Hilton Head Blog Angel Welcomes You Again to… “Only on the Back Page”!

Visitors gather to celebrate the 4th of July

A lovely Rockwell scene awaits the fireworks display on the 18th fairway of the HarbourTown Golf Links.

This started out here, but since you wound up on MY page, you’re getting the director’s cut version, so buckle up for a bumpy ride!

Which simply means that you are now in the presence of shear, unedited brilliance.  Within these magical, mystical scrolling points, you will be privy to the sometimes, coy copy, maybe shady, doctored images that certain local, Pamphlet of the Isle editors censured, due to my questionable investigative techniques, and/or subversive nature of the content contained herein, using unnamed sources (usually because I forgot to write down their names before they hung up on me), that will take you on a point-by-plot, connect-the-dot investigation of international intrigue starting from all the way down into Hilton Head Blog Angel’s gut instincts, and leading up into the dark, grey, nether regions of her brain-pan (or, as Johnny D refers to, her effing, ‘nut-case’).

For example:

Fireworks boat in HarbouTown

Now, one could argue that this vessel eerily resembles a Russian spy-ship lurking off our southern shores at dusk on our country’s own birthday, while the G19’s distractedly snubbed Trump at break time on the Continent… ORRRR…, it could be an out-of-focus, auto-flash shot of the famous Falcon Fireworks boat crew preparing for the Annual Sea Pines, 4th of July Blitz showcase over the 18th fairway in HarbourTown, last week.  On which of these aforementioned scenarios would you place your bets?

See? This is good stuff my friends, and only the very discerning of you will appreciate how hard I worked keeping it together for your reading pleasure, not unlike British agent, Christopher Steele, with his, y’know, alleged,’ dossier, that Buzzfeed published online a while back.  Do you all understand how hard we independent movers and shakers work to remain both marginalized, AND disenfranchised at the same time? It is not easy going rogue; just ask Sarah Pahlin, who had to learn that you can’t just blather the word, ‘rogue’ interchangeably with, ‘maverick,’ over, and over just because you learned what they both meant a week before press time.  Hunh.  Now, look where she is.

Just kidding (not really. I’ll leave that one up to reader’s discretion).

And, speaking of readers and their discretionary habits, according to my ex-editor at the local daily newspaper, there weren’t enough of them – them, being readers who liked my articles that is, I’m speaking now to, you guys clicking around my fledgling column, Only on Hilton Head, to make it worthwhile for The Island Packet to include my uniquely islander’s insights, on the weekends any longer, and sadly for me, I won’t get to continue interrupting your Sunday mornings with embarrassing, ‘remember back-in-the-day moments’.

Apparently,  my, “numbers weren’t adding up,” according to the Bionic Man, before he fired me.  Darn it.  Now, which of you, Hilton Headers, forgot to turn in your Hilton-Head-Blog-Angel-end-of-term quiz?  Hmm?  See, this is why, forgotten Sea Pines Academy alumni scribes like me, get whisked into dustbins; because islanders forget to click the blue Likey button, or comment, SHARE, or for God’s sake YOU’RE NOT STILL READING THE PRINTED NEWSPAPER DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR, ARE YOU?

Carmen DeCecco in B&W

Seriously? You were reading me while sitting on the john in your slippers, yukking it up, Sunday mornings?  That doesn’t count as ‘Liking’ me at the Packet.  that’s merely ‘anecdotal evidence’ (I know it sounds evidentiary of something else, but that’s what they told me.)

Don’t you understand? They can’t count your smiles, and chuckles, when rationalizing firing a feel-good, columnist, whose fluff-piece gets cornered into the back pages next to ‘Pets of the Week’ (seriously, that’s where I was Sunday morning, July 9, in the Lowcountry Life section of The Island Packet, 6C, right next to a labrador named River, at Rogue Rescue & Sanctuary,) if you’re just reading a printed paper you bought at the 7/11..’sniff‘…I’m fine, thanks for asking,… just need a moment…

Anyhooo, and be. That. As. It. May.  My hope is to resume blogging again more regularly, in case you’re wondering, or maybe you don’t care… whatever.  I’m in a snit. (sigh)

Transitioning to BlogAngel ArtWorks

You may enjoy the following photos I took during last week’s stellar fireworks display at the 18th fairway in HarbourTown – none of which made it to the newspaper’s online website because, apparently, I suck.  But, the lovely Berrigan family was nice enough to invite me to join them, so a good evening was had by all.  And if you stick around, you’ll see some more of my fun artwork from that night…

4th of July Fireworks HarbourTown, 2017

Now, here’s one of those lucky shots. Eric Horan, and Tom Kemeny, will both be proud (I hope), I was able to pull this one off by total accident. And I didn’t have to use any of the dials on my Photos software settings at all, since I really don’t know how to use them, at all, really.

All I know is that, having made no plans last week for the 4th of July, 2017, I mosied down the 17th fairway from Bob and Susan’s house (that’s on the 11th tee, for those of you new to this blog), and it was another banner evening of Americana red, white, and blue, like the big Boeing fly-by on Easter Sunday a couple months ago, during the RBC Heritage Golf Classic presented by Boeing.

 

 

Fireworks above the 18th at HarbourTown

All right now, question for Eric Horan: Is this a flock of seagulls, captured flying across a blue, sunny sky? Or, did I have my digital wheel-thingy set at the portrait/night-time no-flash, slow-shutter setting when the first couple of fireworks popped off like right inside my eardrum?

And again I infuriate myself; by showing up with bells and whistles I don’t know how to use properly.  Like, I used to always show up places with a tri-pod that didn’t want to attach itself to the exceptionally priced – yet, aptly named – Rebel T3i EOS, but instead, would lollygag its neck around, and around, while I attempted to click the camera securely into place on the neck of said, Mr. Tripod, who’s neck would tip-tap about, like a fancy little two-stepper, as I kept trying to click the… REBEL..T3i.into.place while the fashion show would be moving ahead without my stylistic videography no matter what…! Noooo….

telescope and tripod on card table

Currently, Sir LollyGagagalot (back center, in black, wearing the turtle necklace) stands guard in Blog Angel’s Carolina Room, with other semi-retired Sentinels, like Colonel’s Big & Little Red, the beginner telescopes, waiting patiently to teach Mrs. Blog Angel how to read the universe.

So now, Sir Lollygagalot, does not accompany me so often, rather he remains in time-out in the Carolina room, thinking about how he has frustrated his kind, and patient, scrivener maiden.

And no, I do not mind standing still when I need to shoot video, and my upper arm starts to burn holy Moses, because that’s why we do fifteen-twenty minute planks nowadays, right?  And isn’t that what the corner of a bar is for anyway? A place for Captain Can’t-do Canon to rest and record activity without moving, while Princess Blog Angel sips a Perrier with lime?  (Just nod and keep your eyes moving along.) Any device that argues with my ego for more than sixteen hours, receives an appropriate insulting name, and is relegated to the corner of my Carolina room, until… whenever my mood changes.  Just ask the two Colonels Big & Little Red, and Zeus Buddha, the non-zense stone waterfall that corroded my double AA batteries.

So, yes, I have gotten used to those looks from IT professionals and other such trained engineers who groan when people like me walk into their shops with a couple of new words in their vocabulary, but that’s about it.

Fireworks reworked.

Yes, these were fireworks over the 18th at HarbourTown on July 4th, 2017! I worked very hard on this piece, so I’ll thank you all for NOT laughing.

I am also someone who – when mistakenly taking pictures in the night light setting, with the shutter stop at the wrong speed, jamming up, and the focus going in and out, and finally the darn thing pops a flash, with the resulting photo containing comet-like zig-zags – will allow people to think that I did it ON PURPOSE, as an effort of artistic expression, because I am known to appreciate, and dabble in, the creative arts, myself.

To wit;

HarbourTown Lighthouse 4th of July, 2017

True or False: Snazzy light rods w/ nuanced time aperture? Or, HarbourTown Lighthouse at dusk using wrong shutter feature?

Just ask my mother about the shadow boxes I make for her, or ask Johnny D, about my creative dvd’s, and singing-grams. 

So, I leave you all with one more bit of art work, which happened to be the first inspiration, when Tom Berrigan & Co. caught me staring up at the night sky last week, through Captain Canon Rebel T3i, just before the crowd went wild on the 18th fairway watching a Russian spyship shoot off some fireworks in honor of our 4th of July in HarbourTown.

I call this one, Moon over America the Free!  And no, this was not photo-shopped in any way.  It was a gimme, my retirement present on America’s birthday.

Moon over the 17th Fairway of HarbourTown

Nearing a full moon over the 17th fairway on the way to the 18th tee. A perfect orb looking down on American families gearing up for our nation’s annual candelabra to light up the night’s sky.

And as always, thank you for reading all the way down to this point.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; An Oasis For Artists

Nancy Mitchell paints outside on Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island Plein Air Artist, Nancy Mitchell, loves to work outdoors whenever possible.

*One of the joys of living on Hilton Head Island is knowing that, when it comes to retiring from a lifetime of ‘the grind’, the relocation aspect is already knocked.  The next thing to check off – while taking that last ride home on the commuter train – is pursuing a lifelong passion that, for many people, is to follow an artistic vision.  So now, the question arises, if one is a working artist, living in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where does one go, and what does one do, when it’s time to retire?  Hmmmm.

Brucie Holler, Artist, works in her studio.

Impressionist painter, Brucie Holler, at work in her studio.

Hilton Head’s natural surroundings are further blessings to those lucky enough to wake up here each day.  To many people around the world, the natural habitat of the lowcountry, is truly a work of art, and cannot be overstated as a luxury, especially, when considering that much of this community’s resort development began during an era when little, if any, consideration was given to the environment, and greenhouse gases hadn’t even made it into the political lexicon.  Landscaping in the sixties and seventies on the east and west coast of the United States consisted of razing shoreline forests to erect high-rise dwellings with penthouses, and city skyscrapers.   It simply wasn’t vogue to leave trees standing, where rent could be collected.

Joe and Marilyn Bowler

Portraiture Artist, Joe Bowler pictured left, with late wife, Marilyn, in 2008

Yet, in spite of this, Hilton Head developed as it did, creating a land/seascape on the southeastern shoreline, second to none.  Ancient live oaks, veiled with Spanish moss, and wax myrtle trees grow unhindered, where alligators, snowy egrets, and herons fish standing next to each other.  Really, one can almost hear them talking to each other.  And, as recently as two years ago, Asian community developers began visiting Hilton Head to understand what made it so aesthetically pleasing to investors and vacationers, so they could mimic it in their own resort planning.

Which begs the question, how does one feel artistically inspired in a place that is itself, a natural work of art?  Hilton Head Island is a glorious little nook, a most pristine example of developed shoreline in the lowcountry along the eastern seaboard.  The answer is that inspiration resides within the artist, evidenced during the research and interviewing of this article highlighting four distinctly different, renowned Hilton Head working artists who live and create just around the corner from one another.

I. Robert Rommel

predator bird catches fish

‘Osprey Catches Flounder’, in this award-winning photograph, by Robert Rommel.

Schoolteachers on Hilton Head make great use of field trip opportunities inherent just by virtue of living and learning on the island.  Any numbers of locally protected areas easily bring textbook illustrations to vibrant life, so that everything learned in the classroom, can be applied to the immediate natural habitat.

Fortunately, the lowcountry is a veritable biosphere of wildlife, encouraging constant outdoor studies.  Science classes often include trips to the beach, trolling for shells and exoskeletons scattered, layered under eons of tides.  With this as background, research biologist/wildlife photographer, Robert Rommel, takes advantage of his surroundings to amplify the range of his own camera art, as well as, to give him a unique perspective when teaching photography workshops.

Photographer Shoots Fiddler Crab

Wildlife Photographer, Robert Rommel Waits Out the Fiddler Crab Mating Ritual With Extraordinary Patience

Fiddler Crab close-up

Fiddler Crab Prepares to Impress His Date

 

 

 

Fiddler Crab Dance

Wow, She’s Impressed. I am, too.

 

 

 

 

His current project, conducted on location at Fish Haul Creek Park at Port Royal Plantation beach, includes a scenic trail walk through the park, opening out to one of many of Hilton Head’s awesome, natural surprises.  A constantly changing seascape view including shoreline, huge rocks, tide pools, and just over the waterway, Port Royal Plantation.

The mating ritual of the sand fiddler crab fascinates Robert and his Nikon today.  Yes, fascinates.  In fact, until he gets his shot, one goes on blind faith that the silent, patient, wildlife photographer, lying stretched out prone, for hours on the sand, knows that what he is waiting for, flat on his stomach, is going to be worth it.  And the resulting photos don’t disappoint, (see captioned photo) as he catches the male sand fiddler crab doing quite a dance with one claw waving madly about, trying for the attention of a mate, who has to be totally impressed by this.  But what more could a female sand fiddler want, out here at 10:00 am in the salt marsh of Port Royal? Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
Robert’s work recently won a Wildlife in Focus Contest and a portfolio of his work can be found on his website, http://www.robertrommel.com, where one can also find out when and where he teaches photography workshops.

Impressionist painting, 30 Panels

‘Murmurations Squared,’ by Impressionist Painter, Brucie Holler

II. Brucie Holler

In the Gallery of Shoppes, overlooking Greenwood Avenue just before the Sea Pines gate, Brucie Holler’s more recent “starling murmurations” –inspired paintings can be found.  Vibrant acrylics on paper abstracts decorate the walls, floors, and tables of her studio, compelling the gaze over and over as her brush strokes mimic the reverberations of a flock of starlings that hauntingly sweep the skies.   YouTube videos set to music, illustrate this wildlife phenomenon, and Brucie’s abstract interpretations are breathtaking.

“As a non-representational painter, I am interested in exploring the source of inspiration,” writes Brucie.  She wonders how people experience the natural world, life, beauty, music, language, “and translate that into authentic, personal transcendent art?”

Prior to the mixed media murmurations studies – a wondrous, mixed media panel consisting of thirty, eight by eight-inch squares, can be bought as individual squares, or as a whole (see captioned photo, above) – and concurrent with this work, is much of Brucie’s abstract art which distinguishes itself by the use of multi-layered aqua-teal colors, and charcoal strokes (see abstract painting, right).  Her work is mainly informed by two constant sources, language and the natural world.  Language, as expressed through poetry, as well as the natural energy created by wind, gravity, and stillness, inspires her lines and what happens between the forms as aroused by the starling murmurations.

Impressionist painting, oil on canvas

‘Sky’s Big Hand’, Oil on Canvas, 60×72

A South Carolina native, Holler pursued graduate work at the Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore, after receiving a BA in painting at Florida State University.  She has pursued her artistic vision through teaching art, and working administratively, while constantly honing her own craft studying with other internationally known artists, including Richard Smith, and Truman Lowe.  Her work has been shown in galleries in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and Colorado.

Represented by Camellia Art locally, and Parker Gallery on St. Simons Island, Brucie appreciates that she can be prolific and evolve, as she is inspired.  Her work can also be viewed online, at http://www.brucieholler.com/

III. Joe Bowler

Portrait of Little Girl, Regan Boyse, by Joe Bowler

‘Whistler’s Daughter,’ by World-renowned Portrait Artist, and Long-time Island Resident, Joe Bowler

One island neighbor, award-winning and world-renowned commissioned portrait artist, has lived locally in surprisingly, well-preserved privacy, since 1972.  What an honor for native islanders to grow up near such an eminent, prolific artist, whose credentials extend from 1952, when he was elected to the Society of Illustrators, all the way to 1992, being inducted into the Illustrators Hall of Fame.  In between, Joe established himself as an internationally acclaimed illustrator/portrait artist, whose commissioned work has kept patrons queued up for ten years at a time.

After contracting polio in 1958, Bowler nonetheless, committed himself to his art; indeed, grew and evolved, with each passing decade from the business world of nationally recognized illustrations, to commissioned portraiture on Hilton Head, where he found time to create his own inspired art between and around commissions.

Joe Bowler portrait, Regan Boyse

Portrait, ‘Regan Boyse – 2010’, by Joe Bowler

Referring fondly to his years working as errand boy, palette and brush cleaner at Cooper Studio in the early years, his first break came when Saturday Evening Post artist/illustrator, Coby Whitmore, took a sample portrait the nineteen year-old Bowler had been working on, and sold it for him to Cosmopolitan magazine for $1000.  Bowler made $35.00/week at that time.  In 1967 the Artists’ Guild of New York named Joe their Artist of the Year, and by this time, magazines were commissioning him to do portraits of well-known people including a McCall’s article portraying eight presidential candidates’ wives; works that landed the covers of such well-known publications as the August 1971 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal portrait of Rose Kennedy, and a Saturday Evening Post cover of Julie and David Eisenhower.

Encouraged, and managed by his late wife, Marilyn (see captioned photo near the top, by Mark Staff), Joe drew inspiration from her tireless support, inherent understanding of the working artist, and fifty-eight strong years of marriage.  Currently, daughter Jolyn Bowler, is the organizer and keeper of the Bowler flame.

Joe Bowler’s works can be viewed online at http://www.joebowler.com,  http://www.morriswhiteside.com, or in person at the Morris-Whiteside Gallery at The Red Piano, 220 Cordillo Parkway, Hilton Head Island, SC  29928; phone, 843-842-4433.  Anyone with inquiries regarding portraits or non-portrait works can either call Jolyn Bowler, at 843-671-2702, or send an email to bowlerportraits@gmail.com.

IV. Nancy Mitchell

Recent painting by Nancy Mitchell

‘Gullah’s Ark’, by Hilton Head Artist, Nancy Mitchell

For the same reason Hilton Head Island stands alone as an incredible testament to the art that is inherent in nature, renowned muralist, wildlife painter, and now, sculptor, Nancy Mitchell, has carved out an artistic niche for herself over the past thirty years; the shared motivation being, environmental respect.  Because, just as Hilton Head Island’s early developers insisted on maintaining the natural beauty of the island during building, Nancy’s profound respect for native flora and fauna is always evident in her work.  And, not only does she draw inspiration from local land/seascapes, she belongs to the Lowcountry Plein Air Society, an organization devoted to nature, and painting outdoors.

Nancy lives her art, and her art lives within her.  There are no other words to describe this totally dedicated, talented, authentic, artist on Hilton Head.  Her work evolves through natural textures and hues, and she is unafraid of learning new tricks.  As a commissioned muralist through the years, she graciously gives of herself through her art donations to animal relief charities and other non-profit organizations.  A true renaissance woman in the new millennium, Nancy’s artistic output is matched only by her glowing smile and sincere desire to return to the earth its natural resources, in any way possible.  If Hilton Head Island were personified as an artist, Nancy Mitchell would be its muse, without a doubt.

“Making a living as an artist has only been possible because of diversity. Murals and faux finishes are still an important part of my repertoire as is commission work for clients and designers,” states Nancy.

Nancy Artist, Plein Air Society Artist

‘Beachpath II’, by Nancy Mitchell, Was Recently Completed on the Easel in Her Back Yard (see Photo at the Top of Artist at Work)

Her love for animals, especially rescued pets, and the local marsh tackies indigenous to coastal Carolina, has led her to animal drawings, mixed-media works, and animal sculptures more recently.  Much of what she has learned has been adding to a fifteen-year brainstorm that has culminated in her current work-in-progress, Life is a Carnival, which will include large, highly textured, sculpture pieces of mixed media, silhouettes, and dynamic shadows, a project inspired largely by the Shriners’ Savannah Carnival.

Represented by The Red Piano Too, Art Gallery, 870 Sea Island Pkwy, St. Helena, SC 29920; phone, 843-838-2241, http://www.redpianotoo.com/ Email: redpianotoo@islc.net, The Filling Station Gallery, 69 Calhoun Street, Bluffton, SC;  phone, 843-263-4796, Mitchell divides her time between shows, commissioned works, and selling her art at farmer’s markets, and weekend art festivals.  Those who would like to learn more about Nancy’s passion for oil painting, can take her October 2014 workshop, at the Art Academy.

Each of these artists works in a unique setting of their choosing.  Joe Bowler and Brucie Holler prefer their own studios, while Robert Rommel and Nancy Mitchell would rather work outside.  The two things they all have in common are 1.) inspiration to create, which only comes from within, and 2.) the extraordinary protective landscape that is Hilton Head Island.  Of course, a work of art in and of itself.

*Please note: This article was commissioned by, and first appeared in, the July, 2014, issue of Hilton Head Monthly on page 22, in the magazine’s, Vibe section.  This is the writer’s uncut, final version.  Any errors of spelling, fact, or inaccuracies that occur herein, please email me, Carmen Hawkins DeCecco, carmenhawk1@gmail.com, with your concern and contact information, and I will address promptly.  Thank you.