When the Gibbes Museum opened in 1905, the nation celebrated what Charleston has always understood: the power of art – to inspire our imagination, heal our hurt, and nourish our souls.

Graffiti in the Garden

Graffiti in the Garden

Tonight, Society 1858 hosts their seventh-annual Winter Party at the Gibbes Museum of Art. The young patrons group has become known for their art-centered celebrations that feature original art, unique performances, great cocktails and bites. Over the years, Society 1858 has raised over $125,000 in support of the Gibbes exhibition and education programs, and more recently, the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. We chatted with the co-chairs of this year’s celebration—Graffiti in the Garden—to learn a little more about what they’ve been planning. 1858 Board Members Susan Sellew, Liz Macpherson, and Colleen Glenn shared their excitement for tonight’s celebration.

The 1858 Winter Party is returning to the Gibbes after two-years of alternative venues during the Museum’s renovation. How does it feel to be hosting the party in the newly renovated building, and how are you taking advantage of the new space?
The newly renovated Gibbes museum is a dream! If you haven’t yet had the privilege to walk through the space, make time to do so at the event. The entire museum will be open to Graffiti in the Garden party-goers. It is so exciting to be co-chairing the first major Gibbes event back in the Museum. We’ve had the opportunity to host our Winter Party at some wonderful venues across town while the Gibbes was closed for renovations, but nothing compares to being back home! We have the new, amazing Lenhardt Garden space that we are utilizing for a majority of the party. Access to the garden allows us to have live graffiti painting—something that would never have worked in the old building.

Sergio Odeith
Street artist Odeith working on a site-specific mural for the 2017 Winter Party.

You’re bringing internationally-acclaimed street artist Sergio Odeith to create the mural. How did that come about?
Odeith loves to visit Charleston and has many connections here. He has painted multiple murals around town, including the now infamous image at Moe’s in Mount Pleasant, Home Team BBQ’s Beastie Boys likeness downtown, a wall inside the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, and shark portrait of Mary Lee at Half-Moon Outfitters. One of our 1858 board members has a connection to Odeith, and he brought the idea to us. Odeith was on board—he would get to come to Charleston, visit friends, help out a good cause, and maybe connect with new clients while here. Reavis-Comer Development built a 10×12 foot L-shaped wall in the garden for Odeith’s painting, which he has worked on all week and will complete at the party. The finished piece will be auctioned off after the event.

What should people expect when they arrive at the event? Any special happenings throughout the night?
We have plenty to keep you entertained during the party! The night will begin with bucket drummers welcoming party-goers and the garden will be energized with multiple happenings. Odeith will finish the graffiti wall around 9:30pm, while DJ Wolf spins records until the party ends! Breakdancers will perform on the dance floor several times throughout the night. Plus, Simple Booth is setting up a photo station and the bar will be well stocked with Fatty’s beer, Excelsior wine, and cocktails batched with Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Dixie Southern Vodka. And don’t forget about the skate deck art raffle!

L-R, top row: Alex Waggoner, Patch Whisky, Trever Webster, Chambers Austelle; bottom row: Tim Hussey, Fred Jamar, Jill Hooper, Megan and Robert Lange.
Skate decks. L-R, top row: Alex Waggoner, Patch Whisky, Trever Webster, Chambers Austelle; bottom row: Tim Hussey, Fred Jamar, Jill Hooper, Megan and Robert Lange.

Right, you’ve gathered original works of art for the annual raffle, but this year the format is a little different. Talk about the unique presentation and what you think the reaction will be.
We are extremely grateful to the fifteen artists who have donated their artwork for Graffiti in the Garden. In prior years, we asked the artists to donate a piece of work from their collection. This year we wanted to take it up a notch and incorporate the artwork into the theme. When trying to decide the entertainment component of the party, we kept coming back to skateboarding. We thought it would be so cool to have a mini skate park or skate ramp and have skateboarders at the party showing off their moves! Unfortunately, our idea just wasn’t doable, but we just kept coming back to it. So after a bit of brainstorming, we thought why not include skateboards (more specifically, skate decks) as part of the raffle? We were not sure if the artists would go for it, but they seemed to get into the idea and the results are amazing. Now, anyone who enters the raffle has a chance to win an original piece of work created just for this party. Don’t forget to buy your raffle tickets!

1858 winter party guests
Party-goers at Society 1858 winter parties often dress the part.

A number of Society 1858’s winter parties have been tied to a decade, and guests have been encouraged to dress the part. Is there a specific time period associated with this year’s graffiti theme?
This year’s party is not a “decades” theme, as in years past. While the vibe of the party lends itself to an early to mid-90’s time period, I think most people will be wearing what they would normally wear to dinner or a night out. However, if a party-goer has some fun graffiti-style clothing or a Fresh Prince outfit they’ve been dying to pull out of the closet, please, by all means, dress the part!

What are you three planning to wear?
Susan: I’ll be wearing something you would normally see me in on a night out. I’m going with a one shoulder top (a touch of 90’s!) with a high wasted midi skirt. I’m most excited about my accessory—a graffiti-inspired clutch by handbag designer and artist Kent Stetson.

Colleen: I’m using this night as an excuse to pull out my bright 90’s-inspired party clothes. I’ll be the one in the maximalist ruffled, floral, neon dress competing with the graffiti.

Liz: I’m planning to use this opportunity to wear leather and maybe fur. That does not sound very graffiti/90’s/bright, but I’m going with it!

The event is a fundraiser for the Gibbes. Can you share how the funds are used?
All proceeds from the event support the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art—a $10,000 cash prize awarded annually to an artist whose work contributes to a new understanding of art in the South. This Prize has become the focus of Society 1858’s fundraising efforts and it’s so rewarding to be able to contribute to an artist’s career with a sizable check. Every fall, we invite the winner to Charleston for an award ceremony and to participate in the Amy P. Coy Forum, which brings artists and scholars to discuss the impact of contemporary art in the South. It is an exciting way to be involved in the contemporary art scene and to learn about the incredible artists working in the South.

Published February 10, 2017

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