The art of Carew Rice will be on display at the Verdier House in downtown Beaufort.
A Beaufort family’s private collection of silhouettes of southern life and lands by early 20th century Lowcountry artist Carew Rice will open at the Verdier House, 801 Bay Street, Saturday, February 2nd and run through the end of May. Historic Beaufort Foundation is the exclusive venue for this personal collection, which has never been shown in its entirety.
Rice’s uncommon hand-crafted work captures the Lowcountry world in black and white and provides a matchless glimpse of South Carolina culture in the first half of the 20th century. Created from his youth after the turn of the 19th century until his death in 1971, his work is sought by collectors worldwide. While he worked and traveled throughout the south with occasional trips to Europe, he lived primarily at Brick House Plantation deep in the ACE Basin near Green Pond between Charleston and Beaufort.
Most of his work is dedicated to Lowcountry scenes and it places him squarely in the era of the simultaneous Charleston Renaissance, a dynamic period, 1920 – 1945, of modern southern artistic and literary history which led to Charleston’s transformation from a faded southern port city to a city restored to architectural glory.
Rice’s bold style of silhouette cutting was previously unseen within his medium. Through his refined technique and almost limitless range of subjects, Rice claimed his place as “America’s greatest silhouettist,” according to the poet Carl Sandburg, one of his subjects.
In addition to featuring Rice’s work and a display of his scissors and family memorabilia, the exhibit will include a program and cutting demonstration by Clay Rice, Carew’s grandson, who inherited the skilled artistry of his grandfather. Clay Rice has been described by author Pat Conroy as a “great talent who combines soul and passion.” The date of the event featuring Clay Rice will be announced later. He performs songs and storytelling in addition to his cutting demonstrations.
In his 1961 book, “A Selection of Songs & Scissor-Cut Silhouettes: Low Country Artistry by Carew Rice,” Rice wrote about his realization that a small pair of scissors purchased for 25 cents led him to “cut out a billygoat and a jaybird.” He immediately knew he “had found the thing I had been seeking to find: a way to clearly and definitely, and most of all, quickly, express my ideas in art.” The shop at the Verdier House will have a limited number of Rice’s out-of-print books for sale as well as prints of “Oyster Boat: Beaufort, S.C.”
Sponsored by Derek Gilbert Law Firm, Regions Bank and the SC Humanities Council, the flora and fauna of Rice’s Lowcountry will be open for viewing by the public at the Verdier House, Mondays-Saturdays, Feb. 2 – May 31. Admission is free for HBF members and children and $10 per non-member. Call Isabella Reeves at 843-379-3331 for information or Sandy Patterson at 843-379-6335 to arrange group tours.