We downtown Charlestonians like to think of ourselves as the über-artsy set, sequestered on our little peninsula full of galleries and museums. But with numerous exhibits opening in the following weeks venues from James Island to Folly and West Ashley are proving us wrong, creating works to win over even downtown’s snootiest art critic.

With the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition fast approaching, get a jumpstart on the crazy crowds and head out to West Ashley on Feb. 4 for Amanda McLenon’s exhibit Naked Fish: Lessons from Cannery Row. A SEWE featured artist, McLenon is known for her paintings of vibrant local fish. Her fluid strokes lend a lifelike quality to her work, as giant blue marlins seem to jump from the salvaged window frames she uses in lieu of a traditional canvas. Dedicated to using recycled or found items, McLenon creates her paintings on salvaged beach wood, reclaimed windows and tiles, and even oyster shells. “A way to upcycle,” painting on glass gives her fish “more light and color and dimension,” says McLenon. A self proclaimed “artist by accident,” her experience as both an angler and a marine biologist is evidenced in her ability to endow her underwater scenes with spirit and movement. Local Market and Coffee Bar of West Ashley has partnered with McLenon as part of a month-long event focusing on sustainable local fisheries and seafood.

If you’ve ever felt awed by the local scenery or overwhelmed by a Charleston sunset, you’re in the company of local Redux artist Teil Duncan. “Whether at the beach, Marion Square, or on a fishing boat, certain social scenes exude such energy that allures me to capture that subject through paint,” says Duncan. Inspired by the “architectural charm and natural beauty” of the Holy City, Duncan moved to Charleston to capture its vibrant scenes through her focus on perfect lighting. Duncan will be displaying her figurative, still life, and landscape oil paintings at the newly renovated office of Costa and Williams Dental Health Care on James Island. A reception will be held on Feb. 3 in support of the emerging local artist with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Palmetto Medical Initiative, an organization that provides healthcare to the people of Uganda. Sitting in the dental chair becomes a little less daunting when you’re surrounded by Duncan’s warm Charleston scenery.

And visual artist Erin Eckman takes a three-dimensional approach to her art, using a variety of elements found in her studio to create pieces ranging from the abstract, to impressionist, to portraits and sculpture. “I like to use materials in ways that transform them into something unexpected, and convey overlapping meaning,” says the local artist. The range of materials that highlight her work is due in part to the “boxes of intriguing bits of junk” that surround her studio space. Though she uses a mix of versatile mediums, from acrylic paint to pastels, the pencil is still Eckman’s tool of choice, for it’s simplicity and nuance, she says. On display throughout February at Folly Beach’s Studio Open, Eckman’s collection of Small Wonders emphasizes the artist’s varying inspirations, “from history and literature” to “a texture, a sensation, or just a crack in the ceiling.” A self-taught artist, she even takes elements from subjects as seemingly uninspiring as her daughter’s Calculus class, translating the scientific into something purely creative.

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