UPSTATE Gallery on Main Opens New Exhibit: “Mac Arnold: Bluesman Close-Up”

January 8, 2016 at 4:26 pm
Mac Arnold on stage. Photo by Brian S. Kelley

Mac Arnold on stage. Photo by Brian S. Kelley

The University of South Carolina Upstate is pleased to announce a new exhibit by USC Upstate alumnus Brian S. Kelly on display through March 7, 2016 at the UPSTATE Gallery on Main, 172 East Main Street, downtown Spartanburg.

Kelley’s exhibit “Mac Arnold: Bluesman Close-Up,” documents South Carolina blues legend Mac Arnold, who lives and owns a farm in the Fork Shoals community of Greenville County. A reception for Kelley will be held from 5 – 8 p.m. January 21, 2016 in the gallery. Visitors will have an opportunity to meet Mac Arnold and hear his music during a reception for him from 5-8 p.m. on February 18.

A 2004 graduate, Kelley has followed Mac Arnold’s career for nearly 10 years, capturing images of him as he tended to his crops and took the stage with his band Plate Full of Blues.

Arnold has worked alongside musicians such as Muddy Waters, James Brown, B.B. King and Otis Redding to name a few. He also helped to develop Soul Train with Don Cornelius and was honored with a Blues Music Award for his contribution to the 1967 performance of the Muddy Waters authorized bootleg, “Live from the Filmore West.” In 2014, Arnold was recognized by the University of South Carolina with an honorary Doctorate of Music.

Over the years, the two men struck up an unlikely friendship, entrenched in a love of good Blues music and a desire to keep the arts alive in public schools. Out of this bond, the two have established the Dr. Mac Arnold Scholarship Fund and money is awarded to USC Upstate students seeking a degree in the arts. The artist will donate 50 percent of the proceeds from artwork sold during the exhibit to the scholarship fund.

For more information about the exhibit, please contact Jane Allen Nodine, director of the UPSTATE Gallery on Main, at (864) 503-5838 or at