Past and Present Regional Painters on Exhibit at Spartanburg Art Museum

February 11, 2015 at 5:13 pm

Thomason_Bootleggers (2)Spartanburg Art Museum (SAM) new exhibitions feature two incredible regional painters, one from the 20th century and one contemporary artist living and working Asheville, NC.

From New York to Nebo: The Artistic Journey of Eugene Thomason is on loan from The Johnson Collection. Eugene Thomason (1895-1972), like many aspiring painters, moved to New York as a young man and enrolled in the Arts Student League. While there, he was influenced by such prominent painters as Robert Henri, John Sloan and George Luks. With more than 25 paintings in the exhibition viewers will gain a sense of the scope of Thomason’s interests, from landscapes and portraits to everyday scenes of life in North Carolina and New York. “One of the real treats of having Eugene Thomason here at SAM is that one of his influences in New York was Robert Henri, whose painting, Girl with Red Hair hangs predominately in the entrance of the museum. Henri’s 1907 painting was the first work of art purchased by the citizens of Spartanburg, which was the first step in the evolution of the museum’s existence,” Elizabeth Goddard, Executive Director of Spartanburg Art Museum, said. “It is incredible to have these artists hanging side by side.”

The Johnson Collection in partnership with the University of South Carolina Press has published a book, authored by noted scholar and curator Martha Severens, which will be available for sale at the museum and at Hub City Book Store in downtown Spartanburg as well as major retailers. Severens will be at SAM on Tuesday, February 17, at 4 p.m. to discuss some strategies on uncovering material about lesser-known artists.

In the museum’s Alcove Gallery is Dark Corners: The Appalachian Murder Ballads by Juylan Davis. These 10 large paintings offer viewers glimpses into haunting narratives that depict the region’s history as well as present day culture. “These works are just masterful,” Goddard said. “In my experience with contemporary painters, it is rare to find the talent that has tremendous command of landscapes, built environments and the human figure. Mr. Davis not only can depict any and all of these, but the emotive response his work elicits has incredible staying power.”

The opening reception for both new exhibitions is Friday, February 13, 5:30-8 p.m., with informal gallery presentation beginning at 6:30 p.m. There will by live music performed by Asheville musicians Gregor and Lucretia Speas. Admission is free. Both exhibitions are on view through April 19. For more information please visit spartanburgartmuseum.org or call (864) 582-7616.