Oyster Babe artist Lauren Jane Gift exhibits her whimsical work at The Schoolhouse
Raised in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, local painter Lauren Jane Gift developed a love for art as far back as she can recal. “I fondly remember spending summers at the Chagrin Valley Art Center and working at Blue Moon art gallery,” says Gift, who now calls Charleston home. Her artwork will be on display at The Schoolhouse in West Ashley this month, starting Thursday, May 17. An opening reception will be held that afternoon from 5-8 p.m. Her work will remain up until mid-June.
Shortly after college, Gift relocated to Charleston for work opportunities. “It didn’t take long for this beautiful peninsula to steal my heart,” says Gift. Summertime and Charleston are ever present in her art. “My work is very playful, even unruly at times. This freedom allows me to find inspiration and humor in all of my surroundings, she says. “My current collection is a reflection of my love affair with Charleston and the beautiful cultural traditions of the area.”
Gift’s works are whimsical takes on the coastal surroundings and cuisine of Charleston. Her signature “Oyster Babes” series depicts various seafood dishes, mostly oysters, with adorable silhouettes of women in swimsuits positioned conversationally on oyster shells, capturing perfectly the cheeky fun of living in a coastal community such as Charleston.
Another series Gift is known for are her “Art by Lauren Jane” stationary, which feature her works on notecards. “I was looking for a favor to present the homeowners at Art on The Beach (a local art event). Over a glass of wine or two, a good friend of mine suggested stationary. Thus, the Art by Lauren Jane Stationary collection was born,” she says.
Asked to describe her style? “Well, from a fashion stand point I happen to find Diane Keaton’s style to be impeccable,” quips Gift. “But my artwork is much less conservative. I find myself feeling free to not follow any rules and let my creativity travel to unfamiliar places. My artwork is playful, and definitely wearing white after Labor Day.”
Besides babes on oysters and notecard art, Gift also paints interesting landscapes. Looking at her work gives you some insight in how Gift herself sees the world. “I am very much inspired by the landscapes, painting styles and harbor towns of Historic European painters,” she says. “I often daydream of what it was like to be a painter during that time. Sitting outside with your pad of paper, charcoal, and hand mixing small batch paints. It is romantic, and without ego.”
Gift’s paintings are fun and clearly she has fun creating them, often getting lost in her work. “The only concept of time I have when painting, is the soundtrack to the Lion the Witch and Wardrobe playing in the background,” she says.
The Schoolhouse is located at 720 Magnolia Road. For more information visit www.straighttoart.com or www.artbylaurenjane.com.