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Painter scatters artwork to be found on peninsula

Of The Post and Courier staff

Moments after Carol Newsome wandered into Hampton Park, she stopped, grabbed from her sack a painted wooden block, and discreetly propped it against a tree trunk.
Her friend Maria Richardson placed one of the green, postcard-size paintings in front of a bed of flowers, a juxtaposition that drew raves from the artist.
"Nice color choice, Maria," she said, before heading back across the park in the humid, morning air.
Look carefully and you may spot the Cincinnati artist anywhere on the Charleston peninsula this weekend, or at least one of the 300 paintings she plans to leave behind as part of her self-financed public art project.
Pick one up, and you'll find a message on the back "You have just turned over a New Leaf. You may keep this new leaf. Turn it over as often as you wish."

"People can take this however they want to," Newsome said. "This isn't a heavy message. It's as simple as wanting to share something."
Newsome brought her project to South Carolina at the suggestion of Richardson, who read about her in The Washington Post after the artist mounted a similar project in the capital a few years back.
"I love art, and I love art that's accessible, and I wanted a leaf of my own," said Richardson, associate ate director of the Governor's School for the Arts at the College of Charleston. "Charleston is so full of artists, and during Spoleto you have so many people who appreciate art."
Newsome, who runs a DUI driver intervention program by day, said the project is not expensive, just labor intensive. She spent about $500 for wood to create 3,800 blocks; enough, she said, to last her several more years.
The Washington project, her first one outside of Cincinnati, had a political angle, as each one was dedicated to a member of Congress. And Newsome is planning a far more ambitious project for the new millennium. Her goal is to have 2,000 leaves shipped to various points around the globe so they can be distributed on Jan. 1, 2001.
For now, though, Charleston is where it's at. Newsome, Richardson and helpers are likely to show up where the crowds are including some Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto events. But they promise the paintings are as likely to surface on Spring Street as South Battery.
If you find one, Newsome said you're more than welcome to keep it.
"My only mission here is people don't know how wonderful it is to have the magic of art in their lives by owning it and interacting with it," she said. "For me, this is a way of putting it out there where it could belong to anyone, and that's really important to me."


Carol Newsome hand-painted leaves on wooden blocks.

Carol Newsome plants one of her "leaves" at a tree Thursday in Charleston. The artist plans to put about 300 painted blocks around the area.
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