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Top 7 Upstate artists to keep an eye on

The issue is narrowing the list to seven. The Upstate region of South Carolina is bursting at the seams with artists and it’s only a matter of time before this area is one of the most sought-after places to collect emerging artists in the South.

The movement is here. We may be at the very beginning, but it’s here. So are the artists. Hundreds of them. And they keep coming. So, today on World Art Day, we’re taking a look at seven Upstate artists that are going places:

1.  April Huguenin
Quality for price? We have a winner. April Huguenin of Greenville, SC may still be a part-time artist, but you’d only know that from her price points. The quality of oil paintings she produces in the style of the Impressionist are far better than anyone I’ve seen in her genre in a long time. It’s clear that she pours countless hours into a finished canvas.

When you collect an oil painting by April, you’ll be whisked away on a visual adventure through her world travels. She captures thousands of photographs of magical places, like Monet’s garden in Giverny, Pointe du Hoc in Normandy, and the Amalfi coast. She selects the perfect photo to translate into an extraordinary oil on canvas. Catch a glimpse of the globe through an artist’s eyes. You can see April’s paintings at her solo art show on May 2, 2019 at Dan Lyles Gallery in Greenville or online at aprilhugueninstudios.com.

2.  Jordan Fretz
Award-winning creative designer Jordan Fretz of Simpsonville, SC turns garbage into art. Literally. This dumpster-diving artist will pull cardboard from the trash, so you can hang it on your wall. Explain that to your friends as you cite the provenance. “I bought this from a prestigious Greenville art gallery, previously in the private collection of the artist, and before that, in the bin behind the Woodruff Road CVS.”

Jordan would be ok with that. He prides himself on taking the “old” and making it new again. Sure, he does the easy-to-love animals on cardboard. But he also tackles the tough subjects; the faces of the homeless of the Upstate, or orphans in Africa. So, if you want some design work by a guy that’s won a couple of ADDY awards and an OBIE (beat out McDonald’s), look Jordan up at jordanfretzdesign.com. If you want an original charcoal on salvaged cardboard, he’s your guy for that too. Buy him some “Lazy Chicken” and he may give you a discount.

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3.  Olivia Perreault
Talk about moody! The art, not the artist. You’ll feel it in the paintings of Olivia Perreault. Originally from Massachusetts, Perreault now resides in Greenville, SC and finds inspiration from the surrounding landscape. The bold color will capture attention, but I favor the wood panel as a painting surface.

There’s something wonderful about using nature to create surface textures, filling the grooves and covering the knots. There’s an element there that you don’t get from canvas. Olivia was recently awarded the Exhibition Committee Award in Greenville’s Metropolitan Art Council – Flat Out Under Pressure. You can find her art at the Art Cellar on North Main Street in Greenville.

4.  Daniel Cvammen
Half the fun in collecting a “Cvammen” linocut is trying to figure out where in the heck you can buy one. This Simpsonville, SC artist doesn’t make it easy. Fortunately, I’ve provided a URL below. Cvammen is clearly influenced by the comic genre and is a superbly talented technical artist. Especially when it comes to the medium of oil on canvas. However, I want you to take note of his linocuts.

Rembrandt painted portraits to sustain himself financially, but he’s most well-known for what he did to the medium of etching. I feel that way about Cvammen’s linocuts. I love printmaking and they are quite collectable. Linocut is a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum is used for a relief surface. Cvammen’s technique and color palette are striking. Might I add, very affordable. Search through his website. If you want to be a true collector, you should own artworks in every medium. Here’s your chance for an exceptional linocut. Visit Daniel online at cvammenstudio.com.

5.  Ludavic Nkoth
I feel like I can still include this Spartanburg, SC artist, even though he has made the big move to New York City. I met Ludovic when he was renting a closet at West-Main Artist Co-Op. No, I’m serious. It was a closet they had turned into an artist’s studio. He was sipping his wine, telling me about his latest visit to Cameroon in West Africa where he gains inspiration for his art.

It was about three years ago, and I remember telling him, “we aren’t ready for you yet, but New York is”. I’m not taking credit for his move to the Big Apple, but I like to think I saw the raw talent way back then. You can see the clear inspiration from his African roots. The wall-paper looking backgrounds, supplied with acrylic are unlike anything else you’d see around here. True art collectors will get it. This kid has something. It’s a matter of time before he’s picked up by a branded New York gallery. Then all you’ll be able to say is “I remember when I had the opportunity…” See Ludavic’s work online at lnkoth.com.

6.  Melissa Gresham
The number one rule when collecting art is to collect what you like since you’ll likely be staring at it for the next 30-40 years. If sales are any indication of art being likeable, then start following Melissa. The Rock House Antiques can barely keep her art on the walls! Her soft pastel florals, bold seascapes and elegant figurative art is an interior designer’s dream. The works are borderline “impressionistic” and fully captivating.

Melissa works in a variety of sizes to accommodate any living space. She also specializes in seasonal paintings, offering art for all the major holidays! Perfect if you are good gift-giver and believe everyone should own original art (like me). Plus, Melissa is great for entry-level collectors because her art is just plain gorgeous. This makes collecting what you like quite easy. See Melissa’s work online at melissagreshamfineart.com.

7.  Phillip Livingston
Combining the fluidity and subtle texture of the natural world with the clean, hard-edge precision of modern technical age, Phillip’s art is a continual expression of rawness, contrast and the beauty of change.

With the invention of the camera in 1816, art changed forever. Suddenly, it wasn’t about how realistic you could paint, but what can you do that the camera can’t do? The Upstate is slam full of abstract and contemporary artists. So, what makes it contemporary art good? I’ll make this easy for you. Phillip Livingston is good. Great even. His ability to use texture, color fields, line zips and geometric shapes follows closely in the footsteps of Rothko, Kandinsky, Newman and Vasarely. Phillip, who resides in Greenville, SC, was recently featured in TOWN Magazine and you can find his work on display at the Hyatt Studio 220 at the end of April and through May. You can visit him online at philliplivingston.com.

About the Author

Dan Lyles is an art dealer and benefit auctioneer. He has 13 years’ experience buying and selling art and owns Dan Lyles Gallery in Greenville. Dan specializes in the works of 20th century master artists and building the careers of emerging artists.

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