I was pleasantly surprised at the opportunity to meet with local artist Vicki Robinson inside her home at Remley’s Point. It’s not every day that I’m invited into the private studio of a gifted painter, where bowls of eggshells wait on countertops to be hand painted and brushes, both large and small, catch sunlight through windows in the artist’s kitchen.
Robinson has been a huge supporter of the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition since its early days. She has been painting for the last 15 years and currently shows her work at SEWE, as well as at Spoleto Festival USA. Her mother, Martha Kornahrens, is a watercolor collage artist who raised her daughter in the tradition of creativity during Robinson’s childhood years in West Ashley.
“I have always found painting to be therapeutic,” she said.
Robinson was initially invited to exhibit her work in a local art show for SEWE; she collected duck decoys and created still life paintings. Over the years, Robinson has shared SEWE shows with fellow local artists and those whose work is known around the globe.
“When people talk about the art at SEWE, it really runs the gamut,” she said. “There are world-famous artists displaying work in these shows, as well as local work. Much of it is affordable.”
Robinson pointed out that plenty of the local artists at SEWE reside in East Cooper. These local painters, many of whom have work in the local shows, aren’t strictly wildlife artists.
“We have quality painters who do marshes, florals – not all wildlife,” she said. “Most of my own paintings, for example, are still life involving decoys, guns – they’re very Southern.”
Another East Cooper artist, Mark Kelvin Horton, enjoys the opportunity to paint landscapes for the SEWE shows. Horton, who is originally from North Carolina, majored in design at East Carolina University and created movie posters in New York City for years before relocating to Mount Pleasant and picking up his brush.
“This is my third year in SEWE. When I first moved to the area in 2001, I’d attend the event,” he said. “Then I was asked to be part of it.”
Like Robinson, Horton has loved art his entire life. He confessed that he “always wanted to paint,” and appreciates the chance to be in such good company with other artists. Additionally, he owns a gallery in downtown Charleston: Horton Hayes Fine Art on State Street.
“At the gallery, we represent about 15 artists, a blend of locals and those from elsewhere in the country,” he said. “Some of them I met during SEWE; even before I showed my own work there, I was networking with artists.”
For the 2014 SEWE festivities, both Robinson and Horton have been hard at work creating new pieces. Robinson is focusing on birds – quails and doves in particular. Some of these new paintings were in progress the day I visited her home, and I can vouch for the fact they’re going to be lovely.
Meanwhile, Horton is excited to reveal new pieces inspired by his trip to Iceland, where he captured a series of wild Icelandic horses.
“They’re wild, with these long manes,” he told me. “And they’re amazing.”
Kind of like art itself.
By Denise K. James
Painting by Vicki Robinson