The City Magazine Since 1975

Artistic Upstart

Artistic Upstart
January 2017
Inside West Ashley’s burgeoning creative hub, Fabulon

On January 6, the exhibit “53. 63. 73.” opens at art gallery and school Fabulon, its title reflecting the ages of the five creatives (see sidebar below) who have sunk heart and soul into the works that comprise it. “In the art world, there’s a lot of attention on the up-and-coming­—the under 20s or under 30s—and rightly so,” says Susan Irish, owner of the itself-up-and-coming West Ashley establishment. “But this exhibit spotlights our older artists, showing that their work is also relevant and inspiring.”

When Irish, an encaustic painter and longtime arts educator, established Fabulon in August 2015, she intended to “open a door” for emerging artists, helping to guide them to successful careers. But she soon began meeting many established artists who lacked a local gallery to call home. Hampton Olfus Jr., for instance, “wanted a place to exhibit where his work wasn’t labeled as ‘black art,’” but instead viewed “as human art—art that speaks to the universal human condition,” says Irish. She embraced these creatives as well as their less-experienced counterparts, and today, Fabulon represents 13 artists who “are all storytellers,” Irish notes. “They’re doing more than just making a product—they have something to say with their work.”

Regular special exhibits launch with opening receptions that are often interactive­; for example, one involving themes of construction and deconstruction encouraged attendees to play Jenga and build with Legos. “My aim is for Fabulon to be a place where things happen,” Irish says.

To that end, the inviting Wappoo Road business also provides meeting space for groups like the Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild and the new West Ashley Arts Initiative while offering private art lessons, classes for kids and adults, workshops in chalk-painting furniture, Art Night Out events (where novices can get hands-on with projects such as dyeing scarves), and more. “I want everyone, no matter their age or skill level, to come in and explore their creative side,” says Irish.

Fab Five

Meet the artists exhibiting in the January 6-27 exhibit, “53. 63. 73.”

Meyriel Edge: In addition to displaying her paintings at Fabulon, Edge is a trained milliner; her hats are sold in The Gibbes Museum’s gift shop and her bridal pieces at Madison Row.

Eugene Horne: Having exhibited his artwork since 1980, Horne creates oil-on-canvas abstracts also shown in galleries in North Carolina and Georgia.

Susan Irish: With a background in interior design as well as arts education, Fabulon’s director primarily practices encaustic painting—an ancient art involving beeswax and pigment.

Laura McRae-Hitchcock: A fine art painter for more than 20 years, McRae-Hitchcock additionally exhibits her work at Ciel Gallery Fine Art Collective in Charlotte.

Hampton Olfus Jr.: Working in an eclectic selection of media, Olfus has exhibited nationally and internationally, taking influence from styles ranging from African to Native American to European.