The year’s annual meeting in Charleston, SC was great fun. Thanks especially to Simeon Warren, for all the work he put towards planning and making arrangements. Simeon is still working out the expenses, but after all is said and done it looks like the Guild will be receiving a generous gift of more than $2500 from the Charleston Animal Society. The work we did on Saturday has begun a series of sculptures for their future pet memorial garden. Simeon’s students at The American College of the Building Arts will continue the work we started over the next few months. For those of you who weren’t able to make it this year, I wanted to share with you the highlights of the weekend.
Thursday, October 10th
We began the weekend in the beautiful landscaped grounds of the Bon Secour St. Francis Hospital, where we gathered around a Christ Statue, carved by the late Tim Doyle. The carving is absolutely exquisite. There we met many of the students from Simeon’s school, as well as members of the Charleston Animal Society. Sandy Byers, the landscape architect for the St. Francis’ Prayer Garden was also there to welcome us and he spoke briefly about the commission and working with Tim. Walter Arnold also spoke about Tim’s life and work. We toasted Tim and his work. I told the ACBA student’s about Tim’s Icosahedron. (no Dungeons and Dragons references were made)
Afterwards, many of us headed over to Vickery’s Bar and Grill for a delicious seafood meal right on the banks of the Charleston Bay. As you can see, the weekend was off to a great start!
Friday, October 11th
We started Friday with a tour of the ACBA facilities. It’s an impressive workspace in a historic Charleston building that was originally a trolley car depot that was eventually abandoned until 2014 when the ACBA took ownership of the site and began extensive renovations. We met faculty member, William Bates, Chair of Architecture and Allied Arts, as well as the President of the school, Colby Broadwater. The facilities there are spectacular and everyone we met was thoughtful and excited to answer the many questions we had.
We then went to the Magnolia Cemetery, where we were met by Andrew from the local tour company, BullDog Tours. He gave us a delightful tour and shared with us the history and traditions of the cemetery, and we suggested he add a zero or two to his estimate of what it would cost today to build an ornately carved, spired marble memorial at the center of the cemetery.
Lunch was followed with a tour of the Historic Jail (and original home of the ACBA) by BullDog Tours founder (and paranormal skeptic), John Laverne. It is a ominous place with a dark past and with a rich history of supernatural events. Walter made Mary Condon jump.
Afterwards we all explored the historic district of Charleston before heading back to the ACBA for our guild meeting. In addition to holding elections, we voted to make Malcolm Harlow an honorary member for life and decided that next year’s meeting would be hosted by Scott Halverson and Mimi Moore in Minneapolis, MN in October 2020. It’s our 20th anniversary, so pack your mittens — we’re going north!
After the meeting we attended a Beaufort Stew in the college courtyard. Great food and plenty of beer and wine for a thirsty crowd of students, local patrons, and stone carvers. Someone eventually suggested we bust out our special banner and take some pictures!
Saturday, October 12th
Saturday, it was time to say thank you to our hosts and the students at ACBA. Lauren Poynter, with Fieldstone Center in Covington, GA donated 9 blocks of Indiana limestone for the Animal Memorial garden space. Students from the school paired with members of the Guild and we spent the day cutting and carving to get the sculptures started and far enough along for the ACBA students to complete over the course of the fall semester. The stone was hard, but so was our resolve, and by the end of the day we had six or seven sculptures well on their way. Simeon will oversee his students’ work this fall.
It was a great day working together toward a common goal, and it was a reminder of why our Guild is going strong after almost 20 years. We are a collective of independent, unruly, and sometimes downright ornery individuals, but at the end of the day we all share a love and passion for carving stone.
We’ll see you next year in Minnesota!