For the Love of Art ~ Charleston’s’ Gallery Phenomenon!

Charleston has always been a destination for artists because of the magic of the Lowcountry, but it hasn’t always been an art destination for collectors. Within the last couple of decades Charleston has become a city with over 70 galleries! What I find fascinating and consider to be an unusual phenomenon in the art world is that many of the top galleries are owned by artists!  

Throughout history artists have struggled to make a living, totally dependant on gallery owners to promote them and sell their work.  Many artists, including myself, have had relationships with gallery owners who came across as somewhat disconnected from the artist and appeared to be all business. 

Things are different here in Charleston!  Many of the top galleries are actually owned by very talented artists. They not only feature their own work but the work of many other artists. From our short 8 months living here and becoming involved in the art community, I have noticed a true camaraderie among gallery owners and artists. 

The gallery owners/artists have created a strong, vibrant art community, which has caught the notice of art lovers from around the world. The love of art in this town is palpable. The popular Friday Night Art Walks draw hundreds of people wanting to see the latest works by their favorite artists and discover new artists.

As an artist, I love seeing who is painting what, examining how they painted it, meeting the artists, meeting the gallery owners, and getting energized by the whole art scene. The gallery owners here in Charleston have created something special! 

Friday night we were at the first of the 2018 Art Walks and it didn’t disappoint. We stopped into the impressive Hagan Fine Art Gallery, owned by Karen Hagan. She is an accomplished Impressionist and her gallery is filled with Impressionist and Abstract works by many talented artists.  

The Anglin Smith Fine Art Gallery was hopping as usual. We had the pleasure of meeting Betty Anglin Smith, also an accomplished Impressionist, who uses bold colors and bold brushwork. Her work is complimented by the work of her twin, artist daughters, and many other fine artists. 
A must stop along the way was the Robert Lange Studios. Robert is a very talented hyperrealist artist with a creative side, frequently adding a surreal twist to his work. He has taken an historic building on Queen Street and turned it into a dramatic fine art gallery filled with the works of young and up and coming very talented artists. 

Robert was working on his latest masterpiece while we all watched over his shoulder. He was painting away, answering questions from the crowd, and was kind enough to stop and have his picture taken with me. Robert has created an art vibe there that is drawing in both young and old, and is making art cool to many who didn’t already know it!  

William R. Beebe (left) and Robert Lange at the Robert Lange Studio.

William R. Beebe (left) and Robert Lange at the Robert Lange Studio.

Being a birder and aviary painter, I was attracted to the beautiful pastel bird art of Cecilia Murray when we walked into her gallery, Cecil Byrne Gallery on Broad Street. We had the pleasure of meeting her as she was busily answering questions from other admirers of her work.  

Marissa Vogl, also a wonderful bird artist and Abstract painter, co-owns the Meyer Vogl Gallery with artist Laura Meyer.  Marissa gave a demonstration of how she approaches her abstract paintings at one of the Mt. Pleasant Artists Guild meetings that I attended (an example of the willingness to share with other artists).  

Mark Horton, owner of the Horton Hayes Fine Art Gallery in the French Quarter, creates beautiful serene landscapes, and has a stable of top artists featured in his beautiful gallery.  

These are just a few of the artist/gallery owners who have energized Charleston’s art scene. We came home after the Friday Night Art Walk thinking how lucky we are to be involved in the art community at this particular time. In my 28 years of being an artist I’ve never experienced anything quite like it.  

I’ll be back in my studio today working on my painting of an historic, yellow home along Meeting Street with even more enthusiasm and motivation.  My next post will show the finished work.  

Thanks as always for reading my journal and for your interest in my art!  It is appreciated very much! 

One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
What's next?  Drawing by William R. Beebe

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe