Friday, December 11, 2009

The music and musicians of South Carolina sing out in art show

In the early fall I was doing the gallery crawl thing in the Pendleton arts district of Greenville. It had been a full and fun night and we were getting ready to crawl in the car and head home when I spotted a place we’d missed.
So I said, Wait a minute and headed over. The storefront studio/gallery was filled with mostly huge paintings of musicians. The artist had a musical name – Glen Miller.
I wondered if these painting, which I thought were terrific, would be on display somewhere. Yep. They're in “Story, Song, and Image: A Merging of Musical Heritage and Narrative Painting” opens Saturday at the Pickens County Museum. (And so do a big exhibition of ceramics, “The Upstate of Clay” and “Grateful,” a solo show by April Harrison.)
Miller, who teaches at Converse College and the Greenville County Museum of Art, worked on the show with John Thomas Fowler, from Boiling Springs, a musician, storyteller, and music collector.
The 10 paintings feature musicians of various stripes from throughout the state – bluesman Drink Small of Columbia (top), Hope Nunnery (right) of Sumter who plays old time folk and country, the Brotherhood Brotherhood Gospel Singers of Mt Pleasant, banjo picker Randy Lucas of Swansea and jazz saxophonist Lonnie Hamilton of Charleston.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Miller, who worked on the project for a year. “Many of the musicians weren’t really familiar with visual artists, but they were very open and welcoming. I only knew one and didn’t know him that well. They were willing to tell stories and that was important because it’s part of the paintings.
“I tried to approach the paintings the way you might write a song.”
It helped that Miller is also a musician who plays guitar, banjo, fiddle and bass.
“I try to not get to good at anything,” he said.
 “The project was really the brainchild of Glen and John,” said Allen Coleman, museum director.
Fowler has done musical programs for the museum for a decade and “I’ve always admired Glen’s paintings,” Coleman said.
Although no formal concert is schedule for the opening, many of the musicians are expected to attend and who knows what might happen.

“The Upstate of Clay” is a slight misnomer since a few of the artists are from Columbia. But never mind, this is a how’s who of making ceramics of all kinds in the state.
Among the artists in the show are Jim Connell, Bob Chance, Sue Greer, Peter Lenzo,(left)  Denise Woodward Detrich, Virginia Scotchie and David Zacharias.

April Harrison, a native of Greenville with no formal art trainings, is primarily a painter, but she includes all kinds of materials in her works: coins, various papers, magazine images and pieces of older artworks she has done. The result is art with a rich texture. Her art is also very much guided by her strong religious beliefs.

An opening reception for all these shows takes place Saturday, Dec. 12 from 6 to 8. (The show is also open during regular museum house Saturday.)
 All three exhibitions are up through Feb. 11.
The museum is at Highway 178 and Johnston Street in Pickens which is  about 20 miles west of Greenville.
The museum is open from 9 to 5 Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and 9 to 4:30 Saturdays. or (864) 898-5963

A couple more out of town art shows that would be well worth checking out.
The Sumter Gallery of Art "Collaboration of Fragments" is a joint show by Shaun Cassidy and Tom Stanley resulting from work they've done together during the past two years. The steel, aluminum, paper and canvas collages are both formal and dynamic often incorporating bright colors that is not a trademark of either artists' usual works.
Stanley is long-time director of the Winthop University art galleries and he is chairman of the art department. Cassidy is an associate professor at Winthrop.
"Collaboration of Fragments" can be seen through Dec. 31. The gallery is at 200 Hasel St. Call (803) 775-0543 or go to

If you haven't been to the new College of Charleston art gallery, you must go.
The place is huge and beautiful and based on past experience with the old gallery it will be filled with great art. Right now it is home to the huge 20-plus year retrospective by the artist Aldwyth of Hilton Head. She's worked obsessively and mostly in isolation never giving up or giving in and always doing something intriguing, thoughful and sometimes fun.

The artist is completing a site-specific installation addition to the exhibition and it will be unveiled Wednesday, Dec. 16.
The show is on display through Jan. 9. That day the artist will give a talk and sign copies of the book about her art and the college will thow open the doors of its brand new school of the arts building.
Go to or call (843) 953-5680.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post comments under the anonymous listing if you do not subscribe to one of the services listed.