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Reflections on a Southern Summer

TJC Gallery
June 9, 2021 – September 4, 2021

During the languid, gauzy days of summer in the South, leisure is a time-honored tradition––and an art in and of itself. When the heat rises, beachcombers rush the coastal waves, generations of fishers cast hope-laden hooks into mountain waters, and the shade of sprawling live oaks offers welcome respite. Charged by the season’s lengthening light, verdant landscapes, and recreational offerings from summit to shoreline, artists have created lasting impressions of this region’s summers for centuries.

The Mississippi-born writer Eudora Welty observed, “Southern Summer is nostalgic, because even when it happens, it’s dreamlike.” That surreal romanticism is deftly captured by Alice Smith, who bathes her characteristic Lowcountry marsh scene in a prismatic glow in The Mystic Cypress. Even at seventy-six years old, Helen LaFrance continued to paint memories of her rural Kentucky childhood, including whimsical recollections of circus parades through the nearest town.

Featuring works by Ernie Barnes, George Bellows, George Biddle, Andrew Bucci, Margaret Burroughs, Josephine Couper, Horace Day, Lamar Dodd, William Dunlap, William Frerichs, Maud Gatewood, Emile Gruppe, Rachel Hartley, Clementine Hunter, Myrtle Jones, John Ross Key, Virginia Kiah, Helen LaFrance, Richard Lahey, Margaret Law, Charles McGee, Robert Newman, Paul Plaschke, Paul Sawyier, Ben Shahn, Alice Smith, and Eugene Thomason, this exhibition seeks to stoke the embers of memory and honor the abiding allure that the South holds as both a destination and a homeplace. While several works on view are the result of an artist’s sojourn––for Eugene Thomason, a seaside family vacation; for Lamar Dodd, numerous trips to Pawleys Island, South Carolina––others, like Spartanburg native Margaret Law’s The Swimming Hole, affectionately document the everyday pleasures of a hometown summer. “I put down what I see, wherever I am,” Law once said, “and the result is a record of life in a small Southern town.”

Located at 154 West Main Street in downtown Spartanburg, TJC Gallery is open without charge on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 12pm to 4pm as well as the first Saturday of the month from 12pm to 4pm.