The South Forty
May 14, 1972 - May 14, 2012
"The days are long, but the years are short." It’s a universal truth that applies to most any endeavor in life. And so it is that I find myself marking the fortieth anniversary of this particular enterprise, a business founded on little more than gut instinct and two hundred borrowed dollars on May 14, 1972. Standing on this side of four decades, I just have to shake my head in wonder that the concept took off, panned out, and eventually thrived.
Fortune has smiled on me in more ways than one. Early on, that good fortune came in the form of experienced dealers, institutional professionals, and collectors who generously—even indulgently—shared their expertise and passion with me. One of my first contacts along the heady New York art avenues asked me what I was most interested in as an aspiring dealer. When I answered, “Southern art,” he countered by saying, “Southern art: that's an oxymoron.” Then and now, my response to such a sentiment is "no." Southern art was and is important, powerful, and vibrant, worthy of our collective respect, study, and investment. No longer a mere member of the chorus, Southern art claims—and merits—a starring role on the national stage of American culture.
It’s tough to define an absolute bottom line in this line of work. Obviously, there are pictures that can be tallied, clients counted, and dollars totaled. But who can put a value on the intangible rewards? The joy at seeing a pivotal canvas find a home in an eminent museum? The pleasure of running across a book published under our imprint on a library shelf? The pride in reading a scholar’s citation that notes our seminal contribution to research on a certain object or artist? There’s no appraisal available to measure that aspect of these forty years. There’s only the anticipation of being able to wake up another day and continue to tell the story: the story of Southern, in pictures.
Charleston Fine Art Dealers' Association
2011 Fine Art Annual Raises Needed Funds
Hailed by Charleston Magazine, American Art Collector, American Style, and Art & Antiques as the most important fine arts festival in South Carolina, the CFADA Fine Art Annual is more than just an enjoyable and enlightening weekend of gallery openings, painting expositions, and social gatherings. Since its inception, the Fine Art Annual has enabled CFADA to donate over $245,000 to high school art programs in Charleston County schools. Make that $268,400. Last November's edition raised $23,400 towards this good cause, and we're pleased to have been a part of the effort.
Sandlappers and visitors alike can currently take in a piece of period perfection from our inventory at the Columbia Museum of Art. Henry Benbridge was the leading Southern society portraitist of his day, having executed likenesses of Benjamin Franklin, key political figures, and prominent families up and down the eastern seaboard. It was after his 1771 move to
The Story of Southern, in pictures.
When contemplating the story of Southern, there is perhaps no greater resource than William Faulkner. In nearly every possible literary form, Faulkner did indeed "tell about the South. " He wrote of what we do and why, in lyrical, haunting prose, drawing thousands of pictures on the page. Commenting on his chosen profession, Faulkner posited that "a writer needs three things: experience, observation, and imagination." Nearly forty years of travel and trade have provided me with no lack of any of the aforementioned. I have, from time to time, been overwhelmed by the number and scope of stories gathered like moss to this rolling stone and felt the need to capture the memories on paper. Or, for present-day application, on-line. Several of these vignettes are proferred here on our website. Under the "Projects" tab, click on "The Story of Southern." The remembrances rotate regularly and, yes, there are pictures.