Strolling, fiddling and fun Fill your Lowcountry summer days with art, concerts

Patti LuPone (left) and Debra Winger act a scene in a performance of the David Mamet play “The Anarchist,” at the John Golden Theatre in New York.

Joan Marcus

It’s summer and the art is easy to come by. It’s a great time of year to steal some air conditioning time by strolling through the local galleries. Just because you don’t want to buy doesn’t mean you can’t look.

After all, you may want to just educate your eye for art you can love before plopping down the plastic, or you want to check out all the small nooks and crannies that Charleston art galleries are tucked into.

For instance, I love to walk the French Quarter when there aren’t art walks going on. You can see the works in peace and talk with the gallery owners or managers about each artist that interests you.

Many collectors started just this way, often buying a small print to remind them of their summer trip to the Lowcountry. Passions have grown from far smaller encounters than that.

If you are shy, though, you might try going to the main branch of the Charleston County Public Library downtown.

They have a small exhibit room there, and new artists that aren’t represented by a gallery can get a show.

Right now, the exhibit is “In Carolina Time,” a show of more than 20 acrylic paintings by Brenda Gilliam. She uses simple moments and pattern and texture to give an impression of a music festival, a walk in the city or a farmers market.

She uses a muted palatte, showing that shape and repetitive form is important.

Gilliam is new to the area and this is her first solo show. The exhibit is at the Saul Alexander Gallery in the main library and it’s free. The show runs through June 30.

Celebrity gossip always is fun, and Charleston Stage has announced that Patti LuPone of Broadway fame will be the star of its fall gala at the Dock Street Theatre on Oct. 10.

LuPone will be bringing her new concert “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” which is all the songs she sang, the ones she should have sung and the ones she wants to sing.

She’s won Tony and Olivier awards for her work, and you might know her from “Evita” and “Gypsy.” Think a modern-day Ethel Merman who can belt out the tunes.

The list of shows she will be drawing from includes “Hair,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Funny Girl,” “West Side Story” and “Peter Pan.”

The proceeds from the gala go to Charleston Stage’s New Horizons Initiatives, which secures guest actors from New York, guest scenic and costume designers from around the country and helps expand Stage’s professional acting company.

To find out more about the gala, go to or call 577-7183. Packages of tickets are on sale now, and individual tickets go on sale Aug. 1. Prices vary.

Another celebrity of sorts that will be here in July is Mark O’Connor, the violinist who is making waves with his new teaching method for beginners. Suzuki watch out. O’Connor has created musical compositions and methods for teaching children as young as age 3, with the notion that by age 12 they are up to practicing an hour a day.

He uses updated American music compositions to teach, many of which he has written himself, with the belief that you learn to play as much by humming familiar music as you do from playing an instrument.

He’s been here holding a musical summer camp for several years, and this year, a new feature will be his “Fid-o-Lin Festival,” which is a series of concerts before the camp starts that feature his instructors.

While that may not sound exciting, he has some very interesting “fiddlers” coming, including Riverfire, The Joe Pye Band, Stardust Duo and The Kickin Grass Band.

There will be a range of music covered from classical to just plain fun and the concerts are $25 for adults for concerts at 7 p.m. July 26 and 2 and 7 p.m. July 27 at Gage Hall at the Unitarian Church, 4 Archdale St., downtown Charleston.

Now that’s a summer deal that anyone interested in music can enjoy.

For more on the concerts, locations and the camp, contact www.oconnormethodcamp

Reach Stephanie Harvin at or 937-5557.