Vic Gillispie just wanted to help some local heroes.
That’s why the Little River resident and Army veteran from the Vietnam War painted a commemorative work for the American Red Cross Coastal S.C. Chapter, to help raise funds for its biggest annual fundraiser, the Heroes Campaign.
The Red Cross chapter, based in Myrtle Beach and serving Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties, will have its seventh annual Heroes Campaign kickoff celebration 5-8 p.m. Tuesday at Hard Rock Café at Broadway at the Beach, at 29th Avenue North and U.S. 17 Bypass in Myrtle Beach.
B.J. Thomas of Myrtle Beach, handling publicity for the event, said all the money raised through this cause stays local, so the Red Cross can help on a scene as quickly as possible, such as in the Carolina Forest condominium complex fire last March.
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Gillispie joked that age 70, “I’m as old as dirt,” but in his fifth decade of painting, he enjoys donating his work to help area causes, such as the American Heart Association, hospice agencies and the Red Cross, for which he created a Myrtle Beach shoreline landscape. The setting includes the boardwalk, the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel in the left forefront, and a single-engine propeller plane over the ocean and streaming a banner with the words “Heroes Campaign” flanked by Red Cross logos, with Pier 14 in the background.
In the wake of two ice storms striking the Southeast within three weeks this past month, the scene of shorts-clad beach walkers, and chairs and sun umbrellas lining the sands, might warm anyone’s heart in an instant as spring begins its crawl northward.
Gillispie explained his love of the Carolinas and his way of expressing its charm through his hands, brushed and canvases. Smaller scale prints of the acrylic-on-canvas Red Cross painting, which Gillispie said was not named, are $100, or $160 including framing, all to benefit the Heroes Campaign.
Question | How did this project come up with this partnership to help the American Red Cross?
Answer | I do one of these things every year with a different group. The Red Cross does so much for this area. This gives me the opportunity to give back to this area. The people in the Heroes Campaign are great people.
Q. | How did the concept for the Red Cross painting come together?
A. | We sat down and talked about what we could do that would be synonymous with the Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach area. The ... SkyWheel is the new face of Myrtle Beach. We thought we could tie the Myrtle Beach theme into the Red Cross painting, something that would get exposure to people coming here from different areas, and give them something special to take home from this area. When you get down there, the SkyWheel’s the first thing you see. ...
It was a tough painting to do, because it was so many individual things you have to have exactly like you needed to blend in. ... It wasn’t just sitting down and doing a painting; I had to do a lot of research. ... I’m happy how it came out.
Q. | How long has painting been part of your life and who you are?
A. | I’ve been painting for about 44 years. ... It’s amazing when you think about the body of work you do over time. I’ve done paintings all over the world and sold them all over. I grew up in a little village. Sometimes you end up wondering how you end up being an artist. Being an artist gave me the opportunity to a lot of things I wouldn’t have been able to do, and to be able to give back.
Q. | What special place in your heart does the Red Cross hold?
A. | We have to give back as humans; it’s our responsibility to give back to help other people. That’s what I can say for the Red Cross, such hard workers. They help their fellow man, and are all commendable people. ... When you think of the Red Cross, you don’t think about what they do on a local, state or national level. But what they do for the military is so much, too.
Q. | Why has painting remained a passion in your pastime?
A. | It’s a joy. What I’ve done for the last 40 years ... I love what I do, and it’s given me the ticket to see so many places? How can you live any better?
Q. | How long has the Grand Strand been home?
A. | I’ve been down here for about 10 years; I moved here from Holden Beach, N.C. That’s the beautiful thing about being an artist; I lived in Holden Beach, right on the ocean, and have lived in the Outer Banks, on Roanoke Island. I also have lived in Gatlinburg, Tenn., on top of a mountain. You look back at your life; I didn’t get rich, but I look at where I’ve lived and how much fun I’ve had. I’ve been in the right place at the right time.
In art, a lot of that is luck, just being in the right place and meeting the right people. I’ve had that happen to me several times.
Q. | What the newest painting on which you’re working?
A. | I’m doing a painting of Cherry Grove Beach ... about 36 by 48 inches. ... I do a lot of beach scenes.