Cainhoy peninsula resident to perform at Piccolo Spoleto
Rina Lucas’ home is decorated with her paintings of the world around her. A portrait of her husband John greets newcomers, impressionist renderings of the outdoors fill the walls of their living room, and at the top of the stairs is the art she composed for this year’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival.
At her June 7 show, titled “Seasons: A Visual and Vocal Journey,” to be held at Daniel Island’s Providence Baptist Church, Lucas and pianist Arshak Sirunyan will perform art songs, arias, and jazz standards that represent the seasons. Lucas composed four paintings, one for each season. In response, Sirunyan created an original piano composition based on the artwork.
“One thing that we thought was interesting is being able to show the difference in the seasons here in the Lowcountry,” says Lucas. “You think about them being subtle, but when you actually have a chance to take as many photographs as I do, you do realize that there is quite a bit of difference in the seasons.”
Pointing at the winter painting, Lucas talked about the inspiration for the piece: the sight of snow in her backyard. “When we had that snow—this is actually a scene that’s in our neighborhood of a palmetto tree with snow, which is kind of cool because who would think that you can get a wintery scene in the Lowcountry,” she asked.
For winter’s opposite, Lucas provided a visual metaphor. “The idea of this one is the balance of darkness and light,” says the artist. “In the summertime when the rays are so strong and so direct, it’s nice to have a place that you can retreat to and this painting kind of helps to make you feel cool, even though it’s summertime.”
Less than a decade ago, Lucas didn’t expect to perform in two different art forms at Piccolo Spoleto, the complement to Spoleto Festival that celebrates local creatives more than global artists. In fact, the Clements Ferry Road area resident wasn’t even in an artistic field at the time, leaving painting and singing in the periphery as hobbies.
“I began my career as a physical therapist, I had my master’s degree in physical therapy, but I had a back injury and that made it difficult to continue in the same profession because it requires a lot of lifting,” she recalled. “So, I decided to reinvent myself and work hard on my art—not only painting, but my vocal art.”
Although she had several “important mentors” along the way, Lucas said that she is largely self-taught in the visual arts. “You learn the more you paint,” she stated. “Each time you paint a new picture or scene or portrait, you learn, so it’s lifelong learning.”
Lucas understudied classical singing for eight years, following her back injury.
John Lucas, Rina’s husband, describes himself as her biggest fan. “She’s always excelled at everything,” he comments. “[She’s] got a gift that resonates.”
To prepare for Seasons: A Visual and Vocal Journey, Rina Lucas has worked on the music like a full-time job. “Every other day, I’m running through the full program so that I feel comfortable and have everything memorized,” she said.
The artist practices at her studio, Staff and Palette, in her downtime.
“Having started out in the sciences and having my master’s degree in physical therapy, and then having gone a nontraditional route to study the arts, it does make me proud that it was something I was able to do,” she said.
Seasons: A Visual and Vocal Journey will be presented on Friday, June 7 at Providence Baptist Church, 294 Seven Farms Drive. The show starts at 7 p.m.