Who: Elena Madden
Education: Bachelor’s of Fine Art degree in painting from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
What she does: She is an award-winning contemporary artist/painter whose work is in many important private and corporate collections. She and her husband run the Elena Madden Gallery on West Street in Downtown Beaufort.
Her background: Born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, Elena knew she was an artist at an early age. She said, “My parents are both artists and met at VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) so I grew up creating and thought that was how the typical American family lived … The first piece of art I made was in my high chair. I drew a lion with a horizon in the background; my mother still has it.”
Her family: Elena met and married the love of her life, her husband and Nashville native, TJ Keim, 18 years ago and they have a wonderful daughter Hannah, 15.
“Our family loves being outdoors, we get out on the water as much as possible and I use it for inspiration,” she said.
Her Gallery: Elena and her husband first opened a successful gallery in Savannah that featured her work. In April, they opened a new gallery in Downtown Beaufort on West Street across from the Old Bull Tavern. Says Elena, “TJ has always been my biggest supporter and fan … he has always believed in me and my work.”
Why Beaufort?: “My husband and I fell in love with Beaufort in college (at SCAD) when we would camp at Hunting Island. The love affair continued years later when we lived in Savannah; after we opened our art gallery there, we would visit Beaufort for weekend getaways and decided it would be a great place to raise our daughter. Hannah does a wonderful job helping me with all of my social media, website and graphic arts at the gallery.”
The philosophy behind her art: “I want to inspire people to see the beauty of the world in a different way,” says Elena.
The subject of her work: “I started a series of light, water and motion about 15 years ago when we lived on a lake. I
would sit on our dock and paint from life — small quick pieces of the movement in the water of color and light … I did this for three years until I felt like I could paint the rhythm of motion and light on the water from memory. Over time it has become more abstracted, intuitive, a release of emotion.”
Her other interests: Lowcountry Orphan Relief (LOR). “I feel so blessed to have a happy, healthy family, full of love — I felt urged to find a way to get involved in helping children in need in our area,” Elena said. “I visited the LOR facility and was so impressed with all of the hard work of volunteers and private donors, in hearing the stories of these children, I wanted to help any way I could.”
She is having a fundraising event for The Lowcountry Orphan Relief this week at her gallery.
Says Elena, “From this Thursday, Oct. 31 to Saturday, Nov. 2, I will be donating a percentage of all sales in my gallery to Lowcountry Orphan Relief to help abused, neglected and abandoned children in the Lowcountry. My gallery is also a drop off location for donations. Immediate needs are soap and shampoo and clothing for boys and girls sizes 8-20.”
The Elena Madden Studio-Gallery is located at 208 West Street, Beaufort, SC, 29902, and is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Visit www.elenamadden.com or call 912-661-1534.
Lowcountry Orphan Relief, Inc. (LOR) is a nonprofit organization that provides goods and services to children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected. The group works directly with other nonprofits, schools, foster parents, and government agencies to identify the individual needs of these and other children in severe situations. The organization specifically intervenes where government aid ends and at critical junctures in the lives of the children, with products and services that provide a strong, positive impact. Since 2006, the group has clothed more than 14,000 children in the tri-county area. For more information, contact the Lowcountry Orphan Relief, Inc., PO Box 70185
N. Charleston, SC 29415. Call 843-747-4099 or fax 843-747-4948.