. Somehow we missed the big winner and I'm still not sure what it was about. I can't tell much from the photo on the website, so we'll have to wait til next year to see it. (Yes, we're already planning next year.)
One of the most interesting things we saw was the portrait contest. Apparently they started with about 2 dozen portrait artists and some volunteer "subjects" from there in the community. The artists had 1 hour to complete a portrait of this person (everyone was working with the same model). Then the judges chose who would move on to the next round, where they would start again with another model. We didn't get there until the last round. There were 6 artists remaining in the contest and the model was a 90 year old man from the area who had been a tobacco farmer. It was fascinating to see each artist's vision and the way they worked. They each used their different mediums and methods (oil, acrylic, pastels, etc.) and each captured the subject, but their end results were so different. I could have watched that all day, but then we wouldn't have seen nearly as much of the other art.
The evening ended with a champagne reception for the artists, then live music at the outdoor stage and the announcement of the winners. We were exhausted, but both agreed it was a great time. We spent Saturday night in Sumter, SC and drove home Sunday.
If you have any interest in the show, you can get all the info and subscribe to the newsletter at www.artfieldssc.org I would encourage everyone to consider a trip to the show next year.
Some shots from the portrait contest.