"God Bless America" runs through Oct. 22 at ARTworks, 2127 Boundary St., Beaufort. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 7.
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The political world is as divisive as ever these days, but artist Candace Whittemore Lovely says her "God Bless America" exhibit is a way to get beyond the partisanship to focus on peace.
"Its purpose is to bring beauty to politics and to encourage people to vote," Lovely said. "I feel that I am making a movement in peace."
The show opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 7 in the gallery at ARTworks in Beaufort.
The show is nonpartisan. Both Democrats and Republicans are represented in the work of the Hilton Head Island impressionist. President Barack Obama is done in oil and paint markers.
Also hanging is an official White House-commissioned portrait of former first lady Barbara Bush. Lovely traveled to the White House in 1991 to paint the first lady with her English springer spaniel Millie.
Her work captures historical as well as political events: girls carrying yellow ribbons in honor of soldiers in Kuwait and a boy holding a candle at a Sept. 11 memorial event on Hilton Head.
She also ventures beyond the painted canvas. Among the works is a dress with portraits of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis on it.
Lovely recently has discovered a love of painting flags. On display are pink Civil War and Revolutionary era flags. She's found that flags offer people a "feeling of security, a chance to say 'I am an American, I believe in God,'<2009>" she said.
A longtime member of the Hilton Head Island chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Lovely recently received the organization's Award for Women in the Arts for her long-standing work and her national accomplishments, said chapter regent Andrea Helfrich.
"She is just so colorful, she is a work of art," Helfrich said. "Her outfits, her hair, her jewelry -- she is a statement of art in her own persona."
ARTworks publicist Lisa Annelouise Rentz said she's pleased the gallery can finally showcase Lovely's work.
"Candace has a long, well-established career, but she keeps it fresh deep thoughts and bright colors," she said.
"I personally like the timing of the show with the election -- Americana instead of politics. Quit watching those 'I approve this message' campaign commercials and look at some topical art that will motivate voters on issues rather than slogans."