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Our Famous Faces directory shares some of the artists and designers who hail from the Carolinas.

Jonathan Green
James Hoban
Jasper Johns
William Ivey Long
Robert Mills

Jonathan Green

Born August 9, 1955

famous-carolina-faces-jonathan-green-white-breezeIt’s a colorful and captivating world that South Carolina native Jonathan Green shows us with his very personal view of the African American Gullah culture of the Lowcountry.  I have postcards purchased after a performance of “Off the Wall and Onto the Stage: Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green”  which was a triumphant collaboration that featured 22 of the artist’s images brought to life through the choreography of William Starrett.  It was a tribute to Green’s award-winning art by bringing the paintings to life with dance and music.  It was – remarkable.  And Jonathan Green’s artistic vision is – so very amazing.

Born and raised in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, he graduated from Beaufort High School, joined the Air Force, and received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

His work is heavily influenced by the Gullah culture which enveloped his formative years.  The colors are vivid, and the subject matter tends toward everyday life as well as the rites of passage that followed African Americans in the Lowcountry.

Considered by many art critics and reviewers as one of our nation’s most outstanding African-American artists, his work has been embraced by private collectors worldwide, and resides in the permanent collections of many museums.

He received an honorary doctorate from the University of South Carolina, and in 2009, received the Key of Life Award from the NAACP for his contributions and achievements in the visual fine arts.

Jonathan Green works from his studio in downtown Charleston, SC.

For the children in your life, consider buying Amadeus: The Leghorn Rooster, written by Delores B. Nevils and illustrated by Jonathan Green, available through Young Palmetto Books.

James Hoban

1762 – December 8, 1831

Irish Architect

famous-carolina-faces-james-hoban-white-houseHe was born in Kilkenny County, Ireland, and died in Washington DC, however, South Carolinians claim at least a part of him due to the many buildings he designed in the state.

Of course he’s most famous as the architect of the White House, and the White House Historical Association has a substantial amount of information on the man and his work that makes for interesting reading.  (In addition to his designs, he was a builder, mason, militia captain, civic leader and pillar of the Roman Catholic Church.)

An excellent student, he was recognized for his work at a young age.  Following the end of the American Revolutionary War, Mr. Hoban emigrated to the United States, living for a time in Philadelphia before heading to South Carolina in 1787.
He designed the old State Capitol building in Columbia, which was burned in 1865.  The Charleston County Courthouse, and many more buildings are attributed to his creative hand, including Prospect Hill Plantation on Edisto Island, the William Seabrook House on Edisto Island, The Charleston Theatre and many prestigious buildings in Washington.  It is said (although not proven) that President George Washington admired James Hoban’s work when he saw it during his Southern Tour.  Some say the two met in Charleston, SC in 1791.

It is known that James Hoban was the winner of a design competition to choose the architect to design the White House.  Also, President Washington is said to have had a strong influence over what would become the final design – two stories, 11 bays across, and entirely faced with stone.

Information from suggests that Mr. Hoban’s work was admired, at least in part, because it was simple and conservative, rather than ornate – not appealing to the young American nation which had no interest in even the appearance of royalty. He was married to Susanna Sewall, and spent his later years in Washington where he died and was buried.

Jasper Johns

Born May 15, 1930

famous-carolina-faces-jasperjohnsAmerican contemporary artist Jasper Johns has many ties to South Carolina. Born in 1930 in August, GA, he spent his early life with his grandparents in Allendale, SC (after the failure of his parents’ marriage). During his childhood, he lived in Columbia, on the shores of nearby Lake Murray, and in Sumter. He attended the University of South Carolina for three semesters, then moved to New York City.

In 2006, private collectors Anne and Kenneth Griffin bought Johns’ False Start for $80 million, making it the most expensive painting by a living artist. Jasper Johns currently spends his time between Sharon, Connecticut, and the Caribbean island of Saint Martin and continues to produce several paintings each year. In SC, the Greenville Museum of Art has several of his paintings in their permanent collection.

William Ivey Long

Born August 30, 1947

famous-carolina-faces-william-ivey-longThis remarkably talented designer was recently nominated for his 14th Tony Award and won the 2014 Drama Desk and Outer Circle Awards for his designs for Bullets Over Broadway. He is currently represented on Broadway with Cabaret, and Chicago, now in its 19th year! He also currently serves as Chairman of the Board for The American Theatre Wing.

Mr. Long was born in Seaboard, North Carolina, the son of a Winthrop University professor and stage director, William Ivey Long, Sr., and his wife, Mary, a high school theatre teacher, actress and playwright. Mr. Long, Sr., also founded Winthrop’s theatre department, further insuring a childhood environment rich with the stage.

Mr. Long has a huge number of Broadway hits to his credit, including A Streetcar Named Desire, La Cage Aux Folles, Hairspray, The Music Man, Cabaret, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Grey Gardens and dozens more.

He recently made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera with his designs for The Merry Widow. He’s also designed for Mick Jagger, the late Joan Rivers, and Siegfried and Roy, among others.

Mr. Long serves as Production Designer for North Carolina’s oldest running seasonal outdoor drama, The Lost Colony, which received the Tony Honor for excellence in the Theatre. He is returning in 2015 for his 45th season with the production.

He earned an undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary and a Master of Fine Arts degree in stage design from Yale University School of Drama. He holds honorary degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina at Asheville, and the College of William and Mary. He’s the recipient of many awards, and continues to shine creatively in every production with which he is involved. Simply put, the man is a creative genius!

Mr. Long has won six Tony Awards and was inducted into the Theatre Hall of fame in 2005.

Robert Mills

August 12, 1781 - March 3, 1855


famous-carolina-faces-robert-mills-houseThis talented South Carolinian was born in Charleston in 1781, and is considered by many to be the first native-born American to become a professional architect. He studied under the Irish architect James Hoban (who later designed the White House). He also studied in Philadelphia under Benjamin Henry Latrobe and knew Thomas Jefferson, who helped teach him an appreciation for classic design.

In 1823, he was appointed superintendent of public buildings in South Carolina and for several years afterward designed a number of buildings in the state, including the University of South Carolina campus, courthouses in at least 18 counties and homes, many of which are standing today.

He is perhaps best known for the design of the Washington Monument but also designed the Department of the Treasury building. Robert Mills was an early advocate of fireproofing construction to the extent possible in those times. He died in 1855 and is buried in the Congressional Cemetery.