Museums in Review: Part II | Eastern North Carolina Now

The Franklin G. Burroughs and Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum Features the Story Painter: E. B. Lewis

    Every time I vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I visit the Burroughs and Chapin Art Museum on Ocean Boulevard near the Farrow Parkway intersection with Kings Highway (US Hwy. 17 Business). The little museum, with its back facing the blue of the Atlantic Ocean, on every sunny day, often has a worthwhile show of some talented artist that is of local or regional renown.

    On my latest visit, I had the pleasure of viewing the works of E.B. Lewis, who describes himself as an Artistrator, in the museum’s Story Painter exhibit.. I was intrigued because his use of watercolor as the medium to present his subjects, mostly illustrations of books about African Americans and illustrations of poems about the vitality of rivers in the lives of Negroes in African American Langston Hughes’
The Negro Speaks of Rivers.

    Mr. Lewis’ watercolors as illustrations of The Negro Speaks of Rivers are as free a flowing wash as the rivers that Mr. Hughes speaks of. And like Hughes lyrical dissertations capturing the textural mood of these free flowing arteries traversing the United States, and in particular the South, Mr. Lewis’ watercolors also capture the rivers’ flowing form in the glory of the familiarity of constant energy.

Mr. Lewis’ textural energy resulting from his rich choice of colors in their pleasing forms in his water colors is a continuation of who he is as well as who we all are: The children of the maternal fresh waters of our eternal rivers. I believe this is why I enjoy water colors so much. We, humans, have a body mass that is over 65% water, the Earth is over 65% water, we eat what lives in the water, we cannot exist without water in our diet and we need water to feed the soul.


    Some folks are sailors, I need rivers and watercolor. E. B. Lewis is more than qualified as an watercolorist to quench my thirst for the medium. Like any good watercolor artist, Mr. Lewis uses his wash to set the tone of his work, and then works in a few layers of thicker washes, scalable in tone, to give his paintings the necessary dept so they might convey some sense of perspective, and finishes them off with paint of a much thicker consistency, probably resembling a mucous of as a less dry “dry brush,” which projects the perspective of reality, and breathes life into his rendered world.

    Sounds complicated? Watercolor is complicated if you are any good. Many self-proclaimed artist would never attempt watercolor as a finished medium. E.B. Lewis does this and he heightens the effect of his art by discussing subjects that are important to himself. Art is communication, and whether one understands or appreciates Mr. Lewis’ message; he is laying it out there in a medium that he is quite competent in - watercolor.

The subjects hanging in the B & C Art Museum are: the human toll of slavery, predominately as shown within Lewis’ work, during the 19th century in the United States of America. Besides the inhuman treatment of people within the context of slavery, the liberating exhilaration of freedom, shown within these illustrations from the book, I Want to be Free.

    And that’s the way it is with The Franklin G. Burrows and Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach: It is often hit rather miss in their galleries when they show the work of the many regional artists. The museum boasts intimate, though spatially arranged, galleries that concentrate on showcasing of the artist, not the museum; however, from the rear enclosed porch one has an outstanding view of the Atlantic Ocean. Also the museum offers its guests free hot specialty teas, and on occasion, cookies.

    The museum is free of charge, but accepts donations, and has a gift shop that offers prints of the featured artists. My suggestion: Make the B & C Museum a destination when visiting Myrtle Beach. You may have the pleasure of seeing an artist of E. B. Lewis’ stature.

    This article provided courtesy of our sister site: Better Angels Now.
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