When Currie McCullough decided to open her own art gallery at 53 Cannon St. in early 2005, she knew what she was getting into. After growing up with her renowned father, painter William McCullough, and working for years as a horseback riding professor at the College of Charleston and then as an agent/manager for her father and four other artists, she had spent the vast majority of her life in professions that require patience and focus and was prepared to wait it out.

“Everyone told me I’d have to wait three years,” McCullough says, “but it’s been way better than I expected it to be. I think the first year was really kind of an experiment to see if anyone would come to an opening here or who the people were that would be interested in the type of art that I show, which is all over the place but is all very sincere.”

McCullough never really worried much about what “everyone” said, defying traditional art world wisdom by hosting all the types of shows people told her not to – nudes, photography, still lifes – and turning the openings (and often closings) of the shows into joyful gatherings that packed the small but spirited space with artists, musicians, patrons, and neighborhood residents of all ages.

Her family’s connection to the community is plainly evident in the fact that she grew up blocks away from the gallery and still has a residence in the area, while her father uses a room on the second floor of the 53 Cannon house as his studio. Currie is also the program director of the Charleston Artists Guild, and she’s been working with CAG president Cisco Lindsey to make the group more of a service to the arts community – “moving it from a group of Sunday painters into a vital support group.”

McCullough hopes to see the Cannonborough area become more of a hub for Charleston art events, mentioning that a yet-to-be-named theatre company has expressed interest in moving into a warehouse nearby, and the prospect of some type of collaborative effort on behalf of the borough’s galleries, stores, and other unique establishments. It looks like all it’ll take to make that happen is someone trying to tell her she can’t do it. –Sara Miller