Friday, April 24, 2009

GA, SC, GA, FLA

I apologize for the time off. I usually blog at night and the last couple of stops have been at a B&B and a private home. Both fabulous night stays but I wasn't "doing the net." I have four visits to report!

Since my last writing we screened in Watkinsville, GA (next to Athens) at North Oconee High School. For those who haven't seen North Oconee, it's the Taj Mahal of high schools. It looks like a college campus...just an incredible facility. The screening went well and I stayed in a charming Victorian B&B. The next morning I walked the campus at the University of Georgia. As much as it pains this University of Tennessee alum to write, I have to give it to our rival SEC East school - Georgia. They have a beautiful campus and Athens is everything you'd want in a college town.

Speaking of college towns with pretty campuses, it was up I-85 to Clemson. I enjoyed my time with the school's film professor Aga Skrodzka-Bates. Aga is a native of Poland, as is our film's editor Greg Grzeszczak. We all call Greg "GG" because no one in North Carolina feels comfortable saying, Grzeszczak. Aga and GG spoke in Polish about their mutual love of films and the epistemology of GG's last name. Aga claims Grzeszczak means "little pea." GG was hoping it was something more grandiose, perhaps, giant grapefruit. I'm betting on Aga. Anyway, we screened in front of a large crowd, including lots of students and had a great showing.

Then I travelled across the Palmetto State from Clemson to Orangeburg, home of South Carolina State. I met Ellen Zisholtz. Ellen is originally from New York. In true Gotham City style, we immediately had coffee and talked. There are lots of exciting things going on at South Carolina State and it seems Ellen is leading many of them. She's an energetic ambassador of goodwill, and an excellent painter! I got to tour the latest exhibit at the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium: The James Brown Collection. It is an impressive collection that is very well done! I was particularly taken by the original sheet music. Our film played in a planetarium. I've never had that experience before. It was interesting, watching a crowd that reclined (usually a bad sign like they're asleep) but they weren't. The film was warmly received.

Today, I drove from South Carolina down to Brunswick, GA. Truth be told, I got there a little early so I could hang out at the beach for a few hours. I walked and biked around Jekyll Island before making my way to Brunswick. We played at the Ritz Theater - a great venue that dates back to the 19th century. Heather Heath runs the place and, as I'm noticing with most of my hosts, she too is an artist. Heather is an accomplished actress. She's also married to the Mayor of Brunswick but that's a whole other story. I also enjoyed meeting and talking with playwright/director Rob Nixon. As the film played at the Ritz, I strolled down the street and had a glass of wine at a local bar. I sat in one of those big comfy couches, the kind you want to lounge in but don't want to have in your house. I asked the visiting musician to play some Van Morrison. He obliged. As I sipped wine and sailed into "The Mystic" I realized I have only one more gig. It's up in Kentucky, tomorrow.

It has been quite a trip! I hope to report on the Paramount Arts Center tomorrow night. Until then...