Familiar names back with special events

info@islandpacket.comSeptember 19, 2013 

Two of Beaufort County's brightest figures in the arts over the past half-century will get a new day in the sun this weekend.

Change is so fast-paced here that one could be forgiven for not having heard of Sam Doyle or Byrne Miller. That makes the new opportunities to know them even more important.

Byrne Miller brought modern dance to Beaufort from 1969 to 2000 -- introducing world-class artists to the local stage and using dance to enhance the world of handicapped schoolchildren.

A new book about the unusual lives of Byrne and her husband, novelist Duncan Miller, will be launched Saturday. Teresa Bruce of Beaufort brings their era back to life in "The Other Mother," published by Joggling Board Press of Charleston. It's the story of a transformative friendship between the author and the older dancer, but also of the transformative power of the arts.

The free event begins at 6 p.m. at the University of South Carolina Beaufort's Center for the Arts on Carteret Street. Dance performances and dramatic monologues will be part of the reception.

Sam Doyle, who died in 1985, was a folk artist born on St. Helena Island in 1906. His St. Helena Out Door Art Gallery was filled with paintings on scraps of tin and wood. For much of his life, few saw the sophistication or value of his work, but the world would eventually recognize it. He was included in a major show in Washington not long before he died: "Black Folk Art in America: 1930-1980."

A new Sam Doyle Celebration exhibit opens Sunday with an opening reception at the ARTworks community arts center on Boundary Street. The exhibit, including works from private collections, will hang at ARTworks through Oct. 6, before moving Oct. 10 to Penn Center on St. Helena. Tickets for Sunday's reception must be purchased in advance; call 843-379-2787.

Both Sam Doyle and Byrne Miller have passed from our stage, but they still tell volumes about Beaufort County's personality and culture. It's good to see them back.

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