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South Carolina Public Radio brings you coverage of Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC, May 25 through June 10, with reports throughout the day on the artists, events, and organizers of both Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto.Listen to Performance Today and Sonatas and Soundscapes each week day for previews of upcoming performances and guest interviews.

The Satisfaction of Spoleto Posters; Behind the Scenes

This Year's Spoleto Poster by David Hockney
This Year's Spoleto Poster by David Hockney
Credit Peter Frank Edwards
Nigel Redden General Director Spoleto USA

Spoleto USA General Director Nigel Redden admits he's feeling a little frantic as he talks about the 2018 festival poster based on a painting by renowned British artist David Hockney.  Perhaps it’s because the work called “Hither Dither” evokes a frenetic feeling with its abstract blue figures darting up and down stairs in vibrant hues of yellow, red and turquoise.  Or maybe it’s because the Spoleto season is here, with its dancers, musicians, acrobats, singers and other artists dashing about the city.

“In some ways, I feel it’s a kind of energy and urgency that happened backstage,” said Hockney as he interprets the painting turned poster.  “It’s actually fascinating to see.  Actors zooming from one side of the stage to the other, and then coming on stage and they are relaxed and they seem as if they haven’t rushed over.  In fact, it’s all about the energy that any performance requires.”

David Hockney is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century, well known for his work during the pop art moment of the 1960s.  Redden says he ran into him at the Pace Gallery in New York City and simply asked.  “I thought, well he’s already done two for us, is this being a little demanding,” said Redden.  “But none the less, he was very, very accommodating.”

It was actually Mick Jagger of all people- Nigel Redden on seeing a Spoleto poster in the rocker's home

Redden says the yearly posters set the mood for the festivals, hanging in city shop windows and adorning program book covers.  He especially likes to see them hanging in people’s homes, as was the case several years ago when he was flipping through a magazine and spotted a Spoleto USA poster rocking the wall of one of the Rolling Stone’s Caribbean homes.

“It was actually Mick Jagger, of all people,” said Redden with a smile.  “I thought wow.  This is pretty impressive.”  It was satisfaction to say the least.