Artcetera: Doug Corkern: Architect and artist


Lowcountry architect and fine artist Doug Corkern was feted Sept. 15 at an awards ceremony which honored him as the Featured Artist of the 2015 Edisto & Beyond Tour. The ceremony was held on the grounds of the Museum of the Edisto Island Historical Society.

Those attending the sold out event saw the 32 artworks comprising "The Doug Corkern Art Exhibit." Many greeted Corkern as he autographed stacks of collectible historical society posters.

"What an honor, what an event," said Corkern, "and (it was) exciting for me was that many of the guests ... left with one of my pieces tucked under an arm."

Among his most stunning works are "Middleton Plantation," "Wilkinson - Boineau House at Adams Run," "Christ Church at Adams Run," "Foreman's House at Sunny Side Plantation" and "Trinity Church." All are 14"x 11" and presented in ink and watercolor.

His collection of portraits are created in sepia, chalk, and watercolor. Among them are "Amazing Grace," "Bill DuPont," and "Little Girl in a Yellow Dress."

He has also created fish and fowl and animals and birds, among them the richly colored "Jessie's Chicken."

"Really, if I had to create an artist's statement or to talk about my artistic passions, it would be something about continuing to develop my love of decaying barns and vernacular architecture," said Corkern. "I love to see a rusty old truck, or tractor, or a weathered chair or a sagging barn door and ... challenge myself to observe, define and especially to record the history, the significance of the object."

A native of Georgetown, S.C., he began preparation for his architectural career at Clemson. His passion and training continued through his beginning on Hilton Head Island, generally, and Sea Pines, specifically, where he established an architectural design firm which employed a staff of more than fifty . His architectural imprint can be found along the southeast coast from Florida to Virginia.

"I came to the island for a number of reasons," said Corkern, "But it was the legendary Charles Fraser of Sea Pines who really supplied a kind of tipping point."

Corkern helped introduce the kind of architectural design that takes advantage of all of the island's natural wonders and then sets them against that beauty.

"I lived in Sea Pines and established my studio on Fox Grape Road at the Ocean Gate at Sea Pines," he said Corkern. "I was totally focused on my architectural career, and the work of my firm, but throughout my years in the Lowcountry, I always set aside time to sketch, to draw to paint."

Corkern said he took only one official art class -- in sketching -- which nearly designates him a self-taught artist.

"You can't just say that on April 4, 1980, I decided to move my artistic focus to fine arts" said Corkern. "I don't really consider myself an artist. I am an architect who loves to sketch and draw and paint and carve."

Sketching, he added, is his greatest love.

"I think that I am never happier than when I'm enjoying the quiet of my Bluffton studio sketching or taking a long walk, sketch pad and pencil in hand, through forested areas and tidal creeks near my home on the banks of Huger Cove."

Corkern's artwork is available at Four Corners Fine Art Gallery, 1263 May River Road, Bluffton.

The Doug Corkern Art Exhibit at Edisto continues through January 2.

For information: 843-869-1954

Artist, musician, teacher and writer Nancy K. Wellard focuses on portraying and promoting the cultural arts, first in Los Angeles and, for close to 30 years, in the Lowcountry. Email her at