Up and Coming Invitational: Meet the artists

Join Shain Gallery for our first Up-and-Coming Invitational celebrating talented, home-gown artists! This beautiful show will feature 28 Charlotte artists, including:

Anthony Mazzei, Amanda Moody, Bennett Waters, Brooke Maples, Courtney Salton, Frank Bragg, Greta Hord, Heather McLeod, Holly Graham, Jean Rupprecht, Julia Ralston, Keith Keim, Kristle, Larry Duke, Leigh Goodwyn, Libby Barksdale, Lindsay Jones, Liz Orvos, Lynne Miller, Marvin Espy, Mary Kamerer, Michael Gibbons, Murray Parker, Nicholas M. Stewart, Patti Ratcliffe, Ráed Al-Rawi, Sharon Lampke, and Sydney Durrett.

Want to know more about these talented artists? Read below for more information:

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Anthony J. Mazzei

Anthony  J. Mazzei is a local artist and photographer from Charlotte, NC.  He specializes in abstract art and landscape photography. He will be attending Myers Park High School in the fall and is hoping to make the tennis team.  He has enjoyed painting and photography

 since first grade and is color blind which makes his work even more unique. He has attended different art classes in Southern California and Charlotte, while also being self taught in abstract design.  Lastly, he loves to help people in need; thus, 10% of

 his sales will be donated to HopeWay, a non-profit mental health care facility in South Charlotte.


Amanda Moody

The creation of my paintings is a form of meditation for me. I think that is why abstract art in general appeals to me so much, because it is so open to personal interpretation once completed, and also open to outcome during the creative process. Painting is one of the only times I am easily able to experience non-attachment, and exercising that ability hopefully transfers to other parts of life as well. When I begin a painting, I rarely have a plan. I may have an idea of a color scheme or core technique, but that’s about as far as it goes until my brush hits the surface and I just start moving. Then I simply allow the painting itself to guide me.

I am moved by the colors, textures, and intricate patterns that appear in the details of nature. Much of my inspiration comes from cloud watching, mineral and rock formations, botanical symmetry (and asymmetry), tree lines, ocean waves, the texture of sand, the cosmos…all are mesmerizing to me as they show proof of the interconnectivity between all living beings. I hope that same hypnotic effect is evident in my work. If my paintings can evoke a similar feeling of openness and connection when I transfer paint and other materials to any given surface, then I have expressed what is within me. I hope it creates an emotion in others.

Amanda is a native from Charlotte, NC and lives and works at her home studio in Weddington.

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Bennett Waters

Bennett Waters is an artist known for her colorful aerial perspective landscapes series and her urban street scene paintings.  She takes strong natural, architectural or geometrical subjects and transforms them into colorful abstracted paintings of shapes and patterns.  Often using exaggerated spacial depth or lack of space perspective, she creates pleasing results that bring you together with the subject in an unexpected way.   She then uses color to bring her subjects to life.

Her most recent series of urban street scenes often show how southern cities are changing as the cities grow in size and population.  Areas such as rail yards or warehouse buildings that were once industrial or on the outskirts of the city are quickly becoming more populated, developed and recognizable as the cities grow.  Her paintings show these areas as they change and become viable parts of the inner city. 

Her artwork tends to be somewhat abstract in execution, yet all paintings are based on the details of a street, a city, a building, or a piece of farmland or roadway Bennett has photographed while traveling. 

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Brooke Maples

Seeking inspiration from the likes of Matisse and Degas from an early age on, Brooke Werhane Maples’ work pulls through the history of 20th century male gaze and painting. She picks up on Matisse’s flatness and two dimensional canvas room and drags it through Basquiat’s chauvinistic farce of inhabiting the space with the self, constantly questioning the role of painting with a diary-like use of words and writing.

But here’s the twist: Brooke Werhane Maples' works are never chauvinistic or selfish or flat. Taking a century of male gaze and painting, she takes over the language of maleness and makes it so purely female – fragile, beautiful and at the same time strong as can be.

Her flowers drip of friskiness and the figures in her paintings manifest themselves to the viewer playfully and strong while at the same time revealing their vulnerability. Alice Neel and Frida Kahlo come to mind when thinking about the context and the place of raw feminine emotion that triggers her work.

‘As I moved through my studies in art history and environmental design I continued drawing and painting, I was inspired by the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, Phillip Johnson, Willem de Kooning and John Singer Sargent.’ It is both architects and artists that continued to influence her work. ‘The body, movement, energy and translating human emotion through painting is a constant goal in my practice.’


Courtney Salton

Growing up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Courtney felt most at home with a paint brush in her hand. This love of art was complemented by lessons at the Reynolda House and Sawtooth Center for Visual Arts at a young age. Her life then followed the “traditional path” graduating from Saint Mary’s High School, then College of Charleston with a BS in Psychology. Shortly after graduation, Courtney met her husband, Rusty Salton, in Charlotte. Currently, her days are filled with painting, spending time with her husband, two girls, and three dogs in her home studio in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her talents have thrived at Braitman Studio as she loves to be surrounded by other artists!

Painting is a meditation for Courtney. When in flow, it is just her, the paint, brushes, and canvas (or paper). When she gets out of groove, she switches mediums to challenge herself and reignite the creative fuel. She is constantly evolving, but her style is described as an “aggressive impressionism” with bold yet loose strokes that are full of texture. The viewer is engaged as they bounce their eyes around the canvas thus experiencing all aspects of the work. The forms are often suggested and inviting the viewer to look further into the the piece. Courtney continues to explore the application of paint and its beauty using contrasting colors to evoke vibrancy and interest in her current creations.


Frank Bragg

Artist Frank Bragg is a native North Carolinian and lives on a farm near Huntersville/Davidson with his wife Kathy, their four children and spouses and their 15 grandchildren.

His work clearly represents his interest in natural landscapes and his interests in land conservation.  Living on the land is his inspiration.

He studied under national known artist and teacher Andy Braitman. In addition he has been a student of Curt Butler one of the regions foremost artist and teachers.   his work has been recognized by the Mooresville Art Guild.   

In addition to his art Frank is the Founder of Bragg Financial Advisors, a family owned wealth management firm, Founder of the Ramah Creek Conservation Area, and Co-Founder of Right Moves For Youth.  Frank has served on many charity boards and currently is a trustee of the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund, board member of the Charlotte Symphony,  founding board member of The Historic Lakewood Trolley, and a founding board member of Preserve Mecklenburg Inc.

Frank welcomes visitors to his barn studio on the farm.

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Greta Hord

Greta Hord received a BFA in oil painting and was certified in art education at East Carolina University School of Art. She taught for 2 years and then spent 15 years in the corporate world. Painting all the while, she has recently focused exclusively on her art and raising her four young sons. Greta has participated in shows in North Carolina and Virginia, and has done privately commissioned work for over 15 years. She is an active donor to charity art auctions, including; Safe Alliance by way of Art With Heart, Levine Children’s Hospital, Bee Mighty, and the Mint Museum Auxiliary. Her work can be seen at Slate interiors, and is in many private collections throughout the South. Paintings are available by contact with the artist for existing work, and by commission. Greta lives in Charlotte with her husband, their sons, and their dog.

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Heather McLeod

Heather McLeod challenges the traditional idea of portraiture by obscuring, simplifying and completely turning the figure around. She creates pieces with the intent of capturing the character of the figure portrayed while playing with the duality between one’s perceived identity and that of an outsider’s. With each piece, she challenges the viewer to understand the emotional context of the subject, connect with it on a personal level, and see their own reflection staring back at them.

Born and raised in the Connecticut/ New York area, Heather earned her B.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design. She was recently awarded a Fulbright Study/Research Award in Perugia, Italy and is currently in pursuit of an M.F.A. from The New York Academy of Art. She has been featured in a number of exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe and has been the recipient of a number of art related awards.

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Holly Graham

My compositions are an abstract reflection of my everyday experiences. Color evokes memories and emotions for me, and it is the central focus of my work. I often rely on an emotion, which is tied to a colorway, when beginning the process of creating.  Through spontaneous mark making and energetic compositions, I capture my visual representations of moments in time. My paper series is created from intuition and is based on music, memories and color relationships. Hand painted papers are ripped and placed into compositions, giving them a tactile quality which draws the viewer in and creates contrast and depth. Each composition is often tied to memories of travel and personal experiences. For me, the color interactions create a rhythm on the paper that is similar to a musical composition.

Holly was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. Her process-based method of painting has come about after creating a solid foundation in art education.  Holly graduated with Honors in Studio Art from Wake Forest University.  There, she studied traditional oil painting, printmaking, and photography.  After working at the prestigious National Gallery of Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Holly decided to return to art making full time.  Today, Holly builds on her knowledge of composition, color theory, and art history while finding freedom in abstract expression. She currently lives in Charlotte with her husband, Matt, and two children, Henry and Lila.

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Jean Rupprecht

Jean Rupprecht is a Charlotte oil painter who creates both studio and Plein Air pieces.  She prefers to paint directly from life and her work is inspired by the beauty and serenity of the natural world.  Her love of color is easily seen in everything that she paints, whether vibrant impressionistic landscapes or joyful florals.  She studies each subject in order to capture its essence and translate it into her own vivid interpretation, letting the brush strokes and bold colors entice the viewer to pause and lose themselves in the moment.

“I’ve always had a love for both big, bold landscapes and the delicate beauty of flowers.  I draw my inspiration from the study of nature and find the act of capturing my vision on canvas infuses a bit of myself into the work.” -Jean Rupprecht

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Julia Ralston

My painting habit is the place where I use my visual language to explore new ideas, challenge myself, open conversations, and play games. It’s always been a means of introspection and a way to relate to others not just about the fascinating practical side of making art but about beauty, imagination, connectedness, and the interior life.

Over time I’ve learned to pay attention to a sense of interior balance during the planning stages and throughout the entire painting process, remembering to express a sense of completeness and wholeness especially as I imagine and compose the painting. In the studio I use sketches and value studies inspired by my own photographs and observations. Out on location I engage all of my senses and allow the total environment to inform what ends up on the canvas. In either case, I try to extract the essence of the scene by asking: What draws me to this scene? What feelings does it invoke?

And sometimes there is the delight of standing in a field surrounded by bees and other activity, gazing upon a beautiful scene with light, shadow and air; perhaps an old out building or two, and realizing all the elements I’m looking for are right in front of me.

Other painters will know what I’m talking about when I say that being in a place and engaging all the senses makes a big difference when capturing an essence on canvas or paper, First, the imagination. Then the working it out with the conscious and intuitive tussle of all the elements of design, and eventually completion. When the groundwork is laid in my imagination, the result can soar.

 The idea that I am a creator in a created world is never far from my mind. As Rilke was inspired to write: “You, sent out beyond your recall, go to the edge of your longing, and clothe me there.”


Keith Keim

Mixed media artist, Keith is known to work with everything from resin, sand, acrylic, oil, charcoal pencil, paper, and found objects to create highly textured pieces rich in movement and depth.  Raised on the Jersey Shore and spending much of his time playing in Manhattan his art reflects both the energy and sole of the two in an abstract way.   Color sets a mood, texture reflect a memory.  

Over the years his contributions to the interior design firm of Lucy and Company in Charlotte North Carolina have influenced an overall design from the beginning or as a finishing touch.  

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I find joy in nature and the unexpected. I see inspiration everywhere - from fashion, to the outdoors, interior design, but especially my natural surroundings, and North Carolina has the best backdrop— from mountains to beaches. Painting people and figures is exciting to me because I’m attracted to detail and nuance. I love vibrant color and my practice of painting daily. 

I’ve always had a passion for art!  I was trained in fine arts and I graduated from Texas Tech University. In high school studio art, I won a national award for a portrait of a little boy looking up at a yellow ribbon on a tree (post 9/11). Part of my award package was to have this painting hanging in the Congress building. It was around this time that I fell in love with creating and sharing my work with the world. 

I now live just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina with my husband and our two kids, Annie and Zo.

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Larry Duke

Larry Duke’s style of art has been greatly influenced by renowned ballet and figure painters, Edgar Degas and Robert Heindel and more recently by contemporary artists, Andy Braitman, Curt Butler, and Cynthia Packard. His paintings reflect the natural beauty and emotion of the human form and his creative use of color, texture, movement, and design. Larry started painting 15 years ago in an oil painting class taught by Manny Rashet. Over the past 10 years, Larry has been instructed by both Andy Braitman and Curt Butler Studios where he developed his unique, contemporary style that combines loose brush work and palette knife.
In 2013, Larry’s art was awarded “Best in Show” at Davidson's Art on the Green. In 2015 Larry's art was featured in an emerging artist exhibition at Anne Irwin Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta. In 2018 and 2019 Larry was a featured artist in the Art with Heart charity auction in Charlotte.

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Leigh Goodwyn

With any eye for color and a love of mixing pattern and shapes, Leigh Goodwyn got her creative start designing fabrics for her textile, bedding and soft goods line, LeighDeux. She arrived at painting through the ‘back door’ after a desire to bring more of her own artistic edge to her textile prints. Leigh began taking art lessons only a short time ago but quickly developed a love for abstract alcohol inks on canvas. After debuting a few small works at the Dallas and High Point Home Furnishings markets and landing several commissions, she began to grow more interested in pursuing art. She co-designed a line of original textiles with fellow artist and close friend, Laura Park. Their collection, called Monarch, was derived from paintings each artist created and is available on pillows, blankets, towels, soft furniture and headboards. It can be sourced at www.leighdeux.com. Prior to Launching LeighDeux, she had a 20-year career in television marketing and was head of global marketing for Discovery Networks. Leigh graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Journalism. She is married with two children in college.

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Libby Barksdale

Libby Barksdale is an Abstract artist in Charlotte, NC, where she lives with her husband, Mac and their 3 children. Her diverse portfolio of original art varies from large scale statement pieces to mini 4”x4” abstract panels. She intertwines still life and figurative subjects seen in everyday life, depicted through her own multimedia abstract lens.

Libby leaned into her artistic talent at a young age and sought out private art instruction throughout her childhood. As her interest and talent began to emerge as a young adult, she used the summers during high school to focus on her fine art education. For consecutive summers, she attended the Art Institute of Chicago, where she focused on figure drawing and painting. This education set the basis for her incorporation of figurative form in her work today.

While her love for art never dissipated, she chose a liberal arts education for college and attended UNC Chapel Hill, majoring in English. It was not until the end of her 20’s , after the birth of her second daughter that she found the time and inspiration to resume her artistic path. What began as a need to fill an empty wall has grown into a professional career as an artist. After taking another career pause for the birth of her 3rd child, she once again had a artistic comeback and remains committed to her work. She now paints and creates in her at home Studio, allowing for minimal transition time as she balances her home life with family and work life.

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Lindsay Jones

Oil painter, Lindsay Hawfield Jones, has studied modern landscape and abstract painting at The Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria VA, The Carlton Gallery in Banner Elk, NC and, most recently, at Braitman Studios in Charlotte, NC. Lindsay minored in Studio Art at Wake Forest University and participated in an independent art study at Casa Artom in Venice, Italy.

Lindsay enjoys using her art to give back to the community and often donates paintings to causes she supports. She recently partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte to create "Art Share," a program that provides commissioned works of art for new Habitat homeowners and Critical Home Repair clients. She is also a long-time supporter, volunteer and past board member of Arts For Life, a nonprofit organization providing children art education in hospital settings.

Lindsay welcomes commissions and the opportunity to work with clients on specific paintings for gifts, corporate spaces and residences. Learn more at lindayhjonesfineart.com and @lindsayhjonesfineart.

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Liz Orvos

Liz Orvos studied art at the University of Missouri but did not begin experimenting with oils until moving to Houston, Texas.  Another move, to Charlotte NC, led her to study under Andy Braitman and Curt Butler.  She has also attended many workshops with painters that she has admired. Inspired by nature and the beauty of the world, each painting is an exciting challenge to recreate the mood and atmosphere of a place through layers of paint and color relationships. Trying to abstract the realistic is more important than the subject matter.  

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Lynne Miller

Lynne Chesnek-Miller is a native Charlottean. After graduating with her BS from NC State School of Design, Lynne Moved to Colorado where she met her husband and began working in various facets of art. She found herself drawn to the marriage of art and nature. She has illustrated trail signs in Colorado, painted murals/illustrations for educational state forests in North Carolina, and worked as a theme artist for museums, aquariums, and Disney parks for several years across the US. She and her husband, Chris, returned to Charlotte to raise her 3 children in 2006.

Lynne has been painting murals and created decorative wall finishes for many Charlotte families since her return. Her murals have been featured in several of our local magazines over the years.

Wanting to spend more time with her children, she began devoting more time to painting in her studio. Over the past few years Lynne discovered her love of encaustics. The play of light and layering allows her to represent the delicate veining of the flowers and trees that inspire her work. Although durable and sustainable in nature, encaustic paintings have a fragile essence. The medium allows her to add the detail that she loves, yet the unpredictability of the molten wax allows her paintings to unveil themselves in the process.

The subject of her paintings varies from landscapes and florals to abstractions. Her paintings are meant to draw the viewer in, allowing you to get lost in the detail and layers ofcolor, texture, and light.


Marvin Espy

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio (the other Queen City) Marvin has called Charlotte his home since 1999, he has come to love the Charlotte skyline, and the face of the city has become his muse - interpreting its night sky, dazzling lights, and traffic filled streets as one might depict the smile of a woman’s face, or the lines in an old man’s eyes. Espy has done more than a dozen portraits of our fair city, and is drawn to its mixture of historic landmarks, and its striking signs of the future.”

Receiving formal training at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, He graduated in 1985. Having excelled at oil painting under the tutelage of the late Henry Koerner, Espy earned a degree in Visual Communication. Then spent the better part of 25 years in business development and marketing. In 2013 Espy was invited to execute a one man show at Slate Gallery, and he hasn’t looked back.

Since 2013 Marvin has shown himself to be one of the city’s most dynamic and versatile emerging artist. Winning multiple awards, and juried contests. He is a two time Hart-Witzen Gallery “Best of Show Winner”, he has been feature in the Charlotte Business Journal Book of List on three occasions, and awarded Cover Artist in the 2018 Edition (juried Selection). This emerging artist was the feature story in the 2018 October issue of South Park Magazine, and is the Resident Artist at Legion Brewing South Park. 

Most recently, Marvin Espy is among the 20 ArtPopCLT 2019 Winners (selected by Jury) and awarded a one year billboard of his depiction of Charlotte’s “Tryon Street Traffic”. That same art was displayed at Northlake Mall in billboard proportions. Marvin occupies a studio space at C3 Lab in Charlotte’s SouthEnd, where he facilitates art instruction and training to beginning artist, and to some of the cities most prolific artists. He and his wife Tracy of 28 years live in Charlotte and are especially proud of their daughter Sydney who lives and works in Raleigh, NC.

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Mary Kamerer

I am a Pittsburgh native living in Charlotte, North Carolina. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and television production from UNCC, but soon realized that art was my passion. For over thirty years, I've pursued creative arts of all sorts with instruction from notable local and national artists in ceramics, watercolor, stained glass, photography and even completed a one-year goldsmithing apprenticeship--but I consider myself an emerging oil painter, painting now for ten years. The Carolinas afford a beautiful variety of landscapes, from the mountains to the sea, and I've become enchanted with capturing the charm and simplicity of life in the rural South. Bicycles rides and walks along our local greenway have inspired me to capture the natural beauty of the marshes, trees and flora that grows wild along the route in my latest works. An emphasis on textures, light and shadows can be seen in my impressionistic paintings of these landscapes as well as occasional still lifes in my studio.

I'm embracing the idea of art activism or “artivism", not solely for the political aspects of art, but for the ability to arouse the emotions in our viewer to take action. Whether it is to identify with the subject, to see the it from a new perspective, or to just to bring a new landscape to a viewer, I love the ability to alter my viewer's mind--even if it's for that one short moment.

Michael Gibbons

For me a painting is like a great song, you feel something immediately and fall more in love with it over time. I always listen to music when painting and sometimes the work is directly inspired by a song’s lyrics. I like that.

 Through line, color and texture I try to express what’s in my head on the canvas. Sometimes that’s representational, sometimes abstract, rarely literal. My process is spontaneous, the work evolves and sometimes dramatically changes. I have flipped the canvas and with some paintings there might be two or three partial works beneath. Bold Mistakes are often the best part, taking the work in a totally different direction.

There are parts* you can figure out and parts where you think what the heck was he thinking! It’s a trip when you see something in my work that I did not see or intend and then the next person sees something completely different. Just like a song, great art should mean something different, something personal to everyone who sees it. *The colors and textures are way more interesting up close, really close up.

 I realize everyone won’t like my work, that’s OK but for the one person who gets it, well then wow! My greater fear is to be boring. And always remember an original artwork is the only one that ever was, is or will be. Enjoy

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Murray Parker

Third generation artist Murray Parker uses a signature color-layering technique to render densely textured paintings with a luminous sculptural effect. Using hands, tools, or palette knife to pour, drip, throw, add, and subtract paints of multiple media, Murray specializes in abstracted scenes from coastal, mountain, and cityscapes. Her work conveys a loose and gentle freedom, which comes in part from her Montessori schooling in Hilton Head, South Carolina. There she studied weather on the beach, experimented with science in the Nature Preserve, read chapter books atop a ladder in the barn loft, and traveled to Daufuskie Island to study collaboratively with students from the Gullah community in a one-room schoolhouse. Her intuitively-driven process results in an imaginative interplay of color and textural surface, which strikes viewers and transports them to their own peaceful places within.

Murray Parker has been featured in Charlotte Living Magazine, O’Henry Magazine, Scoop and the NC Art Guide. Murray paints with oil, pastel, acrylic, sanguine, mixed media, and more. Her art is influenced by the work of Wolf Kahn, Jackson Pollock, Kevin McPherson, Brian Rutenberg and her many years of study with Andy Braitman.

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Nicholas M. Stewart

Nicholas received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in painting from Radford University. He now resides in Charlotte, NC where he has developed his career as a professional artist, as well as, the lead instructor at Braitman Studio. 

"The visual inspiration for my work comes from cathedrals and stained glass windows. My paintings are developed by structured impasto brush marks, emulsion pourings, glazes, and drawn lines. The human body serves as the structure and support of the painting as the application and paint become the main focus. The figures struggle to break through barriers both physical and imaginary as the pattern and rhythm take the lead. The play between the two dimensional and three dimensional surfaces creates an illusion which examines what is coming forward and what is flat."

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Patti Ratcliffe

Patti's expressive, colorful canvases reflect her passion for design and mark-making. Starting at an early age, her love of art provided the curiosity and confidence to pick up her first oil paint brush later in life. Since then, painting has become her passion, and she continues to joyfully learn. Combining painting with her love of travel, she enjoys searching for the perfect plein air location to capture striking hues and playful light wherever they may be. She also paints vibrant still lifes, brightly exaggerating shape and color. Before becoming a full-time painter, she was a graphic designer who ran a successful independent firm for more than 30 years. Now, she enjoys teaching others and offers small group and private studio lessons.

Influenced by my graphic design background, I strive for a playful, painterly style of patterns and shapes. My oil paintings, though representational, incorporate exaggerated color and mark-making. Although I paint many subjects, I am continually attracted to the play of the light and the shadow of any scene. For me, painting is a journey of experimentation and discovery and, ultimately, a life-long pursuit.


Ráed Al-Rawi

I am fascinated by all creations on earth as I spend time observing people, animals, shapes, feelings and movements. I feed these images and emotions to my daydreams and imagination which inspire ideas for my paintings. Sometimes I include a sense of irony and humor to the subjects I create. I think of it as a journey we take in our mind. The images of flying people, animals and articles are intended to give a sense of dream-like freedom without gravity. I choose acrylic paint in building layers of colors to maintain an intense momentum while expressing the flow of feelings during painting. I also use oil paint as another medium suitable for another subjects in my paintings. In blending my colors I create a hazy luminosity mix to give the feeling of emerging and transparency which it feeds the dreamy surreal subjects I pursue.

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Sharon Lampke

After retiring from a career in Graphic design and time off raising 4 children, I have come full circle, back to my love of creating beautiful art. I currently study fine art at Braitman Studio and am working from my studio (Studioworks Artist Collective) at 1705 East Blvd.

“Those who know me might describe me as a driven person, and that is apparent in my work. It’s a very deliberate process of trying to tell you so much information and dialogue with you through imagery and color. I am emoting and expressing with the paint, but also trying to comfort and calm and bring order/peace to the (seeming) chaos. I strive to make you fall in love (with the painting) and to bring you the joy and satisfaction that comes with a visual experience which touches the heart.

Ultimately, the process of painting, of building the image is what drives me. I love interacting with the progression of the image as it changes layer by layer.  I want your eyes to dance with me around the canvas: comforted here, shocked there, intrigued. My spirit gets tangled up in the paint and reaches out to you.'“

Sydney Durrett

Durrett Designs is a product of Sydney (Durrett) Falkner’s free spirit and contemporary style. The majority of her work is done on stretched canvas or hardboard- wooden paneling using an acrylic medium. With help of her paintbrush, Sydney pairs realistic subjects with contemporary flare and bold color combinations.

Originally known for her custom pieces and designs for local businesses and individuals, Sydney’s portfolio has grown to feature everything from cityscapes and skylines to animals, landscapes, universities and various landmarks. Her most recent passion project is a series of figure paintings and abstracts.

 In addition to the custom artwork, Sydney does not shy away from new projects and ideas. You might recognize some of her work on many of Charlottes local Lenny Boy Brewing Co. Beer cans along with a Charlotte Skyline mural painted on their new kitchen wall. Be sure to check out Sydney’s recent published illustrations to the Children’s book, “The Little Seed,” written by Randy Hartwell. Available on Amazon. You can find more of her original works around Charlotte, NC in other local breweries and boutiques.

Join us in celebrating these artists on July 12th from 6-8 pm!

Cornbread: American Folk Artist

American Folk Art refers to the 19th century rise in appreciation of art created and inspired by “common” land and experience. Folk Art comes from humble beginnings and many of the Folk artists we celebrate today would not have considered themselves artists as they were left out of the grand narrative of fine art. However, these artists were developing a visual language of their own, using found objects and materials to depict rural life and the land around them. There are many “types” of art that overlap with Folk Art and it is important to recognize the role of Native Americans in the influence of American Folk artists today. Globally, much of art history has considered the art of Native groups to be “outsider” art, and in the late 19th century began to be incorporated into the definition of Folk Art. As a result, much of American Folk Art returns to the relationship of Natives to the American landscape and many contemporary Folk artists are inspired by indigenous knowledge. Folk Art is an increasingly important art style as it has generationally documented the change in the flora and fauna of American lands and pushes back against the erasure of “outsider” culture.

Last month, our gallery welcomed our first American Folk artist! “Cornbread,” as he is known to his family and friends, was raised on a farm in Lumpkin County, GA. He has held a variety of jobs including being a butcher, a mechanic, a police officer, and manager of a farm. He loved to paint as a child but as an adult he never considered himself an artist— a common through-line with other Folk artists. Around 1995, he began being inspired by native regional painters, and realized that not all ‘good art’ was in the style of the old masters. Using bright acrylic colors and large pieces of wood, he captures what is fast being pushed out as rural spaces change, or even disappear. He draws his subjects from the farmland he works & the woods he hunts.

We are so excited to have Cornbread in the gallery and show our support in recognizing Folk artists everywhere!