Friday, January 28, 2011

A Day in Charleston

East Bay Homes
walkway along E. Bay Street
It was a gorgeous day in Charleston. 
A. Paul & I started our day with a walk along E. Bay Street that skirts around the historic downtown peninsula and Battery Park, where Civil War cannons are frozen in time.  The southern mansions with their covered porticos were washed with sunlight.  The residents here were awakening from the winter season, painting, planting, and cleaning this pristine corner of the world.

After stopping in for a morning meal at East Bay Meeting House, where local resident Brit Washburn gave us an inside rundown on the art scene, we ventured along Broad Street to the section aptly named "Gallery Row." There, we were met with warm hospitality in the many galleries we visited.  What we were surprised to see was the diversity of the gallery collections.  Given the historic nature of the area, we expected to see much more emphasis on native "low country" scenes and though there was a strong showing of these works, there was also a substantial collection of regional and international artists' works of urban scenes, figurative works, and abstract art.  When we inquired about this at the Wells Gallery,  Director Keli Tolley stated that her gallery used to show mainly local artists' works  but the trend has shifted to meet the needs of the changing collector base.  There was evidence of this in most of the galleries we visited. To see the works at Wells Gallery you can visit

Margie Veitel (L) & Kerry
at Edward Dare Gallery

"Matilda" by Roberta Remy
The Edward Dare Gallery does feature some gems of "low country" artwork by Roberta Remy.  Remy visits the area and is enraptured by the long standing history of sweetgrass weavers who, for decades, have graced the corners of Charleston. Having spoken to one of the street weavers, Jennifer, the spaces in which they sit are handed down through the family.  The corner where Jennifer has woven her baskets for the past 27 years was occupied by her mother for over 50 years.      

Scott Amrhein Glass at
Martin Gallery
 At the Martin Gallery, A. Paul & I were surrounded by monumental sculpture, paintings, and glass.  One artist's work that did capture our attention was the metallic glazed and etched art glass by Scott Amrhein.  The simplistic, fluid lines and crackled metallic glazed glass on ironwork stands were striking with the light filtering through the window.

Kerry (L) with Maggie Kruger (R) at M Gallery
Our most informative encounter was with Maggie Kruger of the M Gallery.  For many years, Maggie operated a successful art business and artist in residence program in Florida. When the overall economy declined, her business did as well.  Though she continues her artist in residence workshops in Florida, she relocated her entire gallery business to Charleston after driving across the country scouting out the best art community in which to move.  Though she is a recent addition to the gallery scene here, she is already benefitting from Charleston's strong art collector base. Maggie is a savvy business woman with an innovative approach to developing the relationship between her artists' works and collectors. We had a wonderful visit with her and hope that she will take us up on our offer for her to visit us someday.  Thanks, Maggie, for given us your time. We wish you well.

Mr & Mrs. Hereford with Kerry,
A. Paul & Mickey

Mickey Williams in his studio-gallery

At day's end, we met up with Mickey Williams at his studio gallery on East Bay Street.  It happened that A. Paul and Mickey had mutual artist acquaintances from the Provincetown area.  (Guess we just missed you Jerome by a week or so.)  As the two of them engaged in the artist world of Provincetown and Charleston, studio visitors, Mr. & Mrs. Hereford, joined in the interaction.   We lingered with Mickey learning more about him, his life, and work.  According to Mickey, the arts here have been in survival mode and only recently have been showing signs of growth.                      

A. Paul (L) with Mickey Williams

Reflecting on this day, A. Paul & I were both struck by just how connected the community is to the arts. No matter where we went, the individuals who work and or live here, both young & old, were knowledgable about the artists, galleries, events, history, and not simply on a superficial basis.  There is a lot to savor here in Charleston and it will take a few more days for us to really digest all that we have learned and have seen.  Tomorrow, we will explore Charleston's Gibbes Museum of Art then off to Beaufort, SC and landing in Savannah, GA by nightfall.


jgreene said...

Hey you two, it is fun watching your travels.
Mickey is a really nice guy, spent a little time with him last Friday. My long time painting buddy Frank Gardner (from Mexico) told me to make sure to stop in to mickey's Gallery. Frank shows at M Gallery. Small world we live in!

jgreene said...

Hey there you two, sounds like you are having a great time.
I had a great time in Charleston, Mickey Williams is a great guy and fantastic artist. My friend and painting buddy Frank Gardner (Mexico) told me to be sure to stop in and see Mickey, Frank also shows with Maggie at M Gallery. ....Small world.

pschulen said...

Hey I thought you were headed west. I'm glad you took the time to head through Wilmington and down to Charleston Great areas to explore. It's great to see the photos and read about your progress.

M Gallery SE said...

So glad you stopped at the M! Can't wait to return the favor, Maggie

Frank Gardner said...

Hello, Just thought it fitting to say hello here. Found your blog through a link from Mickey Williams. I'm friends with Jerome and Paul and show with Maggie at M. Looks like everyone is here and accounted for.
I look forward to following along as you travel across the country. Will stop in and visit on my next trip to the Cape.

Charlotte Hutson Wrenn said...

Yours is a beautiful blog and great idea. Wonderful pictures of our Mickey Williams at his easel. Charleston is a rockin for sure. Perhaps you want to stay a bit longer:)