Four buildings sit on each corner at the intersection of Meeting and Queen streets downtown. Three of them are varying shades of pale pink. The fourth is Meyer Vogl Gallery, a narrow, oatmeal colored brick building that sits catty-corner from the Mills House. “We’ve always joked about how we’d like to be pink too,” says the gallery’s director Katie Geer. “We wanted to find a way to pay tribute to our wonderfully pink corner.”
To answer that call, the gallery presents a new exhibition, Pink Street, featuring the pink-tinged work of Marissa Vogl, Carrie Beth Waghorn, and Anne Blair Brown. “We decided to pick three artists for each pink building who all play with pink in a really fun way,” Geer explains. “These aren’t going to be paintings that are entirely pink or with big splashes of pink. These are artists who just have fun playing with pink and use it in clever ways.”
Marissa Vogl’s impressionistic paintings evoke a sense of memory. It’s as though she’s carved out snapshots of experience and applied them to canvas in thick layers of color. Her contributions to Pink Street consist of scenes from a trip to Italy where she observed the landscape from atop a castle built on the volcanic island of Ischia. Others were inspired by the prismatic buildings on the island town of Procida. “Italy is full of pink streets and laundry swaying in the breeze,” she says. “In this body of work, pink explains why romance is associated with Italian villages.”
When it comes to describing pink, Vogl’s language is as vibrant as her paintings: “Pink is so much more than red plus white,” she says. “It’s salmon, coral, fuchsia. It’s the color of warmth. It can set the narrative for a landscape painting, telling the reader the time of day. Pink is the early morning before sunrise. Pink tells the story of atmosphere. If it’s a hot and humid day, I use pink in the sky.”
Where Vogl is a maximalist, local artist Carrie Beth Waghorn is a minimalist. Her work consists of inky, curvaceous lines that explore impressions of the female figure and sexuality. “I’m a bit enamored with line work,” says Waghorn. “The subtle lines of a woman’s body are quite simply the best shapes on this earth. I feel honored to create these curves.” Waghorn typically sticks with the raw minimalism of a black and white palette, but she’s played with pink to create new work for this exhibition. “Some of the figures have pink flowers in their hair. Some are wearing clothing that has pops of pink. It’s just incredible pops of pink,” says Geer.
Like Vogl, all involved in Pink Street insist that pink is not limited to a stereotyped aesthetic. For Waghorn, pink is raw, powerful, and expressive. “I feel that when people regard pink there is an overwhelming tendency to label it as soft, pretty, girly, or they use the dreaded F word: feminine,” she says. “Pink represents strength. It represents survivors. It represents unity. Those are the qualities I associate both with women and the color pink … Not subtle. Not soft. Pink is strength. The ability to unite, the agility to fight. Fuck yeah, pink!”
Pink is memory. Pink is strength. Or, for Nashville-based artist Anne Blair Brown, pink is the color of renewal, fresh starts, and changing seasons. “In my mind, pink symbolizes the approach of spring and the warm months to come,” says Brown. “I can’t wait to see the show in full bloom.” To create her Pink Street paintings, Brown began by painting a layer of solid pink onto canvas, a step called underpainting. “The pink kind of seeps through,” says Geer. “Most use a neutral underpainting, but she’s been using a hot pink. If you look closely, you can see the pops of pink poking out in unexpected places like in the green leaves of trees.”
Brown describes the pink wash as “vibrating underneath the other colors.” She uses a vivid, magenta-adjacent pigment called Permanent Rose which subtly works through to the layers above. “I tried to leave little hints of it showing between brushstrokes and painted wet-on-wet to let the rose dance with and live in the colors around it,” she says.
Brown is a nationally recognized impressionist with a penchant for painting on location. “She’s incredible,” says Geer. “She’s drawn to corner stores and rundown buildings and old barns. She has a wonderful way of painting architecture, and she’s painted these amazing pink buildings for us.”
In honor of the exhibition, Meyer Vogl plans to host a pink-themed party on March 1 and 2, concurrent with the Charleston Gallery Association’s monthly artwalk. The party will be co-hosted with Meyer Vogl’s neighbor, Jahde Leather Atelier, complete with pink sweets and a rosé truck. “We just can’t wait to celebrate these women,” says Geer. “We want artwork that excites us, and through that search, we’ve found these people who are just wonderful souls and women. I just feel so lucky to have them in the gallery.”