ALL ON SC 261

It was Glenn who noticed the first little store on the way to Kingstree.  In the area of South Carolina where there is not much, little communities occupy the landscape on the way to the beach.  I knew a fabulous woman from Kingstree; she imported Kingstree barbecue to Columbia every year for a party.  Lord knows what she did as a child there in that town. There is little industry in the area other than a bicycle plant (interesting in these outsourcing days), and there is a factory with smokestacks across from Garrett’s residential living center.

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This former little service store sits right on the two-lane.  Somebody is living in it.  Made of cinder blocks, with cinder block columns, we found others just like this on SC 261, and a few very close to each other.

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This little store is made of the same cinder block, but designed a bit differently.  It looks as if it might have more easily accommodated gassing up a car than the first example.  And it had at least one more life as an antiques store.   Who owns these things?  Could one “squat” there?

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The example above suggests that it might have been what we call here a “red dot” store.  Notice the bars on the windows, they are there for a reason.  The dots here are long gone.  The red dots symbolize sunup and sunset, and it is between those times when liquor can be sold.  Those daily times used to be published in the paper too.  Not sure about that now.

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It is believed to have its origin in the South Carolina Constitution of 1895, article 8, section 11, which prohibited alcohol sales between sundown and sun-up. The red dot designates the sun and identifies the store as one that sells alcohol.  This red dot store in Hampton, SC could have been more clever in its design.  The beautiful facade creates two red dots in its ornamentation. and correctly captured, no other red dots would have been necessary.  Perhaps it would have been confusing to customers.  No need to confuse customers.

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Love the colors of this little store. Red squares instead of red dots!  Again, it is made of cinder block, but has wood columns in the front.  The two red window coverings are hinged at the top, and the building was added on to at the back.  Whatever service was preformed in this place was painted on a board above the tin, now removed.  Sent this image to an artist friend.  It would be a perfect addition to her series of paintings of old buildings in Orangeburg county.

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Janet Kozachek.

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Nature always wins.  Most of the roof is gone in this little store, and the woods is filling up the interior space.

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MANY SMALL WORKS

I first met Janet Kozachek years ago at the old House of Pizza in Orangeburg,  one of the only places to have lunch in that small town back in the day.   I was immediately touched.  She looked exactly like a character in one of my childhood story books.   It was about the golden goose, and how townspeople (in a long sticky line)  exhibited their greediness for gold by being unable to unhook from the chain of folks who tried to pinch a golden feather.  It is an old Russian tale.

golden goose

Janet looked just like the girl who was directly attached to the goose in my book.  It was stunning.  Russian in extraction, her almond eyes, and her Chagall-like wisps of hair connected me intimately with this old memory.

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Janet came to us with amazing recommendations:  she was the first non-Chinese person to earn a certificate of Graduate Study from the Bejing Central Art Academy (1985), and a graduate degree from Parsons School of Design (1991).  She studied ceramics in Holland in 1986, and also later with the granddaughter of Maria Martinez.  In 1999, she was the founding president of the Society of American Mosaic Artists.  And her work is just as broad as this mosaic of an education.

janet's building

All of this background is represented in her exhibition of small works opening at the Orangeburg Arts Center on February 11, 2014.  In most of the works, one can detect the influence of multiple academic experiences, but clearly created by western hands.

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The series of little vessels (there are seventeen), done in acrylic,  stand boldly and aggressively on their trimmed ground, allowing examination of their surface creatures.  One can find small worlds  pictorially within these vessel walls.  The grounds on which the vessels sit seem likewise worldly-influenced, and all nervously vibrates.  Janet creates these little wonders by paint removal and scratching as much as paint application and calls them painting/monoprints.

Tango dancers done in quick calligraphic-like lines exhibit Janet’s Chinese self, again combining a fertile gene-mixing of her history and coming up with a hybrid.  To some Janet has added Chinese cartouches,  containing characters saying (in translation) “Chinese tango”.

troll horse with red hair

The most unsettling and evocative works are a series of paintings of troll dolls (yes, the ones from the late sixties), the doll shapes again dominating the clipped ground.  The surfaces of these examples are brilliant and shiny, completed in oil made with Renaissance techniques.  The detail and description of the dolls is masterly, including both fronts and backs.  But why troll dolls?

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In a way, the brilliant colors used in the dolls seem like pure light and heat that needs to attach to something.  Simple, geometric, vibrating Amish quilts come to mind as similar in color “heat” if not in visual language.  The trolls can be spooky, but their description is not.  Here’s why they exist:  Janet was very ill when the group was created.

Janet has suffered through an undiagnosed illness for some years.  During the time the trolls were created, she was at a low point, could barely leave the bed, and could lean up to paint just sometimes.  These dolls were collected by her, at hand, and she could lift them.  Therefore, she painted them.  That simple.

Could one make an allusion to the boomer experience with these paintings?  Maybe, who else would even know about these strange beings?

In general, this exhibition is a tribute to the healing nature of art.  All these small works being done during the years of her illness, it is proof that the time she has had to be quiet was not lost.

THE ART OF JANET KOZACHEK

Janet Kozachek created and gave this painting to me in 1993.  The artist in her studio, but not making art.

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Glenn and I hung her current exhibition of small works at the Orangeburg Art Center last week.  What fun!  The following is Janet’s description of the show.  It opens February 11, 2014 through March 31.  Read about it in Janet’s own words following:

http://kozachekart.blogspot.com/2014/01/hanging-exhibition-of-small-works.html

THE HOUSE ON BOSWELL STREET

Glenn gave me a painting done by our friend Janet Kozachek for Christmas this year.  Had seen it a couple of times in her Etsy shop, and in the flesh at her home.  It is a wonderful painting.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=282+boswell+street+orangeburg+sc&ll=33.487706,-80.869052&spn=0.007158,0.009645&sll=33.488346,-80.869858&layer=c&cbp=13,337.26,,1,9.81&cbll=33.488155,-80.869803&hnear=282+Boswell+St,+Orangeburg,+South+Carolina+29115&t=h&panoid=5z27rV5Qu-NHoF0NAVGmrA&z=17

Click on the link above and wait until a single image of a house appears.  To readers not in the Deep South,  I imagine difficulty in comprehending this kind of shelter.  This is the house on Boswell Street.  Wish I could have captured a straight on shot from this site, but my skills are not high.

It has been a while since she completed the painting.  She told me that part of the stunning gate in the painting has fallen away now, and you can see it in the Google image.

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Janet is a Renaissance painter in terms of her medium.  She often paints on wood, and the wood for this piece is almost an inch thick.  She prepares the surface of her support with material that includes marble dust.  She creates and mixes her own paint.  In some of her work, the surface of the painting shimmers like a Northern Renaissance detailed jewel.  The description, in paint, of the shapes and masses in her compositions are deep and layered, complex with under painting, gutsy and refined at the same time.  Color has not the simplicity to stay local.
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We are going to make our own frame for it:  hardwood, fallen-away, with the wooden painting mounted in a box rather than framed with a box. There will be a “moat” around it.  It will have room to breathe.
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(We just had a pique of excitement.  Janet told me the house on Boswell Street was for sale for only a couple thousand dollars, and that of course would only be the land.  Any house is an “improvement” on the land.  We could have moved the improvement and resold the land!  What a fine addition to our acreage it would have been.  Oh, well.  Turns out the sign was for the house across the street, and it is only for rent.)
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If you want, give.  Janet wrapped up a little gift for me when Glenn went to pick up the painting.  Referred to this ocarina in a former post:
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OCARINA?

What the heck?  My dad, a hard working government administrator, upright, publicly non-political,  fedora-wearing, came in the front door every day after work.  Just to the left of the entry of our moderately upscale tract house was the front closet.  It was mostly for the winter stuff and the vacuum cleaner.  He stowed his fedora in there on the top shelf, closed the door, and entered the family room.

There was other stuff up there; the hats that completed our brownie uniforms for example, and  there was much similar in the basement in the fiber drums we brought home from Japan.  We girls were pretty much low circulating hurricanes as we destroyed all that stuff.  My mother’s old dolls. The “Little Big Books”, whatever.

Looking for mittens or a scarf, one day I found an amazing plastic thing.  I got used to it being in there, in a little box, but don’t think there was any discussion about it.  It was just there.

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Why did dad save this?  He was not musical in any way.  He did not sing in church; he just stood there.  And why did  we not destroy this as we did everything else?  Well, it was kind of out of reach on the shelf, and who would know how to play with this thing?

Turns out every soldier during WWII was issued one on their way to Europe.  My dad was only old enough for the occupation, and it seems then that the administration should be most worried about the men.  Not enough to do, when you simply “occupy”.  The Army must have had a great musical notion.  Dreams of an ocarina band of 25,000!  Can you imagine?  How about the ocarina salesman who got THAT order from the US Army!  Art goes mainstream, for sure!

Well I know that my father was not playing his ocarina ALL the time.  He had a French girlfriend over there.  I think the ocarinas were given to counteract the French girlfriends;  such a pure time in which to have lived!

Our book group went to see  my friend Janet Kozachek  to look around her studio.  Aside from being a brilliant painter, she has fun making mosaics, Chinese (it would be sumi-e if Japanese) pen and ink drawings of tango couples, books, wonderful pattern on pattern pencil drawings.  And ocarinas from local clay.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/kozachekart?ref=search_shop_redirect

janets ocarina

Janet sent me the above image, and describes its features:

“This ocarina is a classic ten hole ocarina in the sweet potato shape.  Another fun fact about ocarinas is that the name comes from the Italian man who standardized the shape and scale – ocarina is Italian for “Little Goose.”  The ocarina pictured here is stoneware clay burnished with a rose colored terra sigillata glaze then pit fired.”
The ocarinas are like little personal sculptures.  And the one above is rather conservative in design, although a piece of art that is also a musical instrument has design limitations.  My favorite one was a face with imbedded pearls.  Emotional me wanted to buy that one, but I had the find the one where the aesthetics of the sculpture and the aesthetics of the sound were the best mix.  Mine is in the shape of a whale’s tooth.
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The belly of the ocarina is the same color as the belly of my kitten, Pastel.  I love it!
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The choice and range of animals in which Janet makes these instruments is amazing.  And she can play them!