A showcase of 137 celebrity photos by Jack Mitchell puts poses in a positive light, and all in black and white, but each with a context adding its own color.
“Icons & Idols: A Photographer’s Chronicle of the Arts, 1960-1995” kicked off the new year at the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, continuing through March 17, and many other exhibits have dawned or will open soon for the winter across the Grand Strand in places such as Brookgreen Gardens and The Rice Museum’s Prevost Gallery in Georgetown.
Once on the top floor at the Myrtle Beach art museum, visitors can focus on a slew of photos, some possibly of people whose works might have been seen or heard through the years without having a face of the artisans to match, such as composer Dimitri Shostakovich, wearing thick spectacles, from 1973, or visual artist Andy Warhol, clutching his dog Archie, in 1973.
A shot of Natalie Wood from 1979 comes with a halo-like glow around her hair, giving her an angelic look, and a youth she retained since she filmed “Miracle on 34th Street” from 1947. See Lauren Becall looking comfortable standing head to toe in a gown on the right side of her shoot in 1966, and Gloria Swanson waiting in the back seat of a car in 1960.
One section captures some men of the silver screen, including a bearded Jack Nicholson from 1969, Joel Gray in 1968, and Arnold Schwarzenegger the body builder in 1976, before his heyday in thriller movies and two terms as governor of California, and John Travolta, in 1983, still trim from “Saturday Night Fever” a few years earlier.
On what could be called a rock ‘n’ roll wall, check out sitar aficionado Ravi Shankar from 1976, the former Cat Stevens in 1971, Neil Diamond 1972, and from 1987, David Byrne from Talking Heads with Toni Basil, who was best known for the hit “Mickey.”
There are two photos of John Lennon and wife Yoko Ono from the same shoot, one in a straight pose with both looking at the camera, and another, at closer range, with Lennon having broken into a grin as Ono looks at him.
Singer Leontyne Price took a serious shot in 1981, while that same year, dancer Ann Reinking put the ultimate kick with her right leg in her moment.
Some notable personalities appear more than once in the exhibit, including Warhol and Patti LuPone, who other than her solo shot, leans in 1975 on the shoulder of Kevin Kline, with Norman Snow looking on.
A video in the gallery loops continuously with some subjects talking about their photographic experiences. LuPone, known for her chops in “Evita” on Broadway and even making a cameo in an episode of the “Frasier” sitcom, talks about various photos, joking, “I wasn’t bad looking as a kid.”
Find each of the three men in individual prints who would later sing as the Three Tenors: Luciano Pavarotti from 1976, Placido Domingo in 1977 and Jose Carreras in 1978.
Also, don’t miss “Fifteen Actresses,” showing each in the garb from her respective show, from 1984. Sunday afternoon, that photo was the talk of the gallery; numerous passers-by stopped and tried their lot at identifying some star such as Kathy Witton Baker, Christine Baranski, Glenn Close, Amy Irving and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.
One portrait is not even a head-and-shoulders shot, but only of two feet crossed, showing crisp details of some wrinkles from bending the ankles, and hair on the lower legs of Julio Bocca, a ballet dancer from Buenos Aires.
Art on campus
James Arendt, in his second year as director of the Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, continued set-up last week of “Troy Wingard: Preciousness.”
This show of 16 pastel portraits and wall sculptures opens Monday, going through Feb. 22. Arendt called the works “life size” in that they range from 4 feet to the smallest width at 18 inches.
“They’re part sculptural, part drawing, and they often have gold-leaf embellishments,” he said. “ They’re kind of reminiscent of religious works.”
Later this winter, the Bryan gallery will host “Imperfect Letterpress x3,” starting March 4, by a trio of artists.
Arendt said the gallery presents six professional shows and three student exhibits every year. That means planning one to three years in advance for each show, he said, and working over school breaks to get ready for and turn over each exhibit.
“Scheduling and timing” also matter mightily, said Arendt, who likes to scout the country for artists and exhibits to showcase in CCU’s museumlike, courtside gallery.
“You have to connect with them far enough in advance,” he said, “because you’re often in competition against other institutions to bring them here.”
Arendt said he first saw Wingard’s art in New American Paintings magazine a few years ago, and that since he made contact with Wingard, a teacher in Washington, D.C., he learned of his growing up in Columbia and his Horry County ties.
Also a working artist, Arendt said he tours galleries and museums as he travels nationwide, and showing his own work, he networks and meets other artists.
Quoting about how “it’s the hours, not the miles” spent shopping for potential exhibit pursuits, Arendt said no shortage exists “in the amount of talent out there.”
He also credits the CCU gallery’s namesake founder for ensuring this space on campus.
“We try really hard to bring in professional shows,” Arendt said, “so students have access to great work. ... It’s kind of like a teaching lab.”
With exhibits changing so frequently, and without a permanent collection as museums amass, Arendt said the fast pace continues a demand to usher in something new every six weeks.
“We have a beautiful space in a great institution behind me,” he said, pleased with the gallery’s reputation only widening among artists.