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.

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.

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 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)

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 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)

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)


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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Arts & Culture, Discovery

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 Theatre, a longtime festival favorite, Ireland’s Gate Theatre, performs Noel Coward’s eccentric comedy, Hay Fever. Audiences will also welcome, The Animals and Children Took to the Streets, written 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 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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A Belle and Her City!

If you’ve lived in Charleston for some time, there’s a good chance you might know Shelley Grant Julian, or possibly someone who knows her. She’s an active member of the local community and one of Charleston’s most ardent supporters.

For the past 22 years, Shelley has put her love of Charleston to good use, selling Charleston Place Hotel and the city’s many treasures to prospective meeting planners. It’s a job that she has performed with great pride and panache, and an equally high level of success. However, after more than two decades with Charleston Place, Shelley is embarking on a new chapter.

In honor of her departure, we asked Shelley to list the “Top 10” things she’ll miss about Charleston Place and sharing her city. In true Shelley fashion, she came back to us with 22. Enjoy!

22. My morning stroll to the office. Birds chirping. Delivery trucks making their morning drop-offs. And local business owners sprucing up their store fronts to welcome the day’s visitors.

21. The beautiful flowers surrounding the fountain at the hotel’s Market Street entrance, which greet me every morning as I arrive at the hotel.

20. The exchange of pleasantries with Olesya, as she prepares my morning cappuccino at the lobby coffee shop.

19. Stopping by the Orient-Express Boutique to pick up my morning copy of the Post and Courier, and sneaking a peak at any new items that have arrived.

18. The expansive views of our magnificent city and the Charleston Harbor from the Club Level lounge on the hotel’s eighth floor.

17. The buzz and energy that emanates from the hotel lobby, as leisure travelers arrive at check-in and group meeting attendees gather to depart on a tour of the city.

16. Teaming with the passionate staff from the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at events around the country to promote our charming city.

15. Settling into my favorite stool (next to the server stand) at the Thoroughbred Club and enjoying my favorite cocktail…the Mouzon Mash.

14. Representing Charleston Place Hotel and working with the wonderful people behind our city’s signature events, including Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, Family Circle Cup and Spoleto Festival USA.

13. Catching up with Dana Berlin during one of our regular “girlfriends lunch out” at a local favorite spot—Jestine’s Kitchen.

12. Savoring every last bite of the Jumbo Lump Crab Salad at the Palmetto Cafe in my favorite booth, which overlooks the Palmetto Courtyard and fountain.

11. Spying my first SALE bag in the hand of a local or tourist walking down King Street, notifying me of the semi-annual shoe sale at Bob Ellis Shoes.

10. Catching sight of the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse as I cross the Cooper River on my trek home each evening and leaving the events of the day to float away.

9. Enjoying one of Teresa’s famous vodka cocktails and catching up on the news around town at the bar at Charleston Grill.

8. Site inspections with visiting meeting planners. One of the favorite parts of the job, where I get to see a planner’s eyes light up as they tour the hotel and city, and get to see firsthand everything I’ve been telling them about over the phone all this time.

7. My routine lunchtime indulgence—a pedicure with Van at The Spa at Charleston Place.

6. Strolling through the Charleston City Market and admiring the renovations, new indoor shops and the goodies at the Historic Charleston Shoppe.

5.  Working with a professional, funny and great group sale’s team.

4. Leaving the office for the day and seeing the city alive and buzzing, as locals and visitors finish up shopping or step into another one of the city’s fabulous restaurants for an early bite.

3. Window shopping the Antique District and soaking up the sweet smells of the Jasmine and Tea Olive on lower King during a lunchtime walk to the battery.

2. Circling White Point Gardens and heading back to the office on Meeting Street, stopping to check in with the “Sweet Grass Basket” ladies in front of the Courthouse.  They say business is good this spring!

1. All of the amazing people at Charleston Place and throughout the city that I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my life with daily for the past 22 years!

From all of us at Charleston Place, we wish Shelley much happiness on her journey, and look forward to seeing her out and about playing tourist in Charleston.

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