Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The State Museum

20 Years of Art

A diverse and intriguing show opened at the State Museum presenting selected works of all media by South Carolina artists.  The juried show contains over 122 contemporary works from well-known and new artists chosen by Lia Newman and Brian Rutenberg as part of the State Museum’s 20th Anniversary.

By Judit Trunkos

The jurors had a difficult task of selecting the Palmetto State’s best pieces due the surprising number of entries.
“We anticipated between 250 and 300 artists, but instead we had 500 enter two pieces each, so instead of 500 works of art we had 1,000,” says Paul Matheny, curator of the exhibition.
Indeed, there is an overwhelming number of works on display from all over the state, including Aiken, Newberry, Greenville, Columbia, Charleston, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hartsville, Orangeburg, Seneca, Barnwell, Santee, Clover, Greenwood, Camden, Winnsboro and Conway.
“We were also very pleased at the diversity and range of subjects, media, and of the geographic distribution of the artists. What’s not a surprise, however, is the high quality of this art,” Matheny says.
Representing Columbia’s artists among others are Mana Hewitt, Laura Spong, Lee Sipes, Gene Speer and Peter Lenzo. 
The selected and exhibited pieces do not have anything in common other than the artists living and working in South Carolina.  The artworks are made of a variety of media including wood, copper, fiber, acrylic, water color, oil and even “found objects.”
The styles differ just as much as their media. Well-known Columbia artist Laura Spong’s abstract oil on canvas titled “On the Saluda” is exhibited as well as Lee Sipe’s “Vessel No. 60” made of copper wire, a work that earned the S.C. State Museum’s Purchase Award. There are also more figurative works, depicting every day scenes from our lives in the Palmetto State such as Spartanburg native Isabel Forbes’ “Morning News” or James St. Clair’s “Function at the Junction,” which received an Honorable Mention from the jury. 
Those expecting an exhibition of only paintings and sculptures will be surprised to find works like Mana Hewitt’s “Manpower” made of etched copper and brass.
To see this great variety of South Carolinian artists and artworks, visit the State Museum’s Lipscomb Gallery until September 7.

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