Friday, August 26, 2011

Plantation Coloring and Activity Book

I went by REDUX Studio's today and met with Karen Myers (Director) and showed her my proposed layout for the upcoming exhibition. I used a wonderful program - Live Interior 3D Pro - to draw a schematic of the gallery and place many of the paintings on the wall. It allows you do a virtual walk thru of the exhibition and see everything. I highly recommend it to anyone. Here's what a screenshot looks like:

With this program I can place work on the walls in their actual sizes so I can see how the flow will work. Karen is basically allowing me to curate my own exhibit so I want to keep her up to date with everything. I should have everything completed by Thanksgiving - unless I decide to change - which will probably happen.  I'm about 4 works short right now and made a couple changes to the Plantation Coloring Book. I wasn't happy with a couple of the panels so I painted over and redesigned them. Here are the two newest panels:

I dumped the Jim Crow and Draw the Aunt Jemima panel. They were a bit soft my taste - this is supposed to be a very cynical piece and I needed every panel to hold it's own.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another Triennial Revisited article / review

I had the pleasure of meeting the writer from USC's Daily Gamecock at the opening reception. Quite an impressive newspaper for a college paper. Certainly better arts coverage than we get here at the Post & Courier.

Gallery patrons view the work of local artists, displayed in 701 Center for Contemporary Art’s “Triennial Revisited” exhibit. The work will be on display until Sept. 25.

Art tackles social issues in ‘Triennial Revisited’

Local gallery gives community creative retrospective with new exhibit
Mikelle Street

Tom Stanley’s uncertain, halting prose sets the tone for several pieces shown in the “Triennial Revisited” exhibit which opened Thursday at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art gallery of 701 Whaley St.

“Is this not deep enough for art. I mean that real high intellectual art. That art that is hard to understand. Is this too obvious. Is this not deep enough. WHAT IS DEEP ENOUGH. How deep is deep.”

These words comprised Stanley’s piece entitled “En Route to Hamlet,” one work among pieces from 18 different artists in the exhibit.

Dealing with healing, inadequacies and religion, Stanley’s piece is personal, as is evident in the handwritten, flowing script and small doodles scattered throughout. While most viewers didn’t take the time to actually read the long blocks of text, those who did found a stream of consciousness that seemed to constantly relapse on itself.

“Triennial Revisited” is a juried exhibition of pieces from the five South Carolina “Triennial” exhibitions organized by the South Carolina Arts Commission and South Carolina State Museum between 1992 and 2004. During those years, the “Triennial” was considered one of South Carolina’s most prestigious surveys of contemporary art. This exhibition was created to expose a new generation of artist patrons and admirers to the work of proven artists South Carolina artists.

“It’s a wonderful show, and part of the reason it is so wonderful is because it is a reprise of the ‘Triennials,’” said Brad Collins, chair of USC’s art department. “There’s a lot of quality artists showing who haven’t shown in a long time in Columbia.”

Collins was one of seven on the curatorial committee, composed of individuals who were involved with one or more of the five “Triennials.”

Stanley’s piece was not the only one from the 1998 “Triennial” that was revisited. John Acorn’s “As a Lure No. 1” was presented as well. A part of a series of pieces created from a 3-inch image of a camouflage suite in the newspaper that the artist blew up into a 7-foot, three-dimensional figure, the piece is made of wood, metal and cloth and features the figure with enlarged fishing lures hanging like scales off its body.

Envisioned by the artist to be presented at much higher than possible at the 701 CCA gallery (Acorn prefers the piece to hang above the heads of viewers as though the piece were a lure floating above a fish in the ocean), the piece certainly makes a powerful impact in the space.

One of the more political pieces was Colin Quashie’s, which was presented in the 1992 “Triennial.” A mixed media piece entitled “Blackbored” read, “ALL COURSES CANCELED DUE TO LOW ENROLLMENT — NONCREDIT COURSES AVAILABLE AT THE DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS,” written by Professor P. Rolle for his African American Studies class.

Quashie said that he frequently changes what’s written on the blackboard of his piece.

“My last one was about ‘racialgebra,’” Quashie said. “‘What’s the value of a
n------?’ was the question.”

The question caused some to answer via the notepad set on the lone desk that comprises one component of the pieces.

With more than 250 guests coming out for the opening reception, “Triennial Revisited” provides an educational look back to some of the forgotten artists of our state while prompting the art scene to get ready for 701’s South Carolina Biennial set to debut on Oct. 6.

The “Triennial Revisited” exhibit will run through Sept. 25.

Pieces currently featured in the exhibit were in previous “Triennial” exhibitions between 1992 and 2004. The work powerfully represents various social issues in Columbia.

Photos by Mikelle Street / THE DAILY GAMECOCK
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reproductions Now Available

'Out of Bondage I - Richard Toler'

'Out of Bondage II - The Domestics'

'Aaron and Moses'

All Reproductions:
Edition Size - 250
Price: $400 / All 3: $1,000.00
Image sizes on all - appx. "23" x 30"

Plantation Series - Aaron and Moses

"Aaron and Moses"
53" x 67"
Oil on Canvas

Some paintings drain you to your emotional core. 

Reproductions Available:
Image Size 24" x 30"
Edition size - 250
Price: $400

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FreeTimes Triennial Revisited Article

Issue #24.33 :: 08/16/2011 - 08/22/2011

Triennial, a recurring exhibition of contemporary South Carolina art, has returned — sort of.

Triennial: Revisited, opening at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art on Thursday, takes a look back at the exhibition held every three years from 1992 to 2004.

Triennial exhibitions were held at the S.C. State Museum and organized by the museum and the S.C. Arts Commission. The museum and commission cited cuts in staffing and budgets and changing priorities for doing away with the Triennial, but many artists and curators were dismayed at the move.

Triennial: Revisited is a small, selective slice of those exhibitions, with only 18 artists. Revisited marks not only a look back at contemporary South Carolina art, but also sets the stage for a two-part biennial exhibition at 701 CCA opening this fall.

The artists in Revisited were drawn from the 120 or so who were in previous Triennial exhibits. One juror from each of the five Triennial exhibitions plucked three artists from the original show they were involved in. 

Colin Quashie

“We asked them to select artists who they felt best represented the spirit of the ‘Triennial’ during that time,” says Harriett Green, visual arts coordinator of the Arts Commission, who helped organize Revisited along with State Museum art curator Paul Matheny. Green and Matheny then picked three more artists, mostly trying to make sure no areas were overlooked. (Although the Arts Commission and the State Museum assisted with Revisited, they will not be involved with the upcoming biennial exhibitions.)

The parameters for picking were wide: Artists who had died, were no longer active, had left the state or could not be located were not considered, but otherwise the selection process was wide open. Where possible, the art will be what was in the original show or from the same time period.

“It’s amazing how many of those pieces are still available,” Green says.

In many cases, artists made works specifically for the Triennial, often exploring new areas, increasing the scale and scope of their art.

“This will be a really cool project,” Matheny says. “It goes all the way back —so it is almost 20 years since it started. The museum had not considered doing a show like this, but I’m glad the [art center] is organizing it.”

Artists in Revisted are Clay Burnette, Stephen Chesley, Tyrone Geter, Peter Lenzo and Lee Sipe (Columbia); John Acorn, Pendleton; Herb Parker, Colin Quashie, Jocelyn Chateauvert and Bruno Civitico (Charleston); Aldwyth (Hilton Head Island); Michael Brodeur and Debbie Cooke (Greenville); Jim Connell, Beth Melton, Phil Moody and Tom Stanley (Rock Hill); and Jane Nodine (Spartanburg).

The artists not only represent many areas of the state, they also produced many sorts of art.

Chesley, Brodeur and Civitico do representational paintings. Chateauvert, Nodine and Melton often use fabric and fiber in installation-oriented pieces. Quashie mines pop culture, then mines it with social commentary. Burnette and Sipe do basketry, taking a traditional craft to new places. Debi Cooke’s work from the time she was in Triennial was done in a medium that has disappeared — Polaroid photos.

The Triennial was often aimed at showcasing emerging artists, but it was open to anyone who wanted to enter (usually a couple hundred artists each time, with between 20 and 35 picked), and displayed a wide variety of works by artists at many career stages. The artists in Revisited are all far along in their careers and nearly all are over 50. Many of the younger artists in previous Triennial shows were graduate students or recent grads who have since moved away from the state, so they couldn’t be included as South Carolina artists.

Phil Moody, In Memoriam, 1994

“This exhibition is a reminder of the way things were and how the art scene has changed, who is present and who is not,” Green says. “Some of these names will mean nothing to many people because there are a whole new set of players.”

Some of the names that might mean something are also missing. Among those not selected are some of the state’s most well-known and accomplished artists: Russell Biles, Leo Twiggs, Tarleton Blackwell, Philip Mullen, Edward Rice, Virginia Scotchie and Mike Vatalaro. The job of the curators was to pick the best three representatives from each of the five previous Triennial shows, a limitation necessitated by the small size of 701 CCA.

Like the original Triennial exhibitions, this Revisited version is likely to generate much discussion and disagreement about who got in and who didn’t. Criticism leveled at the Triennial exhibitions in the past was that some of the best artists weren’t included because they didn’t enter (many established artists don’t enter shows); that older, established artists should have quit entering to make way for younger emerging artists; that the selections were too skewed toward the academic; and that the trendy trumped the traditional.

All of these observations were valid to various degrees, but the shows did give a decent view of what was going on in the state on many levels. They provided younger artists with a high-profile, prestigious forum and provided an all-too-rare outlet for the state’s most established artists who are too big for local galleries, but who don’t fit into most of the bigger museums.

“One a scale of one to 10, I’d give it a nine or 10 in terms of importance,” Martha Severens, former chief curator of the Greenville County Museum of Art, said a few years ago of the Triennial exhibitions. “It’s a must-see exhibition.”

When it was unceremoniously eliminated, there was an outcry among artists and curators.

“It was looked forward to by all, and it produced a very strong representation of the great work done by South Carolina artists,” says artist Jim Connell. “I was proud to be in two of the shows. And, I was always impressed by the work my fellow artists had in these shows.”

Connell and other artists who were included in Triennial exhibitions and who are in
the Revisited show are looking forward to the new biennial shows.

“The new biennial will be great,” Connell says, “but if I had my way, I wish we had the Triennial back. It was bigger and grander. It was staged in a great, big space — in a museum setting. It had status. It was respected.  It was growing.”

Colin Quashie says of the upcoming biennial: “I only hope that the jurying process is stiff and strenuous — the artists braving the process should be able to hurdle a bar set as high as possible, for everyone’s sake.”

When the Center for Contemporary Art opened in 2008, its leaders indicated they wanted to create a show that filled the gap left by demise of the Triennial.  What the biennial will be, however  — let alone evolve into — is hard to determine just yet; as of press time, the exhibition was not listed on the Center for Contemporary Art website.

What is known is that the biennial will be mounted in two stages, with the first opening Oct. 6 and the second Nov. 17.

Center for Contemporary Art board president Wim Roefs, owner of if ART Gallery, said via email that several “curatorial sorts” from around the state would be asked to nominate artists and then a juror would select artists for the shows; no one involved has yet been announced.

“We don’t know yet how many artists or the number of works, but it’s going to be a two-part exhibition with most likely several dozen pieces per exhibition,” Roefs said.

Triennial: Revisited runs Aug. 18 through Sept. 25 at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, Aug. 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. Reception admission is free for members, $5 for others. The 701 Center for Contemporary Art is at 701 Whaley St. Call 779-4571 or visit for more information.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Upcoming Exhibition

August 18 - September 25, 2011
Opening Reception:
Thursday, August 18, 7-9 pm

With TRIENNIAL Revisited, 701 CCA presents a selection from the five S.C. Triennial exhibitions organized by the S.C. Arts Commission and S.C. State Museum between 1992 and 2004 and shown at the museum. TRIENNIAL Revisited is a juried exhibition that provides a prelude and historical context for the inaugural 701 CCA South Carolina Biennial. That exhibition will open in October and will be shown in two parts through December.
The artists for TRIENNIAL Revisited were selected by seven South Carolina curators who were involved with one or more of the five Triennials. Five of these curators were each assigned one Triennial year for which they served as a juror and asked to select three living artists from that year who still reside in South Carolina. Two other curators together made an additional three at-large selections. The 18 artists selected represent a broad range of styles and approaches for TRIENNIAL Revisited. The list of curators is included at the end of this release.
The South Carolina State Museum and the South Carolina Arts Commission launched the first TRIENNIAL exhibition in 1992. The goals of the TRIENNIAL exhibitions were to provide a venue to showcase recent work reflecting local, regional and national trends and issues influencing contemporary artists living and working in South Carolina and to increase awareness and appreciation of the artistic contributions and accomplishments of the state’s visual artists. The exhibition drew on the breadth of the visual arts community by providing a multi-media juried statewide exhibition opportunity in a major museum every three years. Artists were selected for the exhibition by curators with local, regional and national perspectives. The exhibition was considered South Carolina’s most prestigious survey of contemporary art during its run from 1992 -2004.
“We have played for a while with the idea of reinstating a regular overview of the best contemporary art in South Carolina,” says Wim Roefs, board chair and director of 701 CCA. “Inspired by the TRIENNIAL brand, 701 opted for a biennial model and we thought it would be important to provide some context. TRIENNIAL Revisited provides that context by examining the state’s art scene during the span of the five TRIENNIALS.”  The art scene has changed considerably since the last TRIENNIAL and some works included in the exhibition reveal the magnitude of those changes.  Roefs states that it was “important to include as many works as possible from the original TRIENNIAL exhibitions to underscore change and continuity in South Carolina’s contemporary art scene.” Roefs sees the exhibition as an introduction for younger artists and audiences and an appetizer for all with respect to the upcoming Biennial.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sometimes I Hate What I Do

The current painting I'm working on is the most emotionally painful piece I have ever worked on. I should have it finished by this time next week and will as always post it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Art at long last...

I was careless and foolishly spilled my bottle of motivation about a month ago. The refill arrived last week and I'm back to full speed again, so much so that I worked overtime and finally completed a painting that should have been done two weeks ago - oh well, shit happens. Who knows, maybe that was art's way of telling me that I needed to step away from the canvas for a little while. Here is the latest painting:

"Out of Bondage II - The Domestics"
54" x 68"
Oil on Canvas
(select to enlarge)

Some may recognize these two ladies - they are actual slaves freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and were part of a larger group photographed outside a large building. It's so easy for us to look at some of those old images taken 150 years ago and gloss over the faces but they fascinate and pull me in. Considering what their lives were and more importantly, what they were to become in the perilous days ahead screamed out to me. The look of quiet resolve and defiance in the face of uncertainty made this painting a joy to render. I painted them in color against a black and white background to pull them out of the past and place them firmly amongst us - after all, everything they were is everything we are. I only wish I knew their names and could post their narratives alongside the painting to give their lives even greater meaning and context. I was lucky to have run across the slave narrative of Richard Toler - the gentleman in the first painting. If there are any historians who know who these women were, PLEASE contact me.

This may sound strange, but after painting this picture I sat with a bottle of wine in the studio and stared at their faces while listening to Nina Simone sing the blues in the background. We must have sat staring at each other for nearly two hours and it was almost as if I could hear them talking to me. It was such a melancholy moment that I didn't want to end. Maybe it was the wine, huh? I already have the next image ready to go and should have that one completed by the end of next week. I'm really looking forward to that one - it's gonna make me cry - I can feel it.

I will be creating prints of this series shortly so if anyone wants one - let me know.