Short Takes: May 2019



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Hot Off the Press

Keeping House. Creating Spaces for Sanctuary and Celebration by Emma Blomfield

We all desire a space that feels authentically our own – somewhere we can curl up with a cup of tea or host a dinner party for our nearest and dearest. But many of us treat our living situations as temporary.

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Bishopville, South Carolina

What to Do
The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden. Pearl Fryar, a self-taught topiary artist, has created an award-winning garden, devoting much of the past 37 years to transforming his Bishopville, S.C. yard into three acres of topiary art and attracting visitors from around the globe.

Fryar was 40 years old when he bought a cornfield just outside town, built a modest house and started planting the property with cast off shrubs rescued from a wholesale nursery. Armed with hedge trimmers and a vision of what could be, Fryar started shaping shrubs and trees, one by one, into abstract topiaries.

There are more than 40 different varieties of trees and shrubs, including hollies, pines, firs, live oaks, cedars, dogwoods and spruce, dotting the landscape. Love, peace and unity are recurring themes in the whimsical topiaries and scrap-metal artwork.

The garden was designed to be attractive in all seasons and most of the plants are ever-green but the most popular time for visitors is during the May through September months. Guided tours are normally arranged for groups of 10 or more. A $3 donation is requested per participant. Fryar’s garden is open to visitors Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., year-round.

Where to Eat
Harry and Harry Too. Comfort food, outdoor seating and small plates. This family owned and operated eatery is in the heart of Bishopville. Owners Harry and Barbara opened Harry and Harry Too in the summer of 1997 in order to provide the kids of Bishopville with a place to congregate and hang out after school and on the weekends.

Through the years, the pool tables have been replaced with dining room tables and there may not be as many arcade games, but the family atmosphere still lingers. You may even spot a few Lizardman artifacts. Burgers and sandwiches are menu staples that won’t disappoint.

Where to Stay
Oak Manor Inn. Situated on three acres of sprawling lawns and gardens and surrounded by century-old live oaks, magnolias, azaleas and towering cedar trees, Oak Manor Inn is just a pleasant five minute stroll from the town’s chic shops and superb restaurants.

All guest rooms have private baths, flat-screen cable TVs and mini-refrigerators. Three rooms have fireplaces as does the paneled library and stately living room.

A home-cooked Southern breakfast including organic eggs, bacon or sausage, buttermilk biscuits, pecan tarts, fresh fruit, grits, coffee and juice is provided to all guests each morning.




Beau Baxter

While growing up in Augusta, Beau Baxter got his first taste of acting on the school bus impersonating friends, teachers and Freddie “Boom-Boom” Washington from the ABC hit comedy series, Welcome Back, Kotter.

Always a ham for the spotlight, Baxter remembers he was unfailingly the one being pulled up to make a toast or tell a story during special events for friends and family.

Having these early experiences, Baxter was able to hone his craft of fluid, improvisational and off the cuff acting but it wasn’t until his last year of college that he received formal training and caught the acting bug.

While taking a film class, Baxter studied film from a literary viewpoint which allowed him to gain insight into the acting field. After graduating college, he became heavily immersed in watching all of the classic, important and critically-acclaimed movies.

“That’s when somewhere along the way, a light bulb went off and I thought, “Hey, maybe I could be an actor!,” he says.

While living in Atlanta, Baxter answered an open casting call for the critically acclaimed TV show I’ll Fly Away. He ended up with a featured appearance and has never looked back.

Baxter moved to Los Angeles, where he found early success in commercials and television roles on the Drew Carey Show and Rodney.

In 2006, Baxter moved to New York City and was soon cast in one of his all-time favorite roles – NFL insider Reggie Greengrass on The Onion Sports Network web series.

Baxter was cast in the Broadway hit Hand to God as an understudy to the role of Pastor Greg. He made his Broadway debut in August 2015.

“It was thrilling, and a little surreal,” he says. “Rob Askins wrote a profoundly funny, poignant and moving play. And, to be surrounded by some of the best players that I’ve worked with was so validating. It was a blast and the time of my life. The turnout by my friends and family was also incredibly heartwarming and humbling.”

Baxter has worked frequently in television, including guest appearances on 30 Rock, The Deuce, Blue Bloods and Murphy Brown. A regular sketch player on the Late Show with David Letterman, Baxter most notably played a local Nobel prize winner three years in a row, garnering raucous laughter and applause.

Upcoming, Baxter will be featured prominently in the second season of a popular Netflix TV show being released later this year but is still bound by a non-disclosure agreement. “I’m excited for it to be released,” he says. “It was one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had working in television. I got to play a lawyer for the first time in a television role. My father was an attorney, and part of my performance is an homage to him.”

Baxter’s father, Barnee C. Baxter, graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served as president of the Demosthenian Literary Society. During his 44-year career as an attorney, he served as First Assistant United States Attorney, was in private practice and was the Chapter 13 Trustee for the Southern District of Georgia. Mr. Baxter was a member of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church and the Beech Island Agricultural Club.

Moving forward, Baxter has high aspirations. “There are so many different roles that I’d like to play that I could mention. Brick Pollitt from Tennessee William’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. I would be interested in any role that is a complex character, one that is pivotal to telling a compelling story. I think I’d be well cast as a king or a president.”

Article appears in the May 2019 issue of Augusta Magazine.

Have feedback or a story idea? Our publisher would love to hear from you!

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