DENMARK – The art of Dalequan Nelson, 22, of Denmark is being exhibited at the Jim Harrison Gallery through Sept. 30.
The title of the exhibition, "A Getaway Place," reflects the feeling Nelson says he's always had about art.
“For me, art was a getaway place. I could do it at my own pace and time,” he says.
Gesturing to his painting of a small bower -- a pleasant, shady place under trees titled "Haven't Lost," Nelson adds, “If you look in the back, that’s the kind of place I want to be at -- quiet and by myself.”
He said it’s a place without stress and a place of meditation.
Some of Nelson's paintings are done on plywood instead of canvas, requiring him to apply multiple layers of paint in his work.
“It’s difficult to do the texture of the water,” Nelson adds, noting the many shades of color he used in the ocean waves in the painting. He notes that while it's harder to work in oils, he's begun using them instead of acrylics.
Dr. Anna Martin, a teacher at Denmark-Olar Middle and High schools who taught Nelson, said he did some of the paintings in his exhibit on the board left over from two dimensional figures he and others painted with enamel paint in front of businesses in downtown Denmark. Nelson also painted a penguin figure that stood at the former site of the Freezie Breezie and a figure of an usher at the Dane Theater. In addition, he created sets depicting different musical instruments for a blues concert.
“The jazz figures he spoke of have served as the background for the annual Denmark Blues Festival every year since its inception," Martin said. "Nancy Foster and Jerry Bell (of the Bamberg County Chamber of Commerce) asked the students to paint them. Dalequan was the leader for that project."
Pointing to a treasure chest featured his painting titled “Dreams,” Nelson says, “I am hoping to find my treasure one day. I used to draw treasure maps to where I hid money in the house when I was a child.”
In honor of his grandmother, Malinda Wallace, who loves music, Nelson painted a cloudy sky above a rose with floral textures with a music note above the scene. The painting is titled “Shout Out to Grandma.”
Nelson said his love of art originated from his late Uncle Reese, who was recognized for his own artistic talent. He said growing up, he was fascinated by his uncle’s drawing skills and soon picked up drawing, too. After his uncle died in an automobile accident, Nelson continued making art.
“(When doing art) ... no one’s there but me and my right-hand man, Reese," he said.
Nelson has created many black and white pencil sketches of friends and others, and he has sold many sketches throughout Denmark and via Facebook.
“I am more a sketcher than a painter,” he says.
In addition to painting and sketching, Nelson is a fashion designer, creating clothing based on the skateboarding and hip-hop culture.
“Painting keeps me out of trouble, though," he said. "I try to stay out of trouble."
Leaving high school early, Nelson worked briefly at a local florist shop where he sold commissioned paintings. When the florist shop closed, he said he realized he wanted to pursue a career in art and contacted Martin for assistance. She introduced him to local artists, including the late Jim Harrison and Glover Richburg, who provided advice and support.
“Dalequan has won art awards in the area, including one from the Bamberg County Arts Council,” Martin noted.
Nelson says he plans to earn his G.E.D., adding that he has overcome dyslexia and now reads everything he can. After obtaining his G.E.D., Nelson hopes to enroll at the College of Charleston to study art.
“There is a good vibe there in Charleston. I was thinking about opening up a place there for my own clothing line,” he said.
Nelson says he's excited about having his own art show, which he considers “a big step that I never believed I could take.”
A reception for the artist will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Jim Harrison Gallery at 4716 Carolina Hwy. in Denmark.