Thursday night, at Torch’s first annual Roses and Ruins art show, I found myself riveted to what was easily the largest canvas paining in the room – an icy blue skull engulfed in giant flames of green, its hollowed eyes and nose eerily grey and cavernous. It was called “Sexy” and the tag credited someone named “Saint.” After asking around for the artist (they should wear name tags or something), I finally cornered “Saint One,” which is Kevin Vandwaye's alias.
Resisting all temptations to address him as “the Saint,” I chatted a bit with Vandwaye and learned the Charleston native has always been into skulls and found the uber-large canvas with something else drawn on and decided the only thing he could draw big enough to cover it was this skull. Turns out, Vandwaye is a well-known tattoo artist — the guest I learned this from asked me repeatedly, “Really? You’ve never heard of Kevin?” — who has worked the Greenville/Charleston circuit for years (further explaining the skull obsession).
The event showcased a few artists, but the presentation was cohesive, with all pieces worked around the theme of roses, serpents, blood, skulls (of course), or the stand-out conversation-starter of the night, “Beautiful Fucking Tits,” by Matthew Scott. It showed a creature, dripping blood, with the head of a hammerhead shark and a lower half boasting not one, but three sets of (you guessed it!) boobies.
If you’re into that sort of thing, this show could rock your world, and even if you’re not, it's still really intriguing. A girl sitting with a bunch of friends around a hookah agreed that it was very “interesting,” and the crowd seemed really into the scene. I, for one, saw more than my share of roses and ruins.