The most popular annual exhibition at the Sumter County Gallery of Art opens Thursday, when many of the Sumter Artists Guild's 120 members will show their work. A reception accompanies the opening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Guild show is a competition for spots in the Guild Winners' Show in January.
SCGA Executive Director Karen Watson said that "Sumter is fortunate to be home to many talented artists working in all mediums," created by both professionals and amateurs.
Since its founding more than a half-century ago, the guild has been true to its mission "to promote, support and foster interest in art and to create an opportunity for our community of artists to engage in cooperative artistic enterprises and to be further active in supporting a variety of activities associated with art education, art instruction and art appreciation ."
Watson noted that "the guild was instrumental in founding the Sumter County Gallery of Art 50 years ago."
Guild president Laura Cardello, whose primary medium is clay, said members of the guild do not have to live in Sumter County. The current membership includes artists from Clarendon, Kershaw, Florence, Lee and several other counties.
Cardello will show a horsehair pot in the guild show. She said the horsehair, which she obtained (with permission) from the tail of a friend's horse, is applied to the exterior of the pot, which has reached a temperature of 1600 degrees in the kiln.
"The horsehair burns away, leaving a carbon trail on the pot," she said.
The Sumter Artists Guild holds monthly meetings upstairs at the Sumter County Gallery of Art, September through May, with two meetings held in conjunction with exhibitions at the University of South Carolina Sumter. Guild meetings often feature artist demonstrations, classes, "show and tell" and fellowship. Membership is open to artists and art enthusiasts; dues are $20 a month.
Watson said the level of talent in the guild is evident: " during the past year Thomas Blackmon was juried into ArtFields 2019, Deane Ackerman was the featured artist at the inaugural Inspire! Festival, Michael Duffy was the featured artist at the 2019 Iris Festival, and Eric Burress, Cara-lin Getty, Richard Dinkins and Josh Hatfield all had solo exhibitions in the USC Sumter galleries. These are just a few examples of the high level of talent in the Sumter Artists' Guild that will be on display in the exhibition."
The guild show, Watson explained, "is a 'judged show, not a juried show, so every piece of artwork entered will be displayed."
The winner of the show, second- and third-place and honorable mention winners will have a joint show at the SCGA in January, at which they will each show several artworks, Cardello said. Visitors to the show are asked to vote for their favorite piece of art, with the piece with the most votes winning the People's Choice Award.
Watson noted that the guild show offers an excellent opportunity to purchase quality art at reasonable prices and to talk with the artists about their work.
Judge for the show will be Eileen Blyth, a mixed-media artist living in Columbia. A College of Charleston alumna, she studied under William Halsey, who influenced her greatly. In addition to her paintings, Blyth makes mixed-media sculpture, often with found objects that might be overlooked by other artists. Her work has been exhibited in galleries around the Carolinas and in Tokyo, Germany and other overseas locations. In 2007, the Sumter County Gallery of Art featured a solo exhibition of her work.
Of her art, Blyth said, "There are times when I have an idea in my head of how a painting or sculpture will go. Most always, as I work, a completely different thing happens, as if the paint or object had a plan of its own. Somewhere between building a structure or making and erasing marks there is a shift. It is that moment of knowing, of seeing that shape or line, of finding the composition that is the exciting thing for me."
Watson said, "The Sumter Artists' Guild Exhibition - more than any other - is a true community effort. It would not be possible to showcase our local talent without the generous support of Judy Tyl, in loving memory of Charles "Chuck" Tyl; FTC; The Heart of Sumter Neighborhood Association; and Black River Electric Cooperative. Flowers are courtesy of Azalea Garden Club & The Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter."
The 2019 Sumter Artists Guild Show opens Thursday with a 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. reception at the Sumter County Gallery of Art, 200 Hasel St. in the Sumter County Cultural Center, 135 Haynsworth St. The exhibition will remain on view in the gallery through Aug. 29.
The Sumter County Gallery of Art is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information, contact the gallery at (803) 775-0543 or visit the website https://sumtergallery.com.
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