Those at Myrtle Beach’s art museum are holding their head a little bit higher these days, and with good reason.
The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum is receiving the S.C. Arts Commission’s highest honor, an Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award.
“We are so proud. It’s like winning the Oscar,” says Patricia Goodwin, executive director of the museum, the only art museum in Horry and Georgetown counties.
The Verner awards were established in 1972 and are named for the late Charleston artist who was known internationally for her etchings and pastels. Eight Verner awards will be presented Thursday in Columbia to individuals, a Charleston business and the city of Anderson. The awards are not necessarily presented every year in all the categories.
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This year’s recipients also will be honored today at the S.C. Arts Gala, a fundraiser of the Arts Commission. Created in 1967 to increase public participation in the arts, the commission provides services, financial grants and leadership initiatives for arts education, community arts development and artist development. The commission’s current fiscal year state funding is $1.9 million, according to Milly Hough, communications director.
Burroughs & Chapin Co. received a Verner award in 1997-98 and the now disbanded Horry County Arts Council received an award in 1994-95. The Horry council quit in the financial squeeze nearly all nonprofits experienced as governments reduced or eliminated funding.
In its announcement of the 2013 Verner awards, the art museum in Myrtle Beach is described as “one of the finest art institutions in the Carolinas. It offers major exhibitions appealing to a diverse array of interests for both the vacationing visitor to Myrtle Beach and year-round residents of the coastal region.” The artist Jonathan Green considers “this incredibly special museum to be a ‘Palmetto Crown Jewel’ to South Carolina.”
A new exhibition opened Sunday, featuring the area’s favorite sport. “FORE! Images of Golf in Art” includes 42 works including paintings of famous golfers such as Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods and legendary courses including Augusta National and Pebble Beach. Past exhibitions have shown works of Ansel Adams and John James Audubon as well as S.C. natives Jasper Johns and Green.
Goodwin and the many others who make the art museum outstanding are rightly proud of not only the exhibitions but also ongoing community programs, especially those for children and in education. The museum celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2012 with eight major events. These resulted in “more than $100,000 in new revenue, plus new members and sponsors,” according to the commission announcement.
Many first-time museum visitors have been impressed, perhaps experiencing more than they expected. The fact is, our local museum compares well with museums in larger markets. The Verner Award is going to an outstanding organization.