Posts Tagged ‘Atrium Art Gallery’

A Trip to Charleston, SC, to See an Exhibit by an Old Photography Friend – Mar. 4, 2016

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Back in our photography days, back when Linda and I ran a custom black & white photo processing business, a photography gallery, and a photography guild – we were in touch with the Charleston art photography community. It was a very talented and vibrant community. It was old school. Then came the digital age. Now we hardly know anyone calling themselves an art photographer today. We’re way out of the loop, except to what comes across our radar in doing Carolina Arts.

Like a lot of our old photography friends, we thought this would be the end of good photography, and soon we gave up the photo processing business for the desk top publishing business. Many of those photographers fought tooth and nail to hold on to the old ways of doing photography. Years later we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the digital age wondering why we resisted so long and trying to keep up with the constant changes and innovation.

Change is always hard, but change is good and in this case – change has been great.

So, when I got the notice that John Moore, one of those old photography friends was having an exhibit at Corrigan Gallery, located at 62 Queen Street in downtown Charleston, SC, I marked the date for the reception, Mar. 4, down on my calendar. That was also the day of the new Charleston Gallery Association’s Art Walk. My hopes were that I would be able to attend.

316corrigan-gallery-john-moore2
Work by John Moore

As things turned out something always happens which becomes a conflict with my plans, Linda had to work and that afternoon we had to have contact with our health insurance folks – never a good thing. The timing was not good as it would put me in Charleston after 5pm when the reception starts and because it was also Art Walk night – finding parking was going to be a challenge, which is an everyday challenge in Charleston. But I’m an old pro at finding space in Charleston to park and I had my lucky spots.

As I’m heading to Charleston I notice I’m almost out of gas and I determined that I would need to stop for gas before I got to Charleston or I would risk being able to get out of Charleston – another delay. So picture pulling into a gas station on Friday afternoon when most people got paid and would fill up their tanks for the weekend. The picture is of more delays.

316corrigan-gallery-john-moore3
Work by John Moore

When I finally got onto I-26, the traffic coming out of Charleston was a solid mass, from Charleston to Goose Creek and probably all the way to Summerville. I was glad I was heading into Charleston not out and it should be all cleared away by the time I was returning home. Traffic in downtown Charleston was busy with the Art Walk already going on and the search for parking was in full mode, but my first choice on an old reliable spot was empty.

When I die, I’m leaving a guide on how to find parking in Charleston to the highest bidder. The proceeds will go to the Carolina Arts Foundation, which will mean one of the grandsons had taken over the publication or it will go to the owner of any art photography gallery in Charleston.

316corrigan-gallery-john-moore4
Work by John Moore

I had come to Charleston to just see John Moore’s show, but anywhere you park in downtown Charleston you are going to pass several galleries getting to another – they’re everywhere. So I would stick my head in any I passed. The first I came across was Anglin-Smith Fine Art. It was packed – I mean wall to wall, so I moved toward Corrigan Gallery thinking things will clear out later on my way back to the car. I passed a new pottery gallery that was also packed. The streets were packed with people going and coming from galleries. I know this as that’s what they were talking about. That’s one of the interesting things about the Art Walks is listening to what people are talking about as you’re walking about from one gallery to the next.

When I got to Corrigan Gallery, which is not a big space, it was really packed and it took about 15 minutes once I got in to actually talk with John Moore. It was a little hard to see the work up close on the walls, but like hockey, you just have to be patient in muscling your way into position – eventually you get to the net. It was a little hard to take photos though.

316corrigan-gal-john-moore
That John Moore in the blue shirt.

It was a good thing that Moore’s show was my main objective for the evening as I could hardly turn around without bumping into an old friend from the old photography community, old and new art community friends, or the old Sierra Club group. It was good catching up with these folks as to what we’re all doing these days and how many grandchildren we all have. And, there’s nothing more I like than looking at art, but talking about art.

As far a photographers go, I just missed TR Richardson, but did talk with John Moore, Tom Blagden, Luke Platt, and Alan Jackson, who is doing more drawing these days than photography. In the non-photographer art group (oh yeah, these photographers are artists too) there was Linda Fantuzzo, Jenny Summerall (who is moving back to Charleston), Keller Lee, and Kris Westerson. Representing the old Sierra Club was Virginia Beach and Hayes Patterson.

316corrigan-gal-john-moore2

The exhibit, John Moore: 24 photographs, will be on view through Mar. 31, 2016. This display of abstract images is presented both individually and as a portfolio set in book form.

Some folks were saying that this exhibit was the best Moore has had and I guess I would agree with that, except for the fact that it’s been so long since his last one and way long after early exhibits, that it would be hard to judge, but the fact was – this was a great exhibit of new works and good to see his work being exhibited again in Charleston. I’ve always liked Moore’s art making.

316corrigan-gal-john-moore3

Moore is known as a nature photographer. I think of him as Mr. Tree and Mr. Rust. He seems to focus on trees in his landscapes, and the photographs of rust are also nature images – showing what nature does to metal. This show could be taken for a group of abstract paintings, which in the overall art world is the best thing that could happen for a photographer. The public and some in the art community have a bias against photography thinking it’s too easy and something that can be reproduced again and again. The cameras in phones didn’t help this thinking as everyone is a photographer now (as I’m taking my photos with my phone). So any photograph that doesn’t look like a photograph is good – unfortunately.

The funny thing is that some of the images of rusting metal are actually presented on metal, which is a not so new thing in the photography world. And, for Moore this exhibit gets away from one of an artist’s biggest hurdles in exhibiting their works – framing. The works on metal look great and are lighter than being in wooden frames. Having works offered in book form also avoids framing. Sorry framers – you are an added cost for artists presenting their works and most people buying art would prefer to have more control over how the artworks they buy will be framed.

Go see this show and see how photography and nature can compete with the best abstract painters. By all the red dots that were showing up on Moore’s works – others were in agreement with me.

Several times while I was at Corrigan Gallery I went outside to get a breath of fresh air and watch the crowd coming and going. I noticed across the street over at Atrium Art Gallery that an abstract painting was hanging in the window, so when I finally left Corrigan Gallery I strolled across the street to check out the painting in the window which lead me inside. They were featuring the paintings of Jim Pittman that could have gone along side Moore’s photographs.

316atriumartgallery-jim-pittman1
Work by Jim Pittman

A card I picked up stated that Pittman was a landscape painter based out of Colorado and coastal Virginia. I really liked his works. Not all abstracts cut the muster with me, but I could tell these were being made by a seasoned painter. As they say in The Fiddler – “if I was a rich man” – I would have loved to take a few of his paintings home with me. They wouldn’t fit into my collection of Carolina artists, but they would have fit in great with my abstract works.

316atrium-gal-jim-pittman1

316atrium-gal-jim-pittman2

While you’re going to see John Moore’s exhibit, don’t forget to go see Pittman’s works just across the street. I don’t know how long his works will be featured so don’t wait too long.

On the way back to the car as I got close to Anglin-Smith Fine Arts again it was still packed, but I squeezed in this time. The Smith clan of painters always presents an excellent display of works by Betty Anglin Smith and her triplets, Jennifer, Shannon, and Trip. I fully expect to see a third generation of painters from this clan.

I have many times admitted that I’m most often drawn to works by Shannon Smith Hughes, but this night it was Jennifer Smith Rogers who won the prize for gaining my attention. Her painting, Birds Eye View showed signs of a little loosening of her painting style toward abstraction. It was a slight change but enough to catch my eye. It’s not a competition and I don’t mean to cause any friction, but that painting was my favorite of this night.

316anglin-smith-jennifer
“Birds Eye View” by Jennifer Smith Rogers, oil on linen, 30″ x 60″

I talked with Betty a bit and she confirmed that they had been packed all night and with 10 minutes of official time left on the Art Walk there was no sign of the crowd letting up. She thought it was one of the best in the last few years.

I wouldn’t know about that as my best Art Walk days are long behind me. Over the years I’ve been on so many, but now it’s not my main interest. Back in the day when we had a printed publication that I had to deliver, I would deliver a stack of papers to every gallery during the day and then go to the Art Walk that evening and hit as least a dozen galleries. I was a much younger man back then.

I don’t know how the crowd was at all ends of the greater Charleston Gallery Association community, as it is a much larger area to cover from South of Broad to North of Calhoun Street, but in the old French Quarter core – it was packed.

But just remember folks, these galleries are open all week long and you’ll probably get a better look at the art when you’re not having to elbow your way into position. After all, hockey is a sport – not an art.

Timing Is Everything In The Life Of An Art Viewer – A Trip To Charleston, SC

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

A week or so ago, Linda, my better half, asked me at the end of a totally unrelated conversation, “Are we going Friday?”. I asked in return if she wanted to go to some Pearl Harbor memorial, being the smart-aleck that I am – knowing she was talking about Friday Dec. 7th – which would also be the first Friday in December. That would also be the date of the mega art walk in downtown Charleston, SC, with both the First Friday on Broad and the French Quarter Gallery Association’s art walks taking place. The December art walk in Charleston is the best as it is actually dark during the walk and a good bit of the area would be in full Christmas decor. You see, that Friday would be the rare occasion when Linda would not be working and it was a first Friday. The fact that she could just ask, “Are we going Friday” and I knew exactly what she was asking is the sign of a old married couple and that I spend most of my time each month working on our calendar listings and I was fully aware that it was going to be one of those special first Friday opportunities.

In the course of working on those gallery listings I knew there were going to be some interesting shows to see that Friday. Karin Olah, one of our favorite abstract artist was returning to Charleston, from wintery Colorado, for an exhibit at Corrigan Gallery. That was a must see. Karen Vournakis, a mixed media/photographer was having an exhibit at a new gallery in town, the Atrium Art Gallery, across the street from Corrigan Gallery on Queen Street. We have not seen her work in a gallery in some time. Mickey Williams was having an exhibit at Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art Galleryand there was always Nina Liu & Friends (843/722-2724). As things turned out – the day before the art walk we learned that Smith Killian Fine Art would be showing an exhibit of works by Trip Smith – the photographer in the talented Smith Family clan of artists. And, as usual, as the days wound down to that Friday, other tasks popped up making our trip to Charleston a narrow window of opportunity – making another quick in and out visit. And as usual we spent more time in the car coming and going than we did in galleries in Charleston. My apologies go out to those galleries that with more time and energy we would have liked to visit, but didn’t get to. The major victims here were the Mickey Williams’ show and Hamlet Fine Art Gallery – Stephanie we’ll have to talk (perhaps on the phone). Plus, I always end up talking too much at each place as we run into folks we haven’t seen in awhile. But we got to four galleries and one of them twice.

Our first stop as usual is always Nina Liu & Friends gallery as we never know when it will be the last time to go there and I seem to always be able to find a parking space on her street (State Street) if we can get downtown before 5pm. We arrived on State Street and found a spot at 4:59pm.

As I titled this blog entry – timing is everything. We were the first to arrive at Nina Liu & Friends gallery and as it turned out so had a shipment of Aggie Zed’s small animal/human figures – just that afternoon. So we were lucky to get Nina Liu to set one aside for us. I don’t know why it has taken us all these years to add a Zed to our collection, but we were very lucky. Liu said about a half-dozen had already sold between the time they had arrived and we walked in the door to folks who have been waiting for that shipment. They’re still priced right too. I’m not going into the saga of Liu trying to sell her gallery/home, but the prime location is for sale. But I’ve got to say, she had more work in the gallery for sale than I’ve seen in a while.

1212artwalk-jeri-burdick
Work by Jeri Burdick

The gallery is showing an exhibit of Lowcountry landscapes by Katrina Schmidt-Rinke through December. But, there are lots of other things to see there. I took a few photos of a great wall piece by Jeri Burdick, who is doing something different every time I see her work. She has to be the most creative artist I know in South Carolina – no moss is growing on her talent. I also took a few photos of a multi-media piece by Cynthia Tollefsrud – not a Carolina artist, but one of the few outsiders in our collection. Her work is that good.

1212artwalk-cynthia-tollefsrud-337x450
Front of work by Cynthia Tollefsrud

1212artwalk-cynthia-tollefsrud2-337x450
Inside view.

While at her gallery Liu told me about a fundraiser using art that was a win win situation. She knows I’m no fan of the over used practice of non-profits raising fund by having art auctions. I hope to have more details on this issue soon. It sounded good, but from what I heard it wasn’t 100% good, but closer than most events come to being ideal.

Next we walked across the street to Smith Killian Fine Art to see that photography show by Trip Smith. Some of you know our history in photography in Charleston – running a custom photo processing lab for 16 years and a photography art gallery. We seem a million miles from it now, but photography played a big part in our lives, so as I walked into the gallery and ran into Betty Anglin Smith, I announced I was here to see the real art in this gallery. Which was a little joke everyone enjoyed as they know we are big fans of the talented Smith clan – including Betty and the other two-thirds of the triplets Jennifer Smith Rogers and Shannon Smith, but we never get to see much of Trip’s work. Tonight was his night – finally – another joke.

Of course we started, or should I say I started talking photography with a few photographers there and time was slipping away. Things have changed in Charleston – which still has a long way to go in giving fine art photography its due respect. Photography was being shown in all four galleries we visited that evening (highlighted in two) and it is on view all over Charleston when just a decade or so ago that was not the case. But photography is still a step-child in South Carolina – things are much better in North Carolina, but the buying public still just doesn’t seem to give it the respect it deserves. Go see this show.

Now, stepping down off the soapbox, I want to tell you of another rare observation at Smith Killian Fine Art. If you are a fan of the Smith clan’s work, but feel the works are normally priced out of your pocket-book range – the gallery was full of small works with small prices on them. In fact there was on group of works on paper that were priced at only $800. Here I am talking like my son when he says something he likes and wants is only $100 or $200 – as if all I have to do is go to the backyard and pick a few bills off our money tree, but in respects to these artist’s works which are always in high demand – $800 is an opportunity for someone to get an original Betty, Shannon or Jennifer piece. I’ve included an image of one of Betty’s works. Excuse the reflections from the glass – as always art looks so much better in person.

1212artwalk-betty-anglin-smith-315x450
Work by Betty Anglin Smith

Linda had to point out to me one of Betty’s abstracts – as if I wasn’t going to notice it – that just happened to be in her favorite colors – purple. In another corner of the gallery we found one that I liked ever better. I told her we’d stop and buy some lottery tickets on the way home. As someone introduced us on this evening as having Carolina Arts, I corrected them and said Carolina Arts has us. But we can still like things and dream – can’t we.

I’ve developed expensive tastes, but with nothing to back it up, but I’m not mad when others who can are able to and do purchase things I would – if I could. It just shows me I’d know what to do with money if I had it – in case anyone is listening. Remember that old TV show the Millionaire? Mr. Buffet if you’re reading this – just saying.

Next stop was down Queen Street to see the show at Corrigan Gallery. Here was another example of good timing. Since Karin Olah has left Charleston for the wilds of Colorado I’ve managed to be in Charleston at the same time and run into her twice. Once was an unexpected meeting during a Colin Quashie exhibit at Redux Contemporary Arts Center and the planets aligned for this show. I’ve always loved her work from the moment I first saw some and I’m never disappointed. Karin and I had many a good discussion about art when she was managing the Eva Carter Gallery. A lot of the works in this show were smaller than I’m used to seeing, but that’s a good thing as they were priced to match the size – another good opportunity for anyone looking to add an Olah to their collection or start a collection. I took a photo of my favorite.

1212artwalk-karin-olah-447x450
Work by Karin Olah

I got a chance to tell Olah to stop posting those outrageous photos on Facebook of the deplorable landscape in Colorado. If I hadn’t been there before I’d think most of them were Photoshoped. These people that go west have no right to shove those kind of images in our face on Facebook.  It’s just not the Lowcountry thing to do – showing off your environment. That goes for you too – Susan Mayfield (West).

There are lots of other great things to see and buy at Corrigan Gallery – including photography. Of course you better get there fast in case my ship comes in during the next lottery drawing.

Time was slipping by and we ran across the street to the new Atrium Art Gallery to see Karen Vournakis’ exhibit Working Charleston Plantations, on view through Feb. 28, 2013. Vournakis is another photographer who began old school, so our discussion soon moved to how fast digital photography has taken over. It wasn’t that long ago that she made her prints in a darkroom and hand-colored them and today she’s all digital – except for still making images on film. We old timers used to claim we’d never go to the dark side of the force, but you can’t hold back when the new kid on the block is better – much better and easier than the old ways. Believe me, from spending years in darkrooms – there’s nothing glamorous about it. It’s like working in a toxic landfill and it’s dark.

The gallery was a nice new addition to Charleston’s gallery scene and was full of local artists I did not know – except Vournakis. It was nice to see her work hanging in a gallery in Charleston again. Go check out this show and the gallery.

In the last week I’ve had conversations with a few gallery owners who were asking if I knew of anywhere art was selling. These folks were from different parts of the Carolinas and I had to tell them that I didn’t know for sure, but I had my own barometer on that subject. No big galleries in Charleston have closed and it seems new ones were popping up all over – some I hadn’t even seen yet. After visiting just four galleries during the art walk I think Charleston is selling art – they were that evening. There was a time when they were not and other areas were, but I think that trend has changed, but there are a lot of galleries in Charleston – more than anywhere else in the Carolinas, so four is not a great sample.

On the way back to the car we popped back into Smith Killian Fine Art – just to make sure we weren’t dreaming and they really did have photography featured – just kidding. The crowd seemed to be getting larger and as soon as we pulled out of our parking space someone was right there to take it.

On the drive back home when I tend to run the evening’s events over in my cluttered mind I realized that I didn’t take one photo of any of the photography on exhibit. I guess as an old photographer I just have a deep rooted thing about copying other photographer’s work. And when I think about it I don’t think I’ve ever taken photos of photography on view in a gallery. I’m not doing them any good by not showing their work, but I’m going to have to think about that some. I’m not really doing justice to the other art I take photos of either, so I’m going to work that out, but the main point of any of these blog postings is to get you to go see the art in the galleries. So go do that.

Oh, I almost forgot. Karin, I finally noticed that thing you do with your signature. Boy that took a while.