North Charleston has been working for a number of years to strengthen its arts offerings and the planning is paying off.

It’s been said that the lifeblood of a city is in its artists. Without an artistic soul, a city is just a collection of buildings. It’s great to see North Charleston with a full roster of events and cultural offerings on a regular basis now.

One of my favorite places to check in with the art scene is with the artists that exhibit at the North Charleston City Gallery. The quality of those artists is increasing exponentially and the gallery is an easy place to find parking for a quick lunchtime stroll.

For the month of July, the exhibit is “People, Faces, and So ... Carolina,” an exhibition of oil paintings by Richard and Joel Parker.

This is a joint exhibit of father and son, and the first time the two have ever had their work exhibited together.

Richard’s oil paintings are of Lowcountry scenes, from the sun rising over the beach at the Isle of Palms to the storefront of the old Tellis Pharmacy on Lower King Street. They are rooted in the aesthetic of reflection and the artist’s spiritual values.

Joel’s selection of oil paintings from his “Facebook It!” series explores the idea of spectacle by presenting images of large crowds at social gatherings.

It’s crowdsourcing at its visual best, and it helps that everyone is pretty happy gathering together.

Richard Parker was born in Camden and raised in Kershaw. Since high school he had dreams of an art-related career, studying art at the University of South Carolina at 19 and later, with the help of the G.I. bill, receiving a bachelor’s in art with K-12 certification from James Madison University. Instead, he became a civil engineer and project manager until he retired in 2007.

Joel Parker received his bachelor’s degree in studio art, historic preservation and art history from the College of Charleston in 2005 and 2006. He received his master’s in painting from Washington University in St. Louis in 2009, followed by a travel fellowship and residency at the Cite International des Arts in Paris.

It’s a great exhibit for some summertime fun. See if you can tell which artist is which without looking at the names.

Mark your calendar

Brad and Jennifer Moranz, those wonderful musical producers who take us back in time, are presenting a new musical variety show July 19-21 at the Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St.

This is a two-hour event, starring 25 singers, dancers and musicians. Brad and Jennifer are known for picking out some of the most popular and singable tunes from Broadway, pop, rock, country and Motown.

There are five shows and you can take your pick of show times: either 2 or 7 p.m. Tickets to these shows ranging from $13-$34. It’s a great way to spend a cool afternoon or evening, or a way to escape from all these afternoon thunderstorms.

Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or