What’s Classic and What’s Coming in Charleston: Arts and antiques

Museums, galleries, exhibitions, and more

George Read is co-founder of Read & Mullin LLC, an appraiser of fine arts, antiques, coins, maps, and more. He has published more than seventy-five articles on the arts and antiques market.

“The very best antique dealers in town form a small cluster on Lower King Street. Three in particular should not be missed—John Pope Antiques, David Skinner Antiques, and Tucker Payne Antiques—with owners who possess ‘an eye’ spoken of in knowing and sometimes hushed tones among antique specialists. It is highly unusual to find three in one small city—London has about six. In brief, visit their shops, which defy easy description. Quality, finesse, wonder, and some reevaluation await within.

A few blocks away across Broad Street, Charleston Renaissance Gallery has handled the best of the best—Audubon prints, rare maps, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century paintings, all related to the South—for the last forty-five years. The diversity of works that share wall space here is absolutely dazzling, even for gallery veterans.

Across the street and up a few doors is Helena Fox Fine Art. A thousand interpretations of diffused light prevail here in superb plein air works, mostly of Charleston environs. And Ann Long Fine Art specializes in contemporary figurative paintings executed with the finesse of Northern Italian masters, but with a decidedly a modern edge. Keep a keen eye out for paintings by part-time Charlestonians Jill Hooper and Ben Long.

Centering the small sea of modern art on Upper King is the Rebekah Jacob Gallery. The gallery represents a national stable of first-rate painters, sculptors, and photographers. There are few experiences more exciting than seeing new works in the paint-spattered spaces where they were conceived. At nearby Redux, Charleston’s loft-like incubator of young, up-and-coming artists, monthly exhibitions, courses in painting and printmaking, and a dozen studios await.”