Charleston Women Summer 2024

13 | | the historic book now known as “Picturesque America.” Though shot and centered around the Charleston-area, this journey began at a serendipitous meeting during a retreat in the Catskill Mountains. It was there that the producers introduced a man they’d stumbled upon with a strange book in hand at an Asheville, North Carolina art festival to a woman whose passion is discovery. Michelen said, “I was told about this painter (Scott “Doc” Varn, would-be co-host of the show) who used an antique book to find the exact vantage point of where a painter stood 150 years ago and being a lover of art and history, I thought it was a very intriguing way to see my old stomping ground (in upstate New York where I grew up). When I was shown where we’d be heading on the trail, I had seen that vantage point before, but it wasn’t until I stood in the exact location with the image pulled out that I saw something that I had seen dozens of times before — since childhood — in a new light. I still get chills telling the story and since that moment, I was hooked. It’s changed the way I travel and bridge history and art.” It was this moment that fate was sealed. Michelen had to be involved with what creators and executive producers, Alicia Albee and Devon Chivvis of World Life Production were cooking up, as a host alongside Varn. ENTER CHARLESTON Parts of the new show were shot in Hot Springs, North Carolina, but with a bulk of it centering on the Charleston area. The Lowcountry beat out hosts of locations highlighted in the original manuscript, showing itself as the perfect part of the 1800s quest to highlight on screen. To that, Michelen offered, “Since the book, ‘Picturesque America’ has nearly 1,000 locations in the U.S., they (Albee and Chivvis of World Life Production) developed the story that encapsulated the book — beautiful nature and historic cities. Charleston offers beautiful nature, a historic port city and a wonderfully represented aspect of the book.” This means that Charleston stepped up to the plate to represent everything the antique book aimed to accomplish for all of America. It is a tall order, but everyone in Charleston knows that if any city can do it, it’s the Holy City. In tow with Charleston’s setting comes an intriguing cast of characters including, known crabber and clean-water proponent Tia Clark, Gullah Geechee chef Amethyst Ganaway, aerial photographer and artist Mary Edna Fraser, Gullah Geechee artist Jonathan Green and fifth-generation famed sweetgrass basket weaver Lynette Youson. Youson’s work has even Feature Michelen and Varn getting some local feedback downtown. Amethyst Ganaway prepares a meal at the Mills House downtown.