Beyond Spoleto: A Guide To Contemporary Art In Charleston

In our last post, we offered a glimpse into some of the highlights of this year’s Spoleto Festival USA. With most performances scheduled during the evening hours, your days are left to enjoy the rest of what Charleston has to offer, including the city’s rich and diverse art scene.

From the galleries dotting Broad Street, the growing presence on Upper King Street and the tucked away galleries in between, Charleston’s art scene is truly thriving. We invited our friend Rebekah Jacob, owner of Rebekah Jacob Gallery and expert in the art and photography of the American South, to be our guest on Hidden Charleston and share her thoughts on her favorite spots to see contemporary art come alive along Charleston’s streets.

A GUIDE TO CONTEMPORARY ART IN CHARLESTON
During Spoleto, take a break from ubiquitous performing arts outings to explore some of Charleston’s top sites for contemporary artists. Easily accessible by bike, pedicab or on foot, these venues present top-notch progressive artists, many who live and work in Charleston.

CITY WATERFRONT GALLERY
The largest exhibition space in Charleston, the City Waterfront Gallery rotates exhibits every 4-6 weeks. The clean, spare space is a perfect spot for progressive local, national, and international artists to present work on a large scale. The most recent show “A Long Time Ago” is non-media specific and features local favorites like Lisa Shimko, Liz Vaughn, and Xin Lu, among others. Curated by Hirona Matsuda, each work attempts to tell a story without words. (Free and open to the public, City Gallery at Waterfront Park, 34 Prioleau Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843.958.6484)

THE HALSEY INSTITUTE
The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art has organized a major traveling exhibition of new work by Japanese contemporary artist Motoi Yamamoto. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a site-specific installation created entirely out of salt by the artist. Curated by Mark Sloan, director and senior curator of the Halsey, the exhibit also features recent drawings, photography, sketchbooks, and video about the artist. During Spoleto, watch the artist at work. (Free and open the public, 161 Calhoun Street, Chalreston, SC 29421, Phone: 843.953.4422)

CORRIGAN GALLERY
At a quaint space on Queen Street, Lese Corrigan presents paintings by Charleston artist Linda Fantuzzo. Her current body of work explores the edge going from darkness to light. Trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Fantuzzo continues to master her craft combing luminous color and atmospheric effects. Both large and small formats suggest the expansiveness of the Low Country landscape with her trademark confident, loose brushstrokes. (Free and open to the public, 62 Queen Street, Charleston SC 29401, Phone: 843.722.9868)

REDUX
Redux is a nonprofit organization committed to the fostering of creativity and the cultivation of contemporary art. With an exhibition space, 22 private artist studios, a dark room, and a printmaking facility, the space is a must-see for art lovers who want a whim of creativity. Through the cultivation of contemporary art through diverse exhibitions, subsidized studio space for artists, and expansive educational programming–Redux is instrumental in presenting new artists to our community. Visit Redux to find some of Charleston’s most exciting, emerging talent. (Free and open to the public, 136 Saint Philip Street, Charleston, SC 29403, Phone: 843.722.0697)

REBEKAH JACOB GALLERY
Located “Uptown” at 502 King, Rebekah Jacob Gallery exhibits “Confluence,” recent work by Bo Joseph (New York City) and Tim Hussey (Charleston).  Tim Hussey exhibits works from his latest series “Bathos,” which the artist began in response to his past work’s tendency toward vague narratives, metaphors, memories and dreams. Bo Joseph exhibits works from “A Lexicon of Persistent Absence” series. From a myriad sources Joseph scavages images of objets that transcend cultural boundaries without losing their intrinsic charge. (Free and open to the public, 502 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843.937.9222)

ROBERT LANGE STUDIOS

Known best for his captivating pop-surrealist narrative and use of bold colors, Charleston painter Nathan Durfee exhibits one of his best bodies of work at Robert Lange Studio in the French Quarter. Trained as an illustrator, each of Durfee’s paintings begins with an enormous amount of push and pull from the artist, in which ideas are refined and adjusted, until a rough idea starts to form. He then begins rendering the elements of the painting while maintaining a wandering state of mind. Many of his whimsical characters are faced with tough, yet universal decisions, conveying a sense of security in an unsure world to the viewer. (Free and open to the public, 2 Queen Street, Charleston, SC 29401 Phone 843.805.8052)

We’d love to your input too. Have you visited these spots? What others would you recommend for visitors to explore during their stay in Charleston?
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The arts take center stage in Charleston at Spoleto Festival USA

Most months in Charleston are marked by a signature festival or event. The Lowcountry Oyster Festival gets things started in January, followed by Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in February and Charleston Wine + Food Festival in March. And on and on and on.

For the past 36 years, late May and early June have been all about the arts in Charleston. The Spoleto Festival USA—an internationally-renowned exhibition of visual and performing arts—has been a vital component of Charleston’s cultural heritage for over 30 years. The festival was selected as the American counterpart to the annual Italian arts and performances festival in 1977 by Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti. The Holy City has hosted the U.S. version of this annual creative festival ever since, providing a platform for young and experimental artists while gaining international acclaim.

Whether you attend the Opening Night Fête, the Festival Finale, or any of the critically acclaimed performances in between, there’s something for everyone at this year’s Spoleto Festival USA from May 25 – June 10.

Spoleto 2012 kicks off with Leo, a surprising physical theater production that asks one simple question: What would happen if the laws of gravity were to suddenly change?

Opening at Dock Street Theatrea longtime festival favorite, Ireland’s Gate Theatre, performs Noel Coward’s eccentric comedy, Hay FeverAudiences will also welcomeThe Animals and Children Took to the Streetswritten and directed by Suzanne Andrade and performed at Memminger Auditorium.

The 2012 dance program features the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, performing electrifying new works and iconic classics; Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, one of the edgiest dance companies; The Radio Show, inspired by an urban radio show; and A Crack In Everything, an innovative mix of choreography and ethereal video projections.

The Wells Fargo Jazz Series features seven talented artists; Ukulele prodigy Jake Shimabukuro; Brazilian vocalist Virginia Rodrigues; American vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant featuring The Aaron Diehl Trio; pianist David Peña Dorantes; double-bass virtuoso Renaud Garcia- Fons; and legendary New Orleans brass ensemble Rebirth Brass Band.

To learn more about Spoleto Festival USA 2012, visit SpoletoUSA.org. And tune back into our blog later this week, as we’ll invite our first guest blogger to offer some tips on ways to fill up your days while in town for Spoleto.

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Oh Lord, Here Comes Summer in Charleston

Summer in Charleston sort of hangs on you like a wet blanket—a very nice and elaborate blanket, but one nonetheless. And that’s the way we like it. The heat and humidity are a given. When asked by visitors if it’s always this hot, locals reply with the standard, “Oh, you should have been here last week.”

The trick to surviving a Charleston summer is in how you dress and what you drink. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Cotton. Sure, those new highfalutin fabrics are nice. Names so fancy they take five syllables, but nothing wicks moisture off your skin and is as soft as cotton.

2. Seersucker. A staple. Shorts, shirts, dresses, suits, you name it. Puckered cotton means less fabric is touching your skin.

3. Pimm’s Cup. Yes, it’s a British concoction and your pals will be asking you rules to the polo club they think you’ve joined, but it’s all good. While they conjure witty banter, you’ll be as cool as a cucumber.

4. Planter’s Punch. Some say it’s Charleston’s first cocktail. We’ll say you can’t go wrong with its simplicity. Rum, sugar and citrus.

Like we said, these are just to get you started. We can’t give you everything. And no, the summers actually aren’t that bad. With a steady breeze, the aroma of salt in the air and towering Live Oaks, fresh is close and hot stays at bay. Of course, you should have been here last week.

What would you add to the list we’ve started? Let us know what tips you have in your arsenal to keep cool in Charleston’s summer.

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