Arts Council Exhibits

Local Artist Sheryl Stalnaker leads Plein Air Workshop

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Saturday brought a flurry of artistic energy as local artist Sheryl Stalnaker led her students and interested residents in a plein air painting class.
Stalnaker, who displays her work at The Martin Gallery, first came to Dewees Island a few years ago for a tour with a church group.

Sheryl’s first visit to Dewees in 2014. She says, “I  first visited Dewees as part of a women’s outing with St. Andrews Church. It was a gray, drizzly day, but we all had a fantastic time and enjoyed the peacefulness of the island. I returned with my family and another family for spring break that same year in 2014. I took my painting supplies on that trip and got up early several mornings and went out to paint on location. “

As she says in her artists statement on her website, she is drawn to wild places.

“My landscape paintings are inspired by the unspoiled places, which can be hard to find. I am mesmerized by interesting cloud formations, the light hitting a wave, or colors reflecting. I immerse myself in the landscape, gathering artistic inspiration while boating to remote areas, kayaking, surfing, or hiking in the mountains. I strive to pull the viewer into  participation with the scene, such as feeling the tranquility of a still morning or the rolling of waves in the sea. My still life and other low country scenes incorporate texture and light to make the paintings have energy and visual  interest.” 

There is a Dr. Seuss quote I like from his book Oh The Places You’ll Go that says, “It’s opener there in the wide open air.” That is the feeling I had on Dewees. I knew it would be a great place to hold an outdoor painting workshop with the added adventure of taking the ferry to the island and driving around in golf carts! There are fewer and fewer unspoiled landscapes in this area. 

So on Saturday morning, some of her regular students joined our artists group for some instruction in painting outside. Topics covered included how to gather reference material on location, how to simplify and zero in on a painting subject en plein air, and how to capture the essence of a scene quickly before the light changes or the rain moves in.

Island artist Kathy Warren lauded it as one of the best Plein air workshops she ever attended, and many others were equally enthusiastic in their praise.

Mother/daughter group Ann Sweeney and Sonya Demmler from Columbia were enjoying their first visit to Dewees, as were Chris Richardson from Sullivans Island and April Auerbach from the Isle of Palms.  Emily Painter, a senior in high school who is a home schooling student of Sheryl’s, enjoyed “Dewees’ pretty scenery”.

Susan Mashman, another island resident who had had her own art shows on Dewees, called the workshop “really inspiring. I’ve never worked in oils, and I am excited to try a new medium.” Esther Piazza Doyle, an island resident who exhibits both on Dewees and galleries in NC and Charleston’s Spencer Gallery, also had a great day outside.

As you can see, they had a perfect day for it:

The Dewees Island Arts council provides a wide variety of art shows, classes and field trips. We’re looking forward to more from this artist.

Our family stayed on Dewees the night before the Saturday workshop. We took the golf cart out towards Capers Inlet near sundown during a full moon high tide. I took the most wonderful photos of the landscape. Stay tuned for more paintings of Dewees!(to learn more about Sheryl, check out her website.)

Birds and Birding

Dewees Island of International Significance to Shorebirds

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International Recognition

Here on Dewees Island, we are working to preserve and maintain habitat for nesting, feeding, and resting shorebirds, and our efforts have gained us inclusion in the Cape Romain region site of hemispheric significance with WHSRN.  (Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network). It is a site of international significance because the entire region hosts more than 10% of the flyway population of American Oystercatchers and Short-billed Dowitchers. This week is the official start of the celebration.

The current Cape Romain Region has been extended to include all coastal lands from Dewees Inlet north though Yawkey Island Reserve into the Winyah Bay. The new site name for this expanded region (including Dewees Island and Big Hill Island) is the Cape Romain – Santee Delta Region. This region includes a total area of 119,440 acres. A map of the region is below.

This region is comprised of ownership of Federal – Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, State – Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area, Santee- Delta Wildlife Management Area, Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center Heritage Preserve, North Santee Bar, Capers Island Heritage Preserve and Private – Dewees Island and Big Hill Island.

Cape Romain shorebirds resting along a dock on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

In late February, South Carolina Audubon sponsored a trip to Panama, where we had a chance to see another WHSRN site with tens of thousands of wintering birds.  Many of our birds winter in the tropics and nest in the Arctic, using Dewees as a valuable stopover along the way.

Celebrations this Week

There are a number of celebrations this week, in conjunction with DNR, and Cape Romain, and WHSRN.  On Wednesday night, we’ll be hosting that celebration here on Dewees Island.

Please join us on Wednesday at 4:30 for a social, with a presentation from 5-6 on the History of the Coast Presentation and WHSRN Dedication, with more social activities to follow.  RSVP here.

How Dewees Island supports Shorebirds

It’s part of our community culture of respecting the environment and creating habitat for birds AND people.  We provide habitat and protection for resting, feeding, and nesting birds. For more information on identification of our birds, click here.

  • Restoring water control structures in Lake Timicau. The new management plan will manipulate water levels for the benefit of spring and fall migrating shorebirds. The Lake Timicau Restoration Project is a joint effort of the Dewees Island Conservancy, the Dewees POA, Ducks Unlimited, and USFW. (NAWCA~ North American Wetlands Conservation Act.)
  • Closing beach areas near nesting sites of Wilson’s plovers and least terns to prevent intrusion by people.
  • Placing shorebird nesting education signs on beach access paths.
  • Participating in Audubon’s Shorebird Steward program to educate island residents and visitors regarding nesting sites, dog management and bird loafing areas
  • Maintaining limits on public safety use of beach vehicles on front beach during shorebird and seabird nesting periods.

Big Hill Island

Big Hill Island is a 175 acre island of Spartina alterniflora and shell rake edge bordering the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. It supports nesting American oystercatchers and fall, winter, and spring roosting shorebird flocks often numbering in the 100s. Management is primarily to close the shell rake area to human disturbance during the nesting season.

Here is the whole announcement from SCDNR.


Isle of Palms Farmers Market

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For the first time ever, Isle of Palms has their very own farmers market, located at the county park on Thursday’s from 4-7 through the end of October. Since I started reading about this (and hearing about the variety of vendors!) I couldn’t wait to check out the IOP farmers market. This past Thursday, after the boys and I decided to have a delicious dinner at the 450 Pizza Joint followed by their fantastic homemade ice cream, we figured we would do a walk through to get a feel for what the market offers.

First things first, there is an option for free parking. So if you don’t want to spend $10 per vehicle, you can pull into the municipal parking lot and quickly walk right over. It took us less than 5 minutes and we got to glimpse a good size kids park with lots of slides and swings that we will spend some more time at on our next visit. We got there about 5 pm and it was not very crowded (it was also about 90 degrees, so that might explain the lack of people!)

 IOP farmers market

There were a few stands that had some great looking fruits and vegetables, a couple of local food trucks, and even a grocery store on a bus!


We also saw a few vendors selling meat and seafood and one that only sold popcorn (Cole’s favorite food!)

Ian and Cole thought this was the coolest part of the “carnival” and went through the school bus several times thinking it was a game. Thankfully, the people who worked there were extremely pleasant and sweet about it!

We definitely can’t wait to go back again and bring some of the local goods back to Dewees!

Editor’s note: Welcome Alicia Reilly to the blog writing team.  When she said she was headed over to check out the IOP farmers market, I thought I would get her to write up her experiences here.  Interested in being a guest blogger or reviewer?  Shoot me a quick email/



New Dewees Island App is ready for Download

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We are excited to announce the roll out of the Dewees Island app.  We’re still adding things every week, but it is ready for download on both IOS and Android devices. The app should replace the old texting system to stay up on events, as well as provide helpful information for you and your guests while on the island: things like weather, a field guide, tide information, the ferry and emergency phone numbers, etc.  Now, if you have a guest coming, you can have them download the app, and they will have handy information (like the ferry schedule and phone numbers, tides, fishing tips, etc.) right at their fintertips.

Dewees Island App screenshot


To download on your device, just click the button on the bottom.

We have a few options we haven’t enacted yet. For example, you don’t currently have to register. We may add registration in the future, because that lets you opt in (and out) of specific types of notifications, like real estate listings or calendar events, orientation for renters, or a field guide to the birds. Is registration an unwanted hassle? Or would you rather be able to specify content just for you? We are eager to hear from you.

And we’d like to know how you think it could be improved~ what needs to be added? Are there some features you would rather see on the main screen?

Our vision is that you’ll use the Dewees Island app to find out what you need to know while on the island, and you’ll share it with guests, especially if you’re sending them to Dewees unaccompanied.

Island Living

Holiday Photos

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We get a lot of questions about the holidays on the island: Is it too cold to play outside ?(no) How would someone get a Christmas tree out there? (by boat) Is it crowded? (yes, by Dewees winter standards, which means you’ll have fun running into a few neighbors on the beach or soccer field).  Is there anything to celebrate New Years eve with? (yes, and more yes: from fireworks on tv to chili cook-offs to oceanfront porch dancing; it’s hard to keep up.)  In the past, we’ve had polar bear plunges and oyster roasts, simple trees and hefty ones, foggy days and snowy ones and tropically warm ones, as well as gorgeous sunsets and sunrises.

This year’s contributed photos involved card games and treasure hunts, frisbee golf, new drones, holiday decorations, new hammocks and new friends, big fishing moments and little ones, oyster roasts, beach yoga and sunrise mochas, great sweaters, and the fun and relaxation that comes with simple times with friends and family.

dewees island holiday

dewees island holiday

dewees island holiday oyster roast

dewees island holiday decoration


dewees island holiday yoga


dewees island holiday party


The good weather was a far cry from 5 years ago:

Dewees Island Snowfall from Judy Drew Fairchild on Vimeo.

Island Living

Sweets for the Staff

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Last Tuesday some island residents got together to prepare boxes of cookies for our beloved helpers here on Dewees.


After a night of baking, we had made a variety of 40 dozen cookies ranging from pecan pralines to chocolate pretzels.

The boxes were decorated to the nines (thanks to the island kids) and arrays of sugary goodies were all lined up like little toy soldiers ready for battle.

We all gathered around the Jakes’ dining room table to assemble the boxes.

When they were filled to the brim we packed them up and delivered to the ferry office and to public works.

Joyous grins filled the faces of the people we love and lean on everyday when they received the holiday goodies.




Island Living

Holiday Decorating Inspired by Nature

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Holiday decorating

deck the hallsThe holiday decorations are up around the island, and the tree in the Huyler House is decorated for all to enjoy.  This year’s design, envisioned by Jane Savage and executed by the ladies of the round table with Emily Fairchild, features a tree full of origami birds.  Jane was inspired by the way our vegetation is often literally covered in birds, especially around Huyler House Pond.  White birds like great egrets, snowy egrets, wood storks, little blue herons, night herons and more roost on that pond in the evenings, and often flock for feeding in other areas.

Emily researched different origami patterns and came to Ladies Roundtable to teach us how to fold them.

The staff helped us find and install a tree, and Barbara McIntyre took care of getting it set up in the corner with lights.  Then Emily, Barbara, and Jane put all of the origami birds on:

It really does look like the trees around Huyler House pond.  When the door opens, the birds rustle around, just like they do in real life on the pond.  With appreciation for all the roundtable helpers!  Below are photos of vistas that contributed to Jane’s inspiration.




Click here to see how Dewees residents have gotten trees home in years past.  And here for last year’s wreath descriptions.

Island Living

Decking the Halls with a Native Plant Wreath

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native plant wreath
Dewees Island Ferry Dock wreaths

The ferry dock was sporting these gorgeous wreaths this week.  I went for a closer look, and discovered this native plant wreath, a lovely mix of Spanish Moss, Yaupon, American Holly, Eastern Red Cedar, and grapevine.  I asked Catherine, the island administrator, who was responsible, and she gave Lori the credit for the idea but said they had a great day of arts and crafts on Friday.  Here in the coastal South, we don’t have fir trees growing naturally (the one in my living room came from North Carolina) but we have Eastern Red Cedar, which often grows in the traditional Christmas tree shape.

Lori and Catherine were generous enough to demonstrate for me, so I went over to have them teach me.  Lori says the hardest part is gathering the materials.  All of these plants are native to Dewees Island, so I went out to find some.  Then she showed me how to weave a grapevine wreath, and put the wreath together:

Lori and Catherine working on wreaths
Lori also has this to share about the plants used in this project: for even more information, click the photos:



Vitis sp. – Grape
Image-1 (2)

Fruit food source for white-tailed deer, raccoon and birds such as northern cardinal, northern mocking bird and cedar waxwing.  -+Grape leaves forage for White-tailed deer.


Tillandsia usneoides – Spanish Moss

spanish moss

Provides cover for wildlife such as bats, spiders, snakes and birds.  Birds will use Spanish Moss to build or conceal their nests and some species will make their nests in the actual hanging clumps of moss.  Larger birds such as egrets will use Spanish Moss for nest bedding.


Ilex opaca & I. vomitoria – American Holly & Yaupon Holly

Image-1 (1)

Fruits consumed by Cedar Waxwings, Brown Thrasher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird and Blue Jays as well as Raccoons.  Since the fruits persist on the plants into the winter they are an important winter food source for songbirds.  Ilex opaca fruits are consumed by White-tailed deer.  The dense foliage provides cover and nesting habitat for songbirds.



Juniperus virginiana – Eastern Red Cedar

red cedar

Provides nesting material and cover.  Fruit consumed by songbirds such as cedar waxwing and small mammals such as rabbit and raccoons.  Dense thickets provide cover for deer.  Eastern Red Cedar trees help protect soils from wind erosion.




Forest Plants of the Southeast and their wildlife uses by James H. Miller & Karl V. Miller

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center,


Birds and Birding

How to use ebird to learn what birds you might see on Dewees

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ebird Dewees Island yellow warbler
Yellow Warbler

It’s migration season, and there are wonderful birds passing through.  If you’ve ever wondered what you might expect to see, you can use ebird as a great resource.  In fact, you can even use it to find out when the birds you MOST want to see will be on the island.

Northern Gannet in Charleston Harbor

Here’s how to use ebird to find out about a particular species:

Ebird is an incredible database out of Cornell University.  Anyone can use it without being a member, although there are some benefits that make membership worth it.  Suppose you were fascinated by Northern Gannets, who migrate through the area in winter and spring, and you wanted to time a visit to see them.  You could use ebird to help you plan when to come to the island.  Here’s how:

Start by going to  Click on explore data.

how to use ebird

Then, select species maps:How to use ebird

Then enter the species name that you’re interested in:

How to use ebird enter species name

Use the zoom tool to focus on where you’re traveling:

ebird 4

Keep zooming until you can see buttons where people have entered data.

ebird 5

Click the buttons for detailed lists:

ebird 6

While you are exploring ebird, you can find some other amazing resources, from interactive maps to migration “forecasts” to rare species.  If you decide you’d like to enter data on ebird, every piece of information helps us track and understand birds– from migration patterns, to climate effects, to species in peril.  Reach out if you need some help!  You can also click here for an weekly record of specific sightings on the island:



Summer Activities: Use our texting system for program alerts

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Creatures of the Dock, photo Laura HeinzOur summer schedule is well under way, with lots of great activities planned. Want to get a text to remind you of what’s going on? Or receive an alert when a turtle nest is discovered? We’re using send-hub again to send you program alerts of fun stuff going on. To enroll, text this number: 843-588-5508 with the word deweesfun (no caps, no spaces) and you’re automatically enrolled.  When you go home and don’t want to hear from us, simply text unsub deweesfun to the same number, 843-588-5508.

Would you rather subscribe to the calendar (or do both?)  Check out the last post, How to subscribe to the Dewees Calendar, or simply follow the calendar by clicking the activities tab you see at the top of this screen.