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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What is Quadriga?

In cities around the globe, significant public spaces are punctuated by heroic statues or forms of public art. With Charleston’s rich and storied history, the Holy City is no different. Many of the city’s public places are marked by unique statues. Two of the most notable in Charleston are the statue of famous South Carolinian John C. Calhoun, set in Marion Square, and   the Confederate Defenders of Charleston monument, which can be seen in Battery Park.

As guests arrive at the main entrance of Charleston Place Hotel between Meeting and Hassell Street, they are greeted by a hulking statue named “Quadriga.” In the mid 80’s, the hotel wanted to create a signature piece that would complement the hotel and destination, so they did what any other self respecting property would do—they commissioned sculptor John Mills, a member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and the Royal Society of Arts. When Mills visited Charleston, he was struck by the history and architecture with its many references to ancient Greek and Roman styles.

Quadriga features a 14-foot Greek revival column in the center surrounded by four 9-foot bronze horses representing the significance of the horse in Charleston’s history, as well as its present day role. At the top of the sculpture is a Carolina bird of prey, which was long ago prevalent in the Charleston Market.

A quadriga is a car or chariot drawn by four horses, and symbolizes triumph, victory and fame. It is a very popular sculpture around the world, with significant pieces found in cities like Berlin, Brooklyn, Paris and Saint Petersburg.

What is your favorite statue or piece of public art found around the Holy City?

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