New Studio Artist: the Lovely World of Kate Waddell

Kate Waddell, Blush

Kate Waddell, Blush

You would like Kate Waddell.  She has a serene, focused smile and a great handshake; her palette could have been shaken from a box of Tropical Mike and Ike’s.  

Her studio is tiled with happy canvases: glossy roosters sprawled in bold, contented shades of punch and berry; breakfast settings and bowls of fruit with backgrounds blocked out in shades of pink and blood orange.  Even the rich blues of Waddell’s figure studies have a warm, street-lit quality.  One can’t help assuming that the world of her mind must be a pleasant place to be.

“I’m just trying to bring some joy to the art world,” she says, peacefully dabbing at a rooster-in-progress.  Turning to smile at me, warmly tanned, her hair pulled off her neck in a loose ponytail.  “There are people who try to be so difficult by doing this offensive stuff, but I’d rather paint what is beautiful,” she says, and the galleries- Bee Street Studios, Brown Dog– are lining up.  

She’s fresh off a show held at Candlefish earlier this month,  and had worked hard on having ‘cohesive palette and subjects’ for that, making everything all of a piece.  “I rely on brushstrokes and line to help everything go well together.”

Kate Waddell, Curtis.

Kate Waddell, Curtis.

Her next show is back home in Columbus, Georgia- “I’m going to do more fruit stuff for that-” where she attended the same high school as Teil Duncan and Lulie Wallace, who’ve also limned out successful painting careers here in Charleston, creating similarly happy, comfortable canvases that make you smile.  

Is there something in the water back home?

Waddell pauses.  “The arts were really big at my high school,” she says.

I was intrigued.  “Seriously?”

“It’s a smaller school, so they were able to really nurture us, fostering everyone to do what they liked best.”  

We’re talking about brushstrokes, appealing lines, and I mention Wayne Thiebaud, one of my favorites.  About a painting of his, Around the Cake, which hung for many years in my hometown museum.  How’d I’d stand there and stare at it, transfixed, even when I was young- those thick, glossy strokes-!

“During my freshman year, we had this assignment.  We had to paint a portrait of an artist and also of his work.  I did Thiebaud!  His lipstick tubes- that was when I fell in love with painting.”  Waddell smiles privately, remembering the moment.

About Cofc- she “loved it, loved Charleston.”  She worked for Teal Duncan, who is five years older.  “There’s a stigma, you know, around arts majors at college”- but Duncan’s success as a painter here in Charleston made for a reassuring friendship.  Waddell thought she could make it here, too.  “I’m never leaving.”

There’s a comfortable pause as she paints, and I glance around at her studio.  Stray pink balloons left over from a recent photo shoot, a tiny white wheelie cart with a cosmetic bag, a tiny pink moleskin.  Waddell works next to a larger stainless steel cart lidded with glass.  It makes for a big, roomy palette- generous dabs of those Mike and Ike colors- and on the shelves underneath I spy a spray can, a dog eared palette, a green toolbox.  

The paints she isn’t using are arranged on a large wooden board brightly quilled with brass hooks, each one rolled up tidily and clipped in place with black binder clips.  It’s a lovely system, made for her by a young architect friend, Dixon Prewitt.

“I’m not naturally a neat person.  But I’m trying,” she says.

I ask Waddell about her process, if she works from photographs.   “I take one image and then do variations on it,” she says, decisively, and then pauses, thinking. “I see the fruit stuff in my head, though.  I do a lot of portraiture, too.  From photos.  That’s my favorite.  And I usually play music- Young the Giant, Motherfolk.  Chill music.”  

She talks about using color to depict a mood.  

“Sometimes you get a sense of color in being with people and objects.  What’s that word-” Waddell says, hunting for it-

“Synesthesia.”

“Yes.  That. But not dramatically,” she says.  That small private smile again as Waddell turns back to her punch-colored world, where joy itself provides all the drama she needs.  

Follow Kate on instagram at  instagram @katewaddellart.    


-article by Pauline West, a novelist and writer for Redux Contemporary Art Center.  Her novel Evening’s Land  won the 2014 Helene Wurlitzer Fellowship Award and 2015’s Carol Marie Smith Scholarship for Martha’s Vineyard Writer’s Residency.  West is represented by Natalia Aponte of AponteLiterary.

Kate Waddell

Kate Waddell, Palmer.

Kate Waddell, Citrus City.

Kate Waddell, Citrus City.

Kate Waddell, Vendue Blue.

Kate Waddell, Vendue Blue.

Kate Waddell, Guac

Kate Waddell, Guac

Arts Opportunity: 2015 North Charleston Arts Festival Deadline is Dec. 5

???????????????Artist Applications are now being accepted from local, regional & national artists, ethnic & cultural groups, community based groups, and individuals who wish to be considered for participation in the 2015 North Charleston Arts Festival, set for May 1-9. This annual nine-day celebration of the arts provides over 30,000 residents and visitors with an array of free and moderately priced performances, exhibitions and activities that take place throughout North Charleston and the surrounding area.

Artists may apply to participate in the Arts Festival’s Main Event (May 2 & 3) and/or submit a proposal for a stand-alone Individual Event in the following disciplines: Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, Crafts, Photography, Media Arts and Literature. Applicants who wish to apply for both the Main Event and an Individual Event must submit a separate application for each category. The review panel will consider applications with requests ranging from paid compensation to non-paid free event proposals.   Various forms of assistance will be provided based on the requests in the applicant’s proposal.

Visual Artists/Fine Craft Artisans/Photographers should note that the Artist Application is for events and presentations such as installations, solo/group exhibitions, workshops, demos, lectures, etc., and NOT for participation in the Festival’s judged art competitions. Competition applications will be posted in March 2015.

In addition to the Artist Application, local youth performing artists may also consider submitting an Opening Processional Application. The Opening Processional has kicked off the Arts Festival’s Main Event festivities for over ten years and features groups dressed in brightly colored outfits and costumes, volunteers carrying giant puppets, banners and other crafted props, jugglers, dance troupes, and school groups. Participants parade around the Convention Center Complex into the North Charleston Performing Arts Center Auditorium where the celebration continues with a Community Groups Performance Spotlight, featuring performances by pre-selected groups.

There is no fee to apply!
The deadline for submission of Artist and Opening Processional applications is 5:00pm on Friday, December 5, 2014.

NOTE: The deadline is now one month earlier than in previous years!
Applications must be mailed or hand-delivered.
Those submitted by fax or email will not be accepted.

The 2015 North Charleston Arts Festival Artist Application may be obtained by clicking on this link. All applications for the Arts Festival, including the Artist and Opening Processional applications, can be downloaded from the “Apply” page at NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com.

Visit NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com to view details on other participation opportunities, the 2014 festival components, and updates on the 2015 festival schedule. Questions may be directed to the Cultural Arts Dept. at 843-740-5854 or culturalarts@northcharleston. org.

 

Darkly Dreaming: Photographer Mariah Channing

Lock and Key, by Mariah Channing.

Lock and Key, by Mariah Channing.

Ten minutes ago I was supposed to meet photographer Mariah Channing at Barsa, the stylish tapas place on King.  I’m working on a project and don’t mind that she’s late- but when my phone rings, and its her, we discover we’ve both arrived early and have been waiting separately.  Channing waves across the restaurant, and comes over carrying her laptop and glass of water.

With her winged eye liner, bow shaped lips, cat-eye glasses and a scattering of tattoos winking out from under her charcoal colored tee, Channing could be one of those mischievous sylphs on the cover of an alternative magazine.  Her cameo necklace swings on a long thin silver chain as she sits, looking dreamily distracted, like a cat that’s just woken from a sunlit nap.

“I’ve been working on website stuff all day at the studio.  Then I was at the Orange Spot- have you ever tried their cayenne tea?”

“ I haven’t,” I say, and she tells me its to die for.

She places her laptop between us and shows me her photographs.

“This one here, with the magnolias, that was an adventure.”

Flower Portrait, by Mariah Channing

Flower Portrait, by Mariah Channing

“I bought this kiddie pool without really thinking about how I was going to make it all work.  On the day of the shoot, I had to blow the whole thing up by myself and then run back and forth into the photo room with a pitcher to fill it up before my model came- and all these art students are sitting around outside Redux, sketching away and staring at me, wondering out what I was doing.  I picked all the flowers by hand from trees by the side of the road.  The model was from Model Mayhem.  She was great.”

Channing crosses her hands over the back of her laptop, resting her chin over them with a sigh.  “This cameo shape is hard to fit a picture inside.  The shape is just so busy to begin with- I think maybe it just doesn’t work.  I’m going to move towards using a circle frame.  But this one,” she taps a cameo, “was in the Piccolo Spoleto exhibition.”

Magnolias, by Mariah Channing

Magnolias, by Mariah Channing

We talk about round frames, and those beautiful antique photographs you can find sometimes at thrift stores with the domed glass.  “Those are the best,” she sighs.

Where do her ideas come from?

She keeps a sketchbook.

“Words or doodles?”

“Both! and if a symbol comes to mind, I’ll define it for myself, too.  Writing stuff all around it.”  She scribbles in the air.

“Making kind of a mind map?”

“Yes, exactly.  And I write down ideas for costumes and postures too.”

Channing sources her costumes from antique and thrift stores, and also uses found objects.  “When I moved into Redux I found a super little-teeny-tiny hatched egg outside on the sidewalk.  It seemed like a good omen, you know?  So I kept it, I still have it.  I’d like to take more walks in the woods and find stuff…”

I tell her a rambling story about a pig’s skull I acquired (we ordered a pigs head for dinner one night at The Green Door, which was delicious albeit exceptionally porky), how I put it in the yard to be cleaned by ants.  But a raccoon or something ran off with it… my friend was going to put me in touch with some witches he knew who said they would let me sit in on a ceremony in exchange for bringing the skull.  But the skull had been my ticket, so without it…

Untitled.  (Channing hates naming her photographs.)

Untitled, by Mariah Channing.

Channing laughs. “I follow this guy on Facebook who finds these great bugs. He builds moth traps, with this great big white sheet…”

Occasionally she does boudoir photography.  “In college I became fascinated with classical nudes.  And Venus, Venus was my favorite.  I just think its neat, especially in this generation when women they they have to look a certain way.  This is a way they can fall in love with themselves again.”

Eventually, she says, she’d like to open a photography business.  She tilts her head on her hands to catlike effect.  “I have an idea, a kind of a two pronged approach as to how to do it, but I’m going to keep it under wraps for now.”

One of her pieces won best in photography at the Salon de Refuses, a show that was coincidental with the Young Contemporaries at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, and recently participated in a group show with the Charleston Female Photographers at the North Charleston Arts Festival.  

Memento Mori, by Mariah Channing.  Best in Photography, Salon de Refuses.

Memento Mori, by Mariah Channing. Best in Photography, Salon de Refuses.

She’s offering special edition matted photographs through Charleston’s Supported Art program, which offers glamorous baskets of art from six local artists to shareholders- sign up today to support local art!- and can be reached through Facebook or her website for questions and commissions.

-article by Pauline West, a novelist and writer for Redux Contemporary Art Center.  Her novel Evening’s Land recently won the Helene Wurlitzer Fellowship Award.

Lulie Wallace: The Sweet Life

Spiky Flowers, by Lulie Wallace

Spiky Flowers, by Lulie Wallace

Lulie Wallace is scrolling through designs she’s fashioned into patterns on her laptop: “There’s a million of them, there’s tons,” she says, smiling.

“I’ve licensed things before to places like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters- but what I’ve really been wanting to see is whole patterns [based on her work]- and it turns out there’s this whole field called surface design.  It turns out a lot of illustrators are in surface design.  And a lot of artists.”

We’re sitting in Redux’s classroom at two wooden tables tucked together just shy of the center of the room.  Big boxes of Wallace’s goods are stacked to one side, ready to ship out.  The AC blows down to one side of us warmishly, and if we turn to one side we can see into Wallace’s studio.

The burlap doors are still pinned back from her recent show, and from here I can see walls filled from floor to ceiling with cheerful canvases: flowers in patterned pots and pitchers, cheerful tablescapes.  One shows a table strewn with flower cuttings and a pair of scissors.  Wallace’s work is whimsical and folksy, with a largely pastel palette; each one beachy and full of sunshine like Wallace herself, who is wriggling in her chair beside me, happily vibrating in flip flops and cut offs as she scrolls.

“I love seeing art come off the canvas.  I mean, you look at a blouse, you look at a bedspread- they’re forms of everyday art, art you can actually use.  So my idea is to approach people who are already working with fabric and have them use my patterns.  There are five collaborators I’d really like to work with- I call them my dreamweavers.” She smiles when I ask who her dreamweavers are.  “Let’s call them a local clothing company, a kids clothing line, maybe a badass stationary line.”  A friend of hers comes into the classroom wielding a box of cupcakes;  Lulie dives in delightedly.  “Fabric is so nice because it doesn’t take a lot of money to see the art form to fruition.  And I can do fabric to order.  I can do it by the yard.”

Pink Flowers, by Lulie Wallace

Pink Flowers, by Lulie Wallace

 

So how does this work, turning one of her canvases into a pattern?

“I sketch with a very fine illustrator pen and then I scan into an ordinary printer.  I use Adobe Illustrator and photoshop.  I applied to get a UGA fabric design student to come in and intern here this summer, and she’s teaching me all the technical stuff I wouldn’t have known.  She’s super proficient in photoshop.”

Machinery whines from a studio on the other side of the gallery.

“It’s like a giant carpenter bee,” I say- and then wince as the whine gives way to hammering.

Wallace laughs.  “That’s Kaminer.  [A jewelry designer.]  We call her Haminer.”  Something on her screen suddenly catches her eye, and Lulie Wallace leans into her computer, concentrating.

I excuse myself for a few minutes to explore her studio, leaving Wallace to work. Behind the burlap doors I find a large wheelie cart piled high with brushes, paints, used palettes.  A pair of old-fashioned sunglasses perch owlishly above a small carton of maple almond butter in squeezie packs.  An emergency stash?  More palettes, paints, brushes.

Underneath all this is the aforementioned printer; ordinary, as Wallace said, and on the other side of the cart is a jumble of shoes, some tupperware, and a beach towel.  The walls are covered with canvases, and a tall metal chair sits in one corner, splattered with paint.  It is facing her newest piece, featuring a brightly colored table setting. When I come back out into the classroom, Wallace is scrolling again.

“Its so fun to scan your stuff in,” she says.  “There’s so many color manipulation possibilities.  Things you could never do ordinarily with a canvas- you can change the color palette in an instant, completely changing the personality of a pattern.  Same design, but with a different color.  We call that ‘color-ways.’”

“Beautiful word.”

“It is.” Wallace looks up as her intern, Brooke Davidson, sails into the studio.  Davidson’s sunny blonde hair is tied up and smoothed back by a wide black headband.

Davidson explains she primarily works in photoshop.  “You try to create a repeat where you don’t notice the tile.  When I look at fabric I can see if its’ got a good repeat or not.”

“Can you look at fabric and pick out the tile?”

“Kind of, sometimes.  There’s also this thing you can do called a half drop repeat, where the pattern kind of continues down, and so the next one fits into it a little lower.”

I ask her how she likes her internship.

“It’s been really fun, I love Charleston so much!  I wish I could stay, but I have to go back and student teach.  But maybe someday!”

We talk about the possibility of her getting a studio here, and of further collaborations with Lulie. She’s been working with Wallace to help her develop “a portfolio of a ton of repeats.  And I’ve been painting a lot this summer, I’m been so inspired by,” she sweeps her hands around us,  “all this!  I’m doing abstract stuff, playing with layers.  It’s cellular, almost.  And Lulie gives me so much good advice.  She said next week maybe I could even bring my stuff in, we can play around with it in photoshop.  Have you seen the lunchboxes she does?”

Davidson takes me around to the side of Lulie Wallace’s studio; more canvases, more boxes of product.  She pulls out an old fashioned metal lunch box coated in one of Wallace’s cheery design.

“How fun!”

“Yeah, she’s great,” Brooke says, grinning.

But cupcake break is over, and now Wallace and Davidson seem itchy to get back to work.  We hug goodbye, and I leave them still happily chattering and scrolling away under the air conditioner.

-article by Pauline West, a novelist and writer for Redux Contemporary Art Center.  Her novel Evening’s Land recently won the Helene Wurlitzer Fellowship Award.

Peaches and Cream, by Lulie Wallace

Peaches and Cream, by Lulie Wallace

Oil Painting with Erik Johnson

Where the Wind Always Howls

Where the Wind Always Howls

Fan whirring peacefully in one corner, the painter Erik Johnson moves around the studio, arranging wax paper palettes for his Monday night painting workshop. He is slender and graceful, with the reflective stillness of a Zen practitioner.  Johnson, who is a gallery artist represented by Robert Lange Studios, has been teaching workshops at Redux for “about a year,” he says.  “And I just finished up on a mural painting class at a high school.  Can you imagine doing that for a class in high school?”

I shake my head, smiling.  Johnson has the comfortable immediacy of a person who finds himself at home wherever in the world he goes, but he’s been in Charleston “about 18 years.”

I’m sitting in a plastic chair that is precisely the color of melty orange sherbet, my back to the burlap doors of the two smaller painting studios behind us; Johnson, wearing faded plaid shorts and periwinkle blue shirt, moves back and forth inside the horseshoe of folding tables, adjusting, rearranging.

He says offering this workshop has forced him to clarify his teaching.  “I almost feel sorry for my early students,” he says, laughing.

“I met some of my favorite teachers when they were teaching their first class.  I think sometimes it can make you more accessible.  Because you’re less jaded, more open, maybe.  But you say this class has clarified your teaching- what would you say are some of the core tenets to becoming a better painter?”

“Patience.  I’ve spend 200 hours on a single painting.  A lot of the work I do resembles my students’ in its early stages, but I just push on longer.  Monday night classes are three hours long, once a week, for four weeks.  And I offer an intermediate class after that for four weeks.  But the thing is, a lot of people just keep on taking workshop after workshop.  But they also need to paint on their own,” he says.  “Working on your own is how you learn what you need to ask in class, so that workshops like this are really valuable. And you can read about painting, too.  Independent study, that’s important.”

I scribble this down, then look up for more.

But Johnson shrugs, closing a drawer of paints.  “That’s about it.  You can teach technique and craft.  Experience is really what does it, what makes you a good painter.  But its most important that your art says something.  And I don’t know that you can teach that.”

“Does your work have a message?”

“Some of it.  I do different things, but I have some recurring metaphors.  Like goldfish- you know, you look at a goldfish in a bowl.  That bowl is its whole world, yet it exists in a much larger world.  We all have our own bowls, our own spheres of experience.  To me a goldfish is a perfect representative of the individual in the world.” He pulls out his ipad thoughtfully.  “I like to put them into different scenarios, these beautiful scenarios, but when you really look at it, you see there’s something there-” he shows me a photorealistic painting of an old fashioned scale, balancing a globe at one end and a fishbowl at the other.  “This one’s called The Needs of the Many.”

The Needs of the Many

The Needs of the Many

Leap

Leap

“And this one- “We Cannot Rest.”

We Cannot Rest

We Cannot Rest

“I’m a minimalist,” Johnson says.  “I usually just paint the object, maybe with a little something else.  And I work very slowly, but I like to paint the ephemeral- goldfish, fire- so in the early stages I compose my first sketch with photos.”  He puts away the ipad as the first of his students walks into the room.  He shakes her hand, greeting her warmly.  Daniela is a Brazilian biologist and the proud mother of three cats; this is her first time taking one of his workshops.  She beams, delighted to be here.

Johnson walks around the horseshoe squirting dabs of red paint onto the wax paper palette in front of each chair, talking to Daniela and I.  “So recently I was talking with some other artists about themes in their work, and this one guy said his work was about finding a home.”  He puts down the red paint and picks up yellow, making his second round.  “He says he’s looking for home still.  Would you say have a sense of home?” he says.

“My parents moved out of the house I grew up in a long time ago.  So when I go home to visit, I never experience have that deep sense of being at home, you know.  But I dream about it.  The rooms, that house.  When I’m dreaming, that house- or parts of it- is still where I live.  So I guess my sense of home doesn’t exist in the real.  I carry it in my mind.”

Daniela says that as an expat, her heart is forever in two places at once.  Wherever she goes, part of her still misses the home she’s just left.

Johnson is fascinated.  “It seems like so many people have that place they want to be.  A place that feels like home.  But I’m just here.”  He shrugs, smiling. “I’m just happy.  Although I do like to visit New York every couple of years.  I get an itch if I haven’t visited in a couple of years.  But I’d never want to live there.”

“You’re a bloom where you’re planted kind of guy.”

“I guess I am.”

You can follow Erik Johnson’s work on both Facebook and Instagram.  He likes “the videogame aspect of Instagram; I’m trying to reach that high score, that K behind my number!” and someday plans to sell sketches and drawings through social media.

On summer Mondays from 6-9, you’ll find him here at Redux, teaching patience, practicing kindness.

Do yourself a kindness and take his class.

-article by Pauline West, a novelist and writer for Redux Contemporary Art Center.  Her novel Evening’s Land recently won the Helene Wurlitzer Fellowship Award.

You Are Here

You Are Here

 

July 18th- Palette and Palate Stroll!

Get your tickets while you can by clicking HERE!

A delightful evening that charms all the senses, this event is one for the memory books.  Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the historic streets of Charleston, visiting some of her finest galleries while savoring bites and sips from eight of her most prestigious restaurants.

Here’s a list of 2014’s Pairings…

Anglin Smith Fine Art (Formally Smith Killian) – Circa 1886
Corrigan Gallery – Barsa
Dog & Horse Fine Art – Zero Café and Bar
Ella W. Richardson Fine Art –  Langdon’s
Helena Fox Fine Art – Cypress
Martin Gallery – Oak Steakhouse
Robert Lange Studios –  McCrady’s
The Sylvan Gallery – Halls Chophouse

Reservations highly recommended; these tickets have wings.

July 18th Palate and Palette Stroll

July 18th Palate and Palette Stroll

Open Studios is May 29!

Redux_OpenStudios_2014_webOur Open Studios events are a way to get to know all of the Redux studio artists who call our space their creative home.

While we welcome the public into Redux year round, this is your exclusive opportunity to look behind the curtains, meet the artists, learn about their techniques and practice, renew your Redux membership, sign up for classes, and maybe even take a new piece of art home!

Current Redux Studio Artists:

Alizey Khan
Brian Stetson
Camela Guevara
India McElroy
Joshua Breland
Kaminer Haislip
Karen Ann Myers
Kate Long Stevenson
Kate MacNeil
Kate Mullin
Kevin LePrince
Lindsay Windham
Lulie Wallace
Mariah Channing
Paula McInerny
Raven Roxanne
Taillefer Long
Teil Duncan
Thomas Ozmore
Todd Anderson
Trever Webster
Whitney Kreb