Down the Rabbit Hole 

King of Hearts, Mary Walker

South Carolina-based painter and printmaker Mary Walker will never forget the day she visited Wonderland. She was five at the time and living with her parents in a rented mansion on Long Island. “Our section of the house was the old servants’ quarters, connected to the main house through a door at the bottom of the stairs,” Walker explains. One afternoon, she stepped through that door to find a “beautiful dining room with a gleaming mahogany table.” Beside that table stood Alice — the wildly curious and courteous teen from Lewis Carroll’s 19th-century novel. In retrospect, Walker realizes it wasn’t actually Alice — just a neighbor kid dressed up for Halloween. “But to a five-year-old,” the artist remembers, “she was a vision that stepped right out of my storybook.” Walker never forgot that day. Even after studying under American social realist painter Isaac Soyer at the Art Students League of New York, working at printmaking shops in Italy, and settling down on Johns Island near Charleston, never once did that “magical moment of discovery and wonder fade.” In fact, Walker’s brief encounter with Alice continues to inspire her black-and-white woodcuts of Wonderland. Simultaneously haunting and humorous, these prints will be on display at Upstairs Artspace in Tryon as part of Scenes From Alice in Wonderland, a solo show opening in late March. 

Scenes From Alice in Wonderland runs March 30 to May 24 at Upstairs Artspace (49 South Trade St., Tryon, The show will be accompanied by Like an Epiphany, a series of politicized icon paintings by South Carolina artist Kristi Ryba, and Concerning Being, a portfolio of abstract paintings by fellow South Carolina creative Lynne Riding.  

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