Keith Spencer exhibition opens

PICKENS — The Pickens County Museum of Art and History will be presenting two new exhibitions beginning this weekend.

The museum will host a reception from 6-8 p.m. Saturday to meet the artist featured in “Keith Spencer: Recent Work.”

Also opening that evening will be the exhibit “Michael Brodeur: Looking Back, Looking Forward.”

Both exhibitions will continue through August 14.

An exceptional use of color and direct brushwork combine in the artwork of Spencer, a Western North Carolina artist. He has been described as “both an expressive painter and a true colorist” by Ohio State University art professor William Kortlander.

There is a boldness to his creativity, and the works are full of life and energy. The result is a striking range of both figurative and landscape paintings that can be found in galleries and collections throughout the United States and Europe. His landscapes are frequently done in the alla prima tradition (one sitting) and will often include the mountainous Upstate, where he now lives, as well as the Lowcountry surrounding Charleston.

Likewise, much of his figurative work is done directly from life and ranges from abstract nudes to the painterly realism of his work from the Artist Ride in South Dakota. Having managed a cattle and horse farm for the first 12 years of his career, Spencer’s own horses are frequently found in his paintings.

“A big part of the creative process for me is continuing to grow and experiment,” Spencer said. “This latest body of work is very much in that vein. Using mainly local landscapes as inspiration and subject matter, many of these paintings are the result of asking myself, ‘What if I try…’ The unifying concept in my work is an effort to present the viewer with a sense of the feeling of a place. Why does one place feel different than another, even though they may be similar? Rather than rendering the details of the elements in a landscape, I try to reduce it to elemental shapes and colors. In that way the work becomes as much about the paint as the subject.

“What makes something unique has always interested me. I think at some level, I am trying to reveal that uniqueness through painting. When I see something it’s kind of like love — it either happens or it doesn’t.”

Spencer is included in the 2011 book by Edward Emory and Stephen Stinson called “Artists Among Us -100 Faces of Art in Spartanburg.” Articles about him and his work have been written in Bold Life Magazine, The Laurel of Asheville Magazine, Berry Magazine, Greenville News Arts section, Spartanburg Herald Arts section, Landrum News Leader and the Tryon Daily Bulletin. He has been in two television productions on the ETV art show “Impressions.”

Spencer does an average of three to four exhibitions a year and donates work regularly to various environmental and humanity groups. He has had solo exhibitions at both The Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg and Skyuka Fine Art in Tryon, N.C., as well as a group show at the Greenville County Museum of Art. Spencer is currently represented by The Raiford Gallery in Roswell, Ga., The Red Wolf Gallery in Brevard, N.C., and the Carolina Gallery in Spartanburg.

To learn more about Spencer, visit his website at or visit the museum Saturday evening.

The exhibition is sponsored in part by South Carolina Bank & Trust, Pickens Savings & Loan and Robinson Funeral Home, Crematory and Memorial Gardens. The Pickens County Museum of Art and History is funded in part by Pickens County, members and friends of the museum and a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, contact the museum at (864) 898-5963 or visit