Pedaling en route to the opening reception of Kcymaerxthaere and Winter Stories at the Halsey last night, Charleston Scene editor Marcus Amaker zoomed past me on his bike and shouted, “Happy Spoleto!” Though seemingly innocent, I took that as both a greeting and a challenge. Must best rival paper’s coverage! Adrenaline kicked in and I raced to the gallery.

Once inside the Halsey facility, glasses of cheap wine were procured and sweaty brows cooled. Wearing incredible bright turquoise shoes, hatter Leigh Magar was spotted, albeit sans hat! She once told me in an interview that, yes indeed, she too sometimes needs a break from headgear. Fair enough. While the artwork wasn’t on her head, there was plenty around it. Guests appeared mesmerized by Paolo Ventura’s miniature fantasy world, and to accompany the photographs, musician Bill Carson provided a kind of hazy, old-timey radio sound in the background.

While attendees were clearly charmed by Winter Stories, there was a palpable vibe of perplexion upon entering Eames Demetrios’ Kcymaerxthaere room. founder K. Cooper Ray stood (in classic Charleston madras pants, polo, and croakies), puzzling in front of a wall of cryptic 3-D storytelling. Something tells me artist Demetrios and Piccolo Fringe performer Charles Ross of One Man Lord of the Rings, would get along smashingly. It was feeling all a touch too Tolkien in there for me.

  • K. Cooper Ray takes in Kcymaerxthaere exhibit.

So, back on the bike I rode straight to the City Gallery at Waterfront Park for Contemporary Charleston 2011: Under the Radar. The exhibit, highlighting eight emerging Charleston artists, was packed to capacity with hipsters of every ilk, but the “It” girl on the scene appeared to be Rachel Kate Gillon of indie-punk band Shaniqua Brown. Wearing a fantastic pink ’50s style prom dress, she walked around the gallery looking like a dirty cupcake.

  • Rachel Kate Gillon mingles at City Gallery at Waterfront Park

The real highlight, as it should be though, was the art. Downstairs installation artist Lauren Frances Moore collected accolades next to her giant polyurethane-coated lawn paper cave. “I basically camped out in the gallery for five days staring at the walls to get used to the space,” Moore said.

  • Lauren Frances Moore’s installation art

Upstairs, folks were buzzing about architect Alan W. Jackson’s pen and ink drawings. Cross-eyed, I found myself slipping into a trance a la the Magic Eye books of my youth. “He’s a weird ass brilliant extraterrestrial man,” said the person standing next to me. “He has a distinct clairvoyance.”

“Mmm, quite,” I answered. Still not sure what planet she was telecasting from. But, bless her heart, gotta love her enthusiasm.

As the evening wore on, guests made their way outside to face the pineapple fountain and waterfront beyond. It was a CCQ (Christmas Card Quality) photo opportunity of the harbor, but the real image was just behind me. Littered along the steps of the gallery, dozens of Charleston’s most feckless and fabulous Gen Y gallery-goers stood and sat sipping vodka tonics, taking in the setting sun. If only Ms. Gillon had had a microphone handy, by God, it would have been the most fantastic music video you’ve ever seen.