Where Are We in CLT?

Your neighborhood guide to what is going on in the Queen City!

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Where Are We In CLT? Seafarer

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Who remembers a giant sign featuring a white whale spouting water on Albemarle Rd.? Our hands are raised.

The old Seafarer restaurant was open from 1980 to 2013. As much as we loved the food, it was their incredible sign, featuring — you guessed it — a giant, water-spouting whale, that really stole our hearts. So, we contacted former owner/operator Chris Copsis (via his daughter, Nicole). And, we’re excited to share some fun details with you.

When did the sign go up?


Who came up with the idea?

[Chris] came up with the idea & tagline “For a Whale of a Meal.”

Who designed and made the sign?

Chris designed it on paper and Stavros Chrisotomides from Trojan Sign Company built it.⁣

Was there a water feature?

Yes, it spouted a 10-foot mist of water into the air.

Where is it now?

The whale currently lives inside the old Seafarer building, which is now Big Al’s Pub.

Did the whale have a name?

“Whalen the Whale”

What was Chris’ favorite item on the menu?

Broiled whole flounder, affectionately known as … “The Whale.”

Growing up in Charlotte, the staff of The Biscuit have happy memories of the East Side, and we love it still. What are your favorite places (past or present) on Charlotte’s East Side, especially the Albemarle Rd. and Eastland area? Tell us what they are and why you love them at hello@charlotteiscreative.com.

If we love your answer, you may just win an East Side Exploration pack featuring gift cards you can use at East side restaurants and businesses!

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Get Schooled on Things to do in University City

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Just 10 miles from uptown Charlotte, the University City area seems like a city all its own. Aptly named for the crown jewel of the area, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), the area is rooted in education and fueled by innovation. 

Once will not be enough.  There’s more than enough to see and do in one day. Between exhibitions, performances, food truck feasts, farmers market finds, nature trails and bookish delights, University City is an experience seeker’s gold mine. (UNCC 49er pun intended.)  

This is the fifth installment of a new exploration series sponsored by OrthoCarolina, that encourages everyone to go for walks to discover creative communities across the Charlotte region. 

Trains, trails and automobiles 

Don’t be intimidated by the major thoroughfares that encircle the area. Interstates 85 and 485 flank University City on the east and west, respectively, while University City Blvd. and N.  Tryon St. run parallel on either side of UNCC’s campus. These main (and busy) roads make it easy to reach the destination, but it’s not the only way to explore University City. Pockets of walkable spaces, greenway trails and multiple LYNX Blue Line stations make the area feel approachable and well connected.

The LYNX Blue Line

“Ebb & Flow” — Credit: Ernesto Moreno

The light rail, as many know it, is a great way to cover a lot of ground. The last four stations are perfectly placed to explore nearby attractions, and each station features noteworthy public art.

  • University City Blvd. Station features work by artist Jackie Chang. Text marries images in the glass windscreens at the passenger shelters. The word “WHERE,” with “HERE” embedded within it, is printed above Chang’s digitally created images of foliage against a blue sky. ​
  • McCullough Station’s Ebb & Flow is the work of artist Shaun Cassidy. Custom blue sculptural benches formed into the shape of standing leaves are placed at each end of the platform, with perforated leaves casting playful shadows on the concrete. Flowing leaf patterns are echoed in the etched windscreen glass and stainless steel trackway fencing. 
  • JW Clay Blvd./UNC Charlotte Station has works by Chang similar to University City Blvd. station. But take a minute to appreciate this station’s glass enclosures. The evocative works by Susan Brenner (The Red Tree at the JW Clay station tower and Waterfall at the University City Blvd. station tower) illustrate sentiments of growth and movement found throughout nature.
  • UNC Charlotte – Main Station​’s featured artist, Mikyoung Kim, stages a stellar finale at the last stop on the Blue Line and the main entrance to UNCC.​ 

Waterfall — Credit: Ernesto Moreno

Look closely at the glass wIndscreen. Its designs incorporate world maps with each continent outlined in blue. vertical white and grey lines curving through the maps represent the world’s time zones. 

But the main attraction is Kim’s functional sculpture with two fluid, perforated stainless steel forms centered on beige pavers. A choreographed lighting program, activated by motion sensors, enhances the exhibit, interacting with light rail riders and passersby.

You’ll also spot works along the rails by artists Carolyn Braaksma (intricate designs in the stones of walls and bridges) and Darren Goins (quirky bike parking).

Read more about these projects on the City of Charlotte’s Web site.

Going Green(way)

Mallard Creek Greenway and Clarks Creek Greenway combine to form the longest trail in the Carolina Thread Trail, weaving its way through more than seven miles of the University City area. 

From bridges and streams to butterflies and blue herons, you’ll see something new around every corner. There are also several connector paths to nearby neighborhoods and offshoot greenways, like Barton Creek Greenway that leads to the walkway by the Shoppes at University Place.

Nothing “beets” local

Market vendor – Credit – 3rd Rock Events

The University City Farmers Market is a must-do on Saturdays, May through October, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Located along the lake at The Shoppes at University Place and easily accessible from the JW Clay/UNCC Station, you’ll find organically grown fare along with cooking demonstrations and live music by local artists. 

Quench your thirst with cold-pressed organic juices from Dr. O.J.’s Organic Juice or a fresh-squeezed lemonade from Squeeze. If you need a cup of ambition, you have your pick. If java is your jam, the University area has something brewing for you. Drip Joint, Ocio Cafe, The Coffee Tin and Detour Coffeebar have unique coffee creations to kickstart your day. 

Pair it with a treat from Sweet Bite Cupcake or Urban Honey and peruse the slew of arts and crafts vendors. (And since life is all about balance, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Camp Gladiator hosts workouts at the market the first and last Saturday at 9 a.m.)

Food finds

Mural at Ninety’s – Credit Ernesto Moreno

University City has a host of culinary offerings; the hardest part is deciding where to start! Order up some vegan comfort food at Black-and-women-owned VelTree or a ‘90s-themed treat from Ninety’s Ice Cream (featuring brand new 90s-themed wall art by Alex Duncan a.k.a. @x.dunc). 

Explore the international food scene with specialties from Le Kebab Grill (flavorful falafel), Papi’s Puerto Rican Cuisine (amazing arroz con pollo), Sarangi Indian & Nepali Cuisine (savory samosa chaat), Banh Mi Brothers (lovely lemongrass grilled chicken) and Tea Fusion Café (delicious bubble tea). 

Or plan to visit on Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m. for the University City Food Truck Friday at Armored Cow Brewing for rotating food trucks, live music and craft vendors. 

UNC Charlotte’s art of gold

49er Miner — CREDIT: Ernesto Moreno

UNC Charlotte (the university’s newly released preferred moniker) alumni know that 49ers bleed green and gold. They’re probably also familiar with the school’s iconic “49er Miner” statue by  Lorenzo Ghiglieri and “Norm the Miner” mascot. But, you may not know the series of fortuitous events that make the 49ers moniker so meaningful. 

UNC Charlotte was founded in 1946 (originally known as the Charlotte Center) to serve the educational needs of veterans returning from World War II. But these centers started to close in 1949 as the need decreased. 

Enter Bonnie Cone, the school’s founder. She recognized the need for a public college in the region. Charlotte College was officially established in 1949 thanks to “Miss Bonnie” (as she was affectionately known). 

The 49ers nickname was adopted in 1961 as a nod to the Charlotte region’s rich gold-mining history and a reference to the California gold rush. (The “gold-seekers, called ‘forty-niners’ (referring to 1849, the peak year for Gold Rush immigration” is how Wikipedia explains it.) 

Plus, the university happens to sit on Highway 49. (Charlotte College became the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1965 when it officially joined the UNC system.)

History aside, the campus is abuzz with fresh starts and final chapters. But you don’t need to go back to school to experience the offerings on campus. Whether you’re wandering through the gardens or absorbing an exhibit, you’ll find a mindset shift.

Peaceful paths

There’s a lot of ground to cover, so wear comfortable walking shoes. But the public art and beautiful landscaping throughout the campus help break up the hills and stairs you’ll encounter along the way. (Getting that blood pumping keeps the creativity flowing, though, right?)

Plan some time to explore the flora and fauna at the UNCC Botanical Gardens

Start at The McMillan Greenhouse (several parking spaces are available for guests), sign in and take a peek at the collection of rare and seasonal plants. The Dinosaur Garden is a fun feature of the greenhouse. The lush space has the greatest diversity of ferns (and other fern-like plants) in the Charlotte area. The greenhouse also hosts seasonal events, like the annual Fall Plant Sale (open to the public Oct. 1 and 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Dinosaur Garden in the McMillan Greenhouse

From the Greenhouse, cross over Mary Alexander Rd. to enter the Botanical Gardens, then choose your own nature adventure. The Susie Harwood Garden is on your left and Van Landingham Glen is to your right. Each has paths that wind by unique features and beautiful blooms. 

One of the most moving experiences in the Gardens is the newly opened Polly Rogers Memorial Sensory Garden (located within Van Landingham Glen). The garden honors Polly Rogers, the UNCC sophomore who died in an auto accident in May 2018. 

The therapeutic environment is designed for all, regardless of ability — a nod to Polly’s ambition to be a special education teacher. The magical space is meant to reflect Polly’s spirit — peaceful and contemplative, yet whimsical and fun. The clear pavers are “fairy garden art” designed by the Gardens’ staff, and contribute to the imaginative feel of Polly’s Garden. 

As you walk along the pebble path, take note of the symbols in the stonework in Polly’s Garden — they mark her final resting place, where her remains are interred. Her family chose the symbols to represent things Polly was passionate about: The ram (Polly’s astrological sign), the autism awareness heart (for her passion for special education), the symbol for “I love you” in sign language (which Polly often used with her friends and family) and a lightning bolt (reflecting Polly’s energetic personality). 

While it may sound like a somber experience, the space is designed to invite individuals of all ages and abilities to embrace their creativity and feel at one with the world around them.

Paperbacks, paints and Pinot

Urban Readers Bookstore — CREDIT: Ernesto Moreno

Start at the newly opened Urban Reader Bookstore, a Black-owned book shop specializing in African-American titles. The independent shop also hosts community events and game nights. The walls are adorned with original art by Tajmah Allison.

Next, head across the street for a 90-minute art session at City Art Room (online ticket purchase is strongly recommended, since walk-in space is limited and rates increase by $10). You have your choice of canvas painting, glass painting or clay molding, plus karaoke and a wine bar. (Bonus, snack bar offerings are just $1.) 

Once you’ve created your masterpiece, stroll next door for a wine tasting and live music at The Wine Vault

Take a look; it’s in a book…

For a literary adventure, dig into any topic you fancy at J. Murrey Atkins Library. You’ll see students tucked in study corners, but feel free to quietly peruse the library’s collection of books and rotating exhibits. 

J. Murray Atkins Library — CREDIT: UNC Charlotte

Fun fact for bibliophiles: In 2016, Atkins Library celebrated the acquisition of its 2 millionth volume, a rare sixth edition of Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, published in 1793.

For a real treat, take the elevator to the 10th floor to see the Special Collections and University Archives. The quiet space houses unpublished materials such as archival records, photographs, maps, manuscripts, oral history recordings and rare books. Plus, you’ll score some views of the campus and, on a clear day, the Charlotte skyline.

Want more library fun? The Charles C. Hight Architecture Library is on the second floor of Storrs Hall, which houses the School of Architecture (SoA) at UNCC. It is the only branch library at the university. The primary focus of the collection is 20th and 21st-century design, architects and the built environment.

Artful Offerings

UNCC has a plethora of performances and exhibits in the works. Start at the Student Union Art Gallery to view the current exhibition, On the way to Thriving: Lillian & Teresa, on display through Aug. 30. 

Then venture to other exhibits and performances available at various locations on campus. You can view the full calendar on the university’s website, but here’s a peek at  some of the upcoming highlights:



Did We Miss One of Your Favorites?

If you have a favorite creative location in the University City area that we didn’t include in this story, reach out to us at hello@charlotteiscreative.com with a description and a photo! We’ll add it to the story as a reader suggestion.

Photo Gallery

All photos below were taken by Ernesto Moreno, unless otherwise noted.





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Where Are We In CLT? From Charlotte With Love

Address: 1440 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28203 | Get Directions

As one South End icon was saying goodbye (we’ll miss you Price’s Chicken Coop), another was coming onto the scene. On Monday, artist Garrison Gist put the finishing touches on a mural he created at Wooden Robot Brewing during South End Blooms, a six-weeks series of pop-up art installations which ended Sunday.

The new work was a collaboration with Rel Mariano, a.k.a. “Trash Genius,” creator of the “From Charlotte with Love” brand, and the brewery and South End.

While most of the South End Blooms installations were temporary, this mural, and one by Amber Thompson nearing completion at the Holiday Inn Express on S. Tryon St., are here to stay

Photo Credit: Rel Mariano a.k.a Trash Genius

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Where Are We In CLT? Wonder Wings at South End Blooms

Address: 213 E Palmer St, Charlotte, N.C. 28203 | Get Directions

Here’s the perfect way to take flight on an exploration of the Rail Trail into South End — take a photo standing in front of “Wonder Wings.” The nearly 7-foot-wide wings are part of #SouthEndBlooms, a weekend series of pop-up art installations and activities through mid-June.

The “Wonder Wings” are fiber art constructions, crocheted by local creatives Ashley Jane McIntyre and Kelly Rose Zimmerman, both members of CRAFT CLT, a collective of artists “connecting the textile arts community through history, skill-building and local partnerships.” The wings took over two weeks to create.

The wings are installed at “Edna’s Porch,” bright yellow swings just off the Rail Trail on E. Carson Street, kitty-corner to Midnight Diner.

#SouthEndBlooms is sponsored by South End and Charlotte Center City Partners and managed by Charlotte Is Creative. Installations (or “Blooms”) range from visual art to floral art, musical performances, dance, henna art and more. Find a line-up of this weekend’s activities here.

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Where Are We In CLT? Bojangles Coliseum

Address: 2700 E Independence Blvd, Charlotte, N.C. 28205 | Get Directions

The Chicken Dance. When it comes to mind — as it so often does — so does the place where we perfected it — Bojangles Coliseum. (Go, Charlotte Checkers!)

The building has gone by many names over its long tenure in the Queen City — The Charlotte Coliseum, Independence Arena, “The Big I,” Cricket Arena — and more. While its exterior signage may have changed over time, its proud dome remains intact.

The original Charlotte Coliseum (here’s a 1966 aerial photo, courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler North Carolina Room Image Collection) was completed on Independence Blvd. in 1966, alongside Ovens Auditorium. A.G. “Gouldie” Odell, founder of the architecture firm now known as Odell, was the lead project designer. It could seat between 10,000 and 14,000 people.

At the time it opened, the Charlotte Coliseum was the largest unsupported steel dome coliseum in the world as well as the first free-spanning dome in the United States. Over its long life, the building has played host to Billy Graham, Elvis, the Grateful Dead and a host of sports teams ranging from the Carolina Cougars basketball team to the Carolina Vipers indoor soccer team to the Charlotte Roller Girls.

When the “new” (now extinct) Charlotte Coliseum opened on Tyvola Road in 1988, the dome on Independence went dormant. But, not for long. It reopened in 1994 after renovations and remained open, even after the Charlotte Checkers moved to the Spectrum Center for a decade.

Renamed “Bojangles Coliseum” in 2008, the former Charlotte Coliseum is now connected to Ovens Auditorium as part of the “BOPlex.”

And, it’s still an awesome place to do the chicken dance in tandem with several thousand screaming Charlotteans.

Photo Credit: PowerWorks

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Where Are We In CLT? Elizabeth Home Turned Public Art Installation

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Charlotte “ARTivist” Rosalia Torres-Weiner is at it again, exploring the boundaries of where art is shared. In past batches of The Biscuit, we spoke with Torres-Weiner about taking art experiences to neighborhoods in a truck she converted into a mobile art studio. Last year, Charlotte Is Creative provided her a grant to place 100 pieces of original art in Latinx communities throughout the city.

Now, she’s turned a private home into a work of art.

Torres-Weiner, along with help from Felicia Sutton (an artist Torres-Weiner has worked with since she was in high school) and Edith Covarrubias, were asked by homeowners in the Elizabeth neighborhood to transform their home into a community work of art. Over four days in April, the artists painted colorful flowers on the exterior of the home while neighbors and visitors watched.

“While we were painting, we were constantly amazed by people yelling ‘We love it!’,” said Torres-Weiner. “My favorite story is the landscaping guys (who were Latino) who stopped to take a selfie in front of the house. They said to me, ‘We come to cut the grass in this neighborhood and we leave. Now we see art, and it makes us happy!’”

We’re not going to tell you exactly where this home is. Instead, we encourage you to cruise the community in search of this jolt of happiness and enjoy a special treat hidden in one of Charlotte’s most historic neighborhoods.

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Where Are We In CLT? The Shop in North End

Address: 1100 North Graham Street, Charlotte, NC 28206 | Get Directions

Like many warehouses in Charlotte, the walls of this North End gem have weathered a lot of change in the city over the years. Built in the early 1950s, The Shop was originally used as a restaurant and blacksmith shop. By the 1960s, Big Bertha Service Station, an auto repair facility, had opened and would operate in various forms for decades.

When Ascent Real Estate Capital first heard about the project, there was one small auto repair shop still in service, but the majority of buildings were either empty or being used for storage.

Ascent’s vision was to refurbish the three buildings on the site and keep the 1950s-era service station aesthetic that had come to define the property. Some appendages had been added over time — metal awnings over the windows and service bays for cars — but the buildings’ bones had potential, like the metal trusses that created high, barrel-vaulted ceilings.

The property was essentially three buildings that had amalgamated over time. Opening up some walls allowed for more pedestrian and car accessibility and created the potential for some spacious patios. (The Shop’s first tenant, Petty Thieves Brewing Co., is making good use of its space, with a 5,000-square-foot brewery and a large outdoor patio with stunning skyline views.) The development is also home to long-time Charlotte design innovation firm, BOLT Group. The result is a mixed-use site that balances modern utility while weaving itself into the fabric of the neighborhood.

The Shop’s iconic rotating sign is the finishing touch on the project and a nod to the buildings’ storied past. Dating back to the middle of the last century, it’s a landmark of the neighborhood. Ascent made it a requirement of their rezoning to ensure that the form and structure of the sign be maintained.

Ascent partnered with Modulex Carolinas — a signage and branding business that restored the vintage Park Road Shopping Center City — to refurbish the face of the sign and install a new motor so it could rotate once again.

“We believe this is adaptive re-use done right and are excited to play our part to invest in a project that showcases the history of our community while creating new opportunities for businesses to come to North Graham Street,” said Brent Cobb with Modulex Carolinas. “The sign is a piece of history, and preserving it symbolizes what this project means to the North Graham corridor.”

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Where Are We In CLT? The Pauline Tea Bar Apothecary

Address: 2326 Arty Ave, Charlotte, NC 28208 | Get Directions

When you think of the word apothecary, you may think about a place that makes medicine for your body. (The English majors in us always think about Romeo & Juliet.) When Sherry Waters thinks of the word “apothecary,” it conjures up images of a place that makes medicine — or in this case, tea — for your soul.

The Pauline Tea Bar Apothecary, located in West Charlotte’s historic Camp Greene community, is doing just that.

The tea bar was created as a place to heal your mind, relax your body, and rejuvenate your spirits. Before opening The Pauline, Waters was a Fund Development Director for a local nonprofit. That’s when Waters realized she had a passion for creating moments of spiritual care.

“Over the last several years, prior to opening The Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary in 2019, I found that I was offering spiritual care to donors and volunteers that I was serving in the nonprofit arena that I was working,” said Waters. “A one-year chaplain residency at Atrium allowed me to discover my gift of creating sacred space for respite and restorative calm.”

The discovery of her gift led to the opening of The Pauline.

Photo Credit: Michael Maxwell

At its simplest, The Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary is a place to get a cup of tea. But it’s more than that. It’s a space that encourages meditation, prayer and reflection.

Every first Friday of the month, the herbal tea lounge hosts live music and open mic poetry nights. They play host to a wide variety of holistic wellness workshops to assist spiritual healing. Workshops range from tai chi to group meditation to restorative yoga. And (our favorite part) the walls are covered in art created by local artists available for purchase.

When deciding on a name for the tea house, Waters wanted to choose one that honored her grandmothers, Pauline and Lena, who instilled the value of community in her.

“They exhibited all of these attributes by the way they welcomed community onto their front porches and living rooms for lively fellowship, conversation and tea,” recalled Waters. “They created safe and lovely spaces for conversation and for people to just be themselves.”

On what she wants visitors of The Pauline to experience, Waters has this to say: “Our core values say it best … gracious hospitality, restorative environment and a peaceful presence.”

Get a Cuppa’ at The Pauline


Featured Image Photo Credit: Michael Maxwell

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Where Are We in CLT? Dilworth Artisan Station

Address: 118 E Kingston Ave, Charlotte, N.C. 28203, USA | Get Directions

With so much public art in South End, it’s easy to overlook the work of more than 25 local creatives waiting for you inside Dilworth Artisan Station (DAS) at 118 E Kingston Ave.

Much like Camp North End, the building that houses DAS has had a rich life. It’s been a furniture factory and a textile mill. During World War II, soldiers’ cars were stored there.

Today, nestled along the light rail line on Kingston Ave., the three-story building is an active art hub where artists create, show and sell their work. The art isn’t just inside the Station. In fact, mural artist Mike Wirth is painting three exterior walls of the building right now with help from Arko and Drew Newpher

To help us explore the building, Charlotte photographer, Brooke Brown, stopped by to tour the Station and meet artists Caroline Simas, Evelyn Henson, Kim Gibbs, Bruce WelnackBridgette Martin and Eva Crawford. Take a tour of Brooke’s photos below.

DAS is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and plays host to gallery crawls the first Friday and Saturday of the month.

Photo Gallery by Brooke Brown

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Where Are We in CLT? Rainbow Animal Wall

Address: 701 Keswick Ave, Charlotte, N.C. 28206, USA | Get Directions

New construction at Camp North End (CNE) is nothing … well … new. But, what is new is how art is incorporated into it.

The work being done along Keswick Avenue across from Free Range Brewing and Goodyear Arts requires a long construction fence that will be up for at least another year. It’s a prominent area at CNE, and the project management team decided it needed an art infusion. And, they called in Charlotte artist Jen Hill to help.

Hill assembled a diverse team of local creatives to paint a “rainbow animal wall” on the construction cloth that runs the length of the fence. The color scheme runs the ROYGBIV spectrum. Thanks to photographer Brooke Brown, we’re able to show you photos of the art and the artists below.

While the work is painted on a “canvas” that is normally discarded after construction wraps, CNE says they’re hoping to repurpose it if it’s still in good condition a year from now.

Artists involved in the project:

DIRECTIONS: 701 Keswick Ave. Charlotte, N.C. 28206

Photo Gallery from Brooke Brown

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Sharon Dowell on “Transit” & Her Creative Process

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Charlotte artist Sharon Dowell is at it again. Over the past 16 years, she’s created her distinctive murals, which often feature a complex design of bright colors and intersecting lines, across the Queen City — from Camp North End to South End to East Charlotte. Now, she’s added University City to the list.

PHOTO CREDIT: Brooke Brown Photography

Dowell was commissioned to paint a mural called “Transit,” in the newly completed UNC Charlotte Marriott & Conference Center. The 226-room hotel sits along the LYNX Blue Line at the intersection of North Tryon St. and J.W. Clay Blvd.

Inspiration for “Transit”

The piece, in which Dowell invested 100 hours from conception to completion, was curated by Denise Joseph of NINE dot ARTS art consultancy.

It was designed to incorporate landmarks and themes related to the university.

She also incorporated the design choices made at the hotel — carpet samples, furniture textures, colors and more — “to ensure that the work flows with the feel of the space.”

That aspect required an unusual amount of color matching, she says.

“Intertwining themes course through all of my work; the energy of place, renewal, temporality, shifting facets and planes overlapping,” said Dowell.

“This mural incorporates iconic architecture from UNC Charlotte’s main and uptown campuses and transit forms, exploring the idea of education culminating in growth, expansion and connection.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Brooke Brown Photography

“It is a special piece for me, as I am a UNCC arts alumni and also taught in the art department and managed the Rowe Galleries. Walking around the hotel, I see artwork from professors who positively impacted, encouraged me and changed the course of my life.”

A Complicated Process

Looking at a completed mural, it can be difficult to visualize the steps that went into bringing it to life.

To give us a sense of how her 100 hours were spent on “Transit,” Dowell shared her process flow with us below … as well as a few “pro tips” for emerging mural artists.

Sharon’s Process

Initial Client Interaction

  • Project overview
  • Portfolio shared, explain contract process to client
  • Cost estimates/explain range of pricing based on square footage, equipment needed, location of mural, surface prep, detail of design, etc.

Site Visit/Client Meeting

  • Measurements
  • Site photos, plans/blueprints given
  • Discuss imagery, colors, timeline, etc.

Estimate Sent & Contract Signed

  • Half deposit accepted to begin design process

Design Process

  • Create several sketches (Dowell manipulates photos digitally in Photoshop or Procreate)
  • One or two iterations of chosen design before client approval

Mural Prep/Packing

  • Determine schedule and site access hours
    • “As a woman, I always want to determine the safety of the site and best hours to paint, where to store supplies and equipment,” Dowell said.
  • Determine closest access to power (for projection or powering up her portable speaker; “Gotta’ have tunes!”) and a sink (for cleaning brushes)
  • Hire assistant
  • Commercial liability policy needed?
  • Construction site: Determine what safety gear is needed
  • Rent lift or bring scaffold or ladders
  • Color match and order paint or spray paint
  • Other needs: brushes, protective plastic, tape, stencils, painter’s edge, bucket, paint sprayer, etc
  • Water, snacks, sunscreen, speaker, umbrella, etc.

Painting the durn thing!

  • Plan on working six to 10 hours a day
  • Share social media tidbits of the process
  • Completion/approval by client and invoice for balance of project
  • Photograph the mural for documentation for portfolio, website and social media
  • Remember to thank those that made it possible

Completion celebration!

  • “I usually treat myself — to an ice cream cone, a new dress or a nice dinner with my sweetie,” Dowell said. “Something to say: Yay! You did it!”

Pro Tips

  • Wear hiking boots to support your ankles or New Balance sneakers (“My back never hurts now,” Dowell said.)
  • Take a day off to rest every five or six days and book a massage in the middle of the project (“My shoulder and arm muscles are now thanking me.”)
  • Seasonal game-changers: Pop-up umbrella in summer, wool socks and leggings in winter
  • Use a pillow and knee pads for crouching on the ground for long periods of time
  • Talenti Gelato containers are the best for holding small samples of paint (“I eat so many, I should be able to write those things off on my taxes!”)
  • “Having a big ego is lame, but do recognize that the universe has given you a talent that is unique and special and is of value.”
  • “One often has to hustle. Understandable, but constant ‘‘busyness’ is not fulfilling. Find balance, ways to rest, connect to yourself and make time for those you love and things that nourish you. This unblocks creative blocks and allows you to blossom and your work to soar to new heights.”
  • “Boundaries are important. People constantly expect free or cheap work or push the limit if they can. Compromises will happen when working on a commission, but ensure that your contract has limitations on how many revisions you will make in the design or mural painting process.”

Gallery of Sharon’s Process on “Transit”

MAIN PHOTO CREDIT (Above): Brooke Brown Photography

A Few More Paint Strokes with Sharon Dowell


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Where Are We In CLT? Bree Stallings Mural at Time Out Youth

Address: 3800 Monroe Rd, Charlotte, NC 28205 | Get Directions

Artist Bree Stallings rarely slows down. In the past two months, the artist who led the way on the “We Are Hip Hop” mural at Camp North End has painted new murals in Gastonia and Hope Haven in Charlotte … and now at Time Out Youth, a nonprofit that serves LGBTQ youth from age 11 to 20.

With help from a Cultural Vision Grant from the Arts & Science Council and a $1,000 “Bear HUG” grant from Charlotte Is Creative, Stallings mobilized 20 local youth to paint a new mural on the side of Time Out Youth’s building on Monroe Road over the course of three days last week.

The mural is the culmination of Holding Space, a creative initiative focused on developing identity-based workshops. The stories and insights shared by workshop participants inspired the mural they created.

Learn more about Time Out Youth here.

Featured Photo Credit: Brooke Brown

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Where Are We In CLT? “Being”/“Man Mold”

Address: 1900 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC 28207 | Get Directions

Public art is everywhere in Charlotte. And, not even COVID-19 seems to be slowing it down. In fact, nine new pieces of public art have been unveiled since July 2020 with much more underway.

It’s not hard to learn about recent entries into the public art ecosystem, but what about those that have been in Charlotte “forever?” Information on those classics can be hard to come by.

A Public Art Mystery

The 10-foot sculpture by the Metroview building near the intersection of Caldwell Street and Randolph Road has long been a source of curiosity for us at The Biscuit. Featuring two halves of a mold with the gold-painted impression of a man on either side, this work has seemingly “always been there.”

It was there when Biscuit editor, Tim Miner, drove past on the way to Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find in high school. And, it was there when he drove past on the way to his sleep apnea test in his forties. But, who made it? What is it called? That’s where it gets murky. There’s not even information on or near the work.

Meet Austin Fox

We turned to Instagram and the wise creative, Cher Cosper, knew the “who.” It’s the work of artist Austin Fox. A dive into Charlotte periodicals revealed that the work was commissioned by Dr. Reed Gaskin and his medical partners for $9,000 and was installed in 1974. There are some reports that Fox’s son was the model behind the work.

What’s In A Name?

The Charlotte Observer reported the work’s title as “Being” in a 1987 article and “Man Mold” in 1991.

The discrepancy of the work’s name is lost to time, but not the story of its “scandal.” With its depiction of male nudity, the sculpture drew complaints immediately, with some talk of relocating it to the Mint Museum.

Of the controversy, Fox told The Charlotte News in 1981: “I said they could just dump it in the river.”

No Stranger to Scrutiny

Controversy and community reaction weren’t new to Fox. In 1967, a sculpture of a nude woman he made was stolen from outside the main library on Tryon Street. In the 1960s and ‘70s, his sculptures of “Femlin,” a nude character wearing only black, hip-high boots and opera gloves, graced the cover of Playboy magazine.

But, “Being”/ “Man Mold” had staying power in the Charlotte consciousness. In 1991, Fox told The Charlotte Observer, “There isn’t a week that someone doesn’t mention that to me.”

Austin Fox Passed Away December 2020

In researching this, we learned that Fox died on Dec. 4, 2020, in a senior living center in Mint Hill at the age of 92. But, his work lives on, creating curiosity … and perhaps a little scandal.

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Where Are We In CLT? Canine Café Charlotte

Address: 125 Remount Rd, Charlotte, NC 28203 | Get Directions

Sit. Stay. Now, run.

This Tuesday, Feb. 23 was International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day. (But, you dog lovers probably already knew that.)

One of our favorite spots to gather provisions for the occasion is Canine Café Charlotte, a fixture in South End for 16 years.

Café Founder Barbara Burg began baking for dogs in 1995 when her pup, TJ, developed allergies to commercial treats. Two years later, she opened a natural pet treat bakery in Pineville.

“[My business partner and I] had to move to a larger store with retail so we could sell more all-natural treats and products made in the U.S. which is very important to us,” Burg said, which is the reason they opened their Charlotte store.

In 2004, the first Canine Café location opened at the intersection of Camden Road and South Tryon Street, where it had a larger bakery than Burg’s previous shop and a retail store. Six years later, Burg and her business partner and spouse, Meredith Thompson, needed even more space and moved their cafe and onsite bakery current location at the intersection of Remount Road and South Boulevard.

All treats are made from the same ingredients used in human bakeries and kitchens: flour, 100% natural peanut butter, bananas, cream cheese, pureed pumpkin, unsweetened apple sauce, cinnamon and more.

Homemade doggie treats include “pawty cakes” (a 4-inch round cake), cannolis, brownies, tarts, frozen and chilled doggie daiquiris and more. What’s the hottest treat flying out of the oven these days? Burg says the peanut butter cream cheese tart- pair it with a doggie daiquiri she recommends, for a special treat.

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Where Are We In CLT? 7th Street Station Interactive Art

Address: | Get Directions

When you head uptown, you expect the skyscrapers to impress you. But, you don’t expect them to sing to you. Yet, that’s exactly what the 7th Street Station parking garage does.

When the deck opened in 1998, the team behind it wanted to add a little wonder to the building. 7th Street Station is accented by more than 400 colored panels and 30 plexiglass fins that soar to 30 feet and light up, as well as 30 sensor pads below. When you touch the pads, they emit sounds, light and, sometimes, laughter. (We’re not advocating touching the pads, mind you, unless you use your elbow. This was long before COVID-19.)

All of this is part of “Touch My Building,” an interactive work of public art by Christopher Janney. He created it to disrupt passersby in a surprising and playful way, encouraging them to interact with the architecture of the building … and each other.

Like a clock, the building “plays” on the hour. A 10-inch plaque on the side of the deck presents a riddle. If you solve it, the building responds with a special sound and light show.


Seventh Street Station is also the site of a special installation of “Love, Charlotte” giant, 8-foot-wide postcards created by Charlotte-based artists. The giant postcards are waiting for you (and your camera) outside 7th Street Public Market starting this weekend. Swing by, see them up close and take photos. Then, pop into the market for a treat.

After dark, take the light rail to SouthEnd for the “I HEART Rail Trail” light art exhibition, which will be up through March 7.

The “Love, Charlotte” installation features work from Garrison Gist, Tim Parati, Sana Nisar, Euli, KiiK Create and Amber Thompson. It was sponsored by Charlotte Center City Partners.

Some information for this story was sourced from WFAE.

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Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff

Address: 316 Remount Rd, Charlotte, NC 28203 | Get Directions

Both professional artists and weekend painters following Bob Ross’ step-by-step instructions on TV love Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff with equal fervor.

Professionals have known about the Remount Road resource since it came to town in 2007. A lot of beginner artists — many of whom took up art as a hobby during the pandemic lockdown — have discovered it, too.

Prior to its Charlotte opening, local artists were willing to make the trek to its original location in Boone for brushes, canvases, paints and easels.

And if you’re wondering how to make the best use of those supplies, Cheap Joe’s offers art classes. For now, they’re all online.

Website: www.cheapjoes.com
For online art classes: https://workshopper.cheapjoes.com

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Lead With Love Billboard

Address: 2156 N Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28206 | Get Directions

When you believe in a message, you may share some words on social media or put a small bumper sticker on your car. When you REALLY believe in a message, you put those words on the biggest billboard you can find and you make sure everyone sees. And that is exactly what our friend, the one-and-only Ms. #OHmazing herself, Ohavia Phillips, did.

Ohavia teamed up with The Savage Way (who designed the art) and paid for a billboard to make sure that her “Lead With Love” message rings loud and proud through the Queen City. She sees it as an investment in the community.

The billboard will be up for the entirety of Black History Month. Ohavia calls it “a message of love for Charlotte and beyond.”


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Where Are We In CLT? Ballantyne Bulls

Address: | Get Directions

It’s been said that Ballantyne is boring. Okay, okay. We’ve said it. But, that was harsh and a load of bulls … well, wait. We’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Ballantyne is home to some of Charlotte’s most playful examples of public art — the three Ballantyne bulls. The next time you’re headed to a chain restaurant or to see a lawyer about estate planning, make time to chill out with three bull sculptures by artist Peter Woytuk.  They can always be found lounging in Ballantyne Corporate Park. And, for good reason. At a reported 2,000 pounds each, they’re not going anywhere. 

Nestled in the grass with no pedestals, the bulls are approachable. Like the Hugh McManaway statue at Queens and Providence Roads, they don’t mind being dressed up. (PLEASE NOTE: They can get SUPER HOT in sunlight.)

Pro Tip: The bulls are just the beginning. Several sculptures of ravens, also by Peter Woytuk, are scattered throughout the Corporate Park (low AND high). Look carefully and enjoy some bird watching.

Directions: “Our Park” in Ballantyne Corporate Park

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Where Are We In CLT? Ovens Auditorium

Address: 2700 E Independence Blvd, Charlotte, N.C. 28205, USA | Get Directions

“Charlotte will grow with these buildings, and grow into them.”  

Charlottean David Ovens led the committee that built the original Charlotte Coliseum and the auditorium that still bears his name on Independence Blvd. He shared the words above with the Charlotte Observer on Sept. 8, 1955. That evening saw more than 400 of Charlotte’s civic leaders attend a red carpet unveiling of Ovens Auditorium, which hosted its first public event, a performance by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, less than a month later.

According to Ovens, naysayers told him Charlotte had “built greater than the times called for” with the construction of the auditorium and the coliseum. His response to them was, “They’ll take that back later.”

In the end, history has been on Ovens’ side. Generations of Charlotteans have enjoyed plays, musicals and performances by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Diana Ross, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Jerry Seinfeld and Aziz Ansari in the auditorium. (Not to mention hundreds of thousands of Charlotte students who have attended graduation ceremonies there.) 

According to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA), the auditorium has played host to more than 7,000 events over its 65 years. It’s stood the test of time. Ovens Auditorium and the Coliseum outlasted the “new” Coliseum that opened off Tyvola Road in 1988 … and was demolished in 2007. With a new addition connecting the auditorium to the Coliseum completed in 2020, it looks like Ovens’ retirement is still years away.

While live performances aren’t happening now, the auditorium stands as a reminder that Charlotte can rise to the challenge and that culture and the arts will always give us reasons to gather, celebrate and connect with one another.

See photos of the red carpet event on Sept. 8, 1955 from the former Charlotte News here.


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Where Are We in CLT? Sankofa Mural

Address: 2120 Beatties Ford Rd, Charlotte, N.C. 28216, USA | Get Directions

The Biscuit doesn’t have a “Man/Woman of the Year” award. But if we did, Ricky Singh would be a top contender.

As one of the founders of the Charlotte Lab School, Singh is no stranger to the creative scene. But, in the wake of a shooting along Beatties Ford Rd. that claimed the lives of four Charlotteans on June 22, he went into overdrive. 

With community leaders and artists, Singh started the “Beatties Ford Strong” movement, organizing murals and public art in West Charlotte to give neighbors something positive to rally around. 

From there, he hasn’t stopped — working with SHARE Charlotte on #GivingTuesdayCLT, painting a #CountOnMeCLT mural, partnering with the Charlotte Symphony on a video filmed along Beatties Ford Rd. and preparing to open the Lab School’s new campus on South Tryon St.

Looking Backward to Look Forward

Over the months, one project has eluded Singh — a mural on the side of the Queens Mini Mart at 2120 Beatties Ford Rd., the site of the June shooting. Temporary memorials were set up on the sidewalk since the day of the shooting, but Singh wanted to do something more hopeful and permanent. He was patient and worked with Historic West End Partners to contact property owners and get the proper permissions.

Now, he’s in the process of finishing a mural there with help from Makayla Binter and a grant from the NoDa Neighborhood Association. It’s based on the sankofa, a metaphorical symbol from Ghana. The sankofa depicts a bird whose neck is reaching backward to pluck an egg from its back. It’s a reminder that we must look into the past … however painful it may be … to create a positive future.

Singh says West End neighbors have stopped by to thank him, share stories of friends they’ve lost at that site and, sometimes, cry with him. (We can confirm that. During our eight-minute interview, Singh was stopped five times by residents who wanted to thank him.)

“This is a non-conventional memorial and another measure of ‘putting down the guns’ and moving forward,” said Singh. “To me, this is sacred ground, and people are starting to see it that way, too.” 

Watch a WBTV interview with Singh at the site of the mural here.

Photographer Brooke Brown Caught the Creative Process

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Where Are We in CLT: Anderson’s

Address: 1617 Elizabeth Ave, Charlotte, NC 28204, USA | Get Directions

The restaurant may have closed in 2006, but the sign is still up. More importantly, the pies are still being baked. 

The three Anderson brothers opened Anderson’s (originally called Mercury Sandwich Shop) in 1946 across from Presbyterian Hospital at Hawthorne and Elizabeth avenues, and the legend grew from there. Here’s a look at Anderson’s in 1989 and the dining room in 1960.

When brother Jimmie took over the business, he soon began advertising “The World’s BEST Pecan Pie” and serving generous slices of Southern deliciousness every day. Jimmie’s son, Gary, took the reins in 1979, continuing the traditions of this Charlotte landmark, where local leaders would start their day making plans and deals over a hot breakfast.⁣

Eventually, the dining room closed, but Gary kept the kitchen and transitioned the business to catering. Anderson’s still offers 10-inch, extra-deep pecan pies with a recipe that hasn’t changed since 1959, as well as chocolate pecan, coconut cream, lemon meringue and banana pudding — just to name a few.

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Herrin Bros. Coal & Ice

Address: | Get Directions

You’ve been to NoDa. You know the murals, the artist trash cans, the Neighborhood Theatre, the Evening Muse, Salud and so much more. But, have you taken a left on 36th Street to see one of the coolest old signs in Charlotte? 

On the right, just beyond the light rail overpass, the Herrin Bros. Coal & Ice sign awaits you. And, it’s cool. Really cool. In fact, it’s been one of the symbols of Charlotte’s coolness since 1929, when neighbors relied on Herrin’s ice for refrigeration and coal for heating.

While refrigeration and heating have changed considerably in the 91 years since Herrin Bros. was founded, the company is still in operation, providing bulk ice for restaurants, events and more. And, the sign, while faded and weather-worn, still stands with its plucky devil raising his pitchfork high as a reminder of Charlotte’s past.

But, the sign may not be there much longer. The site is slated for a future mixed-use development. We suggest you light a fire under yourself and get out there to see — and shoot — the Herrin Bros. sign for yourself.

P.S. If you’re looking for a cool (yeah, we did it again) gift for the Charottean in your life, you can buy a T-shirt with the Herrin’s logo on Etsy.




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Shotgun Houses on 7th Street

Address: 415 N Myers St, Charlotte, NC 28202, USA | Get Directions

Huddled together behind the former AME Zion Church on 7th Street are two little houses with a big Charlotte history … and, hopefully, a new life to come.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, these two homes were most likely built in the 1890s by the same company that established the Dilworth neighborhood. They belong to an architectural style known as “shotgun houses,” a reference to their design. Folks said you could fire a shotgun at the front door, down the central hallway and out the back door without hitting anything because they’re built on a long, central hallway that connects the two.

Both homes once stood on Bland Street in a bustling community known then as “Blandville.” But, after Charlotte’s urban renewal efforts in the 1970s, they were the only two left when the City Council designated them as “historic properties” In January 1986, the homes were moved to 7th Street to sit behind the Afro-American Cultural Center, which moved to Stonewall Street as the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in 2009, leaving the houses behind.


But, another move and new life are hopefully around the corner for these two Charlotte treasures. The West Side Community Land Trust has teamed with the Gantt Center to raise funds to move the shotgun houses to the Lakeview community and refurbish them so they can be affordable housing for two future families. Click here for more information or to contribute to this effort.

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Where Are We in CLT? “Man Feeding Poor Man”

Address: 330 N Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202, USA | Get Directions

Over the past few years, Uptown Charlotte has become a hotbed of mural art, thanks to artists from Talking Walls and many others. In fact, TWO new murals have been painted the 7th Street side of Duckworth’s and Spirit Square (across from Victoria Yard), one from Duarte Designs and the other from Caitlin McDonagh, in the last two years.

But, if you’re not careful, you’ll miss the mural above nestled in between them. And, that would be a shame as it is the absolute grand-daddy of Uptown murals. It may be faded and a little weather-worn now, but this piece represents a significant event in the cultural life of the Queen City.

Entitled “Man Feeding Poor Man,” the mural has adorned the side of Spirit Square, unveiled to the public on Feb. 6, 1992. It was painted by 15 students from University Park School under the supervision of artist Allen “Big Al” Carter. “Big Al” was in town for a short, three-week working tour through Charlotte.  “Big Al” provided the vision and the students filled in the design according to his instruction, as he had in other cities.

While in Charlotte, “Big Al” helped create other community murals at local recreation centers and displayed work in the Knight Gallery. He also participated in a panel discussion, “Public Murals Through Community Involvement” — which sounds like it could easily be scheduled for next week — with local artists like Tommie Robinson and Ruth Ava Lyons, who remain pillars of the local art community.

The next time you’re Uptown checking out new murals, give this one a moment or two. It hails from a time when the Center City was a little quieter and we were pondering how public art can help build community and spark discussion — a notion that inspired the newer murals on either side of it.

** Thanks to Charlottean Karen Beach and the 1992 paper, “A Report on an Arts Administration Internship with Spirit Square Center for the Arts” by Karen L. Thompson for information used in this story.

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Georgie Nakima’s New Mural at East Town Market

Address: 3112 Milton Rd, Charlotte, NC 28215 | Get Directions

It may seem like murals pop-up overnight, but they require a great deal of time, planning and patience. They also contain a great deal of secret wonder. Much of the base work artists use to establish the mural is covered up by the final product. If you’re vigilant — you can catch an artist at work. That allows you to peer into their process and see the “mural under the mural.”

This week, we popped by East Town Market to find Georgie Nakima expanding a mural she created last year. If you act fast, you may just get there in time to watch her work, ask her questions (mask up, though, please) and witness her work expand from the initial spray-painted lines to her multi-colored geometric style. Read more about her mural process and methodology here.

If you don’t get there in time, you will still find an incredible piece of public art AND you can swing by BW Sweets for a treat. It’s just around the corner from the mural.

[TIP: The mural is just down from Compare Foods on the N. Sharon Amity Side.]

A Few More of Georgie’s Paint Strokes


A Video of Georgie Working by Charlotte Star Room

Georgie Nakima ‘interstellar’ murals @ Link Montford from Charlotte Star Room on Vimeo.

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Where Are We in CLT? Santé

Address: 130 Providence Rd., Charlotte, NC 28207 | Get Directions

If you feel like someone’s watching you the next time you head uptown via Providence Road, there’s a good reason. Someone is. 

Not “someone,” exactly. More like “something.” This summer, Charlotte artist Matthew Steele installed “Santé,” a large wall sculpture on the exterior facade of Charlotte Skin and Laser on Providence Road.

The work, which was cut and assembled from more than 150 sheets of aluminum composite to resemble a human face, was a commission originally conceived by Dr. Elizabeth Roston, owner of Charlotte Skin and Laser

It took a team of Charlotte creatives to make Roston’s vision a reality. After hearing the idea, Sonya Pfeiffer, owner of Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art, contacted Lauren Harkey, owner of Hodges Taylor Contemporary Gallery. Lauren, in turn, reached out to Matthew.  According to an article on the Hodges Taylor website, Roston’s ultimate wish was to bring new character to her building while adding an artistic contrast to the style of newer construction being built around her practice. 

With the help of Matthew Steele, gallery owners, the UNC Charlotte’s College of Art + Architecture, several fabricators and a construction team, she did it.

Fast Facts about Santé:

  • More than 150 sheets of aluminum composite were used to make it
  • More than 10,000 nuts, bolts and brackets were needed to assemble it
  • It’s 20 feet wide and 13 feet tall
  • 15 different sections were assembled on-site to build the final sculpture

DIRECTIONS: 130 Providence Rd., Charlotte, NC 28207


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The Hope Tank

Address: | Get Directions

Where Are We in CLT?

Okay. This one is a bit of a cheat. In the case of the Hope Tank, the question is more “Where ISN’T it?” than where it is. You’ll find the Tank exactly where it’s needed, where Charlotte’s homeless are living. 

After more than a year in development, the Hope Tank is a mobile shower and laundry center created by the local nonprofit, Hope Vibes. The organization’s mission is to bring awareness, hope and real solutions to the homeless epidemic. The Hope Tank provides showers and laundry services, as well as toilets and sinks to those living on the street. 

While there are other mobile shower vehicles in operation around the country, the Hope Tank was designed to offer beauty as well as function. For the Hope Vibes team, just providing mobile showers and laundry wasn’t enough. They incorporated art and beauty to provide a comfortable, attractive experience with a “home-like” feel.

Fast Facts on the Hope Tank

To date, the Hope Tank is in service only one day a week, but Hope Vibes is planning to increase that as they find partners throughout the city that will provide water and access to their City clean-outs.  

Development of the Hope Tank was made possible by donations from individuals, businesses and local churches. The Tank relies on donations of towels, wash clothes, liquid soap, low sud laundry detergent, and monetary donations. Those interested in volunteering with the Tank or other Hope Vibes programs can do so here.

Ride or Die with Hope Vibes


An Extra Helping: We interviewed Adrienne and Emmanuel Threatt, founders of Hope Vibes, on the Biscuit CLT Podcast last year. Listen to the story of how the seeds of their future non-profit were sown on their very first date.

Take a Photo Tour of the Tank


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A post shared by Hope Vibes Inc (@hopevibesclt) on

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Talking Walks at ThExchange

Address: 5605 77 Center Dr, Charlotte, NC 28217, USA | Get Directions

If you haven’t had a reason to visit ThExchange — a mutli-building office park off of Tyvola Road — you do now.

For the third year of Talking Walls, a week-long installation blitz of new murals painted by local and visiting artists, the organizers chose to switch up the concept. They clustered the murals in one location — ThExchange. In less than a week, eight selected artists created six new murals throughout the campus. They’re open to the public and, if Instagram is to be believed, already drawing photographers and art lovers from across the city. 

One of them was our friend, photographer Brooke Brown (who shot our tour of NoDa’s new art-enhanced trash cans last week). And, she was kind enough to share.

Take a “photo safari” of Brooke’s Talking Walls photographs here.

Then, head out to see them for yourself.


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Thomas Spratt & King Haigler on the Trail of History

Address: 310 N Kings Dr, Charlotte, NC 28204, USA | Get Directions

#WhereAreWeInCLT? On the section of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway across from the Grady Cole Center and the Philip L. Van Every Culinary Arts Building on CPCC’s campus, you’ll find these two bronze figures standing together, looking out into the distance. ⁣

The statues sculpted by Charlotte artist Chas Fagan (the sculptor who created the James Jack equestrian statue not much further down the trail) are of Thomas Spratt and King Haigler, the English name for the tribal Catawba chieftain. These two men and their bond were fundamental to the establishment of the Charlotte region in the 1750s. Their friendship paved the way for peace between the settlers and the Catawba Indian Nation in North and South Carolina.⁣

These are just two statues positioned along the greenway as part of the Trail of History, a collection of statues that serves as a museum without walls — highlighting important people and moments in Charlotte’s history. There are eight stops along the Trail today, with statues of Charlotte luminaries Julius Chambers, Romare Bearden, Dr. Annie Alexander and more planned for the future.  

BONUS: Once you’ve traveled the Trail of History, we recommend you continue your outdoor time travel excursions by visiting Mecklenburg County’s six operating historic former homesites from the 18th and 19th centuries: Historic Latta Plantation, Historic Rural Hill, Charlotte Museum of History, Historic Rosedale, Hugh Torrance House and Store and President James K. Polk State Historic Site.

Visit other fun #WhereAreWeInCLT locations we’ve visited in The Biscuit.

Stroll Further Down the Trail of History


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“Continuum” at the TransAmerica Square Dome

Address: 401 N Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202 | Get Directions

It’s easy to have your head down while walking around. You may be watching your feet to ensure you don’t trip or you might have your eyes glued to your phone screen as you await the next Twitter notification that confirms that 2020 is trash. But, we implore you to look up when walking around the Queen City because you’re missing out on the creative sights hidden in every nook and cranny of Charlotte.

And when we say look up, we mean look UP! This fresco painted by Ben Long has graced the dome of TransAmerica Square since 1998. Titled “Continuum,” the fresco is a whopping 1,047 square feet of hand-painted goodness.

Words from Mr. Long’s website about the meaning behind the fresco: “The subject matter represents the cycle of life’s continuous disintegration and rebirth, thus reinforcing the notion that the more things change, the more they remain the same.”

Fun Fact: The man painting on the canvas is a self-portrait that Ben Long decided to include as an easter egg in the fresco. There are all kinds of hidden details in the painting. Another one of our favorites is that the stoic man underneath the tent on the left is none other than Charlotte banking legend, Hugh McColl.

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Charlotte Hornets Minor League Baseball

Address: 324 S Mint St, Charlotte, NC 28202 | Get Directions

Did you know that there were Charlotte Hornets in the Queen City as early as 1892? Charlotte’s first minor league baseball team held the name nearly 96 years before the buzz of the NBA came to the Queen City. The baseball team existed until 1973.⁣

Later, in 1976, a new Double-A team called the Charlotte Orioles came to town. The O’s would be rebranded as the Charlotte Knights in 1988… the same year that the Charlotte Hornets would make their reappearance in the Queen City, but this time on the basketball court.⁣

You can find this mural along with three others outside of Truist Field, the Knight’s beautiful stadium in Uptown. Each mural features stadiums of the past and pays homage to the history of baseball in Charlotte. The murals were painted by Scott Nurkin of The Mural Shop.

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Charlotte Rescue Mission Rebound Center

Address: 907 W 1st St, Charlotte, NC 28202 | Get Directions

Just outside Uptown, across the street from the Panthers’ “space-age practice bubble” on Cedar Street, the Charlotte Rescue Mission is a beautiful reminder of Charlotte’s past, but it’s an incredibly active part of our present. ⁣

From its residential recovery programs that help people struggling with the disease of addiction achieve long-term sobriety to Community Matters Cafe, the Charlotte Rescue Mission provides a place for Charlotte to gather while providing career training that gives program-members a second chance at life and work.⁣ That’s the building’s present … but what about its past?

Prior to becoming home to Charlotte Rescue Mission’s Rebound Program in the 1990s and their Community Matters Cafe in 2019, these buildings were known as the Southern Spindle & Flyer Company Building and the Standard Oil Company Complex respectively.

With the addition of railroads in 1852, Charlotte’s growing textile industry was prepared to boom. By 1910, Charlotte was the heart of a bustling textile industry region in the southeast. These two buildings being built in the 1910s and 1920s were a direct result of companies moving to the Queen City to capitalize on the city’s growing economy.

Charlotte’s past is often hard to find in our city’s architecture so we love to see when organizations like Charlotte Rescue Mission choose to “rescue” these spaces rather than tear down and build anew.

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“Public Display of Affection” in Downtown Matthews

Address: 120 South Trade Street, Matthews, NC 28105 | Get Directions

Usually, we think PDA is a little icky. (Come on people, get a room.) Especially now that we are supposed to be social distancing. (Seeing people hold hands in the produce section raises our anxiety level now.) But there is one Public Display of Affection that warms our hearts every time we see it.

The metal sculpture found in the heart of Stumptown Park in Downtown Matthews titled “Public Display of Affection” was created by philanthropist/skateboarder/sculptor Tom Risser. (How do we get that job?).

Tom is also the owner of the Charlotte-based US Bottlers Machinery Company, a specialized packaging company that has been in the Risser family since 1906. The materials used for his PDA sculpture and other artworks are leftover metal scraps from the machinery company.

We might not be into PDA but we will publicly display our affection for “Public Display of Affection” any day of the week.

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Home of the 90s

Address: | Get Directions

Now this is a story all about how, one creative woman flipped her home upside down, and we’d like to take a minute, to tell you all about this starlet, and how she made a ‘90s palace in a town called Charlotte.

Charlottean Jessica Jones was bit by the nostalgia bug a few years ago and transformed her home into a museum of the ’90s. And what ‘90s themed home would be complete without a Fresh Prince mural? In the words of The Dude, the mural, painted by Inigma, really ties the room together.

You can also check out the “Home of the 90s” on Instagram for more information.

This Queen City exploration is powered by OrthoCarolina.

*Images provided by Home of the 90s.