Like an art walk on steroids, the Charleston Fine Arts Dealers' Association's Palette & Palate Stroll brings together stimulating art and succulent food for an event to please all of the senses. Twelve galleries have teamed up with some of the city's most renowned restaurants for this fifth annual event.
"Palette & Palate is an opportunity for two disciplines to mingle: culinary craftsmanship and artistic vision," says Social's Chef Doug Svec. "It's not every day that the beauty on the plate matches that which surrounds you. Instead of taking a bite and closing your eyes to be transported, simply keep them wide and look around."
Social was paired with Robert Lange Studios, which will exhibit Charles Williams' landscapes and Joshua Flint's architectural paintings in Still:Moving. Williams' landscapes drip off the canvas — the effect was borne out of an accidental spill of water onto his canvas. It's now his signature style, a combination of abstraction and realism. "Leaving the canvas unfinished allows the viewer to interact with the painting, to finish it in their own minds," Williams says.
Growing up in Georgetown, Williams often traveled to Charleston, where he was exposed to traditional landscape paintings. He went on to graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design and was recently awarded a fellowship from the Hudson River School. "I want to personify nature, to create a landscape that people can relate to," Williams says.
Joshua Flint's oil paintings of historic buildings are blurred at the edges, suggesting movement within motionless spaces. Flint says his paintings are meant to evoke a visceral response. "Buildings are full of humanity, and we instill in them an emotional value," Flint says. "They are like a vessel, created to allow us to survive, prosper, shelter us from the elements, or perform a job. We form emotional bonds and physical connections to our environment, consciously and unconsciously."
An Oregon native, Flint has studied art around the world and recently settled down in Raleigh, N.C. "Homage," featured on the cover of the current issue of American Art Collector magazine, is an 18-by-24-inch oil painting based on a certain familiar row of historic homes in downtown Charleston. Using a black and white palette, Flint focuses on the form and design elements of the buildings. The contrast of light and dark creates depth and shadow, giving a new look to an all-too-familiar image.
Over at the Martin Gallery (paired with 82 Queen), Doug Van De Zande's sepia-toned photographs look like they are taken from the pages of a history book. A photographer for more than 30 years, Van De Zande graduated from the Brooks Institute in California and worked as a commercial photographer before pursuing his own interests. Using a unique technique that makes his images resemble etchings, Van De Zande says no two of his pieces are alike. "Charleston is such a beautiful old city that my style works perfectly for this technique. I'm always finding new angles and scenes to photograph when I'm in town." His subjects vary from historic homes to a dilapidated building on Folly Beach, giving the viewer an old way of looking at a new world.
Manning Williams is a Southern storyteller. A native Charlestonian, Williams has been making art for more than 40 years and is most well known for his commissioned pieces at the Charleston airport. Exhibiting his work at the Corrigan Gallery (paired with Cypress), Lese Corrigan says Williams' early paintings of landscapes and Native Americans were inspired by themes of love and war. As an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston in the '90s, Williams became fascinated with graphic images of comics and cartoons, and his style morphed into large, boldly colored, abstract paintings.
Married to Barbara Williams, a former editor of The Post and Courier, Williams has a lifetime appreciation for the power of words. "The empty speech balloons in his works signify the demise of the written language," Corrigan explains. Framed like a page of comics, the balloons invite the viewer inside the painting, encouraging their own words to fill the void.
Susan Romaine and Tripp Smith present Folly Beach at Smith-Killian Fine Art (paired with McCrady's). Romaine, a former investment banker and financial writer, finds inspiration in the strong bones of the buildings of Charleston. She calls herself a "representational realist" and says she uses light against dark to make a 2-D image appear 3-D. "I want viewers to go into the painting and explore it," she says. The abstract shapes, what Romaine refers to as the "bones" of her small paintings, capture the viewer's eye.
Tripp Smith comes from a family of female artists. After college and several years working as an apprentice to photographer Jack Alterman, Smith took a three-month cross-country trip, after which he was inspired to return home and start his own photography business. Smith's time in the wild stuck with him, however, and when he wasn't shooting interiors, he returned to nature. "I've seen Charleston grow and change so much over my life, and I want my photography to show the beauty in something as simple as a tree," he says. "I want my photographs to preserve the pristine places that still exist."
Smith makes a conscious effort to exclude evidence of man-made objects in his images. There are no boats, no docks, not even a bike trail through the dirt. "My photos depict the changing of time," he says. "The evolution of nature makes the images timeless." Often the perfect shot can be ruined by a footprint or a hanging telephone wire, but he is patient and continues looking for the ideal location. Between his commercial work and landscapes, Smith is pulled in two directions — one fuels his pocket while the other feeds his soul.
This is just a taste of the offerings at Palette & Palate 2010. Other pairings include Ann Long Fine Art and FIG, Carolina Galleries and Circa 1886, Charleston Renaissance Gallery and High Cotton, Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art and Blu, Helena Fox Fine Art and Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar, Horton Hayes Fine Art and La Fourchette, The Sylvan Gallery and Halls Chophouse, and Wells Gallery and Charleston Grill. Proceeds from the event benefit various visual arts scholarship funds.