Feature Articles

August Issue 2002

The Human Figure at Conn Gallery in Landrum, SC

Conn Gallery in Landrum, SC will host The Human Figure featuring works by Marla Black, Richard Conn, Jim Heiser, Dabney Mahanes and Keith Spencer. The exhibit will be on view Aug. 10 - Sept. 20.

Marla Black of Rock Hill, SC, received a degree in sculpture (magna cum laude) from Winthrop University in 1981. From there she worked with a display design company for one and a half years, creating displays for store fronts all over the country. She was drawn back to painting and drawing and doing private commissions for the next 15 years. Black got her own sculpture studio in 1998, and is now painting and sculpting the human form.

Black has been involved in several artists' workshops in New York, over the years, and participated in two separate sessions at the Penland School of Craft and Design (one session in arc welding and steel sculpture, the other in bronze, aluminum, and concrete casting.) She has been busy entering and receiving prizes in many juried shows, up and down the east coast, this past year. Black's venue for the Conn Gallery show are paintings of the human figure and abstract, figurative sculpture.

Richard Conn, co-owner of Conn Gallery, returned to his studio a year ago, after spending nine years painting murals for restaurants, businesses, and private homes. He returned to plein-air landscapes, a medium he enjoyed because it brought him outdoors. His figures, however, have been a part of his work for over ten years. Conn's nudes and semi nudes are beautifully rendered in conte crayon, charcoal, and pen and ink. The pieces emote peaceful poses, quiet reflection, and deep thought. A deep thinker himself, Conn's pieces are reflections of his emotions or train of thought at the time.

Jim Heiser resides in Greenville,SC and believes that "the human body is not the subject of art but a form of art." After a year in commercial art, he worked in sales for the James River Corporation. At age thirty, he left corporate life and began studying for his MA in Art History from USC. He studied drawing at USC under Deanna Leamon.

Heiser's pieces are classically rendered figures done in conte crayon; he creates form with depth and accuracy. Drawing since childhood, his mentor is Michelangelo. Heiser quotes, "Nothing can articulate the complexity, subtlety and intensity of my own emotional landscape as certain deeply expressive passages of the human body."

Dabney Mahanes is predominantly a figure painter. She works with either a live model, or photographs the model for later paintings. The pieces in this show came mostly from a week spent with her granddaughter, who posed for Mahanes in her funkiest clothes. Mahanes brings rhythm, mood, and story to her painting, using dramatic light and strong color. Dabney says of her work, "I use facial and body expression to capture a moment in time"

Mahanes's work has been in several exhibitions throughout the Carolinas, both juried and invitational. Her work is part of the permanent collection at Conn Gallery.

Keith Spencer, a well known artist in the Southeast, was in Conn Gallery's first opening, displaying his talent for landscapes and figures. His work is also in Conn Gallery's permanent artist collection, as well as in the The Carolina Foothills Arts Center in Chesnee, The Raifford Gallery in Atlanta, The Red Wolf in Brevard, The Gallery on 8th in Myrtle Beach and the Swanson Cralle Gallery in Louisville.

Spencer's background was in commercial graphic arts , starting with Umbro USA from 1992-96 to freelance work with Rebobok, Champion and other companies from 1996-2000. He evolved from this to a full time fine artist, and shows his true love for his plein air and studio landscapes and his figures.

Spencer's work is fun and colorful, and draws your eye right away to places that you know you recognize. His continual exploration of new ways to process and produce human figures wIll come out in this show In the form of more abstract forms, both intriguing and exciting.

For more information check our SC Commercial Gallery listings or call the gallery at 864/457-5050.


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