Monthly Archives: July 2020

Art & Soulmates

People

Photos courtesy of Rhian Swain, Wesley L. Stewart and Colleen Beyer

A husband and wife, who teach art at local schools, like to mix their individual styles when they create public artwork together.

Artwork is meant to be shared, and there is nothing that husband and wife artists Wesley L. Stewart and Colleen Beyer enjoy more than spending time together to create art.

“Typically, visual artists travel a lonely road,” says Wesley.

Currently, however, they have gotten a double dose of gratification by working together on a project and sharing their talents with the community. Since October, Colleen, who teaches art at Harlem High School, and Wesley, an adjunct professor of art appreciation at Georgia Military College, have been collaborating on a public art project in Harrisburg.

During the academic year, Wesley and Colleen, recent winners of the 2020 Greater Augusta Arts Council Kath Girdler Engler Award for Public Art, worked on it for two hours at a time. This summer, though, they have worked in larger chunks of time to complete the project.

Concrete Canvases
The couple won a grant from the Porter Fleming Foundation in 2108 to do the artwork on the Calhoun Expressway underpasses at Eve Street and Crawford Avenue. The concrete “canvases,” which are about 100 feet long and 30 feet high, are on Georgia Department of Transportation property, and it took a year to get approval from GDOT for the project.

“We submitted our idea, but they really wanted the artist to work with the community on the design,” says Colleen. “We walked through the neighborhood and picked out flowers that were prominent. We painted bees because there are some beekeepers in the neighborhood. We wanted to mix our styles of art.”

Colleen usually creates two-dimensional paintings in acrylic or watercolor. Influenced by nature, botanical forms and mark-making, she often paints animals, plants and portraits of children and pets. Her pieces begin with a charcoal drawing.

“I like 3D, but my brain doesn’t really work that way,” Colleen says.

Wesley prefers abstract, linear designs, and he draws, paints and welds. He incorporates color to accentuate specific areas of the work or the surrounding area where it is placed.

Primarily a three-dimensional artist, he developed an interest in sculpture, especially metalwork, when he worked for the family business – Stewart Sheet Metal.

“I’m a metal guy. I do a lot of sculpture work,” says Wesley. “That’s why we work well together. We’re good at different things.”

For the public art project, they painted the massive underpasses with sloping sides beneath the concrete stanchions supporting the expressway. Colleen painted the sides with whimsical plants, flowers, vines and bees, and Wesley painted intricate black and white graphic designs on the uprights.

“It’s not a flat surface,” he says. “This is the largest artwork we’ve painted.”

They went through a learning curve to paint the space technically. In a split-second decision Wesley tried to reach a little farther to make a final swipe of black instead of moving his ladder, and he took a tumble. Even though it’s hardly discernible, he still laments the slight smudge his fall left behind.

“We see imperfections that the average person wouldn’t,” Wesley says.

They painted the spaces to be viewed up close, not just from passing vehicles. After all, Colleen says, the neighborhood gets plenty of foot traffic.

“The intent of our work is for people to notice a place that they never noticed for days, weeks, months or years,” says Wesley. “We want to bring attention to places that people forget about.”

People also do photos shoots at the underpasses, much to their delight.

“We want people to enjoy our work and take pictures with it,” says Wesley. “We want to inspire other people to get involved with art by buying it, taking art classes and asking their communities to fund public artwork.”

Challenge & Connectivity
Of course, being art educators, they also enlisted the aid of local students in the public art project. Children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the CSRA painted with them for a day.

AP students from Westminster Schools of Augusta also helped them with another Harrisburg art project at Hillside Park, which they finished this winter. For this public art piece, they decorated a chain link fence at the park with “Put-in-Cups” in a design that was chosen by a committee of the Harrisburg/West End Neighborhood Association.

“We bought a bunch of different colors and arranged them to look like pixelated flowers,” Colleen says.

The cups interlocked in the fence, but it required a bit of elbow grease to attach them.

“The cups are made for chain link fences and can withstand winds of 100 miles per hour,” says Wesley.

The couple seems to like teaching art as much as they enjoy creating it.

“It’s really fun working with students. This was my fourth year at Harlem, and it has been fun to see my students’ growth from freshmen to seniors,” says Colleen. “I like the act of creating and pushing through to create something out of nothing. I like the challenge and problem solving that comes with it. You learn a lot of skills like time management and how to pay attention to details.”

For Wesley, art means conversation, contact and connectivity.

“I just enjoy having the conversations with people so they tap into something about themselves they didn’t realize before. Art is about contact, looking up and feeling the surface. Art connects us to each other,” he says. “You get to live people’s stories that you couldn’t otherwise. A lot of our history is told through art like cave paintings.

“I love looking at other people’s artwork and techniques,” he adds. “I like making art and talking about it. We like that other people like our artwork.”

Pride in Public Art
Colleen and Wesley, who met in graduate school at Georgia Southern University and first collaborated on a team project called “Eagle Nation on Parade,” hope to keep sharing their artwork with communities.

“It’s art that is accessible to everybody,” Colleen says of public art. “You don’t have to go into a museum or gallery to see it.”

They painted a floral and linear mural at Pineapple Ink Tavern, and Wesley is part of a team that is working on an art project at Beacon Station apartments.

In addition, his artwork can be found at Frog Hollow Tavern and Farmhaus Burgers. He also has a sculpture on the first floor of the city’s Municipal Building, and he created artwork on two traffic boxes in Augusta. His outdoor, public sculptures can be seen on the University of North Georgia campus in Dahlonega and in the downtown areas of Lakeland and Kissimmee in Florida.

They continue to apply for local and regional calls as a couple, individually or as part of a larger artist team to create more art in public spaces.

“Public art creates a sense of pride. It’s singular. There are not multiple copies. I think a successful culture has robust public art,” says Wesley. “We would love to have more opportunities to create public art. We would love to break into Columbia County at some point.”

Colleen agrees. “We’re always looking for the next challenge,” she says.

By Sarah James

Vitamin Sea

Travel

Photos courtesy of Haig Point

Get a dose of late summer R&R at Daufuskie Island.

We’re all looking for less stress and more peace of mind these days, and Daufuskie Island, just off the South Carolina coast between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, delivers both.

After all, with a population of less than 400 people, no hotel and no way of getting there other than by ferry or private water taxi, the island escape is the perfect place for day trippers to get a 24-hour fix of surf, sand, seafood and fun.

Many people first became acquainted with Daufuskie Island as the setting of author Pat Conroy’s novel, The Water is Wide. However, one rotation of Earth on its axis probably is not enough time for a proper introduction to this island oasis. Fortunately, the hotel-free Daufuskie offers rental properties and other charming accommodations for overnight stays.

The 1873 Lighthouse on Daufuskie Island, which operated until the 1930s, opened bookings to the public last year. The waterfront accommodations, where waves gently roll right outside the front door and bottlenose dolphins leap out of the water by the dozens, sleeps four people. In addition to the 40-foot tower, the lighthouse includes a fireplace, a clawfoot bathtub and a rocking chair-lined porch that overlooks Calibogue Sound.

Guests also can stay in the Strachan Mansion in Haig Point, a gated private community on the northern tip of the island. Originally built in 1910 on St. Simons Island as a summer retreat, Strachan Mansion was moved to Haig Point by barge in 1986. Each of the mansion’s four suites is appointed with antique furnishings and has a tie to Haig Point history. The mansion also features a bar, a billiards room and a general store.

Exploring Daufuskie
No cars are allowed on the 5-mile-long island that consists chiefly of undeveloped conservancy land. For residents and visitors alike, the only methods of transportation are bicycles and electric golf carts.

Those who prefer not to travel Daufuskie’s mostly unpaved roads on wheels can take advantage of the island’s equine culture. The 3-acre Equestrian Center at Haig Point features a 12-stall barn where guests can take lessons and horseback tours of the island in English and Western style.

For visitors who would like to enjoy the serenity of riding horseback along the coastline, the equestrian center at Melrose community serves as the home base for Daufuskie Island Trail Rides. Six horses are housed there including a Native Marsh Tacky, a rare breed of horse that dates back more than 500 years in the area.

In addition to cantering on Daufuskie’s 3 miles of white, sandy beaches, experienced equestrians can ride through the undeveloped land that is teeming with natural wildlife. The island is home to deer, storks, egrets, pelicans, osprey, whales, gators and other reptiles. Loggerhead turtles nest on the shore in the spring. To protect the turtles, visitors should use only red flashlights at night from May through October and never drive golf carts on the beach.

Beach-goers can take a walk to Bloody Point, a historic battleground between Native Americans and English settlers. Bloody Point also is the island’s local fishing hole, so anglers can go there to try their luck.

Guided kayak tours and customized, guided golf cart eco-tours are available as well. Golfers also can enjoy Haig Point’s 20-hole, Rees Jones Signature course, which has seven oceanfront tee boxes and greens.

Peering into the Past
Rich in history and culture, Daufuskie Island offers a step back in time.

The first recorded inhabitants of Daufuskie are the Creek, or Muskogee, Indians, but most of the island’s native residents are Gullah/Geechee people who are descendants of freed slaves. These various ethnic groups from west and central Africa have retained many aspects of their African heritage, creating the celebrated Gullah culture on the island.

Up until the mid-20th century, the population of Daufuskie, a Creek word that means “land with a point,” was made up primarily of Gullah families. Oystering, farming and logging were the main industries on the island, but many people ultimately left in search of other work.

Developers came to Daufuskie in the 1980s and 1990s, and Haig Point, Bloody Point and Melrose were developed as resort communities.

However, many original Gullah-constructed homes, churches and schools remain on the island, and its historic district is named in the National Register of Historic Places. Some of Daufuskie’s historic sites include:

First Union African Baptist Church – This historic church was established in 1881 and rebuilt in 1884 after a fire burned down the original sanctuary. Still active as a non-denominational community church, the congregation holds Sunday services at 10 a.m.

Mary Fields School – Built in the 1930s, this school was created for the Gullah children on the south end of the island. Transportation from the north end began in 1950, making Mary Fields the primary school for Daufuskie students. This is the school where Conroy taught in the late 1960s, and he based The Water is Wide on his teaching experience at Mary Fields. The school now is home to Daufuskie Blues, which makes indigo-dyed scarves and fabrics.

Billie Burn Historical Museum – This small museum was named after Billie Burn, known as the first true “Daufuskie historian.” She is also the author of An Island Named Daufuskie, which documents details of the island’s past. Island artifacts such as arrow heads and pottery shards are displayed in the museum, which previously was Mt. Carmel Baptist Church.

Gullah Learning Center – This quaint museum is full of Gullah artifacts, writing, clothing and more. Originally, the building was the Jane Hamilton School, which children on the north end of the island attended in the 1940s before transportation took them to Mary Fields School.

Frances Jones House – Painted bright blue and adorned with centuries-old live oak, the Frances Jones house is a picturesque favorite for visitors. Jones was one of the first teachers at Mary Fields School and eventually became the principal. Sometimes called “Daufuskie Mayor,” she was a prominent fundraiser for the reconstruction of First Union African Baptist Church.

Moses Ficklin Cottage –Moses Ficklin was one of Daufuskie’s undertakers, and the Gullah-constructed home is positioned under a giant oak tree. Although privately owned, the house is worth a drive-by.

Bloody Point Lighthouse – Erected in 1882, the lighthouse had a rear-range and a front-range light to keep boaters out of the Savannah River. The tower was deconstructed due to erosion, and the keeper’s house, which has been converted to a museum and gift shop, was rolled back on logs to its current location. A “Lowcountry Heritage Walk” on the property showcases some historically-significant crops such as sea island cotton and indigo blue.

Shop Talk 
If visitors still are shopping around for ways to entertain themselves on Daufuskie, then why not stop by some of the island’s quaint and quirky shops? Don’t miss:

Iron Fish Gallery – American Made Award-winning metal sculptor Chase Allen owns this remote studio gallery. He specializes in handcrafting coastal fish, mermaid, crab, sea turtle, lobster and stingray sculptures. This self-taught, world-renowned artisan, who began creating coastal décor from sheet steel in 2001, has been featured in numerous national and local publications. Allen is a member of the “million-dollar club,” a select group of artists or artisans with lifetime sales of more than $1 million. His handcrafted, coastal-inspired metal sculptures can be found on the walls of clients and collectors from around the globe.

Anyone who wants to buy one of his pieces but can’t find him, however, need not worry. At Iron Fish Gallery, which is open seven days a week, art is sold on an honor system. When Allen is out, customers simply can drop their money in the mailbox slot and take their artwork home with them.

Silver Dew Winery – The tiny, historic Silver Dew Winery building dates back to 1883. Originally, the structure was built as a “wick house,” which was used to store oil, wicks and even the lamp for Bloody Point Lighthouse. In the early 1950s this Daufuskie Island icon was converted to a winery by Arthur “Papy” Burn, who made wine from grapes, scuppernong, pears, elderberries and other fruit. Locals soon dubbed the old wick house the Silver Dew Winery.

The winery closed in 1956, but the old wick house still carries the sign of Silver Dew Winery. Now, it is a gift shop where visitors can pick up a playful trinket or a bottle of wine. In addition, wine lovers can sample some of Silver Dew’s sweet scuppernong wine at the Bloody Point Lighthouse keeper’s house.

Spartina 449 – Named as an Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Company, Spartina 449 is a Daufuskie Island-based women’s handbag, accessory and jewelry business. The collection is available in general stores around town, and the high-quality linen and leather products reflect the color and beauty of Daufuskie Island and the Lowcountry. Spartina 449 also contributes a portion of its proceeds to the Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation, a nonprofit organization that preserves the island’s cultural heritage.

Food & Drink
With everything that Daufuskie has to offer, including restaurants, there’s no reason to go hungry. Visitors can feast on island fare at:

Old Daufuskie Crab Company – Deviled crab, the island specialty, is a must-try, and Old Daufuskie Crab Company is the place to try it. Offering some of the freshest seafood in the Lowcountry, this Island treasure features a variety of entrees such as shrimp and fish – with all the fixin’s, chicken quesadillas, steaks and burgers.

Diners can shuck their own oysters right off the roasting pit in season, and the restaurant serves its original Scrap Iron moonshine at the indoor and outdoor bars. Every evening meal comes with a side of Daufuskie’s magnificent sunset on the Cooper River.

Lucy Bell’s Café –Featuring a wide array of dishes, Lucy Bell’s focuses primarily on farm-to-table ingredients for its fresh local seafood, beef, poultry, appetizers and decadent desserts. Menu items range from simple Southern fried chicken to sophisticated delicacies such as lobster thermidor, tournedos oscar and herb roasted prime rib of beef.

School Grounds Coffee – Located in the back of Mary Fields School, this quaint coffee shop has a variety of options from cinnamon bun lattes to raspberry mochas to tried-and-true coffee blends. The shop also sells iced lemonades and teas.

Daufuskie Island Rum Distillery – One of only two American rum distilleries located on an island, Daufuskie Island Rum Company sits on 12 acres off Haig Point Road. Each bottle of Daufuskie Island Rum is distilled, bottled, labeled and packed by hand. The micro-distillery is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. Tours of the distillery show the entire rum-making process from fermentation and distillation to bottling and labeling.

For more information, visit tourdaufuskie.com.

By Morgan Davis

Grilled Steak Salad

Salads
  • 1 beef top round steak, cut 1 inch thick (about 1-1/2 pounds)
  • 1 small eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 2 large red or yellow bell peppers, cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut lengthwise in half
  • 1/2 cup grape tomato halves
  • 9 cups mixed baby salad greens
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese

Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon spicy mustard
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine marinade ingredients in small bowl. Place steak and 1/2 cup marinade in a plastic bag; turn steak to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 6 hours or as long as overnight, turning occasionally. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade for salad. Spray vegetables, except tomatoes, with nonstick cooking spray. Remove steak from marinade; discard marinade. Place steak over medium heat and arrange vegetables around steak. Grill, uncovered, 16-18 minutes for medium-rare (145 degrees), turning occasionally.

Grill vegetables 7-15 minutes until desired tenderness, turning occasionally and basting with remaining reserved marinade. Remove and cut vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Cover steak loosely with foil and let rest 15 minutes. While resting, toss lettuce, tomatoes and grilled vegetables with remaining 1/2 cup marinade. Divide vegetable mixture between 6 serving plates. Carve steak into thin slices and arrange over vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and top salad with shaved Parmesan cheese. Makes 6 servings.

(Courtesy National Cattlemen’s Beef Association)