Sumter gallery presents 2 contemporary artists

Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 9/5/18

Sumter County Gallery of Art will present exhibitions by two new artists with very different subject matter and process beginning with an opening reception Thursday evening. The public is invited to attend the 5:30-to-7:30 p.m. event at which …

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Sumter gallery presents 2 contemporary artists


Sumter County Gallery of Art will present exhibitions by two new artists with very different subject matter and process beginning with an opening reception Thursday evening. The public is invited to attend the 5:30-to-7:30 p.m. event at which artists Robert O. Keith IV and Susan Klein will be present.

Keith is a painter whose use of color and light reflect the mood and temperature of abandoned spaces he discovers while traveling around the East Coast, SCGA Director Karen Watson said. This not only fulfills his artistic need, but also "the thrill of exploring," she noted.

Having grown up in Colorado, reared in poor conditions, Keith found an escape in art and a unique perspective. Now his paintings reveal "the beauty and the positive light in what others might find ugly or useless," Watson said, adding that his bending of canvases "literally surround the viewer within the spaces themselves."

Keith said in his artist statement that his "work is an investigation of abandoned architectural spaces that are gradually being reclaimed by nature, as well as a study of the illusionistic aspect of creating three-dimensional images on a two-dimensional surface. I am compelled to explore these structures to capture the mood and reality of the space as it existed when I was present. I document these structures via photos and sketches that result in drawings and painting that further reflect the uniqueness and feeling of that space. In this series [titled Kenopsia], I employ methods of distortion by curving, stretching, expanding the way I depict the space as well as the canvas that they reside. These works are a way for the viewer to trespass with me in an uncomfortable but quiet place."

Watson said the gallery is "excited to present Keith so early in his career."

The artist lives in Columbia, where he teaches drawing at the University of South Carolina, where he received his Master of Fine Arts.

Keith has been juried into the prestigious ArtFields in Lake City in 2016 and 2018. He has had solo exhibitions at Francis Marion College, the University of South Carolina and Pierce Community College, Steilacoom, Lakewood, Washington and several group exhibitions.

Susan Klein teaches painting and drawing at the College of Charleston. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Oregon in 2004. She is a contemporary mixed-media artist who has exhibited in the U.S. and internationally.

Day Person is Klein's exhibition, much of it new work created at the International and Curatorial Summer (2018) Program in Brooklyn, New York. Her sculptures and painting reflect her "irreverence for the sacred and a reverence for the banal (and are) playful, colorful and humorous - and they take themselves seriously," according to a news release. "They are complex explorations of ambiguous forms - urns, gravestones, altars, fingers, phalluses and monuments - that evoke the human devotional impulse. She is interested in the arbitrary manner that objects can be consecrated and made sacred. An ordinary object can be transformed into a thing that carries power, weight and spirituality. (Acting) as the connection between this world and another."

Klein's use of humor counters "the heaviness in life," as she uses it "to process and manage emotions, trauma and current events."

In a recent interview, the artist said she avoids making artist statements. "I think the work creates its own language and presents that to the viewer. There is something pre-lingual in my work, and in my experience words can obfuscate, confuse and miscommunicate as often as not."

Klein has shown at the Brooklyn Artists Gym in New York; 3433 Gallery in Chicago; PDX Contemporary Art in Portland, Oregon; University of Ulsan in South Korea; Wayne State University in Detroit; and other venues. Recent awards include a Wassaic Project Residency in Wassaic, New York.

Klein will give a gallery talk at Thursday's opening, and Keith will be in conversation with Sumter County Gallery of Art curator Cole Miller at a later date during the exhibition, which can be seen through Nov. 2 at the SCGA, 200 Hasell St., in the Sumter County Cultural Center.

The Sumter County Gallery of Art presents Robert O. Keith IV's Kenopsia and Susan Klein's Day Person at the opening reception, 5:30-to-7:30 p.m. Thursday. The exhibitions can also be viewed during regular gallery hours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Flowers for the reception are courtesy of Poinsett-Bland Garden Club and The Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter.

For more information, call the gallery at (803) 775-0543, or contact Watson and Miller by email at or