Story By: Cindy Reid
Photography By: Paul Nurnberg
Internationally known artist Jennifer J L Jones creates gorgeous abstract paintings that intertwine nature and emotion in a wholly unique vision. She says, “I have always been nature inspired. I create contemporary work representative of emotion. Everyone is drawn to the work for different reasons. Often people feel what I have painted, even in this abstract form. It is a silent language but universal and based in nature. For some people this enables them to connect to abstract art for the first time.”
After living in Atlanta for many years Jennifer knew she wanted to leave the city, but was having difficulty finding just the right place. “I wanted to be by the water, not too far south but also not too far north”, says Jennifer, “I craved finding a place that really felt like home. My parents live on a sailboat and when I described what I was looking for , they said it made them think of a sweet little place they would pass through while sailing. “ She was visiting Hilton Head Island and decided to drive to Beaufort and check it out. She says, “ Port Royal was exactly what I had been looking for and everything fell quickly into place. It was all very serendipitous .”
Jennifer is finding the palette of the lowcountry to be an inspiration for her most recent work. She says, “Being here has brought new shapes and light to my eye, which is a reflection of my new surroundings.” A new painting titled Meithrin is evocative of “the reeds and the tides coming in and out at the Sands beach,” Jennifer says, “and the name is Welsh , which is part of my roots and heritage, for ‘nurture’ because this new sense of place and home gives me nurturing & comfort every day.” ( Meithrin is a 72″ x 72″ mixed media painting on wood, available at Alan Avery Art Company, Atlanta GA)
Jennifer says her paintings “used to be more ethereal color fields, now they have more gestured brushstrokes, patterns and range of motion.” Because of all of her enriching experiences that include domestic and international travels, her art “grows and the progression involves many shifts and changes in my work. My work is becoming more and more bold, yet also still offering a dimension that viewers find soothing at the same time.” She eschews canvas, and paints instead on paper and large handmade cradled panels of Baltic birch wood. She says, “I enjoy the surface of wood more, and I can see the pattern of the grain . Sometimes a painting will spring from the natural grain, a pattern or shape I find interesting.”
Regarding her paintings deep colors and glazed surface Jennifer says, “I had very traditional training and was encouraged to find my unique style, so I have done a lot of experimentation over the years. I use layers upon layers and different glazing techniques. When that’s all finished I put on a final varnish, sometimes to bring out the color and also as a protectant.” The final result is a profound experience of light, color and an emotionality not always seen in abstract art. The appealing richness of the color combined with the engaging composition make the viewer want to linger, to truly experience the painting.
In addition to having her art in prestigious galleries here and abroad, Jennifer has published Serenata, a lush coffee table book that showcases her series of mixed media paintings created over one year, all inspired while living in Italy for a month. Essays and contributions from a selection of collectors, gallerists, contemporaries, writers, and art critics enhance the gorgeous art. As Jennifer writes in her introduction, “ The Serenata series is a synthesis that represents the profound path of self-discovery and growth I experience every day and view as a continuing revelation and manifestation of my muse. My intent is that the positive energy conveyed through these paintings will be felt and promulgated by all those who see and experience them.” ( http://www.blurb.com/b/
Always an Artist
Originally from rural Virginia and then Florida’s “Space Coast”, Jennifer’s constant and unwavering goal was to be an artist. In Florida she started advanced art classes and she says, “ I was very determined by ninth grade, and I wanted to make sure I went to the best art college.” Her hard work and innate talent created that opportunity and she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois.
Further hard work and talent led her to be represented by select high end galleries and for her paintings to be in demand by private collectors and corporate clients. Her paintings can be found in numerous world wide collections and at the Oprah Winfrey/Harpo Studio, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Scana Energy, the Burj Dubai, and the United States Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal. She has also completed large scaled commissioned works such as the lobby of the McLean Hilton in Washington, DC and the Northside Hospital Lobby in Atlanta, GA and most recently the Mayo Clinic and the Baptist Hospital Lobby in Jacksonville, Florida. Jennifer is currently working on two commissioned paintings for the office lobby of the President of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta GA.
Due to her success Jennifer is working on another book because as she says, “I have been a working artist for eighteen years and because of that artists ask me for help and advice, so this book is all the different things that have happened to me. All the lessons I have learned in my journey, from life, art and love that helped open the doors for me. They may have been hard but I have enjoyed learning from each lesson. This is a way I can contribute and help encourage, support and give back.”
Port Royal Life
Like many who chose the lowcountry ( or feel chosen by it ) as their home, Jennifer is enchanted not only by the visual beauty, but by the friendliness found here. She says, “ It is so peaceful here- I am not looking over my shoulder all the time! I’ve met and made wonderful friends here. I feel like everyone looks out for each other. I feel connected, grounded, and very much at home. It feels like anything is possible.” Her home and studio are only a few blocks apart and she loves being able to “walk to work” everyday. Jennifer says , “This place , this beautiful place, nourishes me on all levels, in a huge way.”
For further information visit her website www.JenniferJLJones.com
Story By: Mary Ellen Thompson
Photography By: John Wollwerth
Joy Craig. Former Marine, writer, dragon boat coach, gardener, foodie, Leadership Beaufort team, cat rescuer, advocate, activist, advisor. Her list of accomplishments and attributes is growing by the minute. Currently, Joy’s writing is her strongest focus. In addition to working on her memoir, Men Behaving Badly, early in April she attended the “On Point: Women Warriors Writing Workshop” in Tampa, FL led by women veterans to encourage other women veterans to contribute their stories to a larger voice. In mid- April, Joy submitted an op-ed piece to the New York Times, and at the end of the month she travelled to New York because she was chosen as a fellow for “The War Horse” writing seminar at Columbia University. The topic of her writing is an honest, unflinching look at her personal, laudatory, experience in the armed service.
When Joy joined the Marine Corps at age nineteen, it seemed like the safest and sanest thing she could do. Until she was eight, she grew up with her mother and two sisters in Southern California. “My mother,” she says, “was more interested in partying with the Hell’s Angels than she was in raising her girls.” Since her sisters were older, they had each other and more resources. Joy remembers being dragged to parties and when she asked to go home, her mother would tell her to find somewhere to sleep. “An abusive husband,” Joy thinks, “became more important. When I was eight, my mother drove me hundreds of miles and dropped me off at my father’s one bedroom house.” Joy had no recollection of the man, and he didn’t know she was coming. From the first night forward, “He abused me until my friend’s mother figured it out and I was put in foster care when I was sixteen,” eight years later. During the next two years, Joy was in and out of five foster homes. When she graduated from high school, she was dropped from the program.
“I had an apartment with a friend, got a minimum wage job and quickly fell behind in the rent. Having no place else to go, I went back to my dad, who was the reason I was in foster care to begin with, but he failed a drug test and went to rehab. I was homeless. I slept on couches and back seats. Then a friend took me to meet an Air Force recruiter, but he was condescending. As I was leaving the building, I literally smacked into the Marine Corps recruiter and signed a six year contract. I had no idea of what I was getting into; I was only thinking of being safe.
“Some tried to talk me out of it, but they didn’t know my situation. Because of that, boot camp wasn’t as hard for me as it should have been. When I look back, I believe my childhood was good training for the Marine Corps.”
Joy’s career in the Marines was both illustrious and difficult. She served in Aviation Ordnance. She explains, “For every one person in the infantry, there are nine others in support of the infantry. My specialty supplied and maintained the weapons – any explosives, bombs, missiles, rockets, rounds, for the F/A-18’s. Any munitions used we saw from cradle to grave, from the moment it came out of the box until the pilot expended it.”
Progressing through the ranks and becoming an officer, Joy believes, “Some of the best work I did was as a drill instructor and after that when I could mentor. My greatest accomplishments were the success stories of people I mentored who went on to do great things. I keep in touch with many of them.”
In Joy’s bedroom there is a wall with some of her memorabilia from her 23 years in the Marines. She regards her service with much pride but her success came at great personal cost, which is the subject of her memoir and her other writings. “Some men in the Marines have had an unspoken, organizational culture of vitriol against women for decades.
I rocked the boat one too many times, but now they are going to have a hard time shutting me up. If you’re a female in the military, and you are harassed and assaulted, it’s a ‘you’ problem, it’s often a “you” problem. By the nature of the organization, Marines are focused on war fighting; it’s all about the mission. Some are holding onto the ‘good old boys club’ and part of that is trying to keep women from succeeding. These brave women signed a contract to defend the Constitution with their lives, earned the title ‘United States Marine,’ but are unworthy of respect from male counterparts to their immediate left and right. Once you graduate from boot camp, the males think you are there as their sex toy.” In her memoir, Joy discusses the details of her treatment by fellow Marines. She reveals, “Just before my retirement I had to go to a meeting with an NCIS agent concerning a sexual assault. I told my story but didn’t press charges.” That wasn’t the only occasion on which she had been assaulted.
The Marines United scandal has Joy’s fingers flying across the keyboard writing letters, making statements and giving interviews. In an op-ed piece submitted to the New York Times, Joy explains “Marines United, a private Facebook page for current and former Marines, was linked to thousands of nude photos of female Marines, many submitted without their knowledge. For many women who’ve served, this wasn’t news at all. In truth, the real surprise is that the public wasn’t alerted sooner. Marine Corps leadership had knowledge about the site since 2013 and failed to correct it.” Joy is making it her mission to educate and effect change for these very sorts of behaviors.
Although Joy’s career in the Marine Corps was not without personal difficulties, it did bring her to Beaufort. Having been stationed at Parris Island, Joy fell under the spell the Lowcountry inevitably casts and after she retired, and lived for a short period of time in Bluffton, she decided to make her home here. “I first came to Beaufort as a Marine recruit on Parris Island in 1991. I was so eager to leave that I barely looked around. Ten years later I volunteered to become a drill instructor and despite working an average of 100 hours a week, I fell in love with the lowcountry. When I was in the Corps’ 17 years I became an officer and was able to pick my final duty station before retirement. I chose Beaufort so that I could have a ‘do-over’ and really get to see the place and put down roots. I’ve traveled the world and been able to see some unbelievably gorgeous places, but the lowcountry landscape still takes my breath away.”
While Joy is working hard to paddle against the tide to create change, she also paddles for another cause: Dragon Boat Beaufort. For five years Joy has coached the dragon boat team and served on the board of directors. Her sister lives with cancer, and her mother passed away from cancer, so it is a cause she solidly supports. “In the five years I’ve been on the team, we’ve raised and donated thousands of dollars to people in Beaufort County. Anything I can do to help, I will try.” Joy first got involved in dragon boat paddling when she was stationed in Japan. “One of my ‘success stories’ worked for me in Okinawa, and she was on the Navy dragon boat team, she invited me to join them and for the first year I paddled, then I began coaching; it was a very successful team.”
In another way for her to connect with the community, Joy is involved with Leadership Beaufort, having completed the requisite classes this April. She also loves and rescues cats to the point of one rescue where she was bitten so badly that she required 32 rabies shots and surgery on her finger. On another front she confesses, “I was an agriculture geek in high school – I love to garden and would like to see community gardens in this area”. Joy describes herself as a “foodie” and to that end she explains, “Yes ma’am, (I’m a) big epicurean! I’ve actually shepherded my daughters into the fine dining trade so I can live vicariously. I’m a home chef and do grow a little of my own produce (herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers…). I’m a vegetarian (for ethical/environmental reasons) and seek clean, healthy foods that the increasing scale numbers conflict with.”
Creative, not only in her writing, Joy has several small intricately fashioned trees which, she explains, she “sculpted” out of twisted wire; something her dad, who was an electrician, taught her to do with leftover materials. They are amazingly beautiful and complex. Her creativity is passed on to her two daughters, Nevada who is a photographer, and Mariah who is a gifted young chef.
Joy’s voice will be heard over the din, collectively adding to the sound of freedom as she hears it. “I want to be an advocate and an activist for veterans and women’s issues. I piss a lot of people off but I’m willing to put my neck out there to effect the necessary changes.”
Story By: Cindy Reid
Photography By: Susan DeLoach
Historic Beaufort Foundation
The mission of Historic Beaufort Foundation is to support the preservation, protection and presentation of sites and artifacts of historic, architectural and cultural interest throughout Beaufort County, South Carolina.
National Historic Landmark District
The Beaufort historic district encompasses five neighborhoods, 304 contiguous acres, and almost 500 historic structures spanning three centuries of architecture. It was designated a “National Historic Landmark District” by National Park Service in 1968, which signifies a higher level of historic importance. Other areas that are also Landmark Districts include College of Charleston and the Penn Center but the Beaufort district is the largest in South Carolina. The five neighborhoods included in the designation are: the Point, the Old Commons, the Northwest Quadrant, the Bluff and Downtown.
Historic Beaufort Foundation has been at the front line of the efforts that have made Beaufort such an outstanding preservation success story. Maxine Lutz is the Executive Director, a position she has held since 2013, although she was executive assistant for the prior 18 years. Maxine clearly is passionate about Historic Beaufort Foundation (HBF) and the important work it has been doing for over fifty years. She says, “It started in the 1940s under a different name, and Historic Beaufort Foundation really organized in 1965. Initial forays into preservation were focused on saving the big houses In the 40s, the Verdier House was slated to be demolished and replaced by a gas station. A group of early preservationists saved it. By the 1960s other historic buildings were threatened, including the Anchorage, also for the same purpose- another gas station. HBF formed and saved it too. Next, the Cuthbert House was slated to be a parking lot and it became another house saved by HBF. You can see that early on it was a big struggle against the marketplace. Over the years HBF has been involved with scores of such projects and we continue that work today.”
Saving the Past
Maxine says, “At HBF we have three equally important missions: Preservation, Advocacy and Education.”
“Preservation of course includes the restoration and stabilization of historic buildings. But it also includes the preservation of landscapes. About 20 years ago we realized the small cottages were being left to rot away. We called it ‘demolition by neglect’. And so that is where our focus is now, mostly in the Northwest Quadrant. For example we stabilized a grocery store, which was then bought and turned into two apartments. The Frogmore Lodge building was stabilized last year and we have sold it to its current owners, who will be restoring it as a single family residence. This element of preservation is a large part of what we do.”
“We advocate for historic buildings. We have a representative on the City’s Historic District Review Board. We work together to come up with the best solutions for owners of historic structures who want to make changes, allowing for modern uses but honoring the historic architecture. We look to have changes that are ‘sympathetic’ to the historic nature of the building. We work with the city looking at new construction projects, as well as analyzing issues like the new short-term rental ordinance and the proposed new zoning code. Our question is always, ‘How is this going to affect the integrity of the historic district?’ because that is always our goal. Even something such as new ordinances about solar panels and wind turbines are important, if they can be seen from the historic district.”
“Education is such an important part of what we do here. We have operated the Verdier House since the 1970’s as an educational venue presenting an example of how antebellum planters lived. However over time, traditional house museums have become less compelling to the public nationwide. So we decided to focus additionally on using the Verdier House as an educational tool, hosting lectures and exhibits, making the house attractive to a wider audience, not just to those of us who love old houses. Verdier House Director Jacque Wedler and her docent team manage hourly house tours seven days a week, but in the last two-to-three years we have developed specific grade-level educational programs for students. Sue Stanny, Executive Assistant and Educational Coordinator, is in charge of the educational component. Sue can gear our programs for visiting school groups to specific topics and grade levels. Last summer we started a “Fun with History Day Camp” in the house for children 8-to-11, which was very popular and we are repeating it again this year. Seeing the children engage is wonderful – it is really fun to see their eyes wide open!”
Maxine continued, “I have to add that a large part of our educational programming for adults is conducted by Events Coordinator Isabella Reeves. Not only has Isabella brought in exquisite exhibits with associated lectures and field trips, she has conducted the Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens, the Spring Architects’ Tour and countless Connoisseur Trips, all with an educational focus and a goal to promote historic preservation.
As to attitudes about historic preservation, Maxine says, “When preservation became a movement in the 1960s, it was a battle to change some minds. There were those who saw it as standing in the way of progress and modern life. We were often seen as ‘the party of no,’ but in reality we are ‘the party of yes, but’ … but let us help you find solutions that protect your home’s historic architecture and still allow for modern living.’ That approach has worked very well and we hope attitudes have changed. We invite homeowners, architects and contractors to talk with us. The City of Beaufort too has become more receptive to preservation because it has been shown that it is a large part of what draws visitors and new residents here. And like HBF, the historic district review board is working to find solutions to preservation issues.”
Does she feel like a history detective? She says, “ Oh yes, and that really is the fun part. We call ourselves ‘History Nerds’! We have file cabinets full of photographs but we are always searching for more, particularly of buildings. And everything we do in preservation is always a race against time. “
When asked about her personal involvement in Beaufort and its history Maxine says, “When I came here I realized this is the place they have been talking about, from the Civil War. While I grew up in the South, my hometown didn’t exist until 1915. This is where the re-write of Southern life occurred. The culture, the population, the economy all changed overnight when the Union Army came and the planters fled. It was a wholesale removal of everything ‘that was’, which is historically amazing, and the town became a completely different town after the war. There is no end of fascinating stories about Beaufort history.”
One such story directly relates to HBF. Francis Griswold, the author of the Beaufort classic “A Sea Island Lady” (published in 1939) moved to California after living and writing in Beaufort and made wise investments in the Santa Barbara real estate market. He left the HBF a generous bequest in his will that continues to provide funding for the organization today. A case of the past helping save the present.
HBF is a private, independent not-for-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization, open to anyone with an interest in historic preservation. Membership helps fund the HBF activities and projects and provides an array of benefits to the member. The HBF also has two big fundraisers, the Lafayette Soiree (held in April) and the Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens (October 27, 28, 29 2017). The HBF also has items for sale , including the Historic Beaufort Foundation Guide to Historic Homes and Places, the official guide to the historic houses, churches and other points of interest of Beaufort ,South Carolina.
John Mark Verdier House Museum
Permanent exhibits include: Diorama of 1863 Bay Street Exhibit, Robert Smalls exhibit, Civil War photos by Samuel Cooley and the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery exhibit. Hours of Operation : Monday–Saturday. Docent-guided tours every hour on the half hour from 10:30 AM until 3:30 PM. Closed Sundays and Holidays. Phone: 843-379-6335. 801 Bay Street, Beaufort.
For further information visit their website http://www.historicbeaufort.
Story By: Carol Lauvray
Photography By: Susan DeLoach
Stuart and Wayne Heath are the quintessential Southern couple, personifying gracious hospitality. Their gorgeous Lowcountry home and garden, located in Beaufort’s historic district, look as if they are straight from the pages of Southern Living—and in fact, they have been featured in that magazine!
Wayne hails from Charleston, where he grew up on the peninsula just down from the Citadel with an innate love of gardens and gardening. “Seeing gardens filled with azaleas and camellias and smelling the fragrance of tea olives takes me back to Charleston,” he reminisces. Stuart says, “Every Southern girl needs ‘yard flowers’ to cut and enjoy inside as well as outside—magnolias, hydrangeas, camellias and roses—and herbs like rosemary and mint. Jasmine is green all year and Confederate Jasmine is fragrant in the spring when it flowers,” she adds.
The Clemson Years
Stuart moved to Clemson during the fifth grade with her parents. She met Wayne in 1966 at Lake Hartwell, they married in 1975, and both spent their careers teaching in Clemson-area schools before retiring. Wayne says the half-acre of gardens at their first Clemson home included a lot of azaleas and Lady Banksia roses. After 17 years there, they moved to a three-acre wooded property surrounded on three sides by Lake Hartwell. “We could not see our closest neighbor for the trees,” Stuart emphasized. “We had sun gardens, shade gardens, and rose and herb gardens,” she added. Because Wayne had grown up on the South Carolina coast and he wanted to include as many native species on their Lake Hartwell property as possible, he participated in the Native Plant Society in Clemson to learn more about plants native to that area. He also enrolled in the Master Gardener Program, which covered turf grasses, ground covers, propagation and soil analysis. Then he participated in the Upstate Master Naturalist Program, which focused on the native plants of the Piedmont foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as invasive species. Stuart also enjoyed gardening and was a member of the Clemson Garden Club.
While living in Clemson, Stuart and Wayne frequently visited Beaufort to see Stuart’s college roommate and long-time friend, Patsy Hand, and her husband Owen, who live on St. Helena Island. When Stuart and Wayne decided it was time to downsize, moving to Beaufort was a natural choice for the couple and in 2012 they built a home in Beaufort’s historic district, embarking on a new gardening adventure in the Lowcountry.
At Home in Beaufort
Stuart explains, “We started with a bare lot, 40 feet by 100 feet. There were no trees—only dirt! In Midtown Square, houses are very close to each other and we knew that we wanted tall fences for privacy—both for us and for our neighbors. We built six-foot privacy fences as a backdrop for plants, shrubs, and a few trees that provide shade, as well as color. The Savannah holly will never outgrow the space, so it’s the perfect tree for shade and it has red berries all year to attract birds. The Yaupon hollies, which remain green all year and have red berries, provide height on both sides of the yard and grow in an interesting ‘weepy’ shape. The pergola will eventually be a full green space with jasmine creating another ‘tree’ for shade. The top of the pergola has a clear greenhouse roof to keep the rain out and we use the area as a drink station or to serve when we entertain. For lighting, we’ve mounted fairy lights under the roof and we also have strings of clear bulbs crisscrossing overhead in the patio area for entertaining at night.”
“Our objective in defining the garden space was to control our view from every room of the house—so we would see greenery instead of the houses on each side of us, and so our neighbors would have a green view instead of looking at the side of our house. One way we achieved this was by moving the garage to the side of the lot to trick the eye into seeing more green space when we are inside in our sunroom, which looks out onto the patio. Doing that also allowed space to plant a Little Gem Magnolia tree and Mondo grass, as well as the addition of a defined walkway and gate between our house and the neighbors’ house. The additional space also gives our dog Duncan a place to run. We drew the shape of the patio, which is made of tabby edged with old Savannah bricks (the same type of bricks used on the front and back steps and the living room fireplace), freehand with a stick once the house and garage were finished,” she explained.
Stuart says that the enclosed patio area is sheltered from the weather and so provides a safe place for their cat Sparrow and dog Duncan to be outdoors and away from traffic. “It has taken almost five years to develop some shade in back of our home. Wayne regularly trims the pyracantha to strengthen it and to train it to hug the garage wall. We see its greenery and red berries from our kitchen, sunroom and bedroom all year. The bank of windows in the master bedroom overlooks the backyard and opens up our small bedroom to bring in the patio area,” she added.
“Under our bedroom windows and next to the patio are holly ferns—a great choice because they are low maintenance, have just enough shade there to thrive, and remind us of the banks of holly at our last home in the Upstate,” Stuart stated. “There is a wide brick stoop under the French doors that lead from the sunroom out to the patio. These wide steps provide extra seating when we entertain and space for container plants that we can change seasonally. We also encourage creeping fig, which stays green all year, to cover some of the space on the steps.”
“The side yard with the grilling station is out of view and does not take up our limited patio space, but the area is accessible from the patio. It’s the perfect place for several hydrangea bushes that bloom all summer and fall, and for ferns and climbing pyracantha. The narrow ‘alley’ on the other side of our home, outside the kitchen and sunroom windows, has become a shady tunnel of jasmine. A decorative topper on the fence there allows the jasmine to cascade over as it grows, providing privacy, shade for plants, and another run area for our dog. Wayne enjoys collecting different varieties of ferns for this spot,” explained Stuart.
“The French doors leading into the garage from the patio make the area appear larger and less like a garage,” she says. “Just inside the garage, there is a small area with a counter, upper and lower cabinets, a sink and a refrigerator. Our ‘mini-kitchen’ is stocked with everything needed to entertain and has hardwood flooring. Until recently, we invited friends to join us for our annual New Year’s Day lunch served buffet-style in our garage. We would clear the garage, roll out an old Oriental rug to cover the concrete floor, and set up a dining room to accommodate 30 seated guests. The first year that we lived in Beaufort, 30 friends attended the lunch, but by the time we held the final event two years ago, the guest list had reached 80! So after 40 years, we decided it was time to end the tradition. We had great fun over the years at our New Year’s lunch and proved to ourselves that we could entertain in style in our limited space!”
Since moving to Beaufort, Stuart (who is now a member of the Sea Island Garden Club) and Wayne have created a beautiful backyard sanctuary to enjoy, whether they are inside their home or outside on the patio. And in true Southern style, they continue their role as gracious hosts to friends and neighbors in their lovely home and their magical garden.
Story By: Mary Ellen Thompson
Photography By: John Wollwerth
As you drive down Sea Island Parkway, between Frogmore and Dulamo on Saint Helena Island, towards the beach, stop on your left at Pasture Shed Farm market and treat yourself to a down home experience. There is something both evocative and sensual about aromas arising from the fresh herbs and produce as you peruse that offerings on the farm stand tables. Strawberries, peaches, onions, basil and lavender are the primary identifiable scents on one given day. In a quick second you remember your grandmothers peach pie, freshly baked and sitting on the window sill to cool, or strawberries mounded on shortcake and slathered with whipped cream. Smells go right to our memory bank, and food, fresh home cooked food especially, equals love.
The Henry family came to Saint Helena Island from New York in 1947 in search of a warmer and easier climate for farming crops and dairy cattle. Now, Charles E. and Nettie K. Henry own the 288 acre Henry Farms which encompasses not only the roadside market with its gardens of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, but also crop farming consisting of corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay, as well as sod. Around 2009 Beaufort County and the USDA took an interest and placed a conservation easement on the property.
Because the USDA doesn’t recognize sod as being a consumable product, the sod and hay are grown on two other parts of the farm and the varieties are St. Augustine, Centipede, Bermuda, and Zoysia.
Both the farm and the market are run with the help of the family, son Craig and his wife Christi, Christi’s sister Peggy Flood, and their brother, Peter Flood. Craig is the manager for the entire farm; Christi is the designer and artist for the market, Peter is in charge of procurements, and Peggy is the market manager. Christie, Peggy and Peter came to Beaufort, when Christi was in third grade, via their father’s career on Parris Island.
Certified as South Carolina Grown and South Carolina Roadside Market, Pasture Shed Farm’s market stand started in 2012 across the street from their present location on Sea Island Parkway, with three wagons selling their overproduction of collards and sunflowers. Craig had the idea to move the cow pasture back and now they have a much larger marketplace easily identifiable by the decorated hay bales, farm wagon, and windmill. Christi calls it a “garden stand” because there is so much diversity in what they have to offer, not only in product but also attractions. Some of the elaborately and eye-catching painted hay bales lead to a maze in which children can wander while their parents shop, the cows can be fed, flowers can be cut. Christi points out that the parking lot is big enough for a camper to turn around.
In addition to purchasing the seasonally grown fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs, everyone can take a tour of the gardens, and Christi or Peggy, or whoever is there that day, will give you instruction on how the products are planted and how to cook them. Have you ever heard of kohlrabi? It is a small round, green, funny looking vegetable about the size of a baseball, which, Christi explains, “Tastes like a cross between cabbage and broccoli stems. It’s great in salads, it just has to be peeled and sliced to give salad a crunch sort of like jicama, and it is good steamed or roasted.” She goes on
to point out their bigger carrots which are orange, or white or purple are “Good for eating raw or in salads, the smaller bright orange carrots are great for roasting or nibbling”.
When asked by photographer, John Wollwerth, why vegetables won’t grow in his garden, Christi first asks where he lives. “Pigeon Point” is the answer. “Oh well, it’s the soil over there,” and she explains why and suggests he make a raised bed, what kinds of soil to use, tells him that about sixteen inches of soil should be enough, and points out that he would be better off using seeds than buying plants which may have blight or a disease. Christi asks how many times and what he uses to fertilize, in response to his answer, she tells him once a season isn’t enough for fertilizer, “Think of yourself as a plant. You like to eat, you like to drink, and you eat three or four times a day. You need to fertilize three or four times a season, and you need to use the right amount of water.”
Unlike many other roadside stands that populate the area, Pasture Shed Farm offers some products that they do not grow on the farm so they can be open seven days a week all year long. Peter scours the area and finds those items that are indeed local or regional, but perhaps not to this particular area and soil. The beauty of this is that you can find an assortment of things that are not in season right here at the moment.
For instance, now you can find heirloom peaches at the market. They are funny looking little peaches that have spots and look, well, old. In fact, they are from old trees, hence the name “heirloom” peach. Christi tells a story about them. “The schools were trying to get children to eat fruit but they found that the children only ate a bite or two out of the fruit and left the rest. Then they came across these peaches that a farmer in Florida was growing on old trees that, by the laws of nature he should have cut down, but couldn’t bring himself to do so. They were bearing these little peaches that are about two-bites size and taste amazing. So they gave these to the students who loved them and the farmer got a contract with the schools.” They came here by way of Hurricane Matthew when Henry Farms was used as a repository for the storm debris and the peach farmer was the burning contractor from Florida; he told them about the peaches and started bringing them up here when he came. Everything has a story, and if a particular item wasn’t grown on Pasture Shed Farm, someone can and will tell you exactly from where it did come if you have an interest in knowing.
As you walk around and look at all growing things, you will see tiny basil plants, just barely little leaves nestled in the dirt and popping out of the soil; in another bed will be small basil plants, still spindly and searching for the sun; and on and on their growth cycle continues until they are tall and hardy and just waiting to become pesto or sandwiched in between a tomato and a piece of white bread. Ditto the lavender which is so fragrant that you will simply have to have a bunch to slide into a sachet. All manner of herbs abound to compliment the various fruits and vegetables, and if you walk past the back room you are likely to find Peggy cutting the tops and bottoms off of a basket of radishes, or carrots or washing bags of the best lettuce you can imagine. There is something magical about seeing plants in the growing process and knowing they came right out of the field and into your hands.
Since the produce is fresh, and hasn’t been stored in a facility somewhere with chemical protection, Christi explains that the products have to “Get out and gone. Their shelf life is not that long and they will turn bad quickly.” Of course, they have a built in secondary market for some of the produce with the cows, “Who enjoy their fair share of the vegetables – they like turnips and rutabaga but will not eat asparagus.”
There are thirteen head of mixed cattle on the farm and they have a donkey to protect them from bad dogs and coyotes. When asked if predators get into the growing area which is protected by a high fence, Christi responds “Not really, but if deer do get in, they love melons and will eat them, one bite per melon as they go down the row. However,” she says,“if the cows ever got past that fence, they would destroy everything in sight.”
The time and care that it takes to grow all these crops is immense; “It is very labor intensive and can best be described as a labor of love.” Christi explains that her husband, Craig, “Is addicted to the farming, he plants, tills, re-plants, and is constantly working in the fields and with the crops.” Christi’s largest labors of love are the painted hay bales which are designed to replicate a caterpillar, a ladybug, a bear, a rabbit, and minions this season. Any new design takes an entire weekend to complete, but you tell by the smile in her eyes that she really doesn’t mind the time.
This is a very special year for Penn Center, Beaufort, Port Royal, and the entire region, in that President Obama established the Reconstruction Era National Monument to encompass significant sites in these locations as key to the Nation’s reconstruction story. This year, Penn Center’s two inductees into the 1862 Circle represent the unique character and history of this region, and the importance of Penn Center to our country.
Penn Center honors Andrew Young, Jr., civil rights leader, Congressman, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Joseph “Crip” Legree, extraordinary cast net maker and living legacy for preservation of sea island life and Gullah culture. These two men brought the basics of human survival, sustenance and the rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” to their careers. The capacity to support one’s family by growing from the earth or catching from the sea is as basic to the success of generations of sea islanders as the struggles that secured civil rights for a people too long denied them.
The cultivation and preservation of those traits and skills that allowed a people to survive are represented by Joseph Legree, who through his lifetime of 93 years has perfected the art and processes of making cast nets, and passed the knowledge of this tradition to next generations. On many occasions, Mr. Legree has partnered with Penn Center demonstrating how to make cast nets during Heritage Days celebrations and in other programs. So iconic has he become that you may find photographs, paintings, and sculptures of him in galleries from Beaufort to Hilton Head to Savannah. He was featured in a 2012 CNN report on African traditions brought to the United States, and, in 2009, he received the South Carolina Folk Heritage Award.
The ongoing struggle for civil rights, still a focus of Penn Center, is represented by the induction into the 1862 Circle of the Honorable Andrew Young, Jr. At its inception, Penn School shared basic education and information about citizenship as investments for the future of a people. One hundred years later in the 1960s, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Andrew Young, convened their meetings at Penn Center to help secure the objectives of the civil rights movement. Subsequently, Andrew Young’s illustrious career included service as a U.S. Congressman and as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. An author of two books, A Way Out of No Way (1994) and An Easy Burden; The Civil Right Movement and the Transformation of America (1996), Andrew Young ‘s accolades include the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Spingarn Medal.
The virtues and values of the past, a constant commodity at Penn Center, are made real, relevant, tangible, and edible by one 1862 Circle inductee, Joseph Legree. The other inductee, Andrew Young, Jr. represents the very foundation of the successful civil rights movement, built in part on the grounds of Penn School, 100 years after its founding. How appropriate the national spotlight has turned on the reconstruction era story of Penn School, just in time to allow these two unique talents to be featured at this year’s 1862 Circle Gala, to be held at the Sonesta Resort, on Hilton Head, April 22, 2017 at 6:00 PM.
story by cindy reid
photography by paul nurnberg
Beaufort is special in so many ways that it is impossible to count them all; glorious scenery, fabulous food, sparking waterways and the vibrant arts and cultural scene. Recently, Beaufort has been honored to receive the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts in the Government category, for the partnership between the City of Beaufort and The University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) Center for the Arts. This is an annual award presented by the South Carolina Arts Commission and is the highest honor the state gives in the arts, recognizing outstanding achievement and contribution. The SC Arts Commission states, “The USCB Center for the Arts has been the heart of the City of Beaufort’s rich and diverse arts culture for 30 years, serving as both the sponsor and venue of all forms of arts. The City and the Center for the Arts partner to provide and promote opportunities for residents and visitors to benefit from the arts, including events such as The Pat Conroy Literary Festival, the 2016 S.C. Humanities Festival, theatre productions, concerts, multiple gallery exhibitions and more. This collaboration between government and a non-profit organization has been a catalyst to make Beaufort a robust arts and cultural center.”
Director of the USCB Center for the Arts, Bonnie Hargrove says, “I have been in arts administration for twenty years and have always aspired to this achievement. I am deeply honored to represent the USCB Center for the Arts and to be sharing the award with the City of Beaufort.”
Beaufort Lifestyle sat down with Bonnie to talk about the Center for the Arts and how she came to be involved with its remarkable achievements.
Although not from South Carolina originally, Bonnie is a native Southerner born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She says, “My family is there; I grew up there, went to high school there and graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Communications. After graduation I married and we moved from Nebraska to Tennessee, South Carolina, and then back to Tennessee. We settled in Walterboro, South Carolina where I raised my three children, Taylor, Hargrove and Belle. “All three graduated from University of South Carolina, one going on to attend law school. All three now live in the Columbia area. I have some exciting news- my beautiful daughter-in-law, Lauren, and my son Hargrove are soon going be giving me the blessing of a grandchild, my first!”
While living in Walterboro, Bonnie was the director of the Colleton County Arts Council where she started a children’s theater. She says, “I started the children’s theater in Walterboro primarily for my daughter Belle. I remembered my theatre experiences in Birmingham, how magical it was, and I wanted my children to have that experience.”
She says, “I really loved Walterboro but after my divorce I was ready for a change. I had multiple interviews in Beaufort and was offered the position of Director of Beaufort Performing Arts Center (PAC). It was perfect timing, so I accepted the job. When the PAC shut its doors two years later, I called Dr. Jane Upshaw (then chancellor of USCB) and we discussed how parts of the PAC could still work; but in a different way. Dr. Upshaw was great, she said, “Okay, show me a plan.” A committee was formed to develop a business plan which was presented to Dr. Upshaw. She said yes, and every year since, the CFA continues to grow!”
The Center for the Arts is located on the Historic Beaufort Campus of USCB and is part of the USCB Community Outreach (CO) Department. Although under the umbrella of USCB, the Center for the Arts is a self-supporting, non-profit organization. “We earn our salaries, marketing and advertising budgets, funds for costumes, props, etc., through the generous support of individuals and corporate sponsors along with revenue generated from our productions “ says Bonnie. “We could not exist without the support of our current chancellor, Dr. Panu and the support that USCB provides including the physical building, utilities, insurance, and maintenance.”
Bonnie and Deon Furman, Assistant Director, are the only staff but they have at least 50 fabulous volunteers and they “hire in” people for sound, lighting and other technical jobs for various productions. The Center’s production schedule runs September through May, Bonnie says, “It is our busy time – no vacations!” This year, the season will be wrapping up with a Beaufort Children’s Theater production of “Aladdin Jr,” May 19-21.
Each season is different from the next and each program is unique. Programs run the gamut from musical productions, comedy shows, concerts, Lunch with Author Series and independent films to art exhibits, children’s theatre, and even Chinese acrobats at one time. According to Bonnie, “Diverse programs reflect my personality, in that I am personally interested in a huge variety of arts and I know many people in our community are as well. We truly try to offer something for everyone and every age.” The Center for the Arts also serves as the venue for other wonderful productions and events including USCB Festival Series, Beaufort International Film Festival, Friends of the Library “Books Sandwiched In,” community dance recitals, school productions and much more.
When asked what have been significant programs for her, Bonnie says, “This season’s ‘The Redneck Tenors’ was big for me. It was meaningful to see audience’s response and hear how much they loved them! Another emotional moment was during the performance of the “Black Violins,” when a child in the audience brought up his violin to be signed. Seeing the wonderfully diverse audience that performance brought was inspirational to me as well.”
Bonnie says, “The one event that will always stand out as special highlight, is the Pat Conroy at 70 Festival. We proved to ourselves, the community and people who attended from all over the country that we can successfully pull off a big festival and it felt good. Of course, the fact that it was a celebration of Pat Conroy’s 70th birthday and his exceptional literary contributions; well, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”
She is looking forward to the upcoming “Salute to Satchmo” event on Thursday, April 20 at 7:30 PM. It is the Louis Armstrong Society Jazz Band’s tribute to the life, music, and spirit of Louis Armstrong. The band is comprised of members of the Louis Armstrong Society, a secret organization in which musicians perform by invitation only.
After the “Aladdin Jr” production, the theatre ‘goes dark’ and the planning, scheduling, and behind the scenes work gets done. This year, the theatre will be installing new lighting and surround sound, with new seats on the wish list for next year. Of course it won’t be completely quiet in there, as there will be three summer theatre camps for children and teens.
Everyone has at least one “favorite Beaufort place” and Bonnie is no exception. She smiles and says, “My screened porch which looks out over the beautiful Beaufort River. I enjoy watching the sailboats boats go by, talking to neighbors and perhaps enjoying a glass of wine.” She continues, “When I can, I like to go to the beach on a weekday, no crowds then. Another real simple pleasure is to get an ice cream downtown and sit outside at the waterfront park.”
What keeps her excited about Beaufort is the variety of people here. “I feel we are so fortunate to have so many different folks in our community. I absolutely love to hear their stories, from the people who have lived here their entire lives, to people like me who chose to move here. I always like to know why people are here! For me, it was the best decision of my life.”
For further information and upcoming schedule see:
story by mary ellen thompson photography by susan deloach
” I love happy colors; it takes too much energy to be negative.” Such is your introduction to Renee Levin, her art work, and her attitude towards life. Her home and art studio are filled to the brim with lovely paintings, most of which are her own. The array is as eclectic as Renee’s own dry wit and she explains, “You can’t say I have a style; I don’t do well with trying to repeat things.”
It all started when “I was twelve, it was depression time; my mother had a friend, Miss Maimee, who was an art teacher. From her I learned to draw using pencil and charcoal. I had to draw a black frying pan with eggs, a glass, and a paper bag. They all had to look like you could pick any of them up; if you succeeded then you graduated to using two colors. I always liked to draw. I wasn’t as good at music, I could read music and I enjoyed playing the piano, but I wouldn’t say I was multi-talented!”
An only child, Renee was raised in Savannah which was also the birthplace of that wonderful organization for young women, the Girl Scouts. Renee fondly remembers being a Brownie and Girl Scout and eventually she became a leader of both organizations, as would as her husband and son become similarly involved with the Boy Scouts.
When she was fifteen, the family moved to Ritter, SC, south of Walterboro, where Renee finished high school. After graduating, she went to Brenau Academy in Gainesville, GA for a year before she attended the University of Georgia. From the University, she received a BA degree in fine arts with a major in drawing and painting, and a minor in ceramics. While she was studying art, Renee gave little thought to how that would translate in the job market after graduation. “We received no career counseling in those days. I knew I liked to eat though, so I took a course in education. Somehow I got into a class on how to take tests and I thought I’m not going to waste my time on this.” I was ready to get my master’s degree but I came home from college and went to a party in Beaufort with my mother and daddy where I met Julian, and that was the end of that.” Julian Levin was from Beaufort, and was practicing law here. The courtship was a brief four months, they were married in 1951.
Soon after getting married, Renee found a group of artists in Beaufort, who she says, took her in. “There were six of us. Miss Greenwood was our teacher who lived in Tabby Manse (also known as the Thomas Fuller House on Bay Street). “She wore black pants which was outrageous in those days, red high heels, and smoked cigarettes with a long gold cigarette holder while reclining on a chaise longue teaching and critiquing us. We painted in oils and if she thought you hadn’t gotten it quite right, she’d take turpentine and wipe the paint right off your canvas!”
For a couple of years Renee taught drawing and ceramics at Parris Island. She recalls with a laugh, “The ceramics were pretty much a disaster because they wouldn’t let me work the kiln so I had to train recruits to do that. That was fine up until they deployed and I had to get a new one who would turn the temperature too high and everything would go ‘fllluughgh’.
“In the late 1950’s, I was in a group that had art shows on the walls of the department store, Wallace and Danner, on Bay Street. There were about ten of us and Catherine Wolfe thought we should be an organization, so that’s how the Beaufort Art Association (BAA) evolved.” As one of the founding members of the BAA, along with having held every office possible for the Association, Renee explains, “The BAA has always been a cohesive group that has not had cliques. Everyone is very willing to help everyone else, it has always been a group of friends. Anyone can exhibit as long as they are willing to join, and then sit in the gallery one day a month; it’s not juried.”
When asked what element is her greatest joy in painting, Renee responds, “Trying to have somebody feel what I’m trying to express, feel the same joy, to be happy. I don’t like negativity.” How do the paintings come to her? She laughs and says, “A friend said a psychiatrist would have a fabulous time with me! If I’m somewhere and I see something I like, I will sketch it and go back at some point and paint it; I have a very photographic memory. But if I don’t like a painting, I’ll gesso over it. Do you know what gesso is? They tease me that I should sell my paintings by the pound!”
Renee painted in oils until “One day, behind the couch, one of my boys painted his sister with alizarin crimson, which is a red paint with a strong staining property. We got as much off the furniture as we could but she had to remain pink for awhile.
“So I switched to watercolors and I love watercolors. When I was using oils I made some really beautiful mud. I usually had two paintings going at once; I would think the oil paint was dry and would apply another coat, but it wasn’t, so I was piercing the skin of the paint and mixing the colors. I now use acrylics and I really do love them and I’ve always loved good paper.”
Aside from painting, Renee’s life has always been busy; she and Julian had four children – Arthur, Julian, Marie and Sam. Marie lives in Arlington, VA, Sam lives across the river from Renee, Arthur lives next door, and Julian is in Charleston so they are not too far away. There are eight grandchildren and for Thanksgiving every year they all get together. Although Renee can strike a balancing yoga pose with ease, goes to LifeFit three times a week, rides her bike daily, she says that what she loves most is being with her children and grandchildren.
She fondly remembers the days of the family’s weekend camping, boating and fishing expeditions when the children were growing up. Did she fish along with them? “I was right there with them, but I also had to pack the clothes, fix the food, and administer the first aid.” When asked about the first aid, Renee sighed and patiently explained, “Well it wasn’t too bad, but there were those fish hooks…”
Still part of her Thursday painting group after more than twenty years, even though now they paint on Tuesdays, this year Renee and friends are looking forward to attending an artist retreat in North Carolina. “I’ve always taken classes,” she explains, which is not surprising. Just as Renee might have two paintings going at once, she packs as much of everything into every single moment that she can. She loves to read, and historical fiction is one of her choices because “I can enjoy the story and learn something at the same time.” Still a charter member of the BAA, Renee’s studio is filled with paintings and canvases in various stages of completion. Although she gives her full attention to any matter at hand, her mind is always alert to the next opportunity, be it through the expression of her art, or her experience, or reaching out her hand in friendship.