In searching Charlotte for local art, I soon realized that knowing where to look was just as important as knowing what I was looking for.
I found my answer at Dilworth Artisan Station, a building dedicated to providing space for working artists.
The only remaining question was just what particular style was best for our home.
The building’s owners, Dick and Bob Fuller, have found the highest calling for their 1909 factory building on East Kingston where the street dead-ends into the light rail off South Boulevard.
This old factory is now home to about 25 artists, and other creative folks, who breathe life into the building’s three stories of studios with their tall ceilings and old and creaky hardwood factory worn floors. The community paints, sculpts, and creates everyday with exotic smells that invited me to pull up a stool and join in.
Just as with all good communities, this one has plenty of diversity. Walking the gallery style halls, with the doors opening on the many working artists at their easels, I found abstracts, landscapes, figurative and portrait painters. They joined the printmakers, Pilates studios, marketers, architects and photographers in creating a wonderful mix for me to find anything I wanted or could imagine.
Diversity is never without challenge, however, and that is where Paul Hastings, aka Da Mayor, joins the conversation. I asked Paul how he got his interesting title and the answer was simple:
“Somebody needed to pull this group together. If creative people have anything, it’s opinions. We have meetings from time to time. Lots of different points of view are expressed, but after all of the discussion I try to summarize and ask for volunteers to help with different jobs. The hands shoot up and we all go to work.
That’s especially true, Paul says, in the station’s two big open houses on the first Friday in December and in May (yes, there is one this Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.). They can draw as many as 600 visitors for food and drink, and to mingle with Charlotte artists.
Want to join in?
If you and your family would like to try your hand you can don a smock, pick up a brush and get creative. Many of the artists offer group and private classes at scheduled times.
By all means, like and share the Dilworth Artisan Station Facebook page, or visit their website, so you can keep current and meet the artists who make this wonderful community such a vital part of the fabric of South End Charlotte.
It is nice when the rare older buildings in Charlotte can find a better life. Recycling is good, reusing is better and the best of all is up-cycling into a higher calling. That is what Dick and Bob Fuller have done with the Dilworth Artisan Station. The building has been up-cycled by the very art it houses.
Can you tell us of other Charlotte buildings that are now enjoying a higher calling? Do we tear down too many?
Why is a strong artist community important for any city?
Where is your favorite gallery crawl? Name your favorite Charlotte artist.
As always, the conversation starts here.
Main image by Jeff Cravotta