Artists Collective | Spartanburg presents works of late Roderice Cardell

‘The MADDDARTIST’ exhibition Jan. 4-Feb. 26 in Solomon Gallery

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Roderice Cardell, who died in January 2021 at the age of 33, left behind him a legacy through his music, his art and, most importantly, his love of his community and his commitment to making it a better place.

Nearly 100 of Cardell’s paintings – many never before seen by the public – will be displayed in “The MADDDARTIST: Roderice Cardell” exhibition Jan. 4, 2022, through Feb. 26, 2022, in the Solomon Gallery of the Artists Collective | Spartanburg. During the Feb. 17 Spartanburg ArtWalk, members of Cardell’s band will perform from 8 to 10 p.m. for visitors to the gallery.

Cardell’s works – neo-expressionist abstract paintings done on canvas and wood – will be offered for sale, with the proceeds going to Cardell’s family foundation to help underprivileged children in the Upstate.

“When Rod left us, he left behind over 80 pieces of art at the Artists Collective,” says Beth Regula, chair of the Collective’s board. Cardell was a member of the Collective, where he had a studio.

“We locked the works away until the family was ready to decide what to do with them,” Regula continues. “Only a few members of the Collective and his family have seen this work since last January. Since then, we have been working with the family to bring the work back into our largest gallery so that the community could once again see his work.

“Rod – known as MADDDARTIST – as an artist was prolific, talented and passionate,” Regula says. “He cared deeply that people saw his work and respected him and his work. He wanted to show it and share it. As a person, Rod was kind, compassionate, willing to help others. He saw and felt that injustice existed and was willing to speak up and show up to try to make the world a better place.”

Cardell’s mother, Tonya Gilliam, says her son’s body of work is important “because he chose to take his frustrations and emotions out on his pieces. He expressed himself and encouraged others, especially the youth that struggled with anxiety and mental hurdles, to have a positive outlet by utilizing the canvas. That’s why his slogan was ‘turning chaos into beauty.’”

Gilliam says visitors to the gallery should see that his art has deep meaning. “If you look closely at some of his pieces, you will see messages, words or the mention of his relationship with God. You will see his life as it evolved from the beginning, where he used eyes in a lot in his work, to the times of protesting, love and peace.

“What I want people to know about my son and his art is that he was passionate in everything he did,” continues Gilliam, who says when her son first began painting, she thought it was just a hobby but saw it grow as he used it after recovering from a near-death experience in a motorcycle accident. “He said that when he painted – when he created – it allowed him to express himself and be free from anxiety and depression.

“From acting in stage plays, singing, dancing and the paintings, not to mention he loved his community, he cared for others and was actively helping them while struggling himself,” she continues. “He lived life to its fullest. He lived life the way he wanted to – unapologetically.

“I absolutely love his art. He left us all a piece of him in his work. I can feel his energy and awe him in every piece. I can go downtown Spartanburg and he’s everywhere. I’m very proud of him,” Gilliam adds.

Cardell, a native of Spartanburg and graduate of Winthrop University, was outspoken about issues he saw in his home community and the changes he sought in improving it. He provided a voice for Black artists and community members and was an active voice in conversations on equality and access. In 2019, he helped orchestrate the painting of the Black Lives Matter mural on West Broad Street in downtown Spartanburg. It was the site of an impromptu memorial when the community learned of his death.

He once said, “As people, we have to look and see that our color palette has more colors than just one, not just ones that match our skin tones.”

“Roderice believed art could change people,” Spartanburg Councilwoman Meghan Smith said shortly after his death. “He lived that passion. He was an example of channeling hurt and frustration into a craft to create a better world. He has left a real gift.”

Regula says, “Rod was an exceptional artist and a well-loved member of the Artists Collective. Through this exhibition, we want to honor him as an artist and give the community an opportunity to see a large body of his work displayed in our Solomon Gallery.

“Rod in many ways was a bridge between the different communities of Spartanburg,” she continues. “He worked with children, was a performer, and was passionate about social justice. He spoke up and showed up. I remember when we interviewed him for membership in the Collective, one of our board members asked him how we could reach out to the Black community. He sat still for a minute and then said, ‘You have to go to them.’ With that answer, he became our ambassador in the community.”

Cardell’s family, per his wishes, will set up a foundation for underprivileged children with the proceeds from the sale of his works at the exhibition, Regula says. “We hope that those who knew and loved Rod will be able to purchase a work and know that they are helping to fulfill Rod’s desire to help others. He was a member of this community and touched many lives. Through his art, more lives can be touched. We hope the community will support the family in making Rod’s wishes come true.”

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