From the Sabal palmetto, South Carolina's designated state tree, to the canary palms that reign over the Azores and Morocco with their bright orange spikes, "Palms, Palms, Palms" by artist Norma Ballentine is on display at the Charleston Artist Guild Gallery.
Of her exotic exhibit Ballentine says, "When I travel, I am always up in the trees with my camera, and palms are invariably in my photos. I like to paint 'plein air' whenever possible, but many times I paint from the photos."
She adds, "When I was in Nassau recently, I noticed an old house that looked as if it had never recovered from the last hurricane, but it was surrounded by magnificent palms. The home was in need of repair, but the palms had withstood the storms and were beaming in the sunlight."
The artist says that no matter where she travels, she is always glad to return to the Sabal palm or palmetto because she admires "how resilient and flexible these palmettos must be to have fiercely battled the storms of their lifetime."
Ballentine, who retired after nearly 40 years with BellSouth where she managed the Small Business Call Center, will take over the office of president of the Charleston Artist Guild in May.
A reception honoring the artist will be held 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday at the gallery. The exhibit is on display 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday at the CAG Gallery, 6 N. Atlantic Wharf through April 30.
At the opposite end of the artistic spectrum is an Andy Warhol-like fundraiser to be held at the Redux Contemporary Art Center on Saturday.
Titled "The Redux Art Factory," the event will feature the creation of original artwork by Redux studio renters and facility users and local contemporary artists. Painting will occur in various shifts noon-9 p.m. To conclude the event, an hour of socializing with the artists and an opportunity to purchase paintings will be held 9-10 p.m.
Participants may have a voice in the creative process of artwork, including paintings, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, digital photography and original music composition. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.
All proceeds will benefit the nonprofit programs at Redux. For information, call 722-0697 or go online at www.redux studios.org.
Cuba in the spotlight
Cuba is in the spotlight both through the visual arts and classical music this week.
"La Imagen Constante," featuring photographs of post-revolutionary Cuba, is on exhibit at the Robert Lange UPSTAIRS on Friday through April 22.
Included in the show, curated by Rebekah Jacob Modern, are the black-and-white photographs of Roberto Salas and Alberto Korda. Their work is said to have given the outside world a chance to view Fidel Castro and Che Guevera, as well as the occurrences and leadership involved in the revolution. Korda's most recognized image "Guerilla Heroica" is said to have become emblematic of that era.
The last meeting between Castro and Ernest Hemingway, as the famous writer received an award at a Cuban fishing tournament, is seen in an evocative photograph by Salas.
Also on view is the color photography of Milly Mooreheast West, who has traveled to Cuba 20 times, creating a visual pattern of Cuba's rural and urban landscapes and their transformation through the years.
An opening reception will be held 6-8:30 p.m. Saturday at the gallery, 151 East Bay St.
Cuban pianist to perform
Over at the College of Charleston, Cuban-born pianist William Villaverde will close the college's International Piano Series season at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Sottile Theatre.
Born in Havana, Villaverde came to the United States after winning many competitions in his home nation. On a full scholarship, he studied music at the College of Charleston, where he graduated cum laude.
Now a naturalized American citizen, Villaverde received a master's degree in piano performance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he now works in the artist certificate program.
The pianist will perform Beethoven's Sonata in C major, Op. 53 and "Afro-Cuban Dances" by Ernesto Lecuona, among other compositions.
Tickets are $20 and may be reserved by calling 953-6575 or purchased at the door. Admission is free to College of Charleston students and those under 18.
CSO Masterworks finale
Internationally acclaimed soprano Janice Dixon will perform with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in the season finale of the Masterworks series to be led by Music Director David Stahl at 8 p.m. Saturday at Gaillard Auditorium.
Dixon was born in New York where she attended the Aaron Copland School of Music and earned her degree in vocal studies, piano and violin. She sang the role of Bess in a tour of the United States of Gershwin's opera "Porgy and Bess," and at the only Spoleto Festival held in Melbourne, Australia. She has also appeared with the Berlin Philharmonic, and at the Chatelet in Paris, the Royal Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York, among other places.
On Saturday, Dixon will perform Richard Strauss' "Four Last Songs," written by the composer at the end of World War II. With opera halls throughout Europe destroyed by bombs, Strauss returned to his roots to create a romantic piece of music and song. Also on the program are Debussy's "Danse" and Mahler's Symphony No. 1.
Tickets, which range in price from $15 to $50 and are $5 for students, may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 554-6060 or by visiting the Gaillard Auditorium box office.
Reach Dottie Ashley at 937-5704 or email@example.com.