The Artside: Sculptor will explain methods of working with stone

Released from Stone: Animal Sculptures by Jeff Birchill will be the next special exhibit in the west lobby gallery at the Morris Museum of Art. The opening event will be Thursday, Dec. 5, with a lecture by the artist at 6 p.m. and a reception to follow at 7 p.m.


After a 30-year career in graphic design, during which he created more than 100 corporate logos and garnered international awards, Birchill returned to the Augusta area and devoted his creative attention to stone sculpture.

Following Michelangelo’s often-quoted premise that every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it, Birchill has said that he must see the image in the stone before he ever starts to work on it. He uses only hand tools – a hammer and various chisels. In his opinion, work done with power tools often looks as though the tools controlled the artist and not the other way around.

In a 2002 interview in The Augusta Chronicle, Birchill said his animal sculptures are influenced by his years in graphic art, incorporating aspects of design rather than being purely representational, as they might appear in nature.

The Morris show will be his first museum exhibit, and the opening reception is free to museum members, with regular admission for others. The works will remain on display through March 2. He is represented by Zimmerman Gallery on Broad Street.

• In addition to the permanent collection of Southern art, the Morris is showing Dark Corners: The Appalachian Murder Ballads, paintings by Julyan Davis. The series interprets traditional American, English and Celtic ballads through contemporary images of the American South. That exhibit will close
Dec. 15.

• Also on exhibit is a selection of works by contemporary folk artist Eldridge Bagley, titled Images of Hearth and Home. Bagley bases his paintings on memories of his childhood years on a farm in Virginia. The paintings were acquired by the Morris Museum through the Julia J. Norrell Collection.

• In addition to the Birchill opening, the Morris has several other events on the calendar for the first week of December. Storyteller and author Pat Branning will return for an Art at Lunch program Dec. 5, to showcase her newest cookbook, Magnolias, Porches & Sweet Tea. The book features Lowcountry recipes and Southern art. Lunch will be catered by Edgar’s Grille, and paid reservations are due by Dec. 3.

• Saturday, Dec. 7, the Morris will be among a number of downtown museums and cultural institutions taking part in the Bank of America Holiday Open House. There will be crafts, stories, gallery tours and store discounts offered between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The weekend will finish with a free concert by Event Horizon at 2 p.m. Sunday in the museum auditorium.


AT THE AIKEN CENTER for the Arts, work by Ron Rappoport will be featured in the Aiken Artist Guild Gallery during December. Continuing on exhibit throughout the month are works by Amanda Carder Lovett and Anita Elder as well as the annual ’Tis the Season exhibit.


ONGOING: At Sacred Heart Cultural Center, a group show celebrating 25 years of Women on Paper, with works on paper by Karen Banker, Ingrid Hofer, Lauren Kerbelis, Lillie Morris, Nancy Schultz, Gail Smith and Carolina Swanson, continues through Dec. 27.


AT THE GERTRUDE HERBERT Institute of Art, exhibits by Jeff Schmuki and Ulrike Beck are on view through Dec. 10, and an annual quilt exhibit continues at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, showcasing quilts made by Atlanta’s Brown Sugar Stitchers.