Local artists vying for $100k in ArtFields
Seven Summerville artists are among the 400 from across 11 southeastern states selected to compete in Lake City’s ArtFields beginning Friday.
Helen Beacham, Karen DeLoach, Patricia Fast, Monnie Johnson, Lex Melfi, Karen Silvestro and Rachel Shelbourne are among the 400 artists selected to vie for $100,000 in total cash prizes. ArtFields runs April 19-28.
Three awards, People’s Choice, Judges’ and Top Prize, will be given.
The People’s Choice award will be the piece that gets the most votes during the 10-day festival; the Judges award will be the piece deemed the best by the panel of judges. The Top Prize will factor in both the popular vote and the judges’ opinions.
ArtFields Executive Director Karen Fowler has been the self-described pied piper for ArtFields since businesswoman and Lake City native Darla Moore first came to her with the seed of an idea to help her hometown.
“Lake City is a small town that has been depressed, people leaving, those still there not engaged. One of the areas ArtFields is focusing on is fusing business with art – a daunting task.
“We knew on day one there would be resistance from the town; they wouldn’t like it. And they didn’t. Many said they didn’t like artists, that artists were freaks,” Fowler said.
But they knocked on doors and eventually the doors were opened wide.
“The venues – mostly local businesses – are excited. When people come this year, they will enjoy the community. When they come back in 2, 5 and 10 years they will experience the growth of ArtFields with us and will see how it has transformed Lake City.
At first the owners told the ArtFields staff to just put whatever they wanted to in their business, but the owners of the businesses were brought in to decide on which art would be shown in their business. It was obvious they knew what they liked and what they didn’t like.
“We wanted them to select what they wanted to have in their space,” Fowler said.
Voters must go to Lake City to register in order to vote for their favorite. Voters may register only one time and must be 16 years old with a valid drivers license or government issued photo ID. Once registered, voters may vote online with a unique elector ID and PIN.
In addition to the competition, ArtFields will feature workshops, lectures and entertainment. Most of the venues and events are free and open to the public. Some require a ticket with prices at $5 and $10 for most.
• A conversation with Lowcountry artists Jonathan Green and Mary Whyte moderated by Angela Mack.
• Public art includes a chalkboard in a public space in lake City where they public cam share their hopes and dreams and mini-cine, a mobile movie theater set inside a refurbished shipping container.
• ArtFields portrait contest with local farmers as they subjects in a high-speed, high-stakes paint-off. The best in show is $1,000.
• Art workshops (ticketed) in Plein air painting and screen printing
• Screen printing café where guests will be the curator of their own merchandise.
• Live painting on the green
• ArtFields After-Dark – Exquisite Corpse featuring DJ Rocky Horror (ticketed 21 and over) which invites attendees to take part in an interactive art project.
• Special ticket events, including a Farm to Fork Dinner and a Gospel Lunch at the Market.
In addition to the officially-sponsored events, ArtFields will also feature concerts and live music, with performances from New Orleans Rebirth Band and musicians from across the Southeast, a farmers’ and artisans’ market and al fresco food options from food trucks.
ArtFields grew from the town’s history of cultivating strawberries, beans and other staples of South Carolina agriculture.
“Now ArtFields is serving as a fertile field for the cultivation of art and culture in one of South Carolina’s oldest communities, thanks to the generosity of local sponors including the Patron of the Arts, IGA.
For more information on ArtFields go to: http://www.artfieldssc.org
Artist: Helen Beacham
Born in Montreal, Canada in 1952, Beacham is a contemporary painter whose work reflects self-expression and artistic interpretation, based on her active 30-year career in the arts. She works primarily in watercolor, acrylics and gouache, having studied with Dick Phillips, Brent Funderburk, Milford Zornes, Mira Lehr and others. She serves as juror and workshop instructor in the United States and abroad. Her work is in many private and corporate collections throughout the U.S., Canada, England, Kuwait, Australia and other countries. She is represented by Lowcountry Artists Gallery in Charleston.
Artist: Karen DeLoach
Karen DeLoach has been teaching and making art for over 30 years. She has a BFA in painting/drawing from Wesleyan College and an MA in ceramics from the University of South Carolina. Her studio, Earthen Vessels Art, is in Summerville. She has won awards and exhibited work in the South Carolina Artisans Center; City Gallery, N. Charleston; Piccolo Spoleto, Saul Alexander Gallery, SC Aquarium, Palmetto Hands, The Meeting Place all in Charleston. She has won Best-In-Show four times in the Coastal Carolina Art Competition, Summerville and served as Artist-In-Residence for North Charleston 2007-08. DeLoach judges art competitions, completed a certificate in Filmmaking from Trident Technical College and teaches art and filmmaking in Summerville.
Artist: Patricia Fast
Patricia Jordan Fast was raised in Dillon. Fast earned a BS in Biology from Wofford College in 2008, after which she attended the Medical University of South Carolina's College of Dental Medicine. She practices as a general dentist in Goose Creek. She has drawn inspiration from many South Carolina artists while living in the Charleston area. In her free time she paints her favorite subjects, Lowcountry landscapes and local architecture, especially churches.
"I'm daily inspired by the imagination of the Creator, and the way He continues to mesh light, color, shape, and texture. It stirs in me a desire to reproduce their interactions on paper and canvas. My favorite is the spontaneity of painting whatever hits me, letting the progression of a piece direct me as I chase what I like in it."
Patricia and her husband, Brian live in Summerville with their Boxer, Sadie.
Artist: Monnie Johnson
Johnson was born and reared in Dillon. He considers himself a self-taught artist. His drawings in pencil, pen and charcoal are some of his fondest early childhood memories. Today, watercolor is his favorite medium. He has been an active member of the Charleston artist guild since 1986 and currently shows work during Charleston’s annual Piccolo Spoleto festival. His art is at Art Central gallery in Summerville. Johnson’s work has won numerous awards and is held by collectors worldwide. He resides in Summerville with his wife of 34 years, Lesley. “I thank God for giving me the ability to portray some of the visual beauty I’m surrounded by daily,” he says.
Old Man & the Sea
Artist: Lex Melfi
Lex Melfi was born and raised in Summerville and comes from a large Italian Catholic family that descended to Charleston in 1847.
His creative ideas and technical background, enhancement of light systems, and accent paints help create the unique artwork that is now sought after. What distinguishes Lex’s artwork is his relentless pursuit of detail combined with his limitless imagination and innovative technical skill. The process of sand carving involves digging into the glass rather than scratching the surface, which gives the piece a more 3-dimentional appearance.
His first job 13 years ago, was carving eight, eight-foot tall panels for the Bell Tower at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston. He later created a depiction of The Charleston Harbor on the night the H. L. Hunley sank the Housatonic. The 5- by 20-foot piece is on display at The Naval Weapons Station. Melfi has also been commissioned by Scout Boats to create a sculpture for all boats of 32 feet or more in lengh.
In the Beginning
Artist: Rachel Shelbourne
Born and raised near Charleston, South Carolina, Shelbourne pulls artistic inspiration from her travels abroad, the history and scenes of the Lowcountry, and her work as a history and literature student at Furman University.
“Because of my interest in fashion design and two-dimensional work, the ability to create a highly interactive and tactile sculpture appealed to me on the basis of simple design aesthetics” she says. Shelbourne is the daughter of Brandt and Pam Shelbourne and granddaughter of Linda and Peter Shelbourne, all of Summerville.
Artist: Karen Silvestro
Karen Silvestro’s childhood love of reading fairy tales spawned a life-long passion for universal themes representing human trials and tribulations.
Studying with Caldecott Award winning children’s book illustrator Tomie de Paola, definitively crystallized Silvestro’s path. She attended Pratt Institute in New York, at de Paola’s recommendation. Following her graduation with a BFA, she went on to study at the Art Student’s League, Woodstock School of Art, Hofstra University, and adding workshops with famed artists Mary Whyte, Chris Groves, Mark Horton, Angela Cunningham, and Max Miller.
She recently had her first solo show at Robert Lange Studios, one of the most well respected galleries in Charleston. Karen’s unique style flirts with surrealism, as one might notice the seemingly strange collection of items in her paintings.
“Humans and their emotions are absorbing, and I enjoy exploring the unlimited visual ways of showing how positive growth often comes from hardships,” she says.