← View All Articles

West Main Artists Co-op to exhibit ‘Mac’ Boggs retrospective

A lifetime of work by one of Spartanburg’s most celebrated artists – the late Mayo “Mac” Boggs – is being retrospectively exhibited at West Main Artists Co-op through June 16 to celebrate 43 years of international recognition and acclaim. This extensive collection of sculptures and 2-dimensional works-of-art -- “Mac Boggs: A Retrospective” -- can be seen at no charge Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at 578 West Main St., Spartanburg, in the Co-op’s Venue gallery. [caption id="attachment_35333" align="alignright" width="150"] "A Green Season: The Activation of Space"
Mac Boggs
Metal sculpture[/caption] “This [is] West Main’s most important exhibit for the year,” Venue Committee Chair Dwight Rose said. “There is probably no other Spartanburg artist who has achieved as much recognition and respect as Mac Boggs. His work is literally around the world.” Boggs’ widow, Dr. Ansley Boggs, worked with Rose to curate this retrospective exhibit at the Co-op. Boggs passed away in 2014, at the age of 71. At that time, he was retired from teaching art at Converse College, where he retained the distinction of professor emeritus of art. The exhibit will include many abstract and non-representational metal and bronze sculptures, for which he is most known. However, the exhibit will also have marble constructions, paintings, computer graphics, prints, photographs of commissioned art, sketches of proposed sculpture, awards, newspaper articles, models of proposals, and letters from students and colleagues. “I hope that people appreciate Mac’s amazing versatility and creativity, as well as sense his inspiration, enthusiasm and passion for creating art and teaching,” Ansley Boggs said.

[caption id="attachment_35334" align="alignright" width="200"] "Talisman"
Mac Boggs
Metal sculpture[/caption] Mac Boggs was born and raised in Ashland, Ky. He earned a bachelor’s in art from the University of Kentucky and a master’s of fine arts (sculpture) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 1970-2013, Mr. Boggs was the professor of sculpture at Converse College in Spartanburg. He received numerous awards and honors, and in 1991, he was named Honorary Artist of Spartanburg by proclamation of the Mayor. In 2000, the Mayor proclaimed a “Mayo ‘Mac’ Boggs Day.” In 2008, he was selected to serve as a Technical Collaborator for the Lynne Streeter Art and Marble Stone-carving Summer Workshop of Pietrasanta, Italy. In 2010, Mr. Boggs was honored by Converse College, Wofford College, and USC-Upstate with a 40-year retrospective exhibition on each of the three campuses. And in 2013, he received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts, South Carolina's highest arts award. [caption id="attachment_35335" align="alignright" width="250"] Mac Boggs receives the Verner Award from then-Speaker Bobby Harrell in 2013.[/caption] He was best known for his metal sculptures in steel, stainless steel, and bronze. His work is in the presidential libraries of former U.S. presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and can be found internationally in permanent collections of numerous corporations. In addition, he has received sculpture commissions for public parks, libraries, college campuses, schools, local businesses, and private residences, two of which were for the home of the author, Lillian Jackson Braun. Mr. Boggs also carved marble and soapstone, and exhibited his photography and digital art. He frequently participated in local, regional, national, and international exhibitions. Also, he often served as a guest speaker for lecture-demonstrations. All the work in the Co-op exhibit will be on sale, ranging in price from $125 to $2,500 and all proceeds will be donated to the development of the Mac and Ansley Boggs Travel Scholarship Fund for Converse College art and education majors who do not have the financial means to travel. Mr. Boggs believed strongly in the importance of travel to a student’s art and life, Ansley Boggs said.
For more information about the Mac Boggs retrospective art exhibit at West Main Artists Co-op, please visit WestMainArtists.org.  

Sculpture by the late Mac Boggs on display at Chapman Cultural Center

Mac BoggsChapman Cultural Center has received the modern stainless steel sculpture, Chariot (pictured above), made by the late Mayo Mac Boggs, one of Spartanburg and South Carolina’s most noted artists. It is now displayed on Chapman’s campus, thanks to the artist’s widow, Ansley Boggs, Ed.D., an education professor at Converse College. Created in 2005, the piece was first named Constellation. However, in 2010, during Boggs’s 40th year Retrospective Exhibition on the college campuses of Converse, Wofford, and USC-Upstate, he redubbed it Chariot. In recent years, the piece has been showcased at USC-Upstate’s library. Boggs passed away in March 2014. Boggs had a long and celebrated career in the arts, after humble beginnings as the son of a welder in a Kentucky industrial city. In addition to his more than 40 years of teaching art at Converse College, he kept an active and productive career in creating art. Some of his noted achievements include receiving the 2013 Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award for arts education, the highest arts award given in South Carolina; being named “Professor Emeritus of Art” by Converse College in 2013; and being named “Honorary Artist of Spartanburg” in 1991. Boggs’s art is included in the Presidential Libraries of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. His work is located internationally in permanent collections of numerous corporations. In addition, he received many sculpture commissions for city parks, public libraries, college campuses, schools, local businesses, and private residences, one of which was for the home of author Lillian Jackson Braun. Regarding his inspiration and preferred medium, Boggs once said: “The welded steel sculpture has remained a constant as my medium of expression. I love the look, feel, taste, smell and sound of steel. My great-grandfather was a blacksmith in Kentucky; both my grandfathers and my father were welders and steelworkers. I grew up watching steel pouring from the blast furnaces and the nightly spectacular display of slag being dumped from huge, railroad-sized crucibles. I walked the railroad tracks and picked up scrap metal that had fallen from freight cars. The ironworker’s material and process were an everyday part of my childhood in Ashland, Kentucky. I have taken this material and its process and made art, continuing a family tradition of ironwork.” In his artist statement, dated March 2011, he wrote: “There are many things one can do to occupy his time while on this earth. I prefer to have non-verbal conversations with my soul. My art is the residue.” Chariot can be viewed daily at Chapman Cultural Center. Via: Chapman Cultural Center

Remembering Mac Boggs, Converse College professor and Verner Award recipient

We are saddened to note the passing of Mayo Mac Boggs. He was a beloved art professor at Converse College, an outstanding artist, and a 2013 recipient of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award for the Arts. (Image: Mac Boggs, center, with his wife, Ansley, and son, Will, at the 2013 Verner Awards ceremony.) From the Spartanburg Herald-Journal:

Over the last few weeks of his life, retired Converse College professor Mayo Mac Boggs received more than 200 cards, letters, phone calls and emails from the Converse College community.

College spokeswoman Beth Lancaster said Boggs, 71, who taught art at Converse for 43 years, died Monday after a long battle with heart disease.

“Mac will be remembered for his passion, for creative expression through art and sculpture and his devotion to his students and his Converse colleagues,” the college posted on Facebook Tuesday.

His wife, Ansley Boggs, a longtime education professor at Converse, said those messages her husband received in hospice even came from students who had never had him as a teacher. From his former students, he learned through their words how he had impacted not only them, but the lives of their children or grandchildren, or, if they followed his path into teaching, their students.

“The words used most often were 'inspirational, compassionate, generous, fun, larger than life,'” Ansley Boggs said Tuesday. “He helped his students discover and become confident in their own creativity and its magic.”

Ansley Boggs expressed thanks to her colleagues for their support during her husband's illness. She said they took over her responsibilities in the education department so she could care for Mac. She also said her colleagues brought the family dinner every night over the last couple of weeks.

“The response from the Converse community has been amazing,” she said.

Boggs, who worked in many mediums ranging from abstract painting, steel, bronze and stone, spent his entire teaching career at Converse. He is credited with bringing more of a focus on modern art to the campus, and during his first few years of teaching, the number of art majors grew from a small handful to more than 100, Lancaster said. Boggs oversaw construction of the Milliken Fine Arts Building, and he was responsible for the addition of several new art programs at the school, including interior design.

Boggs led trips abroad with students to see some of the world's most influential art. He took students to manufacturing companies to investigate methods for fabricating their visions. He made calls to help students land jobs and internships and recently helped his student Ayako Abe-Miller with the technical aspects of creating the 1,700-pound sculpture she was commissioned to build for the University of South Carolina School of Medicine's Greenville campus, Lancaster said.

Boggs grew up in Ashland, Ky. His father and grandfathers were welders and steelworkers and Boggs was always interested in scrap metal. He made a little spending money by gathering up pieces to sell to nearby businesses, and he began developing a sense of shape and structure at an early age.

He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Carolina.

Tennessee native and fellow professor Teresa Prater, who began working with Boggs at Converse in 1990, said that Appalachian background the two shared allowed them to work well together.

Through his vast contacts in the Spartanburg community, Boggs often found a way to garner supplies for the art students, like remnants of canvas or metal for them to create with, Prater said. He was one of the best liked teachers on campus, because he knew how to talk to students.

“If it was a beginning student, he could pull out skills and creativity that they probably didn't know they had,” she said.

Prater said Boggs could also inspire advanced students to create their best works.

From watching Boggs lead the department as chairman, Prater herself learned the skills and toughness she used when she later took on the leadership position.

“He was a good leader,” Prater said. “He was one of those guys who could take on a project and run with it. I learned that sometimes you have to push to get what the department needs, that you just gotta go out and get it.”

His last year of teaching, 2013, was difficult as he struggled with his illness, Prater said. But he kept coming back.

“That he taught so many years - it's amazing,” she said. “But he loved his students and he loved Converse. We're going to miss him, that's for sure.”

During his career, Boggs' work has been featured in the presidential libraries of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. Boggs' work is also displayed internationally in permanent collections of numerous corporations and private residences.

In 1981, the city of Spartanburg commissioned Boggs to produce a bronze medallion to commemorate the city's sesquicentennial. In 1991, he was named Honorary Artist of Spartanburg by mayor's proclamation. In 2000, April 29 was proclaimed “Mayo Mac Boggs Day” in the city.

In 2010, marking the occasion of Boggs' 40-year teaching career and contributions to the local arts community, a retrospective exhibition featuring more than 300 pieces of his work was hosted by Converse, Wofford College and University of South Carolina Upstate.

Through the years, Boggs gave generously to arts-related causes in Spartanburg, according to colleagues. He collaborated with Converse education professors on summer camp experiences for students with learning disabilities. He painted murals on the walls of a local school for students with disabilities and consulted with the director of arts at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind.

“Of the artists in South Carolina, Mac is one of the top ones, I think,” Prater said. “He's mostly been in the Upstate but he's made his mark in the community.”

Last year, Boggs received one of the state's highest art honors, the S.C. Arts Commission's Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award for art education. He was honored at a Statehouse ceremony last May.

Although the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, Boggs' focus always remained on teaching students at Converse, challenging them to discover their own creativity and make the most of their potential.

“I love the students,” Boggs told the Herald-Journal last year in a article about the state arts award. “I love watching them go, in a semester or four years, from total confusion, total self-doubt, to seeing themselves blossom and bloom. All it takes is one inspired person in the class to make it all worthwhile.”

Bailey Szustak, 21, graduated from Converse last May and is known for her horse sculptures on campus fashioned from metal and scraps, including rebar, electrical wiring, street signs and tires. She made seven of the life-size equine statues under Boggs' tutelage, and three since as she's begun studying philosophy for a master's degree in Texas.

Szustak had Boggs for four classes, including introduction to 3-D design, sculpture and stone cutting. It was that introduction class that sparked her passion for metal working.

“He was always saying, 'What about this? Did you think about doing this? Let's figure out how to make this happen,'” Szustak said, in describing how Boggs gently encouraged his students. He didn't tell students the “right” way to do something, but allowed them room to make mistakes and learn from them.

“I learned patience and flexibility,” Szustak said. “He encouraged trying new things. He would say, 'Let the art speak.' When I was in stone cutting, he said, 'Let the stone decide what it wants to be.' He was about the art work letting it speak for itself.”

Boggs' memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. March 22 at Daniel Recital Hall at Converse. All Converse alumnae, family and friends are invited to attend.

In addition to his wife, Boggs is survived by three daughters, Gretchen Boggs Smith, Susannah “Zan” Cain Farr, Jordan Cain Ilderton, and a son, Will Boggs.

Condolences and special memories may be sent to Ansley Boggs at ansley.boggs@converse.edu or mailed to her attention at Converse at 580 E. Main St., Spartanburg, SC 29302.

Reserve your ticket for the South Carolina Arts Gala!

Would you like your very own Pearl Fryar topiary for your garden? How about a sculpture by Mac Boggs, or a painting by Ethel Brody or Mary Whyte? These Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Awards for the Arts recipients are just four of the artists whose works will be for sale at the 2013 South Carolina Arts Gala on May 1. Alice Ballard Pod 2Presented by the South Carolina Arts Foundation, the gala is a perfect time to chat with the artists or add to your personal art collection while benefiting the arts in schools and communities around the state. All proceeds from the gala and the art auction and sale are used for the South Carolina Arts Commission's arts education and arts development programs. Last year, the S.C. Arts Foundation contributed more than $55,000 to bolster programs such as artist fellowships, arts education and artist training throughout the state.

  • What: South Carolina Arts Gala, featuring an art auction and sale of original artworks by some of the Palmetto State's most recognized artists, including functional and non-functional craft, paintings and sculpture.
  • When: May 1, 2013 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: the Grand Hall at 701 Whaley in Columbia
  • Why: to support the arts statewide, recognize the recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts and enjoy a fabulous party!
Tickets are $75 per person and may be purchased online with a credit card or check, or by calling (803) 734.8696. Reserve yours today! Read more and see the list of participating artists. Image: Alice Ballard, Pod 2, white earthenware & terra sig, 11.5 x 11 x 7; one example of art work in the auction and sale.  


South Carolina Arts Commission announces Verner Award recipients

The South Carolina Arts Commission Board announces the 2013 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts, the highest honor the state presents in the arts. Established in 1972, the annual awards recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina. This year’s recipients:

“Again this year we have an outstanding, diverse group of Verner Award winners,” said S.C. Arts Commission Board Chairman Dr. Sarah Lynn Hayes. “These exceptional individuals and organizations illustrate the true depth of the arts community in our state. We are grateful for their passion, their contributions and their commitment to serving as ambassadors and standard-bearers for the arts. They are certainly worthy of this highest honor.” Awards will be presented at a Statehouse ceremony tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 2. The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients and the arts community at the South Carolina Arts Gala on Wednesday, May 1. The gala is a fundraiser supporting the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Gala, call (803) 734-8696 or visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com.