May 10, 2012

Spotlight Jane Madden

In her own words:
     The house is quiet. I haven’t been home long and have just finished processing photos from this afternoon at the Art Trail Gallery where we were in-taking art for the Visualicious 2012 exhibit that opens with a reception on Friday, May 11.

Opening Reception
The Gallery will be open
 Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
 Fridays from 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. 
 Saturdays from 1 p.m. - 7 p.m.

I have picked up my laptop and plopped down on the couch in the living room where I can think and write as I look at the stained glass filling our front windows. Nearly all the pieces that are in every room in the house are ones that I have made. I have never been able to master meditation but I can gaze into the glass with the sunlight shifting across each piece and the colors calm my mind. Our small house is filled to the brim with the end results of my experiments. Bunches of lavender hang drying from the mantle. A kaleidoscope I woodturned sits on the piano. Glass glyphs created by twisting lead around pieces of art glass dot the landscape. (I’m thinking of putting some of these outside this year in the back yard. That ought to puzzle the birds!)

     I am pondering Dolly’s request to write something about my volunteer involvement with the Art Trail Gallery. To a certain extent, it is hard to explain. I have no art background yet I have been responsible for nearly 12,000 square feet of display space and constantly coming up with, as well as, organizing and changing exhibits for a very long time now. It has occupied literally hundreds of hours of my life in the last four years. If it were not for the fact that I am employed part-time, it would never have been possible. Many times people have expressed an interest in volunteering at the Gallery but feel they lack the art qualifications. We are less about formal artistic interpretation and far more about building community and encouraging everyone to be involved. We have often been the first place someone has exhibited their works. And this is where my country store background comes into play. We’ve never had a budget and have made pennies think they are dimes from the first day of operation. That’s how we did it growing up. We made do. It would be great to have lots of fancy features but if you cannot afford it, you cannot have it. It’s one way to have the budget balance consistently.

     In terms of the Art Trail Gallery, I wish that everyone in Florence had shared in the opportunities I have had to meet the variety of creative people that live in this region. There have been so many talented, interesting people come through those doors that mirror the diversity of artistic levels within our walls. Each person comes to art in their own way. Some were born with a burning desire to create. Others have stepped through the door almost surprised to find they belong after only recently giving themselves permission to let their creative spirit loose. No matter what the age, economic level, race, place of origin, they all share one thing in common. They do not create because they are told to but because they want to.

     During these past four years, I have been privileged to see such talent and so many fine individuals! They have shared much with me – their hopes, their woes, their hurts, their joys. Better yet, they have shared with each other, discovering the gift of friendship in the most unexpected chance occurrence. This is probably why our opening receptions have always been such a big hit. The free food and drink certainly helps people come out to celebrate the art on display but the interesting mix of people encountered is an equally big draw. It’s a bit like a big family getting together but until you come in the door, you won’t know that you have all these cousins you never knew existed!!

     One thing that tells me we are doing something right each time we have an exhibit is there are always the people who come to the Gallery or get dragged along by friends, who leave shaking their heads and saying that they never knew such talent existed in the Pee Dee. Isn’t that a wonderful thing to have somebody go out the door prouder about where they come from than when they came in? In addition to our regulars, the other people I am pleased to see are those from places like Charleston. Frankly, I got nosy once and asked one of the individuals why they returned? The answer was simple. Every exhibit had lots of pieces that were every bit as good as the work on display in the Charleston galleries but it was a far better price! Now, those are individuals who know how to stretch their art budgets!

     As I mentioned when I began, this week we are preparing to open Visualicious 2012. I have nearly a hundred name tags to create tonight for the opening but that won’t take as long as you think thanks to the wonders of modern technology! Then I need to design the program for the exhibit and the insert for the winning entries. I have events to coordinate for May and June which means lining up more talent as we will be opening on Saturdays from 1 – 7 p.m. for this exhibit and we are trying to fill the time with demonstrations and entertainment to attract visitors (that would be you – hint, hint). Early tomorrow morning, I will meet the judges at the Gallery. In the afternoon, the entire show has to be hung. Looking ahead for the week, there are still a number of items on the job list. Losing track of a single one can make life a little too interesting when you are expecting two or three hundred people to stop by.

     None of this would be possible without the volunteers that have stepped forward. To the best of my knowledge, there is not another all-volunteer art gallery in the state of this size, with this many exhibits and events, that has been running for this length of time. We are it. But then, we also held the largest photography exhibit of any gallery in the state last year. We seem to like being unique. At the moment, nearly all of our volunteers are artists, though some might argue with me. Above all, they are people blessed with generous souls who give their time to make their community a better place. Together, we are a team that can make things happen. Anytime you want to be part of the adventure, 
 let me know.

     Somehow, in between going to work and coordinating life at the Gallery, there are all the tasks necessary to making life go smoothly at home. For my husband and I, that includes Year 2 of our container gardening experiment – Earthbox style.....Continued click here for the rest of the gardening story

    In the meantime, I recently discovered I had been walking around on a broken foot for the last 2 ½ months. The boot I am in now has slowed me down a bit and I am under orders not to stand long or walk much. Levitation would be such a handy skill right about now. Apparently, I can look forward to about another two months of this. If you see me floating by your window someday, you’ll know I finally mastered that levitation issue so I could get on with things.

Jane, thank you for sharing with us, we all have a better understanding and appreciation for you and your dedicated hard work.
I think it is a labor of love, one in which you are so well suited for.


  1. I can't imagine walking on a broken foot for over two months. Your braver then I am.

  2. I once lived in Ladson, as a young Navy wife. My husband was a submariner. I absolutely loved Charleston, and if I still lived there I would love to come see your gallery, and be involved. I do many artsy things, like murals, painted furniture. I'm always interested in art.
    I pray that your foot mends quickly, that's been awful for you! We had a Madden family across the street, growing up in New Jersey. Jane Madden was the big sister, and she did every kind of craft that came along. So it was funny , when I saw your name. I just followed Hibiscus House and now I want to read all the posts about Charleston!
    Be blessed! Linda @ Grandmalay's Daydreams

  3. lots of behind the scene hard work for sure...and with a broken foot yet!!