PICKENS — Local artists Shantelle and Douglas Knight have led fascinating lives: Traveling the world visiting museums, studying art, living in a tent in the Redwood forests of Northern California with Rolling Stones sax player Karl Denson.
You name it, the Knights have done it and for the past 40 years, they’ve done it together.
“We met in college,” Shantelle said. “At Fullerton. He had a Jackson Pollock book and we just started talking about art.”
To a degree, Douglas’s introduction to the art world sprang from early childhood: He was the son of an antique dealer and art was just something he was always exposed to. A documentary on Pollock that Douglas watched while working in the A.V. department at Fullerton “sealed the deal,” he said.
Although their interest in art may have been sparked by Pollock, the Knights have a style all their own.
“We’ve been called a lot of different things,” said Shantelle. “‘Eccentric pop,’ ‘body Sublime,’ he’s (Douglas) been called ‘hideous creatures,’” she said.
Sketch books, easels and drop cloths are everywhere in their basement apartment — as are finished canvases on the walls. Hundreds more are in storage. Douglas lifted an area rug to show more drawings and paintings stored beneath the carpet.
“And these,” said Douglas, lifting up a stack of smaller canvases, “These are all paintings that I painted in McDonald’s.”
Wait. McDonald’s? The restaurant?
“Well they have really good lighting there,” Douglas explained. “We’d go in there, have coffee and paint — right here in Pickens.”
Despite the hundreds pieces on display, in storage or in progress and the thousands of finished projects completed over 40 years of making art, Shantelle insists she doesn’t have a favorite.
“No, not a favorite favorite. Whatever I’m working on, that is my favorite piece. So right now, that’d be her,” said Shantelle gesturing to the unfinished canvas in the studio. “I’ve been working on that one for a couple of weeks now, but it’s not finished yet.”
The California natives made their way to Pickens County around six years ago and it was then when they decided to embark upon a new journey — writing a book.
Where Strange Meets Beautiful is a full color art book published earlier this year. But the book differs from others like it in that it not only catalogs the Knights’ vast array of artwork, but their journey through life and love as well.
“We grew up in a time where everyone yelled ‘all art is politics’ but that’s not for me baby,” reads one passage. “Each art piece is a sensuous kiss that lingers on the wall, calling my eye to come to the feast. It sometimes waits generations to be seen and loved. Art is a hidden world. Not the selling, the act. The creation of a construction and coloring it. Embracing Degas, Picasso, Juan Gris … just all of ‘em. The breathtaking rush. The look between shattered parts to see the nude on the stairway. I still wait at the edge of that painting for the woman to step out and kiss me.
“Don’t tell my wife.”
For more information on the art world of Douglass and Shantelle Knight, visit their website at www.douglasandshantelleknight.com.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.