Author: Laura R. Wilson
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When National Geographic Traveler recommends our area and the Historic Bluffton Art & Seafood Festival (HBASF) as a must-see in their 2015 Best Trip picks, you know it’s a big deal. One reason for the recommendation is the Gullah Geechee history, prevalent in Beaufort County and woven throughout the Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival. It is also a big deal to the citizens of this incredible town, knowing how the festival furthers a sense of community, promotes awareness for the preservation of the beautiful May River, and benefits local area merchants and artists through tourism.
Started in 2005, the festival is now in its eleventh year. Founder Dan Wood takes a moment to reflect on the Art & Seafood Festival and how it has grown over the years. The festival initially took two years of planning.
“When we were finally ready to pull together some town leaders into a meeting, only two showed up,” Wood said. “I was ready to call it quits, throw in the towel. But the two who attended said this is good…everybody will come. And they were right.”
The festival started under the Bluffton Rotary Club and spun into its own entity as it grew; but, “it never would have happened without Rotary,” Wood said.
Mary O’Neill, festival president, has grown the festival to an eight-day event. “The basic building blocks of the festival have remained—the fireworks, street festival, music and arts—but as the people change, we get new ideas, so it has stayed new and fresh. Mary has also done a great job in tying the festival to our Mariculture Center and the historical aspects of Bluffton,” Wood said.
It is a huge undertaking to pull off this festival, and smiles abound when asked of the work and preparation that goes in to making the HBASF a success year after year. There are 15 committee members and approximately 130-150 volunteers; the highest number of volunteers are Rotarians. O’Neill relays with a warm beam in her eyes what a labor of love the HBASF is for her and many others. “I have already had someone call me to ask the dates of next year’s festival so they can plan their vacation accordingly,” she said. “When we are finished with a festival, it’s only a short time until we begin planning for the next. It is a lot of work and I love it!”
Artwork is displayed in tents along Calhoun Street on Saturday and Sunday of the festival week.
The original purpose of the Arts & Seafood festival, according to Wood, was to bring the people of our community together and benefit local businesses. This vision has worked well, as the many visitors bring business to local merchants and artists plus organizations such as the Waddell Mariculture Center, which receives all of the proceeds from the festival’s Author Night.
This year’s theme for Author Night parallels the reason National Geographic Traveler cites the area as the place to see. “Celebrate the Low Country Yesterday & Today” has a stunning line-up, completely embracing and educating folks regarding the Gullah people through “brush, pen and spoon.” Be sure to attend Author Night at the Rotary Community Center on Wednesday, October 14 for an exciting evening celebrating the rich history and culture of the Gullah people and meet two well-known artists, Pearce W. Hammond and Patricia Elaine Sabree. Also join cookbook author/chef Sallie Ann Robinson and enjoy her, Old Fuskie Crab Rice dish as the finale. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages begin at 5:30 p.m.; 6:00 p.m. is show time. The cost is $10 per attendee.
The festival is packed, from day-one with activities and events for individuals and the whole family. There is the Bluffton Heritage Discovery Tour, and after the tour on that first Saturday (Oct. 10), a concert at Campbell Chapel A.M.E at 4:30 p.m. The concert will be followed by an authentic Lowcountry Gullah supper at 5:30 p.m. with storytelling and more music. Tons of talented musicians permeate the entire festival, from local talent to musicians who have played and traveled extensively.
You can choose to play on the May with Captain Chris Shoemaker, Roddy Medders and Eric Burns with the addition of an adult fishing tournament, paddleboard tours, kayaking and more. Impressive to witness is the Blessing of the Fleet and Boat Parade on the May River. This year’s Admiral of the Fleet is Captain Stephen Shoemaker. Captain Shoemaker’s rich history as an avid waterman makes him a perfect representative of this culturally rich event. Come sit on the lawn at the historic Church of the Cross, located at the end of Calhoun Street, listen to gospel music and witness the blessings on Sunday, October 11 at 4:30 p.m.
David Dickson, art chair for the HBASF has been vetting artists for the past eight years. Fine art and crafts are a distinguishing feature of the festival. The works highlighted by artists are one-of-a-kind items that folks will want to invest in and display with pride in their homes, including photography, works of art done in oil, watercolors, pastels and acrylics, and fine crafts made of a variety of materials from glass, metal and ceramics to wood. “Sixty-five percent of our artists return year after year, because they love this festival,” Dickson said.
Check out the full schedule of events at blufftonartsandseafoodfestival.com. The festival runs from Saturday, October 10 through Sunday, October 18, 2015.
By Mari Glover, Staff Writer
The City Market Art Gallery is the perfect place to spend a free afternoon. The two-storied building consists of over 20 different art studios and galleries. Here, you are likely to stumble upon Sabree’s Gallery of the Arts.
Upon entering the gallery, visitors are greeted by bold, brilliant colors that spill out of the canvases and consume the senses. Even the smell of a salty Carolina coastline seems to be emitted by the paintings.
Each work features a different scene in which love and family seem to be the central focus. The exhibit’s featured work, entitled “Oh Chick”, is a combination of eye-catching patterns and colors. The painting also features her distinctive work of incorporating different textures, like corn and feathers, into her art. This gives the painting even more life with a 3D effect.
Sitting to the bottom right of the painting was the artist herself, Patricia E. Sabree. Widely known as Sabree, she is a Nationally Acclaimed Authentic Gullah artist.
Sabree explains, “I was raised in the culture, this is my legacy. I am part of the land, the land is a part of me, so when I create a picture it is an extension of Gullah culture.”
Gullah Geechee culture spans back to the 1800s, where freed slaves would gather along the coast and coastal islands in small farming communities. They usually participated in sharecropping, growing everything under the sun.
Sabree shares her childhood experiences on the farm, “All of my youth we did the farming. We raised tobacco, cotton, corn, cucumbers you name it!”
These coastal Gullah communities stretched from North Carolina to St. John’s Florida, and as deep as 30 miles inland. In fact, the Low Country area itself is deeply enriched with Gullah culture. This part of Savannah’s heritage often times seems to go unacknowledged.
Sabree is passionate about the importance of ancestry and self-worth. Being one of fifteen children, Sabree shares how many of her paintings tell of childhood memories. Others portray values that were bestowed upon her through spending time with her extensive family.
Beginning her career as a high school art teacher, Sabree was driven to step outside of education to enable herself to share her legacy with the general public.
“You’ve got to know your history, that’s why a lot of African-American kids, they just don’t understand how important they are,” Sabree said. “The culture is so rich and there is so much story telling into it.”
Sabree draws much of her inspiration for her works from the relationship she had with her mother. In turn, she works closely with her daughters, who are also impassioned with the ideals of Gullah culture. With prints starting at fifteen dollars, Sabree has works affordable for all budgets. Her gallery is located on the second floor of the City Market Art Center Studios, 219 W Bryan St.
Though Sabree’s Gallery of the Arts is open daily until 6pm, her work can be accessed anytime at www.sabreesgallery.com.
Inkwell - Arts & Entertainment
City Market Art, gullah artist, gullah geechee, Patricia E. Sabree, Sabree's Gallery of the Arts
Sabree competed in the MOJA juried exhibition on September 2013. Two of her works were accepted, but one of them earned her 3rd place in the show called Soft Landing. There were many great artist there who received honorable mentioned awards. The poster artist for MOJA is the late Charles Dessasure. Congratulations to all the artist who were accepted into the show as well as the awarded ones.
This was Sabree's 3rd time attending the Charlotte Caribbean Festival. The festival's location was in a cozy park with plenty of shading from the trees. A massive crowd of people came in buses and cars to enjoy what this festival had to offer. Sabree enjoyed being apart of this festival again! There was so much to see...
This was Sabree's first time to this art festival in the park. The park was shaded with trees in the heart of Myrtle Beach. It has been a long time since Sabree has been to Myrtle Beach, which she enjoyed relaxing. She was grateful for the support offered to her during her stay. Sabree offered cotton to promote her piece, "Soft Landing," and it was some people's first time seeing real cotton! Also, Sabree's work was accepted into the Art & Soul Gallery in Myrtle Beach! Visit the Exhibition page for more information.
This is Sabree's first time to the SweetGrass Festival. Sabree met many artist including the Famous Gullah Artist Johnathan Green.
Gullah Festival in Beaufort, SC was held at another location not too far away from the historical downtown Waterfront. The location was at the Technical College of Low-country and it worked out very well. Many attended and were able to walk along the dock. We saw tiny fiddler crabs and enjoyed hearing the entertainment across the marsh. We met many great people and we really appreciate all the support from the travelers and the Gullah community!!
A day before Sabree's birthday (May 5th), she along with other artists were invited to a cozy event in SunCity, SC. SunCity is a large community within Hilton Head, SC. Sabree met with the Mayor of Beaufort and the guests enjoyed the art and viewing of properties.
If you enjoy needlepoint or curious to see what it is, view the pictures below. Or you can visit www.needlepointnow.com for more information.
Sabree traveled to her home town in Lake City, SC to participate in an international contest by ArtFields. There were 3 prices: top prize of $50,000, jury prize of $25,000, and people's choice prize of $25,000. Unfortunately, Sabree didn't win, but she did win the support of the community and her large family. This contest indeed helped to bring her family closer together with genuine support and love.
Thank you everyone!!! Also, a special thank you to the Mayor for his support and the Hair Gallery venue!
To see who won visit http://www.artfieldssc.org/ .
Lake City is undergoing new changes and is rebuilding the community. If you are in the area, stop by and tour the city of the late Ronald McNair, the first black astronaut!
Sabree wants to keep you updated on news and awards about her.