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Inspiring Conversations with Julie Cooke of Sandpiper Gallery & Dare Gallery

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Cooke. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Dare Gallery on Charleston’s historic Broad Street and for over 20 years sister gallery, Sandpiper Gallery on Sullivan’s Island have become renowned for offering an eclectic collection of fine art in a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. There is a casual funky flair to Sullivan’s Island which is echoed in Sandpiper Gallery. Fine pieces of art are regularly carried away by happy barefooted clients on their bicycles or golf carts. Both galleries feature a large variety of work that will interest both the serious fine art collector as well as the fine craft enthusiast; from stunning paintings to special gifts from the Lowcountry – all presented in the kind of genuine welcoming atmosphere that is uniquely southern and will make you want to visit again. Gallery owner Julie Cooke opened both locations and entered the art world professionally after a career in engineering and product design.

She credits her years as an engineer with giving her the practical tools to run a business and her entrepreneurial grandfather for instilling the importance of treating customers with the same respect and kindness that you would a friend, but it was her mother that sparked and nurtured a passion to study, create and appreciate art and fine craft. This passion has remained strong within her throughout her life. “Every day I walk into these galleries, I am still amazed that I get to work in such a beautiful, awe-inspiring environment and support the work of fine artists and craftsmen from all over North America. Art is a crucial, delightful part of the human experience and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to bring it into so many people’s lives.” “I love what President Jimmy Carter had to say about it, “Craft, both historical and contemporary, is all around us.

Craft recognizes and communicates so much about what we are as a country. It is our identity and our legacy. Handmade objects are as important to our society as the writings of our historians, poets, and statesmen. They stand for individualism and the satisfaction that comes from making something with one’s own two hands.” Art and fine craft as well as the artists who create it wakens the creative spirit within each of us.”

Each gallery features an extensive variety of fine art including landscape, figurative, architectural & still life paintings plus exquisite pottery, photography, jewelry, and unique works in wood, glass & metal – all by some of the most sought-after artists in the low country and accomplished artists from across the nation. Many of the artists represented have a personal connection to Charleston and the coastal Carolinas and tend to include pieces that celebrate the colorful tapestry of the southern coastal culture. Visit these galleries to see crashing waves, lush and steamy marshes, still lifes of camellias & oyster shells, coastal wildlife, and sensitive yet powerful portraits of the south.

Over 30 painters are represented here including the abstract expressionism of Monique Carr and Judy McSween that hangs comfortably side by side with the impressionist work of Leslie Pratt-Thomas, Bruce Nellsmith, and Susan Hecht, the Plein air paintings of Andre Lucero & Jim Darlington, the colorist pastels of Tammy Papa and Susan Mayfield, the high realism landscapes of Douglas Grier, Silvia Belviso and Jeanne Rosier Smith and the figurative work of CM Cooper, Lori Mehta and others. Sometimes humorous, sometimes spiritual, and always beautiful. Dare Gallery will host a solo show of the work of Michael Cyra in October. “Mood Swings” will open on Oct. 7th and run through the end of October.

The work in this show will take you on a journey from bright and bold sun-drenched fields to calming tonal landscapes and nocturnal compositions; many featuring dramatic views of the water which are prominent in much of Cyra’s work. Cyra notes that “It is amazing how the simple act of viewing artwork can bring about an emotional response ranging from happiness to sadness, from anxiety to a sense of calm. Each new painting has an intended mood I want to convey, but I’m always fascinated by the first impression of the viewer.

I love hearing about the emotions that surface because of a particular color, or time of day, or a past memory as they explore the movement, rhythm, and gestural brushstrokes that captured their attention.” In November, the gallery will host a solo show of the atmospheric and richly textured paintings of Monique Carr.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We opened Sandpiper Gallery right after 9/11 on 9/15/2001. I was coming back from Lowe’s with paint to finish the baseboards that morning and heard it on the radio… and then family members started calling. On top of being horrified by the loss of lives from the attack on US soil, I thought what do we do now? Is this the right time or even appropriate to try and sell art? We had so many reservations about opening the gallery because it seemed so unimportant compared to what the country was experiencing.

What we found was that after we opened the doors- with a very soft opening – that every single person that came in thanked us for opening in spite of the sadness we all felt with this huge loss. Each expressed how glad they were to do something that felt normal and happy. They felt the importance of art maybe even more so in those bad times and enjoyed being in the midst of all of the creativity.

I think the same thing happened during the pandemic. Most of the people with the means to collect art will still be looking to collect; There were still birthdays and anniversaries to be celebrated and those that just enjoy art without purchasing still enjoy the experience of art.


  • The price range for every level of collector
  • From $10 – $15,000
  • Both new young collectors and experienced collectors

Contact Info:

Image Credits
George Randy Bass

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