SPARTANBURG — Spartanburg artist Joan Wheatley will exhibit her latest creations of miniature clay animals, treehouses, and dollhouse accessories — titled “Step Into My Little World” — at West Main Artists Co-op in Spartanburg Aug. 16-Sept. 15.
This extensive collection of all-things miniature will be open for free public viewing Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Her public reception will be Thursday, Aug. 16, during the city’s monthly ArtWalk.
Many of the works are small clay figurines of personified mice living in folksy woodlands settings, such as treehouses or stumps. These settings and figures can easily be held in the palm of a hand. In addition, Wheatley paints with oils and acrylics, and is a photographer. Her work is often described as “whimsical.”
“I hope everyone who sees my exhibit will smile and just enjoy it,” the native of Connecticut said. “I love what I do, and I think it shows. Some will love it, while others might think I am nuts. Doesn’t matter. I will be having fun.”
All of the work on exhibit will be for sale, ranging from $5 to $300.
Wheatley was born and reared in Connecticut and spent her youthful summers on the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont. “It was a perfect place to sketch, paint, and collect little acorns, twigs, and tiny stones,” she said. She still collects those things to this day.
For 10 years, she, her husband, and their children lived in the Netherlands, where she learned folk art from the village of Hindeloopen and started painting on furniture. As she progressed, the works of art become smaller and smaller. She began selling her miniature furniture at shows in 1981 and continues to sell them today at events and through her website, joansweetrees.com. She currently resides on the north side of Spartanburg, in the Boiling Springs community.
“I have no formal training, but that has never stopped me on my creative journey,” she said. “My goal is to make people smile when they see my art. I am now combining my love of nature with my photography, art, and miniatures. Nature has always intrigued me, and it plays a big part in my art. I have been making whimsical miniature treehouses for years, and just a few years ago, I ventured into making porcelain clay mice for these houses. Clay is addicting, and I love it: So magical what you can create.”
Wheatley has been a member of West Main Artists Co-op for six years. “I love the fact that I can exhibit here,” she said. “So many people have not seen all of the things I do, and that should be exciting.”
West Main Artists Co-op is a membership-based nonprofit agency at 578 West Main Street in Spartanburg. It is one of the leading arts organizations in the city and county, with more than 50 members and the largest collection of locally made art for sale in the vicinity. Each month, the Co-op hosts at least three exhibits by its members and guest artists. For more information about the Co-op and Wheatley, please visit online WestMainArtists.org.