3 USC Sumter exhibits are worth viewing

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Three exhibits at USC Sumter seemed to slip into the artistic arena but are worth the time to view. Two of them, Jackie Wukela's "People and Places" at the University Gallery and DJ "Doc" Hatcher's "Our World in Acrylics" at the Upstairs Gallery, highlight the artists' personal challenges to explore a variety of styles, techniques and mediums.

In her artistic statement, Wukela writes: "My hope is to explore the world of color and light, looking at things we see every day and recording them during a moment of magic."

She succeeds with her portraits - beautifully drawn and full color to add a sense of emotion and characterization. In both "Reggae Dancer" and "Nassau Lady," she uses colored pencil to portray faces that are more than mere portraits. They exude a sense of magical aura. "Mr. Olsen," a graphite, captures the facial features and force of the eyes. In watercolor portrait Nos. 11-15, Wukela's technique is broader. She uses quick black lines underscored by patches of bright color to bring a sense of energy and personality to men named "The Old Turk" and "Mustang Al." In "Afternoon on the Cetina VI (Yellow Boats)," she explores landscapes and the impact of color. Her series of landscapes and pictures of Venice in oil are less vivid but emphasize her curiosity of the impact of shades of the same color and the interplay of elements against one another.

Hatcher's acrylics also reflect exploration of subject matter and technique. His "Blue Dress" is impressionistic and bright, creating the feel of yellow steam against glass to both reveal and hide the elusive female form and the hint of blue. Picture Nos. 2-4 are very "pictoral" and use a limited color range. The monochromatic "Dad Lands" effectively combines light and shade to evoke the strong sense of depth and atmosphere. His portraits are clearly drawn and seem reserved and composed. In "Beach Girl," Hatcher relies on brighter colors to add interest to his composition.

"Through the Eyes of a Child" by Lynda English, partner with Wukela in an art studio in Florence, presents a clear message - the concept of facing the world through the perspective of a child.

The day I attended the gallery, the paintings were numbered, but there was no brochure listing the titles. It was a great experience because I could focus on what the child might be seeing rather than what someone tells me they are seeing. Picture No. 1 starts the exploration with a clear image. The small child is squashed between the legs of adults from all walks of life, as reflected in their clothing. He peers out, but what does he see? Three pictures, especially the placement of Nos. 25 and 26, capture boys of differing ages exploring the marvels of the beach, each at his specific viewpoint. Another boy dressed in a snowsuit (composition No. 13) discovers snow. In picture No. 4, a girl in a red dress rests against a wall as if contemplating what will come next. In No. 20, a young girl peers through tall grass to discover what lies beyond while in No. 9, two girls sit at a window seat reading, the filtering light stressing different degrees of response. A young boy in painting No. 8 follows the path of iridescent bubbles to wherever they may lead him. My personal favorite, however, is picture No. 7. A young boy strides along the water's edge. In the sky, a romantically colored shadow captures him with a club - a mighty warrior, like David gone to face Goliath and the rest of the world. This exhibit alone is worth your time, like a breath of fresh air and a call to get down and see the world.

These three exhibits are free and will remain at their venues until March 30. Viewing hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.