Myrtle Beach museum: Exhibition features work by Grandview Heights native Joe Karlovec

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
The works of Grandview Heights native Joe Karlovec – "Vacancy" on the left and "Duplex" on the right – are being featured in an exhibition at Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. These two pieces are  part of 12 installations in his "Private Property" exhibition.

If central Ohio residents decide to take a vacation in Myrtle Beach this summer, a visit to the city's art museum could provide a connection to home.

The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in the popular South Carolina destination city is presenting "Private Property," an exhibition featuring 12 large-scale textile installations created by Grandview Heights native Joe Karlovec.

The exhibition opened June 8 and will run through Sept. 4.

"It's really exciting for me because this is my first museum solo show," Karlovec said. 

The 12 installations that compose "Private Property" are in essence "textile collages" using photographs of buildings, landscapes and paintings mostly taken by Karlovec.

"I'm using the photographs to make digital collages that serve as the prototypes for the large scale fabrics I weave mechanically with a jacquard loom," Karlovec said.

Joe Karlovec

The installations' large size – some 8 by 10 feet wide – help convey the immensity of the photographic subjects, whether they'rebuildings or landscapes, he said.

"I want you to feel surrounded by the work," Karlovec said. "That's how landscape works. You feel like you're inside this larger environment."

His goal in viewing the "Private Property" installations is to encourage people to "think about our place in the world as a humankind," he said.

"I want people to think about the challenges we're facing in this interesting place in time, like the climate crisis, and how we live together as a people and try to face these challenges," he said.

Although the textile collages represent a recent phase of his artistic work, Karlovec said, they are a way he has been able to explore his longtime interest in landscape urbanism.

"I'm really interested in 'in-between places' and places that aren't just a static object or thing," he said.

His installations are not static either, Karlovec said. They are designed so he can rearrange, add or subtract from each piece to update the work or allow it to fit into varied exhibition spaces.

Karlovec, 35, was born and raised in Grandview Heights and graduated from Grandview Heights High School in 2004.

"I've always been interested in art," he said. "I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. I was lucky because my parents encouraged me to pursue it. Not every person has parents like that."

That was an easy decision because he showed real artistic promise at an early age, his father, Jerry Karlovec, said.

His father and mother, Linda Karlovec, now live just south of Worthington.

"At 5 years old, he'd do a drawing and you could see him getter better and better," Jerry Karlovec said. "It was his playground, if you will."

"He would draw a picture of a person and really make a study of it. There was such depth to the drawings," Linda Karlovec said. "He'd draw the eyes and build the drawing out of that or the eyebrows and build the picture out of that."

The textile installations represent a new chapter in their son's artistic work, Jerry Karlovec said.

"He was always so interested in drawing, I always thought he would be an illustrator," he said. "It's so exciting to see him try new things and challenge himself."

Joe Karlovec credits his high school art teacher, Lee "Doc" Ekleberry, with helping encourage his interest in art.

"In art class, you sometimes have to bring people out of their shell to spark the creative part of their brain," he said. "He knew how to do that. And he saw that interest in me and gave me the opportunity to explore my love of art and develop my skills."

Karlovec also participated in the vocational-arts program at Fort Hayes, spending half of each day at the school.

That experience helped broaden his artistic horizons even further, he said.

More information about the art show is available at myrtlebeachartmuseum.org.

Karlovec currently lives in south Florida. He received his bachelor's degree in interior architecture from the Cleveland Institute of Art and studied landscape architecture at the Knowlton School of Architecture at Ohio State University before earning a master's degree in painting from Kent State University.

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