With a natural gift for visual storytelling through their artistic work, all the artists at Studio 151 Fine Arts Gallery are a vibrant part of the inspiration behind one of Charleston’s best-loved galleries. Founded in 2009, the artist-owned studio located in the heart of the city’s picturesque French Quarter District has become a favorite destination for both locals and tourists.
“Our quaint salon-style gallery is ideally situated just south of the corner of Market Street—near the historic St. Philip’s Church, a popular boutique hotel and a handful of great restaurants,” says Colleen Wiessmann, an abstract painter who is also the president of Studio 151. “Horse-drawn carriages that tour around the District as well as Charleston’s historic landmarks pass by almost hourly, bringing lots of patrons to our door throughout the day. We display our artwork out on the front steps, and tourists often come back to see it. We also have many repeat locals and tourists who come back year after year.”
Featuring the original work of 17 local artists—each with ownership in Studio 151—the gallery exudes a warm, collaborative spirit that is immediately apparent to anyone who comes inside.
“We’ve been together in this location for more than 10 years, and many of us have been together at different galleries for 17 years,” Wiessmann shares. “We are like a family and love working together. We all take turns working here at the gallery, so we get to meet our customers and collectors. A lot of the artists create right here on-site, and anyone who stops by is invited to watch them paint and handcraft their art.”
In addition to Wiessmann, fellow painters and mixed-media artists at Studio 151—all expressing their own unique styles—include Rosie Phillips, Bob Graham, Christine Crosby, Jennifer Koach, Sandy Scott, Nancy Rushing, Debra Paysinger, Nancy Davidson, Daryl Knox, Dixie Dugan, Detta Zimmerman, Lu Bentley, Amelia Whaley and Meredith Hart. Their eclectic offerings embrace a broad range of subject matter, such as Lowcountry landscapes and Charleston scenes, large and small abstracts, Western art, portraiture and animal art. The gallery’s impressive talent pool includes two jewelry artists, Lissa Block and Jean Norman, who design and create one-of-a-kind wearable and affordable treasures.
“We all accept commission work, too, and we ship our art all over the world,” says Wiessmann. “Many of us feature work in other local art shows as well, and a lot of us participate in Charleston’s famous Piccolo Spoleto Festival. It’s so much fun to meet new people every day. We have also enjoyed joining our fellow galleries every year for the Charleston Gallery Association Art Walks on the first Friday of March, May, October and December. We’re optimistic about doing this again in the spring—or whenever it becomes safe for large groups to gather.”
A place of unforgettable memories and happy events, Studio 151 celebrates all things Charleston through the expression of art and an appreciation for the visitors who flock here from all parts of the country. One of its most memorable occasions was a marriage proposal that took place in the gallery. The groom-to-be had commissioned artist Jennifer Koach to paint a portrait of him and his girlfriend, which included a marriage proposal. When the couple—who had come from Nashville to visit for a long weekend—arrived to browse the studio, the bride-to-be spotted the painting hanging on the wall. Her future husband dropped to one knee, and she said yes. The gallery staff presented flowers to the bride and offered them
a celebratory glass of wine.
“It was such a perfect moment,” recalls Wiessmann. “It truly illustrates what a close group we are—and that’s what makes it fun. We all enjoy each other so much.” *
Jeanne de Lathouder currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama, where she works as a freelance writer for books and publications across the country. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.