Archive for the 'Events' Category

Interning at a Closed Museum

Intern Valerie Coughlin in front of the Gibbes Museum of Art.

Intern Valerie Coughlin in front of the Gibbes Museum of Art.

When I tell people that I am an intern at the Gibbes Museum of Art, I am often met with a confused look and the question: “How can you intern at a closed museum?” While this question is valid I have come to see the Gibbes’ renovation as an added bonus to interning at one of Charleston’s finest museums. As an arts management major at The College of Charleston, I have learned about all types of arts organizations, from well-established ones to completely new. I have learned about the challenges of developing programming from scratch as well as building upon existing programs. As a Public Programs and Special Events intern this fall under Lasley Steever, I have gotten to experience things I have only read about in textbooks. It is one thing to read about board responsibilities, but to see the number of hours and the amount of energy board members put into the Gibbes is something entirely different. As an intern I have learned about every aspect of an event, from artist accommodations to the logistics of securing a venue. But during my time here I have learned much more than how to successfully execute an event.

Insider Art with Andrew Brunk

Brunk Auctions president, Andrew Brunk, spoke to a crowd at the Gibbes Museum’s Insider Art Series.

I have been given the unique experience to be an intern at a museum with a reputation that goes back 150 years but also a museum that is undergoing renovations in more ways than one. Along with the floor to ceiling renovation of the building, the Gibbes is rebranding itself. This includes a new website, a new logo, a new mission statement, all in time for the re-opening this spring. So while I get the benefit of interning at one of Charleston’s most recognized and respected institutions, I also get to see how a museum develops on the ground floor. I have seen how the entire staff is coming together to build a new Gibbes. I have experienced how much planning and attention goes into creating a logo, how many meetings go into designing a website, and how the staff and board spend countless hours working together to discuss their hopes for the future of the Gibbes. I have learned that “Reimagine the Gibbes” is much more than a renovation tagline, it is reflective of what I experience day to day as an intern here. So while yes, I am interning at a closed museum, my time here has been invaluable. I am surrounded by the most talented, passionate, and hardworking staff and I cannot wait to see everything come together this spring when the Gibbes Museum of Art reopens!

Valerie Coughlin, College of Charleston intern and guest blogger

Many Moving Parts – A Gallerist’s Perspective

[While the Gibbes Museum is closed, we find ourselves aching to interact with real-live art. The pictures online are nice to glance at, but it can’t replace the experience of standing in front of an original work of art and seeing all the nuances of an artist’s hand. On Thursday night, Society 1858 members had the opportunity to visit the studio of artist Tim Hussey as he prepares for a solo exhibition at The George Gallery. Gallery owner Anne Siegfried shares with us what it takes to pull off a successful show.]

Most people would agree that art openings are fun to attend. You can meet with friends, have a glass of wine, and discuss what you like or not like about the art on the walls. If you connect with the art on exhibit you might also have the opportunity to meet the artist. If you are really into the art, you can buy a piece to hang in your home and enjoy forever. But how does the art opening actually happen?

Society 1858 members enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at Tim Hussey's studio.

Society 1858 members enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at Tim Hussey’s studio.

It takes a lot of moving parts coming together.

As a gallery owner I consider many things when planning an exhibit, the most important of these things are my clients, show logistics, promotion, and the quality of the art. I need to be confident that my clients will respond to the artist’s work. Does it match what they are looking for? Is the art work unique? Is the price point reasonable? If I can think of a dozen people off the top of my head that I believe will really appreciate the show then I move on to the next step.

The logistics are the boring part. When does the show best fit into the gallery’s calendar? What else is going on in Charleston when I want to have this show, I want to be sure there are not any obvious conflicts. Is there enough time for the artist to complete a full body of work?

The next consideration is promotion. Do I have an appropriate amount of time to get writers interested in the body of work? I’m hosting the event because I feel passionate that the artist has a story to tell. My job is getting that message out there, sometimes even before one painting has been completed. But through communicating with my artists and visiting their studios I get to understand what is motivating them, why this collection of work is important, and what the message will be once it’s hung on the walls.

The most exciting part of the exhibit for me is when I see the work in person for the first time, which is when the wheels in my head really start turning. I trust in myself and my artist that the quality of the work is up to or exceeds our standards. So far, my artists have never let me down.

When it’s time to hang the show, I finally get to be creative. I have to take into consideration where the best lighting is, which piece need to stand alone, or which is the most subtle and needs extra attention.

An opening reception at The George Gallery.

An opening reception at The George Gallery.

All of this planning, creating, promoting, etc., gets us to the wine drinking and chatting with friends. The process takes about 6-18 months on average. But it’s so worth it! I get to share the art that I love the most. The artist gets to show off his/her hard work, and hopefully you have also fallen in love, taken a piece home and will enjoy that work for many years to come.

—Anne Siegfried
guest blogger, Society 1858 Board Member and owner of The George Gallery

The Secret Language of Cloth, an Interview with Susan Hull Walker

Susan Hull Walker, who founded ibu in 2013, studied World Religions at Harvard Divinity School and served for eighteen years as a minister in Maine, San Francisco, and Charleston, SC. When she returned to school to study Fiber Arts, she learned to weave and speak in the language of cloth. It opened her eyes to the very thing she had been looking for in her previous work – a woman’s way of recording her mind and soul. What she didn’t find in parchment and page, she found in textiles. A woman’s text. Walker is the featured speaker at the Gibbes October Art With a Twist event entitled, The Secret Language of Cloth and graciously agreed to share some of the meanings of cloth with us here.

Susan Hull Walker in her studio

Susan Hull Walker, ibu Founder

Amy: Susan, your upcoming talk is titled, “The Secret Language of Cloth.” Are you saying there is more to fabrics and cloth than meets the eye? Can you explain what that means?

Susan: Of course. In the middle ages, stripes were uncommon and disturbing to the eye – a striped garment moved in uncertain ways rather than waiting politely like a smooth, solid color. Which is how stripes came to be called The Devil’s Cloth and relegated to the edges of their society: worn by jesters, prostitutes, serfs, the condemned. Even in recent years, prisoners suit up in wide horizontal stripes against the vertical bars of their cell and form a visual grid, a cage, in which they live. The history of striped clothing is one fascinating skip through the western sartorial canon, all the way up to sailors, referees, and Picasso – all on the edge of their game.

In Eastern Europe, red embroidery long protected the vulnerable openings of neck and wrists where evil spirits might slip through, and is shaped into a beautiful armor of threads over the chest. A Pazyryk linen shift dating back to the 4th century, BC, has been found bound in red – embroidered with amulets, tokens of sacred power, to ward off the unworthy. Red thread, almost universally, denotes the vital flow of blood, life, passion and fertility, fierce against the dark powers that would diminish it.

IBU fabric

ibu fabric

On the Indonesian island of Sumba, only women of a certain mature age may go near the indigo dye bath, so potent is its power. Women over 50 have known the losses of this world and can bear the deep mysteries of the dye – a ‘blue art’ not suitable for women of a child-bearing age. Men are forbidden to go near it altogether. Indigo has its own secret society of the wise elders, strong and initiated.

Cloth is a trove of story and symbol. The creation of cloth consumed the vast majority of a woman’s time before the industrial revolution – cultivating flax, tending sheep, spinning yarn, dyeing, weaving, stitching, embellishing, piecing and repairing. And so it is saturated with the imagination of women in every step. Needle and thread form a kind of writing. Cloth reveals a secret language that opens to a curious mind.

It’s been my fascination to dive into these stories and try to decipher some of the most common motifs we see but no longer understand.

Why is the woven diamond pattern so universal and ancient – from Laos to Morocco to Guatemala?

Why the ubiquitous Tree of Life, the many shapes of sun, the fertile pomegranate?

Where do brides wear black? And why does a priest wear ‘a little house’? which is, after all, what a chasuble means . . .

Let’s explore more of these mysteries together. I look forward to translating with you the secret language of cloth.

Amy: Thanks so much Susan! We are looking forward to this event.

Susan Hull Walker founded the ibu movement, an enterprise aiding women artisans around the world by offering their hand-crafted textile wares for sale at a showroom on King Street and online. ibu, which means, a woman of respect in the Malay language, aims to continue the world’s great cultural languages in cloth and to empower the women who still carry these rich languages in their hands.

Art with a Twist: The Secret Language of Cloth with Susan Hull Walker 
Wednesday, October 21, 6pm
$20 Members, $30 Non Members
Location: Ibu, 183 King Street

Hearts Mend Hearts, Charleston Heals Through Art

Laura De La Maza and Dianne Tennyson Vincent reached out to the Gibbes Museum after the tragic shootings at the Mother Emanuel AME church. They wanted to do something to help the community heal and were in the beginning stages of formulating a plan so we suggested bringing in our colleagues from the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and Redux Studios to help brainstorm. Dianne had led an Art of Healing workshop for the Gibbes in 2012, in which students created mandalas, and following the tragedy, she spoke to us about offering this concept to the community as a way to heal. Laura has worked as an art teacher for years and uses mandalas in the classroom. In the last few weeks these women have worked tirelessly to create a series of free workshops to be offered at the Charleston County Public Library on Calhoun Street through the end of September. They were kind enough to answer a few questions about Hearts Mends Hearts.

How did you become involved with art as a healing endeavor?

Dianne: I became interested in art as a way to heal personally while going through a divorce. Intensely personal, I found it easier and more natural to draw what I experienced on an emotional level than to write or talk about it. I began painting again, which I had given up while married. I discovered the images that I was drawn to reflected what I was going through at the time emotionally: landscapes of paths, roads, and desert scenes. While trying to discover my next path, I stumbled into the field of art therapy and eventually went back to graduate school and became a registered art therapist.

Laura: I realized the healing power of art after going through Hurricane Hugo that destroyed my home. Creating mandalas in the evenings by candlelight as there was no electric power, helped calm me as I dealt with loss, natural devastation, and shock. I also began creating mandalas with students as we were all experiencing losses connected to this natural disaster. The very act of producing images or designs within the circle helped us heal from the devastation in our lives. We came together as a group and embraced another school that had been totally lost due to the hurricane. As we worked side by side for several months that school year, we created human healing circles as well as the visual metaphor called a mandala.

mandala workshop

A student’s mandala

Can you tell me more about these healing circles?

Dianne: Healing circles are mandalas. The word mandala comes from Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. A mandala is a universal symbol or archetype used in all religions and cultures that means “healing circle,” “completeness” or “sacred circle.” Circles suggest unity, wholeness, completion, and eternity. Circles are universally associated with meditation, healing, and prayer.

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung used mandalas with his clients and himself. He saw the mandala as “a representation of the unconscious self,” and  “expressing the idea of a safe refuge, inner reconciliation and wholeness.”  Jung called mandalas “vessels” into which we project our psyche. Experienced consciously, this message from the unconscious is a means for restoration and growth.

mandala workshop

Students at work

What do you hope these workshops will do for the community?

Dianne: As a witness to the life changing effects of art therapy for over fourteen years as an art therapist, including two trips both to Bosnia and Haiti through the ArtReach Foundation and here at home while in private practice, I am still amazed of the power of making art. Art is a creative, non-threatening way to deal with trauma. Children are less articulate verbally, and are often afraid to express themselves, so the metaphors of art are a powerful, direct means to deal with the intense emotions of horror, loss, sadness, anger, and isolation. Increased self-awareness, decreased anxiety, energy and empowerment increases self-worth and confidence and helps reconcile emotional conflict.  Any age can and will benefit and each participant, one person at a time, will ultimately help heal our community.

Laura: I hope these workshops provide a platform for healing. Our first workshop was on Sunday, July 26th and we had a nice turnout with 16 participants of all ages and races. The attendees were engaged and all shared what they had created for display, and most engaged in the processing afterwards. At both sessions this week, attendees that knew one of the slain members at Emanuel AME came to the library to take part in the workshop. On Sunday, a mother and daughter came, and the young girl had visited the West Ashley branch of the library often, having made the acquaintance of Cynthia Hurd. This 4-year-old asked her mother to share what her drawing was about. It was very moving to hear the mom recount their visits to the library, and their conversations with Miss Cynthia, and how she had encouraged the little girl to love books and to visit the library.

Free Hearts Mend Hearts drop-in sessions are offered at CCPL Main Library on Calhoun Street through the end of September. They are designed to help individuals process their feelings and express emotions in a safe environment.

Sundays from 2-4:30pm

Tuesdays from 5:30-7pm

Thursdays from 5:30-7pm

For more information visit their website at

Dianne Tennyson Vincent, MAT, ATR, Registered Art Therapist

Dianne has been creating art since she began painting at age 12. Graduating in Nursing from the Southern Adventist University when she was only 19, she quickly realized life as an OR nurse was not for her, so she went to the College of Charleston for her bachelors in Studio Art and then to the University of South Caroline for her Masters in Art Education. Odd, though fortuitous events landed her a job as Art Therapist at Fenwick Hall Hospital, (a psychiatric-substance abuse hospital.) and from there she went on to complete 30 graduate and two thousand clinical hours to earn her requirements to be a registered art therapist with the American Art Therapy Association.

She has taught art privately since she was 19, and as an elementary, middle and high school art instructor for the Charleston County School District for 14 years. She now runs her Art Connects Art School with her husband while maintaining her private art therapy practice in Mount Pleasant. She promotes art therapy locally through an ongoing series of presentations geared for both professional mental health care givers and the general public, and has done numerous mandala workshops to familiarize the public with the healing power of the mandala.

Laura De La Maza, National Board Certified Teacher, Art

Expressing art through teaching, art making, and creating visual stories defines the work of Laura De La Maza. Influenced by the Caribbean color and landscape where she grew up, De La Maza expresses life’s journey through mandalas, mixed media, and symbol. The spiritual connection expressed in her images defines her art teaching and personal work. De La Maza teaches high school art in the Lowcountry.

A Community United, a conversation with organizer Mickey Bakst


A Community United

A Community United

Mickey Bakst, General Manager of the Charleston Grill, has done it again. He has reached out to the Charleston food and beverage community to ask for their help in honoring the victims, families and congregation of Mother Emanuel AME church with a gathering bringing together the people of Charleston. The event will be at the Belmond Charleston Place Hotel on July 9, 2015. Silent auction bidding on a variety of luxury items will be available to supporters around the country beginning on July 3 at Noon and ending Midnight on July 9.

You have a passion for philanthropy and for helping those in need. You are the mastermind behind successful charities including Chefs Across America, Benefit for Katrina, and Dine for Nine. In 2014, the Gibbes Museum presented you with the James S. Gibbes Philanthropy award to recognize those efforts. Can you tell me where that passion came from?

Mickey Bakst

Angela Mack presenting Mickey Bakst with the 2014 James Shoolbred Gibbes Philanthropy Award at the Annual Meeting.

Honestly I am not sure. I was once asked why do you do those things and my response was “why not?” It seems to me we all have gifts that would enable us to help others around us. The question becomes not can you but will you? I feel strongly that I have been given some certain gifts and I feel a responsibility to use those gifts as effectively as I can. There are many people who have amazing abilities to help others but choose not to. I choose to!

Tell us about the A Community United event. What restaurants are involved? Share some details about the silent auction. 

There are over 50 restaurants and beverage purveyors involved so to list them would be a bit tedious. All of the major restaurants in town are involved. The event will be a stroll around somewhat like we do for the Gibbes Street Party. The program will consist of the Mark Sterbank Spiritual Hymn group as well as a gospel group called the Low Country Voices. We will also have members of the Emanuel victim’s families, as well as other members of the church. We have given the church 200 free invitations. Reverend Goff, who did Reverend Pinckney’s service will preside over the event. We also have some pretty powerful presentations planned. Finally there will be over 200 items at a silent and on line auction so please tell your members to bring their phones!

What do you hope will come out of this event?

A little help for the family members and some unity for this community! This fund will donate 100% of the proceeds directly to the families.

In order to bid in the silent auction, you must register a credit card. If at the end of the auction, you wish to pay with check or cash, you will be given the option to do so. To make a DONATION, text 3000 to 843-606-5995 and follow the text prompts.

A Community United

Thursday July 9

6:30- 9:30

Charleston Place Grand Ballroom

Tickets $200

To purchase tickets and to view the silent auction items, please go to this website.


A Magical Mystery Tour of the Gibbes, by Elizabeth Gumb

Where the Gibbes is going, and where the Gibbes has been, certainly isn’t a mystery, but the amount of planning, creating, and excitement that has gone into Society 1858’s Winter 2015 party has been, frankly, magic. By “magic,” I mean, it’s amazing how easily things have fallen into place for this party. The generosity and involvement of our local vendors, venues, artists, sponsors, and patrons have really been the driving force behind this party (and of course, Lasley Steever, Director of Programs & Events at the Gibbes Museum)!

Magical Mystery Tour

I couldn’t be more excited or honored to co-chair, along with Kristin Romness, the first “off-campus” party! For the last four years our annual winter party has been held inside the museum, but due to the renovations, we’ve had to look elsewhere for a venue. While it has been overwhelming at times knowing that we were responsible for pulling off this unique event at another space, it has also allowed us to be as creative as we possibly could. For example, we were able to toy with different themes, formality, and ideas depending on which venue we decided upon, and the Woolfe Street Playhouse could not be more perfect for this British mod-pop Beatles party. Think psychedelic colors, swinging 60s set-up, and anglophile style. Beats by DJ Jeff will spin throughout the night for the ultimate dance party.  Guests will love the appropriately themed eats by Tristan and drinks by Striped Pig Distillery and Westbrook Brewery. But of course in true Gibbes style, we will have a few tricks up our sleeves as well.

Studio 54, MCG Photography

A party scene from last year’s winter party, Studio 54, MCG Photography

This is a party with a purpose because proceeds go to support the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, which is open to artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Virginia and includes a $10,000 cash price for an artist whose work contributes to a new understanding of art in the South. That’s why we are so excited to offer guests the chance to win a piece by one of the following contemporary southern artists: Charles Ailstock, Brian Coleman, John Duckworth, Richard Hagerty, Christopher Holt, Robert Lange, Megan Lange, Hirona Matsuda, Andrew Smock, Kate Long Stevenson, Lulie Wallace, John Westmark, and Ben Gately Williams. I have both of my fingers crossed for winning! Prices start at $15!

The fourth-annual party is sure to be a groovy gig, so I hope you get your tickets before it sells out!

58 Winter Party: The Magical Mystery Tour
Friday, February 20, 8-11pm
$70 Society 1858 Members, $95 Non Society 1858 Members
$130 Ticket, plus an Individual Membership for the Gibbes Museum and Society 1858 ($10 Discount)
Location: Woolfe Street Playhouse, 34 Woolfe Street

Elizabeth Gumb

Elizabeth Gumb, Co-Chair Magical Mystery Tour and Society 1858 Board Member





Unlocking the Secrets of Jeremiah Theus with Colonial Williamsburg Conservator Shelley Svoboda

The passage of time, layers of grime, discoloration, and improper restoration efforts can all hide the true grandeur of an artist’s original work. When this happens, art museums and private collectors alike turn to professional conservators to return a painting to its original glory. The conservation process not only restores a painting to a displayable condition, but when done properly, it also provides clues to an artist’s individual techniques.

At last week’s Insider Art Series event, Colonial Williamsburg Paintings Conservator, Shelley Svoboda, shared her recent experiences in the conservation of paintings by eighteenth century Charleston artist Jeremiah Theus (1716-1774). Among the earliest artists painting in Colonial America, Theus, a native of Switzerland, arrived in Charleston in 1735 as a fully trained painter. He is best known for his portrait paintings and seems to have enjoyed a good deal of success painting Charlestonians in his vibrant Baroque style. Svoboda’s talk inspired new appreciation for this early American artist and encouraged audience members to look closely at the physical aspects of a painting from the canvas and stretcher frame to the artist’s distinct brushwork, impasto, and layering of paint colors.

Highlighting examples from Colonial Williamsburg and the Gibbes permanent collections, Svoboda discussed challenges conservationists face when working with centuries old paintings and demonstrated the techniques used to uncover the artist’s true hand. For example, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s 2012 acquisition of the painting, Portrait of Elizabeth Allen Deas by Jeremiah Theus, added to that institution’s existing portraits by the artist creating a small, yet informative set of works representative of the artist’s oeuvre. However, major treatment was required on the new acquisition, involving careful removal of overpaint from the entire background to once again reveal the artist’s long-lost original.

In the conservation lab Svoboda used ultraviolet light to discern areas of heavy overpaint, and infrared photography and a surgical microscope to see the artist’s working technique. Once the overpaint was removed a layer of heavy grime was revealed, and preserved beneath the grime was the original painted surface ready to be revealed.

Conservation of Jeremiah Theus painting

Conservation of Jeremiah Theus painting

Before, Jeremiah Theus conservation

(Before conservation)
Portrait of Elizabeth Allen Deas (Mrs. John Deas), 1759, attributed to Jeremiah Theus


After Conservation

After Conservation efforts

The Gibbes is one of the largest repositories of Theus’s work with twenty-two paintings by the artist in its holdings. During her visit Svoboda had the opportunity to review four of the Gibbes Theus paintings including the companion portraits of Charlestonians William and Mary Mazyck painted by Theus in the 1770s. 

These paintings were moved to Canada by family descendants after the Civil War and were returned to Charleston in the 1980s as a gift to the Gibbes collection. Never before exhibited, Svoboda considers these paintings true treasures as they remarkably retain much of their original paint surfaces. Both are in need of cleaning and stabilization to remove the dirt, grime, and other signs of age that have drained the works of their original vibrancy. With professional conservation these paintings, like that of Elizabeth Allen Deas, could be returned to their original glory.

Shelley reviewing Jeremiah Theus paintings from the Gibbes permanent collection

Shelley reviewing Jeremiah Theus paintings from the Gibbes permanent collection

This spring the Gibbes will launch an Adopt a Painting program in order to raise funds for the conservation of paintings that will be featured in the new installation of the permanent collection. Stay tuned for more exciting conservation news!
Sara Arnold, Curator of Collections

Image credits:

Portrait of Elizabeth Allen Deas (Mrs. John Deas), 1759, attributed to Jeremiah Theus

Images courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Art of Healing Presents: Flower Power

Our December Art of Healing program presents Flower Power with floral design experts Gretchen Cuddy of Gretchen Cuddy Floral Designs, and Clara Varga-Gonzales of Tiger Lily Florists. Flowers have a powerful impact on the senses and can communicate a variety of sentiments. Gretchen and Clara were kind enough to answer questions about their philosophy of floral design in preparation for this event. Learn more from this talented duo on how horticulture enhances health and healing with moderator Dr. Jeb Hallett on December 10 at 6pm. The Thomas Bennett House will be decorated for the holidays—join us for this festive affair!

Thomas Bennett House

The Thomas Bennett House decorated for the holidays

Tell me about your background with floral design. When did you begin working with flowers and how has your work evolved over the years?

(Gretchen) My floral background started in college when I took a watercolor painting class, I would often create floral still life arrangements for the class to paint. Color combinations and the use of varied greenery and unique vases was a big part of the process. The use of texture and the contrast of natural elements in an arrangement have always interested me; it makes the final creation less expected to the viewer’s eye. Over the years, I have spent quite a bit of time working with florals for churches and sacred spaces. Presently, I create arrangements for numerous events in Charleston and love to use local plant materials to evoke a relationship with the beautiful Lowcountry.

(Clara) I started working with flowers 18 years ago. My husband and I bought Tiger Lily florist in 1996. Weddings are always evolving depending on what the style is at the time. Our goal has always been to have big bright flowers in arrangements. American send much fewer flowers than Europeans do. It’s just not our tradition as much as it is overseas to have flowers on a daily basis. Therefore it’s very important for us to carry flowers that have a long vase life so that the consumer feels like they received a good value.

Flowers by Tiger Lilly

Flowers by Tiger Lilly

What is it about working with flowers that is healing for you?

(Gretchen) I find that when I am working with flowers I can allow myself to be as creative as possible. It is almost like an out of body experience for me at times, and is better than any therapy. I can completely forget my troubles and transport myself into another world where the beauty of an arrangement gives me the greatest joy. It is self-healing in a way that is very personal.

(Clara) I think working with flowers in the flower shop is a different dynamic then working with flowers at home. When I work with flowers at home it’s more relaxing for me because there’s not the stress of getting it right for the client or making sure that the flowers are the correct shade or variety. There also isn’t the pressure of time constraints and delivery complications as far as transportation.

What are your favorite flowers to work with? Are there some types of flowers that are your least favorite?

(Gretchen) My favorite flowers to work with are sunflowers. I love the contrast of the yellow petals against the dark brown center. I almost always have a bouquet of them in my kitchen….they just make me smile. My least favorite flowers that I honestly cannot use are the ones that have been artificially dyed. It is simply a violation of nature and denies the flower its true color and beauty.

(Clara) My favorite flower to work with has always been tulips. I had tulips at my wedding and I enjoy them so much because they don’t need a lot of design and they continue to grow even after they are cut. Peonies remind me of my father, but they are not always available. My least favorite flowers have always been the more common ones such as statice and Alstromeria, although I do like daisies and carnations.

Describe your creative process. Do you begin with a color or type of flower in mind? Or is more about a client’s preference?

(Gretchen) My creative process to begin an arrangement consists of several variables, namely the season, the style of the event, the budget. From there, I select the vase or container to compliment the overall design, and then work to define the line and scale of the arrangement. I love going BIG with arrangements and I always remind myself to try and keep that in check as sometimes a smaller arrangement is really what is needed. In the end, I personally have to be satisfied with the final product before I can part with it.

(Clara) If the choice is up to me I prefer to work with 5 to 7 different types of flowers, each with different texture and shapes. I’ll lay them all out in front of me and then create the arrangement in my mind based on the shapes and sizes that I have to work with.

Gretchen Cuddy flowers

Flowers by Gretchen Cuddy Designs

Why do we give flowers to people for happy and sad occasions? Weddings and funerals?

(Gretchen) The gift of flowers to someone shows that you care. It also shows that you are not afraid to live in the moment, because as we all know, flowers do not last forever, so an arrangement of flowers allows one to stop if only for a moment to appreciate the beauty that flowers bring no matter what the occasion, happy or sad.

(Clara) Studies show that living with flowers strengthens our feelings of compassion and decreases our anxiety and worry. I think that especially for funerals it’s important for families to receive flowers in their home. They spend a lot of time in their homes after a loved one has passed, and it can have a positive impact on their mood. When we do flowers for a wedding it’s almost as if once the flowers have been delivered and the reception and churches are set, that’s when the festivities can begin. My brides have always realized the implication of what’s about to happen once the flowers have arrived. That’s when they start crying. There’s some sort positive energy that comes from flowers and live plants!

Art of Healing: Flower Power

Wednesday, December 10, 6pm

 $20 Members, $30 Non Members

Location: Thomas Bennett House, 69 Barre Street

To purchase tickets, please visit or call 843.722.2706 x21

Roper logoSponsored by Roper St. Francis Foundation

Amy Mercer, Marketing and Communications Manager

Distinguished Lecture Presents Tod Williams and Billie Tsien


Tod Williams and BillieTsien by JasonSmith

Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien photographed at the building they designed, the University of Chicago Logan Center for the Arts, on September 19, 2012. (Photo by Jason Smith)

On Wednesday, November 19 the Distinguished Lecture Series will present New York based and internationally acclaimed architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, whose design of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia is critically acclaimed. Williams and Tsien were recently awarded the National Medal of Arts, which recognized their contributions to architecture and arts education. “Whether public or private, their deliberate and inspired designs have a profound effect on the lives of those who interact with them, and their teaching and spirit of service have inspired young people to pursue their passions,” said President Obama.

Barnes Foundation

Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, designed by Williams and Tsien.

Founded with the generous support of Gibbes Board member and philanthropist Esther Ferguson, The Distinguished Lecture Series brings outstanding, world-renowned artists, architects, art collectors, museum leaders, philanthropists, and art historians to Charleston to stimulate public discussion about the visual arts and creativity. Mrs. Ferguson says, “Tod Williams and Billie Tsien are the rock stars in architecture today.”

Williams and Tsien in the New York Studio

Williams and Tsien in the New York Studio.

Their studio, located in New York City, focuses on work for cultural non-profits, particularly museums and schools; organizations that value issues of aspiration and meaning, timelessness and beauty. Their inspired buildings are carefully made and useful in ways that speak to both efficiency and the spirit. A sense of rootedness, light, texture, detail, and most of all experience are at the heart of what they build.

“We believe in a slow process, we believe in long engagements. We have to have control over our projects all the way from beginning to end. I think they’re built beautifully because we really know how to put them together,” says Williams in an interview with Architectural Digest. Tsien adds, “Every time we work with somebody on a project, it changes our lives. Tod and I have been talking about the idea of service and how serving people really makes every project better. So it’s not just about yourself, it’s about the strengths, the power, and the vision of the client you’re serving.”

This event is incredibly timely for the museum as we prepare to launch a major renovation. Williams and Tsien will join Mrs. Ferguson for a ‘hard hat’ tour of the building on Wednesday morning, followed by an intimate lunch at the Charleston Grill with sponsors of the event.

Join us on Wednesday, November 19 at 6pm at Memminger Auditorium to hear more about Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s body of work and design philosophy.

$50 Members, $60 Non-Members

To purchase tickets, please visit or call 843.722.2706 x21
Amy Mercer, Marketing and Communications Manager


Art with a Twist presents, Unexpected Treasures

Reinterpreting the past for today’s home and garden. Architectural salvage, antique decor, iron work, garden elements, and much more than we can describe!

2014 Charleston Symphony Orchestra League's Annual Designer Showcase

2014 Charleston Symphony Orchestra League’s Annual Designer Showcase, Master Bedroom

Jeff McKinney and Randy Grussing embrace a ‘fearless use of color’ in their designs. This attribute was on display in the vibrant master bedroom in the 2014 Charleston Symphony Orchestra League’s Annual Designer Showcase. As first time participants in the event, the dynamic duo endeavored to create a spectacular room for guests. The palette of the bedroom was inspired by a lowcountry sunset. “We were driving over the James Island connector one evening and the horizon was saturated with violent streaks of plums and paprika,” Jeff explains. American Gothic Revival Philadelphia gate posts from the 1850’s were transformed into bedside lamps, and a pair of marble topped tables with wrought iron bases were such a hit that they sold the second day of the show. Their design, titled Charleston Indochiene, received the Viewer’s Choice Award. When asked why he thought the room was so successful Jeff explained that the color combinations are unexpected and inviting. It was a room that looked lived in with furniture that was built to last.

These color combinations and customized furniture creations are on display in the showroom Circe on Saint Andrews Boulevard in West Ashley. A visit to the showroom is a sensory delight filled with lush fabrics, one-of-a kind antiques, and 19, 20, and 21 century items for the home. Jeff and Randy also own Architectural Antiques and Design, which is just down the street from Circe and is more of a warehouse where clients can discover hidden treasures.  “People will find ideas at Circe and the raw product at the warehouse,” Jeff explains. Working one on one with clients, they customize pieces that reflect the client’s personal style and offer designer fabrics at affordable prices.

AWAT Unexpected Treasures

Antique lamps ‘repurposed’ by Jeff and Randy

A team of locally sourced, skilled blacksmiths, lamp smiths, and upholsterers repurpose and update the antiques. Randy explains that, “what you live with has to change as you change.” He adds that we just don’t have the quality craftsmanship anymore, which is part of the reason he and Jeff work to educate clients about the value of pieces and the potential for modification. They feel that many people today have a disposable cultural sensibility. This belief in the intrinsic value of products from the past is reflected in the delicate curves of a settee, the smooth texture of a wooden dresser, and the summer blue spot of turquoise on the lamps in the corner. These are unexpected treasures indeed!

Architectural Antiques Vignette

Architectural Antiques Vignette, designed by Jeff and Randy

Join Jeff and Randy at Circe and Architectural Antiques & Design on Thursday, November 13 at 6pm for Unexpected Treasures: Re-designing Artful Artifacts. They will lead guests on a tour through the showroom and warehouse and share their expert tips on reinterpreting the past for today’s home and garden. A reception will follow.

Location: 903-C and 1011-A Saint Andrews Boulevard, next to Hambys. Limited parking is available at both locations so carpooling is suggested.

$20 Members, $30 Non-Members

To purchase tickets please visit or call 843.722.2706 x21.

Photos by Holger Obenaus
Amy Mercer, Marketing and Communications Manager

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