"Public Works of Art"

Artists Trahern Cook, Laura Day, Ija Charles, Christine Lutfy Crawford, and Michael Cassidy’s work is showcased on our mobile murals. The local artists were asked to create pieces highlighting West Columbia. The entire collection and more information about each artist can be found below. #HeadWest #WeCoSC #PublicWorksofArt

Christine Lutfy Crawford

Painting is not only Christine’s passion, it’s her life; she lives to create. Creating one-of-a-kind murals is her favorite thing to do. As an artist, she works hard to develop paintings that put a light in dark places and looks at the world through a surreal lens that captures it in an abstract view that brings bright, colorful, and feel-good nostalgic memories back to your core. Recently, her main focus has been large or small-scale murals to represent community, new beginnings, history, and an eye-catching appeal. Christine was born and raised in the heart of Columbia, SC, which brings her more passion in designing public art that is impactful to the city and the ability to produce one-of-a-kind pieces.

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Trahern Cook

Trahern also goes by Easel Cathedral. He calls his style Relational and Experiential. Easel Cathedral has coined himself a “Jam Painter” as so much of his subject matter is musicians of every genre playing everywhere from small taverns to large outdoor festivals. In those moments, he explores brush strokes and colors matching the rhythm of the sounds being played.

As a “Live Painter” of events and weddings, Trahern creates visual stories of his surroundings in his own unique painterly style, marrying a free folk recklessness with a trained and practiced deliberateness. This performance shares the space with everyone in attendance, enhancing the moment and using the moment to inform the painting itself.

And then there’s the painter and his easel, going anywhere light falls on the buildings, homes, trails, and roads of towns, cities, and landscapes. Trahern welcomes anyone around to come to hang out by the easel.
“It just paints better.”
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Ija Charles

Columbia, South Carolina artist Ija Charles is a self-taught painter/entrepreneur. Her series range from portraits of ordinary people to a diverse sampling of symbols from our day-to-day culture. These images are then reimagined and reconstructed in her own unique way. Ija plants an idea for each new work and harvests the positive vibes her very foundation is based upon in every piece once sealed with her signature.

“My life experiences, my interactions, passions, interests, reflection, all manifest in my artwork and change over time. Using the human face and figure as a vehicle to reimagine day-to-day portraits with positive images and stories to match. I am drawn to the themes of optimism and genuine emotions, usually finding inspiration from my own life. My work is often colorful, character-driven, and whole-hearted to help paint positive vibes on our canvas of life.”

Contact Ija Charles at ija.monet@gmail.com.

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Laura Day

Ever since she could feel the cool earth beneath her bare feet along a rural South Carolina road, young Laura Day fell in love with the natural world. All of it — from the scent of wisteria and the soft trickling of a lazy forest stream to the trill of songbirds and the endless hues of green across a wooded canopy. Just as she could see it, hear it, or touch it as a child, before ever picking up a paintbrush, she knew innately that she could render it.

Laura earned her bachelor’s in fine art from the University of South Carolina, where she also completed graduate studies in advanced drawing and painting. Fine art and its creation in her home studio are her passion, but Laura also has achieved considerable career success in the commercial environment, having served as a professional graphic designer for multiple organizations as well as art director for Lake Murray magazine and Northeast Columbia magazine, as well as many freelance business clients.

A strong affection for the earth’s creatures and rural landscapes is evident in Laura’s acrylic and watercolor works. They are rich in color and texture, playing ever so tenderly with the complex waltz of light and shadow. One of her most fervent desires is for a patron to connect with a fond memory or emotion through one of her paintings.

Laura is a member of 701 Center for Contemporary Art and participated in that organization’s Open Studios events in 2018 and 2019. She has been a featured artist in the City of West Columbia’s events “Art on State” and “Fall Back Fest.” Her work regularly can be found at M Gallery in Lexington. Laura frequently accepts commissions and can be contacted via her website at www.fineartbylday.com.

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Michael Cassidy

Michael Cassidy, of West Columbia, SC, is known for his meticulous paintings of flowers and other plants and things such as bricks and antlers, all in solitude, isolated against a dark background. Recently, Cassidy has expanded his subject matter and approach. Included now are turtles, birds, and other small animals, often in combination with plant life or weathered pieces of decorative wood.

Michael Cassidy has lived in the Columbia area for over 17 years. He joined if ART Gallery in 2015 and had his first solo exhibition there in 2016. Cassidy was selected for the 701 CCA South Carolina Biennial 2015 at 701 Center for Contemporary Art. He had solo exhibitions in 2009 and 2014 in the FAB Gallery at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, SC, as well as a 2013 solo show at City Art Gallery in Columbia. Among group exhibitions in which his work was included are those at SC State University’s IP Stanback Museum and Planetarium and the Anderson Art Center in Anderson, SC. From 2011 – 2015, Cassidy worked as a curator, gallery director, and instructor at South Carolina State University. Since 2015, he has worked as an Exhibits Master Craftsman at the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia. Cassidy received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of South Carolina in 2014 and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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