Kris Neely was just named the Assistant Dean for Studio Art and Instructor of Fine Art at Wofford College. And, he is an artist among angels.
Kris has been drawing and painting all his life. He was in the process of painting a series of saints and religious imagery when his older brother, Erik, passed away in 2000. Kris’ mom, Clare, asked him to create a small piece of art to hang by the door of his brother’s room. Kris painted a guardian angel. Clare realized that all of us have at least one “dark corner” in our lives and said “Let’s turn this into a party!” She began placing orders for guardian angels for her friends.
Kris creates his Guardians on found pieces of wood. These Guardians have been installed in church sanctuaries, college campuses, public parks, homeless shelters and cemeteries. Some were installed at Ghost Ranch (famous for the location where painter Georgia O’Keeffe created many of her most famous works) outside Santa Fe during his recent residency there. They have been welcomed gifts for expectant mothers, new drivers, and recent graduates.
With each Guardian he paints, Kris considers this his personal time for reflection, meditation and prayer. He believes that the images are far less important than the power of the rich global tradition they invoke. Kris said that 50% of all people in America (according to a Baylor University study) have had a personal experience of being protected by a guardian angel regardless of faith, race, or socio-economic status. In almost every major religion, there is some kind of angel imagery.
Kris has recently opened a small studio located at Hillcrest Specialty Row called Wet Paint Syndrome. He does commissioned work and you can visit his studio by appointment, during Art Walks or during the “Pop-Up Gallery Night” each month. The Pop-Up Gallery offers space for experienced or emerging artists to show their work and see how the community relates to it. This experiment has found a niche in Spartanburg art community that was underserved. In the first 6 months, 48 different local and regional artists have shared work at the Pop-Up Gallery. This grass roots effort is intended to build the local arts culture, supporting new artists and nurturing new collectors.
The Pop-Up Gallery is held on the first Thursday of every month. (The next Pop-Up is Thursday, April 1.) Art is accepted at 6:00 pm on a first come, first serve basis. Artists may bring up to two works and pay a $15 fee to exhibit. There is no commission on sales. Doors open to the public at 6:30 pm.