I think the “e” is for energy. Maye River astonishes with ease.

The cheerful cottage of Maye River Gallery at 37 Calhoun Street might be a bit of a disguise. Comfortable and welcoming as it is, the colorful little house barely contains the soul of three-dozen artists and the heart of an impresario.

In fact, this vigorous spirit spills out the back door, where a sun-dappled yard presents paradoxically a sculpture garden and certified wildlife sanctuary. Eclectic works and indigenous plants breathe the same soft air out back.

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Perusing an artists’ guild gallery in the heart of Calhoun Street.

Four founding members, Bill Mattox, Lynda K. Potter, Jon Nelson and Peggy Duncan, formed a Guild Of Bluffton Artists as a co-op gallery in 2002. Now the co-op comprises 21 artists, in media ranging from painting to collage, to jewelry, to photography, to woodturning. A visit to their gallery is a great start as we walk down Calhoun toward the May River.

The Guild named their gallery Pluff Mudd. That peculiar ground of our coastal marsh evokes some powerful meaning. Pluff mud is so full of life – plant life, silt, organisms from cellular to gator-sized – that you might think of it as living earth. Naming their gallery Pluff Mudd, the Guild clearly chose grounded over glamorous.

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Perusing Calhoun Street. Part One.

Calhoun Street is not just a different place. It’s a different pace. To Native Islanders “peruse” didn’t mean browsing through a book or magazine. Peruse was a way of walking. Part strolling, part ambling, part inspecting, part musing.

And that’s something you’ll find on Calhoun Street in Old Town Bluffton. A different way to walk. And a different way to enjoy.

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Truth Or Dare? Explore the July Exhibit at Greer Gallery.

It’s about the power of objects to tell a story. It’s about the dance of truth, imagination and will. It’s about context bringing commonplace things to life. It’s about the artist imposing her touch so that we can then see something our own way. It’s the stuff of life, revealing its genius and beauty, simply by shifting our viewpoint.

That’s (arti)Fact Or Fiction, the Art League show in the Walter Greer Gallery at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, July 6th through 30th.

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Time travel: A walk through Old Town Bluffton.

Architecture is perhaps the most pervasive, most influential art form, and yet the one we notice least. Subtle adaptations to nature in old Carolina Lowcountry homes are especially susceptible to being overlooked.

Yet the use of natural air and light in our surroundings is something we value again, now that sustainability and energy efficiency are a priority. And a stroll through the Bluffton Historic District can be a refresher course in how the folks who came before us used them wisely. The place to start that stroll is historic Heyward House.

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Inspirations From Paradise: The Art League View Of Hilton Head

The Hilton Head Art League schedule of exhibits this year is a menu for sampling what happens when the idea of “suffering” for one’s art is turned upside down. Here we see featured artists responding to the treatment of gentle weather, ambling pace, beauty in every color imaginable and the freedom to come as you are – and go where you please.

The current show, in the Walter Greer Gallery of the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, at Shelter Cove, is Abstract Impressions – an exhibit of recent paintings by N. Jack Huddle. It continues through July 2.

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Memorial Day: Art And The Warrior

Ancient statues and pottery remind us how long artists have striven to embody the warrior, at least by reflection. Hilton Head is home for hundreds of retired service members and a vacation spot for many who serve today. So saying a special “thank you” seems fitting, even for an arts blog.

In an hour’s drive you can see the home that filmmakers used for The Great Santini, Pat Conroy’s reminiscence on the rigors of Marine Corps family life. Coincidentally, it’s the same house around which The Big Chill gathered a gaggle of baby-boomers for a delayed coming-of-age story, in which only one bore the scars of Vietnam directly. On the way, you’ll drive near the palmetto swamp that stood in for Vietnam in Forest Gump.

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In The Can: Peek Inside the Arts Center Production of Hairspray

My occasional and tenuous hold on the professional stage was renewed this spring when I was cast in Hairspray at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. Entering the last week of its 30-day run now, I can hardly be accused of promoting it selfishly if I use the blog this week for a backstage story.

The millions who saw the movies (there’s an original, non-musical and also a film rendition of the Broadway hit) have missed the heart of Hairspray, I think. It’s about transformation – fat people; people of color; heck, even us un-cool people – during a few turbulent days in 1962.

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Art League’s Juried Show Like A Good Party

Visiting the 22nd national juried exhibition by the Art League of Hilton Head is like an hour at a very good party. You can never be sure it was really time to leave.

Hung in the Walter Greer Gallery at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, the exhibit of 96 works was selected from over 600 entries that came from throughout North America. The judge, award-winning water colorist Linda Baker valued “bone structure” or solid composition, color values and an element of surprise in making her selections and designating the winners.

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Outside the Lines, a Must-See at Coastal Discovery Museum in Honey Horn

The presence of nature in the gallery at Honey Horn sets it apart. Live oaks and Spanish moss are interspersed with hanging art via 19th-century windows that somehow are enormous and human-sized at the same time.

That’s an especially welcome experience in the current show, Outside The Lines. Featuring the work of a dozen Lowcountry artists whose art might be called abstract or modern, the Honey Horn space embodies an important fact: There’s nothing artificial about abstract art.

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