As Charlotte grows, so does the reputation of her arts and culture sector. We have highlighted some of the people who showcase the creativity of our region, both through on-air reporting and our weekly arts and culture newsletter, Tapestry. Here are some of our favorite artistic and cultural stories from 2021.
DUPP & SWAT studio is a Charlotte haven for showcasing artists of color
There is a studio at the popular Camp North End in Charlotte that is open to everyone, but organized for artists of color. DUPP & SWAT certainly makes its mark on Charlotte, but WFAE’s Gracyn Doctor explained how the founder Davita Galloway also makes her own brand.
Murals. Frescoes everywhere
May marked a year since George Floyd was assassinated by a Minneapolis police officer, a murder that sparked a summer of protests and galvanized people across the country to demand an end to systemic racism. Nick of the WFAE Channel recorded on the Black Lives Matter mural which was painted on a street in the heart of downtown Charlotte during the 2020 protests – and hear some of the artists who worked there.
Although prominent, it is far from the only mural in Charlotte. The city is full of them. In January, WFAE’s Dashiell Coleman spoke with T’Afo Feimster and Abel Jackson, two artists who work on a mural in the historic west end of the city who graced the music legends of North Carolina. History has explained how public art can in some cases be a double-edged sword – both a way to add flourishing to a region and a possible harbinger of gentrification.
They can also bring life to an already overdeveloped area, such as the one that houses Charlotte’s Metropolitan Mall. In October, de la Canal visited the artists as they were installing thight murals in development as part of the Talking Walls Festival.
And, just like the Black Lives Matter mural, such art can be used to make a statement. Take Mike Wirth’s “The Promise,” which aimed to make viewers imagine the place of Charlotte’s homeless population. Sarah Delia of the WFAE reported how the work was inspired by the closed encampment since which became known as the tent city of Charlotte.
Durag Fest founder dreams of bigger celebration for celebration of black culture on June 15
The annual event that kicked off in 2018 celebrates black fashion and culture on June 10. It took place again this year, but the founders said it was difficult to find sponsors, even after so many companies committed to supporting black-owned businesses and creatives. WFAE’s Jodie Valade shared how artist Dammit Wesley and her event partner Lica Mishelle, dream of Durag Fest becoming like Charlotte’s version of Coachella.
This Charlotte artist created an “ofrenda on wheels” to celebrate the day of the dead
On November 1 and 2 of each year, Mexican families come together to celebrate the Day of the Dead by remembering their deceased loved ones. This year, a local Mexican artist shared the vacation with others in Charlotte. WFAE’s Maria Ramirez Uribe explained how the artist Rosalia Torres-Weiner celebrated Día de los Muertos by making an “ofrenda” – a traditional altar to remember and celebrate deceased family members – which was open to the public.
Charlotte artist’s dream of a children’s mobile studio hits the road
Bunny Gregory has turned an old school bus into a mobile art and music studio that she can take to different neighborhoods to help more kids develop their creative skills in their own surroundings. Dashiell Coleman caught up with her in May as she was about to create the underground bus.
Musician aimed to fill void in Charlotte’s recording studio with ‘a YMCA for music’
Charlotte musician Jason Jet’s longtime dream of opening a musical coworking space came true in late January when he opened GrindHaus Studios. Its goal is to provide professional-quality recording and production services to anyone in Charlotte who needs them through monthly subscriptions, hourly packages and additional mixing and mastering services. Jodie valade told us what things looked like – and sounded – in space.
Tony-winning teacher from Charlotte has plan to boost diversity in the performing arts
Corey Mitchell was a revered and award-winning teacher at the Northwest School of the Arts with a national reputation in the theater industry. But this year, Mitchell made the decision to quit his old job and start a non-profit organization aimed at helping students of color navigate the college application system and land a career in the arts. theater. Mitchell spoke with Dashiell Coleman for Tapestry while he was about to launch the Theater Gap Initiative and again with Nick de la Canal after the formation of the inaugural class and in progress.
The Ritz is reborn – in a way – in West Charlotte
A neighborhood in West Charlotte has a new community space. The Ritz in Washington Heights opened in November on the site of the former Ritz Theater, the last movie theater built exclusively for black customers in the city. Jodie valade explained why it was important to honor the past while keeping an eye on the future.
North Carolina’s black cowboy clubs keep the spirit of the frontier alive
Groups of black cowboys and cowgirls – called saddle clubs – organize rides in city centers and suburban pastures across the United States. People involved in the subculture say interest in clubs is growing, and North Carolina is no exception. Some Twitter users have dubbed this trend the #yeehawagenda, but black cowboy culture has been around for a long time. Nick de la Canal visited a rally and rodeo in Iredell County for a taste of horseback riding and camaraderie.
Army veteran finds relief through art – and wins VA competitions along the way
U.S. Army veteran Kelly O’Gara of North Carolina won art competitions at Salisbury VA Medical Center, and last year she took second nationally for a portrait of her daughter. But Iraq war veteran says she wants to see someone else beat her locally – because that would mean that they did not give up.
There is also an art for signs – and for preserving them
Charlotte has a reputation for building on her past. Perhaps this is why longtime locals tend to feel a bit nostalgic for the scenes of yesteryear. The Charlotte Museum of History seems to recognize this, and it has opened a new exhibition this year called Signs of Home, which features signs that many residents considered emblematic of Queen City’s past. Jodie Valade told us about the signs of the exhibit and pointed out one particular sign as he descended from his longtime perch – the one outside the old Penguin restaurant in Midwood Square.
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