BY NANCY K. WELLARD
Special to the Packet/Gazette
Charlene Gardner chiseled the events of her day so we could meet to discuss the “Three Palettes” exhibit now filling her May River Road gallery in Old Town Bluffton through the end of the month.
The show, which opened in February, highlights three featured artists — Jim Lewis, Peggy Ellis and Louanne LaRoche.
“How fortunate I’ve been to be in touch with all of our very gifted gallery artists,” said Gardner. “Actually, several have been with me since before there was a Four Corners Gallery.”
Gardner, the originator of Four Corners, is most importantly the owner, director and curator at May River. She also oversees the framing and directs special events. She explained that for this “Three Palettes” show, she especially wanted the viewer to experience a fresh look into the color palettes of the three artists.
Gardner, who has seen to the details of daily gallery operation since she opened officially in 1998, said she is always focused on keeping the viewer’s eye fresh with new and important works.
“Really, my goal is to continue promoting local and regional artists and to keep Bluffton on the mind of the collectors as they begin to build their personal collections in their homes,” said Gardner.
Several years ago, I wrote that Four Corners is a brilliant treasure trove of a jillion artistic possibilities in a small space. As I circled the gallery one more time, I could think of nothing more definitive and appropriate than to say, again: Four Corners continues as a brilliant destination, a treasure trove of a jillion artistic possibilities in a small space!
So, happily, there is still time — but you must hurry — to drop in and view the outstanding paintings, the palettes of Ellis, LaRoche and Lewis.
Peggy Ellis said that, as a small child, she perched on the tailgate of the family station wagon and was mesmerized watching her father, famed artist Ray Ellis, paint seaside scenes of their Atlantic coastline. Those early inspirations encouraged her later to pursue studies in both watercolor and oil painting. After settling in Boston, she often spent time at Martha’s Vineyard painting with her father as he shared his tips and enthusiasm that he had gained from a lifetime of painting. In 2004, Ellis relocated to our Lowcountry and discovered “painting heaven,” she said. Her recent works showcase the dramatic sunsets, stormy beaches and thriving wildlife we count on in our coastal settings. She commented that she has a bird’s-eye view from her studio overlooking Charleston with its dramatic waterways, which provide endless inspiration from the clouds above to the harbor activity below.
Louanne LaRoche has brought her own distinctive artistic vision to the Lowcountry. For more than 30 years she has been known as a colorist with a style that combines the freedom of expression with the strength of representation. LaRoche reflects a significant sense of community in her paintings, and it is her response to these community connections as they are being diminished, displaced or even lost that we find in her most recent work. She continues to experiment in her paintings, exploring the relationships of color and texture, as she offers new perspectives paired with her artfully nuanced observations.
Jim Lewis said that he realized at a very early age that he had a gift and calling in artistic pursuits. So you won’t be surprised when I tell you that he holds a bachelor’s degree of fine art from Columbus College of Art and Design. He explained that his artistic influences, in terms of artists, range from Whistler to Wolf Kahn! He points out that now, as a fine artist who paints for exhibition, he has years of experience as an illustrator, art director, designer and art instructor on the university level. His new paintings are mature, he points out, yet fresh, contain abstraction and realism, and offer the viewer a simple reminder of the everyday … .”
What an astonishing gift you will offer yourself when you hurry over to the Four Corners Gallery and take in all of the elements of the artists whose work is so artfully and generously exhibited.
When Charlene Gardner first hatched the idea of an exhibit focusing on the work of a number of greater Lowcountry sculptors, it was an idea that had not been fully explored.
“I just thought why not try it, said Gardner. “And in a short time, I was in touch with the most incredible sculptors … all who lived within a short distance from our gallery, many who were well acquainted, and all who were excited to consider becoming part of our annual sculpture show.”
Last year’s exhibit was enormously successful, as the work exhibited carefully offered viewers the opportunity to visit a number of sculptural directions and diverse possibilities … close up!
“That was one of the joys for me — bringing the sculptural possibilities to our gallery,” said Gardner. “This year’s work is varied in so many ways, created by well known and emerging sculptors. In no time, visitors to the gallery will understand and be delighted to find that collecting dimensional work is completely interesting, intriguing and approachable.”
The third annual Sculpture Show is March 24 through April 14. Everyone is invited to the opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. March 24 at Four Corners Fine Art and Framing, 1263-B May River Road, Old Town Bluffton, 843-757-8185, www.fourcornersgallerybluffton.com.