Saturday, January 1, 2005
Carl Blair: The Verner Award Celebration Exhibition: April 29- May 27, 2005
Carl Blair, this year’s winner of South Carolina’s Elizabeth O’Neil Verner Award for Lifetime Achievement, will be exhibiting in May at Lewis & Clark Gallery in Columbia. The gallery organized the exhibition with if ART, International Fine Art Services, a new private art dealer in Columbia that also provides art consulting and curatorial services. The artist reception is May 5 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m., the day after Blair will receive the Verner Award at the State House in Columbia.
On May 5, Blair also will give two demonstrations in the use of gouache at Lewis & Clark. The demonstrations are open to the public. The gallery is located at 1231 Lincoln St., in the heart of Columbia’s downtown Vista district. Gallery hours are 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Saturday. The exhibition also can be viewed by appointment.
Carl Blair has been on many levels a driving force in South Carolina arts since he appeared on the scene in 1957. As an artist, he was with colleagues such as William Halsey, Corrie McCallum, Merton Simpson, Arthur Rose and J. Bardin in the vanguard of modern art in South Carolina. His prominence as a painter and sculptor has increased steadily and has been marked by several museum retrospectives since 1995. In 1999, he was included in “100 Years/100 Artists: Views of the 20th Century in South Carolina Arts,” the South Carolina State Museum’s look back at the 20th century.
As an art teacher for four decades at Bob Jones University in Greenville, Blair was instrumental in making that institution a hub for fine art production in the Upstate. Blair also has taught at the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities Summer Honors Program and at the Fine Arts Center for the Greenville County School District. In addition, he taught night and summer classes for two decades at the Greenville County Museum of Art. “His students learn a great deal more than painting from him, as do many of the rest of us,” independent curator and writer Sharon Campbell wrote in the catalogue for a 1998 Blair retrospective at BJU, from which Blair retired in 1998. “We learn to live lives of compassion, diligence, and freedom. He is invaluable to the artistic life of this region …”
As co-founder, part owner and president of one of the state’s oldest and most important galleries, Hampton III in Taylors, Blair from the early 1970s helped provide an outlet for contemporary art, a rarity then in the state and still an exception rather than the rule. Hampton III’s importance cannot be overstated. In addition to Halsey, McCallum, and Bardin, the gallery from the start provided representation for Leo Twiggs, Jeanet Dreskin, Bette Lee Coburn, Tom Flowers, John Acorn, Darell Koons, Emery Bopp, and other prominent South Carolina artists. Of this list, six are Verner Award winners.
As a fixture on and in art-related boards, commissions, and organizations, Blair also helped promote and steer the development of the arts. He served for many years on the S.C. Arts Commission board and was elected chairman twice. He also held office in the legendary Guild of South Carolina Artists, which served the state’s visual artists from 1950 through the 1980s, especially with its annual statewide exhibitions.
Blair was born in 1932 in Kansas. In 1956, he received a BFA from the University of Kansas; the next year, he earned an MFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design. He married Margaret Ruble, and the couple, also in 1957, moved to Greenville, where Blair joined the art faculty at BJU. Soon thereafter, he began teaching at the Greenville museum. In the 1960s he also taught several years at the Kansas City Art Institute’s summer school.