Pee Dee Regional Art Competition winners told
Thursday evening, Jan. 25, marked the formal opening of the 2018 Pee Dee Regional Art Competition at the Florence County Museum’s Waters Gallery in downtown Florence.
The Pee Dee Regional has been presented annually since 1954 and is one of the longest running competitive art exhibitions in the state.
This year’s competition juror was contemporary South Carolina artist Hollis Brown Thornton of Aiken.
Jumana Swindler, chair of the Florence County Museum Board, welcomed attendees. Blake Pate, representing corporate sponsor Chick-fil-A, announced the winning selections, congratulating the artists with a presentation of the cash awards.
The $1,000 first place cash prize was awarded to competition newcomer Kevin Spaulding for his oil painting, “Hearth.” The painting is one of two works by him in the exhibit. Spaulding recently relocated to Florence County. He has been an accomplished artist for over 20 years. He received a degree in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University before living and working in New York.
“Spaulding’s entries are rich, darkly-toned, and technically proficient,” said museum curator Stephen W. Motte. “His subject matter is rendered within a natural environment, but avoids being landscape painting, it appears isolated in place and time, like classical still life. The two works in the competition are photo-realistic in detail, yet minimal in composition. The result is something both traditional and contemporary. I look forward to seeing more from this artist in the future.”
A second place award of $600 was given to Haley Ard, also of Florence County, for her large mixed media work, “The Kitchen Sink.” Although perhaps the youngest artist in the exhibition, Ard is no stranger to high-profile competitions, and is currently exhibiting work in Spartanburg.
In 2017, she received due attention for her assemblage-portrait “Made-Up,” composed of cosmetics and accessories. The work, exhibited at ArtFields in Lake City, was intended to raise questions about the purpose of wearing makeup, and whether it is used to enhance beauty, or to cover it up.
“Like Made-Up, Ard’s collage The Kitchen Sink is an excellent example of the relationship between media and message,” Motte said. “This is one of the most difficult lines to walk for a lot of artists, and Ms. Ard is showing a lot of maturity in her handling of concept with craftsmanship.”
Third place, $250, went to Treelee MacAnn, a veteran printmaker, for her serigraph “Congaree Forest Ribbon.” MacAnn has received numerous honors in past Pee Dee Regional exhibitions for her works on paper, which often originate in photographic imagery before being reinterpreted in print.
The honorable mention ($100) this year went to Alexandra Knox of Loris, for her sculptural mixed media wall piece, “Five to Nine.” The work, created from wax casts of the artist’s hands held together with horse hair, is one of two by Knox in this year’s exhibition.
About Knox, competition juror Hollis Brown Thornton said, “… stunning to see in person. Incredibly organic and visceral. It is difficult to add humanity and vulnerability to an object using technique and materials, and Knox’s ‘hands’ have done that beautifully.”
Thornton is a professional artist and native of Aiken. He received his BFA from the University of South Carolina and has been working professionally since 2000. His work has been exhibited in France, Germany and Japan, and has appeared in “Elle” magazine and “The New Yorker.”Mr. Thornton became gallery director at Mongerson Gallery in Chicago in 2001 where he also worked for two years as an art preparator. Returning to South Carolina in August 2005, Thornton and his wife opened the clothing boutique Threads in downtown Aiken.
His recent large scale drawings often examine the malleable nature of memory in both personal experience and popular culture. His colorful compositions are carefully rendered with photo-realistic effect, at times using only permanent marker, a medium which alludes to the concepts at play beyond the artworks’ surfaces.
“Everything I do works with the balance between precision and the inherent limitations of making something by hand.” he said.
Thornton’s recent works will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Florence County Museum Waters Gallery in the fall of 2018.
As in previous years, the 2018 Pee Dee Regional was opened to submissions of contemporary art created within the last two years by all artists within the state’s northeastern Pee Dee region.
The exhibition is comprised of 30 works selected from nearly 200 submissions in multiple media. It may be viewed at the Florence County Museum Waters Gallery, 135 South Dargan St., Monday- Friday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., through March 30. Visitors may cast ballots for the Jo Ann Fender Scarborough People’s Choice Award through March 23. The winner will be announced March 26.
For more information about the Pee Dee Regional Art Competition contact the Florence County Museum at 843-676-1200 or visit the website at flocomuseum.org.