A lifetime of work by one of Spartanburg’s most celebrated artists — the late Mayo “Mac” Boggs — is being retrospectively exhibited at West Main Artists Co-op now through June 16th.
This extensive collection of sculptures and 2-dimensional works of art — “Mac Boggs: A Retrospective” — can be seen for free 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday at 578 W. Main St.
“This will be West Main’s most important exhibit for the year,” said Dwight Rose, venue committee chairman. “There is probably no other Spartanburg artist who has achieved as much recognition and respect as Mac Boggs. His work is literally around the world.”
Boggs passed away on March 10, 2014 at the age of 71 due to heart disease. At that time, he was retired from teaching art at Converse College, where he retained the distinction of Professor Emeritus of Art. Ansley Boggs survives him and has worked with Rose to curate this retrospective exhibit at the Co-op.
“Mac always believed in artists supporting each other, so he loved that WMAC established an influential and supportive artist community,” Ansley Boggs said. “Mac was legendary for his mentoring and support of fellow and budding artists. While supporting well-known artists, Mac always sought out those artists of whom no one might be aware, whether because they hadn’t exhibited, or because they didn’t recognize themselves as artists. Frequently, people in the community attributed their artistic success to his encouragement and generosity in sharing his talent and time. He was a creative inspiration to all!
“Artist Winston Wingo enjoys telling the story of a rainy night, when he was in high school, and he knocked on Mac Boggs’ front door,” she recalled. “When Mac answered, Winston said, ‘I hear you’re the new sculptor in town.’ Mac responded affirmatively, and Winston replied, ‘Well, I’m a sculptor too, and I want to do what you do!’ They remained friends for the rest of Mac’s life.”
The exhibit will include many abstract and non-representational metal and bronze sculptures, for which he is most known. However, the exhibit will also have marble constructions, paintings, computer graphics, prints, photographs of commissioned art, sketches of proposed sculpture, awards, newspaper articles, models of proposals and letters from students and colleagues.
“I hope that people appreciate Mac’s amazing versatility and creativity, as well as sense his inspiration, enthusiasm and passion for creating art and teaching,” she said.
Boggs was born and raised in Kentucky. He earned a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree of fine arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 1970-2013, Boggs was the professor of sculpture at Converse College. He received numerous awards and honors and in 1991 he was named Honorary Artist of Spartanburg by proclamation of the Mayor. In 2000, the Mayor proclaimed a “Mayo Mac Boggs Day.” In 2008, he was selected to serve as a Technical Collaborator for the Lynne Streeter Art and Marble Stone-carving Summer Workshop of Pietrasanta, Italy. In 2010, Mr. Boggs was honored by Converse College, Wofford College, and USC Upstate with a 40-year retrospective exhibition on each of the three campuses. And in 2013, he received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts, South Carolina’s highest arts award.
Boggs is well-known for his sculptures in steel, stainless steel, and bronze. His work is in the presidential libraries of former United States presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. His work is located internationally in permanent collections of numerous corporations. In addition, he has received sculpture commissions for public parks, libraries, college campuses, schools, local businesses and private residences, two of which were for the home of the author, Lillian Jackson Braun. Though he is best known for his metal sculptures, Boggs also carved marble and soapstone, and exhibited his photography and digital art. He frequently participated in local, regional, national and international exhibitions. Also, he often served as a guest speaker for lecture-demonstrations.
“The welded steel sculpture has remained a constant as my medium of expression,” he once said. “I love the look, feel, taste, smell and sound of steel. My great-grandfather was a blacksmith in Kentucky; both my grandfathers and my father were welders and steelworkers. I grew up watching steel pouring from the blast furnaces and the nightly spectacular display of slag being dumped from huge, railroad-sized crucibles. I walked the railroad tracks and picked up scrap metal that had fallen from freight cars. The ironworker’s material and process were an everyday part of my childhood in Ashland, Kentucky. I have taken this material and its process and made art, continuing a family tradition of ironwork.”
All of the work in the Co-op exhibit will be on sale ranging in price from $125 to $2,500.
All proceeds will be donated to the development of the Mac and Ansley Boggs Travel Scholarship Fund for Converse College art and education majors who do not have the financial means to travel. Boggs believed strongly in the importance of travel to a student’s art and life, his widow said.
For more information about the Mac Boggs retrospective art exhibit at West Main Artists Co-op, please visit online WestMainArtists.org.
(Prepared by Steve Wong, via Spartanburg Chamber.)