Spartanburg Artist Explores His African Heritage Through Local Exhibit
Visual artist Ludovic Nkoth will explore his African heritage in the solo exhibition "Roots" at West Main Artists Co-op in Spartanburg Jan. 3-28, 2018. The reception will be Thursday, Jan. 18, 5:30-8:30 p.m. during the city's monthly ArtWalk. His mostly acrylic-on-canvas work can be seen at no charge in the agency's large "Venue" gallery Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
"My journey began in Cameroon, West Africa, where I was born in October of 1994," the artist said. "The vibrant cities inspired me at an early age so much so that I spent much of my time there filling sketchbooks. My work explores the relationship between the body and urban spaces. With influences as diverse as Picasso, Dali, and Andy Warhol, new tensions are crafted from both opaque and transparent layers infused with rich textures and colors. Ever since I was a pre-adolescent I have been fascinated by the essential unreality of the moment. What starts out as vision soon becomes corrupted into a dialectic of greed, leaving only a sense of chaos and the prospect of a new understanding. As momentary replicas become distorted through frantic and critical practice, the viewer is left with an epitaph for the edges of our condition. In these new works, I want the viewer to feel at home while in an unfamiliar environment, reaching new levels of understanding art works that makes no sense to the naked eye."
About 14 pieces of art will be in the month-long exhibit, and most of it will be very colorful and abstract images of people on textured backgrounds. His painting style often uses many different bright colors combined with dark shadows to achieve a sense of isolated diversity. His style consists of depicting energy and emotion through color choices; creating expressive art, to stimulate the viewer's mind, compelling him/her to interact with the piece. The larger works (48 by 60 inches) sell for $3,000, and the smaller pieces (30 by 40 inches) sell for $1,000. A series of masks (12 by 22 inches) will sell for $200 each.
Nkoth received his bachelor's degree in art education/art history in 2017 from the University of South Carolina Upstate. Among his awards are the 2014 Scholastic National Award and top prize in the University's art competition in 2015. His work has been exhibited in Charlotte, NC; Spartanburg Library; Atlanta; Spartanburg Art Museum; Tryon, NC; Spartanburg Community College; and Citizens and Southern National Bank in Hilton Head. His website is Lnkoth.com, which has a preview of "Roots."
For more information about "Roots," please call West Main Artists Co-op at (864) 804-6501.
West Main Artists Co-op will host a month-and-a-half long "Open Doors" exhibit — Nov. 16-Dec. 30 — at which the general public can see the gathered and finished work of 44 local artists. On Thursday, Nov. 16, which is Spartanburg's monthly ArtWalk, about two dozen of the artists will be in their studios demonstrating how they create everything from jewelry and pottery to watercolor paintings and sculptures. Regular viewing the exhibits — Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. — and touring the demonstrations during ArtWalk are free.
"This is our biggest and most important exhibit for the year," Chairwoman Beth Regula said. "We host different exhibits each month, most of which are by individual members, but some are by nonmember artists who we invite to show in our large gallery, the Venue. This exhibit, however, will be our largest of the year. It is an opportunity for us to focus on all of our members at one time; to bring them and their work together; to show breadth and scope of the art being produced by local artists in one place. We asked our members to display their most recent and new works. On ArtWalk night, we will have many of our members in their studios creating. For some people it is real treat to watch an artist at work. It certainly can be insightful."
"At this time there is no event like this in Spartanburg," Glenda Guion, one of the exhibit's organizers, said. "Many cities have city-wide open-studio events. We hope our event might eventually include other artists' studios, similar to the Studio Trek in Tryon or Open Studios in Greenville. I was chairperson of the Greenville event for five years and participated for 10 years, beginning from its conception. Hopefully, teachers will encourage art students to visit the studios and talk to the artists about their journey that led them to the Co-op. Some members are 30-year professional artists, while others have recently become dedicated to making art. There is no other group studio space or open-studio event in the Spartanburg area."
At the heart of this exhibit is the Co-op's mission to give its more than 50 members as many opportunities as possible to produce, show, and sell their artwork. But the timing of this exhibit during the Holidays is no coincidence. "First, we want to bring in new visitors to view the artwork, and to open the studios and educate the public about what a gem they have right here in Spartanburg!" Guion said. "I can't believe how many people ask me 'what is that place?' We would like to remove the mystique of what goes on in our spaces and to invite people to visit us anytime during our business hours, not just on this night.
"And this is perfect timing for Christmas shopping," she continued. "There is a wide range of artwork at every price point. There is everything from handmade jewelry, quilts and pottery to original paintings, sculpture and photography." She expects each of the 44 participating artists will have two to eight new works of art to show. In total there will be hundreds of pieces throughout the multi-story building, meeting an unmet need to make locally created art available on daily basis. Because of the scope of this exhibit, no other exhibits will be open at West Main Artists Co-op during this time, which normally has individual monthly member exhibits.
"This is the first time since the grand opening of the Co-op seven years ago that almost all of the artists will be opening their studios for the public," Guion said. "Each artists will be available to answer questions about their work and process. During the past two years there are more than 20 new members. We hope that people will come to visit our long-established Co-op members and meet our newer artists. There have been lots of changes in just the past year, both in membership and our physical space. The participating artists hope to educate the public about where and how they create artwork, to showcase our workspace, art community and what we create."
As a retail gallery, WMAC is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. There is no admission to see the exhibits or shop. It is located at 578 West Main Street in downtown Spartanburg in what was originally a Baptist church. For more information, please visit online WestMainArtists.org or call 864-804-6501.
Lois Ann Hesser
Joshua B. Tennant
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