EXCLUSIVE: ArtPop Street Gallery Reveals Artist Class of 2023
Charlotte nonprofit celebrates 10 years with 20 more creatives
Over the last decade, Wendy Hickey, founder of ArtPop Street Gallery has poured all her time and energy into filling the world with art – one billboard at a time. Okay, tons of billboards at a time. And, she’s highlighted hundreds of artists along the way.
A former outdoor advertising executive, Hickey saw an opportunity to promote local artists working to build their careers. She’d promote them on billboards that may otherwise be empty, providing Charlotte and other communities beautiful reminders of the local art – and artistic talent – around them. Hickey sold advertising companies on the idea of donating millions of dollars of ad space to the cause.
Eventually, billboards were joined by newsstands, airport and mixed-use development digital screens and more. This started as a side gig for Hickey. Now, it’s her full-time passion.
“What I hope is each of these artists can make the most of the education, events and media space and change the trajectory of their art careers for many years to come,” said Hickey.
Announcing the Class of 2023
So, how does Hickey plan to celebrate her 10th anniversary? By gathering her team around her (in 2022, ArtPop was able to expand from a one-woman show to three full-time employees) and doing it all over again. Today, ArtPop welcomed 20 creatives into (or back to) the family.
The 20 incoming juried artists come from Mecklenburg, Union, Catawba, Lincoln, Gaston and York (South Carolina) counties. Two of them, Arthur Rogers Jr. and Leigh B. Williams are returning ArtPop artists. One, Haley Horner, is a senior at Fort Mill High School. She will receive a $1,500 scholarship to assist her pursuit of an arts degree.
The right kind of exposure
$7 million in advertising space across the Charlotte region.
500,000+ million impressions.
That’s what lies ahead for the ArtPop Class of 2023. Their artwork will be installed beginning in early January through patronage from Adams Outdoor Advertising, Lamar Advertising, Awedience Media and other media partners.
And, for the first time, ArtPop artists will be featured for six months at CATS railway stations. That’s a lot of exposure.
The concept of “exposure” is a tricky one for many creatives. Too often, it can be a hollow promise made by someone who wants to justify asking for their work for free. Thanks to the support
In the case of ArtPop, though, Hickey and her team work to generate exposure and then they teach artists how to build their business. They provide instruction from Artists U., an incubator for helping artists enhance their small business prowess. And, every member of the class of 2023 will receive a $500 honorarium thanks to the support of The LendingTree Foundation. [ArtPop Street Gallery is a member of the inaugural LendaHand Alliance Cohort.]
All of this effort, from the billboards to the business instruction, is designed to help creatives in the ArtPop program develop sustainable careers. Hickey says her goal is to assist artists in “connecting to the community in meaningful ways and to have their most successful year ever in their small business sales.”
Access to art 365 days a year
Hickey said ArtPop is a win-win. While the artists gain recognition and generate business, the Charlotte region is enveloped by art made by neighbors and friends, even if it’s for a few moments a day while stuck in traffic.
That’s how it’s been for the last decade. And, if ArtPop has anything to say about it, that’s how it will continue for many, many billboards to come.
“Just imagine how all that art has helped beautify our community and made Charlotte such a unique place to live,” said Brooke Gibbons, director of impact and sustainability at ArtPop.
Meet the ArtPop Class of 2023
A Charlotte native, Addison Wahler is a freelance landscape and architectural designer who’s also pursuing his career as a full-time painter. Trained in classical figure drawing, Wahler has established his own style he defines as “abstract painting with a figurative narrative.”
South African native Andrea Brinkley grew up learning to knit and sew. Now in her home studio in Matthews, she finds inspiration in her love of flowers and color. She crochets, embroiders and makes jewelry while experimenting on unexpected surfaces such as tennis rackets.
Anna Dean is a mixed media artist who works in media ranging from sculpture to video. Beginning her career as an arts educator, she helped create the SmartArts Program in Greenville, South Carolina. Now as a professor at Winthrop University – where she recently completed her Masters in Fine Arts – Dean teaches and coordinates the CreatorSpace technology lab.
A native of North Carolina with roots in Saint Eustatius and Trinidad, Arthur Rogers Jr. is an illustrator by trade. He is a U.S. Army veteran who is the founder and executive director of the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Center across from the McColl Center in uptown Charlotte. At VAPA, Rogers is a member of the Palette Table Collective and an artist represented by Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery.
Autumn Payne is primarily a sculptor. But, from that foundation, she has a drive to explore other mediums. She continues to grow in her practice by exploring her everyday experience and letting that creativity take physical form. As she says, “In every piece I create, I give myself over to the exploration within the human experience and my medium and watch it take on a life of its own.”
Bryant Portwood is a figurative painter with an accomplished academic background. He holds a bachelor’s degree in studio art, with an art history minor, from Centre College and master’s degree in painting from the New York Academy of Art. Portwood paints from a perspective steeped in his own sense of nostalgia, working across a wide array of media – from personal trinkets and toys to advertisements and comic books.
CHD:WCK! Is a self-taught visual artist from East Orange, New Jersey. He works on different surfaces, from traditional paper to the human body, focusing on texture, strong lines, soft curves and his own form of hand-lettering. CHD:WCK! was a participating artist in the Black Lives Matter mural on S. Tryon St. in uptown Charlotte and works out of the VAPA Center, just a few blocks away on N. Tryon St.
Doris Barahona was born in Santiago, Chile and has always loved learning. She began her career as an educator and discovered her love of painting later in life. Although she prefers oil paints, her works are mixed media in nature and make use of cold wax, inks, charcoal and shellac.
Emily Batson is an artist and educator based out of Waxhaw. A full-time artist, Batson explores her creative passions through her own work and by teaching private art lessons. “My artwork reflects the beauty of life around me,” she said. “I especially love how the raw elements of our world interact to produce stunning beauty. Bright pops of color and intuitive lines are characteristic of my work.”
Ester Moorehead is a visual artist born in Toronto, Canada who has always immersed herself in creativity. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine art from the University of South Carolina, she returned to Toronto to teach high school art and science. Before moving to Charlotte, Morehead battled cancer and gained a new perspective on life. Now cancer-free, her desire is to create artwork that embodies the belief that every moment of life is valuable.
Haley Ayana Horner is a senior at Fort Mill High School in South Carolina focusing on visual art studies. Already, one of her original works is on display in the U.S. Capitol building. Her passion is producing works of art that encourage people to relate to one another.
After raising four children, Lee Ko was ready to return to her passion – metalwork. She reignited her art career by making art with recycled materials (starting with copper wire and soon glass jars and bottles). She wants viewers of her work to think about how materials we use (and discard) daily return to us. As she says, “There’s nothing that’s not precious, and everything has its own use.”
A former full-time art instructor (who still loves to teach when she can), Leigh Williams specializes in acrylic and alcohol ink paintings and collaborative work. A creative who revels in the challenges of creating a finished work from a blank surface and loosely formed ideas, Williams has a ready answer for those who ask her how long it took to create a work of art: “A lifetime.”
Matt Myers is a children’s book writer and illustrator who creates his own original works and brings to life the vision of others. With 24 books and a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor award under his belt, Myers has also exhibited his fine art paintings in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Los Angeles and the Mint Museum in Charlotte.
Filmmaker/photographer Nicole Driscoll is the founder of Films on Tap, a film festival pairing locally produced short films and locally brewed beer. In addition to her freelance filmmaking work, Driscoll is a teaching artist with Studio 345, an afterschool program from Arts+ that uses multimedia design, digital photography and digital media arts to help students finish high school and prepare for post-graduate goals.
Rebecca Lipps is a multidisciplinary artist and educator cultivating immersive public art experiences that combine painted sculpture and video. Known for her enthusiasm for collaborating with a variety of arts organizations throughout the city, Lipps draws from her broad education and experiences to explore the boundaries of art and technology to develop new artforms.
Sarah (Sally) Fanjoy is a visual artist working primarily in photography, videography and light. She is interested in how light falls, reflects, transmits and connects. She creates large-format stills or moving images and sculptural pieces on metal and glass, inviting viewers to slow down and engage with the beauty and elegance of the close-up, intricate details of her subjects.
Born in Zimbabwe, Tinashe (Tina) Gwata Vincent is a high school art teacher and a mixed media artist. She’s passionate about weaving a variety of media and techniques into her work – acrylic painting, quilting and sewing, collage, ceramics, papier mache and batik. As Vincent says, “I love mixed media because there are no rules, and it allows me to experience the possibilities of the materials.”
Garland Troy Barnett is a self-taught bladesmith in Hickory. He’s been nurturing this creative talent since he encountered his first forge at 9 years old. Over his lifetime, he’s explored many avenues of art from wood sculpture to oil painting, but blacksmithing (and the stories he challenges himself to tell through it) has remained a smoldering passion for him, culminating in the opening of Barnett Art and Forge a decade ago.
Freelance designer Will White says he lives to create art – that he’s always been drawn to the visual side of creation. But, when he bought a sewing machine “on a whim,” he knew his true, creative purpose. Teaching himself through trial and error over the past 17 years, White has designed (and sewn) fashions ranging from wedding gowns to outfits for dogs, all with the same mission: pushing Charlotte’s style to the limit.
Pop Into ArtPop
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