Jasper Project and Harbison Theatre at MTC Bring Art Exhibitions to Lobby Gallery

Artist - MTC Graduate Anthony Lewis

Artist - MTC Graduate Anthony Lewis

In an exciting partnership with Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College, Jasper is pleased to announce a series of art exhibitions in the Harbison Theatre lobby’s gallery space.

Last year, the Jasper Project worked with Harbison Theatre to exhibit several shows, beginning with Camden native and retired educator Keith Tolen’s work. Having enjoyed the collaboration so much we have developed a full season of exhibitions for the 2019-2020 art season, which started with the installation of the Supper Table in early September and runs through summer 2020.

Beginning with the continued exhibition of Kirkland Smith’s Supper Table Portraits, which will remain on display until early November, we follow up with an exhibition by photographer Kathryn Van Aernum titled Common Ground.

A Young Sara Leverette by Kirkland Smith

A Young Sara Leverette by Kirkland Smith

Van Aernum’s photographic subjects range from the mundane to the sublime, and she continues to cultivate a sense of spaciousness, curiosity, humor and wonder in her work  through the exploration of themes such as Reclamation; Ubiquity (her CocaCola® series); and Common Ground. While photography is her main medium, she is also an accomplished watercolorist, mixed media and book artist. She teaches classes in photography, creative process, watercolor, and journal making. Her work has appeared in juried competitions, and group and solo exhibits in Key West, FL; Boulder, CO; Fort Collins, CO; Ann Arbor, MI; and Columbia, Spartanburg and Lake City, SC. and is in many private collections throughout the US. Most recently, she was one of 19 Columbia artists whose work was juried into ArtFields 2019. Find her on the web at KvanaStudios.com KathrynVanAernum.com.

About This show Van Aernum says, “Most of the images in Common Ground were gathered on my morning and evening walks with my dog Noah. I live in Midlands Terrace in Columbia, but he and I will frequently hop in the car and walk in other neighborhoods for a change of scenery. There are a few photos from other SC locations, and a 2018 trip to Greece. Living in a city, man-made surfaces are the predominant element I come in contact with. With no sandy beaches, mountains, or vast vistas for inspiration, I often look down to the ground. As I allowed pavement, asphalt, cobblestones and concrete to become my muses, abstract “paintings” created by the interaction of time, weather, earth and humans began to reveal themselves. All the artificial terrains portrayed have one thing in common: to facilitate human flow and interaction. What I hope to offer here is a surprising, whimsical, striking, and maybe even beautiful meditation on the surfaces we share in common.”

Jasper and Harbison Theatre will celebrate the opening of Van Aernum’s exhibit on Friday, November 15th at 6 pm in conjunction with a stellar performance by Motown Superstar Thelma Houston. (Reception – free; Concert tickets at harbisontheatre.org.)

Artist Kathryn Van Aernum from the Common Ground collection

Artist Kathryn Van Aernum from the Common Ground collection

Following the Van Aernum exhibition, acclaimed artist Stephen Chesley’s art will be exhibited in January and February 2020, with an opening reception on January 24th, 2020 at 6 pm in conjunction with a performance by Akintunde and Joey I.L.O.

Stephen Chesley was born in Schenectady, New York in 1952. He exhibited a natural proclivity for drawing and art almost as soon as he could hold pastel and pencil which were often Christmas gifts from his family. Growing up in Virginia Beach in the late 1950s he was exposed to the Beat Generation of musicians, artists, and writers when Virginia Beach was still a seasonal seaside resort. Self motivated, he continued with his drawing and small paintings along with exposure to local artists throughout elementary and high school and into college. His collegiate exposure led to a meld of art and science with degrees in Urban Studies and a Masters Degree in Urban Planning in 1980 from the school of Architecture at Clemson University. Graduating in a deep national economic recession Chesley turned back to his art. Spending 5 years on rivers and sea islands to explore his asthetic, subject matter, influential painters, and styles, Chesley’s paintings and art work began to move to the foreground. Recognized in 1981 by the Columbia Museum of Art as an emerging talent, he went on to win top 100 in the first National Parks competition of 1987, exhibiting at the Smithsonian, and in 1996 a National Endowment for the Arts, Southeast Regional Fellowship, Southeast Center for Contemporary Art. Chesley has continued his work, characterized as poetic realism, along with welded and carved sculptural pieces in addition to joint works illustrating Archibald Rutledge short stories and WS Merwin’s poem, ”Palm” for the Thomas Cooper Society’s Thomas Cooper Medal for WS Merwin in 2012.

Stephen Chesley

Stephen Chesley

Arts photographer Kevin Kyzer will exhibit in March and April, 2020 with an opening reception on March 21st, 2020 in conjunction with the wildly popular MTC Show-Off.

Artist Kevin Kyzer’s photo of dancers Claire Richards Rapp and Bonnie Boiter-Jolley

Artist Kevin Kyzer’s photo of dancers Claire Richards Rapp and Bonnie Boiter-Jolley

Anthony Lewis is an emerging self-taught visual artist and a resident of Columbia, South Carolina. Anthony was born in raised in Camden, NJ.  The owner of Alewisproject,LLC, Lewis will exhibit in May and June 2020.

Anthony Lewis

Anthony Lewis

And closing out the season we will be featuring Ginny Merett. Ginny currently uses collage techniques to create portraits and figurative works of art that are best described as a mix of surrealism and whimsy. Ginny’s work has won several awards and accolades. She is the cover and featured artist in The Jasper Magazine Spring 2019 edition; and received First Place and Second Place Awards at the Rosewood Art and Music Festival, Best in Show at Time for Art sponsored by the Jasper Project; and participated in Women Speak Art Gallery at SC State Library 2017, Artfields 2019, and numerous other exhibits.

Women in Hats by Ginny Merett

Women in Hats by Ginny Merett

Information on artists talks and additional opening receptions are TBD. Stay tuned to www.JasperProject.org and https://www.harbisontheatre.org/ for updates and information.

The Jasper Project presents ARTS101 - A 6-Part Arts Appreciation Lecture Series

arts101 mary Ever wanted to take that art history class you neglected in college or revisit some of the stories of arts greats you may have snoozed through way back when? The Jasper Project is making it easy to brush up on your cultural literacy and we’re doing it in intimate settings with folks you already know and admire.

The Jasper Project presents ARTS101, a series of presentations by Columbia artists of stature about the great artists who have gone before us and influenced the world of art. All events are informal, free and open to the public and all start at 7 pm at Tapp’s Arts Center.

Please join us.


September 23, 2015 Mary Bentz Gilkerson talks about John Constable

October 28, 2015 Stephen Chesley talks about Edward hopper

November 18, 2015 Tish Lowe talks about Antony Van Dyck

January 27, 2016 Kirkland Smith talks about John Singer Sargent

February 24, 2016 Mike Dwyer talks about Richard Diebenkorn

March 23, 2015 Cedric Umoja talks about Dondi White

Acclaimed Columbia Artist Stephen Chesley to Sign Claws at Nest - tonight!



Columbia artist Stephen Chesley will autograph copies of his illustrated edition of the Archibald Rutledge adventure story Claws at Nest (Hampton and Main Sts.) during Columbia’s First Thursdays on Main.

First published more than a century ago, Claws is a harrowing tale of an encounter between a young boy and a giant bobcat in depths of a lowcountry swamp.

Chesley’s 24 charcoal sketches bring the story vibrantly to life. Claws is published by the University of South Carolina Press with royalties benefiting the South Carolina Book Festival.

Chesley will sign copies at Nest from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on November 6 as part of First Thursday on Main.

Get more information on Claws from http://www.sc.edu/uscpress/books/2014/7422.htmlhttp://

For more information about the signing check out the Facebook event here.

Stephen Chesley - Artist

A Selected Listing of Chesley's Exhibits and Collections (Courtesy of Wim Roefs and If ART Gallery):

SELECTED COLLECTIONS Erskine College, Bowie Arts Center Savannah College of Art and Design Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman, Rock Hill, South Carolina South Carolina State Art Collection Columbia Museum of Art Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Charlotte, North Carolina Pioneer Electronics, New York, New York National Bank of South Carolina Southern Bell Springs Mills, Rock Hill, South Carolina numerous private collections

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS South Carolina Regional Sculpture Competition, Aiken County Museum, Aiken, South Carolina, 2005 "Stephen Chesley",Carolina Galleries, Fine Art Dealers Association, Charleston, South Carolina, 2004 "Stephen Chesley", Conn Gallery, Landrum South Carolina.2004 Sumter Gallery of Art, "Birds" exhibition, Sumter, South Carolina,2004 "Stephen Chesley", Jackson Gallery of Art, Aiken, South Carolina,2003 Spartanburg Museum of Art, 2nd Hub Juried, Spartanburg, South Carolina,2003 "Mit/Ohn Distanz", Joint international exhibition, Ducati Building, Columbia, South Carolina, 2003 "With Without Distance", Volksbank, Kaiserslautern, Germany, Woolmagazine Artist Group, 2003 "In Response"', National Juried Exhibition, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia, 2002 Spartanburg Museum of Art, Hub City juried Exhibition, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 2001 Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties, Street Gallery (mural), 2001 Savannah College of Art and Design, National Juried Exhibition, Savannah, Georgia, 1999 "Stephen Chesley", Opelika Fine Arts Center, Opelika Alabama, 1999 Spartanburg Museum of Art, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1999 Gertrude Hebert Institute of Art Juried Exhibition, Augusta Georgia, 1998 Savannah College of Art and Design, National Juried Exhibition, Savannah, Georgia, 1998 Oil painters Juried Exhibition, National Bank of South Carolina, 1989-1998 Savannah College of Art and Design, National Juried Exhibition, Savannah, Georgia, 1997 "Terrain" Exhibition, Carrillon Building, Charlotte, mural 15’x15’, 1997 National Endowment for the Arts, Southeast Regional Fellowship, Southeast Center for Contemporary Art, Winston Salem, North Carolina, 1996 Spoleto Juried Exhibition, Charleston, South Carolina, 1996 "Landscape Trilogy", Waterworks Visual Arts Center, Salisbury, North Carolina, 1996 Group Exhibition, Greenville Museum of Art, Greenville, South Carolina, 1996 Gibbs Art Museum, Charleston South Carolina, 1996 "The New Landscape", Center of the Earth Gallery, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1995 Francis Marion College, Florence, South Carolina, 1995 "Southern Range", Converse College, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1995 USC Gallery, University of South Carolina, Sumter, South Carolina, 1995 Spoleto Juried Exhibition, Charleston, South Carolina, 1994 Anderson Juried Exhibition, Anderson Museum of Art, 1994 Montgomery Biennial Exhibition, Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Montgomery, Alabama, 1994 "Lure of the Lowcountry", Gibbs Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, 1994 "Grace and Symbolism", Nations Bank, Art in Public Places, Columbia, South Carolina, 1993 "Expressions", Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina, 1992 South Carolina Arts Commission Triennial, Columbia South Carolina, 1992 National Juried Exhibition, Montana College Gallery, Dillion, Montana, 1991 South Carolina Contemporary Images, Owensboro Museum of Fine Art, Owensboro, Kentucky, 1991 South Carolina Coastal Watercolor Exhibition, Charleston, South Carolina, 1991 Springs Mills Juried Exhibition, Rock Hill, South Carolina, 1990 South Carolina Coastal Watercolor Exhibition, Charleston, South Carolina, 1989 South Carolina Annual Juried Exhibition, Columbia, South Carolina, 1988 Southern Graphics Council Exhibition, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, 1988 Springs Mills Juried Exhibition, Rock Hill, South Carolina, 1988 Retrospective: South Carolina State Art Collection, 1988 Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, Florida, 1988 Joyce Dickenson Invitational, Florence, South Carolina, 1988 Springs Mills Juried Exhibition, Rock Hill, South Carolina, 1987 South Carolina Arts Commission Annual Juried Exhibition, Columbia, South Carolina, 1987 National Park Service National Juried Exhibition, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. 1987 South Carolina Arts Commission Annual Juried Show, Columbia, South Carolina, 1986 Springs Mills Juried Exhibition, Rock Hill, South Carolina, 1986 South Carolina Coastal Watercolor Exhibition, Charleston, South Carolina, 1985 South Carolina Arts Commission Annual Juried Exhibition, Columbia, South Carolina, 1985 " Emerging Artist", Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina, 1981

In Jasper No. 3. Vol. 3: 2014 Masters of Art--Lee Sipe, Phillip Mullen, Tyrone Jeter, and Stephen Chesley

"There are artists in any community who set the standards. Artists whose work others admire, study, and learn from. Their bodies of work demonstrate not only the artist's professional evolution but her or his process of problem solving--the artist's journey from questioning and exploration to a place of accomplishment, control, confidence, and finesse. Studying these artists' work is like reading a book you can't put down or traveling to a place you'll never forget. There is so much there to take in. So much to take away. We call these artists Masters. ..." For more, including large-scale photos of these artists' work, start on page 46 of the magazine:

The Next Big Thing - by Cindi Boiter

I feel a little guilty using What Jasper Said to post my answers to The Next Big Thing, the hot new meme going around our community in which writers tag one another and ask that they write about their newest projects. But given that my newest project was published by Muddy Ford Press and that MFP underwrites Jasper Magazine, there's a sweet symbiosis to it that I cannot deny. Here's how it works -- after having been tagged (my thanks to Cassie Premo Steele for tagging me), the newly tagged author is required to self-interview, answering 10 pre-determined questions. After having answered these questions, she tags another five writers to do the same.

Here goes.

What is the working title of your book?

The Limelight -- A Compendium of Contemporary Columbia Artists, volume 1

What is the genre of your book?

Essay collection

Where did the idea come from?

Columbia, SC is a city that is reeling with a multitude of artists from different genres, particularly the literary arts. We have an inordinate number of professional writers here, yet we don't really have a sense of ourselves as a writing community -- though we are. I'd love to play some part in helping us to form a more unified community of writers. I want Columbia to be known as a "writers' town." To that end, I invited 18 local writers to contribute first person narrative essays about another local artist -- writer, visual artist, musician, dancer, theatre artist, whatever -- who had influenced them in some way.  I had the pleasure of editing the essays.

Clearly, one volume is not enough to represent the artists and authors we have here, so I decided to serialize the compendium with the plan of publishing it on an annual basis.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Columbia, SC essayists sing the praises of Columbia, SC artists.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I issued the call for essays in the summer of 2012 with an autumn deadline. We went to press in February 2013.

Who or what inspired you to write it?

The community of Columbia artists.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book was published by Muddy Ford Press.

What other books would you compare this book to within your genre?

I don't really know of any other books with the same model.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Well, there are 36 "characters" if we include both the contributors and the subjects of their essays.

The essay I wrote was about the artist Blue Sky, so, naturally Clint Eastwood would play Blue. For me? Lisa Kudrow or Terri Garr.

Ed Madden would be played by Jon Cryer and James Dickey by Jon Voight.

Jeffrey Day? Woody Allen, of course. James Busby would be played by Channing Tatum (that's right, I said it.)

I'd like to cast Christopher Walken to play someone, but I'm not sure who ... a much older Chad Henderson, maybe? Just for kicks?

Patrick Wilson would play Kyle Petersen with Sheryl Crow playing Danielle Howle (though I like Danielle's voice far better).

Billy Murray would play the part of Stephen Chesley and the part of Susan Lenz would be played by Julia Louis Dreyfus.

Vicky Saye Henderson would play herself.

What else about your manuscript might pique the reader's interest?

Some of the first lines are spectacular. For example, poet Ray McManus opens his essay about Terrance Hayes with this, "When you're a boy growing up in rural South Carolina, and you want to be a poet, you should first learn to fight."

And ballet dancer Bonnie Boiter-Jolley's first line about her mentor Stacey Calvert is brutally honest when she says, "When I first met Stacey Calvert over a decade ago, she explained to me how being a dancer is a very selfish thing."

And there are 16 more.


That's the end of the interview and I have to admit that it was fun. In an effort to share the fun and keep this meme going I'm tagging Aida Rogers, Don McCallister, Debbie Daniel, Kristine Hartvigsen, and Susan Levi Wallach. And I'm inviting them all to post their answers to me so I can share them with our readers. I think there's something about Wednesdays and deadlines also as I was tagged on a Wednesday and told to blog on the next Wednesday. So, by next Wednesday, I hope to have even more Next Big Things to share.

Thanks for reading,





First Lines -- an invitation from Jasper

"As she sat stunned in her car on Charleston's rickety old John P. Grace Memorial Bridge, trapped precariously 150 feet above the swift-moving waters of the Cooper River, ..."


"When you're a boy growing up in rural South Carolina, and you want to be a poet, you should first learn to fight."


"It was a Tuesday night in the spring of 1988 and I decided to head down to Pug's in Five Points for the weekly jam session."


"This essay is not an act of revenge."


"Bastille Day 2001, personal date of independence."


"It's a particularly hot summer day, even for Columbia, when I parallel park my car on Washington Street and notice a tall, lanky gentleman as he moves stiffly to reposition an over-sized canvas by the curb."


"It began with a gift."

 Ahh, first lines.

Every literary adventure you've ever been on began with one.

Please join the Jasper and Muddy Ford Press family today as we celebrate the first lines above and more than a dozen more when we launch our newest book,

The Limelight – A Compendium of Contemporary Columbia Artists,

volume 1,

with a launch party from 5 – 8 pm at Tapp’s Arts Center on Main Street in Columbia.

The $15 admission to the event includes a copy of The Limelight ($18 after 2/24/13), music, food, and the opportunity to gather signatures from authors and artists in attendance at the launch. For couples wishing to share a book, admission is $25.

There will be a cash bar.

The Limelight, published by Muddy Ford Press, LLC, is the first volume in a serialized collection of 18 first-person, narrative essays written by professional Columbia authors and artists about professional Columbia authors and artists. It is the sixth book to be published by Muddy Ford Press since February 2012.

Edited by Jasper Magazine founder and editor Cynthia Boiter, The Limelight – A Compendium of Contemporary Columbia Artists, Volume 1 is a serialized collection of first person narrative essays written by Columbia, SC writers and artists about Columbia, SC writers and artists. As the Southeast’s newest arts destination, Columbia is bursting with visual, literary, and performing artists whose work has caught the attention of the greater arts world at large, and these essays tell the stories of how the influence of these artists has spread. New York Times best-selling author Janna McMahan, for example, writes about spending a day touring Beaufort, SC, the hometown of literary giant Pat Conroy, with the writer himself. Poet Ed Madden writes about the disconcerting words of advice he received from dying poet and professor James Dickey when Madden took over teaching the last academic course of Dickey’s career. Music writers Michael Miller and Kyle Petersen share insights on saxophone great Chris Potter and contemporary singer-songwriter Danielle Howle, respectively, and poet Cassie Premo Steele writes about the inspiration stemming from her friendship with nationally-known visual artist Philip Mullen.

These 18 essays include works by and about poets Nikky Finney, Terrance Hayes, Marjory Wentworth, Ray McManus, Cassie Premo Steele, Kristine Hartvigsen, Colena Corbett, and Ed Madden; visual artists Philip Mullen, Gilmer Petroff, Blue Sky, James Busby, Stephen Chesley, and Susan Lenz; musicians Chris Potter and Danielle Howle; dancers Stacey Calvert and Bonnie Boiter-Jolley; actors and directors Robert Richmond, Greg Leevy, Chad Henderson, Vicky Saye Henderson, Jim and Kay Thigpen, and Alex Smith; and writers and editors James Dickey, Pat Conroy, Janna McMahan, Aida Rogers, Michael Miller, Jeffrey Day, Kyle Petersen, Robbie Robertson, Don McCallister, Robert Lamb, August Krickel, and Cynthia Boiter.

For more information or to order online please go to




Chesley, Williams, Wimberly, and Yaghjian: Behind the Studio Walls for the 13th Exhibition

It's time again for the annual Chesley, Williams, Wimberly, Yaghjian exhibit at Gallery 80808 and, as for as Jasper is concerned, it couldn't have come soon enough. We need a nice bath of good art after the holidays to cleanse away all the ticky and the tacky that inundated our senses over the last three holiday-driven months of 2012. Like a bracing breath of cold clean air, it jolts our systems; resets our standards; makes us see things more clearly. It centers us. It reminds us of what to expect from professional artists who continually hone their skills and not only challenge themselves, but challenge one another.

That's why we've become accustomed to the annual Chesley, Williams, Wimberly, Yaghjian exhibition of art because the four artists -- the four friends -- have been doing this for us for thirteen years now. We aren't just accustomed to it -- we're spoiled.

And while most of us will be making our pilgrimages to Vista Studios at 808 Lady Street today to offer some small genuflection at what promises to be an excellent exhibition, Jasper thought it also might be fun to get a glimpse of the other side of the studio wall. We wanted to know how these artists got together, what they think of one another, and why this exhibition -- and these friendships -- continue.

To that end we sent a number of questions out to the four gents. These are some of their answers.

Jasper:  We know it was more than a dozen years ago, but how did this group show get started?

Williams: The group, minus David the first year, originally came together for a holiday art event to share with our collectors and friends special selections of our work that we would curate from the past year. The fact that we were friends sharing many of the same collectors combined with mutual admiration for one another's work made this exhibition an instant annual tradition.  David joined in the second year, he was always a friend,  even before he moved back to Columbia.

Jasper:  Why do you think it works so well?

Yaghjian: It works because we are relatively mature adults who have done what we do for decades and  want to put up a decent show.

Chesley:  We have all been friends over many years ... and the time train moves on ... this exhibition allows us and our patrons to gather and start a new year ... with art ... The disparate arts groups that are aware of each other are afforded a moment to recognize each other as friends each January.

Williams:  We were all friends in many former lives apparently.

Jasper:  How far back do your friendships go?

Yaghjian:  I met Steve in 1984 through some friends of my wife, Ellen.  Mike, I met in the early 1990's. Edward, I'm not certain when I met him, he's almost an archetype. It is as though he's been hovering  a long time in another dimension.

Chesley:  We all met at various times, Mike in the 80's, the time of great headway in the arts in Columbia and David later … the earliest was when I was in graduate school in the School of Architecture in Urban Planning at Clemson, 1978. I would often go downstairs to the small space they deemed a gallery in Lee Hall. One time I went down to visit and there was a small pastel work entitled "Escaping Fruit." I was mesmerized by the whimsical depiction of a bowl of fruit escaping through an open country window as it brushed a lightly blown lace curtain. It was actually the highlight memory of my graduate work at Clemson. Only years later at an opening for a single portrait in St. Matthews did I learn it was done by Edward Wimberly who was in graduate school at the same time … a whimsical lasting memory to this day.

Jasper: What do you admire most about one another, either individually or as a group?

Yaghjian:  Mike is a really interesting mix of Southern boy and sophisticate.  He is very funny and has a great laugh when you prod him past his initial grumpiness.  Stephen is astonishing in his appetite for knowledge and understanding of a wide variety of subjects from pigments to high finance.  He is more than willing to share that knowledge with any and all.  Both Stephen and Mike are extremely capable in all matters technical and mechanical.  Edward can not only recount a good southern tale, he is one.

Williams:  Not only can Edward Wimberly really draw and paint, he defines the word raconteur. He can spin the yarn.  I can't tell a joke or dance. Stephen is very poetic and dependable.

Jasper: Who is the troublemaker or comedian in the group? Who is the workhorse?

Yaghjian:  Steve and I mess with Mike's paranoia around computers and the Internet, feeding his fears that all his information is being stolen RIGHT NOW as a result of the latest situation that has arisen with his virus protection or some news story about scams or hacking.  Edward is unintentionally a troublemaker in his annual tardy arrival for the hanging of the show -- or, in the past, borrowing duct tape or tacks to hold work in frames or to hold the frames together. (Last year his wife, Amanda McNulty, demanded he act his age and have his work framed before the afternoon of the hanging. We were flabbergasted.) (editor's note: Edward did not provide answers to Jasper's questions and was therefore unable to defend himself.)

For the show, Mike is the youngest and therefore it's only right that he be the workhorse.  He has the temperament as well; there is the aspect of the worrier in the boy.

Edward's lethal fishwife's punch requires a fair amount of effort with both its ingredients and incantations.


Jasper:  Do you get to see each other enough when you aren't hanging a show?

Williams:  We don't necessarily see that much of one another because we're all busy and caught up in our respective daily routines.  I don't hesitate to call on them if needed and hopefully they feel the same; they are my absolutely reliable friends and respond when they're called into action or to mount this exhibition.  Everyone knows the drill and looks forward to returning annually to Vista Studios, where it all began, and to hosting this event.  We take this time every year to share in our work and catch up on a year's worth of news.


Jasper:  Anything else to add?

Chesley:   2013 another year ahead. Let it begin.

Jeffrey Day Reviews Local Art Shows by Busby, Chesley, Williams, Yaghjian, Wimberly & Rego

It has been a busy few days on the visual arts scene in Columbia and since I found myself providing mini-reviews of one show while at another, it made sense to write it down.

James Busby rarely shows in Columbia, but he opened the doors to his new studio in Chapin and invited some folks to take a look at his new paintings, drawings, sculptures or whatever the hell they are before he loaded up the truck and drove them to New York for his show opening at Stux Gallery in Chelsea Feb. 9.

I’d been to the studio twice before during the past month, so I had seen many of the works, but he’d completed several large pieces and the studio was nice and tidy with the art hanging like it would for a show (although without the high ceiling and good lighting.)

Some of his art could be seen recently in Columbia. Half a dozen pieces were in the South Carolina Biennial at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art. That was the first time many people in town had ever seen his art.

After doing all white paintings/sculptures for a couple of years, Busby moved on to black and is still doing these pieces that look more like metal than paint and graphite. Most were modestly sized, but not modest in execution. The big surprise in the Biennial was one bigger work, a 7-by-5-footer. He has completed half a dozen more, nearly all of them even larger and more resolved than that one. These newest works start with a base of gesso, which he manipulates while still wet to give it texture. He then sands and cuts into the surface then goes at it with graphite sticks. I’m still coming around to these works – probably because I so admire the smaller white and black pieces – but this is an exciting direction.

I just wish more people in the place he lives knew about him. (Hey I’ve done my part, having written about him several times for several publications.) Busby is one of the most important artists to come out of South Carolina in a long, long time. And he’s a nice guy too.

To see more of his work go to stuxgallery.com

Right before the long drive to Chapin, I ducked into the jam-packed opening reception for the 12th annual show the artists Stephen Chesley, Mike Williams, David Yaghjian, all of Columbia, and Edward Wimberly, of St. Matthews. These are very talented artists, but artists have good years and not-so-good years. Too many of these annuals have felt perfunctory. This year is different.

During the past few years I’ve found Yaghjian’s work to be consistently inventive and well done. He’s continuing with his figurative pieces focuses on a middle aged man in theatrical settings. In the new work, the man has been replaced at times by an ape. A very well-drawn ape.

On the other end, Wimberly’s Southern gothic surrealism felt like it reached a dead end a long time ago. For this show though he’s come up with a wonderful group of small pastels faces with odd little characters (mice, gnomes and so on) occupying the picture as well. Some are more engaging than others, some better rendered than others, but these are something fresh.

Small still-life paintings of flowers and fruit. Who’d have through such subject matter would be some of the most wonderful work Chesley has ever done?

Williams is one of the most prolific artists around, well-known for his abstracted fish paintings and during the past few years expressionistic paintings of swamps and a smattering of steel sculptures. The big jolts this year are several nearly completely abstract paintings – the best ones covered with lots of gooey paint. A big blue and cream Motherwell-ish painting is a real grabber although there’s a bit more style than substance to it. Can’t wait to see more. His new small sculptures made of scraps of metal are delightful.

Through Feb. 6. http://www.vistastudios80808.com

Over at City Art the day before, a show of new paintings by Brian Rego went up. Since I first saw Rego’s paintings – mostly landscapes – several years ago I was bowled over. This exhibition knocked me out as well. There are a lot of exciting paintings – some of the best bordering on total abstraction with big blocks of color, although it’s more complicated than that.

As his subject matter, Rego often picks ugly places like parking garages. He’s good enough to use ugly colors too. He’s working out enticing issues of space in these pieces. The 30-work show is dominated by small (12-by-12) painting, most bold shapes in subdued colors. On the other end are larger brighter pieces, such as a large painting in the center of the gallery of a sun-dabbled back yard with spring-bright foliage and white chairs.

At first I thought it was a show with many good paintings, but wasn’t really a good show. Another visit convinced me I wasn’t quite right about that, but I still don’t think the installation serves the paintings best. I do think these are the best paintings I’ve seen in a while.

Through March 17. http://www.cityartonline.com/

Jumping back a week “Faster Forward” at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art is easy enough to sum up – go see the show now. This is the biggest video art exhibition ever in Columbia – maybe the state. Not only is it big, it is good. The artists are from all over the world, the work varied in content and form, and all of it is engaging and beautiful and sometimes funny. (I’ll have a larger story about the show in next week’s Free Times.) Through March 4. http://www.701cca.org/


Jeffrey Day is the former arts editor for The State and a frequent contributor to

Jasper Magazine and

What Jasper Said.

Friendship, Menfolk & Art -- Chesley, Williams, Wimberly & Yaghjian

As much as Jasper loves the dynamic and innovative, he loves continuity and tradition as well -- especially when the  tradition being preserved is all about friendship, menfolk, and art. That's why we look forward every year to the Winter Exhibition at Vista Studios Gallery 80808 which features the work of Stephen Chesley, Mike Williams, David Yaghjian, and Edward Wimberly -- four buddies, and four outstanding artists. In its 12th year, the Winter Exhibition will run from Friday, January 27th until Tuesday, February 7th -- the opening reception is Friday night from 6 until 9.



For more on what to expect this year, read the quartet’s statement below.

Stephen Chesley, Mike Williams, Edward Wimberly, and David Yaghjian are friends and full-time artists living and working in South Carolina.  For the past 12 years they have convened at Gallery 80808 in January with a selection of work from the course of the past year to hang an exhibition.  This exhibition began as a holiday social where we would get together with our friends and collectors to catch up and look at examples of our production from the previous year.  Each of these artists have worked diligently throughout their careers to create artwork that is distinctively their own.

Hope to see you Friday night – Gallery 80808 – Lady Street – Columbia.