Avant-Garde in Beaufort

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I’ve always wondered what Beaufort’s social scene was like when Byrne Miller blew into town in the late 60s.  With her wild ideas about open marriage, her comfort with nudity and all things sexual, along with her disdain for “loving hands at home”-style art, I’m sure she must have turned the town on its ear. Or did she? I found a wonderful invitation to a party she received, and saved along with all her personal papers. It was from a woman named Marion (perhaps Marion Draine, SC Arts Commission?) Anyway, wouldn’t you love to have been a fly on the wall at this event?

At Oaks Plantation, Frogmore, I am giving away some icons of November.

You are cordially invited to join in the rough draft filming of “Verna Lee’s Mater” — a ceremony of mood using 3 sculptural forms

March 30th 1-5 pm

Activity consists of leisurely gathering venus forms from a pattern on the earth; then planting in the emptied space a reflective marker.

If anyone out there went to this “event” and can dish a little – please leave a comment. If not, I’ll just take comfort in the suspicion that Beaufort wasn’t limited to cocktail parties and bridge games. Cheers!

7 thoughts on “Avant-Garde in Beaufort

    Will said:
    September 28, 2010 at 7:29 AM

    Ah – the good old days – I do remember the parties and happenings of the late 60’s…somewhat fondly…somewhat clearly. No, dear heart, I haven’t a clue about this particular event – but I do wish I could have gone. Something about the tone suggests to me it may have been a “women’s event”…do you think?

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    Mary Whisonant said:
    September 28, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Yes, I remember and it was not Marion Draine. It was Marian Etherage who was an artist, sculptor, great draftsman in drawing. The references to the venus came from her course with me in art history as she was fascinated with The Venus of Willendorf, the prehistoric image of a woman. She made small clay fired objects which were like icons and the party would have related to just that in that “venus” comments. I think Marian was in my class at USC Beaufort in the early 1970’s. She was also a force in Beaufort at the time when David Rigsby was artists in resident and I remember her last drawings exhibited at the studio up over Harry’s. Her marvelous drawings were of doll parts; those from a French porcelain doll with porcelain head and marvelous eyes. Those drawings were superb. Her work exceeded Rigsby’s by far. She also made and had cast the image of Robert Smalls that is downtown near the African Baptist church I think. The image is as powerful and strong as Marian was. She left Beaufort for New York and despite attempts to contact her; we all lost contact with her. There are others who might have attended the party and been there and who could fill in the gaps and one is (she’ll hate me for this) Joan Taylor. She knew Marian as well. How I miss that sort of artistic thought which we all had at one time in Beaufort. It was magic.

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      teresabrucebooks said:
      September 30, 2010 at 7:27 AM

      I love this story! Thanks for filling in the blanks so we can all enjoy a little of the spirit of the times.

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    Annie Griffey said:
    September 28, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    The Marion was Marion Ethridge who later changed her name to Savannah. She was an artist-at that time a sculptor. She was part of the conciousness raising group of women in Beaufort during the late sixties and early seventies.

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    Will said:
    September 29, 2010 at 4:49 AM

    @Annie Griffey – wonderful information! And thank you for remembering consciousness raising groups.

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    Dennis Adams said:
    October 1, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    I think that part of the problem in locating Marion lies in misspelling her last name: it is really “EtherEdge” (like “Ether Edge,” like the Rim of the Ethereal, man). There are scattered references to her on Google, including http://myscsierra.org/chapter/images/stories/fall_2009_newsletter.pdf (see p. 11). I was in a history class with Marion in 1969, before she became “Savannah.” We would talk sometimes before and after class, and she was a down-to-earth but most thoughtful person. The Beaufort that I remember at the time was largely Arrière-Garde, but I was a college student without any social connections outside of the school. Politically, this was a time of huge divisions among the students about Vietnam, as you can imagine. Though my father was a Marine officer in Da Nang at the time, I was against the War — as my 88 year-old father was and is opposed to the pre-emptive attack on Iraq. Some of the “Avant-Garde” of the late Sixties in Beaufort was in the form of poems, art and writings shared among students.

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      teresabrucebooks said:
      October 1, 2010 at 12:17 PM

      She would love this! As would Byrne. I remember stories of Byrne protesting the war in Vietnam. Not surprising. What threw her for a loop was when her oldest daughter became a Marine. Ahhh, rebellion. Works both ways.

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