For Lee Arthur, it’s all about that easygoing lowcountry lifestyle.
Arthur has spent 45 of his nearly 60 years on the planet living anywhere from Surfside Beach to Murrells Inlet to McClellanville. As an accomplished artist, he just can’t get that coastal South Carolina lifestyle out of his blood.
Arthur uses driftwood to create his works of art, and it oozes of the South Carolina coast, which is rife with sandy beaches, marshy inlets, rivers filled with blackwater and bordered by Spanish moss-draped tupelo and cypress trees, as the backdrop for a multitude of wildlife species.
He has occasionally been tempted to take his talent to the big city for bigger financial gains, but, being enamored with the area and the locals, he just can’t leave.
“Every once in a while I think about stepping into the big city, but it would wear me out,” Arthur said. “This is what I love – I love the attitude of the people here. I like the subject matter they enjoy and it’s what I’m comfortable with.”
Being an artist with his roots sunk deeply in coastal South Carolina, currently from Murrells Inlet to McClellanville, makes Arthur a perfect match for the upcoming Winyah Bay Heritage Festival. Arthur has been named as the featured artist for the 2013 festival, which will be held in Georgetown March 2-3.
“I’m thrilled. It’s an honor. I was really kind of shocked. Even though fortune may not come with fame, I guess fame has already hit,” Arthur said with a laugh of being named the event’s featured artist.
Year-round, Arthur’s wares can be seen at the Ebb and Flow art gallery located on U.S. Hwy. 17 Bypass in Murrells Inlet. They will also be on display at the festival.
Although he delves into many types of art, Arthur’s focus is on using driftwood to create unique images mainly of local wildlife.
“I love doing the birds because I love flight,” Arthur said. “Our birds are beautiful here. I do birds, fish and some landscapes, like marsh scenes. I enjoy doing it. I will probably continue to do this forever – lowcountry wildlife and fish and birds. That is what people like here, pelicans, egrets, osprey, eagles, mahi mahi, redfish, dolphins. That’s what they like in their homes.”
Many artists create wood carvings by using a chainsaw, but, Arthur says, not so fast on calling his work chainsaw art.
“It’s not chainsaw art – I use a chainsaw to get it down to the basic form,” he said. “Then I use hatchets, grinders, chisels, etc., to create the finished product. I try to blend it together, try to make hard to tell where nature left off and I took over. It’s sophisticated folk art. I really like that.”
Arthur will be using one of his works of art to make a donation to the Georgetown County Museum, located at 632 Prince Street in Georgetown. The subject? The Atlantic sturgeon that are found right there in Winyah Bay and the rivers that feed into the bay.
Arthur has carved two sturgeons, one of which will be available for sale at the show and the other to be auctioned during the festival, with the proceeds going to the museum.
Arthur is looking forward to being involved with the festival.
“It’s just a great privilege,” Arthur said. “It’s really a great show, a nice little show. There are some really great craftsmen that go to these shows, there’s some pretty nice work there.”
Winyah Bay Heritage Festival
The festival celebrates the history of the Winyah Bay area, focusing on conservation, preservation, art, hunting, fishing and decoy carving.
The festival features a wide range of activities, events and seminars based on the outdoor activities that are available in the bay and the adjoining rivers.
The festival takes place at various locations throughout Georgetown County including the Georgetown County Museum, the Bobby Alford Center at East Bay Park and 120 Broad St. (the site of the future county museum). A free shuttle will be available for all attendees on March 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For much more information, go to www.winyahbayfestival.org. For ticket information, call the Georgetown County Museum at (843) 545-7020. The event benefits the Georgetown County Historical Society and the Georgetown County Museum.