Conway, yarn bombers reach great compromise

In what surely will become known as the Great Conway Compromise, the city and its would-be yarn bombers have at last decided on a location for a public art show that will put the city on the world’s avant garde art stage.

The 71/2-foot knitted creations will grace more than 20 lampposts in Riverfront Park.

First, the city rejected a proposal to display the bombs on elm trees along Laurel Street downtown. Artists were welcome to use the lampposts on the street, City Council members said, a decision that stood until Santee Cooper got involved.

The electric utility owns the Laurel Street lampposts and it told the yarn bombers it doesn’t want avant garde art or anything else cluttering its posts.

But then, furrow-browed minds remembered that more than 20 lampposts in Riverfront Park are owned by the city, and the show was moved there.

Whew, thought Barbara Streeter, the show’s organizer.

The park’s lampposts, perhaps ironically, were one of the sites originally suggested by Streeter when she started in May trying to get the city’s permission.

“We’re right back to my original idea,” she said. “It’ll be beautiful. It’ll be incredible.”

Streeter said each bomb is going to be 150 inches long and each will have one primary color. Those the bombers can choose from are light purple, dark purple, gray, orange, light blue, yellow, red, black and white.

Each will be taken to the park as a single panel and sewn together encircling the posts. Acrylic yarn is to be used because it will stand up to the weather better than wool would.

“It’s a tough battle to fight,” Streeter said of her road to the Great Compromise. “Public art is hard.”

Conway should think itself lucky that anybody asked before the creations were displayed. Yarn bombing has become a worldwide phenomenon since it was started in Houston in 2005, and many yarn bombers seem to like the extra thrill of putting up their creations at night without asking anybody’s permission.

Streeter said she knew if she tried that in Conway, the bombs would come down the next day.

As it is, they will be posted on Oct. 27 and remain there snugly until Dec. 1.

A yarn bomb of a hula dancer that was created for a tree and completed before the tree idea was rejected will be displayed at the Live Oak Art Festival on Oct. 6, Streeter said. And there will be knitting lessons offered at the festival on the lawn of the old Horry County Courthouse, which may become a recruiting site for future yarn bombers.

“It’s kind of cool,” said Emily Smith, who is creating one of the yarn bombs at a secret location between Conway and Loris. “I can’t wait to see what everybody else is doing, too.”

Hunger is not pretty

Say the name Darren Smith almost anywhere around Conway and somebody’s mouth will start to salivate.

Smith is the owner/chef of the Bistro restaurant, and each year he volunteers his time and considerable skills to prepare the dinner at an annual fundraiser for the Shepherd’s Table, a Conway charity that offers food to the hungry five nights a week.

While the fundraising evening at the River Club is glitzy and fun, former Shepherd’s Table board chairwoman Sarah Jean Sasser said that hunger is neither.

She said she’s tried to think what it must be like to be hungry, but can’t imagine it. She learned how tough it can be, though, through the story of one boy who ran from a bad home situation and ate only because of concerned residents in the neighborhood where he camped out.

“We take it for granted that if anybody around us wants food, they have it,” Sasser said.

But she learned through the story of the boy fed by a Conway neighborhood that it isn’t necessarily so.

Sasser became involved with the Shepherd’s Table when it was started in 2006. Now, churches and civic clubs take turns preparing and serving the meals. No questions are asked of those who show up to eat, a number that Sasser has grown to up to 100 people a night because of the economy.

There are children among the diners, she said.

Sasser said the charity’s budget runs from $75,000 to $80,000 a year and that the annual dinner from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 11 at the River Club is its main fundraiser.

Tickets are $50 each and may be ordered by calling the charity at 488-3663.

“I hope we get at least 200,” Sasser said.

Remember Darren Smith.

Mmm .....

Rhythm of the river

As long as you’re marking calendars, set aside Saturday evening for the annual Rivertown Rhythm show.

In Riverfront Park starting at 6 p.m., the evening is filled with tunes by the Long Bay Symphony Pops ensemble and the voices of four singers. The music will be Southern folk based Americana, according to the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the event.

The crooners will feature the duet of Coastal Carolina University voice faculty/recording artist David Bankston and Sam Broussard, his colleague, as well as Conway native and Nashville performer Bobbie Rowe Holt. Tom Becker -- guest artist at last year’s event -- will return.

Audience members will get a chance to exercise their vocal chords, too, with a group singing of “This Land is Your Land.”

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the gate. They can be ordered at the chamber’s website, http://conwayscchamber.com/event/rivertown-rhythm/.

Take your own lawn chair if you don’t like to lounge on the lawn.

Hospitality tickets are available for $500 and come with a tent, a table and 10 tickets.