Posts Tagged ‘Betty Anglin Smith’

A Visit to Downtown Charleston, SC’s Art Walks – May 6, 2011

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Even though I haven’t been to many art walks in Charleston lately, it’s still our backyard as far as art communities go. I don’t know everyone there now and many don’t know me, but for a lot of the folks who have been there more than a few years, it’s hard for Linda and I to just slip into a gallery and not be spotted. Gallery owners and artists seem to gravitate to us – one because we’re friends with a lot of these folks – at least we feel we are, and two, we haven’t seen most of these folks – face to face in a long time. So we’re like a blast for the past.

It would be nice to do an art walk and not be working, but the nature of these events is always social/working. I want to write the trip up for our blog and they hope I’ll write it up – everyone needs publicity. The problem in Charleston is we know and meet so many people we want to talk to that I end up doing more talking than taking photos. So, I have some images to not make this blog all words, but in no way all that I should have. I’m sorry for that. We got some from the galleries or their websites.

I’ll refresh people’s memory of the weather on May 6, 2011, in the Charleston area. A forecast called for scattered showers, but it seem to be raining most of the day up here in Bonneau, the headquarters of Shoestring Publishing Company on the shore of Lake Moultrie. And just as it was about time to leave, the rain came down hard, but the weather wizards said the system would clear out of the area by 6pm. This time I was hoping they were right. It rained pretty hard all the way to Charleston’s borders, but as we crossed that border the rain stopped and the sky opened up.

By the time we found the same parking space I used in visiting the April art walk, the sun was shinning. Thanks to whoever saved it for us. The rain had cleared the air and cooled it down to a very pleasant 75 degrees. We’ve had some great weather as far as temps go lately – although dangerous at times.  At least there weren’t any tornado warnings on May 6.

Our first stop, due to location, was Nina Liu and Friends, at 24 State Street. The gallery is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. The exhibit being presented that evening was Defining Moments, featuring works by Susie Miller Simon of Colorado, on view through June 30, 2011. Simon couldn’t be there for this opening, but will come in a few weeks.

Nina Liu’s gallery is spread throughout three levels in her home – which is still up for sale – if anyone is interested in living in the heart of Charleston’s French Quarter district and wants to also have a gallery – or not. She’ll sell – either way. Liu is hopping to retire one day to the home she has waiting in Mexico – someday. But, we’re not in any hurry to see her go.

We noticed something strange going on. People were coming into the gallery, saying hi as they passed by, heading upstairs. Liu noticed the strange look on our faces and explained that they were regulars to her openings and they know the food and drink is upstairs. I rolled my eyes, thinking to myself that they could have at least glanced at the works in the exhibit before – running upstairs, but it doesn’t seem to bother her as another group zoomed by. Her food is very popular.

511aw-ninaliu-smsimon
Work by Susie Miller Simon

Simon’s works give reference to imagery of the Southwestern United States – a million miles from Lowcountry art, which is refreshing at times and I’m sure a reason why her works are so popular here. I’ve included an image, that I’m sure wasn’t in this exhibit. I got it off the Internet just to give you an idea of what the work is like. But you’ll see some images like this and some very different, but you’ll be able to tell it came from Simon.

It was reassuring to see some of those folks who rushed upstairs eventually filtered down to see the exhibit, one even asking about the price of a work found upstairs. A good time for us to move on.

For the second month in a row, I was focused on going to Smith-Killian Fine Art, at 9 Queen Street, at the corner of Queen & State Streets. Last month it was to see an exhibit by Shannon Smith and this month to see “abstract” works by her mother, Betty Anglin Smith, as well as works by a very strong group of SC’s contemporary artists including: Carl Blair, Eva Carter, Matt Overend, Laura Spong, Leo Twiggs and Scott Upton. The exhibit, Contemporary Carolinas – an Invitational Exhibition, will be on view through June 12, 2011.

511aw-smith-spong-twiggs
Works by Laura Spong (L) and Leo Twiggs (R)

The week before we had talked with Laura Spong at Vista Studios in Columbia, SC, during Artista Vista (read about it at this link) and knew she would be there. And, I was hoping to see and talk with Carl Blair, whom I haven’t seen in a while. Blair, was the one and only member of the Commission of the SC Arts Commission who listened to my complaints and tried to do something about them. The one and only! A true arts leader in SC – a rare exception. Unfortunately he didn’t make the trip from Greenville, SC.

That’s OK – I’ll take the hugs from Betty, Eva, and Laura any day.

511aw-smith-eve-carter
Work by Eva Carter

In my opinion, the day William Halsey passed on, Eva Carter became Charleston’s top “abstract” artist, if not one of the best in SC. After closing up her gallery a few years ago, this was the first of her work in an exhibit in Charleston. Although she has now opened a studio just around the corner from her old gallery, at 16 Gillon Street, we haven’t been able to catch her there when we were in Charleston – so we were also looking forward to seeing and talking with her and seeing what she was painting these days.

But, the real kicker in this show was to see more “abstract” paintings by Betty Anglin Smith. I mentioned in my write up of the April 2011 art walk in Charleston that we saw an unexpected work – an abstract painting by Betty at Shannon Smith’s show. We loved the work and I wanted to see if it was a one hit wonder or if we have a new abstract artists in town. Folks – we weren’t disappointed.

511aw-smith-betty
Work by Betty Anglin Smith

Of course as Betty put it – she’s not quitting her day job of painting landscapes – just yet. We all know there’s a smaller audience for “abstract” art in the Carolinas. But, every day we see more of it all the time – and that means more people are buying it. I tip my hat to Smith Killian Fine Art for taking the risk to present such a show – during the Spoleto Festival season in Charleston. I hope it pays off for them – so they can do it again. I know I could have spent a good bit of my lottery winnings there that evening. Now all I have to do is win one.

This was a great show of works from some of SC’s best artists, not painting what most people expect to see when they go to Charleston to see or buy art. But, I’ve always said there is a lot of this kind of art being made in Charleston – you just have to work a little to find it.

What a good time to transition over to Corrigan Gallery, located at 62 Queen Street – one of those places you won’t find what some people call “Charleston” art. But, you will find plenty of art made by Charleston artists. The exhibit, Egg Meditations, the continuation of a ten year exploration by Yvette Dede, was being presented. The exhibit will be on view through May 31, 2011. I swear it’s been that long – ten years since I’ve seen work by Dede on view in Charleston. At one time she ran Print Studio South, which eventually turned into the Redux Contemporary Arts Center (which hasn’t sent a press release about its May/June exhibit yet). But, that’s what happens when you become an adjunct college professor. You spend more time teaching than exhibiting.

511aw-corrigan-y-dede1
Works by Yvette Dede

For regular readers of my views on art – presentation is a big factor with me and this exhibit was a top notch example of how to present a cohesive group of works – in this case based on the egg shape. Dede made special frames for her small works and in the intimate space at Corrigan Gallery they looked fantastic. I’m talking about the presentation of the art. I really don’t care what the wall looks like or the floor – as long as they don’t distract the viewer from the art, and in that case – that’s a bigger problem for the artist. There’s nothing wrong with the wall or floors at Corrigan Gallery – I’m just saying well presented art can look good in someone’s cluttered basement.

511aw-corrigan-y-dede2
Works by Yvette Dede

After checking out all the variations Dede presented, we checked out some of the other works being displayed at the gallery and I came across a work which really fooled me at first in an alcove between the two main rooms of the gallery.  There was a large abstract work on one wall – blue and red. You know how I like abstracts. When I got close enough to see who the artist was,  I was, well not totally surprised, but embarrassed that it was by a good friend of ours –  John Moore. I’ve seen a lot of Moore’s abstract photographs, but for some reason this image didn’t click, I was seeing it from the side and I had just looked through some of his works in a stack and this just fooled me at first.

511aw-corrigan-john-moore
Work by John Moore

The real joke here is that Moore and I have talked a million times about the fact that it’s too bad he presents his work as photographs – more people would buy them if they were presented as paintings. A sad fact but true. And, the real tragedy is that many people think they are Photoshopped, but these are the real deal. He finds these outrageous colors – in man-made materials touched by nature. And, to top it off – Moore is color blind. Figure that one out and you can help me pick lottery numbers.

Moore is a purest, he doesn’t manipulate his images and he doesn’t want to fool people into thinking these are not photos just for the sake of sales. He just has a good eye, takes his time before he clicks the shutter and knows how to get the best out of his equipment and when the light is right. That’s the real art of photography.

After Linda coaxed me off the soapbox, our next stop was Horton Hayes Fine Art, at 30 State Street. We wanted to see what Mark Horton was painting these days. The gallery also shows works by Nancy Hoerter, Shannon Runquist, Bjorn Runquist and Chris Groves – all skilled painters. Now, I guess these works don’t fit the classic description of “Charleston” art in that although they are landscapes of the Lowcountry and still lifes – I just think of them as master works. You just want to be in these places put on canvas. You can feel them – smell them. We didn’t talk to anyone here – it was too crowded.

511aw-mark-horton
Work by Mark Horton

Seeing the works at Horton Hayes made me want to go check out Mickey Williams Studio-Gallery, the next street over at 132 E. Bay Street, at the corner of East Bay and Broad Street. This was our old hangout, once the office for IF Labs, then for Carolina Arts newspaper and Carolina Arts Gallery. I spent many a day and night in that space. It survived Hurricane Hugo as if it was just a thunder storm. This was also Eva Carter’s old gallery space.

511aw-mickey-williams
Work by Mickey Williams

Williams paints some incredible Lowcountry landscapes. I wanted to go by and see his works and talk to him about facebook. Sometimes I get on facebook by 7am and most days by then Williams has been on for several hours – talking about the birds in his back yard, his garden or the colors in the morning sky. He’s like the good morning guy in the Charleston facebook family – which is funny – as he, like me, is technology challenged. But, he’s got facebook down to a science. I called him and asked him to send me a photo – he had to check with his wife. Sound familiar? We’re two peas in an iPod. We embrace technology – we just don’t know how to make it work.

Our last stop was at Lowcountry Artists Ltd, at 148 E. Bay Street. Their next exhibit is The Power of Glass, featuring blown glass  by Robbie Clair and etched and fused glass by Steve Hazard which will be on view from May 28 through June 11, 2011. This gallery has almost doubled in size since the last time I was in it. As a co-op gallery it has also seen many changes in the group of artists currently showing on the walls.

Another space where we could slip in and get a good look at the art first. Of course we knew some of the artists by name or work and there were a few surprises – like seeing works by Patsy Tidwell on the wall. Her gallery was one of the mainstays of the Charleston art community, but she sold it a few years ago and now it’s closed. I’m sure she is enjoying life now creating artwork vs. trying to sell other artists’ works. It’s not easy running a gallery as an artist – even when you’re doing it as a co-op of artists.

Another surprise was seeing works by Jason Luck, a Seagrove potter who has moved to Charleston. Those Seagrove potters are everywhere. Well they’re not really – but their work seems to be getting everywhere. But, you really have to go to Seagrove, NC, for Seagrove pottery. The chamber of commerce pays me to say that.

511aw-jackie-wukela
Work by Jackie Wukela

Because we didn’t have to answer a million questions as to how the paper is doing we finally got to eat some of the goodies being offered during the art walk. But, our anonymity could only last so long as I had questions I wanted to ask so we went up front and introduced ourselves to – who I felt sure was Jackie Wukela (due to facebook). She is typical of most of the folks we “know” through the paper. We’ve talked on the phone and e-mailed back and forth, but never met – face to face.

The minute we did this, Carolyn Epperly, who I’ve talked to many times at Tidwell’s Art Gallery, but not in a while, said “I thought you looked familiar.” Jackie Wukela and Lynda English, who are members of Lowcountry Artists Ltd. are also part of the visual art community in Florence, SC, where they live and have a gallery. So this was a twofer – we got to talk about Charleston and Florence’s art communities.

Before long the end of the art walk was on us and it was time to head back to Bonneau. On the ride home a few things struck me. We’ve been to two art walks in two months in Charleston and the art walks have changed – as have the galleries and artists who fill them with works since the days when we went to every one of them.

Charleston’s visual art community is moving away from what many people have tagged it as being for years, a city of artists who are in love with the city, a bad rap in my opinion. Sure there is lots of “tourist” art here to be had – it’s what most tourists want and Charleston is a tourist town, but the artists have moved on to creating what they want – hoping that the more discriminating visitors will want to take that art home. And, a good number of the artworks are being made by artists who live elsewhere – all over the US. The so called “Charleston” art is no longer a novelty – it’s now moved into the realm of novelties – souvenirs.

And, the art walks as I knew them have also changed. There was a time when an art walk in the French Quarter was a near festival – one big party event. I used to equate them to going to the Mall during Christmas – you’d run into everyone you haven’t seen since the last one there, but not so these days. There is an art walk every month in Charleston and most galleries stay open whether they’re in the group hosting it or not. So, it’s not such a special occasion any more. Still, lots of people go to them and enjoy them, but if it rains a little it’s easy to say – I’ll just go to the next one.

Of course my memories are from the 1990′s – what I call the golden age of the visual arts in the Carolinas. It might not be fair to make comparisons to current times – an age where many people are attacking the arts to gain political points and the economy has suffered one blow after another.

I for one am glad to be able to go to them again, but it might be some time before I go to the next one. We’re a little exhausted at this point and there’s so much going on all over the Carolinas. If you don’t believe me – just check our paper out at (www.carolinaarts.com). See how long it takes you to get through it all – end to end.

The Wells Gallery at The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island, SC, Features Exhibit by the Smith Family Women

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Well, by now you know the drill – info that has come to Carolina Arts at the last minute.

Here it is:

The Wells Gallery at The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island, SC, will present the exhibit, SMITH, a new show of works by the Smith family women: Betty Anglin Smith, Shannon Smith, and Jennifer Smith Rogers, on view from Aug. 26 through Sept. 9, 2010.

On Thursday Aug. 26, 2010, the gallery on Kiawah will host an artist demonstration from 4pm-5pm by Jennifer Smith Rogers and Shannon Smith. This show brings us new works by Betty, and her daughters Shannon and Jennifer, of Kiawah and the surrounding Lowcountry.

The Wells Gallery at Kiawah is proud to present a family most often thought of as “The Smiths”.  Betty and two of her triplets, Jennifer and Shannon, bring us new works that display the similar color palette they share while highlighting their varying techniques and visions. Each artist works to be independent while still relying on the family for challenge and support. An artistic passion consumes their world and it drives them to grow a presence and quality of work that speaks nationwide to collectors and visitors about today’s life in the Lowcountry.

910wells-BettyAnglinSmith-450x445
Low Tide at Cedar Creek by Betty Anglin Smith

A native of the Carolinas, Betty Anglin Smith has firmly established herself in Charleston’s artistic community. Using large brushstrokes and grabbing colors, Betty has grown adept at capturing not just the physical nature of a place, but the feeling as well. Her paintings, whether they depict vibrant sunsets or the sweeping expanses of the Lowcountry marshland, give the viewer a sense of the immediacy of the moment as though Betty, working against the clock, was able to capture the essence of her subject.

“I can’t emphasize enough, I want my work to look quick, and spontaneous, like it just happened and flowed as opposed to appearing overworked,” Betty explains. She adds that the bold colors she uses give the paintings an element of surprise “so that you are not looking at something you have seen a thousand times before. “These colors are there, I just exaggerate them as much as possible. I want my work to be expressionistic but also remain in the realm of reality”, she explains.

Following the birth of her children, who incidentally are triplets, Betty enrolled in art classes at the Gibbes Museum of Art in downtown Charleston and rekindled her love of painting. “I really became serious about it immediately,” she recalls. “It was like a part of me that I had not been able to fulfill yet. I was lost in it.”

Betty’s love of broad landscapes, which are frequently the subject of her work, grew out of a trip she took to Santa Fe, NM, in the late seventies. The tidal landscapes of the Lowcountry presented her with different challenges than the ones she encountered in New Mexico. The tremendous difference between the southwest and southeast forced Betty to more closely examine the Lowcountry. In a predominantly flat environment, she discovered the lines in the colorful shifting clouds and meandering creeks.

For the past twenty years, Betty has dedicated herself to painting, and though her subject matter frequently reflects the Lowcountry landscape, her success has outgrown the confines of South Carolina. Her works have been shown in prominent galleries from New York, Washington, DC, and Martha’s Vineyard, MA, to San Francisco, and Carmel, CA. In addition, many of her pieces are included in some of the nation’s finest corporate collections such as Walt Disney World, IBM, and Johnson and Johnson.

910wells-JenniferSmithRoger-450x385
Single Pine by Jennifer Smith Rogers

Jennifer Smith Rogers is known for her themes of architecture and vistas seen from towering over the city. Her works weave together the themes of light and architecture, portraying a near symbiotic relationship between the two. “As far as what inspires me to paint, a lot of it is the light and the way it interacts with the landscape.”

Just as her paintings center on light and architecture, Roger’s life has always revolved around art. Raised in a family of artists, her mother, Betty and her sister, Shannon, are also highly-regarded painters. Her brother, Tripp Smith is an accomplished photographer.

Although Rogers is an integral part of the Smith Family of artists, she has certainly carved out a name of her own. Over the years her works have been featured in galleries all along the Eastern Seaboard, from Charleston to Martha’s Vineyard, MA. In addition, many of her works now hang in prominent corporate and private collections, including Walt Disney World, the Medical University of South Carolina, Ethyl Corp. in Richmond, VA, the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island, SC, and Tristan Restaurant in Charleston, SC.

Rogers takes her success in stride, continually diving into her passion for painting. While Rogers has painted in locations ranging from Maine to Italy, she always finds herself drawn back to the familiarity of the Lowcountry. Even more particular, she finds herself drawn to the late afternoons and early evening, when the colors are most dramatic. “I am fascinated with the fleeting light at day’s end because the drama and color change so quickly,” she says. “It is the most dramatic time of day because you get the highest contrast between light and dark. I am also intrigued by the night. Trying to capture the natural light of the moon, the artificial lights of the storefronts, lanterns, and streetlights is both challenging and enthralling.”  The light’s intensity against the dark of night sharply illuminates the buildings, store front windows, and church steeples. Rogers’ bold, thick brushstrokes create a sense of urgency and immediacy in her work as though she is fighting against time to capture each second of light before it fades. Combining this with her use of vibrant, warm colors, she expertly portrays more than just the landscape, but the mood of a place as well. Whether rooftop views of Charleston, vacant store front windows illuminated by the headlight of moving cars or desolate windswept beaches at sunset, Rogers’ lush oils continually deliver a fresh and distinctive style, one that her admirers have come to love.

910wells-ShannonSmith-450x355
Marshland by Shannon Smith

Shannon Smith has quickly ventured beyond the title of up-and-coming artist and has established a solid reputation within the art community. Regardless of what subject she chooses to paint, she has proven to possess an unusually keen eye and an unrivaled sensitivity to light. It is her attention to detail coupled with the use of strong, warm colors that she uses to delicately capture the fading light of the late afternoon hours. In her latest canvases, Shannon paints even stronger contrasts of color, with dramatic darks and subdued grey tones juxtaposed with warmer, more radiant hues. But, as always, her main focus is capturing light.

“My direction in oil painting is to capture natural light,” says Shannon. The artist is also fond of seeking out the quiet beauty in everyday objects. Whether it is old glass bottles gathered in a windowsill or the interior of a French bistro, the artist seems to be in constant pursuit of capturing the simple things in life.

Born and raised in the Lowcountry, many of her works are inspired by the beauty of coastal landscapes and downtown Charleston scenes. However, Shannon has studied in the Burgandy region of France with New York artist Gregg Kreutz. In the pieces produced from that trip, many of which were painted on location, she truly captured the power, emotion, and presence of France.

For Shannon, art has always been a natural part of life. She was raised in a household of artists. It was this constant immersion in art that helped foster Shannon’s talent from an early age. After completing her BFA at Clemson University in 1994, she has been painting professionally. She has been honored by the Oil Painters of America, receiving the Award of Excellence for a painting shown this summer. She has also teamed up with noted fine artist Kim English to feature workshops for aspiring artists.

For further info call the gallery at 843/576-1290.