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

Meet Mary Helen Dantzler

Mary Helen Dantzler was born and raised in Charleston, but “foolishly went off in younger years searching for greener pastures,” she said. Like Dorothy, though, she realized that there was no place like home. Mary Helen, one of the Trouche family members who grew up on Legare Street, has been back for about 25 years.

There’s no way to sum up what she loves most about Charleston in one phrase. First of all, it’s her home and where all of her siblings are — four brothers and a sister, all with “big loud families,” she said. Mary Helen and her sister, Theresa Smythe, have a tour business together. That alone would be enough, but add to that a beautiful city, the sun and sand, marsh and water, friendly people, the list is endless.

What she would change about Charleston is the growth, the traffic and the dying out of true Southern charm.

As is the case with many others, Mary Helen is afraid that in five to 10 years Charleston will mostly be unrecognizable from the small town she once knew. We will have killed the proverbial goose that laid the golden egg.

The portrait experience was unlike any of the others, which she can guarantee. Our governor had just ordered the evacuation for Hurricane Matthew and Johanna was trying her best to paint while wondering how she would get out of town. She managed to hold it together, though! What an incredible artist!

Mercury newspapers can be found at the following locations:


Buxton Books

Caviar & Bananas

The Meeting Street Inn (Rack)

Clair's Service Station, Folly Rd. (Rack)

Harris Teeter, Houston-Northcutt Blvd. (Rack)

Mt. Pleasant Library, Mathis Ferry Rd. (Rack)

Pitt St. Pharmacy

The Square Onion, I'On (Rack)