When it comes to artful holiday gifts, I tend to leave the inspiration to the professionals. After all, Charleston’s artists and artisans are skilled practitioners in elevating every day. It follows that the fruits of their creative labors will inspire just the brand of awe for which holiday shoppers aim.
Our local artists also frequently weave in or swirl in so much of what we love about the Lowcountry. Through them, we can give a gift like no other — reflective of this place like no other.
Plus, when you top off your shopping with their talents, you also support the local arts scene. Here are a few of my favorite things that are sure to go over with local culturati and Charleston lovers alike.
Yes, we all want to own a work by Charleston artist Jonathan Green. Did you know you can wear one, too? Inspired by Green’s work, The Four Seasons Collection represents the coastal waters of the Sea Islands in a line of apparel that spans everything from pocket squares ($35) to pocketbooks ($275), with festive, fetching ties, shawls and capes to those on your gift list merry and bright. All are available at the Belmond Boutique, located in the concourse of The Belmond Charleston Place.
Celebrated batik artist Mary Edna Fraser is known for transforming lavish, billowy swaths of silk into intricate stretches of topography. She's done the same for her scarves, including one featuring an aerial view of Charleston that she created for the Gibbes Museum of Art. There are 12 designs in total, with 10 on hand-hemmed silk charmeuse, sized at 60” x 14”, and two in chiffon at 83” x 45.” The scarves, which are priced at $175 and $300, can be purchased in the artist's studio or at maryedna.com.
Charleston jewelry artist Mini Hay has for the past few years charmed Charleston by glorifying the city’s ubiquitous Palmetto bug, gilding a likeness of the de facto mascot for her popular Goldbug Collection. This season, the line is all about love, morphing the winged icon into a colorful, free-form heart, while also kissing the collection with enamel-accented X’s. The Goldbug love radiates out, too, as proceeds from her Love Bug necklace support HEART, an inclusive arts community for adults with special needs. Prices vary. Visit crogansjewelbox.com.
Silversmith Kaminer Haislip's jewelry also reflects beautifully on Lowcountry culture. Her artful, modern lines lend a new, fluid twist to Charleston’s favorite bivalve, by way of her sterling silver Oyster Series. From single-shell earrings to luxe linked bracelets, from lustrous cuff links to dreamy dishes, the works join the organic and the minimal to stunning, silvery effect. Prices vary. For more information, visit kaminerhaislip.com.
Artist Patrice M. Cole’s Sistah-tude line of cheery handmade dolls and handcrafted items use African fabrics to promote cultural awareness and expression from a Afrocentric perspective. They are certain to capture the imagination of any child, whether in the Lowcountry or beyond. Prices vary. Visit facebook.com/sistahtudedolls.
Charleston children cultivate a lifelong appreciation of the arts at the Gibbes Museum of Art. Now, the Gibbes has published a new ABC book that guides kids through the museum and its collection by way of art-loving Gator. Written by Cathy Bennington Jenrette and illustrated by Erin Bennett Banks, "G is for Gibbes: A Museum ABC Book" engages readers with works of art from the museum's permanent collection and with broader art terms. The price is $20, and proceeds will support the Gibbes.
The house proud can have their fun, too, by commissioning artist Alex Waggoner to create a contemporary take on home sweet home. Painted on birch panels, the works span all manner of houses, from classic Charleston singles to modern marvels. And, while the architectural styles of her subjects may vary, Waggoner (who is based in Atlanta) offers a fresh perspective on our city's structural gems that renders each equally welcoming. Visit alexwaggoner.com.
Every Charleston child should sit for Clay Rice, the silhouette artist (and grandson of famed artist Carew Rice) who deftly coaxes each young subject's essence from quickly snipping away at a simple black sheet of paper. Perfectly timed for the holidays, Wonder Works will host him on Dec. 21 at their West Ashley location and on Dec. 22 at their Mt. Pleasant location. To make an appointment, visit ricegalleries.com.
You can’t go wrong if you pass along a download or CD of Ranky Tanky’s “Good Time.” The Gullah-strong release from Charleston-sprung band was just nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Regional Roots Music Album" category, and it is sure to keep the good times rolling throughout the coming year. Available through online retailers.
I’ve been stocking up on the Oxford American magazine’s Southern Music Issue to share as Christmas presents for years. However, this year’s edition is particularly resonant, as it homes in on South Carolina. The issue comes with a 24-song compilation, both in the form of an enclosed CD and a code for a digital download. To purchase at $18.95 plus shipping, visit oxfordamericangoods.com.
Pay it forward
Still stumped on that special something for that certain someone? How about turning them onto an artistic experience? Annual memberships to local arts organizations or tickets to a concert or play make for inventive, memorable presents — and that require little wrapping, too. The lucky recipients are certain to thank you, as will Charleston's arts organizations.