We believe art is the difference between merely existing and being truly alive.

A Rotating Gallery in an Editor’s Historic Charleston Apartment

CJ Lotz, by Minette Hand

It’s sort of an unexpected gallery space. Or at least, I didn’t expect it. My one-bedroom apartment in a historic building on Meeting Street lets the light in with nine stained glass windows and a parterre garden below. Last year friends helped me paint one accent wall dark gray and install a floating shelf. Periodically I would move art pieces around, and maybe add some flowers from the farmers market at Marion Square.

When the pandemic hit and we started working from home—I’m senior editor at Garden & Gun magazine—I looked at the shelf in a new way. My dining table sits beneath it, and the area became my new work nook. I didn’t want to stare at a dark gray wall every day, so the idea sprouted naturally: Change the art on the wall and shelf every day, and share it on Instagram.

Artwork by Alex Waggoner
Artwork by Alex Waggoner, a former Gibbes Visiting Artist.

It started with the art of my friend P-Nut “The Lowcountry Poet and Artist.” P-Nut grew up in Charleston and tells stories about the Borough, his childhood neighborhood near where the Gaillard stands now. For much of his life, he painted house interiors and exteriors, dressed in all white with a Sherwin-Williams shirt, riding his bicycle among gigs on Rainbow Row and throughout historic Charleston. As a young man in the 70s and 80s, he wrote people funny poems in birthday cards, and then people started paying him in bars to write personal notes and little turns of phrase on cocktail napkins.

Ellen Bright Hall, by P-Nut
Ellen Bright Hall by P-Nut.

I used to live near P-Nut and we struck up a friendship a few years ago. One day he presented me with his new business card with my name and email listed under the title: “P-Nut the Lowcountry Poet. CJ Lotz, Manager.” So for a couple years I had the paid-with-poetry-and-art side gig of organizing shows for P-Nut, helping him market his work, and get speaking gigs. He had long dabbled in collage and around the time we attended an art show at the Halsey, he said, “I can do that.” Painting became his main focus and he started painting on canvas, many of them donated from friends in the Wagener Terrace neighborhood. Dog & Horse Fine Art gallery now represents P-Nut and his work with attention and care. On my art wall, I shared some of his first paintings, including a big bright blue and gold piece showing the Ellen Bright Hall near P-Nut’s house on upper King.

Painting by Gret Mackintosh
A small fish painting by Gret Mackintosh

Weeks into the work-from-home stay, I’m still having fun rotating beauty on the art wall shelf. Some highlights include many creative young women artists with ties to Charleston today—many of whom are familiar to Gibbes regulars: Becca Barnet and her incredible natural work that incorporates bones and wild elements; Katherine Dunlap’s bright colors and a lovely recent series inspired by family photo slides; Alex Waggoner and her modern and skillful pieces based on Southern architecture. Gret Mackintosh painted a delightful little watercolor fish that I displayed and then shared with an outdoors-loving friend.

Haitian Paintings
Historic Haitian paintings reflect Lotz’s love of travel.

Some of the other art-shelf shows reference a collective longing for travel and a connection back to simple pleasures—historic Haitian paintings (I have a deep love of Caribbean history) that I had framed at the very awesome local shop Artizom; humble student still life paintings; hand-tinted illustrations; etchings from V & J Duncan, my favorite shop in Savannah; a Mexican Lucha Libre painting; or today, a little Picasso print and a peach.

Art Wall with print by Katherine Dunlap
A dog figurine alongside a small painting by Charleston artist Katherine Dunlap, who will be in studio at the Gibbes this fall.

I hope people feel inspired to move around whatever art they have in their homes (the website Apartment Therapy gave my apartment a little love on this topic). Hanging it up can feel permanent, but a shelf feels more approachable and meant for change and movement. I also hope people continue to support artists in this time, whether by commissioning a small piece for themselves or a loved one, or just reaching out to an artist to tell them you love the beauty they bring.

—CJ Lotz, Senior Editor, Garden & Gun Magazine, and guest blogger

Some of you may have met Lotz at the Ogden Pleissner symposium last year—she moderated the conversation with collectors Sam Webb and Josh Clark.

Published May 29, 2020

Top image: CJ Lotz arranges a daily installation in her apartment. Photograph by Minette Hand.

Related Content