The Johnson Collection Gallery

The Art and Soul of the Hunt


As the South sought to recover—emotionally, economically, and environmentally—in the decades following the Civil War, early conservationists began rehabilitating the region’s scarred landscape. Along the South Carolina coast, most of the rich, loamy soil that had once produced ninety-five percent of the nation’s rice had fallen fallow. These tidal properties became attractive investments for wealthy Northern financiers and industrialists who viewed the purchase of declining plantations as the perfect convergence of profit and pastime, and transformed the farms into hunting retreats. In 1898, a dozen separate such properties were combined to form the Santee Club, a 23,000-acre expanse described in 1907 by a New York Times reporter as “probably the finest shooting preserves on the Atlantic Coast.”

This exhibition features a large selection of work by noted wildfowl artist Richard Bishop, who was an honorary member of and frequent visitor to the Santee Club. An engineer by training, Bishop married his artistic expression to his lifelong passion for hunting. Game birds were Bishop’s subject of choice, and he faithfully recorded their motions and migrations in various habitats up and down the Eastern Seaboard—on land and water, and on the wing. Paintings by John Tracy, Aiden Lassell Ripley, Eugene Thomason, Edmund Ashe, Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Thomas Addison Richards, and Anna Heyward Taylor complement the Santee story.

Join us for a special ArtWalk presentation by Virginia Christian Beach, author of Rice and Ducks: The Surprising Convergence that Saved the Carolina Lowcountry. Her informal lecture on the synergy between sport and environmental stewardship begins at 6pm on Thursday, September 20, at TJC Gallery, located at 154 West Main Street in downtown Spartanburg.

Hailed by The Magazine Antiques with staging a “quiet art historical revolution” and expanding “the meaning of regional,” the Johnson Collection offers an extensive survey of artistic activity in the American South from the late eighteenth century to the present day. In May 2016, the collection received the Governor’s Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for the Arts, South Carolina’s highest honor in the field. Located at 154 West Main Street in the heart of Spartanburg’s downtown, TJC Gallery features rotating selections from the collection’s holdings. These curated exhibitions are open to the public without charge twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1pm to 5pm. In addition, TJC Gallery is pleased to participate in the city’s ArtWalk series, held on the third Thursday of each month from 5pm to 8pm.