The Aiken Center for the Arts will present three exhibits: “The Dog and Pony Show” in the main gallery, Friday Studio Painters in the AAG gallery and Snap SRS in the Brooks gallery through Dec. 2.
The exhibitions will launch with a public opening reception, sponsored by the Sullivan Turner Team, at the Arts Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7. The center is at 122 Laurens St. S.W.
“The Dog & Pony Show” will showcase the works of artists Heather LaHaise and Jan Swanson in addition to the accompanying works of potter Jennifer Vaz, according to a news release from the center. Adjacent to the main gallery, the Aiken Artist Guild gallery will feature works for sale by a local group the Friday Studio Painters. The upstairs Brooks gallery will showcase a photography exhibit, Snap SRS.
Featured in “The Dog & Pony Show” is artist Heather LaHaise from Columbia. LaHaise brings abstraction and realism together with layers of color and graphic spaces to create paintings that transcend the singular category of dog art, according to the release.
After many years of art education, studio work and exhibitions, Heather has remained true to her subject of choice, dogs, as well as her favorite childhood muse, Snoopy. Today, she believes dogs have given her a voice, and through her art, she hopes to give them one as well.
From the very beginning, she has developed her paintings with heart and soul: feelings that come alive in each of her pieces, according to the release.
LaHaise's work has been featured in Crate & Barrel, a nationwide retailer, and in Anthropologie, a worldwide retailer. Such strong recognition gives evidence to the undoubtedly unique appeal of her work: where artful skill meets a heartfelt mission, according to the release.
“If my paintings inspire you to rescue a dog or do something nice for one, then I’ve created something meaningful,” LaHaise said in the release.
LaHaise will donate a portion of her sales to FOTAS and SPCA in Aiken.
Alongside LaHaise in “The Dog and Pony Show” is artist Jan Swanson, who also brings her inner inspirations alive on the canvas, according to the release.
Swanson is a native of Asheville, North Carolina, who has been painting for more than 20 years. She builds on the memories and qualities of everyday life to present a playful and humorous tone in her paintings, according to the release.
Swanson is motivated by things she remembers from childhood, such as fabrics her father sold or the pearls her mother wore. Dogs, and especially her white boxer, Raymond, are among these sources of inspiration.
Swanson has had three solo shows over the last four years: two at City Art in Columbia and one at Theatre Art Galleries in High Point, North Carolina. Swanson's paintings also are featured at the Camellia Art Gallery in Hilton Head and Bluffton.
Swanson has won first place twice at the South Carolina State Fair in the category of mixed media. In 2018, one of her paintings received the Hal P. Moore Award, given by the South Carolina State Fair for outstanding merit.
Rounding out “The Dog and Pony Show” is potter Jennifer Vaz. Vaz works in ceramics, using the clay surface as a canvas for her whimsical illustrations, according to the release. The colors, playful interactions and unspoken narratives of her hand-built and hand-thrown pottery captivate the imagination, according to the release.
Since early childhood, Vaz has been fascinated and inspired by the Japanese culture of cuteness, known as the "kawaii" aesthetic. Also, she has been inspired by her French Bulldog, a senior adopted this past January, and the many Boston Terriers and Frenchies she has fostered for the Boston Terrier Rescue of East Tennessee.
Vaz has participated in several group shows in Augusta, Georgia, and has shown her work in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. At AthFest in 2014 and 2015, Jennifer’s work received the Best Handcrafted award.
Friday Studio Painters
In the AAG gallery, the Aiken Center for the Arts will feature the works of the Friday Studio Painters. The group comprises women members of the Aiken Artist Guild who are inspired to create by intertwining individual skill with fellowship and collaboration, according to the release.
Every Friday morning for the last five years, the Friday Studio Painters have packed up their brushes, paints, canvases, paper, pastels and colored pencils and come to the Aiken Center for the Arts for a day of studio painting. Each artist works independently but also relies on studio mates for inspiration, guidance and encouragement.
The general consensus is “painting is more fun when you’re painting with friends,” according to the release.
Studio members exhibiting in this show are Celeste Malinowski, Linda Purdy, Lizabeth Thompson, Lindy Crandell, Jane Popiel, Lois Hughes, Mary Ann Brock and Pat Bartlett.
In the upstairs Brooks gallery, the center will feature a photography exhibit, Snap SRS. The exhibit offers a special community connection with a collection of works by Savannah River Site employees, according to the release.
Today, the Savannah River Site has more than 11,000 employees from communities in South Carolina and Georgia. A wide range of specialized jobs make up the fabric of SRS, including engineering, nuclear science, construction, biology and many others, but artistic expression is something everyone has in common, according to the release.
The Snap SRS exhibit originated from a Compelling Place to Work initiative to promote pride of ownership, improve facility aesthetics and boost workplace morale through art.
During summer 2019, all site personnel had the opportunity to submit original artwork in four categories: SRS Scenery, Science as Art, Nuclear Knowledge and Local Scenery. This unique compilation of work featured in Snap SRS demonstrates how a highly technical workforce possesses the talent to create beautiful photography, according to the release.
Want to go?
What: Opening reception for "The Dog and Pony Show" exhibit
When: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7
Where: Aiken Center for the Arts, 122 Laurens St. S.W.