Sumter is fortunate to be home to many talented artists working in all mediums. The Sumter Artists Guild was founded in 1966 by some of Sumter’s most prominent artists. Its membership includes amateur, professional artists and art enthusiasts. It’s mission is “to promote, support and foster interest in art and to create an opportunity for our community of artists to engage in cooperative artistic enterprises and to be further active in supporting a variety of activities associated with art education, art instruction and art appreciation in our community.” The Guild has not only succeeded in its mission, but surpassed it. The Guild was instrumental in founding the Sumter County Gallery of Art in 1969.
The Guild holds monthly meetings upstairs at the Sumter County Gallery of Art, September through May. Guild meetings offer a variety of creative opportunities including artist demonstrations, classes, “show and tell” and fellowship. You can keep up with Guild happenings by following the Sumter Artists’ Guild on Facebook. The tireless efforts of Guild President Laura Cardello to promote and publicize the Guild, along with a committed core group that includes Vice President Erin Duffie, Treasurer Vicki Hagner, Special events coordinator Lisa Melton and Jennifer Franklin who work hard to maintain the energy, enthusiasm and social media presence of the Guild. And their efforts have paid off – In recent years the Guild has attracted many “new” and younger artists with lots of energy and new ideas. This past year the Guild attracted about 30 new members!
Some of the achievements of individual Guild members during the past year include, Thomas Blackmon juried into ArtFields 2019, Deane Ackerman as the featured artist at the inaugural Inspire! Festival, Michael Duffy as the featured artist at the 2019 Iris Festival, and Eric Burress, Cara-lin Getty, Richard Dinkins and Josh Hatfield all had solo exhibitions in the USC-Sumter galleries. These are just a few examples of the high level of talent in the Sumter Artists’ Guild that will be on display in the exhibition.
Karen Watson, Director of the Sumter County Gallery of Art notes that the Sumter Artists’ Guild Exhibition is the most popular and well-attended exhibition the gallery presents. Last year’s exhibition was attended by over 150 people and the same is expected for the upcoming show. The high quality work by new and long time Guild artists results in a fresh and diverse Sumter Artists’ Guild Exhibition – a treat for art lovers in Sumter and surrounding areas. The Guild Show is a “judged” show, not a juried show, so every piece of artwork entered will be displayed. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite pieces of art when they visit, for the popular Peoples’ Choice Award. The Sumter Artists’ Guild Show also provides a great opportunity to purchase high-quality art at reasonable prices. Many of the artists’ will attend the opening reception and be available to discuss their work. The winners will be announced at the opening reception and the Peoples’ Choice winner will be announced the last day of the exhibition so all who visit have a chance to vote.
The 2019 judge is Columbia based mixed media artist, Eileen Blyth. Originally from Charleston, Eileen has always thought of herself as a painter – even though she initially started classes to be a dental hygienist. She earned her BA degree from the College of Charleston where she studied under William Halsey. Halsey’s use of color, texture and humor influenced how she approached her work. Blyth is a go-with-the flow kind of artist with a desire to create eye-catching art with the resources around her. She sees the creative potential in objects most people overlook. At an early age, it was evident that Eileen had an unmistakable talent. As one of eight children, Eileen was provided with lots of inspiration for her art. The support from her parents also motivated her to continue to do what she loved in life; her father would proudly take her drawings to work. Little did she know her skill and passion for art would bloom into a successful career. Eileen spent her days in school with paintbrushes in hand and spread beautiful color across canvas. She soon became attracted to sculpture. It began with an obsession for old, abandoned tires on the side of the road, and developed into mixed media installations with found objects and materials such as glass. Her work has captured the attention of many galleries in the Carolinas and overseas in places like Toyko and Germany. Eileen had a solo exhibition at the Sumter County Gallery of Art in 2007. Her studio is located at Stormwater Studios in Columbia, SC.
Blyth Artist Statement: “There are times when I have an idea in my head of how a painting or sculpture will go. Most always, as I work, a completely different thing happens, as if the paint or object had a plan of its’ own. Somewhere between building a structure or making and erasing marks there is a shift. It is that moment of knowing, of seeing that shape or line, of finding the composition that is the exciting thing for me.”
The Sumter Artists’ Guild Exhibition – more than any other – is a true a community effort. It would not be possible to showcase our local talent without the generous support of Judy Tyl, in loving memory of Charles “Chuck” Tyl, FTC, The Heart of Sumter Neighborhood Association and Black River Electric Cooperative. This is the fourth year that the Heart of Sumter Neighborhood Association (HSNA) has sponsored the Guild show and the gallery is excited about this partnership. Flowers courtesy of Azalea Garden Club & The Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter.