Spartanburg artist Tad Grubbs struggled with health issues nearly two decades ago, and fellow artist James Allen Bolt has dealt with the stress and sadness of the Covid pandemic over the past two years as a healthcare worker. Both have used those trials to create their art, which they will present in an exhibition, “Made You Look,” Sept. 6 through Oct. 1 in Gallery III at the Artist Collective | Spartanburg. An artists’ reception will be held Sept. 15 in conjunction with Spartanburg ArtWalk.
The exhibition will include 20 works by Grubbs in acrylics on canvas and 25 works by Bolt of mixed media of reclaimed lumber and found objects. The works will be offered for sale with prices ranging from $75 to $2,800.
A health scare 17 years ago surprisingly led to Grubbs, a Spartanburg native, discovering his talent and love of creating art. “Then, I had an intraventricular hemorrhage in my brain,” he explains. “After 11 days in intensive care I left the hospital with no physical or mental issues. I was extremely lucky. On the Sunday afternoon of my seventh week out of work, I found a canvas with a not-so-pretty floral painting on it. I removed the painting, cut out a photograph from a magazine, sketched it and began to paint. I finished it around midnight and was pleasantly shocked.
“That particular Sunday, I found a song that makes my heart truly sing. I can’t stop.”
He adds, “I think that a lot of people possess the ability to be creative, but the realization of it never comes because they never try to give it a chance. I had no clue about myself. What true joy I have found.” His works in the exhibit “have been created full of love, heart and soul. It is without a doubt an extension of me totally.”
Bolt says the past two-and-a-half years working for Prisma Health as a respiratory therapist during the pandemic “have been the most stressful of my entire career dealing with the Covid 19 virus and its aftermath. A stressful and mostly very sad time. My saving grace was being able to create things that made me and others smile.”
The Laurens County, South Carolina, native took inspiration for his creations from his father, who passed away four years ago. “When I was growing up, both my mom and my dad worked full-time jobs. However, with three children, there always seemed to be a need for extra money. My father was a jack of all trades and had spent some time working in carpentry. He began to make wooden toys, my mom would paint them, and they would take them to festivals all over Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia. I would say 80 percent of the time they would sell out.
“I enjoyed helping them and I begin making things from scrap wood and other items I found along the way,” he recalls. “I went to festivals with them, seeing other people like us and seeing different artists opening my eyes to different ideas. We always had a great time. Since then, it has been a mission that I thoroughly enjoy, in making something interesting out of whatever I can find. Hence, I find myself picking up wood on the side of the road, and searching through junk shops, flea markets and yard sales for any useful items.”
Bolt says he loves collecting things, and “a simple idea combined with a little creativity, plus having a large carefully selected collection of junk, a piece of art is born. I hope that visitors to the exhibit can see through my artwork exactly who I am. I hope they take with them an uplifted spirit and a smile on their faces.”
Grubbs hopes visitors to the exhibit will see “the simple use of color, whether it be artwork, furniture or a beautiful hue on the walls of a room, can take a gloomy rainy day and turn it into one of the brightest days you have ever known. It’s one of the best medicines for living a happy life.”
Having this exhibit at ACS is “a new and exciting experience,” Grubbs says. “Spartanburg is very blessed to have such a beautifully run organization. I am in awe of all the amazing talent in our area. The Artists Collective opens the door to each and every one. ACS is a genuine, non-judgmental community of kind and caring people, all of whom are willing to lend you a hand and offer support if the need arises. Everyone belongs.”