West Main Artists Co-op to Exhibit Retrospective Work of Spartanburg’s Most Celebrated Artist
A lifetime of work by one of Spartanburg’s most celebrated artists -- the late Mayo “Mac” Boggs -- will be retrospectively exhibited at West Main Artists Co-op May 1-June 16, celebrating 43 years of international recognition and acclaim. This extensive collection of sculptures and 2-dimensional works-of-art -- “Mac Boggs: A Retrospective” -- can be seen at no charge Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at 578 West Main Street, Spartanburg, in the Co-op’s Venue gallery.
Also, the public is invited to a free reception on Thursday, May 17, 5-9 p.m., during the city’s monthly ArtWalk. His widow, Ansley Boggs, Ph.D., will give a free artist’s talk 6:30-7 p.m.
“This will be West Main’s most important exhibit for the year,” Venue Committee Chair Dwight Rose said. “There is probably no other Spartanburg artist who has achieved as much recognition and respect as Mac Boggs. His work is literally around the world.” Each month, the Co-op hosts three new art exhibits by its members and non-members, and Venue is the largest exhibit space among four galleries.
Mr. Boggs passed away on March 10, 2014, at the age of 71, due to heart disease. At that time, he was retired from teaching art at Converse College, where he retained the distinction of Professor Emeritus of Art. Dr. Boggs survives him and has worked with Rose to curate this retrospective exhibit at the Co-op.
“Mac always believed in artists supporting each other, so he loved that WMAC established an influential and supportive artist community,” Dr. Boggs said. “Mac was legendary for his mentoring and support of fellow and budding artists. While supporting well-known artists, Mac always sought out those artists of whom no one might be aware, whether because they hadn’t exhibited, or because they didn’t recognize themselves as artists. Frequently, people in the community attributed their artistic success to his encouragement and generosity in sharing his talent and time. He was a creative inspiration to all!
“Artist Winston Wingo enjoys telling the story of a rainy night, when he was in high school, and he knocked on Mac Boggs’ front door,” she recalled. “When Mac answered, Winston said, ‘I hear you’re the new sculptor in town.’ Mac responded affirmatively, and Winston replied, ‘Well, I’m a sculptor too, and I want to do what you do!’ They remained friends for the rest of Mac’s life.”
The exhibit will include many abstract and non-representational metal and bronze sculptures, for which he is most known. However, the exhibit will also have marble constructions, paintings, computer graphics, prints, photographs of commissioned art, sketches of proposed sculpture, awards, newspaper articles, models of proposals, and letters from students and colleagues. “I hope that people appreciate Mac’s amazing versatility and creativity, as well as sense his inspiration, enthusiasm and passion for creating art and teaching,” she said.
“Over a 40-year period, I have interacted with Boggs and observed him using his energy, talent, and expertise to become a driving force behind the development of the visual arts program at Converse College,” Wingo has been quoted. “Since my high school years, he has served as a role model to help guide my career in arts education. Boggs’ immeasurable contributions to his students, Converse College, as well as his community, are evidence of exemplary leadership in the field.”
Mr. Boggs was born and raised in Ashland, KY. He earned a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree of fine arts (sculpture) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 1970-2013, Mr. Boggs was the professor of sculpture at Converse College in Spartanburg. He received numerous awards and honors, and in 1991, he was named Honorary Artist of Spartanburg by proclamation of the Mayor. In 2000, the Mayor proclaimed a “Mayo Mac Boggs Day.” In 2008, he was selected to serve as a Technical Collaborator for the Lynne Streeter Art and Marble Stone-carving Summer Workshop of Pietrasanta, Italy. In 2010, Mr. Boggs was honored by Converse College, Wofford College, and USC-Upstate with a 40-year retrospective exhibition on each of the three campuses. And in 2013, he received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts, South Carolina highest arts award.
Mr. Boggs is well known for his metal sculptures in steel, stainless steel, and bronze. His work is in the presidential libraries of former United States presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. His work is located internationally in permanent collections of numerous corporations. In addition, he has received sculpture commissions for public parks, libraries, college campuses, schools, local businesses, and private residences, two of which were for the home of the author, Lillian Jackson Braun. Though he is best known for his metal sculptures, Mr. Boggs also carved marble and soapstone, and exhibited his photography and digital art. He frequently participated in local, regional, national, and international exhibitions. Also, he often served as a guest speaker for lecture-demonstrations.
“The welded steel sculpture has remained a constant as my medium of expression,” he once said. “I love the look, feel, taste, smell and sound of steel. My great-grandfather was a blacksmith in Kentucky; both my grandfathers and my father were welders and steelworkers. I grew up watching steel pouring from the blast furnaces and the nightly spectacular display of slag being dumped from huge, railroad-sized crucibles. I walked the railroad tracks and picked up scrap metal that had fallen from freight cars. The ironworker’s material and process were an everyday part of my childhood in Ashland, Kentucky. I have taken this material and its process and made art, continuing a family tradition of ironwork.”
Dr. Boggs, who is college professor of education, has collected much of her husband’s work and related materials, such as published articles and photographs. From her stores of information, she relayed this quote by her husband: “I have enjoyed being a participant in my students’ growth in self-confidence, in the development of their creativity, and in their experiences as proud contributors to the art world. I teach them to be unafraid, to ignore rejection, to be confident. One can do anything that she sets her mind to do. Many students come with little self-confidence and knowledge and exposure to the art world, the world of the arts. I encourage and help students get experience. I developed over the years internship programs which gave students exposure to working in art studios, major art auction houses, fabric design studios, interior design studios, and museums in cities, such as London, New York, Atlanta, etc. I also developed travel programs to major art centers in the United States and Europe.”
All of the work in the Co-op exhibit will be on sale, ranging in price from $125 to $2,500. All proceeds will be donated to the development of the Mac and Ansley Boggs Travel Scholarship Fund for Converse College art and education majors who do not have the financial means to travel. Mr. Boggs believed strongly in the importance of travel to a student’s art and life, his widow said.
In preparation for his 2010 40th-year retrospective, Mr. Boggs wrote: “What inspires sculptors to produce the images they do? Sculptors have an innate desire to build things. They are usually very hands on, mechanically inclined, and technically oriented. Many come from a physically oriented background-the results of an unscientific poll showed that many sculptors were high school athletes. Sculptors are kin to architects who dream of objects in three dimensions. As children, we were the ones who played with erector sets and building blocks-the ones always using hammers and nails. These were the people who thought outside the box, literally.”
For more information about the Mac Boggs retrospective art exhibit at West Main Artists Co-op, please visit online WestMainArtists.org.
1.) The photo of Mac was taken at the Piazzale Michelangelo with a panoramic view of Florence, Italy.
2.) The red sculpture, "Talisman," won best in show in an exhibit and was purchased by Earl Bettinger and his wife, Lilian Jackson Braun, who was famous internationally for her series of "Cat Who..." books. They fell in love with the sculpture, because they thought the copper wires looked like cat whiskers.This photo was taken at their house in Tryon. In 2011, her widower, Earl Bettinger, commissioned Mac to create and install a duplicate of the sculpture in her memory. It is installed at the Polk County Library in Columbus , NC.
3.) The green pieces are 2 of 4 powder-coated steel pieces, which comprise a site-specific sculpture, "A Green Season: The Activation of Space," at Wofford College. It was commissioned in 2007 by Victor Bilanchone, Linda Powers, Ana Maria Wiseman, and Dennis Wiseman. Mac's original proposal board and other photographs will be in the show. Mac stated, "This site-specific sculptural statement, placed on the Wofford Campus, is a celebration of Man's freedom to creatively intertwine with Nature."
4.) The bird print is The Red Tailed Hawk. This was the drawing he did, as a model for his cast bronze piece, 18" X 24". Both the print and the bronze sculpture will be in the exhibit.