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CSU grad paints piece of history for Summerville

Summerville painting 

When Yarboro Winkle, known as Yarbi, graduated from Charleston Southern in 1985, she was immediately hired to teach art in Dorchester District II.

She had attended CSU on a full scholarship to pursue an art degree. By the time she entered college, though, she was in her late 20s, married with two children. In her early 30s, she started teaching at Flowertown Elementary. That was the beginning of a memorable 18-year career teaching elementary and high school students in the same district.

With marriage, children and a full-time job, Winkle suddenly found herself with little time to paint. Every once in a while, different schools asked her to paint murals on large cafeteria, concrete walls – but she yearned to apply paint and brush to a different canvas. It was about 2010 that she took some classes in oil painting. Immediately, the fire was rekindled, stoking her love for creating colors and capturing a moment.  

Recently, the Summerville Preservation Society commissioned Winkle to produce a panoramic painting of part of its business district, with the centerpiece focusing on Guerin’s Pharmacy. Generations of Summervillians have entered that store for a hot dog, a prescription or an ice cream cone. Founded in 1871, it’s the oldest operating pharmacy in South Carolina.

Winkle was especially flattered to be involved in the project because she was well aware of its significance. Her youngest son often stopped by Guerin’s after school. “It was the first place I ever allowed him to go by himself,” she still remembers.

Though feeling some pressure to finish the painting by a specific date, it took about a month to complete it. Many nights, she worked until 2 or 3 a.m. to produce just the proper aerial perspective of the corner of Richardson Avenue and Main Street. There was one other request from the Preservation Society. They wanted the buildings and surroundings to look as they did pre-World War II.

Winkle looked at grainy black and white photos. There were visits with the town historian and walks with the society president. She added vintage cars and researched 1940’ish street lights. She placed tiny figures of people coming in and out of the stores. Initially, some of the women were wearing pants. Winkle realized she needed to adjust those fashion concerns and quickly put all the females in dresses.

The painting was finished on the date desired, though she’s not sure all the paint was dry when it went to the printer. Her time and talents were donated. “I felt honored and am thankful for the gift I have to share with the community.”

The day the painting was revealed, the town also erected an historical marker detailing Guerin’s Pharmacy’s long connection to Summerville.  The painting is on display in Old Town Hall on W. Carolina Street.

Yarbi - Old Santee Canal painting at a 2015 exhibition

Painting of Lightsey Chapel

Pictures provided.

(1) Summerville painting displayed in Old Town Hall in Summerville, SC.

(2) Yarbi Winkle with her painting at Old Santee Canal Exhibition in 2015.

(3) Winkle's painting of Lightsey Chapel at Charleston Southern University.