Two Midlands artists named SC Arts Commission Fellows

July 3, 2013

COLUMBIA, SC – July 3, 2013 –  Robert F. Lyon and Herbert Robbie Robertson, both of Columbia, have been awarded Individual Artist Fellowships by the South Carolina Arts Commission Board. Lyon is the Craft Fellow, and Robertson is the Media Screenwriting Fellow. Each artist receives $5,000.

The two additional Fellows are Jim Arendt of Conway (Visual Arts) and Jeff Sumerel of Travelers Rest (Media Production).

It is rewarding to honor the work of successful artists, who are central to the creative industries in our state. Their accomplishments inspire other creative individuals and entrepreneurs, and they serve as positive examples of our state’s culture and thriving arts community, said S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May.

The S.C. Arts Commission board approves fellowships based on recommendations made by out-of-state review panelists, who select fellows based solely on a review of anonymous work samples. Visual arts and craft panelists were Michael Sweney, program manager for Art in Public Places at Washington State Arts Commission; Diem Chau, a visual artist from Seattle; and Deborah Paine, curator and collections manager, City of Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture. Media production panelist was Josh Gibson, filmmaker and lecturing fellow for Duke University’s Arts of the Moving Image program. Media screenwriting panelist was Marni Zelnick of Los Angeles, an independent film writer, director and producer.

Individual artists working in prose, poetry, acting and playwriting may apply for the 2014-2015 fellowship awards. The deadline to apply is Nov. 1, 2013.

For more information about S.C. Arts Commission programs and services, visit or call (803) 734-8696.

Visual Arts Fellow

James Arendt is director of the Rebecca Randall Bryan Gallery at Coastal Carolina University. His work was awarded the $50,000 top prize at ArtFields, Best in Show at Hub-Bub Gallery’s Emerging Carolina, Best in Show at Fantastic Fibers at Yeiser Art Center, Paducah, KY, and was included in the 701 Contemporary Center for the Arts 701 CCA Prize 2012. His work has been exhibited regionally and internationally in numerous group and solo exhibitions, including the Pickens County Museum of Art and History, the Sumter County Gallery of Art, Fiberarts International 2013 in Pittsburgh and the upcoming Museum Rijswijk Textile Biennial, Netherlands.

Arendt received his BFA from Kendall College of Art & Design and his MFA from USC. He has taught numerous courses in design theory, color, drawing, illustration, animation, graphic design and printmaking. He currently prepares students for practice in The Artist as Professional course. Prior to joining CCU, he was gallery director at FAB Gallery for S.C. State and an instructor at USC.   

Craft Fellow

Robert F. Lyon received a BA in Studio Art and Art Education from the College of New Jersey and an MFA degree from the Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia. He taught ceramics, glass and sculpture for 17 years at the School of Art at Louisiana State University. From 1997 to 2002, he chaired the Department of Art at USC and now teaches sculpture.

Lyon has received several awards and grants, including an NEA Visual Artists Fellowship in sculpture and a Southeastern Artists Fellowship from the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. Lyon has been an artist in residence for several organizations, including the Wood Turning Center in Philadelphia. Lyon’s work has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries, including the Vero Beach (FL) Museum of Art; The Center for Art in Wood, Philadelphia; the New Jersey State Museum; the New Orleans Museum of Art; and 701 Center for Contemporary Art, Columbia, S.C.

Media: Production Fellow

Jeff Sumerel‘s works include To My Great Chagrin, a feature-length documentary that was selected for premiere at opening night of the Museum of Modern Art’s Fortnight Documentary Series; Vision Problems, a half-hour narrative that was a first place winner at the Baltimore Film & Video Festival; and Kudzilla, a feature-length, multi-media social satire.

Sumerel’s award-winning original works have been presented at numerous theaters, museums, parks and universities, from New York to Los Angeles, to Schwerin, Germany to Warsaw, Poland, including The Museum of Modern Art, Toronto Fringe Festival, The Silent Movie Theater, the International Public Television Conference (INPUT), Piccolo Spoleto USA Arts Festival and The Center for Puppetry Arts.         

Media: Screenwriting Fellow

Herbert Robbie Robertson is a playwright, screenwriter and a graduate of the University of South Carolina’s media arts program and of UCLA’s professional screenwriting program.

Robertson’s first play, Mina Tonight!, has been produced in regional theatres across the nation. His screenplays have placed in several national contests, and his latest play, Sweet Child of Mine, was named one of the top 12 comedy scripts in the Austin Film Festival’s Screenwriting Competition. His comedy Young American was recently optioned by Deal Productions in Los Angeles. In 2012, Robertson completed a staged adaptation of the film Satan in High Heels at Trustus Theatre. He recently revived one of his first theatrical productions, The Twitty Triplets, as part of Trustus Theatre’s new Off Lady Street series. Robertson is currently developing several independent television and film projects, including a docu-series about community theatre in South Carolina called Way Off Broadway.


About the S.C. Arts Commission

The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants and leadership initiatives in three areas: arts education, community arts development and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit or call (803) 734-8696.