Can you believe the North Charleston Arts Festival is celebrating its 31st year?

The nine-day celebration of the arts features national, regional and local artists and performers in all of the following disciplines: dance, music, theater, visual arts, crafts, photography, media arts and literature.

There will be more than 100 events and activities taking place at various places throughout North Charleston starting Friday and wrapping up May 11.

Most of the events are free or moderately priced.

“The variety of Arts Festival offerings and the inclusiveness of the event have really become a point of pride for the city of North Charleston,” said Mayor Keith Summey.

“The event provides both our residents and visitors from throughout the Southeast a myriad of opportunities to experience high-quality programming in every arts discipline in a variety of traditional and nontraditional settings,” he said.

The festival's main event will take place Saturday and Sunday at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center and Charleston Area Convention Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive, and will include more than 40 performances on four themed stages (General Audience, Cultural Heritage, Youth Entertainment and Bands).

Other features include judged fine art and photography exhibits; the 12th annual South Carolina Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Exhibit; youth art from Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester county students; the Lowcountry Gem & Mineral Society show and sale; the Village Antiques & Collectibles show; children's activities at Box City and Creation Stations; art & craft vendors; a food court; and much more, city arts coordinator Ann Simmons said of the weekend's festivities.

With more than 100 events, it's impossible to list it all here, so check out the website for more details about things such as the National Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition and the PODS Project.

And be sure to catch the Grand Finale on May 11 at North Charleston's Riverfront Park, which will be complete with music and dance performances, a poetry slam, children's activities, food trucks and fireworks over the Cooper River.

For information on the North Charleston Arts Festival, including event details, call 740-5854.

May art walk

The May art walk is always one of the most attended of the year. The weather usually is fantastic and the galleries usually pull out all the stops, and it doesn't look to be any different this year.

It really is impossible to list everything going on here, so your best bet is to just grab a friend and wander around the French Quarter area.

But we've put together a smattering of some of the opening receptions happening 5-8 p.m. Friday for your consideration. All openings are free.

Atrium Art Gallery: Greenville native Joseph Bradley works with layers of oil, glazes, washes, and gold and silver leaf. His show at the Atrium Art Gallery, “Works in Silver and Gold Leaf,” focuses on koi fish and the Lowcountry. “I've always enjoyed watching koi ever since I was a kid. As I began the process of painting them years ago, I struggled to create a painting where they didn't feel cliche. As my technique began incorporating metal-leaf, I found a background for the koi that brought them to a classical, iconic level. I employ the same ideas with the Lowcountry landscapes. Having grown up in S.C., I remember walking the marshes and catching crabs with my brother. These scenes seem to be my most effortless and organic,” said the artist. The gallery is at 61 Queen St. 973-3370 or

Coco Vivo: “I have traveled extensively in the States and abroad. I paint wherever I go,” said New England-based artist John Caggiano of his collection, “From Charleston to Nantucket.” “Thinking about where I have been, uppermost in my memories are the attractive places and painting subjects that I have seen. They are ones that make me stop in my tracks. They are usually very old and nostalgic, full of living history; unspoiled. Sometimes, if I am lucky, they take my breath away. Such are the many places that I have painted. Charleston and points north and east to Europe have all offered such subject matter.” The gallery is at 25 Broad St. 720-4027

Corrigan Gallery: The works of Alan Jackson and Allan Wendt in their show, “Semi-Automatic,” are described as such: “... black and white, repetitive, small, large, tight, scattered ... — automatic writing, automatic drawing, thought, no thought, control, not controlled — like many things going on in today's world. Straight curved waves nature manmade imitate nature — presentations of human touch on wood or paper illuminated by graphite or ink.” The gallery is at 62 Queen St. 722-9868 or

Ellis-Nicholson Gallery: It's clear that Florida artist Thomas Tribby is a big fan of women, what with his show of paintings called “Mostly About Women.” Having traveled extensively throughout Europe as a youngster, he was exposed to great European artists such as Matisse and Modigliani, and this influence is apparent in his work. The gallery is at 1 Broad St. 722-5353 or

Ibis Fine Art Gallery: This gallery might be the new kid on the block, but some of its artists, including Ginny Versteegen, already are quite well-known. Versteegen has made a name for herself locally and internationally for her dynamic and colorful oil paintings. Her newest collection of work called “Terra” was inspired by travels throughout the U.S. and Europe. Versteegen, who lives in Mount Pleasant, said, “I am very pleased and honored to be the featured artist at Ibis Fine Art Gallery for this show. It is nice to be recognized locally in this art center of the South and also because it is where I live and work.” The gallery is at 11 Broad St. 577-9995 or

Lowcountry Artists Gallery: Helen K. Beacham recently participated in a worldwide artist challenge to paint 30 paintings in 30 days. She recounts having had an interesting experience in having to adapt her work to be able to keep up. “I found myself choosing the smaller 4-by-6 format due to the daily time constraints ... and a pleasant side effect of doing that was the freedom I felt in choosing my subject for each day. A set of wooden stairs? A shelf full of cheeses? A lime green chair? All became fair game.” Not only did Beacham have to complete a painting a day, she also had to post it to her blog and write about it each day. The gallery is at 148 East Bay St. 577-9295 or

Robert Lange Studios: Always one to look on the positive side of life, Robert Lange chose the theme of “Affirmations” for his solo show. “The goal of this body of work is to take inventory of those people in my life, whether close friend, family or acquaintance, who play the role of teacher, aiding me in becoming a more balanced and aware individual. As a foundation for the paintings, I chose to use the format of an affirmation, the assertion of one's positive qualities,” Lange said of his work. The gallery is at 2 Queen St. 805-8052 or