West Main Artists Co-Op

New Work by Brandi Tucker & WMAC2019 Juried Exhibition Continues

Spartanburg Native Exhibits Art that Reflects Her Dreams

More so than usual, Spartanburg visual artist Brandi Tucker will give patrons a peek into her mind when she exhibits her latest collection of work —  Rapid Eye Movement (REM)— at West Main Artists Co-op in October 2019.

This exhibit of more than 20 pieces of artwork will open Tuesday, Oct. 1, and will end Saturday, Nov. 2. It will be available for free public viewing Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A free and public reception will be held on Thursday, Oct. 17, 5-9 p.m., during the city’s monthly ArtWalk.

“This exhibit is a bit of a departure from my previous work, which is usually colorful and pleasant,” the 37-year-old artist said. “Although I continued to use a colorful palette, some of the subject matter in various pieces is quite dark and disturbing.  My art has always been my form of therapy, allowing me to release my built up emotions and frustrations. I found at times, the recreation of my nightmares difficult. Composing my deepest fears and phobias into art was quite a process and an emotional journey. This body of work is a glimpse into the mind of an artist.  It portrays intimate snapshots of my psyche. I hope this exhibit sparks curiosity, takes the viewer on a voyage of feeling and invokes self-reflection.”

It has taken Tucker more than a year to create this exhibit that uses watercolor, acrylic and mixed media. The work exhibited will be for sale, ranging in price $50 to $500.

In explaining how she developed this exhibit, the Spartanburg native said: “Rapid eye movement (REM) is one of the stages the brain moves through during sleep.  REMS is often associated with very vivid dreams due to an increase of brain activity. Most dreams occur during this stage and are thought to play a role in learning, memory and mood.

“With an 18-year-plus career in sleep medicine, this subject has continued to fascinate me,” she continued. “The idea for this exhibit came from an interaction with one of my patients.  Upon the completion of the placement of numerous wires and electrodes and explaining the purpose of each, the patient appeared to become anxious. Visibly concerned, the patient asked, ‘Can you see my dreams or read my mind with all this stuff on?’  I was able to ease the distress by explaining that I was able to see brain waves, determine staging of sleep but in no way could I see dreams or perform any invasion of the mind. This interaction resulted in further reflection and I understood the apparent concern.  We have no control over our dreams: They’re a sneak peek into our minds. They can contain our greatest hopes, fears, emotional drama, significant life events, and some are often difficult to make any sense of. They are personal and private. I then began to mull over my recurring dreams and found the variety of emotions and subject matter expansive.  I decided to paint a flowing series of images from my subconscious.”

Tucker is a founding member of West Main Artist Co-op.  “I’ve been here since the start,” she said. “I am excited and anxious to exhibit a solo show consisting of my work alone for the first time. The Co-op is a special place full of people from all walks of life who come together for the love of art.  Members are of all ages, various religious backgrounds, political sides, etc. We come and express ourselves. We support and inspire each other. It is a beautiful thing to be a part of.”

In her artist’s statement, Tucker said: “My art is my diary.  It is a journey, a constant ongoing process that is ever changing and evolving.  I work with whatever medium strikes my fancy at the given time. My work is as neurotic and eclectic as I am.  Each piece represents different periods of time and memories of my life, various emotions and feelings I have had, and some of my lightest and darkest of days.  In many ways my art is my therapy, allowing me to release all my built up emotions into a tangible piece of art. Henry Ward Beecher said, ‘Every artist dips his brush in his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures.’  That is what I do each time I pick up my brush. I am Brandi Tucker, an artist with a colorful soul and colorful canvases.”

Tucker is a native of Spartanburg County, and she continues to live there.  She is a graduate of Chesnee High School and attended USC Upstate. She is a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist, a Clinical Sleep Educator, and a Registered Sleep Disorders Technologist. Her work has been shown at West Main Artist Co-Op, Gallery East, and the Montgomery building in Spartanburg, SC, and at the Carri Bass Photography and Art studio in Tryon, NC.  Her art reflects her eccentric and eclectic spirit.

And The Winners Are…

West Main Artists Co-op Announce the Winners of its First Regional Juried Show

The first-place winner in West Main Artists Co-op’s first four-state juried art show — WMAC 2019 — is Cindy Shute of Lockhart, SC, for her oil-on-linen painting Peacemaker: Hrair Balian. She receives a cash prize of $2,500 that was given in memory of Frank P. Cyrill.

Second prize of $1,000 was taken by Gordon Dohm of Greenville, SC, for his photograph Fungi Fantasy.

And, third-place of $500 was won by Tracey M. Timmons of Spartanburg, SC, for Manacle of Justice, a bracelet made of vitreous enamel, copper, silver, brass, and photography.

The seven merit awards of $100 and $250 went to Mark Flowers of Alexander, NC; Lee Sipe of Columbia, SC; Sabrina Barilone of Macon, GA; Tom Dimond of Seneca, SC; Christina Dixon of Roebuck, SC; David Stuart of North Augusta, SC; and Martha Worth of Hilton Head, SC.

WMAC 2019 opened on Saturday, Sept. 14, and will close on Saturday, Oct. 19. It was open to all adult visual artists in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Two-hundred-forty-one (241) artists from the four states applied, and 66 were admitted into the show based on the judgement of jurors Ann DerGara and  Mike Vatalaro.

The winners were announced on Saturday, Sept. 21, during a reception and awards ceremony. Seventy-four (74) works of art in this exhibit are on display at the Co-op, which is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. There is no charge to see the exhibitions.

“We could not be happier with our first juried show,” President Beth Regula said. “This is something we had wanted to do for several years, and it took more than a year of planning, but it was worth it. Having a show of this magnitude and with these cash prizes establishes West Main Artists Co-op as an art agency that is leading Spartanburg in its quest to be an art Mecca in South Carolina and throughout the South. It says we have the creativity, the knowhow, the professionalism, the resources, and the desire to take the Co-op to the next level. Next year will be even better!”

“I’m so excited to be a part of WMAC’s world,” Shute said. “This first exhibition was as professionally conducted as I have ever seen. When I was told I was Best in Show, at the time, honestly, I was shocked. It’s not that I didn’t think my painting is good. As a professional artists mature, we know our good work from our less successful efforts — I think that’s a key part of being a professional. So I wasn’t surprised to have been included in the show.

“When I arrived that evening and saw the body of work I was thrilled. Virtually every piece in the exhibition is good — very good. A couple of pieces took my breath away. So, I felt particularly honored to be included. With Peacemaker, I had pushed myself into a new space with portraiture. In my early work I tended to avoid background, contextual elements, thinking at the time that the subject should convey their story a priori — that the essence of the sitter should be codified in the presentation of their likeness, and if successful, the minimalist approach would say everything that needed to be said. So this new approach for me, including symbolic elements to tell the story, was a big leap.

“I honestly feel validated,” she continued. “I wasn’t sure if the piece worked. So now I’m really charged up about this new direction, and ready to take on more portrait-stories. And I’m so very grateful to WMAC for giving me a big hug along the way!”

The Co-op is a membership-based nonprofit arts agency with about 50 members, mostly visual artists and a few performing artists. It is housed in a former Baptist church near downtown Spartanburg on West Main Street. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Co-op houses about 30 artists studios, two stages, three galleries, a printery, a ceramics studio, and the largest collection of for-sale locally made art in Spartanburg. Each month, the Co-op normally installs three exhibits by its members and guest artists.

In their jurors’ statements, DerGara said: “ I am amazed at the quality of work that was entered. I think that opening the show to additional states has made this become an important show for the region and Spartanburg. The arts are growing rapidly in the region and this show will make Spartanburg known as art venue as well as Asheville and Greenville. As the Arts grow so does the economy. WMAC produced this show and jury with professionalism and expertise.”

Vatalaro said: “The very nature of a juried exhibition celebrates a broad range of medium and imagery. I enjoyed the task of identifying works that well represented the mediums chosen, techniques accomplished and the subjects investigated. The exhibition reveals a broad selection of work which I believe demonstrate an individual vision within both conventional and experimental genres. I was very impressed by the quality and richness demonstrated in all of the mediums displayed. I hope you will find each work invites close examination and has something unique to offer.”

Peacemaker: Hrair Balian is one of many dramatic and realistic portraits in Shute’s body of work. She also does landscapes, pet sketches, and still life. The subject of her winning portrait is Hrair Balian, the director of the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center in Atlanta, GA. Since 1991, Balian has worked in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the independent states emerging from the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and Africa, serving in intergovernmental organizations (the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and nongovernmental organizations (International Crisis Group and others). He has worked on elections, human rights, and conflict resolution. Balian received his Juris Doctor degree from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. In May 2009, the New England College awarded him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, for his “lifetime commitment to the dignity, respect, and self-determination of all peoples” and for his “uncompromising effort to resolve international conflicts.”

Peacemaker depicts Balian as a younger man with a graying short beard, wearing a driving cap with his hands in the pockets of a brown overcoat and with a satchel over his shoulder. His facial expression is serious with penetrating eyes. In the background are several images, such a man covering his eyes amid destruction, and a blooming pink lily and silver urn sitting on a table covered with cloth with Middle Eastern designs.

In describing her technique, Shute said: “To achieve this vital sense of beauty, I use classical, Renaissance painting techniques. Following the Florentine school tradition of my teacher, Master Ben Long, my work is guided by the naturalistic philosophy and techniques developed in Italy starting in the 14th century. This pre-modern European tradition originated with Masters Raphael, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Michelangelo, Titian, Botticelli, Lippi, and Leonardo. Their techniques have been passed down from Master to student through the centuries.

“My painting surfaces are prepared according to the traditions of the Renaissance Masters. Oil pigments and finely woven linen stretched over birch board are my preferred materials. I often use the traditional method of glazing, superimposing thin layers of semi-transparent colors to create a glassy surface. With this ancient technique, rarely used today, light seems to radiate from within the painting itself.
“In one significant way I depart from traditional techniques: I use color combinations that are modernist, or even postmodern in modeling the faces and figures. My non-traditional interpretation of color provides a highly energetic vocabulary for speaking the language of the human spirit. It is this combination of traditional techniques and the postmodern application of color that distinguishes my work.”
The other artists juried into the show are

  • Luis Ardila, The Intervention of the Kherub

  • Elizabeth Bagwell, Endeavor No. 1

  • Dina Barron, Eridanus on Bust

  • Tracey Chipps, Much Deserved Break

  • Wendy Converse, Abandoned

  • Mary Cooke-Brown, Disquiet 3: Precepts

  • Jane Couch-Osmelowski, Queen Bee Crown

  • Irina Dalby, Clove

  • Alex Diaz ,Gold Soul Haze

  • Yelitza Diaz, Small Beings on Squares

  • Addam Duncan, New Light Inside

  • Doug Dupuis, The Tunnel

  • Frank Erk, 2018 Winter Solstice

  • Margaret Errickson, Blowin’ Smoke

  • Jane Erwin, Geode Stijl

  • Jane Erwin, High on my Blues

  • Sally Faires, Chintz and Orange

  • Terry A Ferguson, Chicago Musings

  • Mark Elliot Flowers, Corey

  • Danielle Fontaine ,Along the Way

  • Steve R Garner, Trout in the Trees with Ball Jar 18

  • Annette Giaco, Entropia

  • Donald Hall, Lester’s Project

  • Paul Halphen, Bee in a Whirlpool

  • Paul Halphen, Kong Lead – The Eyes

  • Jo Hancock, Relic

  • Scott Harris, Crosstown Traffic 2019

  • Scott Harris, Reminiscing 2019

  • Brenda M Hill, Silos

  • Ron Hodge, Congaree Sanctuary

  • Linda Hosek, On Pointe

  • Terry Jarrard-Dimond, Twilight

  • Sean Johnson, Time For Tiffin

  • Sandy Lambour, Contentment

  • Tom Lowrimore, Sourwood Bark 2

  • Bonita Martin, Brothers Keeper

  • Judy Martin, Coming and Going

  • Robert L McCrary, Sample Bowl

  • Frank McGrath, Ellavision

  • Susan Myers, Downfall

  • Christopher Neal, Sandbar

  • Eric Nyros, Nyros-E-Gold Leaf

  • Dimas Oliveira, Heaven to Hell

  • Mary A Ritter, Calle de Cadiz: Tea Time

  • Ambrose Rouse, It Ain’t So

  • Ambrose Rouse, Make A Change

  • Dave Sawyer, Broken Serenity

  • Dennis Schaefer, Is Was Ever ShallBe

  • Sara Dame Setzer, Time to Buy More Toothbrushes #6

  • Renwick Shealy, Eat Crow

  • Michael Simmons, Vase

  • Sara Simmons, Princess Lillith von Simmons

  • Lori Solymosi, Allegro

  • David Stuart, Raku urn with carved foot & handles

  • Bailie Studios, Little Orphan Alice

  • Teresa Tromp, Water Lily Plate

  • John Turner, The Big Bang

  • John Turner, Abstract Bowl #1

  • Ali van den Broek, Seeking Focus

  • Ashley Waller, Wake

  • Jamal Whittaker, #8 (Face Series)

  • Patty Wright, The Light of the Day

“This is a vast and diverse show,” Regula said. “I invite the public to come see it and to take in the talent and creativity that surrounds us here in the South. A large show such as this one, expands our appreciation for the art that is readily available to us. It makes a statement that West Main Artists Co-op are striving and succeeding at making Spartanburg THE art community in South Carolina and beyond.”

West Main Artists Co-op is a non-profit arts agency located at 578 West Main St. in Spartanburg. It has about 50 members whose work spans the visual arts spectrum. It also has performance artists. Now in its tenth year, the Co-op routinely has three exhibitions each month, often showing the work of non-member guest artists. It is housed in a 20,000-square-foot converted church that includes studio space for the members, four galleries, two stages, and the largest collection of “for sale” art in the county. For more information, visit online: WestMainArtists.org.

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/