The artists started with an 8-by-12 inch panel of plain, hand-cut plywood. Each of the 150 pieces is a little more jagged than the other. Paint, glitter, tattered corners of a black-and-white magazine and even an old dial phone mask the rough edges. Nothing was off limits.
S & S Art Supply, a Main Street art supply store and gallery, is hosting its second fundraiser and silent auction Saturday. The concept is a community-based art project, and proceeds will benefit The Art of Recovery, a South Carolina Department of Mental Health art program.
S & S owner Eric Stockard, who cut the 150 panels from 4-by-8 foot sheets of plywood, insisted the imperfections lend to the creativity of each piece. Stockard and his wife, Amanda Ladymon, distributed the panels with one guideline: it had to be back in two months. Artists were free to paint, sculpt and color the plywood any way they liked.
“I think the appeal of the fundraiser is that all of the artwork is locally made,” Ladymon said. “All the artists live here or have lived here before.”
Panels were due back to S & S Monday. The shop’s display cases have been filled by odd, risque and stunning designs. One bright yellow panel, with a carefully painted white skull and blue jay, sat on the top shelf just beside the cash register. There were more: two stark white panels with all white duck heads plastered to the front; oil paintings of rolling landscapes; and black-and-white magazine clips of naked women (kept in the back away from the children, Ladymon assured).
S& S held a fundraiser and silent auction last July to help keep the Main Street store afloat. After moving from its Rosewood Drive location, S & S had been open on Main Street for one year and unexpected bills piled up. They raised $4,500 for the store and vowed to renew the auction as an annual event with one difference: it would benefit a nonprofit.
This year the store is doing well, attracting customers from complete novices upgrading from Crayola to seasoned sculptors. They kept Stockard busy when a reporter visited on a recent afternoon
There’s a new addition to the S & S family in Lily, Stockard and Ladymon’s 5-week-old daughter who looked quite the artist in a pink, purple and blue tie-dyed onesie. Ladymon, a visual artist, started planning for this year’s event in October, around the time she found out she was pregnant.
The Art of Recovery, a program that supports artists living with mental illness in the state, has been showcased at the South Carolina State Museum and the Columbia Museum of Art.
“Mental illness is something that affects everybody,” Ladymon said. “Personally, as a teenager, I struggled with depression for years and years. I guess I’m one of those fortunate ones that through changing my environment and lifestyle I no longer needed medication.”
Ladymon, who teaches art appreciation at Midlands Technical College and art studio at USC, said mental illness is also something that inevitably gets into her curriculum – from van Gogh to other struggling greats.
“There’s actually a similar brain wave between an artist and a schizophrenic,” Ladymon said. “They have a very similar chemical makeup.”
Ladymon hopes to match the $4,500 raised last year. All bidding begins at $25. Panels by local artists Kirkland Smith and Jeff Donovan sold for almost $400 in the inaugural auction.
There will also be wine from Rosso Trattoria Italia, a keg from The Whig, cupcakes from Cupcake and gumbo from J. Gumbo’s, a favorite of Stockard’s, a New Orleans native. Local rapper and DJ Preach Jacobs and rockabilly band Capital City Playboys will perform.
Ladymon, however, won’t be at the fundraiser. Lily’s too young to be around so many people, so Ladymon will be left to live her long-planned creation through photos and stories of the bidding wars the panels created.
Reach Gould at (803) 771-8610.