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First things first, a disclaimer: I have been an advisory board member for the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art since the days when it was a hidden gem tucked away in the College of Charleston’s Simons Center for the Arts. But, as I once told Halsey director Mark Sloan, that’s not the impetus for our coverage of the institution. No, the little gallery that could deserves to be seen again and again for the eye-opening, jaw-dropping, and at times challenging artwork it has exhibited over the years. Some personal favorites include the “Force of Nature” installations by 10 Japanese artists (2006); Nick Cave’s mesmerizing “Soundsuits” (2010), Aggie Zed’s fantastical sculptures, sketches, and paintings (2012); the painstaking beauty of Motoi Yamamoto’s salt installation, “Return to the Sea” (2012); and last year’s standout “Rebound” with its astounding mixed-media pieces created from books and magazines. The curatorial staff wows us time and time again.

This year marks the 30th anniversary for the Halsey, and later this month a monumental exhibition will celebrate the milestone. “The Insistent Image” showcases works by Jasper Johns, who was reared in South Carolina and has ties to the Lowcountry, and Charleston’s own Shepard Fairey. In her cover story (and don’t you love that cover?!), “The Insistent Artists: A Halsey Homecoming”, contributing editor Stephanie Hunt connects the dots between these two artists—both known for their appropriation and examination of familiar images—as well as gallery namesake and artist William Halsey. It’s a fascinating interweaving of stories and influences, all based right here in Charleston.

Although Johns has been invited to the opening and ensuing events, it’s not likely the reclusive artist will attend. However, I do know that Fairey is homeward bound and slated to give a special lecture at the Charleston Music Hall as well as create four officially sanctioned public works around town. With all this and the whirlwind of Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto festivities, May is promising to be a spectacular time for the arts in Charleston.

Darcy Shankland