The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.
– Pablo Picasso

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.

Photo by Jeff Cravotta

I answered where to look 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 E. Kingston where the street dead-ends into the light rail off South Blvd.

art-furnutureThis 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. Lot’s 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.

“This is especially true for our two large open houses: the first Friday in May and the first Friday in December. These events can draw 500-600 visitors for the food and drink, entertainment and the opportunity to mingle with and purchase from our artists.”

On the other First Fridays some of the artist have showings. As Da Mayor says:

“Stop by any time you like, there is always something interesting, but for sure, mark the first Friday of May and December on your calendar. Those are big evenings for us – and you.”

First Friday Gallery Crawl Gallery

Thanks to Jeff Cravotta for all the photos in this post.

And 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.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.”
– Eknath Easwaran