Art Forms

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Pablo Picasso

I spent this weekend immersed in the arts, beginning with Lancaster, South Carolina’s Ag+Art Tour and ending with Rock Hill, South Carolina’s first One Word Poetry Festival. The youngest artist was a 9 year-old poet who won First Place for her tribute to Memorial Day, the oldest – well, I’m not sure how old some of these artists were but ‘retirement age’ would be fair, even though they’ve overcome the problem of remaining an artist once they’ve grown up, and have no intention of retiring.

While this feels a bit like sharing vacation photos – and I know how that can sometimes be – the range and beauty of art that filled the air this weekend is hard not to share. I promise to be brief and the photos are pretty good.

The weekend kicked off with the Ag+Art Tour. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of Ag+Art, it’s a way to combine and highlight local agriculture with local artisans. Some of the combinations have a natural connection, like the presentation on monarch butterflies at the greenhouse and nursery. Others not so much, but are still interesting. All places have kid-friendly activities . . . including playing with four-legged kids at some of the farms, and usually an author or two.

The kick-off for the Ag+Art Tour was an evening of music, food trucks, and craft beer at Benford Brewery, our local brewer who has received national acclaim. The only artists there Friday night were the musicians, the brewers and the cooks in the food trucks – and if you’ve watched any food shows you know the brewer and cooks are definitely artists – but visual art was on display with Aggie, the new mascot for the Ag+Art Tour, and one of the quilt blocks for the local quilt trail. The design on Aggie is the logo for the Ag+Art Tour.

The music was a mix of classic rock and current sounds so plenty of swaying, clapping and humming along. The air was as cool as the bass player, there were dogs begging for Korean Bao Buns and stealing pizza crusts, and the aroma of BBQ was a spicy balance to the sugary scent of mini donuts. It was a fun, delicious night.

The next day we missed the pottery, handmade stationery and paper goods, sewn items, and woodworking, because we were off to other venues. But before we left Friday night I won a gift box full of teas and treats, an apron and towel from the Lancaster County Council of the Arts.

First stop Saturday was my favorite greenhouse and nursery, Griff’s Greenhouse and Nursery. And isn’t gardening both agriculture and art? If you’re not sure, wait until you see the next stop. But at Griff’s, the monarch presentation was not only informative, it was exciting in that one of the speaker’s tagged monarch butterflies had made it from South Carolina all the way along the migratory path to Mexico!

Most of the artists at Griff’s work with natural elements or create items that are for outside.

Could only do one more stop on the tour, but it was the beautiful Historic Craig Farm, founded in 1773 and still in family hands. When we arrived and checked in, the greeter showed us the local newspaper from that day and there was a front page article about the artistry of the gardens at the farm – and the greeter was the gardener! How he went from framing houses to designing gardens is remarkable. He didn’t discover his talent until his later years, and it was by accident. He’s not taken any classes, but his eye for color, texture, and composition are all part of his natural green thumb.

There’s a formal garden, like those in Europe, at Craig Farm, but the trail across the street is my favorite. It’s not only a work of art itself, but just stepping into the moss-filled old woods inspires thoughts of magic kingdoms, ethereal music, words on the page.

In addition to the natural art, there were basket weavers, jewelry makers, painters, and needlework artists at Craig Farm.

We couldn’t take part in any of the other venues because I had to shift gears and move into the literary arts. Rock Hill’s Poet Laureate, Angelo Geter, and his festival committee organized the city’s first poetry festival, One Word Poetry Festival. It included workshops, open mics, the formal announcement of Rock Hill’s first Youth Poet Laureate, a Poetry Slam, and ended with a reading by Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Jericho Brown.

I was there to hear the five finalists for the Youth Poet Laureate position read their work before the winner was announced. I’d been one of the judges, but had no idea which of the 13 original applicants had received the highest combined score. Each of the finalists would’ve made a great ambassador for poetry. Listening to them highlighted the passion and bravery I’d only read on the page. In the end, Alexandra Aradas (third from the right) was named Youth Poet Laureate and she already has some big plans. Under Angelo’s guidance, this ambassador will give poetry an even stronger presence in Rock Hill. (photos by Mick Lowry of CapturePhotography)

Saturday night was the Poetry Slam. If you’ve never been, I encourage you to check one out. I’m always left breathless while attending one of these. Yes there’s poetry, but so much more. There is drama, physical expression of emotion that brings the audience to their feet or to tears, there is theatrics as the poets bring real life to the words they’ve written. The electricity in the audience causes the skin to gooseflesh.

When the poet stands at the microphone you can watch them transform into the performer they’ll become for the timed recitation of their work. Saturday’s time limit was 3 minutes and 10 seconds. One poet was docked a full point for going over. There were three rounds with eliminations after each until the final. The poets and the audience were sweating, and not only because the room was packed and the air humid.

The organizers had put out 60 chairs for the event and had to add 30-40 more. Mick Lowry of CapturePhotography took the following photos. I wish I could share all of them because Mick captured not only the emotion of the poets, but also of the audience. But here is a handful. The first is of the finalists, the winner was the second from the left. That’s also him in the smaller picture below during one of the rounds.

The weekend of art immersion ended with a brunch with Jericho Brown. He was funny and down-to-earth, and his reading over way too soon. Now that I hear and know his voice, I’m looking forward to finishing, The Tradition, as if he’s reading aloud. (Photos by Mick Lowry of CapturePhotography)


Jericho Brown, Mick Lowry, Angelo Geter

From music to handcrafted items to the beauty of nature and to the written and spoken word . . . and to the photography that captured it, what a weekend of color, vibrancy, and inspiration, and the reminder of the importance of allowing that child artist inside us the room to grow.

Benford Brewery

Griff’s Greenhouse and Nursery

Craig Farm and Kilburnie, the Inn at Craig Farm

One Word Poetry Festival

CapturePhotography by Mick and Tiff Lowry

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