At any given time in Charlotte there is always some interesting art event happening. Many of the areas in which these events happen are pockets of transformation, often a metamorphosis stemming from the early vision and work of artists. South End is yet another example of this phenomenon. Some years ago, the only art found on Camden Road was the Charlotte Art League. It still occupies the large building with studios and exhibition space in a great location, minutes from Uptown Charlotte. Here is one of many places in South End to enjoy the art of Charlotte’s local talent pool and maybe discover a hidden up-and-coming name, too. Do not miss the mosaic gallery called Ciel Gallery next door.
Over the years, other businesses, restaurants and galleries opened (some are still around). Sometimes there is music at night or farmer’s market-type venues by day. There are two iconic businesses in South End: One is the infamous Price’s Chicken Coop (for awesome fried chicken), and the other is the quintessential funky Common Market, whose motto is: “A modern twist on the general stores of our past.”
You can get to South End by Tryon Street, South Boulevard or even light rail. It’s hard to miss the artsy Camden Road area because of all the public art. There are mosaics installed in both the Lynx line station and on the Charlotte Art League building. A newcomer to the public art scene in South End is a large mural by artist Carlleena Person. Charlotte Art League knew her work, as she’s been a member for a few years. It commissioned her to create a new painting on the parking lot wall.
People seem to like big art in Charlotte, and Person’s style marries street art and fine art, as well as adding to the culture of our city. This new mural has a huge visual impact to anyone passing by. Folks actually leave their light rail ride to take a closer look. Another great thing about Person is her love for people and her concern with youth and art education. Over the past several Sundays, she’s been out painting, encouraging public interaction. Person even graciously invites others — especially kids — to add some paint to the mural.
What is fascinating about her process is she did not do any preliminary work for this. Instead, she went right up the white wall and began with black lines. (This mural was inspired by a particular painting of hers, so there was a starting point.) Being involved with the Charlotte Art League gives Person opportunities and exposure. Her outdoor mural offers engagement with people who will visit South End and, hopefully, come again.
When asked about transformation, she shares a favorite quote by Napoleon Hill. “First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” This sums up the neighborhood transitions taking place all over Charlotte, beginning with a handful of artists with a dream.
First Fridays are all about festive art receptions, and these are some shows to check out in South End on Friday, June 3. (Most openings run 6 to 9 p.m., but check with venue website for specifics.) Charlotte Art League will host “Black & White.” Around the corner, The Charlotte Artery will have its closing reception for “TransFUSION.” And, off South Boulevard, check out the Lark & Key show “Second Nature: Works by Susan Hall, Duy Huynh, Angie Renfro & Dawn Rentz.” Finally, on West Morehead, Gil Gallery will present a selected group of Latino artists as part of “Con A de Arte”(A is for Art), an annual celebration that showcases the Hispanic arts and culture in Charlotte. If punk music is your thing, check out Tremont Music Hall a few blocks away.
A is for Art, and art is good for our city.