NORTH AUGUSTA — Those who know painter Edward Rice probably know him for his architectural works on canvas.
The internationally-known Rice, who has a studio in his grandparents’ former home in North Augusta, has painted many buildings in his prolific career. More than one Augusta home has ended up as his subject while other paintings focus on specific features such as dormer windows and rooflines.
However, for his first Augusta exhibition in a decade, Rice isn’t showing any paintings related to architecture. Instead, he’s showing paintings related to figures.
“Usually, a curator will choose the work. This is barebones and stripped down,” said Rice, who was the one who choose the works for the show opened April 7 at Candl Fine Art. Because of the Masters Tournament, the reception will be from 6 to 8 p.m. April 14. “I have a friend with a space — Drake (White of Candl Fine Art). He had a friend with some paintings – Ed. I said, ‘Let’s just hang it.’ There’s not an exhibition organizer; no sponsors; let’s just do it.”
Rice likes to experiment with his work. He’ll find a subject that interests him, and he’ll play with various elements. Although he never starts out with the intention of painting nine different versions of one theme, that’s often what ends up happening.
The poster art for the show is a painting called Doll with Red Wig. It was based on an Elizabethan doll.
“It’s half doll, half real. It’s a real doll figure of wood with woolen clothes,” he said. “When I depict architecture, I always reduce the scale. With the figures, I thought, ‘Let’s do the opposite — take something that is small and make it bigger than life.’”
The scale is magnified as the subject seems to overflow its boundaries.
“I liked the object large on the canvas,” he said. “It goes off the canvas on the bottom and on the side. It really has a commanding presence.”
Besides experimenting with perspective, Rice likes to study color and contrast. One painting might have a dark figure on a light background while another might be the opposite – a light figure with a dark background.
With the Elizabethan doll series, Rice decided to play with colors he’d never used before including a cinnabar green that complemented the reddish-orange hair of the doll.
Other paintings in the exhibition also followed this pattern of exploration.
Icons in historic European cathedrals and how the light from candles played upon them also piqued his interest. He’s also studied silhouettes created by artists prior to the invention of the camera. And there’s a weathervane figure that captured his attention.
All of these subjects allowed for different levels of study.
“Once I decide to do something, I can do it. The hardest part is deciding what to do,” he said. “That’s the reason I end up doing several.”
Rice, 70, can trace his early days of art to the very space he uses as his studio today.
His grandparents lived in the North Augusta structure that was the city jail at one time. It’s a unique structure that they transformed into a two-bedroom cottage. Those two bedrooms were actually the jail’s cells.
The front of the building contained the kitchen and the dining room, where as a 6 year-old, Rice would draw. Now it’s an open space for the artist to work.
His interest in art led to further study.
“My mentor was Freeman Schoolcraft , who was born in 1905 and was trained by 19th century men. That’s why my work so old fashioned,” he said.
He was Schoolcraft’s protégé in the 1970s.
Rice served as the director and artist-in-residence at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art before launching into his first studio in 1982.
He moved into his North Augusta studio in 1990.
His paintings have been included in exhibitions at Babcock Galleries, New York; Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe; Heath Gallery, Atlanta and is part of the permanent collections of the Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina; the Columbia Museum of Art, the South Carolina State Museum, Columbia; the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Georgia Museum of Art, Athens; the Morris Museum of Art and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans.
Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.