Interview: Traci Higginbotham

How long have you been living in Charleston, and why did you decide to settle in this city?
Well I have never actually lived in the city, but I have worked in Charleston for the past 7 years. I am an artist as well as the gallery manager of the Art Emporium and have a painting studio in Charleston so I hope to move into the city soon.

How do you find the general vibe of Charleston?
Charleston is an old city that is being revived. More business are coming back downtown. The people are friendly and enthusiastic about the changes that are taking place.

Which season is Charleston at its best?
As far as the beauty of the city, I could not choose. The city is nestled in the valley surround by our beautiful mountains in West Virginia. The color of the leaves in autumn, the snow covered trees of winter, and the luscious greens of spring and summer are all beautiful. But honestly I believe Charleston thrives in the summer with all of the activities. There are the Live on the Levee concerts every Friday, West Virginia Power Park Baseball Games, Regatta, and Festivall.

What do you think is Charleston’s biggest attraction?
Working retail downtown I get to meet a lot of visitors to the city and they all say the same thing. “Your state capitol is beautiful!. I agree, It is amazing. Not to mention that our city lies along the Kanawha River.

How would you describe Charleston to someone who hasn’t been here before?
Charleston is a small, quaint, clean, and friendly city. Most attractions are within walking distance to the city’s hotels. There are attractions which include a large shopping center in the heart of downtown. Charleston is an easy city to navigate, no traffic and ample and inexpensive parking compared to larger cities. I would tell anyone to take the time and walk downtown. Take the time to visit the local shops, meet the owners, and enjoy the architecture and beauty in our city.

What are your top 5 dining places in Charleston?
My favorites would be Fazio’s, Soho’s, Blossom Dairy, and Ellen’s Ice Cream, all of which are locally owned. My final favorite would be the Longhorn, which is a larger chain restaurant, but I have never had a bad meal there.

What are Charleston’s attractions that every tourists must visit?
I would encourage everyone to visit our state capitol, the Cultural Center, the Clay Center, and the downtown shops and galleries.

What are the absolute must-try’s for every visitor in Charleston?
I would encourage everyone to attend Mountain Stage, a West Virginia Power baseball game, and a performance at the Clay Center. Also, visit Taylor Books, and of course the Art Emporium
9. What are the cheap thrills that you can enjoy in Charleston? Well being an artist myself and a gallery manager I would say the best cheap thrill is the monthly Artwalk. On the 3rd Thursday of each month all of the downtown galleries open in the evening with exhibits by local artists and FREE refreshments. It is a great way to see the city, and meet the locals.

Though a native of Hurricane, WV, Traci Higginbotham has been working in Charleston for several years as the manager of Art Emporium, a gallery in Quarrier Street at the heart of downtown Charleston. She has attended Winfield High School, and went on to graduate from the University of Charleston with a bachelors degree in Arts Administration and Interior Design. Traci showcases her works at her website, TheColorfulArtist.com