Public art has been part of Charleston’s rich history and culture for decades. Monumental sculptures in the city date back to the 1920s. Today we are experiencing a surge of public art activity that is transforming our city.
In 2017, the Office of Public Art was established to educate, conserve and create new works in public spaces. To date, the office has since been instrumental in the installation of more than 65 new pieces of public art.
In 2018, investment in the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center included an opportunity to establish a Public Art program. The City of Charleston’s Office of Public Art acquired over 25 new pieces, including several large-scale sculptures that define the new space.
In 2019 this momentum continued, as 25 artists were commissioned to create 32 new works of public art. These pieces were diverse and gave new understanding of the impact that public art can make. While many murals were completed, parade pieces, art centered events, major conservation efforts and education made 2019 a truly unforgettable year for public art.
These are a few of the projects that highlight public art in Charleston in 2019:
Deep Roots, Long Reach
Artist: Harry McDaniel
Partners: Office of Public Art, Briar Hills Garden Club and Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center
Deep Roots Long Reach is a kinetic sculpture that was designed specifically for Charleston taking inspiration from the trees. “Trees simultaneously reach into the earth and the sky, artist Harry McDaniel said. “If they could speak, some could tell us of the early days of Charleston.”
In Place Mural Project
Artists: Rob Cleland, Jeff Pierson, Amanda Jane Miller, Staci Leech, Debra Rayhill, Kayleigh Phillips, Mallory Burka and Blake Wheeler
Eight artists designed site-specific pieces meant to integrate with their environment. These pieces become part of the Charleston’s landscape as part of the City’s Team Up to Clean Up event.
The Volunteer Mural
Designers: Jeff Pierson and Jack O’Hearn
Partners: Office of Public Art, Charleston Main Streets, Sherwin Williams and the Red Carpet Lounge
Over 30 artists and volunteers came together to create a community mural on Charleston’s East End. The piece featured colorful circles and showcased the East End’s vibrancy and community pride.
The Brawley Walkway Pop Up Mural Project
Artists: Luke Atkinson and Carlos Culbertson
Partners: Office of Public Art and CURA
Along Brawley Walkway, windows were transformed by Carlos Culberston and Luke Atkinson, who created two dynamic new murals.
City National Bank Mural
Artist: JP Owens
Partners: Office of Public Art, South Hills Neighborhood Association and City National Bank
A sprawling mural located on the side of City National Bank depicts everyday life with wild colorful designs.
Project Title: The Dreamer
Artist: Dan Toro
Partners: Office of Public Art; Dewayne Duncan, Bradley Harris, Paula Flaherty; Charleston Main Streets
The two red doorway awnings on Gardner’s Dry Cleaners create a red bench. As a working man eating his lunch daydreams, birds and pattern work become more and more colorful, wrapping around a second facade on the building.
Glow in the Park/Zoey’s Butterfly
Partners: Office of Public Art and FestivALL
During the Makeshop Appalachia program, through the Charleston Boys and Girls Club and MESH design, Zoey, 12, created a design concept for a butterfly sculpture that glowed. The Office of Public Art worked with Zoey to make the sculpture a reality. Glow in the Park brought members of the community to Magic Island for a night of face painting, family art activities and the unveiling of Zoey’s sculpture.
The Wonder Conservation Project
Artist: Charly Hamilton
Partners: Office of Public Art, WTSQ and John and Tighe Bullock
Since its creation in 2016, the Wonder Mural has become an icon for public art and a symbol of the revitalization of the Elk City. Due to a water leak, the mural was damaged and the artist recreated the lower third of the mural adding new characters to his already colorful piece.