Friday, February 23, 2018
LAURA SPONG – Small Works, March 3 – 24, 2018
A tumultuous year notwithstanding, 92-year-old Columbia artist Laura Spong will present an exhibition of small paintings at if ART Gallery in Columbia, S.C., March 3 – 24, 2018. The artist’s reception is Saturday, March, 3, 2:00 – 4:00 pm.
Spong last year received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts for Lifetime Achievement, South Carolina’s highest award in the arts. The City of Columbia then declared September 5, 2017, “Laura Spong Day.” Her work was exhibited at Columbia City Hall in January, and Spong just closed a solo exhibition at the Sumter County (S.C.) Gallery of Art. This month, she was to move her studio from Vista Studios on Columbia’s Lady Street to the new Stormwater Studios on Huger Street. But while her fellow artists at Vista Studios are making the move, Spong will not, her health having taken a bad turn toward the end of last year. While Spong has made a substantial recovery, she’s not in a position to make the move. Instead, she’s now painting at her Columbia home, creating smaller paintings.
“Working on smaller paintings is simply not as taxing physically,” says Wim Roefs, owner of if ART Gallery, which represents Spong. “That’s important as Laura doesn’t have the energy she used to have. She still has the talent and drive, though, and it shows in the new works.”
Spong, a native of Nashville, Tenn., was born in 1926. She is among South Carolina’s most prominent abstract painters. Spong was included in Abstract Art in South Carolina 1949 – 2012, the South Caroline State Museum’s historic overview of abstract art in South Carolina. In recent years, Spong has had solo exhibitions at the Spartanburg (S.C.) Museum of Art, Young Harris College in Young Harris, Ga., and if ART Gallery and a two-person exhibition with Carl Blair at the Florence (S.C.) Museum. Spong also was represented in group shows throughout the Carolinas and in Georgia and Tennessee. The South Carolina State Art Collection, the South Carolina State Museum and the Greenville County (S.C.) Museum of Art have acquired both early and more recent paintings by Spong in the past decade.
Since the late 1980s, Spong has been a full-time artist, keeping a studio at Vista Studios in Columbia since 1991 and gradually increasing her now considerable reputation. Much of her career has been documented in three exhibition catalogues, Laura Spong at 80: Warming The Chill Wind With Celebration of 2006; Laura Spong 2006 – 2011: Age As An Administrative Device of 2011; and Laura Spong At 90: Six Decades In Paintings, all published by if ART Gallery.