Visual Artist Laurie Brownell McIntosh is one of those artists who is always up to something. By something we mean something that will challenge her; something she will learn and grow from as an artist. Never one to churn out the same old same olds on canvas after canvas, it’s always fascinating to touch base with Laurie and just get her to talk about her work. The listener is sure to learn something.
Jasper caught up with Laurie recently to do just that – hear what’s going on in her world and head and at the end of her brush. Read on to see what we found out.
Laurie: In 2015 my husband and I moved to Camden to begin renovations on a dilapidated, old Queen Victorian we had fallen in love with. For the next year and a half I continued my studio work at Vista Studios but there were many transitions going on there so I began to consider my options in this beautiful, historic town I was calling home. My Dad always said “be where you live” so I took this to heart. In November 2016, after a great deal of searching, I found a large, fully north lit studio space right in the heart of downtown Camden and opened Northlight Studio.
Columbia is only 25 minutes from here so I’m in and out of Columbia all the time. I still meet with my critique group, shop at City Art, use my framer in Irmo, visit my pals at Vista Studios and around town, and work on attending as many cultural events as when I lived on Gervais. Camden is pretty much the same commute from Chapin and Blythwood to the downtown Columbia area, but without all the bumper to bumper traffic.
Jasper: You have several projects coming up. We know that you usually move through projects as a way of challenging yourself to become a better artist. What is going on with your latest project?
Laurie: In 2012 I began working on a body of work I called “Pages.” “Pages” was an ongoing series of large, deconstructed paintings created with multiple layers of calligraphic marks and grounds and then reassembled to create new visual relationships between the images. During the transitional summer and fall 2016 - moving into a newly renovated house and then a new studio - I began to feel a strong pull to reintroduce more subjective shapes into my work. Shapes that were representative of objects that are part of the present and shifting world around me. After producing several pieces with this influence I realized the shift was strong enough to warrant the new signature, “Environmental Abstractions,” to identify this body of work.
Another fun thing I’m going to do in the next few weeks is open Northlight Downstairs, a temporary, contemporary gallery, in my space in the heart of Camden. All of my new work will be showing at City Art so I decided I’d try and do something fun with my empty walls in this cool little downtown. I’m such a believer in the strong ties between the arts and economic development so I’m going to put this belief to work. Northlight Downstairs will feature small to medium work from SC artists such as Jan Swanson, Eileen Blyth, Louanne LaRoche, Brucie Holler, Lynn Parrott, Cat Coulter, Lisa Adams, Laurie Isom and more.
It’s well worth the short drive from Columbia to come check this out, as well as Rutledge Street Gallery, the Fine Arts Center, Books on Broad (our truly independent book store,) ....and of course one would need a fresh, salty beverage from Saluds to quench one’s thirst before checking out Camden’s antique and handmade furniture scene. Can you tell how much I love this town?
Northlight Downstairs will open Saturday, November 25 thru Saturday, December 9, 10 am - 5:30 pm at 607 Rutledge Street, Camden, SC... right across the street from the big clock tower.
There will also be a reception... that looks, acts and taste more like a party... on Sunday, December 3 at 3:00 pm. Also, I will be open later on December 9 for the Annual Tour of homes.
Jasper: How do you feel about the way your aesthetic has responded to these most recent challenges?
Laurie: My abstracted works involve some recognizable objects from my life that is split between South Carolina’s Midlands and the coast —a fishing lure here, a sleeping dog there and what appears to be a piece of horse tack in another—each one is like a remnant of a dream. In these fleeting images I hope to stir memories and emotions, creating more questions than answers for my viewer. Connecting their memories and prompting them to put together what they see into their story. My work is intentionally open to interpretation.
Jasper: And when will the public get to see the results of this project?
Laurie: On Thursday, November 16, a solo show of "Environmental Abstractions" will open during Vista Lights at City Art on Lincoln Street. The opening reception will be from 5-9 p.m. The Environmental Abstraction show runs through January 27, 2018. City Art is open Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fridays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Jasper: Tell us about your workspace out in Camden.
Laurie: In December 2016, I moved my studio into a space by myself in the heart of downtown Camden, SC. After seven wonderful years I hated to leave the community and support of Vista Studios in Columbia, but things were changing there as well, and I wanted more space and less commute. My new studio is a painter’s dream with the exception of the enormous flight of stairs it takes to get up here. Heart pine floors and beams, 12 foot ceilings, brick walls and nine, 7-foot high, north facing windows make up the physical character of this space. It is large enough to work on several large canvases at the same time and keep all my sketches tacked up to study while working. The icing on the cake is it is located directly over Rusty Davis’s guitar shop and studio, where he teaches blues and rock and roll all day long. If you were here right now you would be listening to a hell of blues set going on down there
Jasper: How would you compare the Camden arts culture to Columbia’s arts culture? Besides you, who else is getting good work done out there?
Laurie: I’ve had my head down in the studio for the past year so I’m not a very good source on this question. What I do know is there is a vibrant cultural community in Camden. The Kershaw County Fine Arts Center is always buzzing with activities in the performing arts. Rutledge Street Gallery carries many national and regional acclaimed contemporary artists. Books on Broad is a real, honest to God, independent book store featuring events and promotions on a regular basis. Camden is home to political cartoonist-Robert Ariail, sculptor-Maria J. Kirby-Smith, Abstract Painter - Patton Blackwell, National columnist-Kathleen Parker and The Buckley School of Public speaking founded by Reed Buckley... just to scratch the surface.
Environmental Abstractions by Laurie McIntosh:
A Holiday Solo Exhibition at City Art Gallery.
November 16, 2017 - January 27, 2018
Opening Reception during Vista Lights, November 16, 5pm-9pm
Saturday, November 25 - Saturday, December 9, 10 am - 5:30 pm
607 Rutledge Street, Camden, SC right across the street from the big clock tower.
Holiday reception, that looks, acts and tastes more like a party, on Sunday, December 3 at 3:00 pm
Kershaw County Fine Arts Center
Solo Exhibition Spring 2018
April 12 - May 4, 2018