‘Spoleto Watercolors’ To Open May 24 At Gibbes Museum

Stephen Mueller (American, 1947–2011), 2006, untitled watercolor on cotton rag, 221/8 by 14¾ inches, courtesy of David and Carol Rawle.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Gibbes Museum of Art, in conjunction with the Spoleto Festival USA, will present the body of work created in Charleston by two significant contemporary artists: Stephen Mueller and Carl Palazzolo in the exhibition, “The Spoleto Watercolors of Stephen Mueller and Carl Palazzolo from the Collection of David and Carol Rawle,” on view May 24–September 15,

Mueller and Palazzolo began visiting Charleston during the festival in the early 1990s and created paintings inspired by their experiences in the city. Drawn from the collection of David and Carol Rawle, this exhibition documents the collaborative relationship between Mueller, Palazzolo and the Rawles — a relationship that continues to thrive today.

Executive Director Angela Mack says, “It is extraordinarily rare to find collectors willing to create an artist-in-residence scenario for the pure joy of interacting with the creative process. We are delighted to have the opportunity to display the fruits of this 20-year collaboration between collector and artist inspired by Charleston and Spoleto Festival USA.”

Mueller’s abstract paintings create a tension between background and foreground through the juxtaposition of delicate washes of color and bold, simplified shapes. The geometric abstractions were inspired by Mueller’s interest in Eastern philosophy. Many of the shapes evoke mandalas, Buddha, bodhisattva figures and items associated with these figures such as lightning bolts, mirrors and prayer beads. Mueller lived and worked in New York City, where he passed away in 2011.

Palazzolo’s unique paintings include recognizable imagery stripped of any context. This results in mysterious, abstract works evoking memories and dreams. Palazzolo often employs trompe l’oeil techniques to fool the eye and create a playful interaction with the viewer.

This exhibition presents the opportunity to share the story of two significant American artists creating art in the South, and the visionary patronage of Rawle, one of the major art collectors in the region.

The museum is at 135 Meeting Street. For more information, www.gibbesmuseum.org or 843-722-2706.

Carl Palazzolo (American, b 1945), 2009, untitled watercolor, pencil on cotton rag, 131/8  by 13 inches, courtesy of David and Carol Rawle.

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