Honor Marks ~ A Palette of Poetry and Prose

Who doesn’t get overwhelmed during Spoleto’s 17 days of arts gluttony? It’s either a decadent indulgence or an ADD nightmare, or both —  so much to see, too much to do,  not enough time or money to take full advantage. So here’s a little secret — treat yourself to 20 or 30 minutes at Marion Square, meander the tents (no ticket required!) until you find Honor Marks. (Hint: booth 19, towards the Piccolo stage.)

Honor’s paintings always still me, make me pause, look more closely. To me her images of bloom and biology are poems in pigment and brush stroke. She turns a cactus blossom into a pulsing explosion of color, a crusty old crab into a musing on grace with claws. Her gift to us is to pay attention, to translate the miracle of creation into a visual poem of artful detail and revelation in texture, color and form. Nature speaks to her, and she speaks back using the language of color, shape, shadow. Honor is to painting what Annie Dillard and Aldo Leopold are to prose, what Mary Oliver is to poetry. So it’s no surprise to me that she’s an English major with a paint brush, and that much of her inspiration comes from a palate of favorite writers…but hear it for yourself:

Whatcha reading under your Marion Square tent?

This week? The weather report. Two tropical storms the opening week of Spoleto is pretty nerve wracking.

What writers or poets inspire your work?

Annie Dillard, Edward Abbey, Madeleine L’Engle, Barbara Kingsolver, Bill McKibben.

I was double major at Sewanee in English and Fine Art. I read Annie Dillard for the first time for a religious mysticism class when I was a senior. We read Holy the Firm and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I was already a painter, but after reading Dillard I knew that I wanted to do with my art what she had done with words in those books. Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire was also a big influence.

You often include text or quotes to accompany your paintings. tell us about that — what it adds to the art, how words relate to images? 

My work is so inspired by writers that I feel compelled to share passages that have moved me (with permission) or short passages that I have written. I’ve seen people stand in front of one of my paintings, read a quotation, and cry. Experiencing art in any form is intensely personal, so I can’t speak to how or why people are affected, but if I can bring multiple layers of expression to the table and enrich someone’s experience, I will.

I’ve used your paintings as jumping off points for my writing (www.alifestill.com), any relationships with other writers or poets who respond to your paintings?

Not that I’ve been made aware of although I’d love to think that they’re out there. I’ve collaborated with naturalist and NatureScene host Rudy Mancke. In addition to being a scientist he’s certainly a wordsmith and talented storyteller. He’s done several ‘indoor nature walks’ of my paintings where he spins tales about the species in each painting, combining scientific knowledge with personal anecdotes and a sense of absolute wonder that we share. We will do another project together during my exhibit at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Ga in the fall of 2013.

 Favorite recent read?

Eudora Welty’s collected short stories is on my bedside table.

Your go-to dog-eared page?

This month it’s p. 25 of Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire. A passage there inspired my most recent (and favorite) painting. “… from this nest of thorns, this snare of hooks and fiery spines, is born once each year a splendid flower. It is unpluckable and except to an insect almost unapproachable, yet soft, lovely, sweet, desirable, exemplifying better than the rose among thorns the unity of opposites.”

~ ~

Be sure to catch Honor, and other fine artists, at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival Outdoor Juried Art Exhibition in Marion Square Park. Now through June 9 from 10am- 6pm daily. http://www.HonorMarks.com.


Surfing the Pages — Bookshelf Bio Hangs Ten

The temperature shot up close to 90 today. Kids are coming home from school with much lighter backpacks —  the homework wane is on and the final bell will soon ring (all-too-soon, if you ask me!).

It’s here folks…. summer.  Which means the kids will be stir-crazy after about one or two weeks, unless, of course, you are a wise and resourceful parent who knows that surf camp is the best summer survival plan, bar none.

My girls love paddling out and catching waves — and I love watching them take to the water as bold surfers —  graceful, daring and strong. Their love for the sport is due in large part to their dad’s enthusiasm for it, and due in equal measure to their way-cool instructor, the talented Kai Dilling.  Thanks to Kai’s gentle approach to teaching and sharing his general stoked-ness, my girls and hundreds of young surfers have learned the finer points of popping up, duck-diving, wave-taking etiquette, water safety and respect for Mother Nature at Sol Surfers Surf Camp.

While he’s an unabashed surfer-dude, Kai’s also a gnarly reader. We caught up with this former science teacher in between surf sets, to learn more about what’s on his bookshelf.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. My daughter Olivia suggested it before we see the movie. I don’t know how I’ve persuaded her not to see the movie until I finish.

Just finished?

I finally read The Wave by Susan Casey. Highly recommended.

Wish you’d read but never have?

When my oldest boy, Ian, was younger I would read a chapter of Harry Potter to him every night. We read the first several books together. At some point we stopped, probably because he had gotten older. Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot. I guess there’s three or four books we missed… He read them though.

Book that first made you change the way you understood things or challenged your world view?

I read Dove when I was a teenager. It’s about a kid who sails around the world and learns to take care of himself and he falls in love along the way. I can’t remember his name but it definitely influenced me in some big ways.

Favorite book and/or literary scene about Charleston?

I don’t think I’ve read a lot with Charleston in the setting. I have not read much of Pat Conroy. I’ve read Prince of Tides, but it wouldn’t really qualify as any sort of favorite. I enjoy learning about the history of Charleston and it’s neighboring islands. The pirate tales are a lot of fun!

Your go-to book for a (graduation/birthday/special occasion) gift?

I’m a surfer, and I try to rub off my love for it on my friends; so, there’s a few coffee-table/picture books that make nice gifts.

Ideal or favorite reading location?

We have a nice reading chair that I like to sit in. It has a view of the backyard but it’s private enough not to be too distracting. I have a bit of ADD.

Real old-fashioned pages or a NOOK/Kindle/iPad?

Old-fashioned pages for sure! Computers make me dizzy.

Section of the library where you’re mostly likely to be found?
I graduated from the College of Charleston and during my years there I did a lot of studying in the library, so you would have found me in some quiet cubicle without any distractions. Now I tend to stay with Fiction. 
I subscribe to:

…a bunch of Surfing magazines. I generally read them from cover to cover.
Writer you’d most like to take to dinner and where (in Charleston area)? 
I would go surfing with Stephanie Hunt and her family at Folly Beach and go to Taco Boy afterwards.
(NOTE to future interviewees: Kai got bonus points for that one!)

Bookshelf Bio: Linda Fantuzzo

Linda Fantuzzo takes a landscape and turns it into a novel — and a classic one at that — a work of art that engages and challenges you on numerous levels at one time, broadening both your mind and heart.  Her new exhibit, “Landscapes Reconfigured,” opens later this week at the Corrigan Gallery, and features canvases wrought with beauty and the elusive play of light, landscapes doused with sensual mystery and serene color.  Fantuzzo’s fans are legion — the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art grad has been at the forefront of Charleston’s art scene since moving here in 1973 and her extraordinary talent has helped elevate Charleston as a serious player in the fine art world.

Check out Fantuzzo’s show at Friday’s Art Walk, and when you do, you can chat with Linda about how her favorite writers (see below) influence her work.

Thanks Linda, for chiming in as a Bookshelf Bio! Can’t wait to reconfigure some landscapes with you soon.

Bookshelf Bio with the Fabulous Linda Fantuzzo 

What are you reading now?

A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan.

Just finished?

The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt, a story rich with characters of creative spirit and individuality. 

Wish you’d read but never have?

War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy remains on my shelf and reading list.

Book that first made you change the way you understood things or challenged your world view?

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Your vote for a book that should be on required High School reading lists?

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, continues to raise questions we all need to consider and seems particularly timely at present.

Favorite book and/or literary scene about Charleston?

Pat Conroy’s Prince of Tides describes the atmosphere and beauty of the Lowcountry which is very much a part of Charleston.

Ideal or favorite reading location?

Reading by natural light in a window seat with plenty of soft pillows.

Real old-fashioned pages or a NOOK/Kindle/iPad?

I love holding books, feeling the quality of the paper and turning the pages.

Section of the library where you’re mostly likely to be found? 

The art book section.

Writer you’d most like to take to dinner and where (in Charleston-area)?

I would like to dine at Slightly North of Broad with the art critic Robert Hughes, author of The Shock of the New.


Bookshelf Bio #1 ~ meet “Literary” Linda Ketner





Two percentage points.


That’s how close Linda Ketner came to ousting entrenched 1st District Congressman Henry Brown in the 2008 election. In case you didn’t know — she’s a Democrat, and a woman — and those two things alone are pretty radical in conservative Henry Brownsville, so we counted the race as a victory.  Long before she stepped into the political limelight, Linda’s been moving and shaking the Charleston scene as a community activist, volunteer and philanthropist, who’s passionate about affordable housing, equitable education, women’s issues, GLBT issues…basically all the good stuff. She’s served as president of the Coastal Community Foundation, Crisis Ministries, The Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing and Homelessness, and about every other board in town.

As the first subject of what will be our ongoing “Bookshelf Bio” series, we interroblogged Linda about her reading life.

So meet the indomitable Linda Ketner ~ smart gal, avid reader, wise leader, future SC governor and/or President of the United States.

What you’re reading now?  

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (about the migration of Southern African Americans)

Just finished?  

Re-read The Sparrow and Children of God, by Mary Doria Russel … I very seldom re-read but these are intriguing books.

Book that first made you change the way you understood things or challenged your world view?

Not first made me change my world view (because books have guided my world view since I was a child), but did change the way I understood myself and my faith, Stealing Jesus, by Bruce Bawer.

Your vote for a book that should be on required High School reading lists?

To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

Favorite book and/or literary scene about Charleston?

Charleston, by Alexandra Ripley.  Yes! Only historical romance will do for this!

Your go-to book for a (graduation/birthday/special occasion) gift?

Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy  (if they haven’t read it, which everyone should have!). If a wedding, The Art of Intimacy, by Thomas and Patrick Malone, MDs.  If for graduation, Oh the Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss and The Road Less Traveled, by Scott Peck. I also give: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese; What is the What, by Dave Eggers; and both Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk. Can you tell I like to give books?


Ideal or favorite reading location?

If cold, “my” chair in the den with a fire in the fireplace; in bed every night of my life; if warm, on a lounge chair in my back yard; and, on an anchored boat in a creek off the Intracoastal Waterway.

Real old-fashioned pages or a NOOK/Kindle/iPad?

Old fashioned pages unless I’m traveling. When traveling, iPad. Also Audio Books when I’m traveling by car.  If I’m going anywhere that takes more than an hour, I am listening to a book!

Section of the library where you’re mostly likely to be found?  Highest overdue bill ever?

Fiction.  No overdue bills! I turn them in on time because I’ve been on the waiting-anxiously-end and don’t want others to do without their literary fix!

I subscribe to:

The Economist. Charleston Magazine and all her sister publications.

Writer you’d most like to take to dinner and where (in Charleston-area)?

Pat Conroy.  We’d go for some steamed oysters at Bowen’s Island.


Thanks Linda!

(And you out there, feel free to send your suggestions for future Bookshelf Bio subjects.  )