Lowcountry artists have big things happening in Charleston

“Self Portrait,” by Mary Edna Fraser
“Self Portrait,” by Mary Edna Fraser Submitted

Three well-known island residents — past and present — who share a particular artistic focus, are preparing and staging two noteworthy artistic events in Charleston this month.

Look forward to “A Small Works Fine Art Auction,” featuring the artwork of a group of greater Hilton Head Island artists, as well as series of paintings from significant artists throughout the country. The auction will be staged by Jack Morris and Ben Whiteside of Hilton Head’s Morris and Whiteside Auctions.

And then move on to “Waterscapes,” an exhibit of stunning, monumental batiks on silk, along with some new oil paintings by artist, Mary Edna Fraser, who spent a number of years pursuing her artistic focus on Hilton Head Island.

She now works daily in her studio, nestled in a wooded setting, just 10 minutes off the beaten track from downtown Charleston. Happily, she remains in close touch with island galleries, artist friends, particularly, and continues to expand the portrayal of her artist’s focus about her reverence and appreciation for our planet, generally, and its waterways, specifically.

A collection of her astonishing batik work, “Waterscapes,” was selected by Charleston’s Diamonds Direct, to be featured in the inaugural exhibit in their location. The thrillingly intimate, strikingly personal show is fully in place, and you must take in every piece.

The younger Mary Edna Fraser, developed her appreciation for waterways, and the way they converge at water’s edge, forming patterns with fingers of land, when she peered down from the side of the open cockpit of a small airplane. That unusual perspective, many years ago, contributed completely to her interest, in her adult years, to a greater understanding and appreciation for our Lowcountry settings.

Over time, Fraser’s interest in representing those perspectives artistically, led to her now acknowledged and award-winning, monumental work in batik — batik on silk, particularly.

“Batik is a process that started in Java, and predates written records,” Fraser said. “It’s a dye resist process in which I apply removable wax to fabric, in my case, silk. I create areas that will repel dye while the unwaxed areas will absorb my color choices.”

Recently, satellites and space imagery have further expanded Fraser’s range of content to the extent that she has added barrier islands, river deltas, mountains, glaciers and landscapes to her body of work, with astonishing technical precision.

“But most especially, I work from my own aerial photograph — oh, and with maps and charts,” she said.

Apart from the vibrant and light-filled beauty we all find in her batik work, she has been recognized by the Planetary Geologists of NASA and the Smithsonian Institute for her artistic accomplishments.

Closer to home, then, plan to drop in at Diamonds Direct, to see firsthand Fraser’s incredibly stunning work in batik on silk. Look particularly for “Lunar Light,” batik on silk, which depicts her perspective when swimming in her James Island Creek. Enjoy “Self Portrait,” and “Romain’s Refuge, SC.”

The Sylvan Gallery, in Charleston, in association with Hilton Head’s Morris and Whiteside Auctions has gathered an amazing collection of original, small works of art created by some of America’s leading contemporary artists, with a treasure trove of work by Southern artists.

Many of those Southern artists live and work in the greater Lowcountry, and two have assembled their work appropriate to this unique auction format.

“This is a rare opportunity,” Ben Whiteside said. “Our auction will offer appreciators the chance to find important work, by important artists.”

There are 226 engrossing paintings — figurative pieces, natural settings, abstracted work, impressionist pieces, realistic still lifes and a virtual showcase of regional paintings, with subjects completely related to Lowcountry lifestyles and locations.

The gallery is filled to the brim with stunning small pieces by artists such as Dean Mitchell, Joe Bowler, Guido Petruzzi, Jim and Addison Palmer, Mary Whyte, Rhett Thurman, Michael Harrell and Dan and Danny McCaw.

Artist, musician, teacher and writer Nancy K. Wellard focuses on portraying and promoting the cultural arts, first in Los Angeles and, for close to 30 years, in the Lowcountry. Email her at

“Waterscapes,” by Mary Edna Fraser

When: through Aug. 22

Where: Diamonds Direct, 1911 Hwy N, Mount Pleasant

“A Small Works Fine Art Auction”

When: 1 p.m. July 16 with previews from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 11-14, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 15 and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 16

Where: The Sylvan Gallery, 171 King St., Charleston

Details: 843-842-4433