From our State Paper, an article featuring Vista Studios 25 anniversary.

Making Room for Art: Thank You Vista Studios

Vista Studio #2. Where I have been practicing art off and on for 25 years.

Vista Studio #2. Where I have been practicing art off and on for 25 years.

Vista Studios is my saving grace. There is no place like it.  In one stop, you can find 12 extraordinarily dedicated and talented artists.  We are multi-generational, men and women working in a variety of mediums. Having a studio there for almost 25 years, has afforded me two yearly exhibition opportunities – April’s Artista Vista and November’s Vista Lights.  For these two group exhibitions, the Vista Studios artists always hung fresh new art.  I said almost 25 years because when my two wonderful children where in their late teens, I wanted to witness every single minute of those wild and crazy jammed packed times!

Creating within an environment where, as fellow art-mate Stephen Chesley puts it, the art spirit lives has been nurturing, inspiring and encouraging.  Dedicating a life to the arts is not an easy path, so to be surrounded by other artists who get “it” is tremendous.

“Artists are sort of like priests. They’re supposed to bring something to the community … because they’re driven to,” added artist Yaghjian. “They offer insight and inspiration. And when a country or community doesn’t value that, it’s in danger of going all the way to commerce, all the way to business.”

2015 was an incredibly full year, most of which was spent getting my arms around how to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Healing Icons.  For the past 20 years, I have dedicated the majority of my time to developing and sustaining our mission to teach creativity as a form of stress reduction and healing to adult cancer patients.  With the help of an incredible board of directors, we pulled off a celebratory extravaganza for our community. But you can read more about all this in our Healing Icons Blog.

I am thankful to Vista Studios – to the art spirit that lives within the space and to my fellow artists.  You both keep me creating Art.

April’s Artista Vista: Gossip

A detail of Out on a Limb, the art work I created for our Vista Studios Artista Vista Exhibition: Gossip.

A detail of Out on a Limb, the art work I created for our Vista Studios Artista Vista Exhibition: Gossip.

Deciding on the themes for our exhibitions always prompts great lively conversation.  This time we decided to play the game of Gossip, but instead of passing a phrase around in whispers, we passed around our own artworks.  The circle started with Charles Courtney Curran’s painting “Sunset, The Envious Fox,” that was currently on exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art.  Chief Curator of the CMA, Will South, selected the piece that started our game,  Eileen Blythe started. No one else saw the piece from the museum and all the subsequent creations were held in secret until the work was hung.  She passed her’s to Michel who passed hers to David who passed his to Pat who passed her’s to Laura who passed her’s to me…and so forth.  Suzan Lentz did a great explanation of all this on her blog so follow this link if you’d like to see all of the Gossip.

I sat with Laura Spong’s painting for quite sometimes, not knowing where or how to start.  Her non-objective painting style, meaning she really does not want you to see any physically identifiable things in her work, was challenging.  I wanted to absorb her creative process and respond to it through my creative process.  I decided I would make a list of words that her painting elicited for me.

Vista Studios Gossip Game, #5, Laura Spong.

Vista Studios Gossip Game, Laura Spong’s painting that i responded to. Can you see the “musical Note” area I am referring to?

Primitive.  Aboriginal.  Intuitive.  Bold.  Earth. Questioning.  Conversational. Lyrical.  Dance. Arc.  Freedom.  Flight.  Blocks.  Steps.  Movement.  Wind.

In the middle, right hand side were marks that did not remind me of Laura’s typical mark-making. They looked like musical notes blowing in the wind. I had an unfinished monoprint so I began making marks with black ink, colored pencils and some paint.

Out on a Limb. What I created, responding to Laura's artwork. Can you see the influence?

Out on a Limb. What I created, responding to Laura’s artwork. Can you see the influence?

As usual, when I feel the work is completed, I sit with the image for awhile.  Then I take a couple of deep breaths and begin writing directly onto the piece.  I am always amazed.


Out on a Limb

She had gone out on a limb before
But somehow she had lost her confidence,
Fearful of taking the risks
Her heart longed for
But today something shifted and she knew
It was time for a change,
Time to leap, to take the risk.

November’s Vista Lights:
Vista Studios@25: New and Collaborative Work

Announcing Vista Studios@25. Love this crazy photo The State Newspaper took!

Announcing our Vista Lights Exhibition: Vista Studios@25. Love this crazy photo The State Newspaper took!


Wyatt and I were ready to jump in and create!

Wyatt and I were ready to jump in and create!


In keeping with the theme of my current series of work, I decided to go Out On A Limb and ask my 3 year old grandson to be my collaborator for this exhibit.

I have been creating art for over 40 years and he is just beginning.  Of course, he has had the preschool kind of art but not a real studio experience and he wants nothing to do with Crayons. Instead, he prefers all things that his Nana uses.
We have been playing with wide markers and thick graphite pencils, drawing fast lines, slow lines, thick curvy lines, quiet lines and very loud lines.  We laugh and giggle at the shapes that our lines create and many times are very serious about what shows up on the paper.  I love to watch as he loads the wide bristled brushes with paint and with focused attention glides the brush across the paper hesitating a bit as the color bumps into his drawn lines and shapes.  He has been playing with painting on his drawings, and drawing on his paintings.
Creating for the joy of it, the two of us just getting lost in the process and seeing where it leads.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My paintings and mixed media mono-types along side Wyatt's paintings.

My paintings and mixed media mono-types along side Wyatt’s paintings.

Other Creative Musings: Shoes for O’Keeffe

2015 marks the 100th year since Georgia O’Keeffe’s formative time and experiences as a professor of art at Columbia College.  My father, Guthrie Darr, taught in the music department at Columbia College for 44 years, and during my undergraduate studies, I spent a couple of years there in the art department.  So when Judy Hubbard asked me to brainstorm with her about her upcoming “O’Keeffe” exhibition at Columbia College, I was thrilled. Judy and I have been pals for around 30 years.  We know each other well, can say anything to each other so when she a we had a blast. What Judy created, with a little help from her friends, was a true gift to our community!

Me and My O'Keeffe Shoes

Me and My O’Keeffe Shoes


Envisioning O’Keeffe, is the title Judy gave to her installation.  The exhibition features more than 50 pairs of shoes transformed by South Carolina women of all ages.   All of the artistic interpretations are inspired by O’Keeffe’s journey and legacy.


“I was inspired by the compassionate letter that 26 year old  Frida Kahlo wrote to 46 year old Georgia O’Keeffe in 1933.  Depressed and brutally exhausted from not being able to complete a commission, Georgia was put on bed rest and ordered not to paint for an entire year.  Frida understood her angst and through the art of the written word expressed her support for the tenderness of creative spirit!

“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


End Note: Saving the Sad Note for Last

You might have noticed earlier that I used the words has been, well yes, this, our 26th year will be our last.  Our building will become something else in 2017.  Our landlords have been kind and generous and supportive for over a quarter of a century and that is something to be thankful for.  Once a warehouse district that no one wanted to traverse, The Vista is now brimming with boutique hotels, restaurants, bars, and retail shops.