UNION — A landscape painted by her grandfather decades before she was born is part of an exhibit of paintings and sculpture by an assistant professor with USC Union that’s now on display at the Union County Arts Council Art Gallery.
Christine Sixta Rinehart, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the USC Union Laurens Campus and Palmetto College. Sixta Rinehart is also a published author of college textbooks, books, and book chapters with teaching and research interests subjects ranging from intelligence and security/counterterrorism and international conflict and resolution to women’s studies — gender and politics and maternal health and family planning. While English is her native language, Sixta Rinehart is also fluent in Spanish and has a beginner’s grasp of Arabic and German.
In addition to her work as an educator and author, Sixta Rinehart is also an artist and examples of her work — 22 paintings and five pieces of sculpture — are now on display at the Union County Arts Council Art Gallery on Main Street in downtown Union through Sept. 22.
The exhibit also includes a painting her grandfather produced more than 50 years ago which Sixta Rinehart inherited from her grandmother. The untitled, unsigned landscape was one of only four paintings Sixta Rinehart’s grandfather produced in his lifetime, but she said her grandfather’s work has had a profound impact on her and helped turn childhood creativity into a mature dedication to art.
Sixta Rinehart said she has been involved with creative activities since she was a child, but said she really only started taking up painting during her junior year in high school. She said she was inspired to do so by the paintings her grandfather produced decades before she born.
“I’ve always kind of had a talent, as a kid I was always doing stuff, creating things,” Sixta Rinehart said. “But it was pretty much my grandfather, seeing his paintings in my grandmother’s house, that inspired me to take up art.
In her “Artist Statement” that accompanies the exhibit of her work at the UCAC Art Gallery, Sixta Rinehart writes about the grandfather she never met but who she came to know through the memories of those who knew and loved him including her grandmother, the paintings he produced in his lifetime, and the brushes and other equipment he used when he painted.
My hands are my grandfather’s but I have never met him. Dr. Stanley Sixta was a dentist and my grandmother Helen Sixta was his dental assistant. They lived in Fremont, Nebraska, a rural town around 30 minutes west of Omaha. My grandfather was born in 1915 and died in 1967 from a heart attack. My grandmother Helen never remarried after he died, even though he left her as a relatively young widow. I believe she was so loyal to him that she never even dated again after he died. When I asked her about it, she stated that she never had any urge to meet other men as my grandfather was the only man she had ever loved.
When my grandmother Helen died in 1999, I received all of Stanley’s oil painting equipment and one of his oil paintings as I was the “creative one” in the family. My only connection to him were his brushes, his tubes of oil paint, and his artist box. His painting has hung in my house, always the center of the main room and a reminder of my family and who I am.
As a sophomore at the University of South Carolina, I began taking oil paintings classes to learn how to use my grandpa’s tools that I had been given. As time progressed, I began to paint on a regular basis and my talent grew tremendously. I started taking graduate classes with the Masters in Fine Arts students while I was working on my Ph.D. in Political Science. I added watercolor, figure drawing, and sculpting classes. I relished these classes and looked forward to them all week.
Now that I am older and I have surpassed my grandfather in the amount of work that he created (only 4 paintings), I connect with him through my art. I use his brushes, which are still in excellent shape as I have taken great care of them. When I paint oil paintings for my family, I use his paints which are still good, almost sixty years later. His artist box holds my tools that I have added over the years to his tools. He has given me my hands and I have continued his work. I have my grandfather’s hands and I am my grandfather’s granddaughter.
Sixta Rinehart’s paintings and sculptures and her grandfather’s painting will be on display at the Union County Arts Coucil Art Gallery through Sept. 22.
A reception for Sixta Rinehart will be held Thursday from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Union County Arts Council Art Gallery.
The Union County Arts Council Art Gallery is located at 116 E. Main St., Union, is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.