Annual Juried SC Artists Exhibition set for Saturday

PICKENS — The Pickens County Cultural Commission announced recently that the “Pickens County Museum’s Thirty-Fifth Annual Juried South Carolina Artist’s Exhibition” will open to the public with a reception and awards ceremony on Saturday, April 26, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The announcement and presentation of awards will take place at 7 p.m. The competition was open to all artists working in any medium, 18 years of age or older and living in South Carolina. The exhibition will remain on view until June 12.

The juror for this year’s competition was Clark Whittington, an artist and the creator of the Art-o-mat; retired cigarette vending machines that have been converted to vend art. After moving to Winston-Salem, N.C., Whittington was setting up a show at a local venue and used a recently banned cigarette machine to create the first Art-o-mat.

The show opened in June 1997, and the original machine was installed along with 12 of his assemblage paintings. Scheduled to be dismantled in July 1997, the owner of the space asked that the machine stay permanently. Whittington felt that the machine would create a conflict in the space unless it was open to artists in the community. She then introduced Whittington to a handful of other local artists and Artists in Cellophane was formed. Today, there are 90 machines around the world and more than 400 artists involved. Six of the machines are featured at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Whittington spent April 11 and 12 looking at and contemplating 315 works of art representing 170 South Carolina artisans. The vast array of paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, ceramics, fiber and other mediums made for the difficult task of selecting works for, and eliminating works from, the final show. The impressive final selection of 113 works of art represents 94 individuals currently creating visual art in this state.

“It was an honor to be asked to be a juror for this show and to be allowed to experience what is happening culturally in your community and state,” Whittington said. “When entering the space, I was immediately overwhelmed with the quantity of submissions. Shortly after, I was overwhelmed by the quality until eventually pulling myself together. This was when it became obvious that the work submitted to this exhibit was very strong while encompassing a wide range of approaches, techniques, vision, etc.

“With any exhibit of this nature, the juror’s job is to make selections based on their background, vision and general preferences. Being an artist who has always lived in the western half of the Carolinas, I feel connected to the landscape and its inhabitants. At the end of day, the artworks awarded in this exhibit were chosen because they made me feel comfortable — as if we were having a visual conversation.”

Thanks to the sponsorships of Pickens County and the Pickens County Cultural Commission, along with Mary Howe Benjamin, Roger Benjamin, Sherrill F. Benjamin, Dan & Kathy Brazinski, Doreen Heimlich, Larissa Heimlich, Philip and Gilda Hendricks, Wayne Kelley and Mrs. Shirley Sarlin, cash and purchase awards will be presented at the April 26 opening reception.

The Pickens County Museum of Art and History is funded in part by Pickens County, friends and members of the museum and a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The variety of work represented is a generous reflection of the community of artists presently at work in South Carolina.

Located at the corner of US 178 at 307 Johnson Street in Pickens, the museum is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a..m. until 5 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Admission is free but donations are welcomed. For more information call the museum at (864) 898-5963 or visit