The images are sure to startle and intoxicate.
"Larry Clark: Tulsa," which opens Wednesday at the Columbia Museum of Art, shows figures in various forms of debauchery and, subsequently, decay.
The 20 photographs from Clark's 1971 book, "Tulsa," documents the lives of Clark's friends in Oklahoma in the 1960s. First you see the paraphernalia of drug use. Then in the background you see American flags and Jesus figurines, signs of Americana.
The contrast is unmistakable.
"It's the American dream battered," said Todd Herman, the museum's chief curator. "He followed the same characters for just under 10 years. You see how they evolve or sometimes devolve."
Clark, who was also an addict, had a prescient eye. His lens exposed the effects of the drug culture on suburban youth, photographing kids with crew cuts and wearing button-down shirts and khaki pants as addicts.
What may have been viewed as an anomaly has become a problem. Tune in for an episode of A&E's "Intervention" or read about the proliferation of meth abuse.
"People are still dealing with social and economic problems in the same way," Herman said.
Clark was there first 40 years ago.
"These are some of the first photographs of their type, especially to be mass produced in a book," Herman said. "It was shown to a country that thought highly of itself."
Clark was born in Tulsa, Okla., and his mother was a baby photographer. The innocence of life - and what happens when it is lost - is a central theme in his images. Sex, drugs and apathy saunter in a few of the warmly lighted pictures. What's underneath the ideas of a perfect society is scary, but there is also a beauty in the melancholy.
"The photographs are not taken in a way to be judgmental," Herman said. "And some of the photographs are hard to see. He's just giving it to you."
"Tulsa" is a stark contrast to the museum's upcoming exhibition, "Ansel Adams: Masterworks," which opens Oct. 23. Clark and Adams approached middle America in two different ways beyond the obvious of Adams' landscapes and Clark's candid documentary portraits.
"Ansel Adams sees pristine beauty in unspoiled nature," Herman said. "And then you have Larry Clark, who shows us what's going on behind the mountain.
"And that is the gritty underbelly of the Midwest in the '60s and going into the '70s."
"Tulsa" runs through Feb. 7 in the Mamie and William Andrew Treadway Jr. Gallery 15 at the museum, which is at Main and Hampton streets. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. $5 to $10 and free on Sunday; (803) 799-2810
"Oktoberfest," the S.C. Philharmonic's Masterworks 2 concert Saturday at the Koger Center, will feature compositions by Salieri, Haydn, Mozart, Strauss Jr. and HK Gruber - and beer, as there will be a pre-concert biergarten.
But first, the concert. The Phil's principal bassoonist, Peter Kolkay, will perform Mozart's "Bassoon Concerto." Also featured: the Columbia Choral Society and the Coker College Singers in Haydn's "Te deum for Maria Theresa."
Now for the beer. For $10, guests will feast on German sausage with sauerkraut, peppers and onions, German potato salad, dessert and German beer. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m., but the biergarten will open at 6 p.m.
Morihiko Nakahara, the Phil's music director, will host the pre-concert lecture series, "Classical Conversations," at 6:30 p.m. in the Koger Center's auditorium.
The Koger Center is at 1051 Greene St. $12 to $42; (803) 251-2222 or www.scphilharmonic.com
The Sandlapper Singers will open the season with a fantastic guest: the Dick Goodwin Quintet. The show, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Dreher High School, will also feature the winner of the vocal group's Katie Quackenbush vocal scholarship, Sam Grosby.
The school is at 3319 Millwood Ave. $5 to $15; www.sandlappersingers.org or call (803) 381-5481
"Ceramics: Southeast," an invitational exhibition at USC's McMaster Gallery opens Thursday. The exhibition brings together 13 artists who will offer their perspectives on contemporary ceramics, ranging from pottery to sculptural forms.
Artists included are: Alice Ballard, Russell Biles, Jim Connell, Don Davis, Lauren Gallaspy, Bruce Gholson, Samantha Henneke, Frank Martin, Scott Meyer, Gay Smith, Paula Smith, Mike Vatalero and Jerilyn Virden.
A panel discussion titled "Facing the Future" and led by Virginia Scotchie, a USC art professor, will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday in room 239 of McMaster. A reception will follow. There is also a ceramic workshop from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday in room 103 of McMaster.
The exhibition runs through Nov. 19. McMaster is at 1615 Senate St. The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call (803) 777-7480.
The Chamber Orchestra Kremlin will perform at the Newberry Opera House at 3 p.m. today. The 17-piece orchestra, one of Russia's leading ensembles, features the country's strongest young string players.
The opera house is at 1201 McKibben St., Newberry. $30; (803) 276-6264 or www.newberryoperahouse.com.
if ART Gallery will present the opening of two solo exhibitions Friday at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. Philip Morsberger's "Time Travelers" and David Yaghjian's "Dancing Man" will run through Oct. 27. Both artists work in the realm of figurative art. There's an artists reception 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.
Gallery 80808/Vista Studios is at 808 Lady St. For more information, call (803) 238-2351.
Columbia Classical Ballet opens its season with two performances of "Hunchback of Notre Dame" at Koger Center Friday. The shows are at 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The Koger Center is at 1051 Greene St. $13 to $ $33; (803) 803-251-2222
The Benedict College Gospel Choir, for the second consecutive year, won top honors at the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation's Annual Black College Choir Competition.
The competition was held Sept. 27 in Lithonia, Ga. The award includes $3,000 and a trip to appear on BET's "Bobby Jones Gospel."
- Otis R. Taylor Jr.