On the corner of Carmel and Pineville-Matthews Road lies Charlotte Fine Art Gallery, an artistic gem hidden in the rough.
Amid commercial hustle and bustle, artist and owner Joni Purk showcases and sells the work of nationally recognized contemporary artists who paint, sculpt, cast, carve and craft. Because Purk rotates the work and changes the shows monthly, there is always something new to see – and now there’s more of it.
Purk recently leased a larger space in the Carmel Village Shopping Center, four doors down from her previous location. She will celebrate the new opening Aug. 3, a Saturday, from 5 to 8 p.m. with her Third Annual Student Art Exhibition. For more details and a look at some of the work available at the gallery, visit www.charlottefineart.com.
Purk co-owned a gallery in Charleston, S.C., for three years, but decided to move her work closer to home in Charlotte’s Mountain Island Lake area in 2011. She studied and searched for six months to find the perfect location in south Charlotte and has stuck with it.
Most people find Charlotte Fine Art Gallery by word of mouth. Several see the window front on N.C. 51 and visit out of sheer curiosity.
High-school student Micayla McGee stopped by with her mother, Anita McGee, who teaches art through Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Camp Mindy at the Levine Jewish Community Center. Micayla will take an Advanced Placement class in two-dimensional art soon and is researching what medium she might want to study as a minor.
“There are lots of different mediums and styles, from realist to abstract, fiber to bronze,” said Anita McGee, who complimented Purk on the variety of the artwork.
“That’s what it’s all about,” replied Purk, who has worked hard to assemble a “well-rounded” group of established, living American artists to represent. About half of the artists are from North Carolina; several call Charlotte home. Charlotte Fine Art Gallery is the only place within 90 miles to find these particular artists.
California-based Edward Eyth casts bronze statues of reading children, the female form and athletes focused on their skill; he is the United States Sports Academy’s 2013 Sport Sculptor of the Year. Brad Robertson paints coastal landscapes of Alabama, a “Favorite Find” featured in the August 2013 issue of Architectural Digest. Winston-Salem based Frankie Denton’s photo-realistic paintings of tomatoes hold a surprise for those who look closely.
An award-winning painter in her own right, Purk is an “artist of diversity” – a term she has trademarked. From still-lifes of flowers to two cooks on break from working in a restaurant, she starts with an idea and lets inspiration take her. Sometimes she creates a realistic version with delicate brushstrokes, other times she goes for texture with the rougher approach of a palette knife.
Purk admits that running Charlotte Fine Art Gallery doesn’t leave her much time to make art. “Watching others paint is the next best thing,” she said. “I couldn’t run a gallery without teaching.”
With two other instructors, Purk offers classes in acrylic, watercolor and oil painting for students of every expertise level. Classes are held once a week at different times of the day for different schedules. There are one-day workshops for adults and teens in addition to a “Kartooning and Komics 4 Kids” summer camp on Aug. 12 to 16, with two sessions for kids ages 7 to 12.
In addition to classes, Charlotte Fine Art Gallery offers special events like Opening Receptions and Girls’ Night Out on the third Friday of the month where ladies of all ages assemble for refreshments and a hands-on, one-off art lesson. She also hosts Customer Appreciation Nights for her collecting clientele.
Not just a pretty place to visit, Charlotte Fine Art Gallery is a good resource for starting a collection. The gallery offers work at price points ranging from $27 to $2,700.
Purk often assists young couples starting to collect and empty nesters seeking to downsize.
If you and your spouse can’t decide, take turns purchasing art. “Whatever you do, don’t settle in the middle,” she said. “Choose it because it’s what you love.”