Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp



Arts Commission Gala celebrates award winners

Posted 5/20/2012 3:23:00 PM

Art lovers gathered earlier this month at 701 Whaley for a chance to celebrate the winners of the 2012 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts.

The S.C. Arts Commission Gala is always one of my favorite arts events of the year. The silent auction was, once again, filled with an eclectic array of paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and even political cartoons, all by S.C. artists. The wonderful ballroom space at 701 Whaley became a pop-up museum for the night. I wandered the perimeters of the room for over an hour, mesmerized by Diana Farfan’s darkly whimsical sculptures and Michael Story’s Lowcountry landscapes.

But the real stars of the evening are the Governor’s Award recipients, who definitely made quite an entrance this year; The Palmetto Pipes and Drums led them into the ballroom. The sound of the bagpipes shook the rafters. It was an incredible herald, announcing the arrival of the night’s honored guests.

The award recipients are always presented with their actual awards at a State House ceremony the next day, but the gala is a great chance to meet and honor an amazing group of people who have made tremendous contributions to the arts in South Carolina.

This year’s recipients included The Self Family Foundation (Business/Foundation Award) for its support of the arts in the Greenwood area and a special recognition of Mark Sloan’s role as director and senior curator for the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston (one of my favorite arts stops in the Holy City.)

Individuals were also honored. R. Scot Hockman received the Arts in Education award for his championing of the arts and his work writing and facilitating academic standards and curriculum for the arts. Nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist, Robert Ariail, a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, was recognized for his thought-provoking and satirical work. Although he couldn’t attend the gala, photographer Sam Wang received the Individual Artist Award

Finally, the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Lillian Quackenbush, a performer, teacher, conductor and scholar. Quackenbush is the founder and Artist Director of the Sandlapper Singers, a 30 person choral ensemble that is the winner of a 2006 National Endowment for the Arts grant.

The awards are named after Elizabeth O'Neill Verner, a talented Lowcountry artist who achieved an international reputation for her etchings and pastels. The awards “recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina.”