Bluffton, South Carolina

Wellard: Bluffton’s Four Corner sculpture exhibit dazzles

BY NANCY K. WELLARD March 26, 2015
Every now and then, I experience a visual art event that stops me I my tracks.

It can dazzle with high quality because the artist offers a flawless rendering of exquisite work or can simply overwhelm with visual effect. Sometimes those characteristics come together to produce an impact that is greater than the sum of its parts.

That happened last Friday and Saturday at the Two-Day Sculpture Show at Four Corners Gallery in Bluffton on May River Road.

Charlene Gardener of Four Corners welcomed guests to the uniquely southern collection, and to carefully cosset the uninitiated toward the pieces artfully positioned throughout the diminutive “jewel box” gallery, which offers three designated gallery spaces.

Outside, under a festive tent, guests socialized with friends, neighbors and artists and enjoyed refreshments as they listened to words about the work — often from the artists who had created it.

The sculptors — Judy Mooney, Susie Chisholm, Fran Kaminsky and Harriet and Mike Jandrlich — described the nature of their pieces, the philosophy supporting their images, and the materials and processes they used to create their engaging, noteworthy and impressively diverse work.

Gardener said she had always had a deep seated appreciation for a variety of artistic expression, sculpture in particular. She also pointed out that she harbored an undercurrent of intent to do a sculpture exhibit. “It popped into my head,” she laughed.

She wanted to involve a mix of gifted sculptors who had a connection to our Lowcountry and our “southern uniqueness.”

Gardener has created an impressive collection of some 60 pieces.

On the day I visited the collection, I had the space to myself. The pieces, many mounted on moveable platforms, offered the opportunity to view, upclose, every dimensional piece from every angle. It gave me time to absorb the details of this vibrant mix of work, to note the delicacy and details of the fisherman’s net in one piece or the size of a scrawny little fish hidden purposely behind a youthful fisherman in another.

The character of the Four Corners gallery — the wall colors, the physical appointments and paintings already on view, a phalenopsis here, and an electronic flat screen there — magically set off the work. Viewers, who might not imagine a piece of sculpture in their collection may now view it in another way.

The show has been extended so you may still have a couple of days to hustle on over to 1263-B May River Road.

A look at the exhibiting artists

Each of the six sculptors at the Four Corners Gallery brings a new kind of intensity to the exhibit.

As you enter the main gallery, you’ll find a stunning piece by Judy Mooney — “Mother and Child” in bronze.

Mooney, who did not begin her artistic pursuits until she was 60, was born in Louisiana so her life and work are a “rich gumbo of experiences, spiced with her admiration of all people and her love of sculpting.” After a career in the not-for-profits, she attended university classes focused on art.

“I found the latent artist in myself,” she said. “Actually, I found a sculptor. I also found people who had stories to tell through the clay in their hands.”

Mike Jandrlich’s “Plumpish,” crafted in clay, is wonderfully organic. He has officially been sculpting for just about two years.
“I like African art, and Modigliani… Clearly I don’t work toward a realistic outcome,” he said with a wry smile.

His wife, Harriet Jandrlich, has been sculpting for more than 15 years and focuses her attention on realistic interpretations. She studied sculpture for more than 15 years, and has carefully involved Mike in the sculptural process as a critic.

“We started off with Mike critiquing my work,” said Harriet. “Then, sometime later, the idea of his studying art and attending some formalized programs became a concept we both wanted him to explore.”

“He jumped right in…,” laughed Harriet. “And in no time, and after a number of lessons and workshops, we were involved in creating a piece together. Two hands became four hands on the work and two feet became four feet on the floor!”
The two created “Tofu,” a kind of dimensional portrait in the style of Modigliani.

Harriet Jandrlich created a powerful, though sensitive violinist. The work, in clay, was inspired by a musician she came upon in Montmartre several years ago. She explained that her artistic goal has always been to bring out the soul and the spirit of the subject of her work. The piece, in clay is, simply loaded with both.

Glo Coalson’s works in bronze are astonishing. She is an Texas who has spent years in such disparate locations as Anchorage and New York City. She harbors a fascination — a passion, even — for the rice culture of the Lowcountry. Her “Rice Winnower,” in bronze, will thrill you.

Susie Chisolm is an elected member of the National Sculpture Society. Seeing her work up close will astonish you, but knowing about the special honors she’s won takes your interest and appreciation to another level. She is known for her monumental public sculpture, including the “Charles Fraser” piece on Hilton Head Island and the “Johnny Mercer” piece in Savannah.

Not all of her work monumental. “At the Beach,” in clay, offers Chisolm’s work for a gallery setting.

Her earliest days were spent in Savannah, and she always demonstrated an interest in art in almost any setting. Chisolm’s work was and is still, representational. It started early on when she stepped up to figurative portrait sculpture all of those years ago.

“I like making real people … bringing them to life out of clay or bronze,” she said of hear early efforts. “One thing lead to another. I started taking workshops in portrait sculpture, and was completely hooked.”

Chisolm continued to dedicate more time to her sculpture. So seriously did she take her work, that she went off to Cortona, Italy, to study sculpture and bronze casting.

“That was the beginning of a new artistic direction for me,” she said. “… and the founding of my School of Sculpture in Savannah.”

Fran Kaminsky is a master of cast bronze, and bronze, now, is her first love. She began her sculptural work in ceramics. Her evolution from ceramics to bronze, she feels, was brought about through classes she took with regionally and nationally recognized sculptors, especially with Chisolm.

Kaminsky will be thrill you with both her portrait and figurative sculpture. It is all about movement.

“I am intrigued with movement,” she said. “I love to challenge myself with the concept of communicating movement through a form of sculpture.”

Kaminsky, who works in her Savannah studio, said she wants to offer the viewer a sustained view at the subject of her work.
“A look or even a glance at much of my work offers the visual concept of the subject engaged in movement — moving, not static.”