Press Release: Zenith Gallery est 1978



Art of South Carolina

November 30 December 30, 2007


Opening Reception

Friday, November 30, 6-9 pm



 Dance Hall Romance by Jonathan Green       High Cotton Down Home Blues by Leo Twiggs         Male Crabs by Cassandra Gillens

   silk screen                                                         batik on cotton                                                         oil on canvas                   



Jonathan Green    Leo Twiggs    

Diane Dunham    Cassandra Gillens    Susan Graber    Arianne King Comer

    Herman Leonhardt    Marguerite Middleton    Jane Spratt


Works depicting the Gullah and African-American culture of the South Carolina Lowcountry are at the heart of this show of paintings, batik, collage, sweetgrass baskets and glass, inspired by the landscapes, churches, school houses marshes, moonlight and traditions of the unique Sea Islands region. 


Jonathan Green’s (painter) vibrant and colorful art is the quintessential rendering of Gullah life on South Carolina's Lowcountry coast.  The first known artist of Gullah heritage to receive formal professional art training, at the Art Institute of Chicago, he is considered one of the most important painters of the southern experience.  Raised in Gardens Corner, South Carolina, now living in Naples, Florida, Green continues to draw inspiration from his ancestral home.  His paintings are exhibited in major venues nationally and internationally.  Green’s only works in this show are signed, limited-edition silk screens.


Leo Twiggs (batik artist) is a leading African-American artist of the post-1945 generation, well known internationally for his pioneering work in the application of the batik process in contemporary art.  Raised in St. Stephen, South Carolina, he uses amorphous figures in an often-muted palette to portray a range of themes, from race relations to family bonds.  Twiggs has been featured in 75 one-man shows, television documentaries and textbooks, and exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the American Craft Museum.  In 2002, he was selected to design an ornament for the White House Christmas tree. Twiggs is professor emeritus at South Carolina State University, where he developed the school’s art department and Stanback Museum.


Diane Dunham (painter), though raised and educated in Ohio, spent many childhood years in Louisiana and, at age 25, moved to Beaufort, South Carolina where she has lived for more than 25 years.  Drawing on her southern experience, she paints intricate forms with brilliant colors.  A self-taught mixed-media artist and instructor, Dunham has received honors and awards from South Carolina’s Artisan Center, the Gullah Festival and the Beaufort Art Association.  Her works have been featured in galleries in the southeast and in Southern Living and Black Enterprise magazines.


Cassandra Gillens (painter), a self-taught artist, raised in Massachusetts, visited Beaufort, South Carolina often as a child, and has lived there now for many years.  Inspired by the culture she cherished as a youngster, Gillens paints portraits of simple southern living in bold vivid colors.  Her work is in galleries and private collections throughout South Carolina and the southeast, and she has been featured in Southern Living, United Airlines’ Mainliner in-flight magazine and other newspapers and magazines. 


Susan Graber (painter), known primarily for her figurative portrait work, paints on canvas and board with a quiet, compelling beauty.  Graber worked as a paralegal until leaving her job a few years ago to devote herself to art full-time.  Since then, she has been honored for her work and, today, her paintings are in private and public collections throughout the eastern United States and Europe. Graber studied art at the Gibbes Museum in Charleston and the Savannah College of Art and Design.


Arianne King Comer (batik artist) creates murals, quilts, paintings and wall hangings, using the deep violet-blue dye extracted from the indigo plant, once grown abundantly in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Now residing in Charleston, King Comer lived on St. Helena Island in Beaufort, SC, where she was director of the Ibile Indigo House at Penn Center.  She received a BFA from Howard University, did graduate work at the Cranbrook Art Academy and studied indigo processing in Nigeria on a United Nations grant. Her work is shown and collected throughout the southeast.


Herman Leonhardt (glass artist) lives deep in the swamp on the Edisto River, where he has worked as a self-taught glassblower for 20 years, influenced by the freedom, color, contrast, wildlife and abundant beauty of his surroundings.  His work is in galleries and private collections throughout the southeastern United States.


Marguerite Middleton’s (basket maker) family has been making traditional sweetgrass baskets for generations, and she is one of the art form’s most recognized weavers.  A school principal by day, Middleton preserves the craft, which was brought to the Charleston area 300 years ago by slaves from West Africa.  Today, sweetgrass baskets stand as a symbol of the Lowcountry area, and can be found in museums and private collections throughout the world, such as the Museum of American History at the Smithsonian.


Jane Spratt (collagist and painter) lives in upcountry South Carolina yet she insinuates the same simple themes of everyday life and sense of place as others artists in this show.  Spratt studied art, drawing, painting and photography at the Corcoran School and has participated in group and solo shows in South Carolina, Washington, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Background:  The Gullah are descendants of slaves, living along the South Carolina and Georgia Sea Islands, who have retained their African cultural heritage more than any other group of Black Americans due to their geographical isolation and strong community life.  They speak a creole language similar to Sierra Leone Krio, use African names, tell African folktales, make African-style handicrafts such as baskets and carved walking sticks, and enjoy a rich cuisine based primarily on rice.

Address:         Zenith Gallery, 413 Seventh Street NW, Washington DC 20004

Metro: Red/Yellow/Green to Verizon Center or Yellow/Blue to Navy Memorial



Hours:            Tuesday-Friday: 11am-6pm, Saturday: 11am-7pm, Sunday: noon-5pm


Info:                 202-783-2963   


Contact:         For more information and high-quality images, contact Judith Keyserling at 202-726-1627 or


Zenith Gallery:  Founded by Margery E. Goldberg and recognized for three decades for its varied selection of abstract, contemporary and realism paintings and sculpture, Zenith Gallery has been placing art in public, residential and corporate collections throughout the Washington metropolitan area, nationally and internationally.  Zenith Gallery is a member, and Margery Goldberg is treasurer, of the Art Dealers Association of Greater Washington.