Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Penn Center Art

For months I had had Saturday March 14 on my calender marked to travel to Beaufort. Actually to go to Frogmore, the crossroads on St. Helena. The Penn Center was sponsoring an Arts Show of African American Artists. For those you who are not familiar with the Penn Center, a short history lesson.

In 1862 two missionaries from Pennsylvania came to St. Helena and established an academy to educate the recently freed slaves. In the early 1900's the school started teaching agricultural and industrial skills. In the 1960's the center became a central player in the civil rights movement. In 1974 it became one of the eight sights in the St. Helena National Historic Landmark District. If you haven't visited it, take a right at the stop light in Frogmore on your way to Hunting Island or Fripp, just to ride by it if you don't have time to go through the small museum. But, I digress.

I headed down there, camera in hand, hoping to photograph the artists and their work. I had read that the artists would be on hand and doing their art during the show. When I arrived I found that even though the weather was sunny and warm, the show was inside the museum. When I entered the docent welcomed me and told me most of the pieces in the show were for sale and the artists were there to discuss their pieces. She also apologized and said  that no photographs were allowed inside. (This was no surprise. I assumed that once I saw the show was inside.)

The art was remarkable. The colors were bright and told stories of their history. Their were sweetgrass basket weavers among the painters. As I stood looking at one artist's work, I asked the lady standing there if it was her work. She said yes and explained what some of the different pieces represented. I asked her several questions and picked up  lovely small painting of an African American choir. When I saw the price, which was most reasonable, I decided I would buy it.

I turned to tell her I wanted to purchase it. She smiled and as I got ready to pay her, she turned to another lady (obviously a friend) and answered a question the friend had asked. The artist picked up her purse and turned to walk away. Bewildered, I asked if she had a card. She handed me a post card and walked off. I made the assumption that she had not given me the piece of art I was holding.

As I walked out of the show, I told the docent how much I enjoyed the show. She smiled asked, "But you did not find anything to buy?"  I thought quickly and started to say something like, "Yes, I did find something I wanted to buy, unfortunately, the artist apparently was not interested enough in selling it." But then as if my dear Aunt Kat was sitting on my shoulder shaking her head at me, I smiled and said, "Well I spoke with an artist and plan to buy something later. It was all very impressive."

It is as if my DH often says, Damn if I am going to beg them and pay them too!

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