Six Myrtle Beach-area artists earn state park residencies

Six people from Horry and Georgetown counties make up one-quarter of the talent chosen for the 2014 S.C. State Park Service Artist in Residence program.

Each honoree receives a free one-week cabin stay at their designated state park, in exchange for donating a completed artwork representing their stay at the park:

• Sandi Blood of Murrells Inlet – Barnwell State Park. (She also completed a residency in October at Cheraw State Park in the 2013 program.)

• Mike Covington of Pawleys Island – Oconee State Park.

• Millie Doud of Myrtle Beach – Cheraw State Park.

• Nick Mariano of Myrtle Beach – Hickory Knob State Resort Park.

• Christine Lizzul Martin of Myrtle Beach, and Kathy Turnauer of North Myrtle Beach – each at Cheraw State Park.

Another common trait among the six artists is their membership in the Seacoast Artists Guild of South Carolina, which has its main gallery at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach (232-7009 or www.seacoastartistsguild.com).

“It speaks to the tremendous talent and creativity of our local artists,” said June Groft, who handles the guild’s publicity.

Mariano did his residency at the lone state resort park, Hickory Knob, along the Savannah River, northwest of North Augusta, which he welcomed as a random assignment.

“I said I would take whatever park they wanted to send me to when I applied,” he said, happy to know his framed enlargement of a photo of a doe and fawn already is hanging in the park’s Great Room.

Mariano also envisions another goal with such residencies, especially after visiting the Frankin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach this past month.

“I am now applying to some national parks for 2015,” he said, “and although the competition is stiff, maybe I’ll luck out. I went see the Ansel Adams exhibit at the art museum here and was inspired to try something on that scale before I’m too old to do it.”

Harry Hafer, manager of two proximate state parks – Lee, in Bishopville, off Interstate 20, about a half-hour drive west of Florence, and Woods Bay, about 20 miles east of Sumter – has overseen the residency program for the past couple of years, and he elaborated on the process of lining up artists across the state with parks.

Question | How are these individuals selected for this honor?

Answer | We put out an application form, usually on around the first of August on the website ... and the cutoff date is Oct. 30 to nominate yourself. Traditionally we receive 40 to 60 applicants, and we get some people from beyond the state as well. ...

After all the applications come in, I review them, and usually with a couple of park employees and some people from the arts community in the area ... basically what we do is kind of a blind review, and the chairman knows who everybody is. ... They come in various categories. ... We had one writer this year whom we accepted. ...

We review the materials they sent, and the team kind of looks at them on a scale. ... This year, we had 24 who scored very high, and we managed to place all 24 of them. ...

The other part of is the parks that have cabins, because we have only a limited number of parks with cabins.

Q. | How are the parks chosen in matching up artists?

A. | Officials at some parks just want a painting or a photograph that they can hang. Others are more, “Hey, we’ll take anybody.” What we try to do is match the artists, and we list the cabins available and the parks that are participating. The artist makes a request of what park they want, and the parks have a list of what artists there are, and the parks try to match them up.

Q. | How long has this artist in residence program existed?

A. | I believe it’s been 16 or 17 years.

Q. | What medium is most frequent among the artworks donated to represent each park?

A. | Paintings and photography seem to be the top two, but we’ve had some absolutely fabulous stuff in glasswork done. Some of the fabric artists are pretty phenomenal. We’ve had a couple of sculptures, we’ve had a writer, and one person with a mixed media thing with video.

Q. | With this program and a yearlong state parks photo contest (scmakingmemories.com) just begun June 1, how does this outreach help showcase the gems of 47 parks across South Carolina?

A. | To me, it’s a win-win situation, the art side to arts in the parks. It’s something I grew up with, going to concerts in the parks when I used to live in the Washington, D.C., area. The idea of concentrating on people in the arts and the outdoors is something that is just a great fit.