Category Archives: Artists

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

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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.

We Need Your Stuff!

Have you ever had your ephemera or discarded home goods immortalized in art?

Well, here is your chance.

Hollis Hammonds will be constructing a site-specific installation for her upcoming exhibition Worthless Matter at Redux (on view May 16 – June 28, proud part of Piccolo Spoleto). She needs your stuff!

wm-install4-sm

up close installation shot–we need more like this!

In the spirit of re-use and recycling, Austin artist Hollis Hammonds seeks physical donations of objects, furniture, and debris for her upcoming installation: Worthless Matter at Redux. We are looking for old and broken furniture, personal objects, wood scraps, baskets, toys, bikes, and so on.

Please drop off your goodies at:

Redux, 136 St. Philip Street
May 5th – 9th
between 10 am – 6 pm

Call us at 843.722.0697 if you need us to pick up!

Thank you!

Opportunity Alert

Charleston-based artists!

Here are a couple of opportunities you don’t want to miss out on.

Annual Piccolo Spoleto Juried Exhibition – Call For Entries
Deadline: April 21
The City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with Redux Contemporary Art Center, is posting an open Call for Entries for the Annual Piccolo Spoleto Juried Exhibition, which will take place at City Gallery at Waterfront Park, 34 Prioleau Street, from May 23 – June 8, 2014.

There will be cash prizes for Best in Show ($500) and in each category: Painting, Printmaking, Photography, Drawing, and Sculpture ($100 each). Applicants must be SC residents for the last 12 months. read more

Enough Pie Community Project Grant
Deadline: April 23
Enough Pie is currently accepting Letters of Intent (a one-page explanation of your idea and how funds would be used) for their Spring granting cycle. Recipients are eligible to receive up to $1,000 if selected. Arts and culture should be at the core of the project, and it needs to be aimed at the upper peninsula of Charleston. read more

CPG

Kimberly Witham’s Wunderkammer: Lovely Bones

DeerLemonCucumber

Kimberly Witham, who has a cool, firm handshake and uses words like “whack-a-doodle,” wants you to know most of her work doesn’t actually involve taxidermy.

“Mostly,” she says, “the animals are just straight up dead.”

It’s chilly in Charleston, late in the afternoon, and she is wearing a yellow peacoat, a cozy sweater with large buttons, jeans and cowboy boots.  She has short blonde hair and a frank, wide-set gaze.

Pointing out a tiny cut on the belly of a silvery blue snake, she tells me she’s been photographing road kill since 2007.

“See, he was probably clipped by a lawnmower.  This one was interesting.  With roadkill, you know, most things are stuck in rigor.  But snakes are flexible.  They have a little give.  So I wrapped him in position around this vase with wire, and stuck him in the freezer.”

She stepped back, looking at it.  “But it’s amazing how fast snakes melt.”

She’d poised him to coil upwards, after a beetle she perched in the vase’s bouquet.  But as the snake thawed, he began to droop, and she had to pop him back in the freezer.

“This deer over here-”  We walked to a collection of large photographs, each of a different fawn, positioned with milk glass, berries, vegetables.  “I had to put him back in the freezer three or four times.”  She uses a stand-up freezer with the shelves taken out.  “It’s big enough that you, for example, could just walk into it…”

“And this is twine, here?  Wrapped around his… what is this called…”

“His foreleg!  Well- so my studio is a sun porch.  It’s glassed in, so I get this wonderful natural light.  All my images use natural light.  But it’s small, just 5 or 6 feet.  I’d figured out exactly how I wanted him, but the way his leg was, I couldn’t get him all in frame.  I couldn’t back up far enough, you know.  So I took a hair dryer- this is gross, maybe you don’t want to put it in print- and I just bent over him and kind of… moved his leg…”  She moved her hands, making the gestures women use to explain how they did their hair.

The fawn weighed, oh, about 45 pounds.  She found it while running a trail near her house and carried it home in a laundry basket.  “It’s remarkably easy to sneak a dead baby deer past the neighbor’s children.  But it’s possible they suspect… Ah!  Perhaps also of note: all the flowers and vegetables you see here are grown in my own garden.”

The flowers and vegetables were beautiful.  Moving to a different photograph, Witham pointed out the correspondence between the shadowy pattern of the milk glass with the pattypan squash positioned beside it.  The squash had roundish yellow markings; the fawn, curling upwards into the air, balanced perfectly atop the glass, also possessed roundish markings.  Which were, of course, white.

“And this series I call ‘The Suburban Ossuary’- the place where bones are kept.”  Now we were catty corner to the fawns, looking at an evocative series of jaws, skulls, a pelvis.  One set of jaws, slightly grungier than the other, formerly belonged to a dog; the whiter pair, a fox.

“These jaws actually belonged to that guy over there,” she said, pointing to a fox (who was tailless) in a photograph across the room.  His paw was propped in what looked like a light fixture.

“I bury the animals after I finish photographing them.  Sometimes they get dug back up- by dogs and other things; we live near the woods- and I find them again.  And so the same animals reappear in my images, but in different forms.”

In the center of the room was a squirrel she called Buster, perched atop a totem made of a candy dish, goblet and watering can.  On the pedestal beside him was a tiny, finger-length mole inside an egg cup.  One of his paws was raised ever so slightly, almost playfully- on top of a doily and a bit of sunny embroidery.

“A whimsical grotesque,” Witham called it.  As I admired the embroidery: “I find all this great stuff at yard sales, thrift stores,” she said.  “When I’m done, I’m going to have the most amazing garage sale ever.”

But working hand in hand with death this way- had it changed her relationship with her own body?

“Actually, I’m inspired by this idea that everything goes away, is temporary- you know Vanitas paintings?”  I did not.  She explained to me the Dutch still life paintings of flowers, dead rabbits, bones.  “Right now I’m working on a darker series, with kind of this Caravaggio theme…

“When I see these dead animals, it makes me sad.  There’s this conflict between people and nature- these photographs are, I guess, a kind of testament to the fact that they lived.  That they lived, and they were beautiful.”

The dead things were beautiful still in her photographs.  Photography is a strange art.  As I’ve said here before, it gives the feeling of possessing a moment, an object: a life.  Maybe in the same way an obituary does.  In the captured time of a photograph, everything seems clear, obvious.  Preserved?  Maybe so.

 “Also I play a bit on this domestic aesthetic, that Martha Stewart idea of domestic perfection.  When I was in New Jersey,  every day I saw so many dead deer in the road.  I’d say to my students, ‘there’s so many dead deer!’ They’d just shrug and be like, “Oh, yeah.  It’s always like that.” But to see between five and ten new ones in the road every day- and there are these trucks always coming by to pick up the bodies, to dump them in the landfill… I started photographing them. But it was too literal, maybe.  Eventually I brought home a squirrel.  And from there it just… went.”

She is especially interested in squirrels.  There is a magnetized squirrel in a picture frame (code name Bubba), and pictures of many: one is curled up like furry filling in a pie dish; another is keeled over, stiff-legged in a dish, his tail drooping, Davy Crockett style, over one edge.

 (Side note: Davy Crockett was purchased by an art lover who hates squirrels. “Got to have it,” he said.)

We looked at a nuthatch in a soap dish- this particular nuthatch had dispatched itself against her mother’s window; another had a dried nasturtium in its beak.  The nasturtium arced over his small, gritty body- like a banner; his own epitaph, almost-  or else a killer fungi.

I found myself studying her photographs long after she left.  I kept coming back to Witham’s statement that many of the same animals reappear throughout her work, but in different forms– here is the creature entire: and here now are its bones-

Maybe this is the way of all things.  We visit upon an idea, it goes subterranean for a time, and then surfaces again.  Dreams evolve over a lifetime; lessons deepen; old loves become new.  For Kimberly Witham, the resurfacing of ideas is tangible.

Wunderkammer is here until March 8th, 2014.  Come and see.

Snake

Snake

Freshly installed: Kimberly Witham’s little man, “Buster”

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Pauline West is a novelist and member of Redux Studios.  She is at work on a Southern Gothic about a girl who opens a door between the lands of the living and the dead.

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Friends, Lets Make Our World a Work of Art

Art is more than exhilarating.  Art is a tool for prosperity.

Did you know communities with a high saturation of arts & culture organizations enjoy higher civic engagement, greater social cohesion, lower poverty rates, and higher child welfare?

We hope you’ll think of us this year as you spread your love in the form of dollars and cents!  Here’s a few sugar plums to dance in your head while you write those checks, dear readers…

78% of leisure travelers include arts and culture activities in their trips- and they stay longer than other tourists!

850 million people overall visit arts & culture institutions every year.  That’s  more than attendance for major sporting sporting events and theme parks COMBINED!

What’s more, the visitors to these arts and culture institutions spend nearly $25 per person above the cost of individual admission…. helping to generate the more than 136 Billion in economic activity we see annually from American arts & culture institutions.

Arts & culture institutions spend 2 billion yearly on educational activities and welcome 55 million students annually on school trips, and half the nation’s healthcare facilities provide arts programs for their healing benefits to their patients.

Help make our city by the sea a little bit of heaven on earth.   Give to Redux this holiday season.  

Thank you!

SOURCES:

Blackbaud, ‘Your Support Makes an Impact’

10 Reasons to Support the Arts by Americans for the Arts

Museum Facts by American Alliance of Museums

Joshua Breland: Pathways in Art

This past April a group of students shuffled into the Redux gallery to gaze at Yulia Pinkusevich’s aggregate map of the psychology of cities, Reversion.  The assignment, prepared ahead of time, was on drawing perspectives.  Today they were going to draw monsters destroying a city.  

But the Boston Marathon had just been bombed and the bombers were still at large.  The pretended destruction of cities suddenly seemed less gleeful.  After explaining the day’s assignment, the Outreach Coordinator, Joshua Breland, paused.  “How’s everyone feeling?” he said.  “Let’s talk about this.”

The conversation was brief and halting.  Everyone agreed they felt angry and frightened.  They were shocked, and worried about the victims.  They were sad.  As the kids then fell silent, Joshua walked them into the large, cheery painting studio which opens off the main gallery space of Redux.

“Let’s see if we can use art to process this,” he said.  He spread out their art supplies, and they began to work.

Breland has long used art to process terrifying concepts.  When we spoke in his studio on Friday, there was a large portrait of colorful bodies on one wall, and a view on the dark, electric edges of a city on the other.  A weird energy reverbed through both.  Joshua began to paint, explaining the canvases I’d noted.  The first portrayed victims of the Holocaust.  The second was a window on New York City after 9-11.

Joshua has a jittery charm and the ability to put strangers quickly at ease; with his fluffy brown hair and delicate, tapering face, his corduroy Toms and faded red board shorts, he could be your best friend’s younger brother, the one everyone always knew would go to art school.  His whimsical tattoos- an old fashioned radio, MLK, a spread eagled insect on his bicep- look as though they came from a personal sketchbook, giving him an idealistic air.  He is a young artist who wears his heart on his skin, and welcomes the world into his art.  His paintings are a commentary on cultural abysses rather than private ones, and he loves working in the Charleston community to bring art into the everyday.

As Outreach Coordinator, Joshua has a hand in the design of many upcoming Outreach programs which concentrate on Lowcountry Traditions, including Gullah Sing & Dance, Traditional Southern Art, African Storytelling.  He’s helping to coordinate a sculpture and 3D design month next year, which will feature a silver bracelet making class. He would also like to arrange weekly or biweekly crafting visits with the elderly, and artist-led student field trips to the Gibbes.  He recently completed a 9-11 remembrance mural at Chicora elementary, which he painted with the help of two students and two (taller) volunteer parents, and is already in talks with Chicora to do another.

He lit up as he spoke about the Outreach, painting with brisk, dance-like strokes.  He’s been working to obtain a $10,000 grant from Blackbaud in order to make all these programs possible, an experience he’s found deeply satisfying.  “I love to dive deeply into projects, and see things through to fruition.”  He grinned.  “And I like to be busy.”

-article by Pauline West