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 West Fraser  (1955 - )

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Lived/Active: South Carolina      Known for: coastal, marine, landscape, nocturne

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West Fraser
An example of work by West Fraser
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Helena Fox Fine Art:

"…West Fraser paints with light—the radiance of early morning, the glare of high noon, the glow of day’s end and the mystery of moonlight—to create brilliant works of color and form.  He takes what we see everyday, something that seems ordinary, and makes it worthy of fine art."

Jean Stern, Executive Director, The Irvine Museum, Irvine, California

One of the leading American artists in the representational/plein air tradition, West Fraser has built his career on richly painted, atmospheric vistas of cities, coasts, and the landscape throughout the United States and internationally—from the pristine Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia, to the hill towns of Tuscany.  An inveterate traveler, he has painted throughout the Caribbean, Central America, Europe and Scandinavia.  Yet his passion always draws him back to the marshes and landscape of the Georgia and South Carolina Coast.

Fraser was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1955, and raised in nearby Hinesville until 1964, when his family moved to Hilton Head Island.  He graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Fine Art’s degree in 1979.  The following year in Savannah, he worked independently as an illustrator and began his first serious painting in watercolors.  From 1980 to 1984, he lived in Buck’s County, Pennsylvania, and began traveling up and down the New England coast to paint maritime subjects and harbor scenes.  In 1984, he settled in Charleston, continued his work in watercolor through the late 1980s.  The realistic, detailed marine compositions from this period resulted in early critical recognition, with a 1984 two-man show at the Grand Central Art Galleries in New York City, and his first one-man exhibition at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston in 1986 through early 1987.

By 1986 Fraser had already evolved in a looser, more lyrical watercolor style, and by 1989 had started producing his first oil paintings created from life in open air—en plein air—a style based on an impressionistic rendering of light, color and atmosphere on the forms of landscapes, city scenes, and marine views. Since then he has explored his vision in this vein—constantly developing his formal and expressive skills in portraying subjects ranging from panoramic urban rooftop views, to intimate streetscapes, to remote island marshlands.  Working in plein air liberated Fraser from his studio, placing him into the rich fabric of urban life, or by contrast, into unspoiled natural environments, where he has recreated the light and colors of seasons, times of day, and varied atmospheric effects on landscapes and city scenes.

In 1990, he shifted to representational/plein air painting in oil.  Since then, he has primarily specialized in coastal landscapes, streetscapes and travel paintings. Through his many accolades and awards, he has achieved a national and international reputation as a master of creating a natural light in his luminist paintings.

Fraser has been given 6 solo museum exhibitions in the Midwest, the Southeast, and California.  His most recent exhibition is in April 2007, at the Bakersfield Museum of Art titled: As I See It, Paintings by West Fraser.  Fraser has been published extensively, including features in Art and Antiques, Plein Air Magazine, The Robb Report, Southern Accents, American Artist, Nautical Quarterly, Southwest Art and Hemispheres, to name a few. 

In 2000, he represented South Carolina in the bicentennial celebration calendar published by the White House Historic Association.  In 2001, the University of South Carolina Press published the monograph Charleston in My Time: The Paintings of West Fraser, which was accompanied by a traveling exhibition to Southeastern museums.  In June 2004, Fraser was appointed to the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Arts Commission and in 2006 Fraser painted the official portrait of SC Governor Mark Sanford.  Fraser’s art can be seen in 8 permanent collections in museums from Bermuda across to California.

Corporate and Institutional Collections
Amelia Island Plantation Company Florida
Anson’s Restaurant Charleston, SC.
Arizona Bank Arizona
Bald Head Island Company North Carolina
Bank of America Georgia, North & South Carolina
Bower and Knight Yachts California
Bray’s Island Plantation Collection South Carolina
Callawassee Plantation South Carolina
Carolina First Bank South Carolina
Carolinas Restaurant Charleston, SC.
Cousteau Society Virginia
Disney Corp. Florida
Evergreen Lines Taipei, Taiwan
Fenco New Jersey
Fraser Yachts California
Heritage Classic Foundation Hilton Head Island, SC
MBNA Maine
OOCL Taipei, Taiwan
Palmer and Cay Georgia
Palmetto Bluff /Crescent Development Corp. South Carolina
Piggly Wiggly Corporation South Carolina
Professional Mortgage Company Collection South Carolina
Roper Foundation South Carolina
Sea Island Company/The Cloister Sea Island, GA.
Sea Pines Plantation Company South Carolina
South Carolina Governors Mansion South Carolina
South Carolina National Bank South Carolina
Spring Island Plantation Company Collection South Carolina
The Boathouse Restaurant Charleston, SC.
The Signal Companies South Carolina
The State of South Carolina Columbia, SC.
The White House, Historic Foundation Washington, DC
Thompson Industries New York, NY.
US Department of State, US Embassy Ottawa, Canada

Museum Collections
Gibbes Museum of Art Charleston, SC.
Laguna Art Museum Laguna, CA
Masterworks Museum Collection Hamilton, Bermuda
Midway Museum Midway, GA.
Mission, San Juan Capistrano Museum California
Morris Museum of Art Augusta, GA
Springfield Museum of Art Springfield, OH.
Telfair Museum of Art Savannah, GA.
Bakersfield Museum of Art Bakersfield, CA.
2006, Gerald R. Ford Museum, Grand Rapids, MI
2006, Masterworks Museum Collection, Hamilton, Bermuda.
2006, Midway Museum, Midway GA.
2005, Mission, San Juan Capistrano Museum, San Juan Capistrano, CA.
2000, South Carolina State Museum, Columbia SC.
1998, White House Historical Foundation, Washington, DC.
1995, Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH.
1991, The Hubbard Museum, Ruidoso Downs, NM
1985, Mariners Museum, Newport News, VA.

Magazine References:
2008 Spring/Summer  – Gibbes Museum of Art Collector’s Publication, Signatures, Artist Profile/West Fraser. Written by, Pam Wall
2008 March – American Art Collector, “Coastal Carolina”, Written by Staff writer
2006 May – Robb Report, “Charleston, SC”, Written by, Anne T. Pope.
2005 October – Charleston Magazine, “A Light Touch”, Written by, Stephanie Hunt.
2004 January - Sandlapper Magazine, “West Fraser’s Southern Art”, Written by, Rosie O’Rear.
2003 Jan-Feb. - Southern Accents Magazine, Plein Air Passion, South Carolina artist West Fraser explors near and far in his lush landscape, Written by Julie Cole

Selected Exhibitions:
Clinton Library
The Nixon Library
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center
The Johnson Library
George H. Bush Library
White House Historical Association ( see attached exhibition list)
Arts for the Parks
The Hubbard Art Award for Excellence
The Salmagundi Club
Allied Artist of America
Knickerbocker Artists
American Watercolor Society - Mary S. Litt Medal
Mystic International - 1985 Award of Excellence

South Carolina Arts Commissioner

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