The Arts Center in the upper part of the city offers a chance to see local artists

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CHARLOTTE, NC (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A new art center in Uptown is giving artists a big break, offering affordable workspaces in a vibrant Charlotte neighborhood.

Artists have the potential to have their art seen by hundreds of people a day based on foot traffic alone.

For those who have lived in Charlotte for a long time, the building along North Tryon Street was originally a Sears department store. In recent years, it was the Hal Marshall Center, owned by Mecklenburg County. For about a year, the building across from the Charlotte Ballet was the Center for the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA), the first space of its kind on the east side of Uptown.

“The presence of the arts is healthy for the community, it’s necessary for the community,” Joanne said.

Rogers, curator and gallery owner of Nine Eighteen Nine Studio.

You’ll find art on almost every street corner in the Queen City, but it wasn’t always like that.

“When I came to Charlotte, I saw so much talent and not the representation that local artists should have,” Rogers said.

The idea behind VAPA, a 158,000-square-foot building in Uptown, is to bring artists together under one roof for all to see.

“The community has access to art, it’s an open door,” Rogers said.

Inside, you’ll find not only a gallery, but also an affordable workspace. Artist Kevin Harris has moved his studio to the VAPA building from Concord. He enjoys publicity. Many of his artworks show the people he met.

“I love people. I enjoy interacting and talking with people, and I love trying to find that happy place in people. What drives you, what drives you,” Harris said.


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His paintings capture people in the moment. An exhibition consisting of his works spanning two decades of career will soon open at VAPA. The art exhibit is his depiction of the black experience in America.

“Art is constantly changing because it’s such a tumultuous time and things are happening in the world,” Harris said.

Harris’s role as an artist also changed from being one of the few black artists in the community to being looked up to and inspired by others.

“If I’m going to get involved in this, I want to be in a position at some point in my life and in my career where I can change that narrative,” Harris said.

The exhibition opens at the VAPA Center on January 14 in the Nine Eighteen Nine gallery. More information is possible found here.

The Arts Center in the upper part of the city offers a chance to see local artists

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