Posts Tagged ‘Karin Olah’

Redux Contemporary Art Center’s Artists Open Their Curtains to the Public in Charleston, SC – Dec. 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

This bi-annual event celebrates the diversity and vitality of the visual arts at Redux ( Come see 20 artists in their working environment and gain insight about their technique and process.

Redux is home to Charleston’s most creative artists. Each artist at Redux concentrates on developing a personal artistic vision. Redux’s exhibition program and events program makes for a resourceful location that has a supportive atmosphere where studio renters are constantly exposed to visiting artists, artist lectures and most importantly, the ideas of their neighbors. This results in a creative momentum for everyone.

This event offers a unique opportunity to experience artists at work in their own studios. Visitors can look at art, talk with artists, and learn about new techniques, all in an open-house, informal environment. While you enjoy the variety and quality of the artwork, you will be supporting art, artists, and a valuable tradition in the city.

There is, of course, no charge to the public, and aspiring artists of all ages are especially welcome!

Current Redux artists include: Sally Benedict, Tina Christophillis, Shannon Di, Kaminer Haislip, Michael Heagerty, Tim Hussey, Barbara Looney, Karin Olah, Tommy Ozmore, Timothy Pakron, Nate Phelps, Chase Porter, Isa Salazar, Nancy Santos, Kate Long Stevenson, Liz Vaughan, Luke Vehorn, Lesley Wamsley, Ivy Williams and Lindsay Windham.

Redux Contemporary Art Center is a non-profit gallery, studio, and education center. Through diverse programming and a full studio facility, Redux promotes and encourages all forms of artistic creation, while introducing and educating the public to current trends of contemporary visual art. The Redux Studio Program offers emerging and under-represented artists full access to professional artist studios. Individuals work in a productive atmosphere alongside other contemporary artists. The 6000 sq. ft. space is equipped with 15 private artist studios and Charleston’s only public darkroom and print shop.

Redux Contemporary Art Center is located at 136 St. Philip Street, in downtown Charleston, SC.

For further information call the Center at 843/722-0697 or visit (

And, I’ll add this as it wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the press release – these artists would also be very pleased if you purchased some of the artworks they have made. Some in the art community don’t like talking about selling art. I’m a pimp for the visual arts – I never mind bringing up prices. It costs money to be an artist, it’s hard work, studio rent is due every month – so it’s a good thing when the public buys art so artists can do what they do best – create art.

So go and revel in the supportive atmosphere at Redux, but it would be really nice if you purchased something to take home – even if it’s just a membership to Redux.

The Big Piccolo Spoleto Exhibition at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston, SC

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

What do you do when the weathermen are calling for 100+ degree temps in the Charleston, SC, area? Why you jump in your car and travel to North Charleston, SC, to photograph an outdoor sculpture exhibit and then head to downtown Charleston to check out the big Piccolo Spoleto exhibit,Contemporary Charleston 2009: Revelation of Process, featuring works by Dorothy Netherland, Jonathan Brilliant, Ben Timpson, Karin Olah and Ishmael, on view at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park. Surely, you didn’t think I was going to cut grass or rake leaves.

More about the outdoor sculpture exhibit in another blog.

I purposely put off seeing the exhibition as City Gallery at Waterfront Park as I knew it would get a lot of chatter during the festivals by local and regional media, but after the Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto Festivals were over – coverage would drop off a cliff. But, the show is still on view through July 26, 2009. People still have a month to go see it, but most of the media will have moved on to today’s news. They have all been there and done that.

I’ve read a lot of those pre-event articles and reviews, but didn’t absorb much. I was waiting to see it for myself. I do agree that this is one of the best exhibits that I have seen at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park. Was it the best Piccolo Spoleto exhibit ever? I wouldn’t go that far, but it would be in the top five – maybe number two or three.

Would I crown Erin Glaze – King of Curators? She did a good job, but I’d have to see a few more shows under her hand before I could come close to saying that. But, it was a heck of a first time. This space has gone through a lot of gallery directors, gallery coordinators – whatever the title is from day to day. There’s no telling who will be in charge next year. Well, I know – Ellen Dressler Moryl is in charge and next year she may decide to feature one of her friends. You just never know. So, I’m not letting this show change my mind about the direction of this gallery space and what the future will bring. I always have hope, but I’m also a realist.

But, I, like others, would like to see Glaze do a few more exhibits – on her own. She added some touches to this exhibit which really helped the viewers get a grip on the process of creating art – in the artist’s own words and actions. Austin Nelson, who created the video clips – shown in a loop at the gallery near each artist’s works  really gave those who took the time to view them an insight into these artists’ world  – the process of creation. Also, there were small stations which also showed more details of how these artists work or where they come from – their influences and backgrounds, or in some cases – the world they were focused on. Beyond an exhibit catalog, these two elements added much to this exhibition.


So, on to the works.

When I entered the gallery I turned directly to the left – avoiding the  70,000 pound gorilla in the room. These were works by Ben Timpson. The first works were small boxes, mounted on the wall, with a framed round magnifying glass – which you were to look through. What you saw was a small image backlit by white light – like a peep show. These unusual images were made up of parts of other objects – some from plants, bugs – whatever. I found these interesting works of art. But once these same type of images were blown up to a much larger scale – presented like a painting – they lost some appeal. But that’s just me. Others enjoyed these works as much as I did the smaller boxes.

This was the first time I’ve seen any work by this artist, so it would be hard to make much of a judgement on whether I liked it or not overall. I liked the small boxes and the fact that some were placed really low – maybe for better viewing by children or to make adults think the effort of bending down would reveal something naughty. Anytime you make the audience work for their supper it’s a good thing.

I next moved upstairs where I knew I would find Karin Olah’s works. I must declare up front that I’m a big fan of Olah’s work, Linda and I own one of her works, and I even put one of her images on the cover ofCarolina Art’s May 2009 issue – one of our last color covers for awhile. I hope it’s not too long before we get back to color covers. So, I’m already sold on Olah’s work. But, she never fails to amaze me and show me she has places to go that I have not seen.  I  look forward to a long journey following her work.


And, it was apparent many others wanted to take that journey too. Olah had an entire wall of smaller – very nicely priced works – mostly sold. She by far has sold the most works during this exhibit. Now, that is not the purpose of these lofty exhibitions at non-profit gallery spaces, but most of the time – even at major museums – the works on display by living (contemporary) artists can be purchased, if they are not on loan by a previous buyer. So, although no one is keeping score – I like the fact that many others enjoy my taste in art and Olah’s work. She also sold some of her larger works too and I must say this is another good sign that the economy is getting better – even if at a snail’s pace.

As an added touch for this exhibit, Olah also used some of her same graphic techniques on the walls of the gallery to link some of her works together. I liked the effect, having known the work and knowing this is not usual. Others may not have seen it the same way, but I must say that when this same technique was used to blend Olah’s work together with the other artist sharing the upstairs space (Ishmael), the linkage seemed to be a train wreck to me – especially when that linkage went into one of Olah’s works. Again, just my personal feeling, but they could be feelings over another subject altogether.


The artist Ishmael’s roots are in street graffiti. I am not a fan of street graffiti at all – especially when it is done on other people’s private property. Olah and I have had discussions about this subject – on opposite ends of the subject, but I hope we respect each other’s points of view. She’s a fan and I’m not, so it’s hard to say if my feelings about the mingling of her art with his doesn’t stem from my views on graffiti. I hope I’m being objective.

Now all that aside, I liked Ishmael’s works in this exhibition. I have no problem with the technique of graffiti or style – as long as it ends up on materials owned by the artists. Hey, I don’t care for billboards either. But, I always have to wonder how this artist would feel if some of his street friends came into the gallery space and did their thing on his works – would he feel honored or violated? My guess is – publicly honored – no big deal – part of the process, but privately a little violated – especially during his big moment – especially if it had happened to one of the works that had sold and the buyers no longer like the “tagged” work.


So, I’d like to see more of Ishmael’s work – on canvas, board, even gallery walls, but not out on the streets. He’s got too much talent to see it white washed away by citizen groups cleaning up the streets.

Next, I walked downstairs – again avoiding the gorilla, and checked out Dorothy Netherland’s works. I’ve seen her work before in many places and I like what she is doing. Although Netherland was born in the 60′s, I wouldn’t think of her as living in the same time period as I did, born a decade earlier, but her work focuses on that time period when I was growing up. By the time she was 10 years old it was the 70′s and America had changed a lot. So, when I look at her imagery I see my past as a child – I’m one of the little boys with the cowboy hat and silver six-shooters.

These were the golden years, the last days of innocence for America. When I went trick-or-treating, “without” my parents, I didn’t have to worry about people putting razor blades in the apples they gave me or riding my bike several neighborhoods over and staying out late after dark. I wasn’t going to be killed in a drive-by shooting. These were Good Times or Happy Days or were those just TV shows? Of course there was duck and cover drills in school; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy; and eventually Vietnam. But we could watch reruns of I Love Lucy and Leave it to Beaverand think it was all innocent.

This is not a world or time period you see many artists today focused on which in itself can be shocking. Some of the imagery if looked at under today’s standards of “you better be careful” might suggest another world. Are images of an older man hugging or carrying a young girl innocent or something else? It makes you think of how did we get from there to where we are now in just a short span of time? Does the picture really tell the story?

Damm you artists – stop making us think and question. You’re going to ruin my childhood memories. But then there is always TVLand . A few episodes of I Love Lucy can take you away.

Before I move on to that gorilla, I heard someone say my name and I looked up and saw Mary Gilkerson, who was also viewing this exhibit with her daughter. Gilkerson used to write art reviews for us – way back when – and now writes art reviews for freetimes in Columbia, SC. And, I learned that she will probably be doing a review of this show on her blog,SCARTblog. So, you can look for a much more insightful review of this show on her blog.

So, finally we have the installation piece by Jonathan Brilliant, made of 70,000 wooden coffee stirrers, the same kind used at Starbucks, which takes up the entire middle space of the gallery from downstairs to the upstairs’ railings. None of the sticks are glued together – they are all woven and held in place by tension. One child could get lose from a parent and the whole thing could come crashing down. Now, that’s art on the edge.



I never did see a title for this work, and other installation works he has done are named after the space they were made in, so I guess this will be known as the City Gallery at Waterfront Park 2009 piece.


People should come to this exhibition just to see this work alone and the rest of the art will be the gravy. It’s an amazing act of art, patience, and faith. What if he couldn’t finish it in time? What if it fell apart before the show opened? What if some child did run into it at the opening? Then what do you have but a pile of sticks? I’ve seen site-specific works that were just a pile of sticks and it was not so impressive – not hardly.


I’ve always had a hard time dealing with site-specific art in that it is all just temporary, but a work like this – beyond photographs, the artists walks away with nothing but a pile of sticks. On the bright side – those 70,000 coffee stirrers can maybe live on in the creation of another installation. A painter can’t recover the paint on their canvas to use in another painting. At least I don’t think they can.

I’ve seen a lot of wonderful site-specific art throughout the years, but I always saw them as a loss – as we couldn’t keep them around for others to see – generation after generation – just pictures or written words. It’s not the same as seeing them in place, but then I guess that’s the point of it all.


I’ve seen other works by Brilliant before in fringe exhibits during Piccolo Spoleto, but this is by far the largest. According to the exhibit catalog it may be his largest work to date. And, I don’t care how many photographs are taken of the work – they will never do justice to seeing the work up close – in 3D (no special glasses needed). So go see this exhibit.

I had another 60′s flashback looking at Brilliant’s piece. My older brother and I used to make exploding projectiles out of popcycle sticks – woven together. We could throw them around the house and not break anything as the minute they touched anything solid they would explode. For a moment, just a moment – an image of a little boy (let’s say a boy in a red cowboy hat and silver six-shooters blazing away) running head first into Brilliant’s work gave me this super special effects movie in my head of the City Gallery at Waterfront Park exploding and coffee stirrers flying hundreds of feet in the air in all directions. I wonder if Brilliant has nightmares about that or secretly thinks of being that child. After all, he made it.

Well, if for some unimaginable reason you should miss seeing this exhibition, the Redux Contemporary Art Center in Charleston, SC, will be presenting the exhibit, Past Presence, featuring works by  Karin Olah, Jonathan Brilliant, Kevin Hoth, Dorothy Netherland, Seth Curcio, Jarod Charzewski and Tim Hussey, from July 24 through Aug. 16, 2009. It seems strange that another institution in Charleston would program such a show featuring three of the five artists in this show so soon, but it may have been a replacement show for some exhibit that had to be cancelled. Or perhaps it’s to remind folks that these artists started out first at Redux. Either way – there’s more good art to see this summer.

The City Gallery at Waterfront Park is also offering a series of lectures in conjunction with the exhibit including: On June 27, 2009, from 2-5pm – Karin Olah Lecture & Demonstration – Using fabric, Olah works in a manner that mimics the flow of paint from a brush. Intricately cut, placed, and pasted textiles are combined with gouache, acrylic, and graphite to create collage paintings that are deep in color and texture. Part 1: Informal Talk & Short Demo. Part 2: Community Collaboration. Olah will provide materials and instructions for a fabric collage painting. Everyone is invited to contribute and paint on this piece. Attendees may bring in their own fabric scraps for the collage painting! Part 3: Donate to Olah’s fabric collection by bringing in solid or striped clean, natural fiber scraps (no patterns, please). Your scrap may be part of a future collage painting! One-of-a-kind “Art-Scrap Cards” will also be sold at this event only! Take home a Karin Olah original for only $12! On July 11, 2009, Time TBA – Lecture by Dorothy Netherland. On July 18, 2009, Time TBA – Lecture by Jonathan Brilliant. These programs are free and open to the public. For further info call the City Gallery at Waterfront Park at 843/958-6484.

And, remember if you are coming from out of town to see either of these exhibits, check out some of the commercial art galleries in Charleston. There’s a lot to see in a wide variety of styles. You can find days and times gallery spaces are open at Carolina Arts Online under our Gallery Listings pages.

Doing the Charleston with Judith McGrath

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

For any regular reader of Carolina Arts over the last eight years, commentary from Judith McGrath – all the way from Western Australia – has been a sort of sounding board as to what’s going on in the visual art community – around the world – or at least the other end of the world. Although Australia is 24 hours of flight travel away from us in the Carolinas, it seemed at times that McGrath was writing about the art community right here. I know there were times when I wondered if she had installed some kind of spyware in my computer to monitor my commentary. When her e-mail would arrive – out of the blue – it often mirrored what was on my mind. Believe me, it was spooky at times.

It all started when Scottie Hodge, owner of Tempo Gallery in Greenville, SC (now closed for some years) sent me an e-mail about an article she read that McGrath wrote for an online publication called, Art Thought Journal. After reading the piece I contacted the editor of that publication to see if I could run the article in our publication. He said I’d have to take that up with McGrath. I contacted McGrath and in our Nov. 2000 issue we offered a guest commentary entitled Visual Art vs Entertainment.

The reaction to that guest commentary was very favorable – mostly because of the article’s content and insight, and some as relief from my views. So, from that day on we have offered the occasional – View From Down Under. You can see that first article and all others she offered archived on our website at (

Who was this voice from down under? We have posted this description after each installment: Judith McGrath lives in Kalamunda, Western Australia, 25 minutes east of Perth. She received a BA in Fine Art and History from the University of Western Australia. McGrath lectured in Art History and Visual Literacy at various colleges around the Perth area, and was an art reviewer for The Sunday Times and The Western Review both published in the Perth area. McGrath is currently a freelance writer and reviewer for various art magazines in Australia. She also co-ordinates the web site Art Seen in Western Australia found at (

Well, as I mentioned in commentary in Carolina Arts a few months ago, McGrath was planning a trip to the east coast of these United States and was planning a trip to South Carolina. She was actually planning to visit Bonneau. When they asked about hotel info in Bonneau – when Linda (my better half) and I stopped laughing, we explained that we might have to direct them to another city close by.

Oh – how interesting that could be – Judith McGrath in SC – in Charleston! I didn’t get my hopes up as I know all the things that can happen to derail the best laid plans. Just look at John McCain. His “straight talk express” ran aground in Alaska – much like the Exxon Valdez did. They’re still cleaning up that mess.

But on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008, I was driving Judith and her husband Owen from Summerville, SC, to downtown Charleston for a look at what the visual art community had to offer.

I had made some plans as to what and where we would go, but like I said before – the best laid plans sometimes have to be adapted. We had to deal with what would be open on Sunday and Monday, and unfortunately, that took some galleries off my list. And, we found that some galleries are not going by the hours posted in Carolina Arts‘s gallery listings. And, on the other hand, fortunately some galleries that should have been closed were open.

McGrath’s tour of South Carolina began in Spartanburg, SC, where her visit was front page news, but in Charleston we would be traveling under the radar – much like I do. If you have followed my commentary about the good Mayor of Charleston, I have to look twice – both ways – before I cross the streets in Charleston.


First off, the weather was great the two days they were in Charleston. It’s like we were actually having Fall weather in South Carolina. Our weather is the complete opposite of what they have at the same time in Australia – our summer is their winter.

After a short driving tour of Charleston, our first official stop was at the Gibbes Museum of Art. Although the couple was somewhat fatigued in visiting Art Museums up and down the east coast, McGrath did fall in love with Alice Huger Ravenel Smith’s watercolor landscapes – not her works with people, but the landscapes. But, what she really wanted to see was the commercial galleries. So we headed out to see who was open.

The great thing about Charleston’s commercial art community is that it is concentrated in a few areas of the city. You can park in one stop and visit dozens of galleries in just a few blocks of each other.

After leaving the Gibbes we first ran into the sidewalk display by a few members of the Charleston Artist Guild – a Charleston Fall tradition. We next headed “by request” to Charleston’s Market area. McGrath had spotted the area on our driving tour around the city. At first I couldn’t think of what area she was describing – the Market is not usually on my tour itinerary for visitors, but I soon realized the McGraths were also interested in the full view of Charleston – including the Market and antique shops on King Street. I’m a flexible tour guide so we adapted some more.

The Market helped add to the McGraths’ worldwide collection of snowglobes.

From the Market we headed into the heart of the French Quarter Gallery Association’s district, but found few open galleries there. It’s a good thing we still had Monday for our tour. We then headed to Broad Street where we found more open doors. The couple’s favorite gallery of our first day of touring was the Mary Martin Gallery. They were really taken by some sculpture there of wooden violins made by Philippe Guillerm.

After walking and driving around one end of Charleston to the other in search of open galleries, we left Charleston heading to the promise lands of Berkeley County for some barbecued ribs and corn-on-the -cob at the headquarters of Carolina Arts in Bonneau, SC, on the shores of Lake Moultrie. The McGraths live at the edge of Australia’s OutBack and I explained that Linda and I lived in what most Charlestonians think of as Charleston’s OutBack – Berkeley County.

As it always happens – when it rains it pours. We didn’t know exactly what day the McGraths would arrive, but at the same time Linda’s sister arrived for a visit as well as some good friends from North Carolina who have a house at the lake, so Linda didn’t get to do the Charleston with us.

On our second day of touring Charleston art galleries we found more open doors, but there were still a few galleries that were supposed to be open but were not when we arrived at their door. And, we missed a few that don’t open until Tuesdays, but we visited 80 percent of the galleries in downtown Charleston in our two-day adventure. And, my feet were feeling it too. I’m used to trekking the streets of Charleston and many other cities in the Carolinas, but I usually don’t take in the antique shops too. But I learned some things in our travels that was well worth the effort.

Some galleries don’t seem to be displaying the copies of Carolina Arts we drop off every month. I made a list and will be checking this out and when we find that someone is not displaying the paper, we will stop leaving them there and take out the free gallery listing we have been giving them. Most galleries had them well displayed, a few had them hidden, but we made a game out of seeing who could spot the Carolina Arts first.

Highlights this day included a visit to Rhett Thurman’s studio where we were lucky to catch the artist at work, a visit to Nina Lui and Friends (all three floors), Plum Elements for a peek at some Japanese prints and what was hailed by McGrath as her favorite gallery in Charleston – the Eva Carter Gallery. It was a special moment of pride when I got to brag that we owned a work by each of the artists represented by the gallery. It was there that the couple almost purchased a work by Karin Olah – not having seen any work like it before. Now, that’s saying something from this world traveling couple.

Work by Karin Olah

But the joke of the two day tour was, “Owen, you’re gonna need another suitcase!” The McGraths were already going to have to purchase a very large suitcase to fit all their purchases made in the US while visiting. An extra suitcase on their 24 hour return flight home was going to be an expensive item. The thought of another one was an instant headache – for Owen.

The McGraths took lots of contact info from galleries we visited and they will let UPS do some deliveries for them once they get back home. After all, it is a small world these days.

After our second day of trekking we headed back to Summerville talking about some of the places we didn’t get to see, but I think Judith and Owen had an enjoyable tour and saw a lot of interesting art and got a small glimpse of Charleston. On the subject of the bad rap Charleston’s art scene often gets from some other areas of the Carolinas – the so called love Charleston artists have for painting the city and the surrounding environment – the two world travelers said that you see that everywhere you go around the world.

I don’t know if Judith McGrath will write anything about her visit to Charleston or what she will say. But, for me it was a great opportunity to have a give and take dialogue about what we were seeing, art in general, and various subjects covered in both our commentaries. It was also a great pleasure to meet the person who has contributed to Carolina Arts from afar for the last eight years and her husband. I hope the exchange will continue for many years.

Judith – Owen, thanks for coming to see us.