Lat­est Coastal Dis­cov­ery Mu­seum ex­hibit is a fam­ily af­fair

The Beaufort Gazette - - Stay Connected - BY NANCY K. WELLARD

I re­cently I drove to Honey Horn on Hil­ton Head to meet up with mem­bers of the Palmer fam­ily of artists. We were gath­er­ing to dis­cuss a col­lec­tion of the art­work of eight fam­ily mem­bers in the ex­hibit, “Gen­er­a­tions,” now show­ing in the gallery of the Coastal Dis­cov­ery Mu­seum. The ex­hibit will run through Feb. 25.

I ar­rived to a whirl of ac­tiv­ity. Palmer fam­ily mem­bers were ab­sorbed in fi­nal­iz­ing the place­ment and in­stal­la­tion of the re­main­ing paint­ings, sketches, and mem­o­ra­bilia which will make up the ex­hibit.

Ad­di­son Palmer in­vited me into a cor­ner of the gallery space, and Jim Palmer, his fa­ther, and Bar­bara, his mother, joined us as we talked about the ex­hibit.

“You know we had an ex­hibit of our work years and years ago, at the Arts Cen­ter,” said Bar­bara, “It was un­usual to ac­tu­ally carry that off. And, by the way, so much has changed over those in­ter­ven­ing years.”

The fam­ily clearly takes its work very se­ri­ously, but en­joys a lighter touch when it comes to rec­ol­lec­tions of child­hood, early years in and around coastal ar­eas in Ge­or­gia, North and South Carolina and Flor­ida, and their re­la­tion­ships with friends, fam­ily, and pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­ates.

I asked Jim to tell me some­thing I didn’t know about him. I re­minded him that we had both changed a lit­tle since I first met him around 1986, when my hus­band and I pur­chased one of his land­scapes. He be­gan to talk about his pas­sion for golf, and the fa­mous peo­ple he has come to know as a re­sult, in­clud­ing Pres- ident Eisen­hower, the late N.Y. Gov. Nel­son Rock­e­feller and Arnold Palmer.

Jim’s early days were spent in Co­lum­bia, where he at­tended the Univer­sity of South Carolina be­fore he moved on to the At­lanta School of Art. It was in 1965 that he, now mar­ried to his wife, Bar­bara, ar­rived on Hil­ton Head Is­land. They have been ac­tive in the local art com­mu­nity since.

The ex­hibit at Honey Horn is special be­cause the Palmers ac­tu­ally lived there for a time.

“The unique part of this ex­hi­bi­tion is shar­ing many of the fam­ily’s sto­ries from the past five decades,” said Natalie Hefter, the mu­se­ums’s vice pres­i­dent of pro­grams.

Jim’s art is in­cluded in na­tional, in­ter­na­tional, pri­vate, cor­po­rate and pub­lic col­lec­tions. Among the col­lec­tors are for­mer Pres­i­dents Jimmy Carter and Eisen­hower, for­mer South Carolina gov­er­nor Robert Mc­Nair, and singer John Den­ver.

When I asked Bar­bara what peo­ple might not know about her, she said she was the or­ga­nizer, the fixer, the ad­min­is­tra­tive artist, the fact-and-de­tail per­son who kept care­ful track of all things artis­tic re­lated to the Palmer fam­ily.

Ad­di­son ex­plained that many who ap­pre­ci­ate his work as an artist may not know about his in­volve­ment in dis­tance running. From his ear­li­est days, he ex­plained, he loved to run and, hap­pily shared that love of running with his sis­ter Elise. It is im­por­tant to note that Elise has work in the ex­hibit, and what’s more, Elise’s daugh­ter, Emily, who lives in New York, also has work in the fam­ily ex­hibit.

Ad­di­son ex­plained that when he was 12 or 13, one of his paint­ings was sold at an Evening of the Arts event.

“That was a kind of the of­fi­cial start, for me,” he said. “So here I am.”

He does com­mis­sion work, shows and ex­hibits, cre­ates work for spe­cific gal­leries, and teaches art classes.

“Though I do land­scapes, seascapes, wildlife and por­traits, “he said, “I con­tinue to fo­cus on my paint­ings of birds. Birds are just al­ways there.”

In 2018, he was in­vited to show one of his paint­ings in the in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned ex­hibit “Birds in Art.” Only ninety artists from around the world, were in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in the 43rd an­nual ex­hi­bi­tion at the Leigh Yawkey Wood­son Art Mu­seum in Wasau, Wis. Ad­di­son lives of­fi­cially in North Carolina, but he has projects on St Si­mons as well as on Hil­ton Head Is­land.

“All roads still lead here,” he said of Hil­ton Head Is­land.

Wal­ter Palmer, Jim’s brother, is renowned as a sculp­tor and known for his iconic bird sculp­tures, which he calls “peo­ple clev­erly dis­guised as birds.”

For more than 45 years, Wal­ter has been com­mis­sioned to cre­ate his flights of fancy for lux­ury ho­tels, com­mer­cial sites, and a long list of pri­vate col­lec­tors here and abroad.

Af­ter he grad­u­ated from At­lanta Col­lege of Art, he di­vided his time be­tween Hil­ton Head Is­land and the Flor­ida Keys.

His sculp­tures “Peo­ple Birds at Honey Horn”can been seen at The Westin re­sort, Belfair Plaza, and Van der Meer Ten­nis Cen­ter. He is cur­rently focused on a project in St Mary’s, Ga., where he has been com­mis­sioned to cre­ate ”Owls on Os­borne,” the place­ment of small bronze owls in key ar­eas of in­ter­est around the town.

Karen Palmer, Wal­ter’s wife, will have her water­col­ors in the fam­ily ex­hibit. The art­work of Wally Palmer and Kevin Palmer, Wal­ter’s sons, will also be in­cluded in the ex­hibit.

Wally is par­tic­u­larly known in Bluffton as a sculp­tor of sea crea­tures and is a ded­i­cated cre­ator of mo­saics.

The Palmer fam­ily ex­hi­bi­tion jux­ta­poses in­cred­i­ble sto­ries of a vi­brant, art filled with the past and po­si­tioned against a set­ting of nat­u­ral beauty.

“Not only is each mem­ber of the Palmer Fam­ily a tal­ent in their own right, but they also nur­ture and sup­port each other and our com­mu­nity as a whole.” Hil­ton Head Is­land artist LouAnne La Roche said.

IF YOU GO

What: “Gen­er­a­tions,” an ex­hibit of art by eight mem­bers of the Palmer fam­ily.

Where: The Coastal Dis­cov­ery Mu­seum, 70 Honey Horn Lane, Hil­ton Head, through Feb. 25.

Ex­tra: A cel­e­bra­tory re­cep­tion hon­or­ing the Palmer Fam­ily is from 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 17. For more in­for­ma­tion, call 843-6896767 or visit CoastalDis­cov­ery.org.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Ad­di­son Palmer and Bar­bara Palmer pose for a photo in the gallery at the Coastal Dis­cov­ery Mu­seum.

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