Jerry Stover

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When I began my career, I started out in construction management, and one of my first bosses would often say to the crew, “we have the benefit of 2000 years of progress and electricity, put down the hand tools and use the power tools!”  At the time I really thought he knew something I didn’t know and I admired his stance on work.  I was young and my own “tool” skills were just starting to develop so that phrase seemed like real wisdom to me.  Since then, I have forgotten my early interest in management, and instead have dedicated my life to woodworking and woodworking knowledge. As my skills and knowledge have grown I have come to realize how terribly wrong my old boss really [...]

Les Hall

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Ask Les Hall to name one thing everyone should know about him, and he will tell you:  “I beat Dan Marino at arm-wrestling!”  This answer reveals much about his character and his attitude towards his career. Les Hall loves to win. He is driven to excel at any task he undertakes, from arm-wrestling to Guitar Hero, but perhaps most importantly his mastery of multiple musical instruments, performing, recording, music production, film-scoring, computers, technology… He tackles every aspect of his diverse interests with airtight determination and a ruthless drive to succeed. He described his perfectionist (often obsessive) attitude as having a profound impact on the music he generates. Despite many successes, he is refreshingly down-to-earth, not inclined to self-promote or acclaim. Our conversation was sprinkled with [...]

Scotty Peek

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Scotty Peek is a local artist whose work has been shown all over the Southeast for the past ten years.  He is also my brother-in-law.  Journalistic ethics dictate that writers aren’t supposed to interview their relatives.  Perceived bias of a piece being too “fluffy” and overly-positive is the first caveat.  Perhaps worse, there is also the risk of the interviewer and interviewee offending one another to the point that holiday gatherings become awkward dances where the two parties sit as far away from each other at the dinner table as humanly possible.  Certainly, these are fair enough reasons to leave the job of discussing family in print to total strangers. So much of Scotty’s body of work, however, is focused on relatives that it only [...]

Jeremy Carter

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As idealism dies, a thirtieth birthday approaches, and the rent’s due – the time to take practical action draws near.  When self-taught musician and formally trained luthier Jeremy Carter’s dreams of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle began to slip away, he saw his music career in a different light.  “I thought I was going to make it as a rock star…didn’t happen,” he said.  After leaving high school early to pursue a formal education in guitar building, Carter saw an opportunity to remain involved in music without chasing unrealistic aspirations. “The idea that I’m gonna be famous ‘because my songs rock so hard’ is ridiculous.  Go down to Art Bar and you’ll meet 45 people who say the same thing,” Carter said. Like Michelangelo, whose [...]

Christian Thee

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By all measures, Columbia-based modern American artist Christian Thee has had a spectacular career.  He’s painted sets for 25 Broadway shows, and designed 12 more.  His mastery of the ancient art of trompe l’oeil — painting that fools the eye — is so well known that Donald Trump hired him to create a Persian mural for his Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, and Joan Rivers commissioned him to convert the foyer and a ceiling of her New York residence into works of art that transported viewers to another place. In Connecticut, he turned a lowly elevator into a library with nothing more than a palette, a brush, and his instinctive ability to create depth where there is none, to create light where darkness ruled.  [...]

Jenny Mae Hill

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“What I make is inspired loosely by my childhood.  I loved My Little Pony and Care Bears.  This is a strange mutation of that, the adult version.” Hill has been taking sweet-faced toys apart and re-inventing them since she was a teenager.  Now, after years of waiting tables then assembling her sock oddities, plush animals, and dolls late into the night—her work is getting noticed. “I’m an acquired taste, but there are people out there who like it.” One of them is director Zach Helm, who selected JennyMae Creations for the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, the story of a magical toy store starring Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman.  The movie’s art department found Hill’s website (jennymae.com) and showed her designs to Helm.  But they [...]

Michael Krajewski

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What’s your story? I started painting prolifically more so when I was in Athens, [Ga.]. I picked up the paintbrush a lot more, really enjoyed color, pushing it around and just started nonstop—it’s ongoing. Then I moved to Atlanta, hung out there for a little bit, struggled of course because the city’s a lot more expensive than Athens. Someone let me hang [art] in their restaurant or something. When I came here, I was doing a charity thing down Main Street, and the owner of the Hopf came by and took a look and she ended up buying a piece, and she was like, “Well, let me see how much work you got,” and I got a lot, you know? If the wall’s hanging my [...]

Anna Redwine

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I once spent an afternoon with Anna Redwine at the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden, attempting to draw the colorful perennials in the Annual Display of Plants.  Anna, a New Orleans native and a student in the Masters in Fine Arts program at the University of South Carolina at the time, brought an arsenal of colored pastels, pencils, and variously shaped canvases.  She thoughtfully spread them out on the warm brick, and helped me hunt for images to represent. A total amateur, I struggled with perfecting shades and lines in a muddled mess, all the while wondering what concerned her – how she saw the bountiful Southern Magnolias and the intricate Gloriosa Lilies; how ridiculous she thought my disproportionate rose drawing was.  No matter how [...]

Blake Fairies

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Blake Fairies’s early teenage years were filled with lots of hamburger meat and plenty of burned fingers. “I was always messing with stuff on the stove,” he recounts, “burning my hand and all that good stuff.” Now his days are spent with pork chops flavored in a marinade of sweet tea, or shrimp and grits seasoned with Korean spices and a touch of cream and brandy, or his own hand-crafted pastas—all prepared for Saluda’s, the fine dining restaurant located in the center of 5 Points, where Fairies is Executive Chef.   Fairies discusses food like a bard with a faint southern lilt. His speech is casual, but his precise reflections on flavor reveal a distinct appreciation of taste and a clear devotion to his craft. [...]

Alex Powers: Inquiries into Being

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I still remember standing in the middle of my studio, ‘I will take the prettiness out of my paintings and see if there is any art left.’ – Alex Powers   Alex Powers’ artwork may not be conventionally pretty, but there is a formal beauty in the lushness of his surfaces that goes beyond conventional prettiness, and the content of his work, while deeply challenging at times, has enormous critical relevance to the culture he lives in. Powers creates works with sometimes biting critiques of social justice issues like racial and gender inequality, but he also addresses a broad range of other societal issues from religion and politics to economics, history and literature. In every case his work is framed within the context of a [...]