TransFORMations: Opening November 15 at Gallery 135

In a previous life, my artistically-inclined friends and I used to spend hours at a time talking and dreaming about life when we entered the real world, which we figured was waiting to be stunned by our collective talent.  A phrase that was frequently bandied about was “starving artist”—we fully expected to pay our dues before going on to international fame and fortune; it was, after all, only fair.  Some persevered and succeeded, while others (including myself, obviously) went on to carve out our niches in more “practical” areas that still enabled us to stay involved in the creative process.

But the dream remains alive today for many talented young people who study the performing and visual arts in hopes of becoming the next Alvin Ailey or Damien Hirst.  Only these days, we call them “emerging artists.”  Now, doesn’t that sound a lot better?

The Sumter community’s strong cultural scene has continued to grow over the years.  One of the more recent innovations is the “Emerging Artists Series,” developed by Sumter County Gallery of Art curator Frank McCauley.  The series, also curated by McCauley, showcases the work of promising young South Carolina artists who are taking their first steps as professionals.  Mostly contemporary in nature, the media represented include photography, installation art, drawing and painting, film and video, sculpture, and others.  The work can be exciting to view, and at times downright puzzling, but one thing it most definitely is not, is boring.

On November 15, 2013, Gallery 135 at Patriot Hall, home of the “Emerging Artists” exhibits, will present “TransFORMations,” a show of new sculptures by SC college students and recent graduates.  An opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., featuring music, refreshments, and free admission.

Featured artists include: Mark McCleod, Todd Stewart, Sarah Cason, Nathan Dodds, Lee Ann Harrison, Matt Horick, Michael Sorrow, and Andrew Davis.  Among the works on display are several things that are not at all what they appear to be on first sight—“ceramics” that are actually made of metal, “fabric” that turns out to be something completely different, opaque bell jars (an apparent oxymoron that leads one to wonder about their contents), and more.  In a recent interview with The Item, Frank McCauley noted that all of the pieces are designed to “somehow fool the viewer,” leading to a deeper exploration of their true nature.  Several of the artists will be on hand to discuss and answer questions about their work.

Gallery 135, located at 135 Haynsworth Street inside Patriot Hall Performing Arts Center, focuses its efforts on presenting temporary exhibitions throughout the year, featuring local and regional emerging artists from diverse backgrounds working in a variety of media.  The exhibit, sponsored by the Sumter County Cultural Commission, will be open through December 31.  Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information, please call (803) 436-2260.

There can be something very inspiring about viewing the work of enthusiastic young artists.  And who says it’s too late for the rest of us?  After all, Grandma Moses had her first solo exhibition in 1940—at the age of eighty!  Come on down to Gallery 135 and check out what these “kids” are doing!

by Colette Daniels

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