Addam Duncan
Annette Giaco
Glenda Guion
Ludovic Nkoth
Nancy O'Dell-Keim
Beth Regula
Dwight Rose

Altered Realism: Seven from the Upstate
May 6, 2017 - June 16, 2017

For millennia artists have been the visual recorders of the natural world, the chroniclers of history, and the illustrators of the sacred. In Western art, the appearance of accurate detail has been crucial to many patrons’ expectations. Yet, the understanding of “realism” has not remained static, evolving with man’s understanding of the world around him.

Before the creation of linear perspective during the Renaissance, artistic attempts to create the illusion of spacial depth were often awkward and, by today’s standards, sometimes bizarre. As compositions became more complex, the accepted convention of Gothic stage space tended to represent recessional depth by crowding too many figures into a too shallow “stage” in the picture. Occasionally, the results resembled phone booth packing of the late 1950s. But, unlike the Cold War era fad, the medieval convention was probably understood (and may even have been accepted by its contemporaries) as a reasonable representation of the world around them.

Until advances in technology gave humans the ability to capture events faster than the blink of an eye, galloping horses were often depicted in a “flying gallop”; front and rear legs fully extended, the animals floated in the air. Eadweard Muybridge’s experiments in action photography during the last quarter of the nineteenth century debunked this notion of “realism”.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Realism (this time with a capital R) was an attempt to represent subject matter truthfully without artistic convention or supernatural elements. The birth of photography in the nineteenth century released the artist from the slavery to detail and enabled a recentering of artistic endeavor on creativity. In a fraction of a second, a camera could capture a multitude of minute details with extraordinary accuracy. What it couldn’t accomplish as easily was to see beneath and beyond worldly veneers.

By its nature, art does not like to be confined by convention or definition. Commentary, stylization, distortion, exaggeration, and alteration of natural color or proportion rank among the tools that allow artists to explore their personal visions of the world and continue to grasp “realism”—albeit sometimes at arm’s length.

Each of the artists in this show maintains a connection with realism. Through personal vocabularies, they express their distinctive understanding of and unique relationship to reality. The portals they create for the viewer to pass through may differ, but on the other side of each door are visions of humanity that are thoughtful and provocative. —tsc—

Addam Duncan

Addam Duncan Addam Duncan Addam Duncan

Duncan images

left: In Lieu of Flowers. drypoint with roulette. 11" x 8"

center: Sky High Morals. sugar lift aquatint.

right: Promises. drypoint on plexiglass. 7" x 5"


Addam Duncan’s figurative work is an extended narrative of thoughtful insights about human nature. Although the individuals he captures on paper and canvas are often solitary figures, their portrayals are not necessarily about loneliness. Their isolation reflects Duncan’s fascination with subjects who project a single strong emotion. Generally when more than one person appears in his work, the composition still revolves around the vantage point of a single principal figure.

These subjects are the mediums through which Duncan channels his creativity. When an exaggeration here or a distortion there brings greater significance to his characterizations, he doesn’t hesitate to push beyond the parameters of strict realism. Duncan’s inclusion of objects within his work that have alternative meanings only adds to his rich and complex depictions of humanity.

A native of the Spartanburg area, Duncan is self-taught. His main artistic influences are two pairs of contemporaries: Rembrandt and Jan Lievens from seventeenth century Holland, and Robert Henri and John Singer Sargent from late nineteenth/early twentieth century America. Duncan has exhibited in New York, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Charlotte, Asheville, Columbia, Pickens, Greenville, and Spartanburg. (4/2017)

Annette Giaco

Giaco images

left: Blue Granny. ink on board. 6" x 6"

center: Sharpes. ink on board. 10" x 8"

right: Sordo. ink on board. 8" x 6"


Annette Giaco’s inspiration is largely based on old photos: some of family, some staged and shot by her, and others collected from old bins in antique stores. These depictions of reality and the stories she associates with them inspire her to create her own narratives.

With a technique that is “not quite pen and ink, not quite scratchboard,” Giaco focuses on the eyes, interpreting facial expressions which mirror pain, frustration, suspicion, amusement, and other emotions. Through intentional distortion, the arbitrary use of color, expressive brushwork, and backgrounds that often encroach upon the edges of the figure, she transforms each personality into a rich conveyance of personal expressionism.

Annette Giaco completed her Bachelors degree at Louisiana Tech with brief post-graduate study at LSU-New Orleans in Urban Demographics. She has studied art in California, Louisiana and Rome, Italy, with an emphasis on painting. A thirty year career in newspaper publishing as Director of Print Quality for Gannett Company included the use of graphics software including Photoshop, a tool that now plays a huge part in the method she uses to distort and prepare images during the planning stages of each painting and drawing. Giaco is a commissioned portrait artist. (4/2017)

Glenda Guion

Guion images

left: Seed Mandorla / Bubble Shadow. glazed red earthenware clay. 21" x 9"x 3"

center: Water Mandorla / Leaf Shadow. glazed red earthenware clay. 21" x 8"x 2"

right: Wave Mandorla / Leaf Shadow.glazed red earthenware clay. 21" x10"x 3"


Glenda Guion is interested in the contrast between the modern and the ancient, the organic and the synthetic, and the psychological and physical challenge of translating ideas into clay. She hopes to communicate that which surrounds her both physically and mystically: from earth, gardens, and man-made forms to archetypal symbols and theories.

These new works are inspired by the mandorla (Italian for almond). The form refers to the large oval behind the representation of a single sacred figure used in religious art. It is the shape created by overlapping two circles, and is seen in spiritual terms as the overlap between Heaven and Earth, or dark and light. It is the space that contains the conflict of opposites.

The abstract figures in her work are represented as shadows. At times they are the sculptural form itself, at other times the portal where the figure has been transformed within the mandorla. For years she has been interested in psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s notion of the “Shadow,” the place between the conscience and subconscious, or good and evil. Jung also believed that for humans, “The shadow is the seat of creativity.”

Glenda Guion earned her BFA in clay from Middle Tennessee State University and her MFA from Clemson University. She taught clay at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville, SC for twenty-five years and served as the Art Department Chair for thirteen years. She was also the chairperson for the Open Studios event in Greenville for six years. Glenda’s work has been widely exhibited, appearing in galleries and museums across the country. (4/2017)

Ludovic Nkoth

Nkoth images

left: Unfaithful. acrylic on canvas. 20" x 16"

center: Life of Lemon. acrylic on canvas. 20" x 16"

right: The Night After. acrylic on canvas. 20" x 16"


In his most recent series of work, Nkoth has mixed stylistic elements from several periods in history. References of the Baroque era serve as the foundation for the Fauvist brushwork that overlays the brilliant tropical colors of Nkoth’s childhood. Hand-stenciled graphics in the background are reminiscent of mid-century wallpaper patterns, and are suggestive of Baroque lace and ornamentation.

This stylistic mixture balances restraint and vigor. Nodding to both the formality of the realism of the Old Masters and the explosive expression of early twentieth century painters, Nkoth attempts “to stimulate the viewer’s mind, compelling him/her to interact with the piece.”

Born in Cameroon, West Africa, Ludovic learned to express himself creatively at a very young age. At the age of twelve, Ludovic moved to the US. With the encouragement of his middle school teachers, Nkoth explored his artistic talent, and developed his dynamic brushwork and use of color. During his time at Dorman High School, Ludovic was a Gold Medal winner of the State of South Carolina Scholastic Art Program. He was also a National winner of the Scholastic National Program. Today, Ludovic attends the University of South Carolina Upstate, where he is majoring in Art Education. (4/2017)

the artist's website:

Nancy O'Dell-Keim

O'Dell-Keim images

left: Spirit of Place: Blue Haze. oil on canvas. 40" x 30"

center: Spirit of Place: Red. oil on canvas. 40" x 30"

right: Spirit of Place: Together. oil on canvas. 48" x 36"


In this series of paintings, Nancy O’Dell-Keim explores the idea of land, memory, and connection through expressive, abstracted landscapes. Subject matter becomes subordinate to moods that are created through the use of expressive lines, quick and deliberate brushstrokes, bold colors, and implied light. Variations of these effects reinforce mood and their spiritual connections.

O’Dell-Keim states, “This connection, or ‘Spirit of Place,’ speaks of the connection to specific spaces, referring to its distinctive or cherished aspects, or can reference the intangible energy and/or Spirit of Place (or Soul).” She continues, “In this series of oil paintings, landscape imagery—used in both a traditional and in a ‘contemporary vein’—speaks of connection, memory, and spirit... This spirit is meant to be both haunting and celebratory.”

Nancy O’Dell-Keim is a professional artist formally trained in painting. The Union, SC native received a BFA from Converse College and a MFA from Clemson University. She is currently teaching drawing at USC Upstate and Wofford College. Her recent work experiences include a one year faculty position at the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities,Visiting Artist and Milliken Gallery Director for Converse College, and Adjunct Professor for Gardner-Webb University. She also served as Exhibits Coordinator and Art School Director for the Spartanburg Art Museum. She is an active and founding member of Spartanburg’s West Main Artists' Cooperative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the Arts in the Upstate. (4/2017)

Beth Regula

Regula images

left: ...between Heaven and Hell. mixed media. 58" x 39"

center: ...between Heaven and Hell (detail).

right: From the heights to the depths and all the spaces in between. mixed media. 58" x 39"


Beth Regula’s mixed media works are typically explorations of man’s place in nature. Her deep appreciation of history adds emotional depth and intellectual perspective to a body of work that is at once rich in specific detail and conceptual content.

In her words, she “sees everything as moving lines. The crossing, intersecting, and lyrical flow of the lines form the basis of [her] work.” Seldom drawing from real life, she uses her impressions of life as the foundation for her creativity. Her constant sketching is inspired by nature, world events, life, and death. These impressions and interpretations of existence are more “mind drawings” than “life drawings.”

Each of Regula’s pieces begins with a line sketch. How the work evolves from these precursory stirrings of creativity is largely determined by the materials she uses: wood, paper, fabric, string, clay, and paint transform the pencil sketches into her relief wall hangings or free-standing sculptures. In most cases, realistic imagery can be determined in the work, but the recognition of what the viewer is seeing (or not seeing) is secondary to the overall image.

Regula is a South Carolina native. Her early education was in schools of the Upstate and a college degree earned at Winthrop University. She has been an art educator in schools from the foothills of South Carolina to the coast. Briefly she left South Carolina for a job in Atlanta, Georgia, where she used her art educator experience to design computer based manuals and training programs. Since she returned to South Carolina in 1983, she has pursued a career as a professional artist. (4/2017)

Dwight Rose

Rose images

left: Selby Tree. watercolor on paper. 22" x 15"

center: Low Country Farmhouse. watercolor on paper. 16" x 20"

right: Garden Light (detail). watercolor on paper. original 12" x 22"


For Dwight Rose, realism “is the act of implying the subject accurately... a process that’s deeply rooted in a sound abstract design.”

As he works, Rose pays attention to the transient nature of light and other elements that qualify a painting as landscape, architecture, or still life. The impetus behind Rose’s current style is that “less is more.” To this end, his use of “implied detail” is exceptional. As the viewer moves closer to the work, there is a point in which the eye realizes that much of what it has been “seeing” has been an illusion, and details deconstruct into abstract shapes and pigment mixes.

When he paints, Rose starts with the traditional painting techniques; as the work progresses, those tools are freely transformed by his intuitive responses to the subject matter.

Rose is a graduate of the Ringling College of Art and Design where he earned a BFA in painting. He went on to teach at Ringling in its Degree and Community Art programs and at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Art. He currently conducts watercolor workshops, and teaches watercolor painting at the Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg, and the Greenville Center for The Creative Arts in Greenville, SC. (4/2017)

the artist's website:

about the show


Scott Cunningham through aestech enterprises LLC for the Upstairs Artspace



At the time of the show, all of the exhibiting artists were current members of the West Main Artists Cooperative in Spartanburg, SC


about the gallery

The Upstairs Artspace

P.O. Box 553 • 49 South Trade Street • Tryon, NC 28782 • 828-859-2828

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 to 5 p.m.

The Upstairs Artspace is a nonprofit contemporary art gallery in downtown Tryon, North Carolina. They exhibit two- and three-dimensional art and craft by leading artists of the Southeast, particularly, the Carolinas, as well as artists nationally and globally.

They have a long standing reputation for art that is sometimes experimental, often avant-garde and always collectible. Their artists are usually established in their careers, but they also welcome the emerging artists whose work is fresh, innovative and challenging.

The Upstairs was founded in 1978 in the upstairs bedroom of a local artist Craig Pleasants. Today they occupy a handsomely renovated building with over 3000 square feet of exhibition space in three separate galleries. The exhibitions change every six to eight weeks and are typically developed around a theme. The exhibits are curated by their experienced Exhibits Committee. They have a strong schedule of programs designed to educate children and adults through tours, lectures, workshops, demonstrations, films and classes in local schools.