Plan A Culture Filled Staycation

Travel blogger and Sullivan’s Island resident Carol Antman spends her days exploring places of artistic interest all over the region. For SiP, she shares her top picks for those residents and visitors looking to inject a little culture into their time here. Photos by Steve Rosamilia.

Music is wafting from open windows. Painters are perched on the edge of the marsh. Thespians are rehearsing atop batteries. The arts are flourishing East of the Cooper. Big city Charleston has whetted our appetites with its smorgasbord of events, exhibits and performances and now it’s easy to choose a tasty treat right in our own backyard.

Our good fortune of living here includes not only our beautiful surroundings, but the beauty they inspire. The arts celebrate the best of human nature. They entertain and lift our spirits, but the unintended benefit is even greater. When we join a committee to produce an event or sit beside our neighbors to see a play, when we dance with our children or get our hands dirty creating or encourage those who do, we are making our community stronger, more authentic and an even greater place to live.



There are no more compelling stories than those that can be found at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island. It was here escaped slave Robert Smalls staged his daring act of liberation that made him a Union war hero. From this point, planter and politician William Moultrie led the battle against nine British warships, resulting in the fort being named for him. Here you can sit on Toni Morrison’s “Bench by the Road” and read the historic marker where thousands of slaves disembarked. You can conjure Edgar Allan Poe on the spot where he wrote “Annabel Lee.” The Fort’s professional exhibits and ancillary online materials could easily be a college humanities course.



 A beloved community gathering spot, the Poe Library, is not only a place to pick up a good read. It also hosts a variety of entertaining and educational programs for all ages. Puppet shows, crafting, history lectures, book clubs, memoir-writing, plays and storytelling fill their calendar.



 From atop the historic battery next to the Poe Library, the sounds of Shakespeare herald the rejuvenation of an island institution. The Battery Gadsden Cultural Center has begun its mission to provide a community space to preserve the history and culture of Sullivan’s Island through photographs, artifacts and art. Recent theatrical performances show the promise of the building as a performing arts venue. Membership is free and monthly meetings attract engaged citizens who want to help.



Go meet your artistic neighbors! Whenever the “open” sign is displayed, you can drop in on Mickey Williams’s studio at 1820 Middle Street. You’ll probably find him working on a large marsh scene or finishing one of his numerous commissions. But he’ll be happy to stop and talk. Adele’s Pottery is nearby at 1659 Middle Street. Visitors from all over the world have been dropping by for 35 years. It’s fascinating to watch her create the sand- and sea-inspired usable art on her potter’s wheel. When the gate is open, she’s open. Or call 843.883.9545. Carol McGill’s vibrant paintings have won numerous awards throughout the Southeast. She welcomes visitors to her Isle of Palms studio by appointment through her website at Complete an island experience with some food for the soul at Sandpiper Gallery at 2201 Middle Street. Their intriguing collection of fine art and American crafts highlights local talent and their frequent art openings are local favorites.



Cultural festivals abound on the islands. The Isle of Palms hosts a Front Beach Fest in March, the popular Piccolo Spoleto Sand Sculpting Competition in May and a Holiday Street Festival in December. Art on the Beach and Chefs in the Kitchen, a house tour with dozens of artists, is on Sullivan’s Island in November. Wild Dunes Resort on IOP offers up a variety of cultural activities year-round, including making iron creations with a blacksmith and photography outings. If you’re a lucky resident or vacationer on Dewees, you can enjoy one of the frequent gatherings in the beautiful Huyler House which hosts various performances.



 They say food is art, and there’s a new opportunity for getting your hands on some delicious, locally grown “art,” as Sullivan’s Island new Farmers’ Market brings fresh produce and hand-crafted foods to the beach. But the real gems to be found at the market are the local artists and craftsmen showcased in the rotating “artist/artisan nook.” A different creator will show of his or her work each week through the season, which runs April through June, Thursdays 2:30 to 7 p.m. sifarmersmarket