What happens when two creative people fall in love, and how do they mark the occasion of their union? A standard wedding reception with toasts, cake-cutting, and a sappy first dance seemed inappropriate for Erin Glaze and Justin Nathanson. "A traditional wedding wasn't for us," says Nathanson. "We wanted to do it differently." So they opted to take their celebration public.
Nathanson, a filmmaker and photographer, and Glaze, the coordinator at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park, are deeply entrenched in the local art community, so their invite list included many local artists. Tapping into the talents of their comrades, they decided to turn their reception into a public art exhibition. They asked 30 of their friends to create art based on love and/or the heart for the exhibit, which is called HeArt Attack. Sixty percent of the proceeds will benefit the American Heart Association in honor of Glaze's grandfather Charles Edward "Papa" Tanner, who passed away after a quintuple bypass surgery last April. "Creating a benefit to commemorate and raise money for heart health awareness really brings the celebration of our union full circle, and it feels like he is here with us," Glaze says.
"He was a hip guy and adventuresome, so it's really apropos to be able to honor him this way," Nathanson adds.
The list of participants is like a who's who of Charleston's art scene, including Karen Ann Myers, Lynne Riding, JB Boyd, Hirona Matsuda, Chuck Keppler, Sarah Frierson, Lisa Shimko, Jonathan Brilliant, and many more.
Contributing creative couple Robert and Megan Lange, owners of Robert Lange Studios, met in an art class 11 years ago and wed in 2005. Megan says, "The love part sometimes gets lost in the pageantry of a big wedding. In contrast, Erin and Justin have found the perfect way to share their love with the world in an honest and genuine way." In "Feeling for You," Robert created a luminescent light bulb, while Megan's cooler-toned acrylic-on-panel "A Lifetime to Grow Together" depicts two bare trees leaning in toward one another.
Dorothy Netherland is submitting two new pieces along with an older piece. The older, larger painting is a hodgepodge of chairs, toasters, lamps, appliances, babies, men, and women. The two new pieces are more complex. "The three paintings work together, for me, to express not only the day-to-day minutiae of a shared life, but also the drama and intricacies of marriage and family life. We have such unrealistic expectations of marriage, and the reality is that in the long run it isn't easy. It takes effort and requires a self-awareness we don't always possess." She adds, "Everything that you are combines with another person's idiosyncrasies, and dynamics are set in place, which impacts a family. In my work, I revel in these psychological complexities and enjoy imagining the dysfunction as well as the tenderness."
Oil painter Karen Silvestro is coming up on her own 20th wedding anniversary and says she approached the theme of the heart from a literal angle. "To stay together for 20 years, you have to work hard in a relationship, so I wanted to convey the physical workings of the heart," she says. Silvestro's painting "Heart Tug" depicts a woman's hand (with a wedding band clearly visible) holding a marionette of an actual heart. The red and blue strings are made from the blood-filled valves. "I'm really into the marionette theme because there are a lot of control issues out there," she laughs. Her painting reminds viewers that love is both an external and internal matter.
Besides the range of artwork, the event will include typical wedding reception fare like sweets and specialty drinks as well as music from the Local Honeys and the Shaniqua Brown. Artist David Boatwright created a "vintage tunnel of love" photo backdrop for guests to pose in front of.
When we met with Glaze 10 days before her wedding, she seemed unfazed by the amount of work left to do. "This has been more fun than work," she says, "because Justin and I have been able to spend time together and with all of the artists involved."