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Veteran Art Show highlights local Veterans

art show
Local Veteran Elijah Stewart artist with his Sumter CBOC Art Show submission.

SUMTER, South Carolina – (December 15, 2023) The Columbia VA Health Care System (CVAHCS) collaborated with the Sumter County Gallery of Art to present a special art exhibit, showcasing the talents of local Veteran artists at its newly opened Sumter Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC).

           “It provided a chance to showcase both Veteran’s art, as well as allowed us to show-off our brand new 27,000 square foot CBOC which nearly quadruples the size of the previous center,” said Mike Blass, Deputy Public Affairs Officer at CVAHCS.

            CVAHCS extended an open invitation to all Veteran artists who wished to share their artwork with the community. There was a lot of interest to the emails and social media posts, resulting in 11 artists who displayed their works during the exhibit. The gallery served as a platform for Veteran artists of all types to exhibit their work and spotlight their talents.

            “The exhibit is a wonderful idea to showcase some of the talents of some of our Veterans,” said Dr. Joseph C. Williams, a primary care physician at the Sumter CBOC. “Having this state-of-the-art building is a great benefit to all the Veterans we have here in Sumter County and surrounding areas.” 

            Charlotte Thomas, a U.S. Navy Veteran, displayed a crocheted dragon. “I had a biopsy on my foot and had to be sitting for a while so the only thing I could think of was doing crocheting. It’s the hardest and coolest piece I’ve done.”

            Brian Stancil has been doing art since high school. “Mainly acrylic painting now. I do some watercolor and some pencil sketching. I sit around Sunday mornings and do pencil and charcoal sketches.” Stancil is a Navy Veteran.

            Sonia Taylor has been doing art for “many, many years. I attended the high school of art and design in New York.” Taylor is a U.S. Air Force Veteran. “There are so many Veterans that are talented in so many ways.  I’m grateful and it’s wonderful to do this and share my art with others.”

            “I got my first art award in first grade,” said Joe Wade, a U.S. Air Force Veteran. He’s been doing art all his life. “I actually became an art teacher after being in the military. I taught K-12 in public school here in Sumter for 18 years. Since I had to teach all types I work all media.” His favorite piece is a sculpture of a head. “It’s very realistic, I enjoyed doing it, and it got an award.”

            “I got serious about doing art in 2012,” said David Vail, a U.S. Army Veteran who served in Vietnam. “I’ve been back and forth with photography since I was a kid, but with digital photography I realized I don’t have to pay to get film developed anymore so I can mess up as much as I want to.”  He got excited when he heard about the art exhibit, “It’s absolutely great! I’m just thrilled to death.”

            “I think it’s a wonderful thing,” said Kevin Olson, an administrative officer at the Sumter CBOC. “Great opportunity for engagement with the community and bring some Veterans in who aren’t so familiar with the clinic. It also shows a little bit of caring back and forth between the community and us.”

            “Traditionally the Veteran’s Art show is held at the Greenville CBOC. This year in an effort to increase our Veteran enrollment and showcase the brand new 27,000 square foot Sumter Clinic, we partnered with the Sumter Art Gallery to invite Veterans and the community to the event,” said Rebecca Strini, the Acting Medical Center Director. “In attendance are the whole health staff, Sumter CBOC staff, Veteran Benefit Administration staff, all available for face -to-face conversation and to provide information regarding the exceptional care we provide to our Veterans. What an amazing event and opportunity this is.”

             “It was a wonderful thing to do. The gallery is honored to be a part of this” said Karen Watson, Executive Director of the Sumter County Gallery of Art. “As you can see by the crowds that have been through here today, it is a big success. Pairing art with the opening of a very important facility to serve our Veterans I think is a magic potion.”

             The Columbia VA Health Care System is proud to honor the artistic contributions of our Veterans and celebrate this significant moment in our community's history. We thank all the art enthusiasts, supporters of Veterans, and the local community who attended this inspiring art exhibit.

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