Creating Works of Art: John Pendarvis

Creating Works of Art: John Pendarvis

Each year GCCA features over 100 local artists in its Annual Showcase during the months of August and September. The upcoming 2022 Annual Showcase will mark the seventh consecutive year of the exhibition. This showing of the community’s proliferation in the arts would not be possible without the generous support of donors, who in this case, double as the artists themselves. Those who donate $50 or more become members of GCCA and gain eligibility to showcase one of their artworks in the Annual Showcase. This exhibition is a non-juried opportunity and gives artists the freedom to display their own unique styles. 

For GCCA member John Pendarvis, donating to his local community art center can help serve many purposes. He states, “It is tough enough already for artists to find venues to not only show their artwork but also find places that serve as sources of encouragement.” By supporting GCCA, John hopes that his donations each year help artists of all ages to find courage in themselves to put brush to canvas and through the Annual Showcase, provide a venue for those artists to begin their art journey.

John is no stranger to GCCA or the Greenville art scene. He served on GCCA’s Main Gallery exhibition committee, helping create over 10 exhibitions. John is also a native South Carolina artist whose work reflects his love of music, and his Southern African American heritage. He shows his artwork across South Carolina but also participated in two of the past Annual Showcases at GCCA. In the 2021 Annual Showcase, John displayed his painting entitled “Boy In White Shirt.” John explains about the painting, “This was a statement piece reflective on black lives matters and the shooting of George Floyd. It represents all the black men that have a target on them figuratively and literally. I generally don’t do statement or activism pieces but I felt compelled to share my voice on this matter.” 

John plans to participate in this year’s Annual Showcase. He and many other local artists will have their work on display in the Main Gallery from August 5th to September 28th, 2022. Be sure to donate and submit artwork yourself before the July 22nd, 2022 RSVP deadline.

Creating a Network: Suzanne Woolf

Creating a Network: Suzanne Woolf

As a thriving community art center, an important aspect of GCCA is its volunteer network. Volunteers at GCCA help with the day-to-day operations including providing customer and docent services at the front desk and in the galleries, assisting with events and programming, and offering much-needed support for a small staff. In honor of National Volunteer Week, we’ve highlighted one of GCCA’s volunteers, Suzanne Woolf, who donates her time and talent each Tuesday morning manning GCCA’s front desk, as well as assisting with a variety of special projects. Suzanne is a mixed media artist with a home studio in the West End. She also teaches collage and mixed media as one of GCCA’s workshop instructors. 

Kara Bale, GCCA’s Operations Manager, had the pleasure of interviewing Suzanne to find out more about her background and volunteering at GCCA.

1. How and when did you first learn about GCCA?

When my husband and I first moved to Greenville I made an effort to stop in at some of the local galleries and the Metropolitan Art Council. I don’t recall who specifically directed me to GCCA but I’m sure it was one of those organizations.

2. What made you want to volunteer your time at GCCA?

I thought volunteering at an art center would be a great way to meet other artists and get to know the Greenville art community, and I was right.

3. Where are you from and how long have you been in Greenville?

I grew up in Minnesota but spent 25 years in and around Boston, which is where I met my husband. We moved to Greenville in 2015. We had grown tired of the winters and were ready for change. For me that meant leaving the corporate world so I could focus on my art full time and I haven’t looked back.

4. Tell me a little about your own art practice… What do you create and why do you like that medium?

My elevator pitch is “I am a mixed media and collage artist. I primarily use vintage papers and ephemera in the background. I then incorporate vintage photos as the focal point adding them using an image transfer technique with acrylic medium.”  I like the idea of the story that vintage materials provide, taking the discarded and giving it a new life. Who was the person that wrote that letter or what is the story of the person in the photo. It’s nostalgic and mysterious.

5. When you aren’t making art or volunteering at GCCA, what do you like to do with your free time?

When I’m not creating art I love making altered books and teaching classes, at GCCA and other locations. I also enjoy reading, running, baking, and spending time with my husband.

6. Do you have a favorite artist? If yes, why?

This is a very difficult question as I love a broad spectrum of art but two come to mind. I think Joseph Cornell was a master at assemblage, which to me is like a 3-D collage. Robert Rauschenberg’s use of everyday materials shows how art can be created from the most mundane materials.

Volunteerism isn’t only a key factor in the success of GCCA and other non-profit organizations, but also provides positive health benefits to those who do it, as detailed in this article from  Science Daily.

If you are interested in learning how you can get involved as a volunteer at GCCA, please email

Creating a Legacy: Laird Green

Creating a Legacy: Laird Green

As one of GCCA’s most dedicated cheerleaders and ambassadors, Laird Green, a Certified Financial Planner at Abacus Planning Group, can often be found at our First Friday events and bringing her friends and colleagues to view our exhibitions. But her strongest pull is toward GCCA’s educational ARTalk series, which her firm has generously sponsored since 2019. 

Abacus Planning Group is a fee-only financial advisory firm whose mission is to be a partner for entrepreneurial families with shared assets. Managing over $1.7 billion on behalf of its 250+ families, Abacus consists of a team of multi-disciplinary experts who work collaboratively to serve clients.

As we approach Thanksgiving, Laird explains that thankfulness is top-of-mind year-round for Abacus. “At Abacus, one of our cultural norms is to practice gratitude and we like to openly express our thankfulness in lots of different ways. We think that sharing gratitude is a joy, so we love times like this when we can give a personal shout-out to GCCA and the staff who make the mission a reality. We believe the ARTalks offer our audience the opportunity to interact with GCCA’s exhibiting artists from across the country and learn more about the creative process. “

Abacus Planning Group has three philanthropic pillars: social justice, education, and the arts. Their advisors practice their motto “create abundance” by helping their clients to set and pursue their financial goals as well as by giving back to the community. “We feel like by giving to organizations like GCCA across South Carolina, we can help everyone in our state live a more abundant life,” Laird explains. “We know that we thrive as an organization and individually when our communities thrive.”

When asked about why Abacus supports GCCA and what is meaningful about this partnership, Laird emphasizes how the ARTalks make arts education more accessible to the community and offer a chance for people from all walks of life to connect with the artists. “We think that the ARTalks beautifully connect the artists, and their stories and techniques, to fellows artists and others who are coming to listen and to learn more. Allowing the artists to share their stories is so powerful and the interactive format really engages the audience members who can ask questions and explore more.”

Laird and her colleagues at Abacus Planning Group are passionate about helping explore philanthropic giving with their clients. “We have a conversation with every client around goals for lifetime and legacy gifts,” she says, “and we help clients dovetail those philanthropic goals with tax-savvy strategies. For example, gifting appreciated securities, Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs), and using retirement account beneficiary designations to leave funds to a charity.” 

To learn about the many ways you can give to GCCA to support our mission, please contact Chelsea Rudisill, Development Director, at Thank you for considering GCCA when planning your year-end philanthropic giving. Thanks to a generous donor, your gift of any amount will be matched dollar for dollar until December 31, 2021.

Creating a Partnership: Jared Stanley

Creating a Partnership: Jared Stanley

For Jared Stanley, PhD, printmaking presents a fascinating and rewarding way to develop visual communication in his artwork. An Assistant Professor of Art + Design at Bob Jones University and the Chair of the Contemporary Print Collective (CPC), Jared was first drawn to printing in college and now passes on his knowledge teaching techniques in intaglio, relief, serigraphy, lithography, and additive processes.

“I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist, which meant I keenly felt the ‘work’ side of ‘artwork,’” he explains. “As a graphic design student in my first printmaking class, Harrell Whittington asked us to play with gesso, cut paper, hot glue, sand, and whatever other scraps we could find. The process in making that first collagraph was immensely freeing. ‘Play’ and ‘art’ had not seemed to go together before that.”

In his role at the CPC, Jared works alongside other members to create, exhibit, collaborate, and educate through printmaking and within the contemporary dialectic of art. The group seeks to foster an awareness of original, hand-pulled prints by promoting exhibitions, educational opportunities, and encouraging the art of collecting prints.  

CPC has enjoyed a partnership with GCCA for many years, using its facility as a meeting venue, for print fairs, and for exhibitions of local and international print exchanges. Now GCCA and CPC are poised to take their partnership to the next level with the opening of a new printmaking classroom as part of GCCA’s current upfit project, slated for completion in early 2022. “We are thrilled that GCCA has turned to our collective expertise to aid with the development of a printmaking classroom, and I am excited that there will be a shared space to help GCCA accomplish educational goals to expand the printmaking community here in Greenville.” Jared says. “The new printmaking space also will be a valuable resource for local printmakers to practice and produce their art. It can be difficult and cost-prohibitive for an artist to outfit a home workspace for printmaking. We hope that this space will encourage local artists to resume their exploration of printmaking processes and share their work and knowledge with our community.”

With this in mind, the CPC aims to make sure the space has the base necessities for a printmaker working in a variety of intaglio and relief processes. The classroom will include two presses, wash-sinks, paper baths, flat files, worktables, a clean room, and many other features.

Creating a Spark: Savannah Ralph

Creating a Spark: Savannah Ralph

Before painter Savannah Ralph was selected as one of the 2020-21 Brandon Fellows, Savannah admits, “I wasn’t creating much art, and I had zero connections with local artists. I was bad at maintaining a good practice ethic, I felt uninspired, and my skills and imagination were fading.” 

Something about the pandemic prompted Savannah to apply for the Brandon Fellowship, and when selected, Savannah took every opportunity to practice and learn. “Somewhere along the line, I got my creative spark back,” Savannah shares. “Instead of being an artist who only creates sometimes, I became an artist who creates daily. Not only have I improved my diligence, I have also discovered new talents.”

When the fellowship began, Savannah had no idea that a passion for teaching would develop. Now committed to and inspired by passing on knowledge to others, Savannah has become a regular and popular GCCA instructor in acrylic painting.

Savannah has also created a new network of connections with artists and art enthusiasts, as well as Anna Grace Burch and Evan Givens, the other talented 2020-21 Brandon Fellows. “We have wildly different creative processes and styles, but even with our differences, I believe we were able to inspire each other to do our best,” Savannah explains. 

The work of these three artists is now on display in GCCA’s Main Gallery as part of the Annual Showcase. They will also be sharing insights into their processes and experiences at an ARTalk on September 14 from 6-7 pm at GCCA that will also be broadcast on Facebook Live.

Savannah’s exhibition focuses on personal struggles with mental health. “The year of my Brandon Fellowship was one of the best and worst years of my life. I was given such an amazing opportunity, but I was also dealing with quite a lot of outside stress. My exhibition represents the complex intricacies of mental illness, my journey to self-discovery, and my search to find meaning in my hardships,” Savannah says. “For me, art is my catharsis. I have painful, overflowing emotions that I need to express. I’ve always found that expressing myself through visual images is easier than finding the words to describe it. Before I was a Brandon Fellow, I was much less confident in my artwork. As a neurodivergent person, I always felt like an outcast. I am confident in my work now, and my ultimate goal as an artist is to create work that viewers can look at and think, ‘I understand. I feel seen.’”

Creating a Composition: Flavio Varani

Creating a Composition: Flavio Varani

Effectively arranging the elements of a composition is key to achieving balance in any work of art. To Flavio Varani, that concept is fundamental. His career as an international concert pianist requires a balance between intuition and dedicated practice to truly thrive in that field. That sentiment should also be associated with his newest calling as an oil painter. “Visual art is simply an addition to my music,” he explains. “I already play music thinking through colors, shapes, and rhythms.”

Flavio recognizes the parallels between the visual arts and music. He chuckles, “Visual art is like music. You need an audience.” And he would know. Flavio plays classical sonatas across the globe from America to Japan and just about everywhere in between. When he is not traveling the world to perform in concert halls, Flavio can be found at GCCA in painting class, attending exhibition openings, or participating in the Annual Showcase. In each of the past three Annual Showcases, he has displayed a painting.

Flavio credits his entire painting class and instructor, Peggy Tanner Day, for the encouragement to exhibit his work. “My class is ideal for me.,” he says. “Peggy respects what I do, gives opinions, and answers my questions. She will find the best in you. That is exactly what I needed.”

Flavio continually seeks to learn, improve, and eventually, exhibit his work as a professional visual artist. His piece in this year’s Annual Showcase is titled “Artichokes and Flowers”. In the painting, he depicts an ensemble of artichokes in various sizes and colorations. He is intrigued by the nuanced greens in the petals in contrast with vibrant colors of their flower’s bloom. However, the importance of the vegetable reaches beyond that of colors. It also has familial ties.

“Artichokes were important in my childhood,” Flavio recalls. “My mother bought artichokes from a farmer. To make the farmer give us the beautiful artichokes, she made us kids play the accordion. So, we as kids, had to entertain the farmer for a better price.” 

Be sure to see Flavio’s work alongside many other GCCA members in this year’s Annual Showcase that will be on display until Wednesday, September 22.

Creating Future Artists: Eliana Kim

Creating Future Artists: Eliana Kim

This week, GCCA Summer Art Camp instructors, Olivia Hueble, Neci Harris, and Kirsten Bush, would like to shine the spotlight on a very special camper. Eight-year-old Eliana Kim has attended nearly every week of Summer Art Camp this year. We wanted to know why, with so many options for youth summer activities in Greenville, Eliana and her family chose GCCA.

Eliana and her mom, Kim, talked with Program Director Liz Rundorff Smith about hobbies, favorite mediums, and future goals. We hope you’ll enjoy the conversation as much as we did.

Be sure to visit the Summer Art Exhibition on Friday, August 6 from 6 – 9pm to see what our Art Campers created this year!

GCCA: Eliana, can you tell us a little bit about you? 

ELIANA: I am eight years old, and I love to draw and paint. I love biking, too. I have one brother and have one pet fish named Jelly.

GCCA: Why did you choose to come to art camps at GCCA this summer? 

ELIANA: I chose to come to art camp at GCCA because I wanted to experience different kinds of art using different materials, and GCCA was perfect for that. Each week, I was able to work with different materials such as clay, printmaking materials, and fiber art. 

GCCA: You’ve participated in several weeks of camp. Can you tell us which week of camp has been your favorite and why?

ELIANA: Clay camp has been my favorite so far because it was my first time working with clay, and I got to build a sculpture with it. It was very fun and a new experience for me. I learned that when clay is breaking, you use water on the clay.

GCCA: Why do you think art is important?  

ELIANA: I think art is important because it brings out a person’s creativity and allows people to share it with each other.

GCCA: What kinds of art projects would you like to do more of in the future?

ELIANA: I would like to do more painting in the future because it is my favorite activity, and I can also learn about different types of paints to create my artwork.

Creating a Voice: Jordan Winiski

Creating a Voice: Jordan Winiski

Jordan Winiski first learned about Greenville Center for Creative Arts five years ago when she was a high school student attending the Fine Arts Center.  Jordan wanted to get involved in the arts community outside of the classroom so she volunteered to help with the kid’s activity during a First Friday at GCCA and found a place where she could see that people of all ages felt included and supported.  Jordan knew that being part of GCCA would help to foster her love of the arts and her desire to teach so she continued to find ways to get involved.  

The arts have been important to Jordan for as long as she can remember.  For Jordan, art provides a way of thinking, communicating, problem-solving, learning, and expressing herself.  Growing up Jordan remembers her gramma taking her to art museums and always having a new package of Model Magic for her to play with. Because Jordan’s family values and appreciates art, she has always felt supported enough to pursue her interest.  In addition to family support, Jordan credits amazing art teachers who inspired her and made her want to pursue becoming an artist and an art teacher.  She recently graduated from Furman University where she majored in Sustainability Science and Studio Art with a concentration in ceramics.  

With a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree under her belt, Jordan hopes to continue teaching and creating ceramic artwork before pursuing a Master of Fine Arts Degree in the future.  Jordan is currently a lead art instructor for GCCA’s Summer Art Camps and will be offering Functional Sculpture for Teens on Tuesdays from 1 – 4 pm beginning July 13 and Sketchbook Design for Teens on Thursdays from 1 – 4 pm beginning July 15 this summer.  

As a teacher, Jordan hopes to cultivate a community of young artists who are able to discover an artistic voice by bringing their interests to life through visual art.  In the classroom, Jordan incorporates experiential activities and community engagement to help students develop a connection to a broader sense of self.  She encourages students to consider how pulling from experiences outside of the classroom will impact how they choose to express themselves as artists.  Jordan believes that education is critical at all ages and finds that GCCA is unique because it is an organization that provides programs for all ages and skill levels, combines an inclusive vision with community outreach, and fosters a deep commitment to education. As Jordan states, “GCCA is a crucial part of a thriving community that fosters collaboration, student ownership in their work, social activism, personal expression, and overall a lifelong investment in the arts.”

Creating Opportunities: Bill Stephenson

Creating Opportunities: Bill Stephenson

“What GCCA offers isn’t being done anywhere else in Greenville,” says Bill Stephenson, and he should know. Bill has been an avid art collector and arts enthusiast, advocate, and philanthropist in Greenville for many years. He has made it his mission to support local artists and has served on the board of several Greenville nonprofits. Since retiring from a career in banking, Bill continues to serve on the board of directors for the Metropolitan Arts Council (MAC) and is a member of GCCA’s Development Committee as an ambassador for fundraising. But perhaps Bill’s most influential contribution to the arts community is his personal art collection. Bill is pleased to share that now over 90% of his collection is made up of the work of local artists.

At a GCCA community artists’ show several years ago, Bill bought a piece of artwork from an emerging artist who had been taking classes at the Art School with artist Pat Kilburg, a GCCA instructor and current Board Chair. The artist approached Bill, thanking him profusely and could barely contain his excitement. Later, Bill found out that he had purchased the very first piece this artist had ever sold. It was not only a meaningful moment for the artist, but is a memory that has stuck with Bill.

Experiences rubbing shoulders with emerging artists and seeing first-hand the impact of offering fledgling artists opportunities to learn and grow as creatives fuels Bill’s passion for the arts. “I think scholarships and programs like the Brandon Fellowship are important for the growth of young and budding artists to have more opportunities in the arts. The welcoming environment at GCCA provides art education and support to artists at all levels, which is a big reason why I give to GCCA.”

When he first learned about the inception of a new organization in GCCA, Bill immediately recognized the need for an art center to provide hands-on art instruction at all levels from novice to professional. He recalls getting a tour of the former Brandon Mill that would soon be home to GCCA and being excited that this historic property would also be a community hub for the visual arts. He was also impressed by the tenacity and foresight of the founders, particularly the women leaders who had a vision, saw an opportunity, and took action; and it made him want to get involved. 

Bill is excited about GCCA’s role in strengthening Greenville’s reputation as a “city of the arts.” “My donations allow GCCA to continue to expand its offering of art classes, grow its programs for emerging artists, and showcase exhibits that feature artists both locally and from across the county. I am excited about the future of GCCA and want to play a part in its growth and success.” In so many ways, Bill’s service and philanthropy are creating opportunities for local artists and contributing to their long-term success. 

We are thankful for dedicated supporters like Bill who make it possible for GCCA to fulfill its mission. We cannot do this work without you! If you’d like to contribute to GCCA’s Annual Fund, please click here. We appreciate your support!

Creating a Path: Thomas Hicks

Creating a Path: Thomas Hicks

Even though he is only a teenager, Thomas Hicks’s path has already been full of twists and turns. As an elementary school student, he aspired to be a banker–that is until he entered middle school and discovered a passion for the arts.

His first love was singing, but stage fright prevented him from being accepted into Greenville County Schools’ prestigious Fine Arts Center as a freshman. So he pivoted again and found his niche. “I started taking pictures on my phone, setting up scenes, and experimenting with light and composition,” he explains. “This inspired me to pursue the visual arts.”

When he applied to the Fine Arts Center as a sophomore, he was accepted. Thomas’s medium is still-life photography, and while he shoots primarily in digital, he also works with Polaroid and medium-format cameras. He enjoys finding beautiful places and setting up things around them, like fruit or other objects, to create unique compositions.

Thomas will be one of seven Fine Arts Center full-day students whose work will be featured in GCCA’s Community Gallery from May 7 through June 23. The exhibition will explore the definition of place. From themes like place in society to place in evolution, these advanced young artists will showcase how high school students view not only themselves, but the world around them. They will also take part in shadowing GCCA’s Gallery Manager, Ben Tarcson, to learn how to design a show.

Thomas’s work will be a collection of collages that include found materials and family images processed in cyanotype that he hopes will evoke a sense of nostalgia. “I want people to think about their own childhood memories and make new ones by putting themselves in the shoes of the people in the images,” he shares. “I have not been to many galleries before, so I am excited about this opportunity for me and my peers to see the potential of our work. It will be a great experience for our future careers to install these pieces and learn about that process.” 

As to where his path will take him, Thomas says, “College is the goal, and I’d also like to get an arts internship. Longer-term, I see myself living somewhere pretty in the countryside practicing as a working artist, making prints of my work, and collaborating with other artists to create something special.”