Rosewood Free Press

Keeping Up with Columbia's Coolest Neighborhood

A celestial sign? Why not?

So I’ve been thinking about this past Monday and events surrounding the celestial event that occurred in the sky above Rosewood. I started the day by walking down to Owens Field Park and finding folks from all around the country setting up tents and canopies and chairs, and getting ready for the total solar eclipse that would start in a few hours.

An ol’ boy from Delaware was sitting in the shade beside his Dodge Charger, and he said with a laugh that the humidity wasn’t bothering him at all. A group of folks from Florida were tossing around a Frisbee and said they just picked out a park in the path of totality and landed at Owens Field. A city parks worker was passing out the special glasses needed to view the eclipse, and she was having a big time. “Honey, I’ve talked to people from Texas to New York,” she said.

A family from India, who now live in Philadelphia, were having lunch on a blanket and said they were excited about seeing the eclipse. I wished them a good day and hurried back to my house for some lunch. Afterwards, I gathered up the remaining eclipse glasses I’d been given to distribute to the neighborhood and headed back out the door. Down the street, Rosewood Park was filling up with people, and everyone I asked already had eclipse glasses. But they all thanked me for the offer and many thanked me for making the effort to see that everyone had a pair. That’s kind of weird, I thought.

I hustled back to Owens Field and saw people getting their picture taken next to our Rosewood Public Orchard sign. Hispanic kids were kicking a soccer ball back and forth on the soccer fields. Frat guys were buying cheese-steak subs from a couple African-American ladies cooking away in their food-vendor’s tent. Everyone was laughing, talking, and trying on their glasses. The eclipse was coming, and for some reason I flashed on Robert De Niro in the movie “Brazil” telling Jonathan Pryce that “We’re all in this together, kid.”

I scurried through the woods next to the park and found a secluded spot behind Memorial Stadium to watch the approach of totality. I admit, I wanted to experience it by myself, and it was truly special, as moving as I was told it would be.

While I was walking home, I began to think about all the people and events I’d seen during the day, and I couldn’t help noticing the contentment I was feeling. OK, before we go any further, I have to say I’m trying not to be all flower-power and hippiefied here. I have a history of being as good a downbeat pessimist as the best of them. But there was no denying the sense of good will I’d felt from everyone I met this day. A sense of joyful expectation as the eclipse approached, and a shared exultation when the moon started to slide completely in front of the sun.

It was like all the recent distressing events, from saber-rattling between North Korea and the U.S. and hate groups marching in our streets to Muslim bans and forced deportations, were reduced to back-page stories in a supermarket tabloid. The eclipse had dwarfed them all. For two and a half minutes, we were all residents on a battered ball of dirt, rock, and water, and we weren’t all that different from each other. It showed us that time is precious, and we should spend more of it getting our act together.

As I walked home, I knew we had to knuckle down. When the moon slid away from the sun and things returned to normal, it felt like a sign that we might not have many more opportunities to get it together. So OK, the old hippie in me is saying, let’s do it. Let’s get it together.

Visit some studios. See some art. Take some home.

The sixth annual “Columbia Open Studios” is this weekend, and the staff here at the Rosewood Free Press always looks forward to visiting artists in their work place and talking about the creative process.

This year 70 artists across the city will open their doors and invite folks in to check out their work, be it paintings, sculpture, drawings, photography, or whatever their imagination has concocted. The hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. There’s no charge for studio visits, but the artists (who are not all starving, by the way) would love it if you took home some artwork.

The best way to prepare for your studio crawl is to pick up a copy of this week’s Free Times, which has a 30-page booklet inside that’s complete with artists’ bios and maps to the studios. There are maps of Earlewood, Five Points, Shandon, Heathwood, Melrose Heights, Forest Acres, and of course Columbia’s most artistic neighborhood, Rosewood. (An informal survey was conducted here in the Free Press newsroom, and Rosewood was the unanimous winner. It was totally unbiased, we assure you.)

Rosewood has three representatives on the Open Studios tour. Two live on Deerwood, Ed Bryan who makes ceramics at his Deerwood Clay Studio at 1004 Deerwood, and Patrick Mahoney, who operates Totally Mundo Productions at 607 Deerwood. Mahoney lists drawing, painting, photography, and “other” has his artistic endeavors. The third Rosewood artist on the tour is Frol Boundin, who has a printmaking studio at 4020 Live Oak St.

So come on, get off the couch this weekend and visit these dedicated Rosewood artists and others around Columbia. It will be a fun way to spend a weekend in the Capital City, and who knows? You might be inspired to create some art yourself.

Columbia Open Studios is promoted by the 701 Center for Contemporary Art, and you can check out the 30-page guide online by going to


Build the Gills Creek Greenway!

2015-02-07 21.24.43 Poor ol’ Gills Creek. It’s taken quite a battering over the years. Several months ago, it battered us back when it overflowed its banks during the great flood of 2015.
Of course, the flood wasn’t the creek’s fault. It didn’t ask to have a bunch of poorly maintained earthen dams built along its course and mucking up the flow. But what happened, happened. The waters have since receded, and we have a chance to take a fresh look at Gills Creek. We can now make it safer, cleaner, and more beneficial to the community.
One of the major projects that could accomplish this goal is the Gills Creek Greenway, a system of walking trails, boardwalks, and nature trails that would stretch along the creek from Lake Katherine all the way to Bluff Road. It was approved by the public when the Richland Penny referendum passed a year ago.
However, at a public meeting about the Greenway a couple weeks ago, a few folks from the Hampton Leas and Hampton Creek neighborhoods voiced their disapproval of the project, saying it would bring undesirable people to their communities.
Here at the Rosewood Free Press, all we can say is, WTF? Are they talking about us? How could anyone think that a cleaned-up Gills Creek, with a gorgeous greenway along its banks, would be a bad thing? Have they not experienced the coolness of the Congaree Riverwalk? We’d love something like that in our neighborhood.
Here at the Free Press, we encourage staffers to get out of their cubicles and take a walk outside whenever they can. Studies have shown that a brief walk in nature can reduce stress and anxiety. That’s why we’re big supporters of the Greenway.
So here’s the deal. There is one week remaining for public comment on the Greenway. We’re encouraging all Rosewoodians who think the Gills Creek Greenway will beautify the area and improve our quality of life to voice your support. Send an email of approval to, and cc your message to County Council members Greg Pearce ( and Seth Rose (
Thanks, everybody, and we hope to see you hiking, biking, and communing with nature on the Greenway in 2017!

Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out in Rosewood

Tom HallContrary to popular local mythology, the dude in the photo is not a real Indian. He is, however, a bit of a renegade.

I first met Tom Hall years ago when he and his pal Steve Von Hollen were running a roadhouse music joint called Campbell’s Station in rural Chester County. I knew right away that this was a man who wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, someone who had a good idea and acted on it without blinking. In the years since, Tom has been a restaurateur, filmmaker, and the leader of a rambunctious roots-rock outfit called The Plowboys.

One of Tom’s best ideas came to fruition five years ago when he staged the first Columbia Mardi Gras celebration right here in Rosewood at City Roots Farm. The Krewe de Columbia Ya Ya is one of the craziest and most fun events we have in Rosewood, and it returns for its fifth year at City Roots Farm on Feb. 6.

This year’s festival promises to be the best yet. And the big news, there is no admission charge! That’s right, it’s free. Proceeds from beverage sales will go directly to City Roots Farm, and this year’s sponsors are River Rat Brewery and Albita Beer. So there you go, drink up.

Sign-up for a 5K road race is at 7 a.m., and the race starts at 8. The annual parade which winds through Rosewood with bands, tractors, floats, and beads flying everywhere, rolls at 11 a.m. And the festival proper begins at noon.

There will be four music stages this year, and the musical line-up comprises a very comprehensive presentation of contemporary local talent. The Capital City Playboys, Stillhouse, Devils in Disguise, Dr. Roundhouse, Danny Joe Machado, Debbie and the Skanks, The Prairie Willows, Post-Timey String Band, Flat Out Strangers, Black Bottom Biscuits, Stefanie Santana, and of course, Tom Hall & The Plowboys, will all be rocking the ‘hood.

One afternoon I ran into Tom at the Rosewood Market, and we chatted briefly about playing music in front of people and how scary and hilarious it could be when you forgot the chord change or the words to the song. He looked at me and said, “Man, you just have to keep going. That’s what I do. Keep going.”

Right on. Let’s all take a lesson from Tom and just keep going. I’ll see you at City Roots Farm on Feb. 6. And enjoy the parade!


Gallery 80808

Tonight in the VIsta, there will be an opening reception for an exhibit featuring four of Columbia’s finest artists. The entrance to Gallery 80808 is on Lady Street, and here’s a preview from the gallery’s blog post:

“Stephen Chesley, Mike Williams, Edward Wimberly, and David Yaghjian are friends and full-time artists living and working in South Carolina. For the past 12 years they have convened at Gallery 80808 in January with a selection of work from the course of the past year to hang an exhibition. This exhibition began as a holiday social where we would get together with our friends and collectors to catch up and look at examples of our production from the previous year. Each of these artists have worked diligently throughout their careers to create artwork that is distinctively their own.”

Support Columbia’s art scene and check out this exhibit.

Open Mic at Utopia

It was a wonderful evening of music and song last night at Utopia on Rosewood Drive. Bentz Kirby is a true workhorse on the Columbia music scene, and his hosting and scheduling of these open mic sessions and other events are a big plus for the city. Last night’s session featured great music from Merrily May, Stillhouse, Steve Bennett and others. More importantly, it gave artists a chance to get up in front of an audience and hone their craft. Anyone who’s performed in public knows, the more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes.

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