Spartanburg, SC, artist Isabel Forbes and Blues Boulevard Jazz, located at 99 South Church Street in Spartanburg will hold the one-night art exhibit and reception with 40 percent of the art sales benefiting District 7 School art program on Monday, Apr. 23, 2012, from 6-9pm. The reception and exhibit are free and open to the public. Donations to the Spartanburg School District 7 art program will be accepted and appreciated.
Isabel Forbes counts herself fortunate to have grown up on a “magical street in Spartanburg.” Her memories of life on South Fairview Extension include not only places but also a “cast of characters” that included kids who created exciting outdoor games, a WORD-Radio DJ, artists, a doctor who would visit homes with a black bag filled with cures and a World War I veteran.
Those memories forged a strong bond between the young woman who grew up to be a celebrated artist and the community that fostered her. That bond, and her appreciation for the art education that launched her career, has led her to plan an exhibit and sale of her work to benefit the Spartanburg District 7 art program.
“My art teachers in public school saw something in my art skills and encouraged me to get more involved in art,” Forbes says, remembering the direction that art teachers, Mac Arthur Goodwin and Tom Willis, gave to her when she had none, guidance that led her to create an art portfolio when she was graduating from Spartanburg High School in 1978 that helped her garner a scholarship to Ringling College of Art in Sarasota, FL.
The reception and exhibit, to be held at Blues Boulevard in downtown Spartanburg, Apr. 23, 6 – 9pm, represents her effort to give back to those who gave so much to her. The paintings in the exhibit, which includes works painted on-site and in the studio from a recent trip to Cumberland Island, GA, will all be for sale, with 40 percent of the sales going to support the Spartanburg District 7 art program.
Mark Sullivan, owner of Blues Boulevard Jazz, host for the fundraiser, says that the event is free and open to the public, but donations to the Spartanburg School District 7 art program would be accepted and appreciated.
The local art community has embraced Forbes’ works that preserve Spartanburg’s historic landmarks and landscapes, but her work also reflects another passion, the South Carolina Lowcountry – Pawley’s Island, Litchfield Beach, Sullivan’s Island, and Amelia Island.
After graduating from Ringling with a Bachelor of Fine Art, she went to work in Florida as a graphic designer and illustrator and eventually managed art and production departments. “The skills I used to organize, plan, find solutions to tasks and to work with different types of people as a manager were not learned in math and English classes, but in my art training,” Forbes explains.
She laments the fact that in the age of standardized testing and “No Child Left Behind” that art classes have often been the first ones to be removed from a crowded curriculum. “Whether or not classes in painting and music improved my math and reading skills or standardized test scores is unclear,” Forbes says. “What is crystal clear is that learning through the arts has taught me life skills not measured by tests.”
Those skills that have made her such a successful artist – visual-spatial abilities, reflection, self-criticism, observing, envisioning, innovating through exploration, reflective self-evaluation and the willingness to experiment and learn from mistakes – she says, “helped me in life far more than a good SAT score would have.”
For Forbes, as for countless other students, art classes help fill the gap between the academic and aesthetic by encouraging students to think in different ways. “That type of thinking is more likely to produce the novel answers needed to succeed in this rapidly changing world,” says the dedicated advocate of art education who has exhibited her work locally, regionally and nationally, including at the South Carolina State Museum and Brookgreen Gardens.
After 20 years working in Florida, Forbes found her way back to South Carolina, first to the coast in Charleston and at last, in 2007, to her home in Spartanburg. Once home, she became involved in the local art scene, joining the Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg and exhibiting locally. And she found that she was beginning to see Spartanburg through her artist’s eyes.
Forbes began to translate the nostalgia she felt for familiar scenes into vivid paintings of local landmarks that brought back memories, first by painting her stepfather’s Heinitsh Walker drugstore on Main Street.
“I returned to Spartanburg to give myself a change and to see what I could accomplish as a full time painter,” Forbes says. Now the basement studio of her Duncan Park home is the perfect place for her to put all her memories – past and present – onto canvas. And it’s also a place where she can reflect on all the people that have influenced her throughout her life.
“I am so thankful for the wonderful opportunities the art lessons in District 7 schools gave me and can’t imagine what my life would be today without them,” she says. “By contributing a portion of my art sales during this one-night exhibit, I am in my small way saying ‘thank you’ to everyone who had a part in my success.”
For further information contact Blues Boulevard Jazz by e-mail at (email@example.com) or call 864/573-9742 or contact Isabel Forbes by e-mail at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 864/909-0105.