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Charleston’s local art scene was buzzing with anticipation last week for Society 1858’s Flirting with Art event, and the risqué event did not disappoint. The Gibbes Museum of Art was packed with a young, hip crowd of art aficionados, fashionistas, and the who’s-who of Charleston, and the entire building seemed to pulse with energy.

Partygoers noshed on bites of yellowtail with chili, garlic and cilantro or rustic bread topped with tomato confit, basil pesto, and parmesan from the Woodlands Inn while sipping red and white wine and rubbing elbows before being ushered into the main gallery space, where a long runway stretched across the room. Everyone happily vied for position around the runway while Gibbes Executive Director and Chief Curator Angela Mack welcomed the masses and introduced Charleston magazine style editor Ayoka Lucas, the emcee for the night’s runway show.

The Flirting with Art show featured some of Charleston’s most esteemed local artists, including Charles Ailstock, Sally King Benedict, Lese Corrigan, Nathan Durfee, Linda Fantuzzo, Kat Hastie, Tim Hussey, Leslie Pratt-Thomas, Lynne Riding, Kristi Ryba, Andrew Smock, and Mary Walker. Each artist was paired with a model who would become their “living canvas” as the artists interpreted their Gibbes’ work of choice directly on the models’ skin. Modesty was preserved in the form of strapless bras and nude underwear, but the resulting works of art were striking and edgy nonetheless. Catcalls erupted as each model took to the runway, and a finale walk of artists and models drew thunderous applause.

While the models lingered on the runway to allow guests to view the work in detail, they soon scurried off to join the party... in real clothes. “I haven’t peed or been able to put my arms down for three hours!” one model laughed as she made a dash for the ladies’ room. The night’s energy was infectious, and models, artists and partygoers were caught up in a fabulous after-show party that lasted well into the night.

Society 1858 is the Gibbes Museum of Art’s group of dynamic young professionals, whose mission is to promote and support the museum with social and educational programs for up-and-coming art patrons.

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