Posts Tagged ‘Juan Logan’

A Visit to a New Art Space in North Charleston, SC, to See an Exhibit by Fletcher Williams III

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Last Tuesday, I was engaged in my now “If it’s Tuesday” I’ll be at a protest rally with fellow members of Indivisible Charleston at one of two offices for SC Congressional representatives, Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, as well as Representative Mark Sanford. What am I protesting? Well generally the fact that we have the most unqualified person in the history of the United States as President and that a day doesn’t go by when he does something damaging to the American citizens, our world image and the environment – as if the actions of Congress are not damaging enough. And if you feel like politics has nothing to do with the visual arts in the Carolinas – you’re naive. What’s happening in Washington, DC, has everything to do with the arts and artists – including health care for artists, public funding for artists and art institutions, whether anyone but the rich will have money to buy art, and on and on. Artists are not exempt from what effects the rest of Americans.

So after the rally in Mt. Pleasant at Sen. Graham’s and Rep. Sanford’s office I planned on stopping by the Historic Reynolds Avenue Fire Station, located at 2006 Reynolds Avenue, in North Charleston, SC, on my way home. Local sculptor and painter Fletcher Williams III is presenting “City Block”, a series of new work inspired by the North Charleston cityscape, on view through June 3, 2017. With the use of reclaimed wood, automotive paints, and various building materials, Williams has created three-dimensional works that symbolize the deconstruction and transformation of local neighborhoods. The exhibit is part of the visual arts offerings of the 2017 North Charleston Arts Fest (May 3 – 7, 2017) organized and presented by the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department. Hours at this exhibit space are, Tue., Thur., Fri., & Sat., 11am-4pm and Wed., 11am-7pm.

517Fletcher-Williams-III-statement
Fletcher Williams III exhibit statement

Fletcher Williams III (b. 1987) was born in North Charleston, SC. He attended Charleston County School of the Arts for much of his secondary education. Upon graduation in 2005, he enrolled in two local colleges, Trident Technical College and College of Charleston, where he focused on drawing, painting, and graphic design. He later transferred to The Cooper Union: For the Advancement in Science in Art (NYC) where he received his BFA in 2010. Since then his work has been shown in notable institutions such as MoCada Museum (2016), McKissick Museum (2015), Mann-Simon Center (2016), San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art (2015). In 2015, Williams was named an Art Matters Grantee and an Alternate Roots Visual Arts Scholar.

Now I know when most people in the greater Charleston area hear the words “Reynolds Avenue” they envision in the words of President Trump – an area worst than a battleground in Afghanistan. But it’s not! Reynolds Avenue was once one of the major gateways on to the old Charleston Naval Yard. Thousands of workers from all points in the Charleston area used to work at the Naval Yard. There are still businesses open there and I felt no concern in parking my car and visiting this exhibit. The fire station has a lot of free parking at the rear of the building. Hours the facility is open are all during daylight hours – not 2am. So don’t let your unfounded fears keep you away from seeing this exhibit. Go with a group if that makes you feel better.

I’ve been admiring Williams’ works from afar up until this day. He has had shows in downtown Charleston, but it’s harder for me to get to Charleston these days than Mt. Pleasant and North Charleston. I’ve seen a lot of his work on Facebook. And from what I was seeing, Williams was a rare item in Charleston’s visual art community – he wasn’t making art that was oriented towards Charleston’s tourist market. The only connection there might me to tourism is his incorporation of the “Palmetto Rose” in his artwork. A “Palmetto Rose” is a rose made from a fron (long leaf) from the official SC State tree, the Palmetto tree, which Black youth sell to tourists throughout downtown Charleston.

517Fletcher-Williams-III-Bless-Those-Sittin'-High
“Bless Those Sittin’ High and Ridin’ Clean” by Fletcher Williams III, wood, automotive paint, metal flake, steel lath, 72 x 36 x 13 inch

One work in this show has the “Palmetto Rose” incorporated in it – making a link from his previous works to this exhibit, but most of the works in “City Block” which are constructed from reclaimed wood, automotive paints, and various building materials show three trends – the use of the cross, the use of colored light, and wood assembled in different directions.

One thing that seems to be true in all of Williams’ works is that he is a gifted carpenter. His use of reclaimed wood is very creative. Not to mention keeping these materials out of landfills or being burned adding more carbon to our air. See, everything is political.

517Fletcher-Williams-III-Stacked
“Stacked” by Fletcher Williams III, discarded wood, plywood, 70 x 64 x 4 inches

517Fletcher-Williams-III-Brace
“Brace” by Fletcher Williams III, discarded wood, plywood, shingle, 77 x 52 x 21 inches

517Fletcher-Williams-III-Surveilance-Station
“Surveillance Station” by Fletcher Williams III, discarded wood, steel lath, LED, 63 x 48 x 4 inches

There are just thirteen works in this exhibit and I only want to show a few to give you a taste of what you’ll see, as I want you to go see this exhibit. Williams deserves the attention and support of the art community and those interested in art. Don’t let a trip to North Charleston get in the way of that.

To let you know how important Williams’ works are and will be in the future, there was one work that had a red dot on it, meaning it had sold. I asked him if an individual had purchased it or if the City of North Charleston had purchased it to add to their art collection. He told me an artist and his wife had purchased it – named Juan Logan. It seemed Williams was not totally informed about this artist.

517Fletcher-Williams-III-Fresh-Linen-and-Royalty
“Fresh Linen and Royalty” by Fletcher Williams III, discarded wood, automotive paint, metal flake, steel lath, LED, 30 x 30 x 4 inches – SOLD

I grabbed this from Logan’s website (www.juanlogan.com): Born in Nashville, TN, Juan Logan now lives and works in Belmont, NC. Logan’s artworks address subjects relevant to the American experience. At once abstract and representational, his paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, and videos address the interconnections of race, place, and power. They make visible how hierarchical relations and social stereotypes shape individuals, institutions, and the material and mental landscapes of contemporary life. Logan has shown extensively nationally and internationally, has had numerous solo exhibitions, and executed many private and public commissions. He is married to curator Jonell Logan. Logan’s works can be found in private, corporate, and public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Gibbes Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Memphis Brooks Museum, the Zimmerli Museum of Art, and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. Most recently, his piece “Some Clouds are Darker” became part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Now I don’t want to make this all about Juan Logan, but when an artist of his reputation ends up at an exhibit at an old fire station in North Charleston and he purchases a work from an up and coming artist to add to his collection – that says something. I was impressed, but then I already liked the work Williams was producing, my pocketbook just doesn’t run as deep as this dynamic couple’s. But I felt good knowing we share the same opinion on the work we were seeing in this exhibit and of the artist’s future. Which leads me to the fact of asking – how long will Williams be able to stay in Charleston – a town not known for supporting creative and challenging artwork.

517Fletcher-Williams-III-talking-with-visitors
Williams talking with some gallery visitors

William Halsey and his wife Corrie McCallum made the decision to stay in Charleston and there is no doubt it cost them in the long run. They supplemented their income by teaching art. Charleston loses creative artists all the time who don’t give into the lure of creating works tourist will buy. I don’t blame the artists – many who are super talented and skilled at their art but who made at some point in their lives the decision to stick to subjects tourists will buy.

Go give this young artist the support he deserves – even if it’s just to go see his works. It might help him stay in Charleston and help carve out a second art market in Charleston for more than pretty images of the city and its environment. And I’m not knocking it as there is plenty of that work in my collection.

I was hoping to add a short movie of one of Williams’ works but I’ve yet to figure that out.

If you want to see a lot more of Williams’ work, which is diverse, check out his website at (www.fletcher3.com). You’ll see he’s not an idle artist.

For more info about the North Charleston Arts Fest call 843/740-5854 or visit (www.northcharlestonartsfest.com).

Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, SC, Invites You to Walk Off with Exhibition Components

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

The Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, SC, is inviting the public to the “Prop Master Deconstruction Party,” on Saturday, July 18, 2009, from 2-5pm. The event is free with museum admission.

Take home a piece of exhibition history from the Prop Master: An Installation by Juan Logan and Susan Harbage Page. Museum goers can grab a box (or boxes) from the 10,000 that are the centerpiece of this critically acclaimed exhibition. Artists Juan Logan and Susan Harbage Page will be on hand to autograph boxes and encourage visitors to take home a symbol of Charleston’s past. Enjoy complimentary samples from Paolo’s Gelato (while supplies last).

The Gibbes Museum of Art is located at 135 Meeting Street in Charleston, for further information call 843/722-2706 or visit (www.gibbesmuseum.org).

A Trip To The Gibbes

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I finally made it to the exhibit, Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art, on view at the Gibbes Museum of Art in downtown Charleston, SC. The exhibition examines plantation-related works of art from the eighteenth century to the present. Organized by the Gibbes, this exhibit was on view at the University of Virginia Art Museum in Charlottesville, VA, from Jan. 18 through Apr. 20, 2008. And, after its viewing at the Gibbes will travel to the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, GA, to be on view from Aug. 23 through Oct. 19, 2008.

The Gibbes exhibition started on May 9 and will be on view through Aug. 3, 2008. So this was the exhibit Spoleto Festival USA visitors would see – if they fit a visit to a visual art museum into their busy performance schedule – they may have for this exhibition. I think it’s exactly the kind of exhibit which the Gibbes should be offering visitors during the Spoleto Festival. Why try and compete with the contemporary art they can see in their own home cities – New York, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, or any other northern city or from Europe for that matter.

These folks don’t want to see art that was probably in their cities years ago. They want to see art from Charleston and the South. The success of the exhibitions Spoleto offered when they were offering visual art exhibitions was due to the fact that they were site-specific to Charleston and the South.

I went to the Gibbes on a day when they had free admission. The normal admission is $9 – almost twice the cost of visiting other museums in South Carolina and the region. I had to drive around the area of the Gibbes three times to find a parking space that wouldn’t cost another fortune for a short visit. That free parking at the SC State Museum in Columbia, SC, is great.

This was the first time I have set foot in the Gibbes Museum of Art since 2002 when a few members of the board of the Carolina Art Association figured it was a good idea to boot out long time director Paul Figueroa on the trumped up charge that the Gibbes was in the red for the first time in many a year. Does anybody remember what happened to our economy after the Fall of 2001?

Now here they are, two directors later and a lot more red ink, the board has recently named Angela Mack the new director (and curator of this exhibition) – a hire from inside the Museum – also someone who worked as curator under the administration of Figueroa. I hope those board members are long gone too.

On my walk to the Gibbes I passed the house at 76 Queen Street that was once used as the Gibbes Studio School where they offered art lessons to students and adults – under a Figueroa administration. I understand the building is for sale for $3 million. Why, I don’t know. Even if they found someone to pay this price, it is hardly worth the value of the Gibbes future expansion as this property is adjacent to the Gibbes. The space would allow for a healthy expansion – unless they plan on one day leaving the peninsula for a totally new museum space. But I doubt that – I can’t imagine where that money would come from in Charleston – a performing arts town – when it comes to support from the City of Charleston and its Mayor.

So into the Gibbes I go and at the front desk I learn that there is no exhibition handout for the Landscape of Slavery exhibit, other than a family activity booklet for parents and children to play a game while visiting the exhibit. Of course there is the exhibition catalogue or book, but if I went on a free day and had to look for cheap parking – I don’t think I was going to be investing in the book. Look we didn’t name our publishing company Shoestring Publishing Company just because it might sound cute – it’s a reflection of reality. That’s OK – I brought a pad and pen to take notes.

They did have a map of the museum which was an interesting legacy of Todd Smith, who was director for the last two years. Except for the Main Gallery and the Rotunda – all the galleries at the Gibbes are now identified by a letter of the alphabet – A – L. Now that’s classy. At one time people gave good money for the names of those gallery spaces or were honored for one reason or another by having a gallery space named after them, but in Smith’s new contemporary view of the Gibbes a letter of the alphabet was cool – I guess.

I’m sure this all sounds like I’m leading up to a not so good review of this exhibition but it couldn’t be anything further from that notion. This exhibit was a winner – a real education and I hope an eye-opener for some. The juxtaposition of the old view of slavery in artworks by white artists of the colonial days, revolution, civil war and even Charleston’s renaissance period against the works of African American artists working in the present time – was quite an exhibit.

The slaves in the works of Winslow Homer, William Aiken Walker, Anna Heyward Taylor and Alice Ravenel Huger Smith portrayed slave life on the plantations of the South – as not so bad, while the contemporary works created by African American artists gave an entirely different view on how they viewed life on the plantation. Especially in works like Joyce Scott’s, No Mommy Me I, a leather and bead creation of a nanny and her golden charge and Juan Logan’s Foundation, a wall of metal blocks on one side but each block on the other side was shown to be the back of a slave on all fours – holding up the next block of another slave holding up another block and on and on. Two views of this wall – both very different.

When family and friends come to visit and I take them on the traditional tour of downtown Charleston someone always brings up the wonderful homes Charleston is full of and so lucky to have. They remark about the skill and craftsmanship it took to produce such masterpieces of architecture. I always reply, “Yes, it’s the best city slavery could build – I just want you to remember that.” It’s something everyone should remember in Charleston.

Slavery is a part of Charleston’s history and past, it’s not one of the better parts of that history, but it is part of the history. That said, that history, if told properly, can be a major part of Charleston’s cultural tourism. All we can do is apologize for that past, learn from it, and embrace it as part of the history of the city and the people who lived here – free citizens black and white and the slaves and the indentured. They all made Charleston what it is.

The artworks in the exhibition come mostly from collections of regional art museums and from regional contemporary artists. So this is pretty much a homegrown exhibition with a few exceptions. The works are placed in various sections including: Introduction, Protest, Politics, Nostalgia, and Identity – each interesting for their own reasons.

I think it was in the Politics section or maybe Protest – I can’t remember now – that I found two very interesting artifacts. One was a first edition copy of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly, from 1852. What historical events did this small book set off?

The other item was one of the Dave jars, now famous in South Carolina’s history. Dave “The Potter” Drake was a slave and pottery maker, who could read and write, in Edgefield County, SC, who wrote info on some of his creations. This one had the following written on it: “Dave belongs to Mr. Miles where the oven bakes-the pots biles/31st July, 1840″. Slave Dave probably would never imagine where those writings would take him in history. Just think about how many pots, jars, jugs, plates, etc. were made by slaves on plantations throughout the South, but if found today are just old examples of pottery. A 15 gallon jar by Dave sold at public auction in 2000 for $83,600. It is said that the jars have been sold for higher amounts at private auctions or in sales among private collectors and dealers. Most slaves were not allowed to learn to read or write – good thing Dave did or we may never of had a glimpse into his life.

Well, go see this exhibit before it moves on to another museum and the works are returned to their owners. And, if you have the time – go see one of Charleston’s plantations – Middleton Place or Drayton Hall – to get a close up look at a plantation.

Before I left the Gibbes I walked through the exhibit, The Charleston Story, an ongoing exhibit featuring artworks that tell the story of Charleston or show off some works by artists from the area. The first sections includes what some young people might refer to as the old paintings of old people. Except for a few recent additions these are works that anyone who has visited the Gibbes over the last two or three decades has seen many times before. When I got to the section identified as Charleston Today, I was a little taken aback. Yes, there were works by William Halsey, Corrie McCallum, Jill Hooper, Brian Rutenberg, West Fraser, and even Jonathan Green and Jasper Johns, but there was much more work on display by artists who at best have a very loose connection to Charleston. As a poster stated, these are artists who may have visited Charleston, taught here at one time or – reflect the complex story of the region.

I’m not sure viewers were making that subtle distinction and didn’t end up thinking that these artists had something to do with Charleston Today – artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Diane Arbus, Forrest Moses, or even Jeremiah Miller and Herb Jackson – both from North Carolina.

The Gibbes has works by artists with real connections to Charleston in its collection who would offer good examples of the works – styles – subjects – displayed by these artists. They may not have the same name recognition value in some people’s minds, but at least they are from Charleston.

This exhibit may be an example of former director, Todd Smith’s transformation of the Gibbes into a more contemporary art museum, but the Gibbes needs to do some repair within the Charleston visual art community. They may need to dust off some of those works by local artists to bring some back into the fold. Plus it would be a more honest representation of art being created in Charleston Today.

My final thought about my return to the Gibbes. It has been at least six years since I was last inside, but it seemed much smaller to me now. This may be from visiting much newer and bigger art museum spaces in North and South Carolina. With over 10,000 works in the Museum’s collection, you wonder where they are keeping them all and how long will it take to get many of the works into some kind of display so people can see them? But I’m sure that’s a problem for all art museums – too many works and too little space.

After leaving the Gibbes I popped into the new digs of the Wells Gallery at 125 Meeting Street, which used to be the old Virginia Fouché Bolton Studio & Gallery – almost a decade ago. Of course the space had gone though a major make-over – no one would recognize this as the old Bolton space. The new gallery space has two glass windows in the floor so visitors can see the building’s old cistern below.

This was the fourth location in the history of the Wells Gallery in Charleston. The gallery started out on Market Street, but eventually moved to Broad Street – then State Street and now – as owner Hume Killian said ( I caught him dropping something off at the gallery on a Saturday morning) – to it’s final location on Meeting Street, almost next to the Gibbes Museum of Art. This is an example of how Charleston’s commercial gallery owners have constantly been forced to move from one location to the next – due to raising rents in the City. These galleries help make Charleston a destination and then turn around and have to pay – more and more for their own success. It would be nice if the City or the landlords would give them a break for attracting visitors to Charleston.

The gallery had on view an exhibit by Karen Larson Turner entitled, Way of Life. Turner has been a staple of the Wells Gallery for a number of years – since Broad Street I think. She is one of the area’s excellent landscape painters and this show was a good example of that fact. Works ranged in size from 11″ x 14″ to 3′ x 4′ and larger. I spotted a number of red dots on tags so I think the public was in agreement. This show may be over by the time anyone gets to read this but works by Turner can be found at the gallery on a regular basis.

The Wells Gallery has a good group of artists which it represents including local, regional, and as Killian told me – more artists with a national reputation.

You can see their lineup of artists in our paper or on our website. This blog may be new, but it’s just part of the Carolina Arts offerings of info on the visual arts of the Carolinas.