Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg hosted a reception for its “42nd Annual Juried Exhibition” on Sept. 18, 2015, when award winners for Best in Show, 2D Excellence, 3D Excellence, and People’s Choice were announced. The public had voted since the show’s opening at West Main Artists Co-Op, in Spartanburg, SC, on Sept. 1 to select the winner of People’s Choice Award. This year’s juror John Nolan, curator of the Bob Jones Museum, selected winners in the other categories. The show ends Oct. 9, 2015.
Sponsors of the 42nd Annual Juried Exhibition were Phifer Johnson Foundation, Bill and Wendy Mayrose, QS/1 Data Systems, SEW Euro Drive, Trustees of the Artists’ Guild, Budweiser of Spartanburg, Sophie’s Choice Catering, Costco, Walmart, The Fresh Market, City of Spartanburg, SC Arts Alliance, SC Arts Commission, West Main Artists Co-Op, and The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg. Numerous volunteers were also crucial to the show’s success, as well as West Main Artists Co-Op for hosting.
Awards are as followed:
Best in Show – “Rooted” by Lewis Brown
Brown is a Spartanburg County artist using wood as the primary medium in creating organic abstract sculptures. A self-taught artist born in Spartanburg County, Brown has shown and sold Santa woodcarvings along the East Coast since 1987. Collectors of his work in Spartanburg will remember his “Santa Through the Ages” series that reflects the history and culture of Saint Nicholas. One of his first showings was held during Christmas 1988 in both galleries at the Spartanburg Evans Arts Center at what is now the Spartanburg Community College Downtown Campus. While his wooden Santas were painted, his more recent sculptural work now incorporates clear finishes showing the natural wood. One theme for his new work reveals human actions negatively influencing the life of our planet. Brown’s reverence and love of trees is also reflected in his work. In the four years of creating his new work, he has won numerous awards: In 2015, he received a $1000 cash award in the Chelsea International Fine Art Competition in New York City, and he exhibited at the Salmagundi Club on 5th Avenue in New York City where he won the Salmagundi Club Award for sculpture. Living on a small homestead in the wilds of Spartanburg County for 38 years, Brown and his wife Barbara have raised cows, goats, chickens, vegetables, and two wonderful daughters, Megan and Leah.
2-D Award of Excellence – “Exuberant, Exploding, Pulsating Dance of Creation” by Jim Creal
Spartanburg native Creal is a visual artist engaged in the creation of cohesive bodies of original work through select traditional fine art print processes. He creates landscapes, still-lifes and non-representational images through lithographic, etching and monotype print processes. His work, which has been exhibited in numerous solo, invitational, and juried exhibitions and recognized by many awards, is held in private, institutional, and corporate collections. In addition to creating his personal work, Creal teaches in the South Carolina Arts in Education Program.
In 1993, Creal started making and exhibiting a series of ink monotypes, primarily gestural abstractions. He emphasizes the spontaneity of the process, the fluidity of mark-making, and energetic motion. He works to create strong formal abstractions with elegant gestural movement. Sometimes, he features a simple gesture and at other times he creates elaborate, dense constructive gestures. In 2013, Creal initiated his South Carolina Coastal Lithograph Project with a successful Kickstarter campaign. The Coastal Lithograph Project is dedicated to creating a lasting body of lithographic work that captures the mood, spirit, and rich diversity of South Carolina’s coastal habitats.
Creal has had a life rich in the variety of experience. He has degrees in philosophy (1975) and in geology (1981) from Washington and Lee University, and in fine arts (1992) from the University of Montana. Upon earning his philosophy degree he worked on a textile production line in South Carolina, as a mate on a dive boat in the Florida Keys, and as a structural welder in Nebraska. After he earned his subsequent geology degree he worked as a minerals exploration geologist in Ireland, Scotland, and Alaska. Since 1992, Creal has dedicated himself to working as a professional artist.
2D Award of Excellence – “Taking Stage” by Kate Thayer
As an artist, Thayer’s aim has always been that of “attempting to kindle in the viewer the same kind of emotional exhilaration that [she experiences] when [she is] seduced by a scene that asks to be brought to life in pastel or oils.” It is her passion to bring her skills and years of study to “personal interpretation of the beauty and mysteries of nature to those who encounter [her] paintings.” Thayer is a believer that art is our way of enhancing people’s lives. For Thayer, there is always a spiritual dimension in life that is best captured and perpetuated in art, especially in painting and what she considers its twin: poetry. Her work is akin to poetry in that they are “wordless encounters with the often stunning voices of nature – of its colors and forms – that we rarely notice.” Thayer aims to bring to the viewer what he or she may not have noticed to “raise our spirits to a higher level of being.” Her work attempts to surround audiences and beckons viewers to silently contemplate the various potential meanings.
3-D Award of Excellence – “Tea in Tipperary” by Cynthia Carden Gibson
Gibson has been a maker from childhood and showed a strong desire to design fashion early in life. She has worked as a photographer’s set stylist, food stylist, and as a visual merchandiser for a major jeweler. Gibson discovered pyrography in 2008 and, with study, has developed her own unique style of pyro-engraving. Cynthia’s love for fashion and design proves to be the “perfect inspiration” for her work. She is in high demand as a teacher and her pyro-engraving techniques are taught to students around the world. Her collaborative work has been published in many journals both nationally and internationally. Gibson’s work and the work of her highly acclaimed collaborators has garnered the attention of collectors and has been included in corporate and private collections worldwide.
3-D Award of Excellence – “Fly Away” by Tom Flowers
Flowers was born in Washington, DC. As a painter, he works with both mixed media and oils. He is well regarded as an art educator, filling the post of Art Department Chair at Furman University for thirty years between 1959 and 1989 when he retired. Earlier in his teaching career, he was Chairman of the Art Department at Ottawa University between 1956 and 1958, and a professor of sculpture at East Carolina University between 1958 and 1959. Flowers’s paintings have been exhibited widely between 1958 and the present. He participated in the 1965 18th Annual Guild of South Carolina Artists Exhibition and the 1969 11th Annual Southern Contemporary Artists Exhibition in Alabama. In 1988, Flowers was featured at the Asheville Art Museum. His awards include a prize for Art in Architecture issued by the South Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1977, and a Best in Show Award at the Spring Art Exhibition in Lancaster, South Carolina, among others. Flowers is currently a member of the Guild of South Carolina Artists and the Greenville Artists Guild. He is co-owner of Liberty, South Carolina’s Tate Gallery. His works are in the permanent collection of the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Columbia Museum of Art, and the Florence Museum.
2015 People’s Choice Award – “Dancing in the Light” by Amy Weaver
Weaver moved to Spartanburg in 1989, about 50 miles southwest of her home in rural North Carolina. With degrees in Medical Technology and Business Administration, her career was based in hospital laboratory settings. Painting began as a hobby in 2009. She started at the age of 55 with lots of books and YouTube videos for the first year, following up the next few years with courses at Spartanburg Art Museum’s Art School and workshops in the Carolinas. While she continues to seek all avenues of learning in order to enlarge her understanding and expand her abilities, what has paid off the most is the daily sessions at her easel since her retirement.
“Painting is a way for me to reveal feelings about my favorite subject: nature. I love to mix and mingle colors on paper, capturing the dramatic and/or subtle effects to reveal light, shadow, textures, and forms. I strive for confident, enthusiastic brushwork, the maximizing of color’s value and intensity range and a fresh painterly approach, the result appearing effortless.”
For further information call Caitlin Boice, Executive Director, Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg at 864/764-9568 or e-mail to (cBoice@SpartanArts.org).