Upstairs Artspace opens 40th year

Published 3:18 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Upstairs Artspace, long regarded as an exceptional gallery for contemporary art, celebrates its 40th anniversary beginning with two exhibits opening Saturday, Jan. 27. They are “R. Olof Sorensen: Paintings and Engravings”; and “Capturing Light: Photographs by Brian S. Kelley.” A third exhibit, “Drawing Marathon III,” opens Feb. 24. All three exhibits run through March 9.

Also opening on Jan. 27 is the annual Have A Heart fund-raiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters. A public reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. will be preceded by an informal talk by Sorensen at 5 p.m..

A resident of Greenville, Sorensen has enjoyed a long life as an artist of abstract paintings that are distinguished by bold colors and powerful geometric shapes. There is nothing subtle about the artist’s preference for red, blue, green and yellow colors, or the square and rectangular canvases he nails together in an endless variety of shapes. His paint is often applied with thick flowing gestures that remind the viewer of a grand river or falls. Sorensen sees his work having much in common with music and hopes people will experience in each piece the excitement he feels while painting it.

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In addition to paintings, Sorensen is exhibiting elegant representations of his watercolors and engravings.

For many years Sorensen taught art at Furman University, where he was chairman of the Art Department; today he holds the rank of professor emeritus. His impressive resume includes 16 solo and 30 group exhibitions as well as listing him in countless private collections.

Brian S. Kelley has been honing skills in photography since graduating from the University of South Carolina. Kelley’s wide range includes Polaroid transfer, cyanotype, portraiture and digital. Kelley describes the images as “moments in time, a cross between fine art and photojournalistic perspectives.” Whether his photographs are hyper-realistic or cautiously abstract, they capture the beauty of old, weathered, often unappreciated scenes that surround us everywhere we travel — even close to home.

A resident of Travelers Rest, Kelley has exhibited extensively in the Greenville area. The Upstairs show features recent photographs in color and black and white.

Kelley will give a Walk & Talk about his art at a public reception on Saturday, Feb. 24, 5 p.m. Though this is the mid-point of his show, it is also the opening of “Drawing Marathon III,” a biennial event at the Upstairs featuring approximately 20 regional artists. These artists will have spent the preceding weekend at the Upstairs making original drawings in their own “space,” then hanging their work for public viewing through March 9. These artists will join Kelley in talking informally about their work.

The Upstairs is located at 49 S. Trade St., Tryon. Business hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Call 828-859-2828 or visit for more information.

– submitted by Upstairs Artspace