Scott Penegar has lived and traveled all over the world, but living by the water is a necessity. Penegar is a big fan of marine life. After earning an art degree from Appalachian State University, he worked as a commercial fisherman before going to the College of Charleston to study marine biology. He has managed to merge his knowledge of art and marine science with a career as an artist sculptor of beautifully detailed animal pieces. Fans of his art will be delighted to see him in action on October 1, at his next art exhibition at Leprince Fine Art.
Penegar usually makes his impressive sculptures in bronze and stone.
“I work very instinctively,” said Penegar. “I have sculptor friends who work with stone and they spend a lot of time measuring and blocking and figuring out exactly what they’re going to do. I work very freely. I’m just starting to cut into pieces and sort of see where this is taking me. “
Through this process, what he usually finds are animals made in spectacular fashion. Otters, crabs, turtles and birds are part of the menagerie that Penegar has drawn from the elements. Aquatic life is his passion, and it shows in the way he makes them.
“I’m kind of known for octopus,” Penegar said when asked what his favorite was. “I’ve done several, and it’s easy in some ways because you can put the arms – the tentacles – anywhere you want. But of course there are eight, which slows me down a bit. It’s not just about making two legs.
Penegar’s expertise as a biologist definitely influences his art of octopus. “As a biologist, I pay close attention to the details of the suction cups,” he said. “Your typical octopus has over two thousand suckers,” which he carefully focuses on when crafting in stone or clay.
The end products, many of which are available on its website (scottpenegarsculpture.com), are curiosities to be seen. The fluidity of movement implied by the curvature of its tentacles almost pokes fun at the stiffness of the building material.
The public attending the October 1 showcase will be treated to a number of pieces from a collection of marine animals called Maritime Visions. Penegar has based many pieces on things that lived in, on, or around water, most of which can be seen from his garden.
“The piece that excites me the most – it’s not necessarily a sea animal – but it’s a bull frog. I’ve always had this frog thing, so I finished this bronze bullfrog named Jeremiah, ”he said enthusiastically. Movement was at the center of this particular piece. He tried to capture the bull frog jumping off a log, in motion.
Jeremiah is in fact already exposed. It is part of the play called The Gathering Place, which was unveiled in 2020 in Marion Square. The fountain sculptures present an intimate gathering of accessible animals. Birds, ferrets and Jeremiah adorn the beloved fountain. It is a beautiful installation that joins the other local public pieces of Penegar, like its eagle with impressive wings for The Citadel. Penegar likes to work big when he can.
Penegar will also be in Leprince all weekend doing live sculpture, bringing his process from his West Ashley home to the city center. Customers will be able to stop and watch the process live.
“People love to see this happen,” Penegar said. “I like to talk about it. “
Sculpting, especially with bronze, can be tricky, but Penegar said he enjoys talking about the process. “Kids always love to play with clay and get a feel for it. “
Penegar also has a stall in the city market in the city center. He’s not there every day, but when he is, he carves there and talks to passers-by about the process and the art.
The piece he’s working on live will eventually turn into a majestic humpback whale, in motion, of course. It will be clay, then cast in bronze. And after this weekend, Penegar has the 2022 Southeast Wildlife Exhibition on the horizon, where he’s a regular.
Penegar has simple and noble goals for the show and its work as a whole.
“I want to educate people about nature and use anatomically correct animals so that I can emphasize details. I kind of want to educate and inspire as an artist.