Fine art, fine food, fine music

Gallery event features painting of renowned artist Phillip Mullen

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The Sumter County Gallery of Art will present a gala cocktail party celebrating the art of renowned South Carolina and international artist Philip Mullen. "A Winter Garden Party, Exhibition and Fine Art Raffle," while centered on Mullen's donation of an original painting to the gallery for an auction fundraiser, comprises many other elements to enhance what Randa Carole DuBose calls "an amazing evening."

DuBose, chairwoman of the gala committee, said guests at the Thursday fundraiser will enjoy a "one-time only, exciting event."

"The party grew out of Mullen's painting 'Libby's Vase,' which he donated to the gallery because of his admiration of its exhibition space, its programs and its service to the community," DuBose said. "This is an opportunity we jumped at."

The plan for the party was shaped as an elegant garden party with many facets by DuBose and her committee comprising Randa Edmunds, Sue Fienning, Carolyn Buckner, SCGA curator Cole Miller and SCGA director Karen Watson. These facets, Watson pointed out, will appeal to guests' senses.

DuBose said Chef Crawford Pressley of Loosh Culinaire Fine Catering in Columbia will offer a cocktail menu of shrimp tempura, seared duck breast, glazed roasted vegetables, short rib sliders and macaroons. Many will remember the elegant, gourmet meals Pressley prepared for Sumter WineFest a few years back.

Cocktails will be mixed in the Ackerman Gallery by Twist Bartending of Lexington, and music will be provided by the USC Jazz Quartet.

In addition, DuBose said, "The Columbia Chapter of Ikebana International will choose one of Mullen's paintings as inspiration for several floral arrangements that will be placed in the gallery for the evening."

Watson said Mullen will be present for the gala, which will culminate with a raffle drawing for Mullen's 2008 painting, "Libby's Vase," valued at about $5,000.

"Your ticket to the event doubles as your raffle ticket," DuBose said, adding that the floral Ikebana arrangements will also be raffled. "No additional purchase is necessary for those either."

She added that Mullen's "Libby's Vase" is "accessible to everyone, not just the seasoned art lover. It's a beautiful painting."

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of South Carolina, Mullen has had his work featured in numerous prestigious exhibitions, among them the Biennial of Contemporary Art, Whitney Museum, New York, New York's Simon Guggenheim Museum, Biennial of Painting and Sculpture, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, National Drawing Exhibition; San Francisco Museum of Art, 21st National Print Exhibition; The Brooklyn Museum; a 35-Year Retrospective, McKissick Museum, Columbia (1995), and a Permanent Solo Exhibition, Koger Center for the Arts, Columbia. His work is in several important museum collections including Brooklyn Museum, The Guggenheim Museum, Denver Art Museum, Mint Museum, Smithsonian Institute and many others.

Watson said that, as with the gallery's regular exhibitions, A Winter Garden Party is made possible by community partners. For "this elegant evening," she thanked Wells Fargo Advisors, Carolina Geriatric Specialists, Reliable Medical Equipment, NBSC/Synovus, Galloway & Moseley Fine Jewelers, Anne and Mack Kolb, Dr. DeAnne and Elielson Messias, Sarah and Archie Parnell, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fienning and Elizabeth McLeod Britton, (with) special thanks to Gary's Florist for providing the floral centerpiece."

Admission to Thursday's 7-to-10 p.m. A Winter Garden Party, Exhibition and Fine Art Raffle at the Sumter County Gallery of Art, 200 Hasell St., is $75 in advance, $100 at the door, if any tickets remain. Purchase tickets by calling the gallery at (803) 775-0543. All tickets are will-call at the door. Dress is cocktail attire.

Admission during regular gallery hours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, is free to the public. For more information, call (803) 775-0543, or visit https://.sumtergallery.com.