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Archive for the ‘Art, Craft’ Category




Hotel Le Royal Lyon, copyright Peter Frank Edwards Photographs 2014

Hotel Le Royal Lyon, our home base for six days in Lyon last fall, was wrapped in scaffolding for the final stages of a renovation. Inside it’s upholstered in fabrics of patterns floral or of repeating cityscape details—buildings, farms, trees, peasants, zoos. Each room is decked out in either a regal rose-red or royal blue. The lounge is velvety-red furniture and walls, with classic portrait paintings, and a carved, ancient lion sculpture (Lyon). Hotel manager Patrick Gainnier explained that all of this is French-made.

Lyon, France copyright Peter Frank Edwards Photographs 2014_

The Lyonnaise connections and respect for fabrics is strong. On a Sunday, when most restaurants were closed, we wandered along the river, to markets, and into the Musee des Tissus et des Arts Decoratifs to see Lyon’s long history of silkworms and scarf-making, flocked upholstery and woven materials for long curtains, dresses, coats, gowns, and pointed shoes with delicate treads that look too precious to have ever been worn outside.

Me, I kept walking, from Place Bellecour to the Cathedrales, boutiques, and silk shops of old Lyon.

– Sandy Lang, January 2015 (images copyright Peter Frank Edwards Photographs)


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Art, Craft, Travel


Hit the road in North Carolina looking for live music this past weekend, including a terrific, rain-to-sun day at MerleFest.

A few snapshots along the way: 87-year-old mandolin man, Herb Lambert; beautiful singer/songwriter Shannon Whitworth in a green dress with her band; and Woody, Nicky, Graham, Charles, Mark and Mark of Steep Canyon Rangers (cut off a few of the guys in the excitement of picture-taking!).

More music and stories to come…

– Sandy Lang, April 2014

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Art, Craft, Blog, Travel


Frocks of cotton dyed in mud, rust and indigo float on hooks and hangers in the studio at 701 Center for Contemporary Art (Columbia, SC). I’m writing about Leigh Magar’s merging of art and fashion for an upcoming magazine feature about out her new collection, which officially opens as a gallery exhibit, working studio and shop at 7 p.m. tonight (March 18, 2014).

The snapshots are of spools and cotton, one of the frocks and her hand-painted dots, and Leigh at her vintage Italian sewing machine. More to come…


– Sandy Lang, March 2014

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Art, Craft, Blog, People

White shirt, white pants, vanilla cone… I’m in. Photographer Sully Sullivan did a marathon day of shooting for CHARLIE, with dozens of people invited in for group or solo portraits on seamless white background, all on one sunny Sunday afternoon in Charleston.

Editor Caroline Nuttall and crew then pulled together “The 2013 Book,” a print publication full of portraits and yearbook-style superlatives.


Some favorite portraits inside are of the “Most Creative” Jay Fletcher (extra points for the suitcases), and the two “Most Desired,” chef Robert Berry (where did he go?) and the beautiful artist/photographer Brianna Stello.




The whole book looks great. Thanks again Sully and to CHARLIE, for the ice cream and for the year-end fun.



Mississippi man

Heard the sad news that T-Model Ford has died this week. I’ll never forget the day I met him, by chance, one morning in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Reprinting my 2008 post, here:

“I ain’t old no more.”

T-Model Ford 2008 Clarksdale (PFEPhoto)

The music never seems to stop in Clarksdale, Mississippi. One morning there earlier this year, the first person we met on Delta Avenue was bluesman T-Model Ford, who was sitting in a folding chair eating eggs and toast from a foam tray, waiting for the Cat Head Delta Blues store to open.  He told us he’d been hired to play a sidewalk concert, and would sing and play guitar again at a festival later that day.  Right then though, it was just T-Model Ford, his wife, Stella, a couple of grandkids, and us. “When they find out I’m here, they gonna fill this place up,” the 80-something bluesman said. “Everybody wants to play with T-Model.”  And he was right.  As soon as he lifted his black Peavey guitar from the case (he calls it “Black Nanny”), a crowd started to fill from the just-empty streets, walking up and waiting for the music, which came slow, with devilish smiles, rasp and soul… like a mix of mud and fire.

I’ve written a story about our three nights in Mississippi to be published in early 2009.  While there, photographer Peter Frank Edwards and I also visited William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak and spent part of a pleasant morning with William Griffith, the curator there. I wanted to see more of the Mississippi places that have inspired so much writing and music.

Rowan Oak, bottletree 2008 (PFE)

Last week I was finishing final edits on the story when somehow, old T-Model turned up to play in a bar five miles from our house in South Carolina.  Of course we went to see.  This time he had a back-up band, and it all didn’t start until near midnight with amplifiers loud. The vibe was completely different, the crowd completely white. And in the dim and whiskey all I kept thinking was of other times, other places… the morning sun on a Mississippi sidewalk.

– Sandy Lang, December 2008 (re-posted July 2013). Images by Peter Frank Edwards.

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Art, Craft, Literary, People, Travel



Feeling merry

After the cotton, comes Christmas. From a series of weekend Polaroids… I made this one on a recent, chilly morning in Mississippi.

Best wishes for the season!

– Sandy Lang, December 2012

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Art, Craft

To help recognize the growing creative force in Charleston – now said to be 27,000+ strong – I’ve been working on a campaign with STITCH Design Co. and Parliament.

We’ve had fun with this. The first round of print pieces were handed out last night at Pecha Kucha 7 at the Sottile Theater – letter-pressed member cards and sleeves, and a full run of adhesives. Love the kraft paper, the non-color. Check ’em out.

I’m told we’ll get to work up some T-shirts, scout books and other swag soon. Meanwhile, everyone’s invited to CREATE, COLLABORATE, PROSPER.

– Sandy Lang, August 2010



A year of STITCH

Happy Anniversary! Last summer, graphic designers Courtney Rowson and Amy Pastre opened STITCH, a terrific design firm in downtown Charleston. They recently asked me to write copy for their new, great-looking website. Check it out… the site’s professional, beautiful and a little bit quirky, just like them.


– Sandy Lang, July 2010

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Art, Craft, In print/published



Found art

A summer visit to John Duckworth’s studio…


There’d been a ruckus in the yard that morning, John Duckworth said when I drove up. A neighbor’s dog had carried off one of his flock of young chickens and feathers flew, but the hen survived. A black-plumed rooster was still nervously scurrying between the 100-year-old farmhouse and the barn-sized building that’s now an art studio. Duckworth wasn’t unsettled though, and stood patiently watching the yard. He offered to brew some tea.

Where a writer writes, where a painter paints – these are important places. Duckworth’s is a lofty studio, with oversized canvases set on easels and hung from wheeled tracks that allow paintings to be slid into and out of view. On another wall, there are computers with the broad screens needed for the digital aspects of his photography. (When we walked in, his assistant was mapping the effect of slight color variations on a specific print.)   The studio building itself is a rustic compilation of found materials – walls of reclaimed beadboard and wide pine, of rough stucco-covered brick, and a mix of striated and smooth cement blocks. The artist hasn’t renovated to hide or replace any of these mismatched elements, all of which he says existed when he bought the place a few years earlier. Rather, he tells visitors what he’s learned about the origin of the materials – specifics about bricks from a South of Broad tear-down, or planks from an island barn.


A few dozen yards away, Duckworth’s white-painted, tin-roofed house of porches, wood floors and single-paned windows is pure early-20th century rural South. There’s no television inside. Instead, there’s framed art on the walls (his and others), a well-used fireplace, and a spare amount of wood furniture. On tables, sills and countertops, there are found bones, feathers, and shed cicada bodies – a goldfish in a bowl, two tiny frogs in a terrarium cube. That morning there were also glass jars of moths and butterflies at various stages of development – a collection of cocoons and caterpillars that he’d been observing with his 5-year-old son, Baze, and then labeling the jars with notes about each insect’s diet and what to expect when it transforms and takes wing.

The artist and single father is California-born, but has obviously found a comfortable place on this sea island so near to downtown Charleston, South Carolina. He used to rent an apartment in the 300-year-old city and often still makes the peninsula a subject or backdrop of his art. Duckworth paints and photographs the landscape, people, animals and elements around him. Wood fires in his firepit last winter led to photographs of wispy smoke that look like sheer fabric blowing. Horse farm visits with Baze inspired the artist to create a series of horse portraits painted over landscape photographs. And Duckworth still shoots and prints photographs of the marsh expanses, a passion born of bicycling on Johns and Wadmalaw islands and being struck by the beauty, color and peace of the wide landscape. He explains that he’s continually experimenting and blending these passions for photography and painting – studying the masters, mixing old techniques with new.

After final looks at some of this island artist’s current projects, I’m back in the car and ready to drive off from this visit, when a sudden mid-day rainfall erupts. Big drops sheer the windshield, and I think of the built and natural scenes that are so often Duckworth’s subjects – paintings and images almost always out of clear focus. Viewing his art, I think, as I pull away from the island farm, can be like looking through rain on glass.

– Sandy Lang, June 2010  (Images by Peter Frank Edwards.)


AshevilleOTR1-2I’ve got a new travel feature in this month’s Charleston Magazine, May 2010. For the magazine’s annual arts issue, photographer Peter Frank Edwards and I went to Asheville, NC  and met some of artists, crafters and designers there. Below are the opening paragraphs, with the complete story in print and online here:

Arts Collective: Exploring the hands-on creative vibe of Asheville

I can’t say that everyone in Asheville can do this, but on a recent spring weekend there, several people I met could easily name at least a handful of their favorite artists in town. Interestingly, most also had ready answers for which beer they order when they sit among the welded metal sculptures on the patio at Wedge Brewing Co. (The citrus-hinted Iron Rail IPA was mentioned most.)

That’s the kind of city Asheville is, a place where the simplest pleasure of life – beer included – are surrounded by handcraft and art. Everyone seems to be making something.

After the 4 1/2-hour drive from Charleston, we’d start our weekend in Asheville in the River Arts District in view of the Wedge, which also houses wood-fired pottery studios. Hungry from the drive, we stopped first in Clingman Café. It’s a lively place with local art on the walls, a busy kitchen, and a refrigerator case of fresh food. I ordered a tuna salad plate and soup, and happened to be served by the owner, Tripp Howell, who moved to Asheville from Los Angeles. (And before that, in the 1980s, he said he worked at Henry’s in Charleston.) Howell keeps maps of the Arts District on the counter, and picked one up while he talked, and started circling must-see studios. He talked about the beautiful and impressive art now being made in the River Arts District, giving new vitality to the district’s blocks of defunct factory mills and warehouses on the French Broad River. “Art is all about contrasts,” he said. “That’s what we have here… and without pretense.”

– Sandy Lang, May 2010 (images by PFE)

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Art, Craft, Travel

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