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November Issue 2003

Jackson Gallery in Aiken, SC, Presents International Show

With Figuration: An International Group Show, the Jackson Gallery in Aiken, SC, is presenting one of the main events of the season on South Carolina's gallery scene. The show will present both artists of international fame and with regional reputations from the East Coast, specifically South Carolina, the West Coast, Mexico, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands from Nov. 20 through Jan. 8, 2004.

"We have pulled together a lively show," gallery owner Bill Jackson said. "All the work will in one way or another deal with the human figure, but the number of approaches will be as varied as the number of artists in the exhibition. It'll be an exciting show. It also will be a show with art for any budget. Some works of art will be a few hundred dollars, others will be several thousands of dollars. With the holiday season approaching, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for people in the Aiken and Augusta, GA, area to think about art when they buy presents for their loved ones."

The show opens on Thursday, Nov. 20, from 6-9pm as part of Aiken's "Art After Hours," which takes place every third Thursday of the month during Fall 2003 and Spring 2004. Several downtown galleries and artists' studios will be open, and downtown restaurants will have extended hours.

The Jackson Gallery show will include work by Jeff Donovan (SC), Luis Filcer (Mexico), Tonya Gregg (SC), Michael Hale (SC), Klaus Hartmann (Germany), Margie Lee (OR), Eric Miller (SC/PA) Andres Nagel (Spain), Kees Salentijn (The Netherlands), and the late Lucretia van Horn (CA). Several artists are expected to attend the opening.

"We really wanted to get away from the idea that we could only show regional artists," Jackson said. "We don't think that people in this region only care about art from around the corner. At the same time, we were intrigued by idea of hanging the work of South Carolina artists next to those of artists from far away places. Look at Tonya Gregg, Jeff Donovan, Michael Hale, and Eric Miller, they all are young or emerging artists from our state, but their work holds up beautifully next to that of the big names from elsewhere. The comparison gives you a good idea of the talent level in our state, and the results are so encouraging."

The international star of the exhibition is Andres Nagel (b. 1947), a Spanish sculptor of Basque-German descent. Nagel lives in the Los Angeles area, where he works as an artist and art professor. The literature on Nagel consists of several books and many articles. Among the influences on his work are Picasso, German Expressionism, and his growing up in Spain under the Fascist regime of late dictator Francisco Franco. Nagel makes bronze and steel sculptures but is especially known for his use of cut fiberglass coated with polyester. He's a modernist who draws from the old masters.

Joining Nagel's from the West Coast are the paintings of two other artists. Lucretia Van Horn (1882-1970) was for decades a nationally known fixture on the Bay Area art scene in California. Known for her pastels and watercolors, she has work in museums all over California. Margie Lee (b. 1950) is from Portland. Her shows include a 1999 solo exhibition at Whatcom County Museum of History and Art in Bellingham, WA. Her small acrylic paintings have a decidedly Bay Area Figuration flavor, related to the 1950s figurative work of David Park, Richard Diebenkorn and others.

From Mexico City comes the work of Luis Filcer (b. 1927). In the 1930s, Filcer's Jewish family left the Ukraine and settled in Mexico, where he grew up. From the 1950s onward, Filcer traveled and studied extensively in Europe; he lived in the Netherlands for two decades. His paintings deal with human relations, including the abuse of power and authority. Style-wise, his work has drawn comparisons to Rembrandt, Goya, Daumier and Bacon. Filcer's work is in museums all over the Americas and Europe.

From Europe come Dutchman, Kees Salentijn and German, Klaus Hartmann. Salentijn (b. 1947) one of the Netherlands' foremost contemporary artists. He works in a figurative-expressionist tradition that was established in the 1940s and 1950s in Europe by artists of the famous Cobra group, including Dutchmen, Karel Appel and Corneille and the Danish artist, Asger Jorn. Cobra art had the vigor and painterly qualities of American Abstract-Expressionism, found inspiration in Art Brut, children's drawing and African symbolism, and approached painting through the subconscious, like the Surrealists. Salentijn also gets much of his inspiration and subject matter from Spain, the home country of his wife.

"Salentijn draws like a painter and paints like a draftsman," Leo Duppen, former director of the CoBrA Museum in the Netherlands, wrote in the most recent book on the artist. "In his artistic outlook as a painter, recognizable figuration can exist alongside an abstract visual language without the artist making a deliberate choice that goes beyond his mood of the moment."

Klaus Hartmann (b. 1960) is a fixture on the art scene of the Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany. Hartmann teaches at Kaiserslautern Technical College and has taught at Kaiserlautern University. He has produced several public sculptures, including one for his state's Department of Culture. Hartmann makes energetic, abstracted and stylized bronze and metal sculptures. He approaches his metal work as a blacksmith, not simply welding pieces of metal together but actually hammering and bending shapes and forms into and from metal plates. Hartmann has exhibited in Columbia, SC, where his work is in several private collections. He is part of a cultural exchange between artists from the city of Kaiserslautern and Columbia that also includes Stephen Chesley and Mike Williams.

The South Carolinians showing include Tonya Gregg (b. 1975), the youngest artist in the show. The art professor at Columbia's Benedict College has degrees from the University of Maryland and the University of Chicago. Her work has been exhibited widely in the Southeast, as well as in New York City, Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Chicago. Her most recent show, last month, was at the Lawndale Art Center in Houston. Gregg's colorful, figurative paintings deal in sometimes funny, sometimes grim, always insightful ways with issues of race, gender, and sexuality in popular culture.

Another Benedict College professor, sculptor Michael Hale (b. 1968), is among the state's best metal sculptors. He will present mixed media sculptures mostly made of metal. Hale has a public sculpture on exhibit in Washington, DC, as well as on several college campuses, including that of the University of South Carolina.

Eric Miller (b. 1971) has created a buzz on the Columbia art scene in the past few years with his ceramic sculptures. Miller graduated from the University of South Carolina art department earlier this year. His BFA graduation exhibition almost sold out. This summer, Miller was admitted to the prestigious Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains for a summer course. He is now working on his MFA at the prominent Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. The Jackson Gallery show will be his first in a commercial gallery.

Painter Jeff Donovan (b. 1957) has been a relatively quiet but highly respected presence on the Columbia art scene for decades. He depicts solemn figures with distorted body parts and poses who usually seem to exist in solitude. Donovan's paintings have at times a somewhat Magic Realist, even Surrealist, feel and are meticulously painted. In addition to several college and commercial galleries in the Carolinas and Georgia, Donovan's work has been shown at the Columbia Museum of Art.

"Michael Hale and Jeff Donovan are among the most underrated artists in this state," gallery owner Jackson said. "We'd like to play a part in changing that, because both are magnificent."

"Eric Miller is fairly new on the art scene," Jackson added, "but he made a name fast in Columbia. For his BFA show, USC art professors and some serious Columbia collectors lined up to get his work, some of them buying it out of Eric's studio before the exhibition was installed."

"Tonya Gregg is considered one of this state's major young talents. She's getting impressive media coverage and some looks at New York City institutions. Her recent Houston show was a big hit."

For more information check our SC Commercial Gallery listings, call the gallery at 803/648-7397 or on the web at (www.jacksongallery.com).


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