Remembering Carl Blair (1932-2018)

The South Carolina Arts Commission notes with sadness the passing of Carl Blair of Greenville, a former commissioner, chairman, and 2005 winner of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for Lifetime Achievement (presented annually by SCAC).

Blair served as a commissioner on the Arts Commission and was its chairman for two years. The State Art Collection includes three of his works.

Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May issued the following statement:

Carl Blair was a gentle giant of the arts in South Carolina. He was one of the pioneers of abstract painting in our state and one of its most successful practitioners. Through his long career as a teacher, he was a major influence on generations of artists who have had significant impact here. As one of the founders of the Hampton III Gallery, he was also a successful artist-entrepreneur.

“As a leader, he was self-effacing but, at the same time, a strong and effective advocate for artists, arts education, and access to the arts in all communities. We will miss his unique artistic voice, his gentle and generous spirit, his wry sense of humor, and the way he lived his values every day.

Details on arrangements can be viewed here. Below, some who knew or worked with Mr. Blair share feelings or anecdotes about his life.


Sandy Rupp:

Carl Blair was a man of action, whose life exuded a spirit of optimism. He was a mentor to many young artists, who would learn life lessons through listening to Blair’s visual language. His friends were changed by observing his strong faith, guileless heart, playful spirit and creative genius. Carl’s eyes would squint as he admonished, ‘always take your art seriously, but never yourself.’ A generous, humble man his life reflected grace and gave us hope.

Ms. Rupp is director of Hampton III Gallery in Taylors, which was co-founded by Mr. Blair.


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