West Main Artists Co-Op

New Exhibitions at West Main Artists Co-op and a Major Retrospective!

 Mac Boggs

West Main Artists Co-op to Exhibit Retrospective Work of Spartanburg’s Most Celebrated Artist

A lifetime of work by one of Spartanburg’s most celebrated artists — the late Mayo “Mac” Boggs — will be retrospectively exhibited at West Main Artists Co-op May 1-June 16, celebrating 43 years of international recognition and acclaim. This extensive collection of sculptures and 2-dimensional works-of-art — “Mac Boggs: A Retrospective” — can be seen at no charge Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at 578 West Main Street, Spartanburg, in the Co-op’s Venue gallery.

Also, the public is invited to a free reception on Thursday, May 17, 5-9 p.m., during the city’s monthly ArtWalk. His widow, Ansley Boggs, Ph.D., will give a free artist’s talk 6:30-7 p.m. “This will be West Main’s most important exhibit for the year,” Venue Committee Chair Dwight Rose said. “There is probably no other Spartanburg artist who has achieved as much recognition and respect as Mac Boggs. His work is literally around the world.” Each month, the Co-op hosts three new art exhibits by its members and non-members, and Venue is the largest exhibit space among four galleries.

Mr. Boggs passed away on March 10, 2014, at the age of 71, due to heart disease. At that time, he was retired from teaching art at Converse College, where he retained the distinction of Professor Emeritus of Art. Dr. Boggs  survives him and has worked with Rose to curate this retrospective exhibit at the Co-op.

“Mac always believed in artists supporting each other, so he loved that WMAC established an influential and supportive artist community,” Dr. Boggs said. “Mac was legendary for his mentoring and support of fellow and budding artists. While supporting well-known artists, Mac always sought out those artists of whom no one might be aware, whether because they hadn’t exhibited, or because they didn’t recognize themselves as artists. Frequently, people in the community attributed their artistic success to his encouragement and generosity in sharing his talent and time. He was a creative inspiration to all!

“Artist Winston Wingo enjoys telling the story of a rainy night, when he was in high school, and he knocked on Mac Boggs’ front door,” she recalled. “When Mac answered, Winston said, ‘I hear you’re the new sculptor in town.’ Mac responded affirmatively, and Winston replied, ‘Well, I’m a sculptor too, and I want to do what you do!’ They remained friends for the rest of Mac’s life.”

The exhibit will include many abstract and non-representational metal and bronze sculptures, for which he is most known. However, the exhibit will also have marble constructions, paintings, computer graphics, prints, photographs of commissioned art, sketches of proposed sculpture, awards, newspaper articles, models of proposals, and letters from students and colleagues. “I hope that people appreciate Mac’s amazing versatility and creativity, as well as sense his inspiration, enthusiasm and passion for creating art and teaching,” she said.

“Over a 40-year period, I have interacted with Boggs and observed him using his energy, talent, and expertise to become a driving force behind the development of the visual arts program at Converse College,” Wingo has been quoted. “Since my high school years, he has served as a role model to help guide my career in arts education. Boggs’ immeasurable contributions to his students, Converse College, as well as his community, are evidence of exemplary leadership in the field.”

Mr. Boggs was born and raised in Ashland, KY. He earned a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree of fine arts (sculpture) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 1970-2013, Mr. Boggs was the professor of sculpture at Converse College in Spartanburg. He received numerous awards and honors, and in 1991, he was named Honorary Artist of Spartanburg by proclamation of the Mayor. In 2000, the Mayor proclaimed a “Mayo Mac Boggs Day.” In 2008, he was selected to serve as a Technical Collaborator for the Lynne Streeter Art and Marble Stone-carving Summer Workshop of Pietrasanta, Italy. In 2010, Mr. Boggs was honored by Converse College, Wofford College, and USC-Upstate with a 40-year retrospective exhibition on each of the three campuses. And in 2013, he received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts, South Carolina highest arts award.

Mr. Boggs is well known for his metal sculptures in steel, stainless steel, and bronze. His work is in the presidential libraries of former United States presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. His work is located internationally in permanent collections of numerous corporations. In addition, he has received sculpture commissions for public parks, libraries, college campuses, schools, local businesses, and private residences, two of which were for the home of the author, Lillian Jackson Braun. Though he is best known for his metal sculptures, Mr. Boggs also carved marble and soapstone, and exhibited his photography and digital art. He frequently participated in local, regional, national, and international exhibitions. Also, he often served as a guest speaker for lecture-demonstrations.

“The welded steel sculpture has remained a constant as my medium of expression,” he once said. “I love the look, feel, taste, smell and sound of steel. My great-grandfather was a blacksmith in Kentucky; both my grandfathers and my father were welders and steelworkers. I grew up watching steel pouring from the blast furnaces and the nightly spectacular display of slag being dumped from huge, railroad-sized crucibles. I walked the railroad tracks and picked up scrap metal that had fallen from freight cars. The ironworker’s material and process were an everyday part of my childhood in Ashland, Kentucky. I have taken this material and its process and made art, continuing a family tradition of ironwork.”

Dr. Boggs, who is college professor of education, has collected much of her husband’s work and related materials, such as published articles and photographs. From her stores of information, she relayed this quote by her husband: “I have enjoyed being a participant in my students’ growth in self-confidence, in the development of their creativity, and in their experiences as proud contributors to the art world. I teach them to be unafraid, to ignore rejection, to be confident.  One can do anything that she sets her mind to do. Many students come with little self-confidence and knowledge and exposure to the art world, the world of the arts. I encourage and help students get experience. I developed over the years internship programs which gave students exposure to working in art studios, major art auction houses, fabric design studios, interior design studios, and museums in cities, such as London, New York, Atlanta, etc. I also developed travel programs to major art centers in the United States and Europe.”

All of the work in the Co-op exhibit will be on sale, ranging in price from $125 to $2,500. All proceeds will be donated to the development of the Mac and Ansley Boggs Travel Scholarship Fund for Converse College art and education majors who do not have the financial means to travel. Mr. Boggs believed strongly in the importance of travel to a student’s art and life, his widow said.

In preparation for his 2010 40th-year retrospective, Mr. Boggs wrote: “What inspires sculptors to produce the images they do? Sculptors have an innate desire to build things. They are usually very hands on, mechanically inclined, and technically oriented. Many come from a physically oriented background-the results of an unscientific poll showed that many sculptors were high school athletes. Sculptors are kin to architects who dream of objects in three dimensions. As children, we were the ones who played with erector sets and building blocks-the ones always using hammers and nails. These were the people who thought outside the box, literally.”


The Southerner Abroad

Abstract Artist Captures Energy from Vintage Photographs

Spartanburg artist, Elizabeth Bagwell, will exhibit her latest collection of work — The Southerner Abroad: A Modern Lifestyle Installation — at West Main Artists Co-op in Spartanburg May 17-June 16, 2018.  This new collection is a vibrant mix of 40-plus paintings on canvas, paper, and metal based on the energy and movement drawn from vintage photographs of Paris, France, from the late 1930s to early 1940s.

A public reception will be held Thursday, May 17, 5-9 p.m. during the city’s monthly ArtWalk. The exhibit will be open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Bagwell, known as an abstract expressionist, will present work that invokes raw emotion through the use of thick and thin lines, often using a single color in subtle, varying shades. As a professional artist, this is her first solo exhibit. Bagwell’s work is often described as bold, raw, and mid-century modern with a sense of energy and drama through her use of dark versus light. She works in a variety of mediums including acrylic, latex, ink, charcoal, vintage and found papers, pastels, and hand cut/torn paper.

“This exhibit was inspired by souvenir photographs my paternal grandfather, Clyde E. Bagwell Sr. picked up in Paris, France, during World War II,” the artist said. “He showed them once or twice to me as a young child. He was quiet about his time in the military but those photographs have always stood out in my memory. They captured a moment in time – a glimpse of daily life and its many stages – a time gone by.

“I went through over two dozen photographs and selected six to eight that were visually very strong – energy seemed to be jumping off the page – whether due to the lines of buildings – thick and thin – or due to individuals looking like small ants scurrying about their daily life through bustling city streets,” she continued. “It is from these photographs that I set to work creating my lines and many layers. I stripped these images of buildings, landscaping, and people down to the bare bones – their most basic shapes– rectangles, circles, squares, half-circles, and clean, uncomplicated lines.  From there I worked to capture the vivacity of each snapshot and translate it through mark-making and color placement to create vibrant, strong, raw works of art.”

Bagwell, 33, is a native of Spartanburg and a graduate of Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC.  She holds a degree in history and a minor in art administration. She has been creating her entire life and pursuing her creative pursuits professionally for several years now. She is a juried member of the Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg, a member of the Guild of American Papercutters, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Spartanburg Downtown Association. In the winter of 2017 she was a guest artist at the SC Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Travel held in Spartanburg, where she did a live, freehand cutting of pineapple silhouettes. Bagwell is continually inspired by post war contemporary artists Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Perle Fine, and modern masters Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, as well as South Carolina silhouette artist Carew Rice.

Much of the work in this exhibit hints at a playfulness seen in Matisse’s later in life, large-scale paper cuttings or blue nude series.  Dramatic gestural lines as often seen in the work of Motherwell, Kline, and Fine come to the forefront ushering in an understated complexity.  Many of the pieces are abstract verging on being non-representational. Yet, there is a sense of seeing something for the first time, life stripped down to the bare bones. Bagwell’s work brings aboutan appreciation for and a new understanding to life in its most primal form. “This collection of work is characteristic of my abstract work in many ways but is also a further exploration of light vs. dark and the push and pull of shape and form in composition,” she said. “You can expect to see lots of texture – whether it’s handmade watercolor paper or layers upon layers of paint, charcoal, pastel, and ink. Texture and truly a rawness to my work are what you will find. I have a deep fascination with lines, shapes, and the push and pull they create with one another. I am drawn to deeply saturated colors and finding a soft, quiet counterbalance with white, pale shades of blue, and tan/ off-white. It’s a shock to the system – but a delightful shock — one that will keep you thinking long after you view the painting in person.”

Bagwell outlined her method for creating this collection, “Many people are probably curious as to how I begin each piece.  My process is pretty similar regardless of the surface I will be working on. I begin by looking at photographs and asking myself, ‘What do I see?  What shapes? What energy is jumping off the photograph to me?’ Then I do several quick thumbnail sketches to capture my initial reactions to the lines and action in the image.  After that, I look at my sketches and really zoom in on a small portion of the sketch that I think has the most interest – the most life to it. From there I grab one of my favorite tools, charcoal, and lay down lines on the canvas based on my initial sketch.  At that point, many, many layers begin to form and build upon one another.  As the layers begin to build, I then start to scrape them back to expose the many levels of paint, pastel, charcoal, etc. until I feel the piece is done. Often I strip back layers and then add new layers.  It is a constant game of balance until I find the right stopping point.”

All of the work will be for sale, ranging in price from $30 to $4,700. “I appreciate the opportunity that an organization like WMAC offers me – a venue to exhibit and sell my work, the chance to connect with fellow artists and collectors, and the Spartanburg community at large. It’s priceless!” she said.

“Another very important part of this exhibition is my goal of creating a home-like setting to showcase my art – allowing viewers to understand how local, original art can be displayed in their own homes,” Bagwell added. “I will be including touches like live plants, a gallery-style wall grouping featuring a variety of new and vintage frames with small to medium works.  Fabric featuring designs from my paintings are also in the works.”

In her artist’s statement, Bagwell says, “I am fascinated with creative use of negative space in my work. In particular, I love circles and bold, thick, super-dark lines that ooze energy and movement. I like to work with contrast, that push and pull of quiet versus movement and energy in a piece. And you’ll see that I frequently work in black and white with subtle shades of tan, cream, and gray to soften the palette. Laying down that first instinctual mark or making the first cut of a silhouette brings excitement and fear but teaches me to slow down, enjoy the experience of creating, and to discover beauty in the small details – some planned, some unplanned.”  Bagwell works in several mediums and focuses on abstract expressionist paintings, freehand cut silhouettes, mixed media works, and watercolor illustrations.

For more information about Bagwell’s The Southerner Abroad: A Modern Lifestyle Installationexhibit, please visit online WestMainArtists.org or her website ElizabethBagwell.com.  Follow her daily practice on Instagram @elizabethbagwellstudios.


All Things Great and Small

Greer Artist Exhibits Watercolor Show of Animals

Greer artist Patrick DeCrane’s exhibit “All Things Great and Small” will be at West Main Artists Co-op in Spartanburg May 17-June 16, giving the public the opportunity to see his watercolor renditions of God’s creatures, animals of all shapes, sizes, and attractions. The work is both calming and intense through the use of subject matter and saturated color.

His free and public reception will be Thursday, May 17, 5-8:30 p.m. during Spartanburg’s monthly ArtWalk. The exhibit of 12-14 paintings can be viewed at no cost Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Cooperative, 578 West Main Street Spartanburg, SC.

“This is a collection of animals that are warm and inviting. Some appear serious, some some busy, some relaxed and some smiling,” DeCrane said. “I painted a picture of a unicorn and a pet dog as Christmas gifts for my grand daughters last year. That inspired me to want to see what other animals I could do. In seeing this exhibit, I want people to take time to appreciate the creatures God has created.”

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, DeCrane began his formal art education in high school. During his military career he was afforded the opportunity to travel and study art at numerous colleges, achieving an Associate of Science degree with Park College. After retiring from the U.S. Army, he worked for the Military Officers Association for 11 years. Prepared for a new adventure, he then opened, owned, and operated a bed and breakfast for 10 years with his life partner, Michael Thomas. Ready to retire after three careers, DeCrane continued to expand his art skill by taking classes in pastels and most recently watercolors. After retirement he was Chairperson of the Bowling Green Arts Commission in Bowling Green, VA. During this same period he set up and managed The Sidney King Art Center, and coordinated three art events a year.

“I have been painting and drawing most of my adult life,” DeCrane said. “While I enjoy painting with acrylics and pastels, I find watercolors the most enjoyable. I also find great satisfaction in drawing with pencil and charcoal. My subject matter generally include flowers, trees and still life. However, for this show ‘All Things Great and Small,’ I have chosen animals simply for the challenge for something new. While not necessarily following their style, I find Wolf Kahn, Edward Hopper, and Georgia O’Keeffe Inspiring.”

DeCrane, 68, has been a member of West Main Artists Co-op since 2016. “I enjoy exhibiting at WMAC because it gives me an opportunity to interact with other artists,” he said. “We have dedicated artists at WMAC. More importantly we have a dedicated and focused Management Board who volunteer many hours. I am grateful to them.”

All of his works will be for sale and will range in price from $50 to $350. “I want people to have an appreciation for watercolor art and creatures that they may be too busy to notice,” he said and added: “I want my work to motivate the viewer to smile.”

DeCrane is the parent of a son, Dan, and a daughter, Shelley. Dan and his wife Janelle, live in St. Louis, MO with their children, Gabby, Cady, and Kelton. Shelley lives in Virginia and works for the federal government in Washington, D.C. He and his life partner, Michael, of more than 27 years reside in Greer with their West Highland Terrier, Mysie.

West Main Artists Co-op is a nonprofit and all-volunteer arts agency on Main Street Spartanburg. It is housed in the old West Main Baptist Church and is continuously renovated by its members who are 50-plus strong. It provides affordable work spaces for more than 30 artists in the 20,000-square-foot building. In addition, the Co-op has the largest collection of locally made art for sale with extremely diverse buying options, including pottery, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, quilts. Each month, the Co-op hosts three new exhibits by its members and nonmembers, some of whom enjoy regional and even national recognition.

Normal Business hours are TUE- SAT 10-4, and 10-9 during Art Walk Thursday.  For more information please visit http://www.westmainartists.org and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/westmaincoop/