Feature Articles

February 2011

Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, Offers Exhibit Focused on African American Art

The Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC, presents their first major exhibit of 2012, Soul of the Pee Dee, featuring the works of African American artists or works where African Americans are the focus of the piece. The exhibit opens on Feb. 3 and continues through Mar. 9, 2012. A reception will be held on Feb. 3, from 5:30-8pm. Everyone is welcome and there is no cost for attending.

The exhibit highlights the creative works of many of the artists identified in the Soul of the Pee Dee booklet produced by tourism officials in the region, highlighting cultural and artistic contributions of African Americans. Additionally, the exhibit has attracted artists from beyond the region and the state.

Soul of the Pee Dee is being hosted in the Art Trail’s Main Gallery. The array of mediums will be just as diverse as the artists presenting. From photography, to acrylics, oil, pastels, pen and pencil, fiber, sculptural, collage, and metal, participating artists will provide a variety of visual experiences for the visitor. Over half of the artists are new additions to the roster of artists appearing at the Art Trail Gallery.

For example, Bernice and Andy Tate are originally from New York and have been producing African-American historical, non-representational and figurative art for nearly forty years. They are heavily involved in the art scene in the Low Country. Russell Howard who prefers to be known by his artist name, Angelmont, is self-trained and has been working in the arts for twenty years. His favorite things to paint are angels and dancers. For him, they represent movement and artistic freedom.

James E. St. Clair (aka The Artist Saint) is an award winning South Carolina Low Country artist. Many of his paintings depict the rich heritage and culture of the Low Country and the Sea Islands. Another Low Country artist participating in the exhibit is Spirit Smith. Joining the Gallery from Georgia, Jocelyn Hairston is a member of one of Atlanta’s founding families. Her art focuses on simple presentations on the complexities of life. Her passion for architectural art history, historic renovation and restoration, and the creative celebration of everyday life are apparent in her works.

Pee Dee artists exhibiting in the show include a large proportion of the individuals included in the Soul of the Pee Dee book. Among the painters, the gallery will feature Velma Regina Brown from Society Hill, SC, who considers herself a folk artist. Neil A. McClendon Jr., a self-taught artist who has been drawing since early childhood, produces works that depict the life and struggles of “the black people.” McClendon’s paintings and unique sculptural pieces always capture the attention of visitors. Carolyn Govan’s paintings represent the ideas of diverse culture through a storytelling form.

Jeri Bolling, working in acrylic, notes that each one of her works is spirit-filled, giving personal praise to God. Harry Arnette McFadden is a self-described Afro-Carolinian. His art is created as an outlet to speak for him when he is not in the physical presence of an observer. “To me, art is not as much about what is on the canvas as it is about what caused it to be there,” said McFadden. “My expressions tend to be bold with alleged subtle compositions.”

Two of the exhibiting artists will present works produced from metal. Bruce Graves is a steel fusion artist who began welding art in 1988. He is challenged by the intense temperature and brilliant UVA light that comes from welding. He does his part in recycling by finding all different types of steel, glass and other materials to reuse in his artwork. His portraits in steel are most distinctive. Pearl Fryar, best known for his famous topiaries located in Bishopville, SC, also works in metal. Fryar will be exhibiting one of his metal pieces in this exhibit.

A long way from the dramatic surfaces of steel, James Hunter, affectionately known as “The Rockin’ Chair Man,” has been gathering the cornshucks to build quality rocking chairs since he was a little boy. He started building rocking chairs full-time in the 1970s and says, “it’s always been my first love.”

Representing fiber artists, Vera Martin and LaToya Thompson will be sharing their unique quilted creations. Thompson says that her quilts express the way she feels about family, community, politics and relationships. Most of her quilts include the use of bright colors and African materials to represent her heritage.

Christopher Davis, author of We Too Shall Wear A Crown: Honoring and Celebrating the Legacy and Tradition of African-American Women Who Wear Hats to Church, will be sharing selections from his travelling exhibit celebrating the tradition of hats in the African American community.

Ronald Beverly of Maryland, SC, and Suzanne Muldrow of Darlington, SC, will be presenting their ideas through the medium of photography. Muldrow is well-known to gallery attendees for her ability to manipulate photographic images to create beautiful interpretations of the original digital data.

One special piece being displayed during the exhibit is a framed scarf by well-known Low Country artist, Jonathan Green. Green’s piece is part of a fundraising effort for a local charity. Interested parties can purchase tickets with the hopes of one day owning it.

Over 35 artists will be showing works in the Soul of the Pee Dee exhibit and include: Andy Tate, Angelmont Howard, April Artis, Bernice Tate, Bruce Graves, Carolyn Govan, Chant’e Glass-Walley, Christopher Davis, Ellie Becoat, III, Harry McFadden, Hezikyah Olenja, Jada Pompey, James Hunter, James St. Clair, Jacqueline Jenkins, Jeri Boling, Jill Baltzell, Jonathan Green, Tonia Mitchell, Joselyn Hairston, Kelvin James, LaToya Thompson, Leo Woodberry, Michelle Frazier, Neil McClendon, Pearly Fryar, Rachel Jones, Regina Brown, Ronald Beverly, Ronnie Singletary, Serena Hall, Spirit Smith, Suzanne Muldrow, Tiffany Thomas, Tisha Gary Ward, and Vera Martin.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, visit (http://www.art-trail-gallery.com) or visit the Art Trail Gallery on Facebook.

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