OUTDOOR ART EXHIBITION MAY 27 – JUNE 11, 2016 MARION SQUARE
BY KELLY RAE SMITH
Every year, Charleston comes alive upon the arrival of Piccolo Spoleto. Every nook within the Holy City dedicates itself to the celebration of the arts. Churches, parks—you name it—transform into venues, all of which offer everything from opera and puppetry to street dance and fireworks. And since 1979, Marion Square has been at the center, providing an open-air space where artists strictly from South Carolina can exhibit their works for the entirety of the 15-day festival.
From May 27 to June 11, as many as 84 artists will show their 2-D pieces, which range from oils and watercolors to photography and mixed media.
“Our goal is to highlight new, up-and-coming artists along with established artists,” says Lesley Johnson, Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibition coordinator.
The Outdoor Art Exhibit at Marion Square is important to the annual festival because of its focus on local art. “I would say the bulk of the artists are from the Lowcountry,” Johnson says. “So it puts emphasis on what Piccolo Spoleto is doing to highlight our area.”
Should you wish to purchase pieces prior to or following the exhibition, you can go to the artists’ websites for additional information.
PICCOLO SPOLETO OUTDOOR ART EXHIBITION
Monday to Thursday
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday to Sunday
10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
LEPRINCE FINE ART
LePrince Fine Art, located at 184 King St., doubles as a studio for owner and artist Kevin LePrince. LePrince paints there six days a week and encourages guests to watch and ask questions about the process. The walls are filled with bodies of work from a select few nationally recognized, emerging artists from across North America. While the general look of the artists represented could be described as contemporary impressionism, each artist has a unique style defined by brushstrokes, palette choices and compositions. “I’m trying to encourage artists to push their creativity,” LePrince says. “I do this by giving them more wall space. That way, they’re not restricted, and they can get outside of their comfort zones, push the envelope a little.”
With 1600 square feet of open gallery space, high ceilings and hardwood floors, the gallery has been designed to highlight the art—a collector can relax and enjoy a painting from a distance. Unable to visit in person? Visit the LePrince website for constant updates or to browse before coming in.
LePrince Fine Art
Floyd Gordon, critically acclaimed artist and one of South Carolina’s treasures, has a clientele of faithful collectors from coast to coast. He creates vivid, dazzling watercolors and potent acrylics from his studio gallery located in Orangeburg, South Carolina.
“I’ve always been fascinated by colors,” he says. “The first time I really remember applying my fascination was when I started school and the teacher gave us crayons and a coloring book. I was so fascinated by the colors and the pictures that I colored every page. I didn’t have another coloring book, so I drew pictures to color and took my book to the teacher,” he recalls.
Gordon says in order to paint a picture, he has to first see it in his mind. “I keep adding colors and details until it looks good to me. If it’s not right to me, it won’t be right to anyone else,” he says. “I have never done galleries, and I rarely do commissioned paintings—I paint pictures that I like, and if I do them right, other people will like them, too.”
Kathy Crowther moved to Beaufort, South Carolina, so that she could be surrounded by an abundance of natural treasures. The rich landscapes are home to many native birds, each with a unique size, shape and color.
For the last 10 years, her paintings have focused on capturing the beauty of local birds in their natural settings. Using gouache outlined in ink, these portraits are attempts to share her passion and foster an appreciation for the idyllic Lowcountry.
Over the years, Crowther has participated in juried shows throughout the country. “Every year, I bring a new body of work to Piccolo Spoleto,” she says. “My paintings range from formal bird portraits of egrets, herons and peacocks to whimsical renderings of parrots, sea turtles and ocean creatures. Many times, I spill over the mat, which adds another dimension to the painting and, like nature, a sense of continual growth.” Though Crowther has won her share of honors, the best reward is hearing people say that her paintings make them happy.
Susan Colwell has been drawing for as long as she can remember. She had her first solo exhibition at a Toledo, Ohio, art gallery while still a teenager. At the end of her freshman year of high school, her family moved to Zurich where her love of art was cemented.
Colwell earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. After traveling throughout Europe, she lived in California, working as an artist in an advertising agency, before moving to Charleston.
“I am moved by the everchanging light and atmosphere in the Lowcountry, and I strive to re-create the feeling or mood of a place or moment,” she says. “The subtleties of light, reflections on the water, and the softness I see and feel in the landscape greatly influence me.”
Large, loose, impetuous strokes and juicy color typify the artist’s abstract impressionist oil paintings. “I try to recapture my feelings about a place by using color and form, producing a presence of space, mood and light,” she says.
Pat Forsberg is an award-winning artist who lives and paints in Charleston. She studied art at the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida, and has studied with esteemed artist Elizabeth Bronson for several years. Her most recent award was the Charleston Artist Guild’s 2008 People’s Choice Award sponsored by First Federal Bank of Charleston.
“I feel that living in the Lowcountry is a blessing for any artist as it is rich with subject matter, and we have a community that appreciates art,”Forsberg says. “The water, marshes and architecture are all spectacular subjects, and I love painting them all. I’m especially drawn to still life … I love scouring local antiques shops for objects to incorporate into my set-ups—it is a great excuse to shop!”
At this year’s Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibition, patrons can expect to see that Forsberg’s work has been taken up a notch. “I meet with a group of local artists once a month for lunch, art talk and critiques. They tell me that my work has become more luminous and painterly, and that is what I have been striving for,” she says.
Kellie Jacobs has spent her life watching the seasons change among the marshes and beaches of the South Carolina coast. After graduating from the College of Charleston, Jacobs decided to pursue a professional career as a painter.
Working primarily in pastel, she paints landscapes using atmosphere and light to create mood and expression in her art. “I am fascinated with the light at the end of the day,” she says. “When the evening sun is low and warm, touching the tops of the sand dunes and grasses of the marsh, that is the time of day I love best.”
Jacobs’ juxtaposition of bright colors and soft textures appeals to both domestic and international collectors. Traveling to foreign locations has also enhanced her ability to manipulate her chosen medium of pastel to produce desirable and collectible artwork.
Many of her works hang in prestigious corporate and private collections nationally and abroad. Her art is also on view in Charleston galleries including Coco Vivo Art and Design, Hamlet Fine Art Gallery and Lowcountry Artists Art Gallery.
Formerly a full-time art teacher, Peggy Howe made Charleston her home 40 years ago in order to be an artist. These days, she works from her Mount Pleasant home studio with a view, which was rebuilt after Hurricane Hugo.
A studio art and art history graduate of Mary Washington College, Howe finds landscape painting good for the soul, but her passion lies in the figure. “Charleston has been challenging for me as public and institutional taste chose to bar the figure from public view at times,” says Howe, who teaches figure-drawing classes at the Artist’s Loft School in Mount Pleasant. “Happily, that is not the current situation, and I shall show nudes in Marion Square for Spoleto.”
Though Howe is currently figure drawing, that will change for the summer as she travels to Alaska in her RV, nicknamed Color Wheels, painting and drawing along the way.
Howe’s works are in several public collections, including that of the Gibbes Museum of Art. You can visit her studio by appointment.
South Carolina native Madison Latimer has spent much of her career depicting her feathered friends in oils and acrylics, but her work took on new meaning following a tragedy that claimed the lives of three relatives in 1994. “As my family and I healed from that loss, I began to understand and experience a deeper connection with the energy that provides life for all of us,” Latimer explains. “I felt directed to express this feeling through my art.”
Latimer paints the birds and other animals around her grandmother’s farm, which is now her home. Her work helps her tell stories of creation, disappointment and survival that are common threads in our collective human experience.
“I paint my guineas with expressions that are happy, joyful or even startled,” says Latimer, “because we all recognize those emotions and respond to them. Especially when we laugh, we’re acknowledging the energy of life that is in all of us.”
Although her paintings are often classified as folk art, Latimer feels she shares a greater connection with outsider art, which is defined as work produced by self-taught artists who are not part of the artistic establishment.
The Charleston Lowcountry and its history have played an important role in Kathy Clark’s life and art. She often focuses on landscapes that reflect enduring feelings for the place she calls home.
“Having spent my entire life living on the islands of Charleston has definitely influenced my appreciation for history and the ever-changing tidal creeks, marshes, rivers and ocean,” Clark says. “For me, translating these visions on paper or canvas has been one of the most satisfying ways of expressing myself.”
Clark’s artistic abilities have developed from a number of sources, including studies with the Gibbes Museum of Art. More recent studies have explored palette knife painting with James Pratt, an artist from New Zealand, and figure drawing with Karen Vecchioni.
Clark’s work is a combination of impressionism with a touch of realism. She does not follow any defined approach. It is derived from a confluence of varied sources of inspiration. She connects with the subject and brings out the beauty of its meaning.
Unique, interesting, cheerful and unusual are all words that Lu Bentley’s clients have used to describe her work. As for Bentley, she calls her light- and darkfilled creations “magical shadow paintings.” Shadow is indeed a consistent theme in the artist’s works—whether she’s depicting shadows of palm fronds on a building, a rocking chair on a Southern front porch or florals in the sunshine.
“I love to show shadows and reflections, which are an extension of the physical,” Bentley says. “My work is an attempt to show that this extension has far-reaching effects. We are usually unaware of the influences we have on the people and the world around us. As a visual experience, I hope to remind people of the importance of our ever-expanding personal energy.”
Bentley’s passion for shape, line and shading began in childhood and has grown into a calling. Today, she is an award-winning artist, who can be found each May at the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit in Marion Square.
Painter Sheryl Stalnaker finds joy in depicting saltwater life and the beauty of her Lowcountry surroundings. “I love being outside and studying the scenes around me,” she says. “Looking at the moving, reflective water or changing skies and light is mesmerizing.”
Stalnaker often begins a painting on location, studying her subject live rather than simply working from photographs, which brings her works to life. With brushes and a palette knife, she builds layers of paint, adding depth and interesting textures. “My landscapes show a perspective that draws the viewer into the painting,” she explains. “I want to transport the viewers away from their hectic lives and into the scene, where they can hear the waves crash, feel the rippling current, smell the pluff mud or hear the blue crab scurrying away on the dock.”
Stalnaker also specializes in commissioned pet portraits. She says, “I love to capture the unique personality and expression of each animal, taking the time to paint the individual animal’s special character.”
Lisa Willits moved to Charleston more than 25 years ago from her hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania. While working as a technician in a research lab by day, she began taking evening art classes at the Gibbes Museum School.
After experimenting with several different mediums, Willits chose oil painting because it best captured her love of color. With the encouragement of family and friends, she took the leap and began working full time as a painter in 2005.
Willits is most inspired by the natural beauty of the South Carolina coast and strives to capture its enchanting atmosphere. “My paintings explore the things about the landscape that fascinate me: the colors and glow of early morning or evening skies, the incredible cloud formations here on the coast, the ever-changing seascapes, and the vistas that stretch out to forever,” she says.
She is an exhibiting member of the Charleston Artist Guild and associate member of Oil Painters of America. Her paintings are currently on display at Lowcountry Artists Gallery at 148 East Bay St.
Dianne MunKittrick has been a nature lover since childhood. Her early career was spent outdoors in the natural resources field. She’s done everything from radio tracking deer and elk to cooking and eating rattlesnake.
When her children were school-aged, MunKittrick returned to college and received a degree in graphic design. “It was then that I realized I could combine both my passions. I now use my love of nature and wildlife as inspirations for my artwork,” she says.
Over time, her work has changed from an illustrative depiction of her subjects to a more emotional rendering. “My earlier works were more concerned with getting the feathers or fur right,” she remembers. “My current works are reflections of the effect the subject has on me. I’m not trying to capture the accurate details of a scene or animal; I’m trying to describe the essence or soul of the subject.”
The artist lives with her husband on the shore of a small, secluded cove of Lake Marion. The beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife provide her with ample ideas and inspiration for her artwork.
Amelia (“Mimi”) Whaley was born in Charleston, grew up on Edisto Beach and presently lives in Mount Pleasant. In 1985, her father gave her watercolor lessons for Christmas, and she remembers, “the moment the brush filled with paint and water touched the paper, something connected deep inside me, and I knew what I was born to do.” While watercolor is her favorite medium, she also works in acrylic, collage, mixed media, encaustic and oil. “Art is a journey,” she says. “The more I see, the more I listen, the more I experience, the more I learn to use the tools to make art, the better able I am to express my vision and emotional content through painting, collage, writing and other creative endeavors.”
Additionally, Whaley enjoys teaching and helping others discover their creative gifts. She frequently leads day or weekend workshops in painting, watercolor journaling, collage and the release of creative play. Whaley is also an active, registered City of Charleston tour guide, specializing in walking tours of historic Charleston.
Lowcountry artist Carla Johannesmeyer was born in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where she gained a deep appreciation of the arts at an early age. Combining her love of art with a natural gift in math, she chose to pursue architecture at Virginia Tech, enhancing her technical education with studies in drawing, printmaking, photography and film.
Although she went on to have a successful career as an architect, environmental design leader and expert in process improvement, she continued to mentally collect images and inspirations to paint. With this diverse background, coupled with a love of the arts and a keen eye for composition, light and color, she immersed herself in painting.
Today, Johannesmeyer’s oil paintings are reminiscent of post-impressionism but border on expressionism. Indeed, there is a lyrical quality to her work. She prefers a large brush relative to the size of the canvas and paints with visible, confident brushstrokes, layering lush color to evoke light, shadow and reflections in her landscape, architectural, still life and figurative subjects.
Artist Carole Carberry was born in Montana into a family where grandparents, siblings and cousins all shared a natural artistic ability and a love for drawing. Specialized courses in fine-art pencil and dry-brush egg-tempera methods honed Carberry’s drawing skills and initiated a lifelong adventure with watercolor.
Her watercolors have been included twice in the prestigious Traveling Show of the South Carolina Watermedia Society, where she is a Member in Excellence. Carberry’s acrylic on canvas, Siesta Splendor, was included in the Society’s Annual SCWS Show in 2014.
Long-necked birds—egrets, herons and swans—are her favorite subject matter. “It is the graceful arch of a swan’s neck, the colorful beaks of herons and the ethereal quality of feathers that I find beautiful and attempt to share in my work,” she says.
Dividing each year between South Carolina and Montana, Carberry is in her fourth term as president of the Sumter Artists Guild and is co-chairman for two summer art festivals in Polson, Mont. Carberry’s work can be seen in Courtyard Gallery in downtown Charleston.
Contemporary impressionist painter Kay Lybrand studied fine art at the University of South Carolina and the New York Art Students League, but she also enjoyed an advertising career before becoming a full-time artist, a life that has fulfilled her for the past 10 years.
Three years ago, Lybrand relocated to Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, where she loves to watch the marshes change with every tide and the ever-changing light. “My favorite times are early mornings and evenings, when the light is soft and caresses the landscape,” she says.
Instead of painting wet into wet, Lybrand typically paints in layers to get more of a feel of the light, a technique that has earned her inclusion in the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in 2014 and 2015, and the Women Painters of the Southeast shows of 2015 and 2016. Lybrand works frequently with clients and designers to get just the right-size painting in a particular color palette. You can find the artist at booth No. 5 at Marion Square during Piccolo Spoleto or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Armed with an unorthodox arsenal of knives, dry brushes and assorted unconventional implements, Tate Nation paints in multiple layers of acrylics on canvas-covered wood panels, creating vibrant paintings that are drenched in texture. His non-traditional paintings are a lively medley of bold compositions, festive themes and a vivid color palette influenced by Caribbean art.
Nation’s works have been commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service, Coca-Cola, Delta and United Airlines, Canon USA, and Time-Life, among many others. His paintings and prints are held in private and public collections worldwide and have appeared in numerous national publications.
A former freelance illustrator and featured artist for the 2000 and 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Nation has also illustrated more than a dozen books, served as illustrator-in-residence for the Gibbes Museum of Art, and has been awarded many honors for his fine art paintings and illustrations. Two of his original works have been exhibited in the Society of Illustrators’ Museum of American Illustration in New York City.
Debbie Fornell is a native Texan who grew up in a small country town surrounded by a large extended family. After graduating from Texas A&M with a business degree, she moved to Charleston with her husband. After raising her two children, she began pursuing her true passion for painting.
Always inspired by her Lowcountry surroundings, Fornell’s subjects range from ladies weaving sweetgrass baskets to boats resting on the marsh.
The artist has been fortunate enough to live abroad and travel quite extensively. Along with the charm and beauty of the Lowcountry, this has given her an endless range of painting opportunities. “My family has always supported me and given me great encouragement,” Fornell says. “I feel truly blessed to be on this life journey as a painter.”
Fornell has studied with artists including Laurie Meyer, Rick Reinert, Mark Horton, Camille Przewodek and Colin Page. As an avid learner, she continues her training with a great deal of self-study, and her works can be viewed at debbiefornell.com.
A middle school and high school art teacher for 35 years now, artist Alvin Glen is well known for his captivating Lowcountry images, done mostly with pastels.
He’s currently busy with several series, including one involving the survivors of last year’s Charleston shooting. “It’s my opinion that the three surviving persons of the Mother Emanuel AME church shooting have been overshadowed by coverage of those who lost their lives,” he says.
Everything about the Lowcountry—the diverse people, the history, the buildings— inspires Glen’s work. “During my teen years, I became aware of Charleston’s architecture while working for my father, who was a brick mason,” he says.
Glen is the official 2014 MOJA Festival poster artist and the featured artist at the Charleston Art Institute, and his works can be seen at Charleston Artist Guild events, the Salt Gallery in Beaufort, the Walterboro Artisans Center, and in the Outdoor Art Exhibit in Marion Square during Piccolo Spoleto—the latter of which he has participated in ever since the early 1980s.
Known among his friends as the “saltwater cowboy,” Bob Graham is a Charleston-based artist and co-owner of Studio 151 Fine Arts (175 Church St.). For Graham, every person has a story to tell, and throughout his many travels, Graham is drawn to the faces he encounters. “It is the people of each place that make it special,” he says. “The ones you meet in line at the supermarket, while you are having lunch or simply passing by on the street; they make a place and give it life.” It’s those lives that Graham tries to capture in his work.
Also represented by Rick Reinert Fine Art at 179 King St., Graham’s extensive career has earned him no less than 500 local and national awards, including the Mayor’s Purchase Award at the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit in 2014 and in 2015, the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit First Place Award for his total body of work and the First Place Award in the drawing category in the Piccolo Juried Art Exhibition at City Gallery.
Daniel Island-based painter Amanda McLenon wasn’t always an artist. Her career progressed from high school science teacher, to coral reef scientist for NOAA, to marine biologist performing research in Antarctica. Then, while earning her master’s in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston, McLenon discovered she could paint. A series of commissions for fishing tournaments and invitations to exhibit at various galleries followed. In 2012, she was named Lowcountry Artist of the Year by the Coastal Community Foundation and decided to pursue art full time.
McLenon’s passion for the natural world is evident in her paintings as she portrays various wildlife as larger-than-life images full of motion. Her style includes reverse painting on glass, incorporation of antique maps and nautical charts, and organic drips of paint that emulate water in large scale canvas pieces. With a growing map collection, McLenon creates custom paintings for clients all over the globe. This year, her new series of work with herons, pelicans, flamingos and egrets—titled Grace—will debut during Piccolo Spoleto.
From an early age, Colleen Wiessmann had a love for abstract art. After studying horticulture at the New York Botanical Gardens and fashion design, she worked as an interior plantscaper for 25 years, which transformed into a love of texture and design.
As an artist for 15 years now, Wiessmann likes to tell a story in her abstract paintings through words, lines and symbols. She uses collage and layering techniques to create dimensional artwork that captures the viewer’s eye and emotion.
“By channeling my energy into the creative process, my work becomes both a part of me and a reflection of life as seen through an artist’s eye,” she says. “As an artist, my goal is to make you look beyond the surface and feel the emotions hiding within each painting.”
A New Jersey native, Wiessmann now lives on Seabrook Island. The awardwinning artist formed and was, for eight years, president of the Seabrook Island Artist Guild. Her work can be found at Studio 151 Fine Arts Gallery at 175 Church St.
Joyce Harvey lives, works, plays and paints in Charleston. She spends much of her time boating the Lowcountry marshes or sailing the East Coast from Florida to New England—the inspiration for many of her paintings.
Harvey’s lifelong love of water is reflected in her work. While she continues to develop her artistic style, she specializes in expressive maritime oil paintings executed with both palette knife and brush.
Harvey enjoys the energy, excitement, texture and vivid colors created with just a knife. Even as a child, she was always drawn to paintings that made you want to touch them. She loves the added dimension and how thick paint captures but also reflects light, allowing one painting to create different moods in changing light conditions. Along with energetic, vibrant-colored palette knife paintings, Harvey also captures the peaceful serenity of quiet marshes and seaside scenes.
Harvey is also an award-winning journalist and has worked for more than 25 years in television, including eight years with the CNN networks. She’s also represented by Lowcountry Artists Gallery at 148 East Bay St.
A native of California, John Michiels moved to Charleston for what he thought would be a period of a few months—long enough to make photographs of the beautiful, historic city. Fast-forward 26 years and thousands of photographs later, and he’s still in the Holy City, where he continues to find plenty of inspiration.
In addition, Michiels’ body of work includes images of the California coastline and wine country. From an old, abandoned single house to expansive wine vineyards, his warm monochrome images feature portraits of character-rich structures and quiet landscapes. Archival pigment prints are available in limited editions of 45 or less. You can find the photographer and his work at Marion Square during Piccolo Spoleto.
DEBORAH R. HILL
Deborah Hill considers herself a contemporary impressionist painter. After owning a residential and commercial design business for 13 years, she returned to full-time painting in 2010.
Hill works primarily in oil on canvas, both in her studio and en plein air. Dividing her time between Upstate New York and Seabrook, South Carolina, each location gives the artist yearround inspiration. Hill’s paintings convey a sense of familiarity with the subject matter, while interjecting abstract elements by means of color, brushwork and paint application. “Whether I am painting a landscape or the figure, my goal as an artist remains the same—to show the temperature and mood of the scene,” she says.
Deborah R. Hill
Hilarie Lambert enjoys painting the familiar—vintage toys, notable architecture or coastal scenes—but nothing about her work is “ordinary.” Through the filter of light in an egret’s wings in flight, or the way a newspaper crumbles under just-caught blue crabs, Lambert reveals the beauty in what we might have forgotten or gotten too busy to notice: The magic of the everyday.
The world in Lambert’s paintings is seen through her love of whimsy and the edges of things—the side streets, the back doors. This style gives the viewer a definite sense of the artist’s hand and vision at work. You can view Lambert’s work at Principle Gallery, where she is artist-in-residence, or at Marion Square during Piccolo Spoleto.
Charleston native Christine Crosby worked in the financial industry until a heart attack followed by triple bypass surgery at the age of 34 made her take stock of what was important in her life. She soon turned to art, and what began as therapy became her passion. Crosby took workshops with several well-known local artists, then studied on her own to develop her personal and distinctive style. The marshes, beaches and swamps and the creatures that inhabit them are Crosby’s inspirations. “Art is my escape,” she says. “I hope that viewers of my paintings find the same peace and tranquility that I experience as I create them.” Crosby’s work can be seen at Studio 151 Fine Art Gallery on Church Street in Charleston and at Art Central in Summerville.
CAROLINA FINE ART FRAMING
Founded in the 1950s, Carolina Fine Art Framing is located in the historic Faber- Ward house, a Palladian-style three-story home erected in 1832 by Henry Faber, on East Bay Street. Purchased five years ago by artist Wilfred Spoon, Carolina Fine Art Framing continues the tradition of crafting handmade, museum-quality frames in its new location. The prominent structure was converted to a hotel for emancipated slaves following the Civil War. Later, it was a middleclass residence before the Historic Charleston Foundation obtained it in 1964 and restored it to the inspired building it is today.
Spoon has settled into an expansive ground-floor space, the walls filled with his original oil paintings, those of New York artist Mark Heyer, and premium production frames. Carolina Fine Art Framing also offers antique reproduction frame samples produced using centuries-old techniques, including water gilding and hand-carving.
Carolina Fine Art Framing
As a native of Montana, Lowcountry artist Marissa Vogl has always been drawn to nature. “I was raised an outdoor kid, so I love landscapes and feel really connected to that and plein air painting,” she says. “But I also explore abstracts, which is very expressionistic and emotional—with bright colors and bold brush strokes.”
A graduate of fine art at Montana State University, Vogl relocated to Charleston with her husband eight years ago. Surrounded by stunning new landscapes, she decided to dedicate herself to art full time. Here, she finds inspiration at every turn. “The marshes and the palm trees and the ocean and being outdoors—it really energizes my creativity to study the colors and compositions,” she says.
In March, Vogl planted her Holy City roots by opening the Meyer Vogl Gallery at 122 Meeting St. with artist Laurie Meyer. Their first show together, Duet, debuts May 6.
Laurie Meyer has lived and painted in Charleston for more than 30 years. A lover of light and color effects in oil paint and watercolor, the artist challenges herself to create magical elements in each painting she completes.
A primarily self-taught artist, Meyer has also studied with many local artists and nationally recognized master artists who subscribe to the concept of creating atmosphere and depth in an alla prima method.
“I am not unique in stating that my goal each time I visit a blank canvas is to create depth, dimension and a sense of space in atmosphere,” she says.
In March of this year, Meyer and artist Marissa Vogl opened the Meyer Vogl Gallery at 122 Meeting St. on the north corner of Queen Street. Meyer says, “It’s a warm and beautiful gallery that highlights our work, which we will also do with upcoming shows of both local and national artists.”
Susan Roberts is a former special education teacher whose interest in photography was piqued in 1977 when her husband handed her his camera on their honeymoon and encouraged her to take photographs for an article he was writing. When the magazine used mostly Roberts’ photographs to illustrate the article, she began to study photography seriously.
“My goal, my continual challenge, is to seek out transcendent moments in light and time in the everyday world and to capture them so that their impact on me can be felt by those who will be viewing the resulting photographs,” Roberts says. “I have no desire to alter what I see, but instead simply want to use natural light and to frame and compose my photographs in such a way that what inspires me will be the focus of the photograph.”
Jan Sasser takes an environmentalistic approach to her art. “I like to remind people in my work of what’s around us,” she says. “That there’s value in the landscape we’re losing, in the local habitats we’re losing.”
With a sharp realist’s stroke, Sasser depicts local birds, native plants and wildlife in her art. Using traditional layering techniques, she often takes weeks to complete— and perfect—just one piece.
A social worker in her former life, Sasser has spent over a decade in her second career as an artist, participating in Piccolo Spoleto and the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition for the past several years. Currently exhibiting at the Spencer Gallery on Broad Street, Sasser hopes her landscape art inspires folks to go outside. She says: “We’ve become so commercialized, so preoccupied with technology. I feel it’s time to reconnect with the Earth, with the timeless beauty and aspects of nature that have always sustained us.”
Jennifer Koach’s formal training in fine arts started at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and continues to this day. “I painted throughout my 25-year career as an interior designer and antiques dealer. Living outside the United States for almost 20 years gave me varied experiences and locations from which to draw inspiration,” she says.
Koach has painted theater and TV backdrops, fabrics, wall finishes and architectural renderings, and her wall murals grace the Hong Kong International schools, La Perla stores, as well as private residences. Her watercolors, acrylics and oils have been exhibited and sold around the world.
“Now I am living in Charleston, painting full time and still learning and growing as an artist,” she says. Koach is a juried member of the Charleston Artist Guild, Oil Painters of America, and the Women Painters of the Southeast.
In 2005, artist Chris Rutigliano began her journey with paint, never suspecting that it would lead to participating in juried art shows, showing her work in galleries, being a board member for the Charleston Artist Guild, donating pieces of art to charity events and fundraisers, and much more.
“It’s such a beautiful place—one can hardly not want to paint or photograph or somehow capture the beauty of the Lowcountry,” Rutigliano says of her adopted home. “The colors, the skies, the sunsets, the wildlife, the historic district, the galleries, the artists—it is a haven for any artistic endeavor.”
Presently, she is represented by Irene Morrah Fine Art in Greenville, South Carolina. In addition, this is the ninth year Rutigliano has been a juried artist exhibiting her work at the Piccolo Spoleto Art in the Park exhibition at Marion Square in downtown Charleston.
Over 20 years ago, Beth Williams made the Lowcountry her home, and that’s where she still draws endless inspiration—the sun on the marsh, the morning light trickling through Spanish moss-covered oaks. But Williams’ love of nature developed while she was growing up in the Southwest. That’s also where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Art Education before teaching art at numerous museums, public and private schools.
When she first began to paint, Williams worked in watercolor though now she’s known as a pastel artist. She prefers the medium for its rich color, fluidity and luminous texture, which allow her to capture the ever-changing light and give her work its strong atmospheric quality.
When Williams is not painting, she enjoys spending time with family, hiking, travel, photography and visiting galleries and museums, which continue to influence her work.
Merrie McNair is a South Carolina native who spent childhood summers roaming the beaches and tidal waters of the Lowcountry. Having moved to New York in 1982, McNair attended Parsons School of Design and began using her love of color and textures to create interior spaces reflective of her clients’ lifestyles. She now expresses herself through paint with a style that provides that special balance between realism and impressionism. “I hope my paintings evoke the senses … a vacation, a childhood memory or a feeling that only nature can inspire,” she says.
At the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibition this year, McNair will display Lowcountry scenes, from creek sunsets to plated oysters, along with some more modern interpretations of palm fronds and shrimp boats. A member of the Charleston Artist Guild, McNair sells primarily through private showings and is available for commissioned art.
ALICE STEWART GRIMSLEY
As a teenager, Alice Stewart Grimsley studied under Corrie McCallum and her husband, William Halsey, after whom the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art was named. “They sent us out in the streets, and we would go and paint,” says the Yonges Island resident. “That’s when I fell in love with architecture and plaster falling off of buildings and the antiquity of the area.”
Trained in oils, Grimsley—who is also an artist-in-residence for the South Carolina Arts Commission—went on to become a watercolorist whose brightly colored, cheerful Lowcountry scenes spring to life. After a 17- year career teaching art, Grimsley became a full-time artist in 1989 and went on to run the historic Pink House Gallery on Chalmers Street for 20 years.
In March, Grimsley was welcomed into the Courtyard Gallery at 149 East Bay St., where you can now find both her prints and originals.
Alice Stewart Grimsley
Steven Hyatt is a photographer and printer based in Charleston. In addition to his photography, he is also president of a printing business called Imaging Arts Printing.
“My interest in photography emerged in my teenage years as an extension of a general desire to create,” Hyatt says. “Years later, as a philosophy and religious studies major at the College of Charleston, I would often spend time studying in the Unitarian Church’s incredibly unique and alive cemetery. Many years after that, I found myself back at the same church wondering how I could capture what I was both seeing and experiencing in that space.” The effort to meet that challenge gave birth to the Churches of Charleston Project, which has since expanded to include churches throughout the world.
Hyatt also does a wide array of photography ranging from architecture and portraits of birds of prey to landscapes and abstract fine art photography.