The Artside: Jack Davis has made mark in pop culture, political satire

Jack Davis, one of the most influential artists in American popular culture, will be celebrated in an exhibit opening Oct. 26 in the Mary S. Byrd Gallery at Augusta State University.


Born in Atlanta in 1924, Davis had an early interest in cartooning and remembers lying on the floor trying to copy the Sunday comics in the newspaper. After a stint in the Navy, where he created cartoons for base newspapers in Pensacola, Fla., and Guam, he enrolled at the University of Georgia, studying under Lamar Dodd and working as a staff artist for the Red and Black campus newspaper and an off-campus humor magazine.

Next came a move to New York, where he attended night classes at the Art Students League while looking for cartooning work during the day. Landing a job with then-notorious and now-critically-acclaimed E.C. comics launched his career. From there he joined MAD Magazine, creating humorous send-ups of sports and western themes.

His pop-culture and political satire pieces led to an illustration career that included work for Time, Newsweek, TV Guide, Playboy and Esquire magazines, and hundreds of album covers, movie posters and groundbreaking advertising images.

He has been described as a master of caricature, composition and crowd scenes. A profile on the Jack Davis Foundation Web site at, notes: “While a sense of anarchy and chaos reign in many of his most elaborate compositions, there is method to the madness and a pervasive sense of fun throughout. Jack throws visual parties that everyone is invited to attend …”

The visual party in Augusta will open with a 3:30 p.m. lecture by Alex Murawski in University Hall, followed by a reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the gallery. Murawski is a professor of art at the University of Georgia, where he teaches graphic design.

He and artist Jackson Cheatham, the director of the gallery at ASU, are board members of the Jack Davis Foundation, organizers of the traveling exhibit, which is sponsored in part by the Knox Foundation. Davis has retired from the madness of pop culture and now enjoys his coastal Georgia home.



Paine College will hold a reception for artist John Pendarvis on Saturday, Oct. 20, in the Candler Memorial Library on campus. The exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in conjunction with Painefest 2012.

Pendarvis is a native of South Carolina whose art includes large collages, mixed media, canvases, serigraphs and works on paper. He is known for representations of jazz band musicians, dancing, African ceremonial masks, and spiritual themes. The Paine exhibit features recent works depicting African masks as well as animals, human figures and Southern themes.

He has won best graphics in two Springs Art Shows and first place in the Southeast Black Art Competition in North Carolina. His art has been included in the collections of the Spartanburg Arts Council, South Carolina State University, and many private collections. See more of his work at artists

• At the Fire House Gallery in Louisville, Ga., printmaker Richard Gere will be honored with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20. Gere’s work has appeared in more than 150 juried, solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Europe, Mexico and Asia, and he is represented in numerous public and private collections. He has organized exhibitions throughout the Southeast and in France, and has taught at several universities in the United States.

Gere is based in Atlanta, where he teaches art and maintains an active art studio practice. His recent honors include a City of Atlanta Individual Artist Grant and a fellowship at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences. Examples of his work can be found at


A SPECIAL PROJECT is under way at Augusta State University involving a DVD for children ages 2 to 6 that uses nursery rhymes and classic stories to boost children’s vocabulary.

For the past two years, the DVD has been distributed to kindergarten children in several area counties.

The second phase of the project will create a series of digital games based on answering questions about the stories, rhymes and pictures.

Organizers are seeking local artists willing to donate their skills to provide simple illustrations for the digital games. For details, artists may contact Walter Evans at Augusta State University at (706) 729-2167 or


THE AUGUSTA PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL’S third edition is right around the corner. The biennial community-wide celebration of photography runs Oct. 26-Nov. 4 and will feature more than 40 activities, from exhibits and gallery shows to workshops, field trips, photo safaris and other events.

New this year is the festival kick-off event Light Up Augusta, where downtown’s office buildings will leave their lights on the evening of Oct. 26 to allow photographers to capture illuminated nighttime views.

A number of workshops are also planned. For more information, see or call (706) 834-9742.


COMING UP: Oysters on Telfair, the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art’s popular fundraising event, is on for Thursday, Nov. 1. Now in its eighth year, the informal evening (no fancy dress required) features an oyster bar, New Orleans-style foods, and music by the Crosstie Walkers of Thomson, Ga. Guests will be able to bid on small works of art created especially for the event, and also will have a preview of exhibits by Augusta State University faculty and artist Laura Neff, before the shows open to the public the next day. Tickets cost $65 or $50 for members of Contemporaries, and proceeds benefit the art institute. Call (706) 722-5495 for reservations.