New artists sometimes struggle, sell big at All Arts Market

Great art for great prices brings notoriety to NoDaRioty

by Dee Grano

The All Arts Market in NoDa is an opportunity for artists like Ballantyne’s Lauren Walter to get some attention and sell some works. Walter’s work focuses on turning photos into what she’s calling “Acid Art.” Picture courtesy of Lauren Walter

“Where do you draw the line with art?” asks photographer and painter Beth Jackson.

Drawing is better left to the artists and artisans participating in the All Arts Market on Saturday, June 15, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Neighborhood Theatre in NoDa. Approximately 80 artists will exhibit and sell photography, oil and acrylic paintings, jewelry, clothes, birdhouses, candles, creams, “about anything you can think of,” said Jackson, who also is the event co-organizer. The All Arts Market is free to attend. Find more information online at www.­nodarioty.org.

All Arts Markets are typically held either the first or third Friday of each month to coincide with the Arts District’s gallery crawls. The most successful evening hosted 1,500 patrons.

During the event, every corner of the Neighborhood Theatre is packed with local artists selling original artwork. The result is a colorful and bustling bazaar of grassroots art where, “everything is handmade – no reselling,” according to Jackson. The All Arts Market in action can be seen at www.nodarioty.org/all-arts-video.

Marketplaces like the All Arts Market provide crucial exposure for emerging and established artists alike seeking to sell their work. “Before I moved to this area, no one had ever heard of me,” said Jackson, who will have her work for sale at Saturday’s event. See more at www.­bethjackson.smugmug.com. “This is the main reason I have grown to where I am.”

“Everyone remarks on the high quality of the art available,” Jackson added. Many artists who started out at the All Arts Market have become extremely successful.

“The first time someone other than a friend bought something from me, I was dumbfounded,” joked Ballantyne-based artist Lauren Walter, who will exhibit at the All Arts Market this weekend. “I am so gratified people like what I am doing.”

Pictures courtesy of Lauren Walter

Last November, Walter started making what she calls “Acid Art,” which starts as architectural photography mostly of Charlotte’s buildings. “A building is a beautiful thing, but the way the light hits it makes it come alive.”

Walter uses several computer programs to take the digital image from a snapshot to a wildly colorful comment on the original. “I experiment with them and find ways to make the photos representative of who I am,” she said. Her work is currently hanging at Port City Java Uptown and NoDa’s Art House; more is online at www.acidartbylj.com.

Walter owned her own law firm in New York, but relocated to Charlotte for two reasons: “burnout and nicer weather,” she said. She still uses her law degree to support herself financially, but balances work to have enough free time to create art. Like most artists with “day jobs,” Walter’s aspiration “is to make a living selling art and writing novels.”

Walter first attended the All Arts Market as a patron. “It’s a great opportunity to see what artists are doing,” she said, “and not just what’s in galleries.”

The first All Arts Market held December 2008 was wildly successful. When organizers repeated the event, booth space sold out within an hour as artists clamored for limited space.

Since several at the All Arts Market are new artists, “you can really find wonderful art at a reasonable price,” Jackson said. All Arts Market wares can range from a $10 pair of earrings to a $25 print of a painting or the $1,000 original. Some artists, like Jackson, are even willing to negotiate. “$100 is better than having work stacked in the studio,” she said.

The All Arts Market is an initiative of NoDaRioty, the arts committee of the Historic North Charlotte Neighborhood Association. Their self-stated mission to “keep NoDa freaky” has had its challenges. “It can be a very trying thing,” admitted Jackson, who joined NoDaRioty after the economy crashed and galleries were replaced with bars and restaurants.

Picture courtesy of Lauren Walter

“We’ve heard the negative criticism,” Jackson said, “but we’re still the Arts District, and there’s a ton to see.” In addition to organizing the All Arts Market, NoDaRioty has advocated for local art in all NoDa venues and organized a successful studio tour. Participating artists saw 400 people in their creative spaces; another is planned for fall.

Though NoDaRioty promotes art and artists in NoDa, many of the artists featured, like Walter, are from south Charlotte. NoDaRioty’s meetings are open to all, and are held the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Katie Crespo or Lauren Schalburg at nodarioty@gmail.com.

“NoDa is a great part of Charlotte,” Walter said. “There’s a big beautiful world out there, all you have to do is look for it.”

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