My Season in Charleston
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My Season in Charleston

As a gift to all the artists here in Charleston who have inspired me so much during my creative sojourn by the sea, I wanted to unveil a new painting and poem today, dedicated to each of you.  Your voices and instruments are literally brushed onto the canvas of this painting, because as many of you know, I listen to each of you while I work in my studio, and I know beyond any doubt that your artistic expression so generously has influenced mine.  Thank you all for embracing me into this rich, vibrant, and so very talented community.  I know I may dab at it here and there as it continues to dry, but the essence of what I wanted to capture I believe is on the canvas, so I have signed it, and want to go ahead and reveal it in time for my good friends in Ranky Tanky to see before they WIN their first Grammy for Best Regional Roots Album this afternoon.  Charlton Singleton, you are as kind as you are talented, and my prayers are with you all today!  May this small gesture of love and support from back home give you peace and strength as your dreams are finally realized.  And to all of my friends and colleagues in the arts community here in Charleston, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you and will never forget you.

Thank you for helping me bloom…

Much love and gratitude always,


My Season in Charleston – Original Oil by Rina Lucas

My Season in Charleston – Poem by Rina Lucas

In the warm, rich soil of Charleston 

You can grow 

But you must first allow yourself to be planted

And that can be painful

Seemingly alone in the dark

Saturated in all the history of this place

And not all of it good

Decaying bodies killed on the battlefield

Wrung out on plantations

As well as lynched in the streets 

All nourish this complex garden

And their voices cry out in sacred song

You can hear it as your seed begins to pop open

And you cannot help but put down roots

So you can soak in those haunting melodies

That permeate this paradise nearly lost

As your tiny stalk begins to lengthen

You reach desperately for the light you know is

Just beyond the surface of the soil

And as your vibrant green shoots burst forth

Into the world above


Your leaves and lungs gasp

To inhale the briny, humid air

Those songs are circulating all around you now

Wafting on the breeze

The prayers and poems of a great people

Are woven in the sweet grasses gathered 

From the marshes close to where you stand

They so generously give of their music

They invite you to sing along

Weeping and wailing from a time not long ago

Washes over you

But it has been transformed into  

Proud, jubilant songs of victory

Mourning turns into dancing in the velvety Voices 

Of the Lowcountry…


Nate leads them

Mrs. Sandy lifts them

Lowcountry Voices offer songs of old in a kaleidoscope of color

Bringing together brothers and sisters in every hue

On a world stage Ranky Tanky fights for a Freedom not yet won

Charlton like Gabriel blows his horn

Showing the way

While Quiana sings her truth from deep in her soul 

Marcus writes his 

And his poems powerfully persuade you to listen 

The Mayor’s music matches the rhythm 

Quentin proudly plays

Quadre, Alvin, and Jonathan paint what has been

What is, and what will be

Arshak composes art that can be heard

While Rina brushes his songs onto her canvas

And sings along in harmony

Earth Angels are by her side

As John’s love helps steady her

And Ariel and Eli stand guard

Dr. Jill gives voice to those who will learn

And covers her protégés with prayer

Singing over them with gladness

Teaching them to do the same

While Robert’s saxophone serenades with The In-Between

And Rodney’s pipes fill the sanctuary with sound

Katie’s Opera is anything but Small

And Sam, the Soulful One, truly touches all

Deborah shines her Spot Light on Mother Emmanuel

As her dancers dance and her chanters chant

Their musical prayers reach Heaven

Rabbi whispers “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh”

The AME Choir sings high

On Mt. Zion

Dr. Kylon preaches Peace…

Be still

Alphonso caresses the keys

While also lifting his voice,

His hands, and his heart

And the Symphony accompanies him 

Ken and Yuriy and David help conduct this song 

We all hear

While living and learning and growing

Here in Charleston 

It’s a tune tied to triumph over tedious toil

That began with division, hate, and injustice

But is being resolved

Person by person

Heart by heart

Spirit by spirit

Into a unified, fully resonate chord


This song

Steeped in centuries 

Swirls around me 

As my branches reach 

Ever upward towards the sun

My leaves and flowers have unfurled

During this season in Charleston

Into a familiar fragrance

I will never forget.