Posts Tagged ‘Pernille Ægidius Dake’

A Trip to Charleston, SC, to See Some Rare Art by Bill Buggel at Corrigan Gallery, on View Through Nov. 30, 2015

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Last Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, I decided to go see an exhibit at Corrigan Gallery in Charleston, SC, featuring works by Bill Buggel, on view through Nov. 30, 2015. This was his first solo exhibit in 16 years and before that not many more during his 50 year career in the visual arts in South Carolina. That’s how rare this exhibition is. It had to be something good to get me to drive into Charleston on Friday the 13th.

In full disclosure, Buggel was one of the first artists whom I met in Charleston. And, he gave me a job working in a photography business he started with two other partners on John Street in Charleston in the late 1970’s. That job eventually led to Linda (my better half) and I having our own photo processing business for 16 years. Buggel also had a T-shirt business next to the photo shop. And above the photography shop he shared a studio space with Manning Williams and Linda Fantuzzo.

That photo business dealt with a lot of people in the arts in Charleston, due to Buggel’s connections. At some point I came across a copy of a book published during SC’s 1970 Tricentennial celebration – a survey of contemporary artists in SC at the time. Inside, it featured William Lee Buggel as one of the most up and coming artists in SC. Was this the same guy I was working for and now made T-shirts? It was.

One day in the T-shirt shop I asked Buggel what happened? He told me he made more money making T-shirts in a year than he had ever made creating art – it was a matter of money and making a living. I thought – what a shame. But there was a time when I thought I wanted to be a fine art photographer, but I learned there was more money to be made processing film and making prints for other photographers and that business eventually would get us into the art world, not by making art, but by reporting on it. And, that’s the sad case for many artists – many just can’t make a living at it – no matter how talented they are.

So here we both are, many years later, I’m the editor and publisher of an arts publication and Buggel is having an art exhibit of his latest works. Both are about as strange a thing that I can think of.

I remember the show Buggel had at the old Charleston City Gallery in the Dock Street Theatre. It was actually the first time I had seen any of his art, other than his photography. It was apparently the same type of work he did back in the day when he was still trying to make it as a full time artist. I liked it – it was abstract. And I like the work he is still doing today. It’s very tactile, without having to touch, and I didn’t touch. It’s colorful and full of patterns. And, he doesn’t offer a lot of art speak explaining what it means.

What’s really amazing about it is that I haven’t seen anything like it in all of my years covering the visual arts. There are a few other artists using sand to give texture to their work, but I haven’t run into anything else like what Buggel is doing and that’s saying something in a world of look alike art.

It’s really hard to understand why he didn’t get very far in SC with this art, except that the Bill Buggel I know is not one who plays by the rules and makes nice with people you might have to in order to the climb the art ladder in SC. I always heard that in SC, it’s not how good the art you create is, it’s who you know in SC that can get you to the top. I don’t believe that crappy art can stay on top too long, but I know it does help to have friends in high places in SC. Buggel is too much of a straight talker to stay out of trouble with those kind of folks.

It was hard getting good images of individual works and still be able to show off the vivid colors, so I decided to shoot only a couple of full images, then some very up close detail shots. I also took a few wide view shots of the gallery, but like all exhibits, you have to see the works up close, in person to really enjoy the works.

1115corrigan-buggle-passing-gravePassing a Small Country Grave Yard, by Bill Buggel, 17″ x 14″. Just a small country graveyard with a plowed field and wild flowers. Sometimes experiences come together in small ways.

Gray and Brick Red-Large, by Bill Buggel, 42″ x 60″. This painting is larger because of the scope of the construction at the building site.

Gray and Brick Red-Large (detail), by Bill Buggel.

A set of images I tagged as the Three Bears – Baby Bear on top, Mama Bear in the middle and Papa Bear on the bottom including: Summer Wild Flowers (top), by Bill Buggel, 18″ x 12 1/2″; Passing Verticals (middle), by Bill Buggel, 27″ x 17″; and Passing Yellow (bottom), by Bill Buggel, 36″ x 28″.

1115corrigan-buggle-passing-yellow-detailPassing Yellow (detail bottom of the Three Bears), by Bill Buggel, 36″ x 28″. Another experience of seeing static objects while moving. Along the roadside wild flowers mass into many different colors and shapes. I try not to know or identify the flowers. Knowing too much tends to take the mystery of the experience away from me.

1115corrigan-buggle-gallery-view1Gallery view 1

Gallery view 2

Go see this exhibit – you might not get a chance to do so again – which is a shame, but Buggel is out of the art loop in SC. And, these days the “inner circle” in South Carolina’s visual art community is full and unable to feed its own – in fact I think they are feeding on each other.

Corrigan Gallery is located at 62 Queen Street in historic downtown Charleston. Hours are: Mon.-Sat., 10am-5pm or by chance & appt.

For further information call the gallery at 843/722-9868 or visit (

Before I left Charleston, I extended my luck on this unlucky day by dropping in on a drop in for Pernille Ægidius Dake at Nina Liu and Friends.  Dake was one of my favorite Charleston artists who left us to become a real Yankee living in Upstate New York. Yes, you heard that right – Nina Liu is still in Charleston and her gallery space and home is still for sale and full of wonderful art objects for sale. Not as full as it has been, but there is plenty there for all you who have been missing their Nina Liu and Friends fix. It’s hard to keep up with her these days, but I think you’ll find her there at 24 State Street though the holidays, but then back again in the Spring. Call ahead to see if she is open at 843/722-2724.

It was good to see Pernille after all these years. We get postcards from her from time to time – for no reason at all or from no special destination, but they are always welcomed. Her painting that hangs in our home always draws attention. It’s sort of a self-portrait – more like a body print. The grandboys seem to like it.

I finally made it home without incident.

Colorful Prices by Pernille Ægidius Dake, a Guest Commentary

Monday, July 16th, 2012

I go for the Hammershøi’s. I have had a strange, stressful day and so want to be soothed by sparse, intimate interiors painted solely in gray scales. I expect to be held by drab tones so varied and delicate, yet powerful they ought to be colors. And so I enter the National Museum in Denmark, which hosts an ambitious show of that master of any tone ashen.

Through all times, artists have produced heaps of gray scale paintings. Whether to study a composition’s tonalities or out of budget constraints, colorless works were, and still are produced in abundance. Though, far from always well done. By his death in 1911, however, Vilhelm Hammershøi had the middle-toned palette down pat. Something also verified at Sotheby’s on June 11th 2012, where his works made a stir when selling for well over double the estimate. Ida Reading a Letter, oil on canvas, 26 by 23¼in, fetched US$ 2,677,232.

“Ida Reading a Letter,” by Vilhelm Hammershøi

In these economically uncertain times, the auction house set a record for highest paid Hammershøi – and any Danish work. The money talking apparently predicts gray is not only the new black in fashion. Perhaps this grand attention to an artist with profound consideration for simplicity foresees that, even in our disgruntledly greedy world, a more sensitive spirit is emerging. Perhaps.

But I cannot stand among Hammershøi’s luminosity and confirm beauty overrides avarice. My memory has served me wrong. The show of the Danish painter closed the week prior to my visit home. I enter the National Museum’s halls deflated, like I have been stood up. But, in one of the first rooms I meet contemporaries of Hammershøi, Emil Nolde (b1867-d1956) and Jens Søndergaard (b1895-d1957).

Their bright-colored applications are so layered they appear dark, but far, far from dismal, despite the themes: Workers stream wearily down a cobblestoned street at workday’s end from a factory. There they have toiled under conditions we can no longer fathom. Though, work drains us of energy now, too. We also stagger home in search for respite, before we will be at ‘it’ again. However, Nolde’s men still radiate pride over their purposeful employ earning them wages.

by Jens Søndergaard

Søndergaard depicts a family mourning a drowned fisherman. Maybe it is the one then being buried in the next painting over: In front of a hillside landscape, with an orange sun heading for its hideaway, a congregation bids farewell. Those gathered stand solemnly and sad, of course. But also accepting, I decide. Death being part of life, Søndergaard places a white church off to the side, tucked in among trees, as a light in an otherwise dark landscape.

by Jens Søndergaard

An elderly couple, on the bench next to me, unwrap caramels and start chewing while remaining peacefully fixed on the burial scene. They look a sprite couple, despite age bringing on fatigue, as well as the need for a cane and orthotic shoes. Wrinkles run into what is left of their white hair. The scene, however, does not to faze them. They seem to recognize time honestly spent.

I follow their gaze on to the artist’s self-portrait, where Søndergaard truly masters layering, as was it time. He stands next to his seated mother. Like the couple on the bench, the pair on the canvas glow from gratification. They know the past can never be taken away. However, the artist’s mother is aligned in front of a grandfather clock. Its dial matches her whitish hair. She looks as if she is being beamed up; about to be extinguished from her son’s life.

I imagine he has also painted her on her deathbed, using somber tones and grays, but also dabs of brilliant pigments—as what sits on the palette in his hand – filling the canvas with life that was and is, and will remain. Because, as he stands by her side, we feel they have both lived, no matter how sadly or painful or hard.

Life is not all sunshine, not then, not now. Though playing a pun: Charleston gets its share. Bleak as we may consider this era—the tourist dollars roll in only slowly, nor does the real estate market roll on—should we add more color, so to speak? Should we get over the hump by living even more intensely?

Time is what we make it. But since it does not stand still, perhaps, just perhaps we should take care to consider its finer nuances, before they bleach out.

If we surround ourselves with hectic, bold vibrancy – and yes, I race on with a metaphor connecting an overtly, colorful life and one depicted in something hanging in our homes – then do we notice anything, any detail? Sweet toffee in our mouth; a sun just breaking over the horizon; a partner remaining patiently by our side; a job having meaning because we helped someone, not because we got a raise? No. Subtleties drown in the bemoaning over what we have not and pooh-poohing those we think have more.

We look for luster. But trying to ‘live a little’ should be many things. ‘Little’ could be something simple, like a quiet evening with tea and no telly, or a subtle painting. Not the retina-grating, pyrrole or quinacridone red-tainted style popular also with Charleston tourists.

We do not have to buy the likes of Hammershøi. There are living artists, who pursue and seize deep contemplation. Aggie Zed comes to immediate mind, as does Michael Johnson’s photography. He is the current show at Nina Liu and Friends—a preeminent gallery that may have a ‘for sale’ sign on the side door, but it is, fortunately, very much open. Or, Jim Innes, represented by LimeBlue, though not currently up. Some LePrince works fit the bill; not all are eye-poppers. That can also be said for Ann Dettmer and Anna Schalk, at Mary Martin Gallery. When they leave the sharp orange tubes unopened the canvases turn out quite nice. Martin’s stars are Jim Pittman and Santiago Perez. As are Bo Joseph and Leo Twiggs at Rebekah Jacob Gallery, as well as Jessica Dungan and KC Collins at Robert Lange Studios. And real heartbeats are also found at Redux Center for Contemporary Arts and, of course, at the Halsey Institute at the College of Charleston.

Less colorful art takes a moment longer to catch your eye, because the message is not in-your-face. Contrary, it has the potential to reach you, truly and deeply. Not that we have to completely pare down our daily grind into gray nuances in order to appreciate art. But when the stark sun scorches; rush hour stalls, while our mind races to the appointment for which we are late; dates disappoint; markets yo-yo into red; we eventually do need to settle in our couch. Then it would be desirable to stare onto our walls and find respite, not be additionally overwhelmed by the neon of modern life.

Born in Denmark, Pernille Ægidius Dake’s ties to the Carolinas include an exchange student year in Richlands, NC when she was 16. Then in 1989, with a BA in Studio Art and a Masters in Marketing, she moved permanently to the US. From 1996 until 2002, she lived in Charleston, SC where her arts career included the 1997 Piccolo Spoleto Poster, while also completing a Masters in Art Advocacy from Skidmore College, NY. Currently a resident in Upstate New York, she returns to visit Charleston often… when not in Copenhagen, Denmark, or other favorite places like Lisbon, Portugal and Sydney, Australia.