The American artist Neill Slaughter grew up mostly in the South, but these days New York is more his milieu.
Celebrated by his peers and with an international following, Slaughter’s prolific output of landscapes and portraits and other work shed light on the world in an important way.
Slaughter’s long list of accolades include fellowships from both the Ford Foundation and the Fulbright Foundation, and various prizes and grants. During 38 years as an art professor, Slaughter spent a considerable amount of time traveling throughout the world to teach, conduct research and create art.
His bio states that Slaughter’s “extensive travels have influenced what he paints, which often reflect the social conditions of his surroundings.”
But we remember him when he was younger and still of the South.
After college, we were upstairs-downstairs neighbors in a beach duplex one memorable summer in the 1970s on Hilton Head Island.
While the rest of us were writing newspaper and magazine articles about fleeting sports stars of the moment like Bjorn Borg and Johnny Miller and Chris Evert, and drinking beer nightly in watering holes from the tip of Harbor Town to the up-island tackiness of the renowned Golden Rose, Neill was honing his craft.
Day after day, he worked at his easel on a screen porch with an Atlantic view, inventing himself as an artist.
The paintings shown here are mostly set on the Chesapeake Bay, which in its lower reaches marks a boundary of the South that flows away with the tides… then gradually disappears from view. We reflect on Slaughter as he created these works on that boundary, an artist who started in one place and has ended up in others.
Slaughter notes that while he has lived in many places since he departed the Georgia of his youth, he has usually lived within a short distance of the sea.
“Drawing or painting on location is quite challenging because the artist must deal directly with constantly changing environmental conditions, therefore one has to concisely capture the essence of what is being portrayed within a finite amount of time, generally two to three hours before the light changes thereby altering the subject,” he wrote in an artist statement for a maritime exhibit. “As a result there is a sense of urgency and spontaneity apparent in the brushwork.”
A location by the sea seems apt for Slaughter.
Some of his works will be on display April 14-May 29 in the East End Collected3 exhibition at the Southampton Arts Center in Southampton, NY
His website is located at http://www.neillslaughter.com/
John Morgan was an executive at Billboard Magazine's parent company for nine years, and notably led the launch of the magazine's Website, www.Billboard.com. He was also founding editor of the "This Day in Music Almanac," and created the BPI Entertainment News Wire. He has a special fondness for Southern music and other Southern art, from literature to crafts and photography.