ROCK HILL, SC – An update from our Executive Director.

January 27, 2015

Greetings from the Southern Piedmont

I hope 2015 has started off well for you. As I write this, my wife and I have been in Rock Hill officially for 16 months and have finally felt like we are settling into the Rock Hill community. In that same time as we have directed Friday Art Project we have been overwhelmingly excited about what part we have played. It has not come without it’s trials, but in the face of the vistas those bumps have been shadows. I wanted to share with you what has gone on in this short time and what I see as the future for Friday Arts Project, particularly for 2015.

A brief look back at 2013-14.

When Sarah and I arrived in October of 2013, we dove right into the momentum that had been firmly established by an energetic and young organization. That Fall (2013) we held our first event at the White Home in downtown Rock Hill with the Concert+Supper featuring local Chef Greg Collier of The Yolk, and singer/songwriter Jeremy Casella.

Dazzle Gradually

Our “Dazzle Gradually” sign for the 2014 Forum. (photo by Sara McAllister)

The following winter Friday Arts Project held their third Arts Forum, a follow-up to the Forums held the previous two years. The Dazzle Gradually Forum was a true highlight for us and the Rock Hill community. With artists like Maurice Manning, Paul Matheny, and Aaron Belz, writers Tommy Tomlinson and Dori Sanders and musicians Sandra MacCracken and Hunter Holmes, there was no end to the challenge and conversation as we addressed Truth and its potential to “dazzle gradually” that Emily Dickinson had written about in her famous poem. We continued to create an atmosphere of great art—with a performance art piece by Jon Prichard and great food from our friends Dan “The Pig Man” Huntley and Courtney Blake. Add to that, the “behind the scenes” work of Lisa Dalton (Lucky Duck Vintage), Stephen Crotts, Sara McAllister and my wife Sarah Kennedy Irwin, only added to the love of the mysterious we hoped to convey. (And thanks to our sponsors, MailChimp, the Arts Council of York County, Old Town-Rock Hill, SC, the SC Arts Commission, Williams & Fudge, The Cordial Churchman, Orrman’s Cheese, Assorted Table Wine Shoppe, Your Mom’s Donuts, and Amelie’s-Rock Hill)

In 2014 we also reinstated our weekly Friday AM Discussion times, continued our bi-monthly drawing nites, and introduced a monthly gathering for poets (we cleverly dubbed the “Poet’s Group Meeting”). These consistent events are something to build on as we persist in our desire to bring Beauty, real created Beauty, to Rock Hill and beyond.


Last summer’s Artist-in-Residence, Ryann Cooley talking over the installation piece with local metal sculptor, Matt Horrick.

Summer 2014, we launched our first ever artist-in-residency called “Art as Experience”. Professor and artist-in-residence Ryann Cooley installed an art piece called “Feel Yourself Seeing” and delivered a lecture on the history and ideas surrounding immersive installation art. Ryann worked with local artists Dominique Verechia, Cameron Bunce, Laura Zellmer and Matt Horrick, to create the piece.

This past Fall 2014 we did our second event at the White Home—inviting back poet Aaron Belz and musician Sandra McCracken (guests from our Dazzle Gradually Forum). We are happy to report, this event will become an annual occurrence—more about this later.

Throughout the year of 2014 a dedicated group of young leaders met to revamp Friday Arts Project’s Vision, Mission, and Values. Our leaders, Stephen Crotts, Chris Doehling, Carlee Lingerfelt, Liz Manus, Andy Stager, Dominique Verechia, and Laura Zellmer (Cameron Bunce – who has since stepped away from leadership) all put in many hours of sometimes heated discussion centered on what we want to do to invite our community to be more human via the arts. You all are a wonderful bunch, and Sarah and I are privileged to sit with and dream both big and practical things with you.

In this last month (January 2015) we have finally finished that work and are excited to share it with you and implement this renewed Vision/Mission/Values.

Which brings me to this year, 2015.

We have shared the new vision, mission and values on our website www.fridayartsproject.org. In the next six months I will be fleshing out the renewed vision, mission, and values through blogs on our website. Then in August of 2015, I will summarize that information in preps for our Fall 2015 events.

As we introduce the new vision, mission and values, there will be plenty of opportunities to connect with us in the coming year.

This spring we are planning three events. On April 9th, the Poet’s Group will be having a public reading of the poetry they’ve written or have been writing for the last year. On May 1st we are partnering with The Arts Council of York County to help produce a unique opening for their planned art show “Delectable”. We will be having a panel discussion/interaction with invited guests regarding the subject of the art show. There will be a band and special hors d’oeurves as well. Please visit the Arts Council of York County’s website for more info. Sometime later in the month—TBA—we will have an art exhibit to showcase some of the drawings/paintings produced by our friends during our drawing nite sessions. More about that to come!

This summer we are planning to dig deeper in working out a solid structure for a more formal artist-in-residency program—both a summer and annual residency. Last summer (2015), we had such a great time with Ryann Cooley that we’ve asked him to return to help us make plans for more such residencies to happen—with a goal of a summer residency in 2016. During the time that he is here we hope to have a couple of public events—a lecture and (perhaps) panel discussion around cultural/arts subjects.

White Home

The White Home lit up at night.

Then for the Fall of 2015 we will continue that tradition of a concert plus(+) something event at the historic White Home in downtown Rock Hill, SC. This annual event will occur on or around the first week of November 2015.  We are excited about this partnership, and think the staff of the White Home are wonderful and their space incredibly beautiful and unique. We also hope to have our special guests scheduled by this summer.

In the winter of 2016 (February), we will host another Forum. We will bring the same distinctive flavor and polish from our past forum events to the Friday Arts Project Forum 2016—this time on the subject of Business & Creativity. We haven’t landed on an exact theme, but business and the arts, culture and creativity will be the subject. We are close to having several of our guests confirmed and will announce that as soon as reasonable. We are excited about the subject and believe this is timely for the city of Rock Hill and beyond.

This is just a summary of what we have planned, that are “on the books” for 2015 (and winter ’16).

That was a lot wasn’t it? I am sure there will be things added—hopefully not removed—and we hope you will join us for all or some of these planned events. Keep visiting our website for updates and details at www.fridayartsproject.org or our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fridayartsproject.


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presenter-home-kirkKirk Irwin

Executive Director, Friday Arts Project


PS. Thanks again to our wonderful volunteer team Stephen Crotts (founder), Chris Doehling, Carlee Lingerfelt, Liz Manus, Andy Stager, Dominique Verechia, and Laura Zellmer…and my wife Sarah Kennedy Irwin.


Media Contact: Kirk Irwin
c. 646-261-2847