Charleston 72 HOURS Part 2

Charleston 72 HOURS Part 2 by Ara Hagopian is a 30-piece photography exhibit covering the historic seaside city of Charleston, South Carolina. The work was captured with the Sony A7R full-frame camera and 55 mm Carl Zeiss lens.

The 72 HOURS exhibits cover popular United States destinations such as New York City, Manhattan Beach CA, Perkins Cove ME, and Isle of Palms SC. The pictures are not intended to be a highlight of the best, or most famous, of the attractions’ sights. As such, today’s exhibit is not a collection of what a visitor must see if they’re staying in Charleston.

What viewers get is this artist’s impression of what was beautiful or interesting during three-plus days on site. To be free to wander the area with a camera—and without a checklist—is the heart of 72 HOURS.

I’m doing something new for this exhibit, I’m presenting the photographs in the order they were shot. I usually arrange the photographs into a flow, with subgroupings. Today I wanted to change that. The decision for chronological order wasn’t planned, and as a result, the layout is completely natural—you’ll see the shots as I saw them. We can both be surprised together.

Charleston 72 Hours Part 2 is my 6th photography exhibit of South Carolina. I hope you find the experience worth your while.


ABOVE: This is Maiden Lane. IMAGE# 354, SUNDAY 6/23/2019 9:07AM. I stayed at the Andrew Pinckney Inn and this tiny road called Maiden Lane greeted me each morning. The cobblestones date back a few centuries. Will you step along with me?

There are three forms of history: Recorded, remembered, and unobserved. What’s recorded is but a single page and what’s lost are the thousands of thick books of facts that could tell us who was here, how they lived, and what they did. The accounts of past eras are gone, as we stare after Maiden Lane.

When I look at this picture, it is easy to imagine older times. The clock works backwards and the cycles of sun and shadow pull the age out of frame. The 1960’s fade to the ’50’s and the Lane, with her stone and green coloring, looks universal from then and now. The years wind further back, still.

Clear your mind, and watch for it.

Forget where you happen to be sitting right now, and look at the picture. Let go of who you are. Your identity is the anchor to the present.

Look to the far right. An early-1800’s man is hustling at full-walking speed on stones that have a rougher look than the worn curves of today. His left hand clutches a piece of paper, on it is evidence exonerating a lady friend from a heart-breaking family matter. He’s worked hard to gain this evidence and is moving quickly to share his discovery with her cruel father. Our eyes follow our traveler, to witness his success, but he passes into the next street, and oblivion. We have seen a glimpse of what happened here.

The sun moves faster and a warm breeze takes hold of us. Maiden Lane has preserved everything ever done in her dominion. Take you time, stop, and she will show you. Let her walk you back through the old days.


ABOVE: White Horse. IMAGE# 403, SUNDAY 6/23/2019 9:22AM. The white horse stepped into frame. Sunlight on furry feet and a unicorn ear add to the moment. The palette of white, grey and green was in step with the start of the day. This touristy sight is seen every hour all over Charleston but you, dear viewer, have never seen her before. A question for you: Where is a spoonful of sugar most appreciated, sprinkled into a sugar bowl or on top of  your breakfast cereal?

If you have never visited Charleston, then good morning. The sugar analogy is an example of how photography distributes what’s plentiful to where it’s needed. Ladies and gentlemen, a treat for your breakfast.


ABOVE: Male House Sparrow. IMAGE# 438 SUNDAY 6/23/2019 9:30AM. No one will ever care about this particular bird, but I did. I had to travel 2,000 miles to give regard to the ignored and uncelebrated.


ABOVE: Walk down street. IMAGE# 454 SUNDAY 6/23/2019 9:34AM. As regular and routine a day it was to everybody else, it was extraordinary for me. How can I show you?


ABOVE: Broken wall in parking lot. IMAGE# 457 SUNDAY 6/23/2019 9:36AM. When you come to the South and cause damage, you’re being rude. Guess what? The damage will be repaired. The artifacts belong here; you do not. What you’ve destroyed was put in place by better men than you.


ABOVE: Flag. IMAGE# 490 SUNDAY 6/23/2019 9:40AM. Always respected by the good; always welcomed by the grateful. The fabric of the highest standard, our flag of the United States.


ABOVE: Colorful buildings and tree. IMAGE# 508 SUNDAY 6/23/2019 9:42AM. Like nowhere else. 


ABOVE: Big tree and brick building. IMAGE# 515 SUNDAY 6/23/2019 9:55AM. Screaming, “1910! 1910!”


ABOVE: Run down space between buildings. IMAGE# 527 SUNDAY 6/23/2019 10:01AM. We’re not allowed near the building, there are warnings posted on the property. A close examination of the picture shows structural damage to the upper deck near the support. Rot and disintegration have taken residence. The home’s best days are gone.

A towel, set to dry, waits for the owner’s return. If this towel was ever to be reclaimed, brought to a good home, washed, dried and folded, it would still bear the sun-bleached band of these days. The towel’s renewable moment will never come. The home in this photograph will probably be demolished, and its items thrown in a dumpster.

I wanted to explore the space between the homes. The alleyway was an overgrown area leading to an intriguing fenced-in backyard, also overgrown. Welcome to a place in Charleston no one wants to look at. Except us, of course.


ABOVE: Top of building and church. IMAGE# 536 SUNDAY 6/23/2019 10:07AM. What is immense, grounded, and weighty? Versus, what will last, and encompass all?


ABOVE: This is Charleston Blue. IMAGE# 551 SUNDAY 6/23/2019 10:08AM. Part one of three motifs, capturing the spiritual colors of Charleston. If you think it’s mamby-pamby artistic bullshit, randomly-grasped and shoved forward by a navel-gazing Outworlder, then it’s too late to turn back. Those blues have got you.  


ABOVE: Meet Judy, the ugly tree. IMAGE# 567 SUNDAY 6/23/2019 10:13AM. Have you read the story DERELICTION OF JUDY? Oughtten you to?


ABOVE: Old shed. IMAGE# 580 SUNDAY 6/23/2019 10:15AM. Private property—has this lot been touched in years? What’s inside? Dear Public, just keep walking. Don’t look, unless you want to see the ultimate shell of prevention. Because here you are forbidden from seeing what’s even worse.

No one plans for junk. A property loaded with forgotten items started out as a perfect structure on a sunny day.

We let it fall apart. We allowed ourselves to walk away from a moment of tidying up, thousands of times repeated. The sum of moments is monumental. I can tell you this: It’s far easier to leave a situation, than to resolve it. Easier still, is to live with it.

It’s the same way with relationships. This decrepit shed is our personal failing, every cluttered corner a nasty word.


ABOVE: Sidewalk date. IMAGE# 585 SUNDAY 6/23/2019 10:17AM. Thank God for Fred. Fred, buddy, you were feeling so carefree that day thirty-eight years ago, weren’t you? Just look how you signed your name in the cement! What flourish!

I remember December 17th, 1983 very well. It was a Saturday, and was my first day home from my first semester at college. That finals week in western Massachusetts had been magical for me, I remember faint, swirling snow, a romantic campus walk with a girl on an impromptu night and on my arm, and feeling the thrill of burgeoning young love. In two weeks we’d made plans to get together again, with the campus empty of students, save for a certain private townhouse. I asked her, “What do you want from this relationship?” And she answered, “You.”

And Fred, here you were, thousands of miles away, crouching over wet cement with a stick in hand, and a plan all your own.


ABOVE: This is Charleston White. IMAGE# 628 MONDAY 6/24/2019 8:43AM. If you see the two thrusts then I’ve succeeded. If there’s nothing special for you here, then you have failed the photograph. Move past it, like everyone else walking by that day, who didn’t look up and see the sacred movement of the building’s edge and the reach of the tree.


ABOVE: Tree and house, in the Buroughs. IMAGE# 636 MONDAY 6/24/2019 8:46AM. The Buroughs are a fun place to walk, but you don’t want to be caught feeling out of place there. The camera protected me, it provided interference from trouble and was the most powerful weapon I could possess. Powerful because of the bold beast it made me. 


ABOVE: Moonlight. IMAGE# 638 MONDAY 6/24/2019 8:56AM. I want to talk about the upper window, and who might have been up there in the old days. I imagine hundreds of years ago a daughter was punished, held prisoner suspected of being wicked. At this moment the man from Maiden Lane was hustling with evidence to free her, he’s successful but it doesn’t go how everyone thinks. And then I want to talk about the building’s cracks; what’s caused some and what’s prevented even more. Lastly, I want to celebrate the plant that found its life high away from soil. My love of the loner, of supernatural survivors, and the brave who are living differently, caught in the moonlight. (These words were my sketch notes for what I wanted to write for the caption. In the end, I kept them as the caption itself.)


ABOVE: Judy’s friend, Judy’s fear. IMAGE# 654 MONDAY 6/24/2019 8:59AM. Judy’s friend had no voice, and no warning.


ABOVE: White house. IMAGE# 671 MONDAY 6/24/2019 9:10AM. Haunting, the white finish is the finest shade of green in sight.


ABOVE: Discarded table in Harleston Village. IMAGE# 679 MONDAY 6/24/2019 9:21 AM. Useful for decades, thrown away one day; cared for and cleaned many times, but not this time; card games, to grass stains; upside to outside; friends gathered ’round to no one around; family’s laughter to a stranger’s shutter; lady’s luck to dump truck; hidden scrapes’ ugly swirls, immodesty for the leering world; family gave you care, family gave you up here; solid and sturdy on four, no good reason anymore; no feelings, left leaning.


ABOVE: Spikes. IMAGE# 692 TUESDAY 6/25/2019 8:12AM. This is how we forced human property to stay in place. Unfettered weeds were allowed on the streets, but not Black slaves.

Yard-wall implements like this get me thinking. When we invent ways to hold people back, we’re only demonstrating our own containment.


ABOVE: This is Charleston Red. IMAGE# 700 TUESDAY 6/25/2019 8:16AM. As authentic as I could translate it for you.


ABOVE: Bike. IMAGE# 701 TUESDAY 6/25/2019 8:17AM. A man can enjoy his life as he wants it.


ABOVE: Discarded brick at the Slave Mart. IMAGE# 720 TUESDAY 6/25/2019 8:23AM. I’m sad to say history dissolves, piece-by-piece.


ABOVE: Dogs in scooter. IMAGE# 746 TUESDAY 6/25/2019 8:41AM. They came down King Street very fast and loud, too. The dog’s ear, flapping in the wind, is the clincher.


ABOVE: Another Touch. IMAGE# 747 TUESDAY 6/25/2019 9:37AM. You don’t need to read the story TOUCH from several years ago, to imagine how this tree felt underhand. The essence of two beings can heal, both.


ABOVE: Angel Oak 1. IMAGE# 772 TUESDAY 6/25/2019 10:15AM. The most magnificent tree in the South.


ABOVE: Angel Oak 2. IMAGE# 784 TUESDAY 6/25/2019 10:17AM.


ABOVE: Angel Oak 3. IMAGE# 803 TUESDAY 6/25/2019 10:19AM.


About Ara Hagopian's The LITERATE Show

For over thirty years, I have enjoyed drawing beautiful shapes and writing complementary stories. The imagery tends to focus on our place in the world—whomever or whatever we may be. I am influenced by Twentieth Century history—I read vintage magazines, books and letters. Inspiration comes from visualizing human achievement and personal interaction—derived from people, places and things which may be obscure, but never insignificant. My pen-and-ink THE MAGNIFICENT RECOVERY was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for their 2008 summer art auction.
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4 Responses to Charleston 72 HOURS Part 2

  1. Sue B. says:

    These are beautiful photos and although I haven’t had the chance to visit Charleston I can feel the essence of the city. Vibrant colors and a lot of history. Thanks for sharing. It is on my list of places to go.

    • Thank you Sue. I find a certain comfort looking at the photos and remembering what it was like, when I took the shots 2 years ago. It’s taken me this long to get thru the 800 pics and write just what I wanted to. Thanks for looking and posting! Ara

  2. Jen says:

    Beautiful Ara! I love all the bright colors as well as your descriptive narrative!

    • Thanks Jen. After the entire exhibit was up I assessed it “objectively”, as much as I could. It’s a show, partially, about discovering the plain and discarded ducklings of the city. There’s some glory captured here with the Angel Oak tree, etc. What struck me most was where I said something like, “I had to travel 2,000 miles to find this house sparrow.” And a thrown-away table, missing tree in street, disfigured tree, overgrown shed, rotting house, etc. These are not usual photo subjects. They got me thinking though. They got me to write some different points of view. That was worthwhile. Thanks for looking, and commenting!

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