Local Upstate Artist Exhibits for First Time, Expressing Remembered Emotions
It’s taken self-taught artist Janis McElligott nearly a lifetime, but her first public exhibition of acrylic paintings — Acrylic Moments: Emotions Remembered — will be at Artists Collective | Spartanburg Tuesday, Oct. 6, through Saturday, Oct. 31.
About 25 pieces of work will be open for free public viewing Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All social distancing protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be observed. The paintings will vary in size and subject matter, and will include images of beloved pets, buffalo standing in snow, peaceful but abandoned homes, waves crashing, World War II debris, and lighthearted Halloween and Easter moments.
In addition, there will be an artist’s reception at the gallery Saturday, Oct. 17, noon until 2 p.m. The general public is invited. Artists Collective | Spartanburg is a well established non-profit gallery, located at 578 West Main St. Spartanburg.
“I’m excited, nervous, and happy,” McElligott said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to share my work.” She has been a member at ACS for nearly a year.
“On behalf of Artists Collective | Spartanburg, we are thrilled to be Janis’s choice of galleries for her first exhibit,” Collective President Beth Regula said. “Her work is very accessible. She has a lot of images that people can easily relate to on an emotional level. Although the work appears to be simple and straightforward, there is a deeper level of connection there for the taking. She has a way of capturing the moment.”
“There is a large range of moments captured on canvas, from pets to crashing waves,” the 64-year-old Massachusetts native said. She now lives in Taylors, SC. “I hope there is a painting for everyone to reflect on and maybe — just maybe — feelings remembered. These are things that I’ve seen or that others have shared with me that stirred gentle emotions in me. Things that seemed important to remember and share.”
All of the work will be for sale, ranging in price from $40 to $240. “I hope they find a painting that leaves them with a good feeling,” McElligott said.
Although McElligott’s work leans heavily toward realism, it gives a deeply personal and contemplative message by adding a bit of impressionism to the subject matter. Her style does not shy away from the viewer, and many of the subjects — even those without eyes — seem to stare unblinkingly at the patron, as if to hold attention until a personal connection is made.
“I do a lot of work on commission, capturing a moment in time for people,” she explained. “I paint what they want. They don’t describe the painting to me when I deliver it. What they do is tell me the way it makes them feel. And the way they feel tells me I captured their moment.”
The self-taught artist has practiced her love of drawing for a lifetime: She carries a sketch pad with her wherever she goes to either capture a moment or escape from one. In her retirement, her sketching expanded to acrylic painting adding color to life’s moments.
“James Baldwin once said ‘All art is a kind of confession.’ These acrylic paintings are mine,” McElligott said. “They are things I saw or emotions I shared, all put on canvas as my declaration to loving life’s moments. The simplest sights can help the heart remember what’s important. Whether it be a loving pet remembered, a little girl feeling the crash of an ocean wave or the silence of snow; all these things provoke a wide range of emotions. These varying emotions are captured by using the gaiety of vivid colors to the solemnest of grayscale. I hope you feel the moment.
“This is the first time I will be exhibiting my work, and I can’t imagine a better place to take this step with my art,” she said. “Everyone at ACS makes themselves available with gentle guidance and fellowship. The range of artistry at the ACS serves as a creative motivator for me.”
Artists Collective | Spartanburg is a membership-based art venue that provides affordable studio space to local artists who are juried into the organization. Most of the artists are visual artists, however, some are performing artists. It has about 30 member studios, more than 50 members, three galleries, two stages, a printery, and a pottery studio. Normally, it hosts three art exhibitions each month, showcasing members’ and guest artists’ work. Housed in what was once a Baptist church, it is one of Spartanburg’s leading art agencies. For more information, please visit its website at ArtistsCollectiveSpartanburg.org.