Photo caption: Spoleto Festival USA presents the opera Feng Yi Ting, directed by acclaimed film director Atom Egoyan. Photo by Julia Lynn Photography.


As May turns into June, Spoleto season continues to occupy center stage. Running through June 10, Spoleto Festival USA presents dozens of performances by acclaimed entertainers and artists from around the world. Don’t miss your opportunity to see some of the world’s best opera, theater, dance, and chamber, symphonic, choral, and jazz music. Its companion festival, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, offers an even more dizzying array of performances, featuring local and regional artists in the visual arts, classical music, jazz, dance, theatre, choral music, ethnic cultural presentations, crafts and film, with something for all ages. Spoleto, like Christmas, comes but once a year—be sure to take part in Charleston’s signature cultural extravaganza.

If you like your arts a little more down home, the Sweetgrass Festival is a must.Celebrating the area’s rich Gullah-Geechee cultural heritage, the annual Sweetgrass Festival provides the most extensive showcase of sweetgrass baskets in the Lowcountry, as well as lively performances of gospel music and praise dance, storytelling and Gullah Geechee skits, and basket-making demonstrations. Sample authentic Gullah cuisine, classic barbeque, and beverages offered for sale by more than fifteen Lowcountry restaurants and food vendors. Waterfront Memorial Park, Mount Pleasant, June 2.

The rest of the month offers a quiet respite from the pace and performances of Spoleto, and the perfect opportunity to duck into air-conditioned art galleries to discover why Charleston is a mecca for art lovers.

At the Gibbes Museum of Art: Places For The Spirit: Traditional African American Gardens of the South. This exhibition of photographs by Vaughn Sills showcases a stunning collection of photographs documenting African American folk gardens and their creators. Traveling through small southern towns and along dusty rural highways, Sills photographed over 150 traditional African American gardens between 1987 and 2005.Enjoy a curator-led tour of the exhibition onJune 14, 2:30pm.

At the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto The centerpiece of the exhibition is a site-specific installation created entirely out of salt by the artist during his two-week residency at the Halsey Institute. The exhibition also features a series of recent drawings, paintings, and sketchbooks, as well as a video about the artist’s process and the importance of salt in Japanese culture. Open 11a.m.–4p.m. Mon.–Sat.

At M Gallery of Fine Art: Southern Dreams, an Exhibition Featuring Pastel Artist Denise LaRue Mahlke. Mahlke is known nationally for her pastel works depicting scenery across the country. Her work has been featured in American Artist, Pastel Journal, Plein Air Magazine, Southwest Art, and Western Art Collector, and continues to gain national recognition and earn awards.

Find more information about Charleston’s rich and varied opportunities to explore the visual arts.

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