Arts & Culture

Charlotte’s Best Galleries to Build Your Art Collection

Art is often one of the best (and most creative) ways to add to your portfolio and the Queen City is home to several unique and vibrant galleries.

For many people, art isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering ways to invest money. However, unlike investing in a car or a risky financial product, art is often one of the best (and most creative) ways to add to your portfolio. Great works of art appreciate considerably in value, especially if the artist builds wide recognition for themselves.

Fortunately for Charlotteans, the Queen City is home to several unique and vibrant galleries. Everyone from the individual art collector on a budget to corporate clients with endless reserves can find the exact right piece to help them start or expand their collection. Here are a few of our favorites (in no particular order).

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SOCO Gallery

Southern comfort is a phrase that’s heard often in the Carolinas, but one gallery on Providence Road embodies it so much that the gallery is named after it. SOCO Gallery opened to Charlotte dilettantes in spring of 2015. In addition to photography and contemporary art shows featuring local and national artists, SOCO also sells art-focused books and vinyl records. That is all in addition to having both Tabor, a fine men’s wear boutique, and a Not Just Coffee micro-location on site.

The owner of SOCO Gallery is a name some Charlotteans will recognize: Chandra Johnson. Chandra was named Charlottean of the Year in 2017 by Charlotte Magazine. Her husband is retired NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson.

Despite the big name recognition, SOCO goes out of its way to make its guests feel at home, a testament to the name on the door. Stop by and relax with a cup of coffee while you peruse the art, fashion and books.

Hodges Taylor

Tucked away in Dilworth Artisan Station, an unassuming brick building just off the East/West Light Rail Station in South End, is the oldest art gallery in the city. Hodges Taylor Art Consultancy opened to the public in 1980 and continues to be a leader in Charlotte’s art scene.

“As a gallery, we curate and present artists who work in a variety of mediums and share in common the power to spark curiosity, conversation, and collaboration,” says Owner and Director Lauren Harkey. “As a firm, we provide services and develop projects that integrate works of art into every aesthetic, environment, and concept.”

The best time to visit Hodges Taylor is during one of their highly-attended exhibition receptions. They also participate in the First Friday Gallery Crawls. If you’re interested in making a purchase, schedule an appointment with Lauren (lharkey@hodgestaylor.com) for personalized service.

“Just like the creative process, there is not necessarily a linear approach to the art buying process because it is so personal. Sometimes it's based on a certain aesthetic, for others, it is based on a gut feeling. The more art you can see, the better. And the more you can start to trust your own eye. We'd be happy to help you start the process, or continue it, anytime.”

LaCa Projects - Photo by Tim Robison

LaCa Projects

Located in the quickly growing Wesley Heights neighborhood (near Pinky’s), Latin American Contemporary Art (LaCa Projects), as the name suggests, specializes in contemporary works by modern Latin masters. Founded in 2013 by native Argetinian (but full-time Charlottean) Walter Dolhare, LaCa Projects serves as a way to introduce Charlotte natives to true latin art.

“Our niche focus is representing an underserved community of artists that have not been formally recognized or legitimized in the Charlotte or North Carolina market,” says gallery director Morgan Mathieu Tran. “A lot of people walk into the gallery and assume they’ll see vistas of Puerto Rico, tribal patterns or Aztec content, and that’s not necessarily the case. What makes Latin American art is the artists.”

LaCa also offers professional consultation for the art collector. “We provide an environment to not only to enjoy the art work, but for collectors in Charlotte to think more critically about the collection they want to build, and diversifying that collection,” Mathieu Tran says. If you want to add a contemporary latin flare that fits perfectly into your existing collection, contact Nelly Verano at neely@lacaprojects.com.

Programming generally includes opening celebrating the work of the artists on view. Find out more at lacaprojects.com.

Hidell Brooks

Historic South End is the home to many of the top galleries in the city, and Hidell Brooks is no exception. Run full time by business partners Katherine Hidell Thomas and Rebecca Brooks, Hidell Brooks has been bringing color and creativity from all mediums to Charlotte collectors for 21 years.

“Hidell Brooks provides an excellent atmosphere for both individuals and corporations to contemplate quality works of art in all styles, mediums and price ranges,” says Katherine. “We represent the work of regional and national artists, while maintaining our original goal of exhibiting works of art by american artists who have rarely been shown in the southeast.”

Both individual and corporate collectors are encouraged to expand their collections at Hidell Brooks. “Hidell Brooks Gallery assists both the well-established and beginning collector, working to develop and nurture their interest in collecting, while ensuring the highest level of expertise, integrity and laid-back style,” says Katherine. Parties interested in purchasing art need only to ask for Katherine or Rebecca, as they are their only full time employees.

Photo Courtesy of New Gallery of Modern Art

New Gallery of Modern Art

Tucked away in the retail spaces along the Green in Uptown is a small but elegant art gallery featuring nationally known artists like Takashi Murakami, Hunt Slonem and Jeff Koons; alongside local creators Zun Lee, Stephen Wilson and Regine Bechtler. The New Gallery of Modern Art occupies a small footprint, but the contemporary art, exhibition receptions, and the warmth of owner Irina Toshkova make the New Gallery much bigger.

New Gallery offers consultation for both the novice and experienced art collector, in-home consultations and even a corporate art loan program.

Goodyear Arts

The story of Goodyear Arts in Charlotte is one of grassroots arts meeting adaptive reuse and commercial real estate. Having had existed in two separate buildings in Uptown (both marked for demolition), Goodyear Arts now calls Camp North End home, and will continue to do so for the next two years at least thanks to the investment in space by Camp North End’s owner, NYC-based ATCO.

“Goodyear Arts is an artist-led, nonprofit residency and events program in underused spaces focused on excellent local, visual, performing and literary artists because artists need time, space, money and community.” says co-founder Amy Herman.

Enough about business, let’s get to the art, of which Goodyear has in surplus. A full-time artist-in-residency space, Goodyear primarily specializes in local artists such as Barbara Schreiber, Grace Stott, D’Angelo Dia and many more. There are absolutely no restrictions on mediums, as everything from visual arts to performance arts and even sound installations are fair game. All of the residencies are paid for the artists thanks to grants and private funding.

Goodyear is also one of the most active galleries on this list in terms of events and programming. Visit the open gallery hours every Friday from 6-9 p.m. to see the art and even talk to the artists in their studios. Keep an eye on their website (goodyeararts.com) for exhibition receptions and other events.

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Sozo Gallery

The term “Sozo” (pronounced SODÉ-zo), has several meanings for gallery owner Hanah Blanton. In Greek it means to be healed by God, to keep safe. In Japanese, it means to create or imagine. To Hannah personally, it represents new beginnings. After battling a rare disease in 2003, Hannah recovered to open Sozo in 2013.

“Sozo’s focus is to inspire soulful connections between collector, art, and artist by supporting and promoting a variety of artists, and displaying works that excite, calm, and engage all of the senses,” says Blanton. “Sozo prides itself on having ‘something for every collector’ - whether that be abstracts, figurative works, landscapes, a variety of ceramic and 3D work, photography, tonal works, pop art, or mixed media.”

Like many of the galleries on this list, one of the best times to visit the gallery is during an exhibition opening. “With each exhibition on display at the gallery, we offer an opening reception or open house. We also offer activities like Lunch & Learns, Artist Talks, Artist Workshops, etc.”

Once a piece of artwork has caught your eye, or if you want help figuring out which one you can’t live without, Sozo’s team of consultants is there to assist. “We enjoy working with both individual and corporate clients on expanding their knowledge on art and helping them purchase art. If someone is interested in artwork or consulting, they can contact the gallery directly via phone (704-575-6777) or email (gallery@sozogallery.net).”

Jerald Melberg

One of the biggest names in Charlotte’s gallery scene is the Cotswald-based Jerald Melberg Gallery. Since 1983, Jerald Melberg has helped fill the homes of many Charlotteans (and corporate clients such as TransAmerica, Texaco and BASF) with one of two specific kinds of art.

“Jerald Melberg Gallery focuses on two parallel tracks,” says Melberg. “The first being the representation of mid- to late-career, well established living artists. The second track is important estates from 1980 to the present.” Some of Melberg’s most well-known artists include Romare Bearden, Robert Motherwell and Susan Grossman.

Receptions are lively events at Melberg Gallery and happen each time an exhibition is changed out. Stop by the gallery and ask for personal assistance to start your art collecting journey.

Photo Courtesy of Advent Coworking

Advent Coworking

As the business of operating a gallery has evolved, many exhibitors have had to become more creative about where they display art. Enter Advent Coworking in Belmont, just a stone’s throw from Plaza Midwood’s main thoroughfare, Central Avenue.

In just its fourth year of existence, Advent has grown to be one of the most popular coworking spaces in the city. With the addition of curator Jonell Logan, however, Advent has staked its claim as not only a destination for entrepreneurs, but also art lovers and collectors.

“We focus on showing the work of emerging, contemporary artists of varying genres,” says Logan. “We will show artists from anywhere, but we have a mission to support local artists and those in the southeast.” Many local artists such as Arthur Brouthers, Mark Doepker and Nico Armortegui are seen prominently displayed along the walls, or even immortalized in murals.

You don’t need to be a member of Advent to see or learn about the art. “We organize opportunities for Advent members and the public to meet the artists during an artist talk/tour and reception. Curator tours, workshops, creative making sessions are all options as well.”

To learn more about the art at Advent, contact Jonell directly at jonell.logan@gmail.com.