For years, Amy Murphy Curlis and her husband, Shawn, have enjoyed visiting local galleries and meeting artists wherever they travel. Now they hope to bring that same kind of experience home to Charlotte. The couple recently launched Carolina Fine Art, a new gallery and retail concept, to highlight the work of Charlotte-based artists and help them sell their creations. The Dilworth gallery is open six days a week and is artist-operated. That means when customers stop by, they have the opportunity to meet at least one of the artists whose work is displayed there.
“This gallery is as much about the artists themselves as the art,” said Amy Murphy Curlis. She drew additional inspiration for the concept from her experience purchasing her first original painting about a decade ago from local artist Terry Thirion, whom she met at a gallery crawl. Curlis enjoyed speaking to the Belgian-born Thirion, learning about her creative process and what the work meant to her.
“That was just as valuable to me as what the colors were and what the texture was on the canvas,” said Curlis, who returned the next day to purchase the painting they discussed. Afterward, she stayed in touch with Thirion. “She really sparked the idea for this,” said Curlis, noting that Thirion has played a key role enlisting other artists to be part of the new gallery concept, too.
Curlis, a public relations and marketing professional, wanted to give back to the community by helping local artists like Thirion highlight their creative work and providing a space as welcoming to the first-time buyer as the seasoned collector. “I don’t think you have to travel to find exceptional artwork,” Curlis said. “These artists are exceptional not just for Charlotte, not just for the Carolinas, but really anywhere.”
The gallery will remain at its Park Road site until Nov. 30. After that time, it will offer appointment-only options at artists’ galleries until it can find a new home in the new year.
Although all of the gallery’s artists are based in the Charlotte area, their individual backgrounds and experiences vary widely. That’s something Curlis thinks is reflected in their work. “Everything they bring to their piece is such a huge part of the story,” she said. “When you ask an artist how long it took to paint something, the answer to that could probably be ‘my entire life.’” Getting to know their back stories is part of the experience, Curlis said.
For example, the gallery features work by Manuela Strada, an Italian-born artist whose latest landscape series, “Remembering Italy,” is painted by memory. She tries to evoke sensations as much as imagery through her abstract paintings. Outside the gallery, Strada teaches art classes to patients and staff at the Levine Cancer Institute, where she works as artist in residence in the healing art program.
There’s also painter Ráed Al-Rawi, who was a political cartoonist in Baghdad, Iraq, before coming to Charlotte more than 30 years ago. His work often includes surrealist elements, like the mural of flying people and animals he created for Charlotte Douglas International Airport in 2019. He teaches art at Central Piedmont Community College and has shown his work nationally and internationally. Painter and jewelry artisan Babette Reynolds uses oil and cold wax to create her abstract landscape paintings and incorporates vintage elements and found objects in her necklaces, earrings and other artisan jewelry creations.
Alongside her art practice, she is an attorney and a financial services risk management executive who also served six years active duty as a military intelligence officer in the Army. Some artists are well-established while others, like architect and oil painter John Komisin, are new to the gallery scene. A longtime student at Braitman Studio in Charlotte, Komisin’s work has been featured in art shows but never represented by a gallery. “So this is a big step for me,” he said. Komisin works primarily in oil paint, using palette knives, rather than brushes, to create his abstract cityscapes. Most of his works on view at Carolina Fine Art are inspired by Charlotte landmarks and street scenes. “Take a look at any part of a city, and it’s this incredibly rich mosaic of forms and colors and light and shadow,” Komisin said. “And so the opportunity to take a place and interpret it as a piece of art is exciting to me.”
Someone, in turn, can interpret artwork without having additional information, he said. But he finds it to be a richer, more meaningful, experience for collectors when they can engage with the artist, hear the back story and understand the process. Komisin enjoys creating for the community, meeting locals who come into the gallery and hearing their questions — some of which push him to reflect more deeply on his own work. (One of his favorites: “Which of these pieces is most representative of you as a person?”)
The range of prices also gives the gallery a wide appeal, he said, with artwork ranging in price from $15 to several thousand dollars. In this way, Carolina Fine Art serves people who are just starting out — curious to learn more — as well as established collectors looking for specific pieces. Across the board, Komisin said, it fills a niche by serving anyone who craves more local experiences. “Our city is continuing to grow,” he said. “We have a vibrant arts scene and anything that can be done to help build on that continues to make us attractive for all of the people who are going to be moving here in the near future.”
CAROLINA FINE ART
Where: 2400 Park Road, Suite G, Charlotte. (Until Nov. 30, then by appointment only.) Hours: Open Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p..m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and by appointment.
Details: For more info, visit carolinafineart.com or on Instagram @carolina.fineart
45 of the Coolest Things to Do This Fall
As we say goodbye to summer, the whispers of pumpkin spice can be heard around the city.
by Amanda Lea Sep 09, 2021
As we say goodbye to another sticky Southern summer, locals and visitors alike will ‘fall’ in love with the Queen City’s autumn offerings. From trail runs and bike tours to patio dates and gallery crawls, we have a full lineup of fall activities for the whole family.
28. For even more art appreciation, connect with local public art and artists through free self-guided neighborhood tours by ArtWalks CLT. Or peruse original paintings, pottery and other unique creations at Carolina Fine Art, the new artist-operated gallery in Dilworth featuring local creators.
New, artist-operated gallery and retail store opens September 1 in Charlotte’s Dilworth neighborhood, off Park Road
Carolina Fine Art features local artists’ works, including original paintings and pottery
Charlotte, N.C. – Carolina Fine Art, a new artist-operated gallery selling original paintings, pottery and more is set to open its doors September 1, 2021. Located in the Dilworth neighborhood’s “The Courtyard” at 2400 Park Road, this collaboration of regional artists may well be the only artist-operated gallery of its kind in Charlotte.
“As Charlotte continues to grow, we need more venues that support local and regional artists and celebrate their exceptional work,” said Amy Murphy Curlis, creator of Carolina Fine Art. “My husband Shawn and I are honored to play a small role and bring this vision to life. The artists we have at Carolina Fine Art are some of the most talented you will find – not just in Charlotte or the Carolinas, but anywhere around.”
The husband-and-wife team behind the gallery’s start strongly believe that art tells a story and that the local artist who created the work is part of that special story.
“I’m very grateful to those who support local artists,” said Ráed Al-Rawi, one of the Charlotte artists participating in Carolina Fine Art. “I enjoy teaching classes and am always happy to share my love of art and the process behind my work with those who stop into the gallery.”
Al-Rawi was a political cartoonist in Baghdad, Iraq in the 1970s and has lived in North Carolina now for more than 30 years. Al-Rawi was selected to create a mural at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport and is well known for his anti-gravity themed work.
“The support for regional art seems to be growing,” said Terry Thirion, one of Carolina Fine Art’s anchor artists who also sparked the creation of this new venue due to her involvement and enthusiasm in the Charlotte arts community for the past 30 years. “We hope and trust that the people of Charlotte will visit and enjoy the new gallery.”
Terry, an abstract painter, is originally from Belgium and has lived in Charlotte for the past three decades. Her love of nature consistently plays a role in her work. Terry recently relocated to Hot Springs, N.C., and being a part of Carolina Fine Art is just one way she will continue her engagement in the Charlotte community.
Carolina Fine Art plans to open with nine artists, and they will have room to grow. Artists interested in exploring opportunities for participation should contact the management team at email@example.com.
“We believe the Charlotte community will embrace Carolina Fine Art,” said co-creator Shawn Curlis. “When traveling outside of Charlotte, my wife Amy and I have enjoyed visiting other cities’ local art galleries and wanted to help our local artists here at home.”
Friday, September 3, Carolina Fine Art will host an opening reception from 5-8pm and will extend the celebration into the weekend with opening hours from 10am-5pm Saturday and Sunday.
Normal operating hours planned are Tuesday - Sunday from 10am-5pm, with other availability by appointment. September 1 is the official opening day for the gallery.
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