Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

ArtWalk Returns, The Quarrier Diner Retreats and there’s stuff to do.

The PopCulteer
March 22, 2013

It’s ArtWalk time again. Charleston’s organized stroll through downtown art locations has stirred from its long Winter’s nap, and even though the weather was still a bit Wintry, the gallries were open, and we took the PopCult camera out to see all the arts.

Unfortunately, your PopCulteer was exhausted after a long week, so we only hit five locations, but we will still bring you our humble efforts. Including the Art of the Graphic Novel exhibit at Romano Asociates, where Mr. Danny Boyd (seen above right) was showing off volume two of the Chillers Graphic Novel (coming April 10, stay tuned for more details).

After the photo essay, we have a few words on The Quarrier Diner, and a rundown of weekend events, but first, it’s artin’ time!

Uncork and Create with Ian Bode

It’s been open for a few months, but this was our first visit to Uncork and Create. It won’t be our last. It’s an incredible space for art, and there was tons of it by one of our favorites, Ian Bode, on display.

The art of the Graphic Novel at Romano Associates

It was time to shine the spotlight on the Chillers Graphic Novel at Romano Associates, with paintings by Blake Wheeler, photographs by Balsa Goboyic and Leslie Bragg and illustrations by Bill Richardson, plus author appearances by Jason Pell and Danny Boyd. Jason got away before I could photograph him, so here’s Danny again, followed by an assortment of the works shown.

Taylor Books

I have a confession. By the time I got to Taylor Books, I was fading fast. I got one good close up of a projected piece by Andrea Anderson, but the crowds were healthy and I was tired, so i didn’t get any good shots of the works by Paula Clendenin and others. I did get a few shots of the crowd, which was flocking to the art in question.

Art Emporium

Art Emporium featured an exhibit of works by Jacob Bucy that really has to be seen in person to be appreciated. The mixed media creates textures and light and shado play which my photos can’t really do justice to.

The Purple Moon

Even running on fumes, I had to stop at The Purple Moon. In addition to the art by Sharon Lyn Stackpole, Glen Brogan, Chuck Hamsher and others, the Atomic Age artifacts, Kitchy knick-nacks, lovely glassware and cool industrial furniture make it a must to visit during ArtWalk. Take a look, and mind the Funkenproben.

As they say, it ain’t over until the menacing clown shows up and frightens everyone away. That’s it for this photo essay.

So Long Quarrier Diner

Anna Politt, co-owner of The newly-refurbished Quarrier Diner announced this week that the restaurant will be closing at the end of the month. This is a sad, but not unexpected development. The QD is an architectural treasure, but there were a few things working against this latest revival.

The big problem is that, in order to justify the expense of the extensive renovations, the new QD had to operate as an upscale, gourmet (and high-priced) establishment. The downtown business environment is not conducive to this business model. Blossom Deli couldn’t make it work, and now The Quarrier Diner has discovered the same problem.

Actually, it’s a series of problems. Parking downtown is abysmal. Street parking is impractical because of the draconian one-hour limit on most meters. The parking buildings have mysterious hours. The lots scattered around the city are vaguely-marked and intimidating to the sort of clientele who would support an upscale restaurant.

Let’s face it. The people who would patronize an upscale gourmet restaurant are more likely to go to Soho’s, Bridge Road Bistro or The Chop House–places where panhandlers are far less likely to stumble up to you and ask for spare change. The building is a wonderful Deco masterpiece, but the location leaves a lot to be desired.

In order for a restaurant to work in the downtown area they need to serve cheap, quick, good food, in great volumes. In order for The Quarrier Diner to thrive, it has to return to its roots as a greasy spoon.

To be honest, as soon as they announced that they’d hired a “chef,” I knew they were doomed. I ate there a couple of times, and the food was fantastic. So was the price. Thirty-five bucks for lunch for two is a luxury that most folks can’t afford. Add to that the Tetris-like quality of their parking lot and the chance that, after dark, you’d be accosted by beggers, and it’s no shock that they at least have to rethink their strategy.

If the Quarrier Diner reopens as a 24-hour diner, with affordable menu items and a fast turn-around, it could, once again, be a mainstay of Downtown Charleston. Aside from First Watch there is no place downtown where a person can grab a decent breakfast. At lunch, cheap food would turn the QD into a black hole of Calcutta, filled with Charleston Catholic students. It might make it less attractive to office workers in the area, but the cash register doesn’t mind where the money comes from.

Late-night hours would give folks a safe place to unwind and sober up after an evening spent sampling the fine music available on Capitol Street. They could offer dinner specials from 6 PM to 10 PM and then switch to a late-night burgers, hot dogs, pizza and fries menu.

I bet it’d work.

Stuff To Do.

This is the final weekend where you can catch Dan Kehde’s new play, “Western Civ,” at the Capitol Center Theater. Tonight and Saturday at 8 PM.

Friday

Free music Friday includes John Craigie and Leigh Jones at Bluegrass Kitchen at 7 PM, and Cousin Larry at Bruno’s at 9 PM.

Also Friday, it’s the third Singer/Songwriter night at The Boulevard Tavern, starting at 7 PM. Five bucks gets you micro sets by Patrick Stephens, Jordan Searles, Mark Beckner, Andrea Anderson, Shane and curtis from InFormation, Paul Calicoat, Sierra Ferrell, Spencer Elliott, Casey Litz, Travis Vandal, Mike Selbe & Don Williams, Mike Acuri, Donnie Smith, Mike Withrow, Jordan Andrew Jefferson, and the night’s organizer, Sean Richardson. Most of these fine folks have been on Radio Free Charleston, and it should be a music-packed night.

Relative Obscurity and In The Company of Wolves will be at The Empty Glass at 11 PM, with the usual $7/$5 sliding cover. Cheaper if you get there before 11.

Dead Serious will be at The Blue Parrot at 10 PM, with a five-dollar cover charge.

Further afield than Charleston, The Bob Thompson Unit brings classy jazz to The Fireside Grille in Teays Valley, where five bucks gets you in for the music, and the food is also awesome.

Saturday

Free music Saturday includes the acoustic ambient stylings of Jeffrey Thomasson at Bluegrass Kitchen, beginning at 7 PM, and Jim Snyder and Marcel Lazare at Bridge Road Bistro starting at 7:30. Johnny Compton will bring you a night of free acoustic music at Roni’s Pizza in Elkview, starting at 8:30 PM.

From 7 PM to 9-ish, a free recital by students of Chuck Biel will happen at The Empty Glass, with Roar Shack’s Drop Cloth and The Underdog Blues Revue, featuring guest musicians, Chuck Biel, Will Taylor and Casi Null. This show is free, but if you stick around to catch The Floorboards, there’s a five-dollar charge.

Bare Bones and The Martin Luthor King Jr. Male Chorus will be the featured acts at a benefit for Manna Meal at Kanawha United Pesbyterian Church at 7 PM. Call (304) 345-7121 for details.

The Floorboards will bring their alt.country sounds to the Empty Glass at 11 PM, with the famous 7/5 sliding cover charge.

Recent RFC guests, Science of the Mind, will be at The Blue Parrot, with Chemical Results and Ohio’s Hate Driven. The show kicks off at 10 PM, with a five-dollar cover.

That’s it for this week’s PopCulteer. Expect a full-blown video feature on my trip to JoeLanta this weekend, as well as all our regular features here in PopCult.

1 Comment

  1. Steven

    I second your remarks on the QD.

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