Ben South unveils Alabama-inspired art for upcoming exhibit

Artist Ben South talks about the ideas and inspirations behind the pieces going into his upcoming exhibit. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – On Wednesday, artist and Tribune contributor Ben South stopped by O.F. Richter and Sons paint store in downtown Cullman to display six recent pieces featuring Alabama flowers painted in color palettes chosen by the store’s in-house color expert Maria Richter Schultz. She also helped South choose a specific color and hue to represent each of Alabama’s 67 counties as part of his Alabama 200 Bicentennial project to spotlight the local flavor of each county, and the artist presented Schultz an Alabama map with each county marked with the color she chose.

The six pieces, which South said were inspired by the works of Georgia O’Keeffe and Kenneth Noland, will be heading to Birmingham, along with paintings by Cullman artist Susan Oliver, for a joint fall exhibit at Mountain Brook’s Grand Bohemian Hotel.

South shared: “Before the new paintings from my ‘Alabama Garden Colors’ series leave my studio in Cullman and head to the Grand Bohemian Hotel Art Gallery in Mountain Brook, I wanted to publicly express my deep and sincere gratitude to Maria Richter Schultz, who is the best color consultant in America. I’m not exaggerating when I say this. I’ve been an artist in top galleries in Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville, Seaside for 40 years. Collectors buy my paintings for what one art critic called my “bodacious use of color.” I love color, especially the sun-infused colors found in Alabama gardens and farmers’ markets. I’ve never met a color I didn’t like.

“However, when I want to explore the intricate nuances of colors and hues and shadings, I defer to Maria Richter Schultz. She is ‘The Contessa of Colors.’ Cullman has a lot of talent and we had that today in our gathering. Tony Glover, who was with us and is the Cullman County coordinator of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, is perhaps ‘the best plantsman’ in Alabama.

“I wanted Tony Glover and Rachel Peinhardt Dawsey of the North Alabama Agriplex to be with me today because they have been so helpful in my Bicentennial project, ‘THE 67-COUNTY, ALABAMA GARDEN PARTY’ which runs in The Cullman Tribune. What I presented to Maria today was a map of Alabama where she helped me identify a unique plant color for each county. Think Cullman County strawberry, Montgomery County camellia, Mobile County azalea and 64 others. 

“The ‘Alabama Garden Color’ paintings will first be unveiled to the public with an opening reception on Friday, Oct. 4, from 5-7 p.m. at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook. Please know all of Cullman is invited.  This is a two-person show and the other artist is also from Cullman: Susan Oliver, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. John Oliver. Susan and I have been creating art for decades, but we still create new works with new perspectives, hence the show title, ‘EVERWONDERLAND.’”

At a glance

“EVERWONDERLAND,” an Alabama-inspired art exhibit by Ben South and Susan Oliver

Grand Bohemian Hotel, 2655 Lane Park Road, Birmingham

Opening Oct. 4, 2019, reception 5-7 p.m.

Copyright 2019 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Ben South presents Maria Richter Schultz a state map of color swatches she chose to represent each county. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

W.C. Mann