Feature Articles

July 2013

If You’re Looking for Summer Reading, Try Some of These Books

With Excerpts from Alfreda’s World and a Foreword by Angela D. Mack

A collection of poignant recollections celebrating the lives, friendships, and faith of Gullah women from Johns Island

9” x 10 ¾”, 152 pages, 80 color and 10 b&w illustrations

ISBN 978-1-61117-100-6
hardcover, $49.95

ISBN 978-1-61117-101-3
paperback, $29.95

eISBN 978-1-61117-185-3

Artist Mary Whyte’s Down Bohicket Road includes two decades worth of watercolors - depicting a select group of Gullah women of Johns Island, SC, and their stories. In 1991, following Whyte’s recovery from a year of treatment for cancer, she and her husband moved to a small sea island near Charleston, SC, seeking a new home where they could reinvent themselves far removed from the hectic pace of Philadelphia. In this remote corner of the South, Whyte first met Alfreda LaBoard and her devoted group of seniors who gathered weekly to make quilts, study the Bible, and socialize in a small rural church on Bohicket Road. Descendants of lowcountry slaves, these longtime residents of the island influenced Whyte’s life and art in astonishing and unexpected ways.

Whyte soon began a series of watercolors depicting these women, honoring their lives and their dedication to family and faith. As her friendships with these women grew, their matriarch Alfreda LaBoard claimed Whyte as her “vanilla sister.” Alfreda’s World, a collection of Whyte’s detailed watercolors and poignant recollections of the women at the senior center, was published a decade later, drawing attention and support from the community to the small church on Bohicket Road.

Down Bohicket Road continues the story of Whyte’s relationship with these extraordinary women, following the passing of Alfreda, against the backdrop of the ongoing commercial development of Johns Island. For Whyte, the heart of this community remains in the simple homes clustered along Bohicket Road, in the island’s winding tidal creeks, and in a small church where eighteen hardscrabble women gather in fellowship each week. In her book Whyte illustrates that both watercolors and friendships can be the unpredictable results of an abundance of blessings. As shared through touching words and vibrant paintings, Down Bohicket Road celebrates a unique way of coastal life and a remarkable friendship that transcends all barriers - even death itself - in praise of the unifying power of art.

All royalties from the sale of this book benefit the Hebron Saint Francis Senior Center on Johns Island.

Watercolor artist Mary Whyte is a teacher and author whose figurative paintings have earned national recognition. Her portraits are included in numerous corporate, private, and university collections, as well as in the permanent collections of South Carolina’s Greenville County Museum of Art and the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. Whyte’s work has been featured in International Artist, Artist, American Artist, Watercolor, American Art Collector, L’Art de l’Aquarelle, and numerous other publications. Whyte is the author of Working South: Paintings and Sketches by Mary Whyte, Painting Portraits and Figures in Watercolor, An Artist’s Way of Seeing, and Watercolor for the Serious Beginner. Her work can be found at Coleman Fine Art in Charleston.

“The extraordinary work of Mary Whyte, who could easily be named the first visual poet laureate of South Carolina, is astonishing on the very face of it. When I grew up in Beaufort, SC, Ruby Ellis Hryharrow, a friend’s mother, was known as the best watercolorist in town. The artists of those early times formed a club of their own, but Mary Whyte’s work is in a league of her own. She is painting a South Carolina I thought only a poet or novelist could create. Mary Whyte has made South Carolina a kingdom of her own, and my God, this woman can write and paint,” said Pat Conroy.


Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green, edited by Kwame Dawes and Marjory Wentworth

A collection of poetry and prose prompted by a renowned Gullah artist’s paintings

9¼” x 9¼”, 160 pages, 16 color illustrations

ISBN 978-1-61117-091-7
cloth, $39.95

ISBN 978-1-61117-092-4
paper, $19.95

eISBN 978-1-61117-186-0

The best art has the uncanny ability not only to give pleasure to those who view it but also to inspire a desire to respond. The best artists are a force for all art, and renowned Gullah artist Jonathan Green’s work has inspired a wide range of responses from artists around the world. In Seeking we see how Green’s art prompts works of poetry, prose, and memoir. Seeking’s evocative power lies in the intimacy of this dialogue, which speaks to the shared sense of landscape and culture that Green stirs in these writers, ranging from close friends and fellow artists from his home state of South Carolina to nationally established authors who regard Green’s work as an important cultural institution.

The contributors have allowed themselves to be challenged by Green’s brilliance, his honesty, his intense spirituality, and his deep love of people. Inspired by a personal quest toward induction into a spiritual community, Green’s painting Seeking is rich with history, myth, and truth. The writers in this collection have found fertile ground for their own responses to Green’s work, and the result is an engaging and enlivening chorus of celebratory voices.

Edited by Kwame Dawes and Marjory Wentworth, this collection features eleven color paintings by Green in addition to a preface on the history of the project, information on the painting Seeking, and an artist’s statement.

A prolific author and editor in myriad genres, Kwame Dawes has written sixteen collections of poetry, most recently Back of Mount Peace and Wheels. Dawes won an Emmy Award for his poetry and reporting on HIV/AIDS in his native Jamaica, and he is also the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the Forward Poetry Prize, and the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize. Dawes is the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and a Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth’s poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize four times. Her collections of poetry include Noticing Eden, Despite Gravity, What the Water Gives Me, and The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle. Wentworth is also the author of an award-winning children’s book, Shackles, and of Taking a Stand: The Evolution of Human Rights, with Juan E. Méndez.

Contributing poets include: Paul Allen, Marcus Amaker, Andrew Calhoun, Carol Ann Davis, Ellie Davis, Kwame Dawes, Wes DeMott, Ray Dominguez, Trish Dunaway, Linda Annas Ferguson, Nikky Finney, Damon Fordham, Richard Garcia, Alvin J. Green, Barbara G. S. Hagerty, Mary Hutchins Harris, Ellen E. Hyatt, Syieve Locklair, Ed Madden, Ray McManus, Susan Meyers, Delores B. Nevils, Carol Maxzine Peels, Bryan Penberthy, Charlene Spearen, Denny Stiles, Marjory Wentworth, Stephen White, and Katherine Williams.


The Palmetto and Its South Carolina Home by Jim Harrison

A celebration of paintings and images exploring the beauty and strength of South Carolina’s state tree.

9¼” x 9¼”, 96 pages, 56 color and 1 b&w illustration

ISBN 978-1-61117-049-8 cl, $29.95

With its fanlike evergreen fronds, soft trunk, and strong root system, the palmetto is a wind-adapted palm that can bend with strong sea breezes without breaking or being uprooted. Emblematic of survival against opposition, the palmetto tree has captured the imaginations of South Carolinians for generations, appearing on the state seal since the American Revolution and on the state flag since 1861.

The palmetto was named South Carolina’s official state tree by Governor Burnet R. Maybank in 1939, and in 1974 Governor John C. West commissioned acclaimed South Carolina artist Jim Harrison to paint the official palmetto tree portrait for the State of South Carolina, an image that adorns the State House to this day. The Palmetto and Its South Carolina Home showcases the timeless, natural beauty of the state tree in marshland and coastal landscapes in the popular Harrison style.

Appearing on glassware, stationery, jewelry, and many other decorative and functional objects, the palmetto tree is an omnipresent symbol in South Carolina culture. For Harrison, the palmetto remains foremost an icon of the wondrous Carolina coastal habitats. Sweeping images of the coast have been part of Harrison’s art since the beginning of his career, and he continues to illustrate his love of the South Carolina coast by capturing the beauty of the state tree amid the many stunning and enchanting scenes included here.

The Palmetto and Its South Carolina Home also explores the historical background of the tree and its many ties to South Carolina’s heritage as a symbol of strength and beauty worthy of this artistic celebration.

“The South Carolina coast is quite a special place. My artwork represents my southern heritage with a wide range of images from coastal to rural Americana scenes. Recently I have refocused on capturing the timeless beauty of our state’s coastal areas and South Carolina’s tree in particular. The palmetto tree is an image that is very much a part of our state’s past, present, and future, and it represents not only the beauty but also the strength of our state and it’s people,” said Harrison.

Harrison describes himself as a mood realist artist. Through his work he seeks to evoke in the viewer the same deep appreciation he holds for America’s scenic heritage. Harrison has devoted much of his life and art to the preservation of the past. He studied art at the University of South Carolina and launched his professional career in 1971 on the sidewalks of New York’s Greenwich Village.

Harrison’s first book, Pathways to a Southern Coast, was published by the University of South Carolina Press in 1986 and was brought back into print in 2009. He and his wife, Margaret Harrison, manage the Jim Harrison Gallery in Denmark, SC.


Palmetto Portraits Project, edited by Mark Sloan

Essay by Josephine Humphreys, Afterword by Paul E. Matheny III

A rich compendium of portraits from two dozen photographers depicting everyday South Carolinians

10 ¼” x 12 ¾”, 176 pages, 124 color and 58 b&w illustrations

ISBN 978-0-615-35474-3, hardcover, $29.95

The Palmetto Portraits Project is a collaboration between the Medical University of South Carolina, the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, and the South Carolina State Museum intended to reflect the full range and diversity of South Carolina citizens at work and play in the lowcountry, piedmont, and the upstate.

The portraits include close-ups and wide shots of ordinary people living in South Carolina. Military personnel from Fort Jackson, Parris Island, and Charleston Air Force Base are photographed. Factory workers at the BMW Manufacturing Plant are featured as well as firefighters, children, church attendees, and shop merchants on Charleston’s King Street. From historical reenactors to a roller derby girl, these photographs highlight the range of individuals who make up everyday life in South Carolina.

Reminiscent of the Farm Security Administration’s photographs of 1930s, the Palmetto Portraits Project is a visual survey of state residents at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Novelist Josephine Humphreys provides an essay contemplating our shared kinship. Editor Mark Sloan offers insight into the privileged access that portrait photographers have long provided into the lives of their subjects.

Each photographer prefaces his or her work with a brief description of the photographs and the experiences of working toward this collaborative project. In the afterword Paul E. Matheny III offers an assessment of how these portraits may be viewed by future generations and applauds the photographers for capturing “the soul of the state.”

Mark Sloan is the director and senior curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston School of the Arts. Sloan is an accomplished photographer and the author or coauthor of eight books.

South Carolina novelist Josephine Humphreys is the author of Dreams of Sleep (winner of the 1985 Ernest Hemingway Award for First Fiction), Rich in Love (made into a major motion picture), The Fireman’s Fair, and Nowhere Else on Earth.

Paul E. Matheny III is chief curator of art at the South Carolina State Museum.

Photographers participating in this project include: Jack Alterman, Jeff Amberg, Gayle Brooker, Vennie Deas-Moore, Brett Flashnick, Squire Fox, Andrew Haworth, Molly Hayes, Jon Holloway, Caroline Jenkins, Julia Lynn, Nancy Marshall, Phil Moody, Milton Morris, Stacy L. Pearsall, Blake Praytor, Ruth Rackley, Kathleen Robbins, Chris M. Rogers, Nancy Santos, Mark Sloan, Michelle Van Pary, Sam Wang, and Cecil Williams.


Romantic Spirits: Nineteenth Century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection by Estill Curtis Pennington

A lavishly illustrated exploration of romanticism in iconic Southern masterworks

10” x 12”, 168 pages, 45 color and 29 b&w illustrations

ISBN 978-0-615-56265-0, hardcover, $34.95

The late, eminent scholar Clement Eaton once observed that the nineteenth- century romantic spirit, which “subtly permeated the society of the Old South,” was borne out most vividly in the region’s “arts and social manners.” Having had its genesis in European literature and fine art, romanticism found its way into the cultural output of the young Republic, both North and South. The same ideals that imbued the canvases of the Hudson River School also colored the art of painters who found their inspiration and audience below the Mason-Dixon Line.

In this study of thirty-two artists represented in the Johnson Collection, noted art historian Estill Curtis Pennington delineates the historical, social, and cultural forces that profoundly influenced their aesthetic sensibilities. Author of the award-winning books Lessons in Likeness and Kentucky: The Master Painters, Pennington examines the core concepts of the romantic movement as it unfolded in the American South: the heroic individual, an idealized chivalric code of personal honor, the sublime quality of nature, and the inevitability of change in an imperfect world. Many of the artists under consideration in this lavishly illustrated volume created works of art that have achieved iconic status in the annals of painting in the South, including William Dickinson Washington, William Thompson Russell Smith, Gustave Henry Mosler, Thomas Addison Richards, Joseph Rusling Meeker, Robert Walter Weir, and Thomas Sully.

Spanning the years 1810–1896, Romantic Spirits includes insightful illustrated biographies of the featured artists, as well as extensive bibliographic resources. This inaugural publication underscores the Johnson Collection’s commitment to advance interest in the dynamic role that the art of the South plays in the larger context of American art and to contribute to the canon of art historical literature.

Estill Curtis Pennington has served in curatorial capacities for the Archives of American Art, National Portrait Gallery, New Orleans Museum of Art, and Morris Museum of Art. Pennington’s Kentucky: The Master Painters from the Frontier Era to the Great Depression was a nominee for the Smithsonian’s Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art and a winner of the 2009 Publication Award of Merit from the Kentucky Historical Society. His most recent book, Lessons in Likeness: Portrait Painters in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1802–1920, has also been honored by the Kentucky Historical Society.

All of these books were published by USC Press in Columbia, SC.


Fire & Steel: The Sculpture of Grace Cathey will be published by Dahlia Books on July 1, 2013.

Fire & Steel is a collaboration between Cathey and the distinguished historian Sara Evans (author, Carolina native and seasonal resident).

Fire & Steel introduces Grace Cathey, tells the story of how she came to metal art after years as a professional weaver and painter and how her work has grown and changed. It also describes some of the techniques, especially finishes and use of color, that draw on Cathey’s experience as a weaver, watercolorist and print artist.

Printed in full color with over 100 photographs throughout the book, Fire & Steel is primarily an art book that introduces readers to the full range of Cathey’s work, from major pieces of public art installed on the main streets of Waynesville, NC, Hendersonville, NC and the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, NC, to a variety of custom pieces for homes and gardens - even wearable pendants.

There are very few women sculptors who work with fabricated metal: cutting steel, welding, hammering, grinding, and shaping to create beautiful pieces both large and small. Cathey’s career developed in western North Carolina and her subject matter draws heavily on the fauna and flora of the Southern Appalachians. Rand-McNally’s Best of the Road lists her gallery on Depot Street in Waynesville as a landmark.

Professor William Hood at the New York University Institute of Fine Arts says of her work, “Grace Cathey shares a gift rare among artists. Her exacting craftsmanship coaxes metal into works of art that are alive with the likeness of graceful, vibrant, playful creatures. They delight the eye and light up the heart.”

Lawrence J. Wheeler, director of the North Carolina Museum of Art, in Raleigh, NC, declares that Grace Cathey’s sculptures are “beautifully conceived, and brilliantly executed. Her integration of the natural world into her large formats is lyrical and lovely, not easy to achieve in such an unyielding material.”

Trained first as a fiber artist, Cathey spent 15 years as a weaver, but once she tried MIG welding in a welding class, she never looked back. She started making garden stakes and then worked her way up to flora and fauna: animals such as frogs, roosters; twisting vines and flowers in bloom. Her functional garden pieces such as gates and trellises often feature an unexpected extra – like a butterfly on a bloom or a lizard slinking up the side.
Cathey’s work is part of the permanent collection at the North Carolina Arboretum and Chimney Rock State Park and has been exhibited at the United States Botanical Garden in Washington, DC, and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. Her large-scale public art has been included in both Hendersonville and Waynesville’s Art on Main series. You can also see her work at her gallery, housed in historic Walker Service, an auto service center her husband’s grandfather opened in the Frog Level area of Waynesville in 1928.

For info about Fire & Steel, visit (http://gracecathey.com/book.html).


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