TWOKAT Puts Local Art in Orbit
“Events that celebrate our creative wealth are paramount for the long-term proliferation of culture in Charlotte. This event is just one way local businesses and creatives can come together to prove to their neighbors that we need art to thrive.” – Brett Toukatly of AstroPop
We’ve barely dipped our toe into autumn (it starts today, actually), and an incredibly colorful and diverse array of creative events are falling into place all around us. Some are organized by local nonprofits, others by artist collectives and large cultural entities and galleries.
And some are passion projects, organized by artists for artists … wherever they can find space to do it.
AstroPop, which takes place this Saturday, Sept. 25, is one of those — envisioned and cultivated by local creative Brett Toukatly (a.k.a. TWOKAT) with help from his employer, The Chamber by Wooden Robot in the NoDa neighborhood.
During the event, six local artists will each paint a 6-feet-by-6-feet mural while eventgoers watch and drink craft beer (should they choose to drink). The event will feature live music from seven different artists, as well as dance music from Charlotte’s venerable DJ, That Guy Smitty.
Passion, patience … and patrons
There are so many events taking place in Charlotte these days (don’t forget about Festival in the Park this weekend!), a community can take it all for granted. Managing an event like AstroPop may look easy on the surface, but it takes passion, commitment and financial support. As TWOKAT will tell you, there’s no “event fairy” who makes it all happen.
To peek behind the curtain, we asked him to share a little about how AstroPop prepared for launch.
Where did the idea for AstroPop come from?
I’ve been an avid music festivalgoer since 2008, and I’ve always had lofty goals to curate one my way. During the early phase of the pandemic, I started to think it would be possible to host some sort of event at The Chamber by Wooden Robot Brewery.
In late June, I came to the owners of Wooden Robot and proposed my festival idea. I expressed that I wanted to go big right out the gate and really put on an event that was dense with talent. They were immediately on board with the idea, and they gave me full freedom to organize and curate the festival.
What is Wooden Robot’s role in it?
Wooden Robot is the host and sole financial backer of this festival. They have been incredibly supportive and trusting in this project, and are eager to work with me and other creatives to ensure the culture of NoDa is recognized, celebrated and honored. I never would have approached them with such an immense proposal if I didn’t know they had sincere interest in perpetuating the arts and music culture in the neighborhood in which they built a new home.
What does success look like to you?
The whole idea of AstroPop is to showcase the immense talent we have in our city and let them do their thing. Frankly, I’ve already realized success the moment these gifted people agreed to help me do this in the first place.
I think we can all relate to some sense of deflated self-worth over the past year and a half, and their eagerness to participate, along with the trust and love I’ve received from both the creatives and Wooden Robot Brewery is personal success.
I also think success for the attendees of this festival will be to leave feeling like they were a part of something inspiring. This is truly an event intended to bring art into focus, and I hope it sparks some vigor in the residents of NoDa to be creative and support creatives.
Why is it important for Charlotte to have more events like this?
Events that celebrate our creative wealth are paramount for the long-term proliferation of culture in Charlotte. This event is just one way local businesses and creatives can come together to prove to their neighbors that we need art to thrive.
Charlotte is growing at breakneck speed, and I think it’s more important than ever in this city’s history to make sure we are growing culture as quickly as we are building condos and apartments. Art makes you feel, and I want to collectively make sure our fellow man stops every once in a while just to feel.
There is certainly no shortage of amazing creatives in this city, and I trust they will make their voices heard one way or another. Let’s get behind that.
I would certainly like to build upon my AstroPop Mural + Music Festival concept in 2022. Aside from that, you can count on me to continue trying to grow as an illustrator and a human. I have a few more ideas to bolster the arts community up my sleeve, but I’m gonna take it one step at a time.
What: AstroPop Mural + Music Festival
When: Saturday, Sept. 25 from noon – 11 p.m.
Participating Mural Artists:
Live Music & DJs on the Rooftop:
- Natalie Carr
- Erick Lottary
- Sweat Transfer
- Alan Charmer
- Paint Fumes
- Late Bloomer
- That Guy Smitty
MAIN IMAGE: Brooke Brown Photography
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