Skip to main content

Columbia Business Monthly

Doug Shealy Drew Game Day Crowd

Nov 01, 2017 02:16PM ● By Emily Stevenson
By Rachel Haynie
Artwork by Doug Shealey
Artwork Photography ©2017 Brian Dressler /

A coin toss determines which team defends which goal for the first half, and Williams Brice Stadium becomes fully alive. The late artist Doug Shealey created a way to keep the stadium fully alive perpetually, and only his talent and persistence came into play.

Known as the stadium artist, Shealey painted, in minute detail, the beloved stadium where the Gamecocks play and produced coveted prints from the original.

“He was a master at photorealism,” said Don Clark, who watched Shealey’s evolution as an artist and his arrival at a pinnacle of achievement. Clark, who owns the frame shop and art gallery Art in a Nutshell, also framed, and still frames, Shealey’s limited edition prints for collectors.

“Artists working in the genre of photorealism study a photograph intently then recreate the photograph as realistically as possible,” Clark said. “But, first, there’s the matter of the photograph. Doug paid a pilot to take him up so he could get the best possible aerial photograph of the stadium. He was very particular; he knew what angle of light he was looking for. Once he had the shot he wanted, he devoted months, even as much as a year on each original – and those originals now are worth thousands.”

Jerry Kirkland also continues to frame Shealey’s prints, which are still in demand by collectors, although Shealey has passed away. Shealey’s last project was his print of Williams Brice Stadium following the renovation in 2015. The earlier Williams Brice Stadium was his very first project in this series.

“We grew up together in Olympia and Doug did most of the art around Olympia High School, things like the props for beauty pageants. It was clear he had talent then.” Kirkland and Shealey played a lot of baseball together as kids, “and golf as men,” said Kirkland, recently named Cayce Historical Museum’s assistant to the director.

Although Shealey’s talent was recognized, it was not cultivated. “He really wanted to make art his career,” Kirkland said. “He was the last male to graduate from Columbia College. He was doing a little bit of drawing when another artist saw his work and told Doug he ought to go talk to Gil Petroff.”

Petroff was an in-demand delineator. A New Yorker who had taught at Saranac Lake Art League before choosing Columbia as his home, Petroff had made a name for himself with Columbia’s top architectural firms. He fully rendered architectural concept drawings that helped sell a project.

“Doug studied what Petroff was doing and decided that’s what he wanted to do,” recalled Clark. “He asked Petroff for an appointment, to which Petroff agreed. He went to Petroff’s studio and told him he wanted to study with him, that he would do whatever – even clean his studio if he could hang around and learn from him.”

Petroff told Shealey he’d think about it over the weekend. Clark recalled the outcome: “Petroff called Doug back before the weekend was up and told him okay, he’d do it.” Under Petroff’s tutelage, Shealey became a very good delineator.

Eventually, Shealey went out on his own, established a studio in the Barringer Building, and was doing well. But by the time Petroff died in 1990, technology was seriously impacting the role of architectural renderers. The advent of Computer Assisted Drawing, or CAD, forced Shealey to consider reinventing himself.

“We were playing a round of golf to get his mind off his worries,” recalled his brother Robert. “I looked up at the club house and said, ‘Why don’t you paint that club house. You could sell prints to every member here.’”

Golf clubhouses were the catalyst, but in short order, Shealey transposed that idea to painting stadiums. To get started, he needed to buy some time.

The artist parlayed a piece of bad luck into a shot at doing what became his renowned work. “He had this Corvette; man, he loved that car,” Robert said. “It was totaled in a wreck, and the settlement bought him a stake – allowed him to live while he put in the months to finish that first original and get it reproduced.”

Of that original, Clark said, “He was a detail guy! Into that painting he put every car, every bus, every person in the stadium.”

Shealey went on to other stadiums: Clemson, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee. Next he began painting race tracks.

But the piece of art on which his reputation was founded: Williams Brice Stadium.