6 Galleries, October 2007
Opening October 5, 5-8 pm
Manning Williams, Karin Olah, and Lese Corrigan, John Duckworth, Robert Lange, Kim Hunter, and Michael Morrison, Nathan Durfee, Toby Penney, Julie Henson, Glenn Friedel …
Encouraged by their peers, these artists are an indication of the strengthening of contemporary art in Charleston. There are three times the
Six local contemporary galleries collaborate to exhibit, The Other Side, featuring over sixty art works of all mediums by various artists in the Southeast and beyond. The exhibition will hang from October 5-18, 2007, and a festive reception, featuring music, wine, and hors d’oeuvres, is open to the public on October 5, 5:00-8:00 PM, in conjunction with the French Quarter Art Walk.
The Other Side, has been developed to unite both artists and art venues in the Lowcountry of SC, and to provide a sense of solidarity among the Charleston art community. The exhibition unfolds with a general theme: No Dead Artists. Visitors will encounter images, objects, ideas, and livingartists that are reshaping the direction of Charleston contemporary art. In the volume of space at RLS’s Upstairs, selected artists from local galleries will present their best work, not medium specific.
The Other Side is dramatic, engaging, and critical, immersing visitors in powerful encounters with the best contemporary, experimental art in Charleston including the works of Manning Williams from Corrigan Gallery LLC, who paints conceptual comic book imagery that leaves the viewer to create a narrative.
Familiar to RLS, photographer John Duckworth, a nonconformist of classical photography, expands on the abstraction of Low Country landscapes and American cityscapes, experimenting with blurred lines and slight exaggerations of color. Painter Robert Lange creates photo-realistic images, with disciplined brushstrokes and stylized geometric division of space.
Toby Penny of Modernisme creates abstract panels by pushing and pulling vibrant paints of red, yellow, and blue. Seth Curcio of Redux, with Xerox and laser copiers, screen prints, billboard pasting, enamel paints and vinyl on the walls, alters new American icons like the Hummer and maps of the U.S., offering them a new artistic context and meaning.
A Charleston favorite, Kevin Harrison of Eye Level Art loosely interprets architecture as warped and asymmetrical, as if he were looking through the lens of an eye scope at the wrong end. Also from Eye Level Art, Tyler Blanton draws from her years painting abroad and creates large-scale abstract mixed media works; bring a surprising new dynamic to Charleston’s contemporary art scene.
Of Rebekah Jacob Modern, Southern painter Jere Allen interprets the female figure in abstract form with dramatic, electric colors of red, black, and blue. Cuban photographers Nelson and Liudmila, in the series of Silencios, pay a silent homage to many Cubans who have crossed the Florida straights through color images of folded paper ships, floating in sinks and bowls of water.
“Charleston is becoming more and more progressive,” says gallery owner Robert Lange. “The directors of the participating galleries have been instrumental in creating a more divers landscape for both artists and also enthusiasts to enjoy.”
Please visit www.robertlangestudios.com or call for more information 843.805.8052. Digital images of art works are available upon request.
City Paper Review:
OCTOBER 3, 2007
VISUAL ARTS REVIEW The Other Side
In Pursuit of Progress: A six-gallery collaboration takes art walkers to The Other Side
BY NICK SMITH
There’s nothing like healthy competition to get art galleries to upgrade their game and try new things. In a city like Charleston, the galleries are within a stone’s throw of each other, and the owners practically bump into each other when they step outside. “When I walk down the street, I often meet one or two people from neighboring galleries,” says Megan Lange, co-owner of Robert Lange Studios. Instead of hating on their potential rivals, Lange and fellow gallery owners have ganged up for a show at RLS Upstairs.
“It’s less about selling the work,” says RLS co-owner and artist Robert Lange, “more about giving a face to a common theme.”
Themed shows like Big Works have been a hit at Robert Lange Studios in the past. Two Small Works exhibitions have highlighted the variety of styles that suit a pint-sized canvas. In a similar vein, the gallery’s devoting its Upstairs space to 23 disparate artists this month for The Other Side. The difference this time is that many of those artists are represented by other contemporary galleries in a high-profile manner, and some of the gallery owners plan to be available on opening night to meet customers who would otherwise be less likely to see the artists’ work or walk into their establishments.
“When we first opened three years ago,” says Megan Lange, “there was a much smaller list of progressive galleries around here. There was us, Eva Carter, Mary Martin, and that was it. Eye Level Art wasn’t there, Lese Corrigan wasn’t either. Redux Contemporary Art Center wasn’t going out into the community the way it does now.”
The increase in contemporary galleries has created a small but firm shift in the market — enough, at least, to make The Other Side a viable proposition. Redux, Corrigan, and Eye Level are all involved, along with Rebekah Jacob Modern and West Ashley’s Modernisme.
This definitely benefits Kristy Cifuentes, owner of Modernisme, enabling her and her artists to participate in Friday’s downtown Art Walk. “It’s more of an awareness-raising show than anything else,” she says. “Contemporary art has been around for a long time, but it doesn’t sell so well in Charleston, which is more of a traditional town. I don’t think people moving to this city know that we’re here.”
So the proposition seems like a good one for all concerned; the Langes will cover all gallery expenses such as invites, refreshments, and advertising, with 30 percent of the profit going to RLS, 30 percent to the contributing gallery and 40 percent to the artist.
Cifuentes will contribute pieces by four of her artists: Toby Penney, Nathan Durfee, Julie Henson, and Glenn Friedel. “It’s definitely challenging. A lot of the work is more progressive than usual.”
“It’s still classy,” Robert insists. “Not shock value art.” Instead, there’s a good range of modern techniques, from Seth Curcio’s screenprints to Jere Allen’s striking figurative paintings. There’s enough experimentation with medium, form, color, and subject matter to challenge viewers, but not so much that they’ll run screaming from the gallery.
“Collectors are looking for work that’s refined and finished,” says Lese Corrigan, who will show examples of her own painting and two of the artists that she represents. “The South is known for its genteel and refined image. The bite is there, it’s just underneath the surface. Southerners approach their subject matter or anyone with a little bit of honey.”
One of Corrigan’s artists is Manning Williams, an abstract artist who packs political commentary and shards of shapes into acrylics laid out like the pages of a comic book, complete with gutters and speech bubbles. While the layouts are easily identifiable, accessible elements, Corrigan contends that if viewers give the artwork some time and attention, they’ll feel the edge. “You have to stand and go into it,” she says. “People don’t always take the time to do that.”
When they do, they’ll catch the nuances of Williams’ social commentary; Nathan Durfee’s zeitgeist-baiting narrative art; Lange’s postmodern paintings-within-paintings, commenting on his current inspirations and thought processes; and John Duckworth’s abstracts, literally blurring the line between photographic realism and abstract expressionism. All four artists are involved in The Other Side.
Encouraged by their peers, these artists are an indication of the strengthening of contemporary art in Charleston. There are three times the number of progressive galleries than were here a few years ago, thanks to the confidence of the owners and support from local and vacationing art enthusiasts.
There’s a long way to go before Chucktown reaches a Santa Fe-level contemporary art scene. But the efforts of the Charleston Fine Art Dealers Association and the French Quarter Gallery Association, advertising in national magazines and drawing people to the city as an art destination, have definitely helped increase the number of visiting collectors. The tastes of these visitors vary from painfully conservative to refreshingly daring. However honey-coated, the increasingly accepted contemporary art provides more thoughtful work than traditional, charming Charleston fare — and opens avenues for artists like Seth Curcio who are honing a sharper edge. That’s good for our art community and collectors alike.
“There are a lot of places selling pretty pictures,” says Corrigan. “But you have to ask yourself why you’d want to spend your life with a painting. Pretty fades through time.”
On The Other Side
There’s only one week left to catch The Other Side, the Robert Lange Studios Upstairs show that features some of the best work from several galleries around town. Up till October 18 you can see a great variety of work there, including Nathan Durfee’s figurative paintings, Glenn Friedel’s effervescent abstracts, and a painting of a painter working on a contemporary painting (!) by Robert Lange.
Tucked to one side at the top of the stairs is a trademark piece by abstract painter Patrick Pelletier. Kevin Hoth has work projected on one wall in the middle of the gallery, and even Seth Curcio’s experimental blue and gray-hued work fits in.
Gallery co-honcho Megan Lange had these comments to make about the show and its place in the local art scene:
“As with all great cities, the art and artists are usually on the forefront of a movement. I think that this show represents an evolving chapter in
Charleston’s growing story line.
“With all of its thick history and modern transplants the city of Charleston is a mixed art market. There is a fresh element of contemporary work emerging against the area’s traditional market. These galleries display diversity, stellar talent and variety that are more or less showcased in larger cities and urban areas…
“The continuing trend we’ve noticed in Charleston’s fine art is towards reinventing tradition. For example in this upcoming show you’ll find, John Duckworth uses acrylic and epoxy to depict Charleston row houses as haunting abstracts and JB Boyd creates oil paintings that transform conventional marsh senses. Both of these postmodern young painters give collectors familiar subjects in unique and progressive ways.”