From The Blog

Art and Artisan Showcase Back in April for One Day Only

Twice a year, KICA hosts the Lowcountry Art and Artisan Showcase to support local artists and artisans. The 2019 Spring Showcase is Friday, April 12, 4-7 p.m. at The Sandcastle and is open to the
public. Attendees can view or purchase original paintings and photographs and handcrafted pottery, jewelry and home decorations, as well as enjoy a beer and wine bar with light hors d’oeuvres.

Spotlight on the Artists

Two artists, jewelry designer Barbara Clawson and photographer Jack Kotz, have participated in the showcases for over a decade. Both enjoyed professional careers elsewhere and took up their art after retiring to Kiawah with their spouses. Both artists will be at this year’s showcase on April 12.

Barbara Clawson

Barbara always liked creative outlets. Before she discovered the joy of designing bead jewelry, Barbara was a high school home economics teacher for eight years, first in North Charleston while her Naval officer husband was stationed here, and then in Chicago. When they retired to Kiawah in 2005, she returned to her hobby of sewing, but soon tired of it. One day she walked into a bead shop in Charleston and knew immediately, this is what I want to do. She began by taking beading lessons; her friends admired her work and she found it calming and enjoyable, and so she continued.

Barb first sold her work at the Lowcountry Art and Artisan Showcase, which she thinks is a terrific outlet for artists in the community to show their craft. Although she continues to bead for pleasure and never intended it to become a business, her jewelry is now sold in multiple locations in the South.

Barb considers her style classic rather than trendy. “I want to wear what I make now 10 years from now,” she said. She does not take commissions, but makes what appeals to her. “It’s hard to make something that is in someone else’s mind, and not as much fun.” Sometimes her 30-something daughter and daughter-in-law give her input about what she should not do or do more of.

Barb uses semi-precious stones, freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals and handmade beads from around the world, purchasing the materials that catch her eye. When she makes her jewelry, “I lay all those out in front of me and just start creating something such as a necklace. I always arrange then rearrange the beads many times, string them and take them apart, until I finally have design I want.”

Although Barb and her husband moved to Kiawah 14 years ago, they vacationed here for many years and owned a condominium before building a house. She remembers Kiawah in the earliest days of development. “There wasn’t much here,” she recalled. They have a son and daughter who grew up vacationing on Kiawah, and three grandchildren.

Barb spends about 2-3 hours a day, almost every day, on her jewelry. She also likes to walk with a group of friends and play a little golf. “We do only nine holes,” she said, “don’t keep score, and have to have beautiful weather.” Easy-going though Barb’s attitude toward golf might be, when she really wants to really relax and have quiet time, she can be found in her beading studio in her home.

Jack Kotz

Jack retired to Kiawah 12 years ago with his wife, Katie, after a 40-year career as a chemistry professor, speaker, textbook author, and recipient of multiple awards for distinguished teaching.

During that time, he gave dozens of talks in the U.S. and abroad on chemical education and the use of technology. Today, an active member of Kiawah’s photography club, he continues to teach, now to club members, on photographic technology, “what he calls “the nitty gritty of photo software.”

Jack said he was always interested in photography. When he began writing textbooks, they were heavily illustrated, and as he worked closely with the photographer, his fascination with photography grew. “Twelve years ago, a good camera was my retirement gift to myself,” he said. As camera technology has evolved, Jack has been drawn to the physics and the technology of photography. Not only does he appreciate the technical knowledge that good photography requires but also the thought and planning.

Kiawah is a photographer’s dream, a nature paradise, Jack remarked. “You have the aquatic environments, seashore and marsh, as well as forest. Dolphins, alligators, bobcats, 240 species of birds, even wild turkeys. There are not many places in the country you get all that. Now with climate change, we are seeing birds we didn’t have before.”

Although his work is anything but amateur, Jack considers himself an amateur enthusiast. “I’m always tickled when someone is willing to buy what I’ve done,” he said. He sells his work at the Art and Artisan Showcase on Kiawah, by word of mouth, or through his website. One of his photos (of Caw Caw County Park) was recently awarded honorable mention by the National Wildlife Federation, one of 77 photos out of 23,000. See photo on right.

Jack and Katie love to travel and often take two major trips a year. Although they usually don’t choose their destinations for the photographic opportunities, “I am always aware of the possibilities,” Jack said. Some of the trips include Alaska, Costa Rica, Botswana, Panama, Italy, and their next trip is whale watching in Mexico. For each trip, Jack designs a photo journey book, and to date he has made more than 25.

Kiawah’s photography club is important to Jack both for his work and for social connections. The group will often go on a shoot together, such as to Charleston or Magnolia Plantation, taking pictures of students in the schools or at athletic events, or nature shoots, and then have a meal afterward.

Besides photography, Jack has many interests. He just finished the 10th edition of the freshman level chemistry textbook he first wrote in the 1980s. He considers chemistry a “form of creative art,” and likes “bringing a sense of the artistic to chemistry.” He also creates online chemistry tutorials. He has served on the board of the Kiawah Conservancy and headed the conservancy
committee on environmental science. He recently served on the town Sea Level Rise Committee.

While most of Jack’s teaching career was in a college of the State University of New York, Jack and Katie have also lived in South Africa, New Zealand, England and Portugal. They have two sons and six grandchildren. They first came to Kiawah when one of their sons married into a Charleston family and Jack and Katie stayed at their Kiawah home. “We stayed out here and woke up with a cottage,” Jack said. “No one does that!” They moved to their current home when they retired here full time. In retirement, Jack continues to work on textbooks and teach, not chemistry but photography.