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SCAD – The Savannah College of Art and Design

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Before moving to Savannah, we didn’t know much about the city. And although we weren’t expecting to find a Victorian-era scenario, with Southern belles strolling the streets and coquettishly dropping their handkerchiefs to attract the attention of menfolk, we also weren’t prepared to find the streets dominated by pink-haired girls and hipsters with ironic mustaches. In other words: we had no idea about the existence of SCAD.

I love ART

SCAD was only established in 1978, so it’s a relatively new entity in Savannah. But it has made its presence felt. The college has been instrumental in the purchase and restoration of innumerable buildings, doing more than its share to help re-beautify the city. With a sky-high tuition, and enrollment of over 10,000, SCAD is using its deep pockets for good rather than evil.

The college turns out some great talent, too, as a peek in at the SCAD Shop on Bull Street will confirm, where there is a wealth of innovative artwork. The shop could almost be a museum; we think it’s better than the Jepson Center, for example. And in 2011, the SCAD Museum of Art opened on Turner Boulevard. This museum has won a number of awards for both its architecture and exhibitions, and provides a place for students to study the work of accomplished artists.

SCAD boasts a strong foreign population, with students from over 100 countries, and has branches in France and Hong Kong. It’s hard not to appreciate the influence that this influx of artistic, mostly rich youth has had on Savannah. It’s become a city with cool restaurants, a hopping nightlife and a hip, urban vibe, in a historic and largely conservative region.

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January 26, 2011 at 7:32 pm Comments (3)

Bluffton, SC — Almost a Homecoming

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I grew up in Bluffton, Ohio. A Midwestern metropolis of about 3000 people, Bluffton is the kind of place where a knitting festival would be the cultural highlight of the month (if something as cool as a knitting festival ever actually took place). Friday night football, the bowling alley, and cruising up and down Main Street in an endless loop, looking for something, anything to do… ah, the memories.

Vintage Madhouse

So visiting Bluffton, South Carolina, was amusing to me. It’s about ten times the size of my hometown, and a lot more interesting. Located on the May River, close to Hilton Head, it’s a funny city filled with strange characters. We spent the day and on the way home, found ourselves in total agreement on one thing: Bluffton is bizarre.

Our unofficial guide for the day was a local. We met Nancy inside her store called Eggs N Tricities, which is packed from wall to wall with exactly the things you’d expect to find in a store called “Eggs N Tricities”: vintage clothes, old books, so-bad-they’re-good paintings, knick-knacks, seashell creations and other curiosities which defy description.

Blufton Church

Nancy was a perfect guide to Bluffton. She knew a lot of stories about the locals, and it was fun to see these beautiful old houses, and hear about the crazy things which happened inside them. We paused for a delicious lunch at a restaurant called The Cottage, which was still busy at 2pm, and then visited a few of the town’s shops. Bluffton is a very artsy town, packed with knick-knack stores and local painters. After finishing shopping, we went to the Oyster Factory and checked out the Church of the Cross, an impressive wooden structure which dates from 1857.

There are actually two sides to Bluffton, and the one in which we spent the day was the old part. The “new city,” built up and around the highway, is where the more usual businesses can be found, and is much busier. Nancy said that some people who live in New Bluffton have never even been to the old town. That’s shocking, because this is a special little place, and definitely worth the trip from Savannah.

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Cross Handles
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Blufton Gas Lamp
Pink Church
Mystical Forrest
Blufton SC
Pier Blufton
Rare Jungle Monster
Tree USA
Modern Architecture Blufton
Orchard Green House
Orchard Wall
Blufton Orchard
Oyster Pile
Blufton Marsh
Artist is Out
Pierce Giltner
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January 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm Comments (5)

The Telfair Academy

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Found on on the eastern side of Telfair Square, the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences occupies a Regency style mansion built in 1818. It’s been a public art museum since 1886, which makes it the oldest in the South.

Telfair Academy

The museum blends its artwork seamlessly into its historic property, and the mansion itself is just as interesting as the paintings which adorn its walls. One of the most impressive rooms has no artwork at all: an octagonal study outfitted with 19th century furniture. We also liked the kitchen gallery, which featured some modern art alongside old cooking equipment.

But our favorite room was the main rotunda, with high ceilings, giant canvases and a plush bench in the center, where visitors can relax and study the artwork at leisure. I spent at least ten minutes taking in Julian Story’s seventeen-foot long The Black Prince at Crecy.

We’d be remiss not to mention the Bird Girl statue, famous as the cover to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The Telfair Academy snatched it from Bonaventure Cemetery to “protect it,” and have displayed it prominently in their museum (snugly behind their paywall). Removed from the cemetery, the statue has lost all of its haunting magic. And it’s aggravating that this work of art was taken from a public place, and put somewhere that forbids photography … “Heavens, no photos in the museum! But please, feel free to buy a postcard.”

Entrance to the Telfair Academy will set you back $20. That’s a crazy price, though it also gets you into the Owens-Thomas House and the Jepson Center. Still, the fact that you can only buy the package deal is exploitative. Why not offer cheaper admissions to the individual spots? What if you’re only interested in classic art? Or if you only want to see a historic home? Well, too bad! We severely disliked the Owens-Thomas House, and blew through the gleaming, sterile Jepson Center with its pretentious modern art in about five minutes. The Telfair Academy is definitely the highlight of the bunch, but at $20? I’m not sure it’s worth it.

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Telfair Museums – Website

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December 17, 2010 at 3:42 pm Comment (1)
SCAD - The Savannah College of Art and Design Before moving to Savannah, we didn't know much about the city. And although we weren't expecting to find a Victorian-era scenario, with Southern belles strolling the streets and coquettishly dropping their handkerchiefs to attract the attention of menfolk, we also weren't prepared to find the streets dominated by pink-haired girls and hipsters with ironic mustaches. In other words: we had no idea about the existence of SCAD.
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