Pat Cole-Ferullo and Carol Beth Icard open MYST with expressionism

Published 3:00 am Friday, March 13, 2009

Pat and Carol were names I kept hearing about in the local visual arts community and when they contacted me I was eager to have the chance to see some of their work in real life. I started with a tour of Pat&squo;s studio with works surrounding us in a variety of states of completion. I was drawn to one textured piece. What medium are you using? Pat: This is acrylic. It&squo;s a technique where I put plastic over it and it creates a pattern and I draw into it. This one I drew into first and then did my latest technique of working with fabric dyes. Most of these works are started with fabric dye running and then working them together and drawing into them at different stages. Your show coming up is going to be at MYST? Pat: MYST in Spartanburg. Which is a fairly new gallery isn&squo;t it? Carol: Yes. Carolina Gallery was offered a space by a local business. It was an empty space and they were given it for a year for the art walks once a month. They renovated the space, staffed it, and put the abstract or surreal, more edgy art at MYST. It&squo;s capitalized with no gallery name after it. Had you been connected with Carolina Gallery? Pat Cole-Ferullo (photo submitted) Pat: I&squo;ve had my work there for a couple of years. When I went to Italy I left a lot of stuff with them. The Carolina Gallery is pretty much traditional art like landscapes and mine was a little too far to the left. They would show it. I have been associated with them for a while, but now this is right up our alley. Carol: It is. We will have the inaugural show of a special exhibition. They&squo;ve been open since September. Have the two of you done a show together before, or is this a first? Pat: Not together, but we&squo;ve been in galleries together and been cohorts and co-conspirators for a long time in the art world. Looking at your work makes me wonder, how do you get &dquo;left of center&dquo; in the art world? Why do you choose to go left? Pat: I think I&squo;ve always been that way. I have a formal training in art and I love to draw. I guess right from the beginning I&squo;ve been more interested in experimenting with how things work and putting certain images together. I lived in Ft. Lauderdale for about ten years and had a studio. I got to know some of the abstract expressionist artists who lived in South Florida and would come to visit Ft. Lauderdale. I got involved in the abstract expressionists way of thinking and working through some people who I met who I&squo;ve admired. There is an international organization called The International Society of Experimental Artists and I&squo;m a member of that. They have juried exhibitions all over the place. I&squo;ve been involved with that a number of years. They encourage experimentation, so this is what I&squo;m about. How about for you Carol? Carol: I&squo;m a very introspective person.&bsp;Carol Beth Icard (photo submitted) I admire things in nature and can really enjoy a landscape as it is, but it makes me think about other things than what I&squo;m seeing. I use shapes or objects that people would find familiar that take them on their own path as they look at my work. My work is very first personal and I&squo;m hoping that it will move somebody and touch somebody. I do it more for myself to bring out what&squo;s churning around in there. We were talking about Pat recently experimenting with dyes. Carol, what is your primary medium? More or Less oil by Carol Beth Icard&bsp;Carol: I use oil. I generally work on canvas. Sometimes I have collage objects on the canvas as well. I&squo;ve always had a love affair with words ever since I was a little girl. There is often reference to words in my work. There are books sometimes incorporated in my work. I do experiment somewhat with technique and texture. Putting things down without knowing why, but I just follow my intuition and work through it. I was telling Pat the other day that every single painting I do, I put myself through this anguish. You get to the point where you say, &dquo;This is horrible! What am I doing? How can I fix it?&dquo; Pat: It turns to chaos. You just have to get through that. It&squo;s kind of like life. Carol: That&squo;s one of the reasons we&squo;re calling our show &dquo;Messages & Metaphors.&dquo; The art process is like a metaphor for life. You struggle, you gain some knowledge, you use that knowledge to grow, and you move on and you do it all again. Pat: We&squo;re on a very similar path. We work intuitively from inside. We&squo;re all connected and you will find macrocosm and microcosm in everything. I work from the intuition that I feel deeply that comes naturally to me. I don&squo;t express myself in words too well. My painting is about messages. I like to present my work as maybe a microcosm of the way I feel the universe works. What do you think the formal training gave you as your toolkit that still is useful with what you&squo;re doing now? Pat: That&squo;s a good way of putting it. I learned to see and draw. I learned to connect what I see through my inner conduit onto my hand onto paper and practice, practice, practice. I learned to draw. I studied architecture. I was fascinated with that. I learned to draw architecturally. You have to learn to draw an apple just like an apple. You have to draw an eye and a head. You have to understand how the structure works in order to draw it properly. Once that&squo;s internalized, the same as with writing, you take it and then you can play with it. It certainly is a good basis. What about for you Carol? Carol: I didn&squo;t like to call myself an artist until I was in my forties. My first education was as a nurse. The way it ended up, I had two children with my husband and I decided I was going to stay at home and make things to sell. I&squo;d always been creative, so I went through a process of trying to find things to make that I could sell that would bring in income. I did have a business for a while selling silk screens and hand painted children&squo;s gifts that I designed. I learned how to make baskets. I sold baskets nationally to high end galleries all over the country. Then it all just fell apart in 1991. The market was really bad right then and I went to a craft show in Philadelphia. It had cost several thousand dollars to do that, it was a wholesale show. Not only did I not even make my booth fee in orders, I totaled my car on the way home. Ooh! Carol: When I was finally home after having to spend a night in a hotel in Albany, New York, my husband and I were schlepping everything in and had these rolled up rugs that I used in my booth. &bsp;I tipped this carpet into the corner and it fell on me and knocked me in the head. Beating your head against the rug instead of the wall? Carol: I decided I was going to go back to school and art was what I wanted to study. In my mid-forties I went to Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It took me six years going part time to get a two year associates degree, but I absolutely loved it. I had to learn how to draw which was torture for me. I got encouraged to express myself and not set limits on myself. I&squo;ve continued to teach myself by going to museums, reading books, watching videos, whatever I can do to see what other artists do in the past as well as contemporary work. Hang out with other great artists. This area has been really good for me. I think having representation in galleries has increased my desire to continue to grow and explore. It&squo;s a good sign that somebody likes what you&squo;re doing. What brought you to this area? Carol: Seven years ago my husband and I moved from Massachusetts to be closer to our two daughters who have families and strangely enough both live in Boiling Springs, South Carolina. My mother had died and my husband had lost his job and it was good time to move. We chose Landrum because we love looking at the mountains. We don&squo;t see the mo
untains from our home, but we&squo;re so close I like it. It&squo;s a beautiful area. Dialogue by Pat Cole-Ferullo&bsp;Pat: For me, my husband and I lived in Ft. Lauderdale and we were trying to build a new life. We&squo;re both kind of gypsies. We&squo;re both always looking for something new to find out about and explore. We moved to Gainesville, Florida living out in the woods, and then we moved to Daytona where I grew up and my mother needed us to remodel her house. We remodeled her house, lived in Daytona a few years, and finally got to take a vacation. Dom grew up in New Jersey and he used love to go to the Poconos.&bsp; I said, &dquo;Well, have you ever seen the North Carolina Mountains?&dquo; He said, &dquo;No.&dquo; I said, &dquo;Let&squo;s go there.&dquo; He saw a little ad for the Orchard Inn. We came up and we stayed at the Orchard Inn and we said, &dquo;Oh, we like it here let&squo;s move here.&dquo; You came to visit once and were hooked. Pat: We came here and we found property on a ridge up above Saluda and we built a house there and had organic gardens and bees and just had a wonderful time. We had our studios and we did a lot of work. Dom was making rustic mountain furniture and he was a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Then we got involved with the arts and so many people in Tryon we decided we better move down the mountain. Then we lived in Tryon. In the meantime, we&squo;d been going back to Italy to visit people and just explore. His roots are in Italy. I always wanted to move to Italy. Finally, after we really got established here, we moved to Italy. You almost grew some roots. Pat: We came back to our roots. Italy didn&squo;t work out because the dollar tanked. We&squo;re on a limited income and we couldn&squo;t find a place with our little nest egg that we had from selling everything here. We decided we would come back to Tryon and reestablish our roots. I think it was the best things we ever did. We&squo;re both very happy here. Carol: And your friends are too. I wanted to talk to you a bit about Italy and how that influenced you. Pat: I guess my interest has always been in how things work, in the history of things, and the mystery of things. Italy presents the ultimate mystery because of the layers of history there and different civilizations. The world&squo;s greatest artists that we recognize in the western world came from there, like Michelangelo and Leonard da Vinci. Being there, I kind of felt like I soaked it up by osmosis. I read every book I could get my hands on about the history of art and archaeology, and the civilizations in Italy. I think my work changed when I was there. I had a little room to paint in, so I did little watercolors on little things. I was overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. I had this wonderful vista with this wonderful color and light. It influenced me. When I came back I was encouraged to experiment even more. To just say, &dquo;Let&squo;s see what I can do with all of this that I&squo;ve internalized. Let&squo;s see if I can get it out.&dquo; That&squo;s what I&squo;ve been doing. Carol what for you has influenced and changed your art? Carol: Italy. Pat: We have that in common. You studied in Italy too, didn&squo;t you. A Little Rain Must Fall by Carol Beth Icard Carol: The year I graduated from my community college I went to a workshop in Tuscany. It was in book and paper arts which just appealed to me. I&squo;d never been out of the country before. I knew I wanted to and worked hard to save the money to go. My teacher was this really incredible artist from Rome. She and I had this instant friendship. She invited me and my husband to go back the next year and stay a week in her summer home north of Rome for free. That&squo;s twice in two years that I went and then I&squo;ve been going back ever since as often as I can. It literally changed my life that one week that I spent there because I&squo;m from a sort of Puritan background where you don&squo;t express your emotions. Here I was in this country where it&squo;s just such an effusive culture. The landscape, the food, the music, the art, and the people are so authentically loving. I discovered that&squo;s who I was. When that happens, connected with art, it is encouraging because you&squo;re not so afraid to be different or put your real self out there. Pat: Carol&squo;s epiphany was going to Italy. Mine was meeting the Italian that I married. He&squo;s fabulous. He is so loving and so open and gregarious, although at the same time he&squo;s a very private person. He&squo;s an artist that likes to work alone also. He gave me permission to be open, loving, and gregarious. I learned to say I love you, because he said it. It&squo;s very similar. By the time I went to Italy, look at me. You&squo;re talking with your hands. Pat: Everybody said, &dquo;You&squo;re more Italian than your husband.&dquo; I really got into it. There&squo;s something about Italy. You feel it when you&squo;re there. The energy gets into your pores. There&squo;s something it. Carol: Another thing about it is that they venerate old age. They venerate anything old whether it&squo;s a building or a tradition. The food that they grow often is from the seeds that were propagated from millennia ago. It&squo;s a culture of such deep roots. What do you hope people will feel when they walk into this show at MYST? Carol: I&squo;ve been told that my work has a sense of peace or serenity about it. I think yours has that also, although I find there&squo;s a lot of energy in your work. It will be interesting to see them actually stand in front of the works and look for a while. It&squo;s not the same when somebody looks at a landscape or a still life. They recognize something and they say it immediately. When they&squo;re looking at something that they don&squo;t understand, they might first comment about, &dquo;Oh, I like your colors.&dquo; Then if it draws them in they&squo;ll realize that it&squo;s perhaps affecting them in some way. That&squo;s what I hope for, to affect them in a way that they&squo;re eyes will be opened a little more. Pat: I really can&squo;t say it any better. What I&squo;m interested in seeing, is how people will react to the different expression of those same feelings coming from a very similar source from the universe. Patricia Cole-Ferullo and Carol Beth Icard&squo;s exhibition &dquo;Messages & Metaphors,&dquo; will run March 19 ‐ April 16, 2009 at MYST on Spartanburg&squo;s Morgan Square. The opening reception is March 19 from 6:30 ‐ 9 p.m. For more information contact Shannon Emory, 864-585-3335, or visit

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