Happy Valentine’s Day 2023!
Y’all know that the Queen City Creative community has our hearts, but here are 15 creative people, places and things we’ve got massive crushes on at the moment.
If you’re not on the list, you know we love you. Just wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze. That’s us giving you a hug right back. (But, not a HUG grant. You have to apply for those right here.)
Matt, Tim and Makayla
Charlotte Is Creative
MATT OLIN’S PICKS
CREATIVE INDIVIDUAL: YUNG Citizen
- WHO IS HE? We’ve been fans of this Queen City hip-hop artist for a long time, and his list of collaborations keeps growing. But it’s his commitment to speaking out about mental health that has us falling deeper in love. He’s recently started the “Morning Pages” panel discussion with creatives about mental health. (More below.)
- WHY WE LOVE HIM. YUNG Citizen models honesty and vulnerability as he shares about his mental health journey, and we find this refreshing, inspiring and important.
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE HIM. Attend his “Morning Pages” on 2.24 at 6:30pm or you can listen to his music on Spotify. Actually, do both.
- PHOTO CREDIT: @lmariephotography
- IG: @yungcitizen
- WEB: yungcitizen.com
CREATIVE PLACE: Jambox
- WHAT IS IT? An innovative music space offering 12 sound-proof music rehearsal rooms alongside a storage facility off South Blvd. Rooms are available for rent by bands and musicians, either as a private monthly room or by the hour/day as a subscriber. Plus, a common area available for co-working and meetings/events.
- WHY WE LOVE IT? Jambox manager, Justin Honigstein, is a musician himself and has crafted and curated a space that feels warm, inspiring and easy. He’s also shown a true commitment to supporting nonprofit community orgs and projects.
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE IT. – Arrange for a tour and see Jambox for yourself! Then, rent, baby, rent.
- WHERE IS IT? 707 E Hebron St., Charlotte, NC
- PHOTO ABOVE: OneBand rehearsal at Jambox
- IG: @jmbxmusic
- WEB: jmbxmusic.com
CREATIVE MOVEMENT: Ballantyne Becomes a Creative Hotspot
- WHAT IS IT? Led by the team at Northwood Office, the reimagining of Ballantyne has set the stage for an abundance of creative events, installations, happenings and collaborations to crop up around this historically corporate area. They’re transforming the former golf course into Charlotte’s version of Central Park and are about to unveil The Amp, a large, outdoor amphitheater. And, they’ve sought out local artists and art groups to join in the programming fun.
- WHY WE LOVE IT? We’re believers in the “win-wins” that emerge when Charlotte’s corporate and creative communities come together, and Ballantyne is proving a meaningful testing ground.
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE IT. Keep your eye on the Go Ballantyne social feeds or sign up for their newsletter to see what’s coming up – then head out! It’s closer than you think.
- PHOTO ABOVE: The Amp opening in Ballantyne this fall | CREDIT: Northwood Office
- IG: @goballantyne
- WEB: goballantyne.com
CREATIVE INITIATIVE/EVENT: “Once Upon a Trauma” Storytelling Event
- WHAT IS IT? A new monthly meet-up where Charlotteans share the stories behind their scars. These evenings feature personal storytelling told live, on-stage, without notes. The shared experience of opening up about our most painful moments is intended to heal, connect and educate. Along with Morning Pages above, creative healing is hitting its stride in Charlotte.
- WHY WE LOVE IT? Zachary Matheson and Nigel Hood have created a heart-led opportunity for people to laugh, cry and commune around the stuff we all struggle with, but shy away from letting out.
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE IT. Follow the series on Instagram for announcements on upcoming dates.
- PHOTO CREDIT: Once Upon a Trauma
- IG: @onceuponatraumastorytelling
- WEB: Tickets here.
CREATIVE SERVICE: The Photo Outfitters
- WHAT IS IT? This is a shutterbug’s paradise, offering a manageable selection of accessories and equipment cultivated by the owners from their own experience. Plus, the space has studios for photo and shoots, a dark room for photogs who want to develop their own work, and community areas where photographers can just meet up and talk shop. Plus classes, rentals, printing, processing and more.
- WHY WE LOVE IT? Created by two lifelong photographers, Tony Ulchar and Cannon Spradling, this is the camera store they always wanted.
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE IT. Head over to the Oakhurst neighborhood (4732 Monroe Rd Suite 130, Charlotte, NC 28205). Watch this piece on QC Life to get a sense of it.
- PHOTO ABOVE: Cannon and Tony of Photo Outfitters | CREDIT: @applewoodgal_frames
- IG: @thephotooutfitters
- WEB: www.thephotooutfitters.com
MAKAYLA BINTER’S PICKS
CREATIVE INDIVIDUAL: Spencer Sims
- WHO IS HE? Spencer Sims (or “Suspence”) is a local musician who creates collaborative live performances at local venues across the city. He invites people into his projects and performances giving audiences dynamic and surprising twists of artists and genres.
- WHY WE LOVE HIM. Suspence is a natural collaborator – we love seeing artists that are unafraid to share their craft and expertise and connect across genres with members of the creative community.
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE HIM. Follow Suspence on Instagram, go to his next show and check out his music (on all streaming platforms)!
- PHOTO CREDIT: Spencer Sims
- IG: @suspencesims
- WEB: suspencefulmusicplaying
CREATIVE PLACE: Petra’s
- WHAT IS IT? Petra’s is whatever it needs to be at any given time – an intimate bar, gallery and performance space – for local artists to showcase their talents ranging from visual to performing arts.
- WHY WE LOVE IT. Petra’s is curated by local creatives Victor Rustin (@subconartist) and Nicholas Holman (@coughingdove).
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE IT. Attend the next opening or live performance – there is one listed EVERY DAY on the website (people, tickets are $7… come on).
- PHOTO CREDIT: Petra’s
- IG: @petrasbar and @artlounge_petras
- WEB: petrasbar.com
CREATIVE MOVEMENT: Creative Takeovers of Non-Traditional Space
- WHAT IS IT? Faced with the reality of a true lack of available (and affordable) space for gatherings, installations, performance and more, Charlotte artists are having to get creative with their use of venues … and we are HERE FOR IT. They are using breweries, bars and even streets to share the works of local artists.
- WHY WE LOVE IT. Art changes space in transformative ways and we love to see artists taking over non-traditional performance and exhibition space like Midnight Mulligan’s Brewery and Lenny Boy Brewing.
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE IT. Follow Instagram accounts like @blkmrktclt, @shamelessimprov, @artcartnoda and … AHEM … @cltiscreative to see the works in-person and find the events.
- PHOTO ABOVE: Makers & Creators at The Chamber
CREATIVE INITIATIVE/EVENT: Tap In Tuesday
- WHAT IS IT? Tap in Tuesday is an open mic night at Bart’s Mart in Eastway Crossing Shopping Center. Emceed by Phaze Gawd (@phazegwad704), this event offers space for local creatives to showcase their projects and talents in front of excited and receptive audiences.
- WHY WE LOVE IT. We appreciate that creatives have an open and safe space to express themselves and showcase their work, no matter where they are in their creative career and process.
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE IT. Attend the Open Mic Night available every Tuesday from 7-10 pm.
- PHOTO CREDIT: Bart’s Mart
- IG: @bartsmartclt
- WEB: Bart’s Mart online
CREATIVE SERVICE: Grindhaus Studios
- WHAT IS IT? A local music co-working space and recording studio that has engagement programs to share music, record and meet other musical artists. Established by local musician Jason Jett, Grindhaus is also financially accessible and offers resident artists $10 studio hours.
- WHY WE LOVE IT? We love accessibility for local artists and the chance to connect with artists of all career levels and genres.
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE IT. Attend a listening session, hosted every first Sunday, and follow their Instagram.
- PHOTO CREDIT: Grindhaus Studios
- IG: @grindhausstudios
- WEB: grindhausstudios.com
TIM MINER’S PICKS
CREATIVE INDIVIDUAL: Carolina “Caro” Yanez
- WHO IS SHE? Caro Yanez is one half of the creative duo behind The Brand Building Shop, a company she and her husband, Emi, created to help companies develop their story and their corporate identity. But, she’s a quadruple-threat – an artist proficient in photography, videography and theater, too.
- WHY WE LOVE HER. It can be easy for creatives to fall into ruts and depend on a well-worn artistic skill. But, during the pandemic, Caro took up printmaking and has taught herself how to turn her illustrations into stamps to reignite her artistic passions. That’s something we all need.
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE HER. Well, you can always check out The Brand Building Shop or follow her Instagram, but we’re pretty sure you can hire Caro to make a custom stamp for you!
- PHOTO CREDIT: Carolina Yanez
- IG: @Cayoyin
- WEB: thebrandbuildingshop.com
CREATIVE PLACE: CRTV Lab
- WHAT IS IT? This time last year, the spaces that now house the DoGreater CRTV Lab were disused classrooms and meeting spaces in the bottom of Shiloh Institutional Baptist Church. Today, after lots of donations and hard work, these forgotten spaces offer gathering and learning space for adult creatives by day and students by night.
- WHY WE LOVE IT. Charlotte has an affordable creative workspace problem. Period. 650 creatives told us so last year. This is a completely innovative use of existing space where both sides win – the church gets new life, and creatives of all ages have a new place for “creative collisions.”
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE IT. You can find it at 2400 Greenland Ave. in the heart of the historic Camp Greene Community. We have public Charlotte Is Creative office hours there on Feb. 17. Join us from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- IG: @thecrtvlab
- WEB: dogreater.org
CREATIVE MOVEMENT: University City Partners Embracing Creativity
- WHAT IS IT? Okay, let’s be honest. If we asked, “Where do you experience creativity and artistic excitement in Charlotte?” … would University City be on your list? Well, that’s changing. Under the leadership of Tobe Holmes and newly-installed president and CEO Keith Stanley (not to mention to mighty team of Janelle Goodrich and Jordan Harris), University City Partners (UCP) is dreaming much bigger about placemaking and engagement these days. And, they’re reaching out to creatives to help lead the way.
- WHY WE LOVE IT. University City is one of the largest commercial and residential areas in the state. And, it’s one of the most culturally diverse places to visit here. The university could be a creative beacon in the Queen City, but more work needs to be done to connect faculty, students and resources to the surrounding community. Good thing, that work is underway.
- WHERE IS IT? The community surrounding Charlotte (and by that, we mean the “University of North Carolina at Charlotte”).
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE IT. Hop on the light rail and take a trip; check out sports, arts and more on campus; and consult the UCP calendar. Oh, and don’t sleep on what Adam Rhew is doing at South Park Partners. We see you, 28210.
- PHOTO ABOVE: Urban Reader Bookstore in University City | CREDIT: University City Partners
- IG: @univcityclt
- WEB: universitycitypartners.org
CREATIVE INITIATIVE/EVENT: Broken Crayon
- WHAT IS IT? Started by local creative Jamea Marlowe, the Broken Crayon is a mobile art studio that provides Charlotte parents with fun, safe and affordable family-friendly creative activities.
- WHY WE LOVE IT. Simple answer … because they give love back. No, really, it’s in their mission statement to infuse love into everything they do and every experience they offer. Plus, their activities aren’t “artistic babysitting.” You don’t just drop the kids off and crack open a cold one. Participants create alongside their kids. And, that’s essential for a lifelong passion with creativity. It shows children that “arts aren’t just for kids.”
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE IT. Broken Crayon offers a packed calendar of workshops you can find here. And, you can hire them for private events.
- PHOTO CREDIT: The Broken Crayon
- IG: @the.brokencrayon
- WEB: brokencrayonstudio.com
CREATIVE SERVICE: Squash Blossom Social
- WHAT IS IT? Squash Blossom Social is a company established by Alexandra Smith to help working creatives of all sizes harness the power of social media to help them strengthen their brands as creative entrepreneurs. And, that’s something that hits very close to our hearts.
- WHY WE LOVE IT. Independent artists and creative entrepreneurs have to do it all – bookkeeping and accounting, event management, project management, insurance, legal work and much more. Marketing often falls by the wayside, whether there just isn’t time or the entrepreneur is intimidated by it. We’ve watched Alexandra’s work make huge impacts on Charlotte-Mecklenburg creatives we adore. So, naturally, we adore the woman who helped them succeed.
- HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE IT. Follow Alexandra’s feeds to get tips and tricks, but – better still – reach out and hire her to help you.
- PHOTO CREDIT: Squash Blossom Social
- IG: @artintheqc
- WEB: squashblossomsocial.com
ABOVE: Michelle Guobadia hugs DeNeer Davis at CreativeMornings/Charlotte | CREDIT: Ernesto Moreno
WHO DO YOU LOVE?
The list above is long for an email, but it barely scratches the surface of the creative talent at work in the Queen City area. We work hard all year long to share as many creative people, places, services and movements as we can. But, we can’t find each and every one.
So, please help us. Take a look at our Website. If you don’t see a creative there you feel like we should know about, please CLICK here and share their information with us.
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