Anne Worsham Richardson left indelible mark on Lowcountry art scene
Before there was a flourishing commercial art scene in Charleston — before all the downtown galleries, before the collectors arrived to buy all those nature scenes and streetscapes — there was Anne Worsham Richardson.
Nearly 60 years ago she was among the founding seven members of the Charleston Artists Guild, according to its current president, Ron Gibb. Her colleagues at the time included Alfred Hutty, Elizabeth O’Neill Verner and Williard Hersh, a sculptor who once made the likeness of Anne’s head. The Guild has 600 members today.
It was formed to help artists find exhibit space and to educate the community about the visual arts. Its first meetings were at the Francis Marion Hotel and the now-defunct Timrod Hotel.
Richardson was treasurer for a while early on. She also served as publicity chairwoman and, from 1969 to 1971, president. She died Sunday at 92.
The Guild was not her only affiliation. She joined the Carolina Art Association, Guild of South Carolina Artists, Charleston Natural History Society, National Audubon Society and Carolina Bird Club.
In 1990 she was among a founding group of 13 people who started the French Quarter Gallery Association, according to fellow gallery owner Nina Liu.
Her Birds I View Gallery on Church Street was well-established by the time Liu opened her art operation on nearby State Street.
It was named for the subject that most interested her — birds. She began painting them as a teenager and soon was so adept at making watercolors that her work found its way into living rooms, galleries and museum shows.
Her painting “Carolina Wren and Yellow Jessamine” hangs in the South Carolina Statehouse.
Her carefully crafted images were not only admired locally. Three times she showed her work in California, she told the guild’s business manager, Steve Jacobs, in a 2011 interview.
And she gave many lectures, sometimes to very large audiences.
Among her favorite artists and influences were Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, whom Richardson visited when still a teenager, and Renaissance masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, she told The Post and Courier in late 2010.
Her passion for birds was expressed largely through her watercolors, but she also cared for them physically along with her husband, John P. Paszek.
“Since 1959, with federal and state permits for the purpose of education, we resided and maintain a sanctuary on Elliott’s Cut in Riverland Terrace,” she said.
In 1970, Richardson and her Guild colleagues were forced to find new quarters for the advocacy group. They visited Mayor J. Palmer Gaillard and arranged to rent the auditorium for talks and exhibits at $50 a month, including electricity, Jacobs said.
About a decade ago, she had a stroke that temporarily impaired her vision. Sitting in front of the TV, she could only see it flashing, she told Jacobs. She couldn’t write her name.
Artist Mary Edna Fraser said Richardson was very well known in town by everyone interested in art, and she was an inspiration.
“When I first came to Charleston and walked into her gallery, I was encouraged to be an artist,” Fraser said.
Here was a woman who knew what she was about.
“Her career has been so long and established, but she’s been very consistent in what she paints and how she paints and how she reaches her audience. As an independent artist, she was one to be admired. And the legacy of her art will live in people’s homes forever.”