TODAY‘S HOURS: 10am to 5pm

Richard Hagerty | The Big UnEasy

September 12 – December 10, 2023 | opening reception October 6, 5:30 – 7:30 pm | artist-led gallery talk October 7, 11 am – 12:30 pm

Charleston, SC, surrealist artist Richard Hagerty has been painting his fantastic, visionary worlds for more than five decades. Often based on his dreams and fueled by intense curiosity, Hagerty’s paintings explore manifold realms, including mythology, astronomy, anatomy, botany, history, philosophy and world religions. A retired plastic surgeon, Hagerty is formally trained in the rigors and discipline of science, which informs his artistic endeavors. His acute attention to detail, unquenchable thirst for knowledge and understanding of both concrete and abstract intellectual concepts and enthusiasm to share his thoughts and findings on canvas are what makes his art so compelling. His paintings are inviting and approachable by way of their whimsical imagery and happy color palettes and are brimming with repeating depictions of fantastical figures, dreamscapes, symbols and shapes that develop into a familiar visual language for the viewer. According to Hagerty, surrealism is a vehicle “to explore and express my obsessions with deep history, fascination with myth and symbol and inexhaustible curiosity about color and form.”

The Big UnEasy is a retrospective exhibition of Hagerty’s work dating from 1976 to the present, following his artistic journey from mostly figural – albeit abstracted – work in watercolor to his more recent experimentation with geometry and oils. Understanding that out of trepidation and anxiety can come positive change and beauty, Hagerty’s Big UnEasy exhibits the artist’s outlet for expressing his concerns with our world’s troubling realities, like climate change, the war in Ukraine and the emergence of artificial intelligence. Using the canvas as his space and painted marks as his visual vocabulary for exploring these dilemmas, Hagerty gives new life and meaning – a sort of alchemical metamorphosis – to his anxieties about the future. “Painting has yielded me an unexpectedly capacious playground, to work out – paradoxically, oftentimes playfully – some of the tangles and knots; for this artist, and hopefully for viewers, it can offer some insight, surcease, commentary, or resolution,” says Hagerty.


Myrtle Beach’s Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum strives to be one of the finest visual arts museums in the Carolinas. With 11 galleries that change throughout the year, Myrtle Beach’s only art museum offers exhibitions featuring paintings, textiles, sculpture, photography, video, ceramics, assemblage, collage and more. A visit to the Art Museum’s exhibitions can be enhanced by its lively programming, including artist receptions, tours, lectures, workshops and classes for both adults and children.