If Old MacDonald had his farm in Greenville, I’m betting artist Tami Cardnella would be commissioned to decorate his farmhouse walls with her oil paintings—especially “Pecking Order,” a 30” x 48” piece that features a cow, a pig, a lamb, and a rooster stacked on top of each other.
Cardnella’s oeuvre goes well beyond these, however. Her recent show of more than 50 pieces hanging inside of Centre Stage Theatre featured still-life oil works including cats and cauliflower, a serene series on goldfish and koi, as well as flowers and teapots and a head of radicchio. She’s working on a landscape series, and considering a saints and angel series inspired by a trip during Holy Week in Mexico with her husband and her friend Teresa Roche, owner of Greenville’s Art & Light Gallery. But whether it’s dogs or dahlias, Cardnella is quick to dismiss the notion of the overwrought artist stereotype who needs to be struck by the muse to get to paint. “I’m not a B.S. artist, let’s just put it that way,” says Cardnella. “I’m not going to make up some wonderful story of why I painted that.”
“Sometimes, it’s just the challenge of the subject matter,” she says as we chat inside Centre Stage, which looks like a mini gallery with her work on nearly every wall. But not everyone accepts that sometimes an eggplant is just an eggplant: a man who had seen her painting of an eggplant at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston called her when he got back home to Nashville. “He said, ‘I can’t stop thinking about that painting. Why did you paint that?’” Cardnella simply answered, “Because it was pretty. Because I wanted to.”
Cardnella and her voiceover-actor husband moved from Charleston two years ago and took on another project that wasn’t brushes and paints but a total renovation on what could best be described as an artist’s dream house (and studio), with gleaming sunlight through giant glass panes and plenty of open wall space for one of Cardnella’s hobbies: displaying her collections of such things as sugar bowl and casserole lids or salt and pepper shakers. But she’d rather hang other artists’ works than too many “Tami’s” at home, she says. Though, if she did, she has a wide range of subjects to choose from.
Cardnella’s realist work was recently part of the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit (for her eighteenth year) back in her former hometown (by way of Colorado and California before that) in May. With spring in full bloom and gardens and trees and flowers bursting forth in their cinematic show, especially here in the South, Cardnella’s sure to find some organic source material that may perhaps make its way to her canvas. And, it’s so good you could almost eat it up.