My sophomore year in college, I took “History of Photography” that began my love of art history. My alma after, Washington and Lee , was located in Lexington, Va which was the home of the iconic photographer Sally Mann and legendary abstract expressionist Cy Twombly. Despite the fact I was studying these great talents in class, I did not fully comprehend their brilliance as artists until decades later. Cy Twombly received his doctorate of letters with my graduating class which to this day still completely bows my mind! To be perfectly honest, I never quite understood the medium of photography as an art form until I took this class. Through the lens of an eccentric professor, I came to love photogrpahy and comprehend the nuances and difficulty involved with the medium. Capturing a moment in time artistically is truly a gift.
The Charlotte art scene is abuzz with several incredible exhibitions at the museums and galleries this fall. One of the most highly anticipated shows brings together three of my favorite themes…fashion, interiors, and photography. SOCO Gallery will be hosting “Around That Time: Horst at Home in Vogue.” Produced by Ivan Shaw and edited by Hamish Bowles, the publication is the world premiere of available photographs from Vogue’s archives of images by legendary photographer Horst P. Horst. A selection of limited edition prints from the monograph will be made for SOCO Gallery. The rare color photographs show a glimpse into the aristocratic world caught on film by Horst in which he turned lifestyle journalism into a modern art form.
Horst P. Horst (German/American, 1906-1999) originally wanted to be an architect. He arrived in Paris in 1930 to study architecture with Le Corbusier. A serendipitous meeting with Vogue photographer George Hoyningen-Huene changed his focus from architecture to photography. His passion for design is evident in his work from his use of composition, play of light and dark, and incorporating interiors into his work.
“The 100-plus Vogue features the photographer shot between 1963 and 1988 were style documentaries, each starring an international personality in his or her natural habitat and with precious little interference. “Horst didn’t move a single chair or bring in extra flowers,” says Gloria Vanderbilt, whose New York City bedroom, all patchwork quilts paneling the walls and fabric scraps glued to the parquet, was immortalized in 1970. “He showed how we really lived.” –Architectural Digest, September, 2016
SOCO describes the new monograph, “as a tribute to the landmark, Vogue’s Book of Houses, Gardens, People (1968), which chronicled important moments in Vogue’s history and in the international high society at large. From his renown as a leading fashion photographer of his time and the support of iconic Vogue Editor Diana Vreeland, Horst P. Horst developed and intense interest in seeing the world’s great homes, whose owners included Yves St. Laurent, Doris Duke, Emilio Pucci, Cy Twombly, and Marella Agnelli, among other royalty, celebrities and diplomats. The photographs captured by Horst P. Horst suspend the essence of society, politics, and art in the mid-20th century and represent a true “who’s who” of the day.”
Each work comes in both 16″ x 16″ size, as well as 36″ x 36″. For more information about the exhibition, or to pre-order a book, click here. The opening reception and book signing is Wednesday, October 12th from 6:00-8:00PM at SOCO Gallery located at 421 Providence Road.
Finally, to learn the story behind SOCO Gallery, watch below…
My first art history class at Washington and Lee was the History of Photography. I signed up for the class on a whim hoping to ease my workload of math and science classes which were not my cup of tea. We studied all of the legendary icons…Alfred Steiglitz, Elliott Erwitt, Diane Arbus, and even had Sally Mann living in our own small town of Lexington, Virginia. Little did I know that this first brush with art history studying the art of observation would figure so prominently in my future career as an interior designer.
Tonight is the opening of the highly anticipated show “Kindred: Photographers Focus on Family” at SoCo Gallery. The gallery welcomes home one of Charlotte’s most talented art personalities to curate the show. As a professional artist, curator, and mentor, nobody understands the imagination and creative mind more so than Brad Thomas. The exhibition is an opportunity for him to honor those artists who have directly influenced his creative journey.
Opening Reception: February 3, 6 – 8 PM
SOCO Gallery is pleased to present the forthcoming exhibition KINDRED: Photographers Focus on Family. This project, guest curated by Brad Thomas, will feature works by artists whose creative inquiry examines a variety of life-affirming roles that include parent, grandparent, child, sibling, spouse and/or lover. Through their work, these accomplished artists delve into the complexities of intimate, familial relationships and, in the process, learn something about themselves.
Four of the featured artists are based in Charlotte. Three of these artists have over a century of combined established practice and advocacy for the advancement of fine art photography in this region. With strong ties to The Light Factory, Linda Foard Roberts, Carolyn DeMeritt, and Raymond Grubb have worked tirelessly in administrative and volunteer roles there to educate our community on the importance of photography as a medium for self-expression and aesthetic exploration.
Linda is a native of Charlotte and in her teens, she studied with Light Factory co-founder Byron Baldwin in his legendary program at Myers Park High School. From there she pursued photography at Arizona State University and later returned to Charlotte to serve as Director of The Light Factory in the early 90s. Soon after stepping down as an arts administrator, Linda devoted herself full-time to her growing family and in-turn, returned to her art as a way of capturing the experiences and fleeting youth of her son and daughter.
Carolyn is known for her provocative, narrative portraits. In the mid-1990s her creative focus turned to her granddaughter who was born to her younger son during his prolonged struggle with substance abuse. Carolyn’s pictures capture her granddaughter’s youthful innocence, which stands in sharp contrast with her need to grow up fast. Now in her early 20s, Kira continues to be both a subject in Carolyn’s work and a source of inspiration.
Photographer, Francophile, and master baker Raymond Grubb is a native of Morganton, NC. He is a graduate of Davidson College and one of Charlotte’s most recognizable cultural icons. For over 25 years, he has photographed his partner––the multi-media artist Tom Thoune. Raymond’s century-old platinum process imbues his images with a warmth, tenderness, and candor that is difficult to attain with modern techniques.
This emerging artist is a native of Charlotte and recently earned her BFA from UNC Charlotte’s Department of Art + Art History. During her senior year, a series of circumstances required her to live with her two identical twin brothers. Quickly realizing these two free spirits were captivating subjects in their own right, she took advantage of her unlimited and candid access––think Nan Goldin meets Harmony Korine. The resulting series entitled Asymmetrical, captures the three siblings living together (again) while they navigate the formative stages of independence and adulthood.
His signature, multi-panel panoramic images capture the intimate and complex dynamic of his relationships with those closest to him. In particular, a series of poignant portraits of his father, a Navy veteran and retired factory worker, depict an aging man who struggles to come to terms with the divorce from his wife of many years and his son’s sexual orientation.
Sally lives and works on her family’s farm in Virginia. She is one of the most recognizable figures in American photography working today. Her new memoir, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs (Little, Brown & Company, 2015), documents in detail the criticism she endured in the early 1990s for explicit photographs of her children at play at their country home. As she has gone on to international acclaim, her works are among the most sought after in contemporary art.
Featured in SOCO Gallery’s bookshop will be a curated selection of artist’s books about family. In addition to the featured artists in KINDRED, titles by preeminent artists such as David Hilliard, Mitch Epstein, Sally Mann, Joanna Piotrowska, and Edward Weston will be available.
Brad Thomas is a native of Mount Airy, North Carolina. In the summer of 2015, he founded Thomas Contemporary at historic Vandalia Tower. Thomas Contemporary serves to promote Brad’s studio, curatorial, and collections advisory practice. In addition, on-site projects and limited-editions by emerging and established artists will be commissioned.
Brad has 25 years of experience as a professional artist, curator, and cultural leader. He has served in administrative capacities at The Light Factory, Davidson College, The Mint Museum, and McColl Center for Art + Innovation. In spring of 2015, Brad was honored with the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award from UNC Charlotte’s College of Art + Architecture.
KINDRED: Photographers Focus on Family is an opportunity for Brad to honor those artists who have directly influenced his creative journey. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity to continue to serve the cultural development of North Carolina, his home state. It’s the place where his feet will always stick to the ground––the way a Tarheel should.
Chandra Johnson is a lady of many talents. Not only was she a past dancer, gymnast, and model, but she has also played a major role in the arts and philanthropic communities of Charlotte. Chandra’s authenticity (along with her husband Nascar legend Jimmie Johnson) shines through in everything they support. They launched the Jimmie Johnson Foundation in 2006. To date, more than $6.7 million has been contributed to various organizations. The foundation currently focuses on funding K–12 public education, primarily through the Jimmie Johnson Foundation/Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Champions Grants program. Champions Grants have been awarded to 63 schools located in California, Oklahoma and North Carolina, where the Johnsons grew up and currently reside.
Chandra’s latest endeavor, the founding of SOCO Gallery, brings a much welcome addition to the local gallery scene and raising the bar for creative talent in the Queen City. Her passion for supporting artists and cultivating their careers is extraordinary as seen in our latest Creative Minds interview…
Collecting contemporary art brings me so much joy and I wanted to share it with my community. I also love helping artists further their careers and connecting collectors to their work. SOCO is a natural extension of this passion to provide a platform for the artists I believe in.
I started with doing pop-up exhibitions and was hooked. Ironically, SOCO Gallery is now a permanent space, but will continue to have a pop-up feel with a revolving exhibition schedule. It will always feel fresh with each new show.
Absolutely. The mission of SOCO is to bring relevant artists and artwork to our program. A lot of time, travel and research goes into the global conversation of art world happenings, and we want to bring all of that back to Charlotte. At the same time, I hope to push out great, southern work into the world as well.
I collect slowly and thoughtfully. I have to really love the artwork and the artist. I have learned, over time, how important it is to support the careers of artists you believe in. I have a connection with every single piece in my home. Once I started surrounding myself with really great work, I became addicted.
‘A Fluid Journey’ is our current group show featuring Mona Kuhn, Will Adler, LeRoy Grannis, Massimo Vitali, Karine Laval, Ken Van Sickle and Xavier Guardans. This is the first time all of these international artists have been exhibited in Charlotte. The work selected for this show builds on our qualitative state around water and all images evoke a feeling of leisure. Perfect for summer!
Liz Nielsen is opening a great show with us in September. She had two solo exhibitions in NYC earlier this year and is slated to exhibit with Danziger Gallery (NYC) next year. We are thrilled to be included in her circuit.( See more below about upcoming exhibitions)
All of my surroundings influence my taste in art. Our daily experiences shape us and Charlotte has been a big part of my life for the last 11 years.
I started my collection with a lot of research and a lot of looking. I would frequent shows in major cities, mostly NY, and travel to art fairs. You definitely start to see a pattern of what you are drawn to and exposure is the best way to train your eye, learn and grow.
Collecting is so much fun and something you can do for a lifetime. It should be a completely different thing than just a decorative piece for your house. My advice is to build slowly and invest in pieces that you love.
Diana Vreeland and Eva Hesse
I have been fantasizing about a Louise Bourgeois sculpture and a Francis Bacon.
Riding bikes with my family. I am always happy when I ride a bike and my kids are the same!
“Happy” by Pharrell
Photography, works on paper, canvas, sculpture, mid-century furniture, Line Vautrin compacts, books, vinyl, cocktail napkins, pickle forks, and antique china…just to name a few!
The Aspen Art Museum and The Sculpture Center in Queens.
The Whitney! They flat out nailed the new space in the west village.
Tough question – I guess I would like to be remembered as a great human, mom, wife, philanthropist and creative force.
SOCO Gallery is my new happy place and I love the Sacred Garden at Avondale Presbyterian on Park Road.
Southern Comfort (SOCO) Gallery is delighted to present its upcoming exhibition, Night Garden. An exhibition of unique photograms by the New York based artist, Liz Nielsen. The exhibition will run from September 9th through October 31st, 2015. The opening reception will be held on September 9th from 5 to 8 PM. Additionally, there will be an artist talk on September 12th from 10:30 AM to 12 PM. This will be the artist’s first exhibition with SOCO Gallery, and her first time exhibiting in North Carolina.
Liz Nielsen’s unique, jewel-toned photograms take photography in a new and unexpected direction. She uses handmade, transparent color gels and filters to create complex and layered compositions. The photograms are made using handmade negatives, experimental light and darkroom techniques that she developed over the past decade. Her studio darkroom becomes a stage for an unseen performance; she skillfully shines lights through blocks of color and whizzes flash bulbs and candles past the light-sensitive photo paper. The resulting works teeter playfully between representation and abstraction; blurring the lines between photography, painting and collage.
In this new body of work, Night Garden, layered shapes of bright colors create fantastical, organic forms that pop from dark, glossy backgrounds. The layers of intersecting lines, shapes and color reveal her analog process, and push the limits of what a photograph can be.
Liz Nielsen studied Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she received her B.F.A., and attended University of Illinois at Chicago for her M.F.A. Nielsen’s work has been exhibited extensively in Chicago, New York, and Berlin; her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Schalter Gallery (Berlin), Benrimon Contemporary (New York), Interlochen Center for the Arts (Interlochen, MI) and in 2015 at Laurence Miller Gallery (New York) and Denny Gallery (New York) as well many group exhibitions including David Zwirner Gallery (New York), and Rawson Projects (New York). Nielsen’s work has been reviewed in the New Yorker, New York Times, Artslant, Hyperallergic, and the Wall Street Journal. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
A welcome addition to the Charlotte art scene, Southern Comfort (SOCO) Gallery recently opened to great accolades. Founded by Chandra Johnson, the gallery represents emerging and established artworks in all mediums with a specialization in photography. Its inaugural exhibition entitled “A Fluid Journey” takes its name directly from the 1969 cult surf movie documenting 1960s west coast surf culture. The exhibition explores the transformative qualities of water and leisure and how they affect our physical and mental states. Artists include LeRoy Grannis, Will Adler, Xavier Guardans, Mona Kuhn, Karine Laval, Ken Van Sickle, and Massimo Vitali.
The New York Times titled Grannis the “Godfather of Surf Photography” for capturing the golden age of surfing during the 1960s and 70s. He began surfing at the age of 14, but did not pick up a camera until he was 42. Doctors ordered him to take up a hobby after being diagnosed with a hernia and photographing surfers at his local Hermosa Beach became his convalescence. His images show his complete immersion in the culture that surrounded him. He is considered one of the most important documentarians of the sport, and was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame in 1966. His work has been featured in Reef Magazine, Surfing Illustrated, Surfing, the 2004 award winning documentary Riding Giants, and shown at many galleries, art fairs, and museums around the world including New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London and Antwerp.
More examples of the whimsical work of Leroy Grannis…
When “Granny” passed away in 2011, surfers paddled out at Hermosa Beach in memory of him and his ashes were scattered in the ocean.
A native of Santa Barbara, CA, Will Adler also captures the life surrounding surf culture in his own distinctive fashion. His images show his complete immersion in the culture that surrounded him. His laid back, light infused images, (as often of women surfers as men) convey the spirit and atmosphere of place as much as the action of the sport. Covering many coastal hot spots such as Hawaii, Montauk, California and Mexico, he has shot for many major publications including The New Yorker, Juxtapoz, Neon, WAX, and Surfer. His commercial clients include Nike, Quicksilver, Patagonia, and Hixsept. At the young age of 30, he had his debut solo exhibition at Danzinger Gallery in New York last year, curated by his uncle, Tom Adler, the notable surf photography and graphic designer.
Some more of Will Adler’s work…
Located in a newly renovated charming 1920’s Myers Park bungalow, the gallery will feature 1,200 square feet of exhibition space, a bookshop and garden. “A Fluid Journey” will be open through August 22nd. Gallery hours are 10AM-5:30PM Tuesday through Saturday. SOCO Gallery is located at 421 Providence Road, Charlotte, NC 28207.