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David Yaghjian’s painting featured in Charlotte newspaper article and Winthrop University Art Gallery exhibit

This past Friday, September 21, the Charlotte Observer ran the following article advertising an art exhibition at Winthrop University. Vista Studio artist David Yaghijan is included in the exhibit and his acrylic on linen painting Evening was featured in the following article by Richard Maschal.

Winthrop exhibit reflects eclectic taste of man who sought out pieces

By RICHARD MASCHAL

A presence fills Winthrop University Galleries, hung with paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture.

It is of Mark Coplan, the collector who bought this art — all of it connected to South Carolina — and who loved searching it out, meeting artists and exercising his passion.

“He was just a big guy with a big heart,” said Tom Stanley, director of the galleries and a friend of Coplan, who died unexpectedly in 2002 in his 50s.

The 28 works are the first showing of a significant collection of S.C. contemporary art. Another show taken from the collection opens Oct. 12 at the S.C. State Museum in Columbia.

The State Museum bought 110 of the about 420 pieces Coplan gathered over 20 years for $125,000, its largest-ever art acquisition.

At Winthrop are well-known S.C. artists such as Leo Twiggs, Ed Lewandowski and Carrie McCallum. Coplan had eclectic taste, so the exhibit includes folk art, fine art and outsider art.

Here is Maria Kirby Smith’s statue of Jesse Helms as a lawn jockey, a textile mill depicted by Leonard Chastain and a face jug by Billy Henson. There’s also a seemingly primitive but well-painted figurative piece by Neville Chuzzlewit, a.k.a. Tom Styron, director of the Greenville County Museum of Art.

The free public opening happens 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Rutledge Building on campus, with blues by the Fabulous Wild Cats.

Coplan, who worked in real estate and insurance and lived in Columbia, had a passion for collecting art.

Most weekends, he’d drive to different parts of South Carolina hunting work. He had a good eye and was not out only for established artists but loved finding work by a promising student or a beginner on the rise.

“It was an adventure for him,” said Stanley.

One painting in the show is by a youthful Paul Matheny, now chief curator at the S.C. State Museum. He’ll give a talk on Coplan at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Rutledge Auditorium.

Coplan didn’t necessarily spend a lot of money. Sometimes he bargained over the price. Sometimes he paid for a work at $100 a month. The checks were always on time, said Stanley, because Coplan respected artists.

He would invite them to his house to see the work hung and to socialize.

Sometimes he drove to the Hodges Taylor Gallery in Charlotte.

“He was one of my favorite people in the whole world,” said gallery co-owner Christie Taylor. “He’d come up and often we’d sit on the floor and split a bottle of wine and talk about art.”

Coplan died without a will, so his collection was divided between his three sisters. Stanley hopes this exhibit — with work from the State Museum and the sister living in New Jersey — will help ensure the collection stays together.

For his vision, Coplan will receive posthumously Winthrop’s Medal of Honor in the Arts at an Oct. 19 ceremony.

Stanley hopes his example will inspire others.

“There just aren’t enough Mark Coplans in South Carolina,” he said.

The Collector

One man’s vision offers a look at art in South Carolina.

WHEN: Through Nov. 2. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.

WHERE: Winthrop University Galleries, Rutledge Building, Rock Hill.

ADMISSION: Free.

DETAILS: 803-323-2493; www.winthrop.edu/vpa/galleries.

To visit the website for Gallery 80808/Vista Studios where David Yaghjian’s studio is located, please click here.

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