Local artsits featured in annual SEWE festival

Larry Moore's The Hermit will be one of several pieces of artwork displayed by Lowcountry artists at this year's Southeastern Wildlife Exposition.

While the Lowcountry's annual celebration of wildlife will feature critically acclaimed artwork from across the nation, several local artists have found a place in the popular nature festival.

Eleven artists from the Lowcountry have been selected to showcase paintings, sculptures and carvings in the 2019 Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, an annual event that attracts more than 40,000 guests from across the country.

The artwork is for sale and will be displayed at Charleston Place.

"We're very honored to have local artists," said Natalie Wooten Henderson, art curator with SEWE. "Charleston is such a cultural hub. We're certainly blessed to have incredible talent here among us."

SEWE is nationally known for selecting some of the best in art for wildlife. Pieces are selected by a rotating jury committee that whittles down hundreds of submissions to just over 100 selections. Chosen artists are often well-respected and have paintings, carvings and sculptures that have been featured in national magazines and museums. Some artists are invited in order to create a wide range of works.

Henderson said the committee takes into consideration the diversity of the body of work, but not the location of the artist.

"Location is not something we take into consideration," Henderson said. "They’re all very diverse in their subject matter and style.”

Three Charleston area artists — Larry Moore, Kellie Jacobs and Gretta Kruesi — will be featured in the event for the first time. 

Moore, who lives on James Island, is glad to be featured in the prestigious local event.

“That’s a big thing. I’m real excited about it," he said. "I know it's a quality event."

Moore admitted that most of his paintings consists of interiors of buildings and exteriors of train depots, churches and houses. Some years ago, though, he decided to focus on nature — but with a twist.

“I love animals," he said. "I just didn’t want to be the guy painting ducks over the field."

His pieces depict animals in strange places. "The Hermit," which will be displayed at SEWE, shows a bird standing next to a television and debris inside an abandoned building.

Moore said it was inspired by his visit to a small adobe house, resting on a dirt road in New Mexico, that had been left behind.

In a separate piece, Moore illustrates fish swimming near the Yorktown. It reminded him of his father who once flew a plane that launched from an aircraft carrier.

His artwork is more than just critters in random spaces. They have sentimental value and Moore hopes they resonate with people.

"Sometimes it looks like you just stuck an animal in a space. But there's always something deeper to me," Moore said. "It’s a little out of the ordinary. But it’s not fantasy. I want to keep it out of the fantasy realm. No dragons. No polar bears on the moon. Make it sort of believable so you can apply a story to it.”

Jacobs, who hails from Isle of Palms, has two pieces on display. In "The River Calls," pinkish clouds are reflected in a marsh water. In a similar painting, "Majestic Tide," sunlight near a marsh peeks through trees.

Other pieces, like sculptures, were crafted by Lowcountry artists as well.

Charleston's Scott Penegar crafted "On the Rocks," which illustrates a bronze octopus spreading its tentacles over stones.

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Rickey Dennis covers North Charleston and faith & values for the Post and Courier.

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