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John Crum's island paintings take us on one last vacation

Endless Summer

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As summer transitions to fall, Mitchell Hill Gallery offers one last tropical vacation before cooler weather settles in.

Island-Hop is a new set of work created by Hilton Head artist John Crum featuring colorful surrealist paintings. Crum's body of work centers around "elevated root systems" which resemble whimsical floating islands inspired by the Lowcountry.

"His paintings give you a chance to escape in them and get your imagination flowing a little bit through his detail and colors and his overall observations," says Ashley Miller, gallery director of Mitchell Hill. "It's all figurative [and] kind of how you want to see it."

"I'm most excited to see the return of the elevated root systems," Miller says, adding, "they are relatable to everyone. We all have roots, whether hidden or exposed, that link us to others and those moments that John is hoping to capture for us to reflect back on." These root system paintings will be highlighted in Island-Hop.

Bright colors and whimsy initially mark Crum's work but a closer look reveals hidden images entwined within his root systems. With main themes such as love and inclusion, "you [can] see there's a lot of hearts in his elevated root systems and little rainbows you can find. But it really is in the eyes of the beholder, what you're going to see in his images and paintings," says Miller.

Small details and moments observed every day mark much of Crum's work as a whole. "He loves to pull at your heartstrings by highlighting those little moments we often let pass. Like a bike ride at the beach, enjoying a cup of coffee on the marsh, or a sunset sail," Miller notes.

Starting with acrylic paint and canvas, Crum then just lets his imagination do the work. Miller says, "he gets something in, his head and just lets it flow, whether its an observation or something that he'd just be thinking of."

Island-Hop will run for one month beginning with an opening reception at the gallery space (438 King St.) this Friday, 5-8 p.m., coinciding with October's art walk. Crum has been with Mitchell Hill since 2010 and will be showcasing 20-30 pieces at the exhibit.

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