Emerging Voices



Ten years is a significant period of time by any measure, and in the art world notably so. Established in 1999, J Costello Gallery celebrates 10 years this month in its location at Red Fish restaurant on Hilton Head Island.

The gallery was previously in the Seacrest Building on the south end of the island, before moving to its current spot in 2010.

ART SCENE3Periods of time reflect changing themes in art and the way we view things, and that can certainly be said for two new artists at J Costello Gallery.

Atlanta-based artist Tracy Murrell’s “On Their Wings We Will Fly” focuses on the themes of identity, migration, and displacement in the human narrative.  She explores the use of silhouettes by recontextualizing images from popular culture to use as entry points for deeper conversations on gender, race, and the perceptions of beauty.

“My attraction to artists is the story they tell,” said Judith Costello, owner-curator of J Costello Gallery. “With Tracy, her story is so powerful — an emerging voice that is relevant to the times. Her work on refugees is palpably pertinent. She was doing this long before COVID, but now, we all feel this place of displacement.”

Looking back, Costello says her relationship to art is about the influences which first shaped her. She was exposed to the worlds of opera and jazz, photography and social statements, by the nuns who taught in her high school.

“Sister Carmella introduced her students to ‘Living a Poetic Life.’ She saw beauty in everything,” Costello said. “We learned to view things compositionally. That influenced the way I saw things, long before studying art history at SCAD.”


When she first met the artists who would form the beginning of the gallery, Costello said she was drawn to their stories — Gullah artist Joseph Pinckney, and New York artist Daniel E. Smith, who will be showing in the gallery in November.

What began as personal collecting led to private shows, bridging relationships with artists and collectors, she said.

“Today I do the same, in the space of my gallery walls at J Costello Gallery,” Costello said. “What I’m looking for are three things: an interesting story, a compelling medium, and quality of craftsmanship.”

Joseph Patrick Arnegger undoubtedly has all three. In the gallery now, Arnegger’s work is composed in layers of nostalgic image and color.


His large-scale “clouds on her shoulders, her love was fathoms below,” is an under-the-sea love story, creative on all levels. This, combined with his set of icons, patinas and deliberate mark making, creates images that are unconventionally beautiful yet deeply moving. 

“Art is more in the narrative these days, and it always has been for me,” said Costello.  “Joseph’s medium is a story in itself, and every piece is like poetry.”

To learn more about the work at the gallery, visit www.jcostellogallery.com.