One of my favorite things to do in Charleston is stroll through the many impressive art galleries. Charleston’s vibrant and diverse art scene rivals those of much larger cities. If you’re visiting the holy city, taking a piece of local art home is a great way to remember your time in the lowcountry. If you’re not an experienced art collector, some of the Charleston art galleries can be a bit intimidating (not to mention expensive), so let me tell you about three places where you’ll find friendly artists and beautiful local art. These are all within easy walking distance of each other, near the intersection of East Bay St. and Broad St. in the French Quarter.
Spencer Art Gallery, 55 Broad Street, Charleston
Owned by husband-and-wife team, Jerry and Catherine Spencer, the Spencer Art Gallery is the oldest gallery on Broad Street. When you visit, you’ll surely meet one of the featured artists. If you’re lucky, he or she will be painting, which is a joy to watch! In addition to oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings, you’ll find etchings, inlaid wood, and sculpture at the Spencer Art Gallery. Many of their 30+ artists live locally, and the art is reasonably priced, making this gallery a worthwhile stop for locals and tourists alike.
Lowcountry Artists Gallery, 148 East Bay Street, Charleston
The Lowcountry Artists Gallery is an artist-owned gallery showcasing the work of more than 20 local artists. Here you will find many different styles and mediums, including paints, pastels, photography, and mixed media. Don’t miss artist Ken Hamilton’s miniature collection! The gallery is staffed by artists who are always glad to introduce you to their work and describe their creative process.
Charleston Artist Guild Gallery, 160 East Bay Street, Charleston
Representing more than 60 artists, the Charleston Artist Guild Gallery offers a wide variety of paintings, prints, and photographs. The Charleston Artist Guild is a non-profit organization, so proceeds are reinvested in workshops and classes for member artists and outreach to the community. When you make a purchase, you help to support the guild’s community programs, such as the Art of Alzheimers for elderly artists in nursing homes and the Extraordinary Arts Competition for special needs students.
If you’re planning a visit to Charleston, be sure to carve out some time in your itinerary to explore the city’s art galleries. Purchasing a piece of art is a wonderful way to take a little bit of the lowcountry home with you!