I have to be honest with you. It’s been a wee bit toasty in South Carolina for the past month. This is why scores of locals retreat to the beach. This way we can be greeted by a sea breeze and no one cares how sweaty we are because we're in bathing suits and flip flops.
Many non-South Carolinians have been experiencing the same, as it’s been hot everywhere. This is one area in which we Sandlappers can give some advice. You see, it is a complete myth that South Carolinians have a slower lifestyle and work ethic during the summer.
The truth is that we’ve been through enough hot summers to have developed important strategies for professional survival. One such strategy is to pack our laptops, files and mobile phones into a suitcase and head for the beach when it is too hot at home, which my family did for July 4 weekend. Okay… there was a little bit of a fib in that. My husband (who works very hard) did not take a single conference call for the entire week we were at Kiawah Island
, and I only saw him check email twice. But he deserved that break. I, on the other hand, was simply working in a different location, and just as thankful for it.
When I wasn’t sipping a cool drink with my laptop on the porch, we were over at The Sanctuary
listening to jazz on the lawn or indulging ourselves at the lounge at The Ocean Room (some of the best oysters I’ve ever had. Ever.).
At the end of the week I trekked into Charleston
for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. July 7 was the day that the public was welcomed into the Halsey Institute at College of Charleston
for the de-installation of Motoi Yamamoto’s Return To The Sea: Saltworks
, which had been on view since May 25. During his residency at the institute, Motoi used salt to create a “floating garden” throughout the galleries. The intricate labyrinths and laces had a strict “do not touch” policy throughout the 10 weeks that it sat at the Calhoun Street building. Not only could the installation be easily marred, but salt is seen in Japanese culture as a symbol for purity. This imagery is an important part of the exhibition, so rules had to be made.
On this sauna-like afternoon, however, rules were made to be broken. Men, women and children of all ages piled in to the gallery to scoop as much salt into their containers as possible. Motoi was unable to be there for the event but watched via Skype, which added a fun interactive note to the event. Children were often seen running over to the computer screen to wave at the artist’s friendly face as he looked on.
For some reason I had decided to walk to the event. There was time between the gathering of salt and its release, which was slated to be down by the water at Charleston’s picturesque Maritime Center. I hitched a ride with a friend back to the hotel where I’d parked my car, sipped on a sweet tea, then called a pedicab to take me to the release. Here is my second piece of summer advice for the day: when moving about in Charleston, there are two modes of transportation that are the best and the fastest— bicycle or pedicab (which is sort of the same, except someone else is driving). This way you can avoid traffic and get almost anywhere on the peninsula within 10 minutes or so. Again, it was hot, and I felt a little sorry for my driver, so I suggested that he stay at the Maritime Center for the release. Once I described what was about to happen he hopped off of his bike and managed to sweet talk someone into giving him a handful of salt. Then he lined right up with the crowd as they prepared for the release.
On the count of three, everyone shook their salt into the brackish water, creating a beautiful haze that fell gently into the bay. It was what I would call “one of those Charleston moments,” where strangers of all backgrounds came together in droves to participate in something beautiful.
Visit the Halsey Institute when you are in town. There is always something fascinating happening there. The next exhibition, which opens Aug. 24, is called The Paternal Suit
. It consists of more than 100 paintings, prints and objects created by F. Scott Hess that are made to look like historical artifacts by fictional practitioners.