Saturday, January 1, 2005

Aaron Baldwin & Mike Williams: Up From the Mud: October 7-19, 2005

if ART, International Fine Art Services, presents Up From The Mud, an exhibition of paintings, three-dimensional wall pieces and sculptures by Aaron Baldwin and Mike Williams. The exhibition is at Gallery 80808 at Vista Studios, 808 Lady St, Columbia, SC, October 7 – 19, 2005. The artists’ reception is Friday, October 7, 5:00 ¬– 10:00 p.m. Opening hours are Saturdays, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Sundays, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m; and weekdays 3:30 – 7:00 p.m. or by appointment.

The artists will present a mixture of new work and older pieces not previously shown in the Columbia area. Baldwin’s work will include wooden sculptures and three-dimensional oil paintings on board with wooden relief elements. Williams will not just show the abstracted swamp and fish paintings he’s known for. Much of his contribution will consist of works on the margins of his artistic production, including metal wall assemblages, formalist metal sculptures, and even energetic, highly expressionist, painted portraits.

Both Baldwin and Williams are deeply influenced by the natural environment, the water and dirt of their childhood. Baldwin (b. 1966) was born and raised in coastal McClellanville, SC, with the ocean and marshes nearby. After some time away living in Clemson, SC., and Charlotte, NC, Baldwin in the 1990s moved back to his hometown. Williams (b. 1963) was born and raised in Sumter, SC, near the swamps and lakes of Sumter and Clarendon counties. He lives in Columbia, SC, and is still an avid outdoorsman.

Literal elements from the environment the artists hold dear are easily identifiable in their work. Baldwin, for instance, incorporates boat shapes or reduces bird forms to their abstracted essence. In Williams’s paintings and sculptures fish and fish forms play prominent roles.

Still, while their backgrounds and personal preferences inform their subject matter, both Baldwin and Williams more often lean toward sensibilities they associate with the environment they grew up and live in. The work is about how they personally relate to that environment, about the existential, even spiritual component of the physical world. Esthetically, that translates not into literal depictions but compositions with strong formal qualities, built from abstracted forms that can be traced back to nature.

“In that sense, Baldwin and Williams have a lot in common,” says Wim Roefs, if ART’s director. “They share a certain sensibility. At the same time, their work looks very different. Baldwin’s three-dimensional work, usually in wood, relates to the cool, reductive, understated stylings of Constantin Brancusi or, more recently, Martin Puryear. Williams, especially in his paintings, takes his cues more from Abstract Expressionism’s legacy, although his metal sculptures at times take austere, clean forms.”

If ART of Columbia, SC, represents artists, organizes art exhibitions, and provides curatorial services to galleries, museums, and other institutions. If ART also provides consultation services to fine art institutions, individual artists and art collectors. If ART was founded early in 2005 by Roefs, the company’s director and curator. Recent if ART exhibitions include “Janet Orselli – Matt Overend: Double O 80808,” in April, at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios, Columbia, SC, and “Carl Blair: The Verner Award Celebration Exhibition,” April-May 2005 at Lewis & Clark Gallery, Columbia, SC.

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