By Emma Woodham for The Island Eye News
On a balmy October afternoon, event attendees lined up outside eight homes on Sullivan’s Island for Art on the Beach-Chefs in the Kitchen, a unique event benefiting Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services. Nearly thirty local artists displayed their talent throughout the coastal homes while local chefs took charge in the kitchens, serving up both classic and unusual dishes. 918 Middle St. featured the work of Mulu Designs, Ryker Restorations, Oysters All Around, and Modern South Studio-Cory McBee.
Oysters All Around displayed their woodenbeaded oyster shell necklaces, all of which are made from locallysourced materials. The showcase pieces of Mulu Designs’ display were their one-of-a-kind clutch purses. Upstairs, Bulls Bay Saltworks served Charleston sea salt chocolate chip cookies while educating guests on how they harvest ocean water and filter out the sea salt. Their salts are used at many downtown restaurants and sold in over twenty states, said Teresa Gooden, co-owner of Bulls Bay Saltworks. 1401 Middle St. was the most highly anticipated stop on the tour route; Mugdock Castle has been featured in many publications and is referred to by many as the “castle house”. As if stepping through time into another world, guests moved slowly throughout the home, speaking in hushed tones as they marveled at the gothic architecture. High ceilings, exquisite granite stonework, and a rooftop patio with a view of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Ravenel Bridge awed event attendees. Throughout the main part of the home, sweetgrass baskets, jewelry, and other creations from Momma Maddie’s Sweetgrass Baskets and paintings by Morgan Cole Art were displayed. Outside, on the poolside patio, local artist Briahna Wenke’s paintings were exhibited for attendees to peruse. Her colorful acrylic portrayals of oyster shells, cotton blossoms, and beach scenes captured the attention of many while they enjoyed sweet treats from Wich Cream and Pure Fluff. Maria Mansfield Richardson, a Charleston resident who has attended Art on the Beach in previous years, was eager to explore the intriguing Mugdock Castle, but also to examine the assembled artwork and chefs. “I’ve been to the event before, and I just love the homes and the art and the combination of the two,” Mansfield Richardson said as she climbed the winding stone staircase inside the castle. 2320 Raven St. possessed a captivating view of the marshes that separate Sullivan’s Island from the mainland and was the ideal setting to view the creations of Hermosa Jewelry, Melting & Market Candles, Charleston Fish Man, Claire Kendall Art, and 5th Spark. While the chef from Mex 1 whipped up appetizers and served a cold cocktail in the kitchen, attendees browsed the beautiful handiwork of Haley Keisler, owner and designer of Hermosa Jewelry. Keisler first experienced Art on the Beach as an attendee herself and was fascinated by how the event brings together so many locals for such a good cause. “I think it’s really cool how this event showcases local homes, artists, and chefs,” Keisler said. Outside, on the porch, the marshlands provided the perfect background setting for the Charleston Fish Man’s paintings. Upstairs, Claire Kendall chatted conversationally with visitors as she worked on another painting in one of the guest bedrooms. At 2424 Jasper St. the smell of a traditional Lowcountry Boil wafted through the house, greeting guests at the front door. In the backyard, Fat Hen Chef Fred Neuville was serving up plates of the coastal classic dish. Upstairs, on the veranda, Joe Benton’s vibrant photos of iconic Charleston locations were showcased, and guests were particularly drawn to his oncein-a-lifetime shot taken during the recent solar eclipse. 2614 Goldbug St. seemed to be one of the most popular homes along the tour. Artwork from four different artists filled the bright home, including pieces from Michelle Owenby, who was also the homeowner.
This year was Owenby’s first time featuring her home and her artwork for the event. As guests entered the house, they were greeted by a large painting of an octopus, created by Caroline Staley of Gallavantor Art. In the dining room, Dee Ruel’s handcrafted sea-glass jewelry caught the eye of many women on the tour, and they crowded around to study it closer.
Salthouse Catering’s full spread in the kitchen attracted a large crowd, tempting guests with their mini pumpkin and chocolate pies, smoked salmon, fresh fruit, deviled eggs, bite-sized ham biscuits, and a charcuterie board. With full plates, guests drifted out towards the pool to chat and enjoy the delicious appetizers. On the porch, Sally Bunting of Sally B Art drew attention with both her multi-colored paintings and her eight-week old Boykin Spaniel who slept soundly in her lap while she discussed her work, particularly her wildlife paintings. “Each animal is painted from an animal I actually saw. Each painting has a story,” Bunting said. 2614 Bayonne St. Cru Catering took over the kitchen serving guests braised short-ribs on steamed bun with a carrot slaw. Danielle Cather-Cohen’s colorful paintings captured the beauty of the Lowcountry in vivid, bright colors while Rick Sargent’s lifelike graphite, pen-and-ink, and pencil portraits graced the dining room of the home. In the living room, Melissa Bowman was eager to share her passion for her business: The Blue Root. Melissa’s specialized gift box service features only locally-sourced Charleston products. She praised the quality of the goods that local craftsmen and artisans in the area produce.
“We have so much talent locally that I never feel like I need to go online to find a gift,” Bowman said. 2820 Middle St. hosted Holy City Waffles as the highlight. The food truck-based business served up samples of their warm cinnamon roll waffles to guests perusing the impressive craftsmanship of That Wood Guy. In the next room, Charlotte Fraser worked diligently on a painting of a ghost crab. She was eager to share her love of painting on wood panels, rather than canvases. While Sno-Bar served up alcoholic snow-cones at the poolside bar, Jason Ogden of Station 28.5 Photography humbly discussed his unique shots of the Charleston area, all taken with a drone. At 3024 Marshall St., the coastal breeze drifted through the open home as guests sampled Wood Fired Ember Kitchen’s scallops with butternut squash in the kitchen. Passing through the home theater room, guests found themselves on the back porch, gathering around the elevated pool while admiring work by Anchor Down Art. Work by Tammy Medlin Fine Art and Chelsea Edwards Art both graced the living and dining area, giving guests a chance to examine the artwork while they nibbled on their appetizers. As the shadows grew long and the afternoon drew to a close, many guests of Art on the BeachChefs in the Kitchen lingered in the last home on their tour map, reluctant for the event to end. Many were eager to share with others about the different pieces of art they had purchased along the tour or features of specific houses that they had admired. Brittany Sutton, an event volunteer who works at Charleston Pro Bono, said that this was her second year working the event and that she volunteers because Art on the Beach benefits a good cause and because she likes the way that it brings so many locals together. “For me, the best part is seeing people’s expressions as they walk into the house and take it all in,” Sutton said. Alissa Lietzow, co-director of Art on the Beach-Chefs in the Kitchen, felt that the event was an absolute success. “Not only did we sell out in advance, but the homes, art, and cuisine all exceeded expectation. We were pleased to provide enormous exposure to both the art and food industry participants,” Lietzow said. She added that Charleston Pro Bono truly appreciates the support the community showed for the cause and that she is already looking forward to the event in 2018. Following the conclusion of the event, Mex 1 hosted an afterparty at their Sullivan’s Island location.