The Face of Charleston with Johanna Spinks
By Katharine Mengedoht
Painted by international artist Johanna Spinks, this series is entitled the Face of Charleston; Charlestonian Katherine Mengedoht is the co-creator. The purpose of this public art project is to highlight our city by offering the portrait and story of one individual per month. Each portrait is painted in a single two-hour sitting with no further adjustments or changes. Johanna, Katherine and the subject get to know each other during the sitting and the life story of the sitter is gleaned from their time together. This is award-winning portraitist Johanna Spinks’ third installment of “The Face of …” project. To find out more, go to www.johannaspinks.com.
Mariana Hay (lovingly known as Mini) is youngest daughter of Mariana and David Hay and a member of the fourth generation to work in the family jewelry and gift business, Croghan’s Jewel Box. After graduating from Clemson, Mini headed to New York City to complete a summer internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the jewelry manufacturing department. Mini was horribly homesick the entire time. She always knew that Charleston would be home, so New York was just a quick stop. One day she called home and told her mother she was ready to come back and would like to start working at Croghan’s.
Mariana was caught off guard because Mini had always insisted she didn’t want to work at the store. Mini admitted she realized there were so many exciting and wonderful occasions that Croghan’s is a part of and she couldn’t bear to miss out on all of the joy with the customers. Of course Mariana was delighted to have her Mini come home and work at the store but also insisted that Mini would have to create her own line of jewelry.
What is your favorite thing about Charleston?
The best thing in Charleston according to Mini is the family home at 173 Broad St. It is the house her mother grew up in and the house Mini and her siblings grew up in while sharing it with her amazing grandmother. Mini declared that living with “Mama” was the best childhood one could imagine. She loved entertaining and seem to host some kind of cocktail event multiple times a week. Mini remembers coming home from school and as soon as she walked in the door, Mama would say “run upstairs and put on a cotillion dress, get the cheese straws, I am having people over and I need you to greet them and fix them drinks!”
Of course at the time, Mini and her sister, Kathleen, would dread these days but looking back now, they were the best of times. Mama taught us to open our house and to always be prepared with party food because you never knew when someone would show up. Broad Street is actually a pretty impractical house. The first floor is a series of living rooms that seem to always be set up for a party, so it is only natural that there seems to be one pretty regularly. Mini states that 173 Broad St. is the best place in town not because of the actual house but because of all of the special memories that so many generations of Charlestonians have shared there.
What would you change?
Mini declares that Charleston is perfect and there isn’t much she would change. If she could fix one thing, it would our transportation and parking issues.
How was your experience with Johanna?
Mini said she had never been painted before so she didn’t know what to expect. Mini stated, “I was amazed at the painting Johanna created in such a short amount of time. I love it and loved my sitting with her. She is such an incredible artist.”
A special thanks for hospitality for Johanna Spinks graciously provided by Palas Hospitality.