art

Morning Minute: Friday, July 19, 2019

News About Town: In 2013 the town council approved a text amendment for the Unified Development Ordinance that created the current procedure for approving murals in Matthews. The amendment, created with the intent to have the Parks and Rec Advisory Committee approve public art, was unanimously approved by the commission, several of whom are current members (Paul Bailey, Jeff Miller, Kress Query, and John Urban). At the time Bailey clarified he, “doesn’t want the perception that the policy could be changed simply to avoid putting up a certain mural. He wants to be sure the language is defensible, and to do that everyone needs to know who is doing what throughout the approval process.”

Since that time, Park and Rec has installed seven murals and as many sculptures.

In May, after thirteen months of planning and coordinating, the Parks and Rec Advisory Committee was ready to move forward with the botanically themed design by Charlotte arts collective Wall Poems. The design includes a poem by NC farmer and Poet Laureate AR Ammons.

The agenda item was pulled from the May 28, 2019 council meeting at the beginning of the meeting. During public comment one Charlotte resident/Matthews business owner noted lack of public input on the project and felt the the design was inappropriate for the location.

This Monday, the board will receive information on a new process for public art approval. The agenda does not mention whether the new process will replace the 2013-3 Text Amendment.

The proposed mural mural by Charlotte arts nonprofit Wall Poems

The proposed mural mural by Charlotte arts nonprofit Wall Poems

News About Town II: Today is the last day to file for candidacy in Matthews. So far there are three mayoral candidates: Paul Bailey, John Higdon, and Jason Majewski. For commissioners: Ben Bash, Dave Bland, Allen Crosby, Barbara Dement, Renee Garner, Gina Hoover, Ken McCool, Jeff Miller, Mark Tofano, John Urban, and Larry Whitley have filed.

News About Town (Amended): In yesterday’s morning minute we incorrectly stated "Blythe Construction" is working on the Trade St. The contractor is Blythe Development.

One Good Thing: Need to get out of the house for some grown up time tonight? Charlotte Allstars Gymnastics (11011 Monroe Rd, Matthews) is hosting open gym tonight fro 6 to 9 pm. Drop the kids off and go find something fun to do (or sit and stare off into space and enjoy the quiet?) while they bounce, tumble, and fill their bellies with pizza. The cost of $20 ($15 for members) is less than that of a babysitter. Time to hit the clubs.

Touching Art: A Sensory Art Show at McDowell Arts Center

When my daughter and I walked into the Sensory Art Show at McDowell Arts Center (123 E. McDowell St.), I still had to ask, “It’s okay to touch everything?” Melissa Johnson, Cultural Recreation Manager for the Town of Matthews, nodded and cheerfully said, “Yep.”

That’s exactly what we did: touched each piece, enjoyed the colors and textures, the variety of methods of art making covered in the exhibit. From metal sculpture to heavily textured abstracts, the show was also perfect for kids. Friendge, Andrea Vail’s interactive community-building project, was an unassuming table in the middle of the room, waiting for viewers to sit down and take part.

With this exhibit, it’s the interaction that sparks the magic of art in this show.

Enjoy some of the photos my daughter and I took, but also go and see it yourself. The Multi-Sensory Art Show is on display through July 5. Hours are typically Monday-Friday: 1 pm-8 pm, Saturday: 10 am-4 pm, and Sunday: 1pm-6pm, but call to double check first: 704-847-9746.

Morning Minute: Tuesday, May 14, 2019

News About Town: Wednesday, May 15, is Peace Officers Memorial Day. Sponsored by the National Fraternal Order of Police, Peace Officers Memorial Day pays tribute to officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty. John F. Kennedy signed the proclamation into law in 1962, and it has been observed nationally ever since.

IMG-2839.JPG

News Around Town:  Portrait and courtroom sketch artist Jerry McJunkins is the guest speaker for the Matthews Artist Guild meeting tonight. Join MAG for social time at 6:30 then stay to hear McJunkins share his approach with figure drawing, both in and out of the courtroom. Meetings are free and held at McDowell Arts Center, 123 E. McDowell Street. 

One Fun Thing:  Plan to head back over to McDowell Arts Center this Thursday (May 16) for the Crown Point Elementary Artists’ Reception for first through fifth graders. The show has been on display since May 4. The reception starts at 5 p.m. and runs until 7 p.m. in the upstairs gallery, and Mayor Bailey will present certificates of achievement to the students.

Morning Minute: Wednesday, January 30, 2019

We asked our intern, Sterling, to summarize Monday’s Town Council meeting from a student’s perspective. This morning’s News About Town is her view of small-town government in Matthews (Or BOC meeting):

I walked into a room with a large crest of Matthews, NC at the head with flags adorning each side. The mayor, Paul Bailey, was seated in the middle of a large dais with the board of commissioners circling around; I never knew that all of this was right above the Matthews library, where I had been going my whole life. The crowd included everyone from firefighters who were there in support of Kerry Ernsberger, Matthew’s Employee of the Year, to a boy scout troop, who were working on their communications badge. I was surprised that the atmosphere of the meeting was both formal and casual being that it followed an ordered agenda but with the occasional joke from one of the commissioners. It was thought-provoking to see what topics were being discussed, even if most were passed unanimously; it ranged from the general issue of the effects of traffic on Matthews to the more abstract approval of Matthew’s new “vision statement” for the future. From the concerns raised here in Matthews, I could make a connection to environmental, safety, and political concerns locally as well as nationally, despite it only being considered a small town government. At the end, I shook hands with the mayor and the assistant town manager, which is something I never envisioned myself doing as a high school student.

Photo by Norah Burke

Photo by Norah Burke

News Around Town: Grey Gardens, The Musical opens Friday evening at Fullwood Theater in the Community Center. Directed by Billy Ensley (an area theater mainstay), is sure to captivate. The play, based on the “riches to rags” story of Jackie O’s famously eccentric aunt (Big Edie) and cousin (Little Edie), is the first musical on Broadway ever to be adapted from a documentary. Multiple performances over the next two weekends provide plenty of opportunities to see the show. February 1 -10, 2019, recommended for 13+ years.

One Good Thing: Guild of Charlotte Artists is hosting a Small Works Show at Novant Matthews. Artists are welcome to enter paintings smaller than 12 inches in any dimension on Saturday from 10 AM to 12 PM at Novant Health Matthews. Drop off up to three paintings and include an entry fee (members $25, non-members $65, which includes 2019 membership. The show ends March 1 and pick-up for art is March 2, from 11 AM til noon in the hospital lobby.

Bethany Salisbury: Capturing Pets in Paints

Photo of Bethany Salisbury courtesy the artist

Photo of Bethany Salisbury courtesy the artist

I’m lucky to be able to do [this work]. It’s been my passion since I was a kid. I love animals and I love to paint.

Bethany Salisbury, 31, of Matthews, knows a thing or two about pets and pet portraits. That would be nearly 900 things to be exact – the number of pet portraits painted by Bethany in the last handful of years.

A commercial artist, illustrator, and designer, Bethany has had much success with her pet portraiture, illustration and traditional paintings. And, while it is “80% dogs,” it’s also cats, rabbits, horses, birds, elephants, goats, a few ferrets, and sometimes people.

The series "Beer Dogs" will soon be on display at Temple Mojo in downtown Matthews.  Photo by Cyma Shapiro

The series "Beer Dogs" will soon be on display at Temple Mojo in downtown Matthews. Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Since her mainstay is on social media, and with online orders, her clients come from all over the world (Australia, Africa, Hong Kong, to name a few places) and throughout the country. “I get a lot of repeat customers,” she said. “Many buy these for gifts.”

A childhood spent at art camp and in private art lessons, with minimal TV watching and maximum encouragement to create, combined with a love of animals led her to do just that: create paper dolls, make graphic novels and comic books about dogs.

“I’ve always grown up with animals,” she said.

The series "Beer Dogs" will soon be on display at Temple Mojo in downtown Matthews.  Photo by Cyma Shapiro

The series "Beer Dogs" will soon be on display at Temple Mojo in downtown Matthews. Photo by Cyma Shapiro

While she captures the often impassioned and enamored looks of her subjects - “I think dogs are expressive,” she said. “I think it’s kind of second nature (to intuit their) emotions” - she is also not immune to the whiles of animals, herself. Bethany and her husband are the proud owners of one Miniature Long Haired Dachshund, Mochi, and an Australian Cattle Dog named River.

“I’m lucky to be able to do [this work]” said Bethany. “It’s been my passion since I was a kid. I love animals and I love to paint.”

Matthews Chamber of Commerce Gingerbread Contest

The Chamber of Commerce Gingerbread display comes down this Friday, and if you missed it you can get a taste of the designs here, but the photos don’t do the details justice. Make sure to check it out in person before 5 p.m. on Friday when the Chamber office in the Depot closes.

Read about one family’s annual tradition participating in the contest.

Matthews Chamber of Commerce | 210 Matthews Station St., Matthews (In the train depot building) | P: 704.847.3649 | Monday - Friday: 9 am - 5 pm

Get Hyperlocal this holiday season

If you haven’t checked out the Hyperlocal Holiday Gift Guide, we went live this past Friday and it’s good. REALLY REALLY GOOD.

Our participants are truly small businesses working extra hard to earn your support. From financial coaching to custom jewelry, from sleds at Renfrow’s to delightful desserts, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s tastes (mmmm…ice cream cake). Treat your bestie to a reiki session then treat yourself to some luxurious handmade bath bombs.

Check out the gift guide then get to (hyperlocal) shopping!

Don't Miss Bee-haven

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

While scouting Little Free Libraries, this roving reporter found one with a particularly stunning backdrop, a mural of sunflowers painted on the homeowner's fence. The mural “Bee Haven,” 1718 Privette Road, was created by Indian Trail artist Tersia Brooks whose Matthews-public artworks can be found on the obelisk at Country Place Park on South Trade Street and a turtle painting on a storm drain in Four Mile Creek Greenway.

According to Tersia, “Bee Haven” represents what someone would see as if there was a hole in the fence, and is a nod to the pollinator passion of its owners and many others in Matthews, NC.

Tersia related that as she took a photo of her artistic creation for her portfolio, a butterfly landed on the biggest sunflower in the piece. “I loved it,” she said. “It made me really, really happy….. If a butterfly landed on it, it must really be a beautiful sunflower.”

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Inked Phoenix: Emotional Healing Through Mastectomy Tattoos

Inked Phoenix I.jpg

Nearly one year after Kirsten Michaud had a double mastectomy, she found herself looking for something which would give her joy and peace, especially when looking at the scars on her chest.

“I realized that the other options weren’t going to do it for me,” said Michaud. “My (breasts) were never going to look the same again…..I just wanted something to cover the scars and make it beautiful.”

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

She decided that a mastectomy tattoo would suit her best. And, so began a search through tattoo parlors, seeking the right place and the right person, all the while mindful that she needed a place close to her house – she knew she was still recuperating and needed to do this work slowly.

Enter Mike “Ike” Trimboli, a tattoo artist at Infamous Ink Tattoo Studio (11229 East Independence Boulevard – Suite #1) who had experience with self-harm and tummy-tuck clients – individuals who wished to have tattoos cover up their arm and tummy scars, respectively.

They nearly immediately “clicked.”

“It’s really important that you have a connection with your tattoo artist because you are going to be spending numerous hours with them, in close proximity and super-exposed. You know what I mean?  I laid in that back room half-naked for eight hours, so that’s something ….we hit it off well, right ‘off the bat.’ “

After carefully designing the image, Ike needed to ensure that the design would take into consideration the scar areas and the “form and flow of the body and make sure it would match.”

I realized that the other options weren’t going to do it for me. My (breasts) were never going to look the same again…..I just wanted something to cover the scars and make it beautiful.
— Kirsten Michaud

The tattoo application took place in the three sessions over approximately two months. When it was over, Kirsten was overjoyed. Ike felt as if he had truly helped someone.

“My mom’s a nurse,” Ike said, explaining that he, too, had found a similar desire to help others. “When you give tattoos, you don’t really help people other than giving them cool tattoos….it’s skin deep. When I started doing the self-harm clients, I felt like I was helping people. They started wearing short sleeves again. And with the mastectomy tattoo, it was like ‘Wow!’ – this is really fulfilling. (I decided that) I can help more people and I just drew from that,” he said.

Inked Phoenix.jpg

It’s really important that you have a connection with your tattoo artist because you are going to be spending numerous hours with them, in close proximity and super-exposed.

Michaud saw the impact the experience had on Ike. “I got the feeling that Ike got a lot out of helping me thru this process and that he wanted to continue doing this (work),” said Michaud.

And, so they joined forces to combine their paths into a common and shared goal. “We talked about how expensive tattoos are ($800-1800),” said Michaud. “After treatments and medical bills, that’s not an expense that most women can afford and, of course, it’s not covered by insurance. So this idea came that maybe we’d start a (nonprofit) and we’d pay for the mastectomy tattoos.”

Michaud quickly secured a Board of Directors and formed a 501(c)(3). In January of this year, Inked Phoenix was born. She began visiting tattoo parlors in North, and, then, South Carolina. “I’m looking at the environment they are going into. I want to make sure that they have a private room; that they are comfortable there.” It is Michaud’s fervent desire that everything, including the business aspect, is handled beforehand and that the entire process goes smoothly for applicants who have already endured significant emotional and physical pain.

“I’ve already done the hard work. They can go down the list and pick whichever one they want.” Clients don’t handle any money; the funds are transferred from Inked Phoenix to the tattoo parlor. Inked Phoenix subsidizes 100% of the work at the artist’s rate.

“After seeing how much work Ike put into it and realizing the skill-factor needed to complete a mastectomy tattoo, to have to sit there and listen to someone tell their (survivor) story and go through (all) the emotions, I really felt like they need to be compensated for that,’ Michaud said. “And, they should be. It’s their talent….It’s not easy to work on scar tissue.”

“I’ve already done the hard work. They can go down the list and pick whichever one they want.” Inked Phoenix subsidizes 100% of the work at the artist’s rate.

“I have a scar line that (when Ike touched it) it nearly sent me off the table,” she said. “That’s the other reason (the artists must have experience) - they are working with scar tissue – it’s not just the texture of it, but understanding that you are going to have nerve endings that have feeling and nerve endings that have no feeling.” Tattoo artists need to “be patient enough to understand that,” said Michaud.

This year, nearly one dozen applicants are expected to receive tattoos - a number she expects will double next year. And, Michaud’s goal is to expand into more Carolinas locations and possibly beyond (tattoo artists in Florida and Nevada have contacted her asking to be involved).  

“I didn’t want women to have to drive that far because it’s exhausting,” said Michaud. “You’re laying on the table, your adrenaline is flowing, your endorphins are going, and it’s such an emotional experience. Having to drive (many) hours after that is ridiculous.”

Photo courtesy Inked Phoenix Project

Photo courtesy Inked Phoenix Project

While navigating the new nonprofit, Michaud decided to also add veterans into the mix. (Her son and husband are both in the military). “This was another group which would benefit from this. You (wouldn’t) have to see your scars all day…….. A lot of vets say, ‘I didn’t even think to do this.’”

To attract contributors and clients, Michaud has started speaking to breast cancer survivors/groups; reached out to veterans and breast cancer organizations/nonprofits; sold t-shirts and has spread the word at tattoo festivals and Harley Davidson festivals/gatherings.  “We are slowly but surely getting the word out…..when you talk about tattoos and breasts, it isn’t warm and fuzzy.”

What is her most motivating factor? “The passion is because I know how it changed my life and I get an email back from a woman who tells me that it’s the first time she’s worn a bathing suit in years, because you don’t notice the scar right away. Or, a woman whose daughter says she looks like a “badass” and I know it makes her feel good because her daughter notices (it). I just think this is something that should be available. It should not be a choice, simply because you can’t afford it.”

Photo courtesy Inked Phoenix Project

Photo courtesy Inked Phoenix Project

In the future, Michaud said she hopes that doctors will begin suggesting mastectomy tattoos as a possibility. “Mastectomy tattoos aren’t something that even doctors talk about…they don’t present it as an option.” She also intends to continue expanding her nonprofit and her work.  “I just want to stay on this mission,” Michaud said. “It’s important that you have a good rapport with your tattoo artist. I’ve known Ike for 2 ½ years now. He was such a part of such an emotional experience with me that he, until I die, will be a part of my life - just because of that.”









Art for Veterans Creates Comrades-in-Art

Art for Veterans, a non-profit serving military veterans, offers an open studio, free materials, guidance, and a safe space to create art at McDowell Arts Center by the Community Center in Matthews. Classes and studio time are offered September to June on Wednesdays from noon to 3 PM and Fridays from 1 to 4 PM .

On 9/11, the tragic time struck artist Eileen Schwartz particularly hard. Living in San Diego, she was “so upset by the events of the day” that she felt the need to immediately do something. “There was patriotism all around, flags everywhere, cars painted with flags, faces painted with flags,” she said. Schwartz wanted to capture the images of the moment.

With the work and help of others, her intentions and photographs turned into what became approximately 400 snapshots and the basis of an art gallery show. Creating a nonprofit organization called “Flags Across the Nation,” which also added the display of children’s pictures and then quilts soon followed. The work forever linked her to vets and their families across the country. To date, she’s curated/created 65 shows or events from San Diego to Charlotte; she continues to receive letters from military personnel across the country, currently or previously deployed.

Five years ago (now living in Charlotte), she and her nonprofit group wanted to branch out in other directions - the art class for military personnel, “Art for Veterans,” was born. Offered weekly from September to June, anyone who has served in the military can come to the McDowell Arts Center in Matthews for (up to) three hours each Wednesday (noon to 3 p.m.). The classes and materials are free. At least 10-20 men and women (currently ages 25-94) come to quietly work on (a variety of) artwork and paintings.

“I wanted to make a safe space for veterans who wanted to come to paint,” said Schwartz, explaining that some people need to de-stress, some people are there to learn techniques and some people want to be around other veterans. “Everyone is here for a different reason,” she said.

cyma veterans 1.jpg

“I wanted to be directly involved with veterans and give them the opportunity to explore art,” said Schwartz. “I’m a supporter for individuals for what they want in their life. I give them the opportunities to explore.”

We have a lot in common with those who are in the different branches of the military. The lessons are a way to meet new people, make a connection and express ourselves through our art.
— Felicia LaGrant

To Diana Rahe, 58, US Army/NC National Guard/Desert Storm/former Gastonia police officer – driving one hour each week to attend the class has been the best thing she could hope for. After years in the military, suffering from severe PTSD and chronic ongoing and significant nightmares, her therapist urged her to “find a purpose.” An online search for Veterans Art Therapy led her to the class and the mistaken idea that she would be asked to only express her military experiences through art. “I never had a hobby before,” she said, adding that she couldn’t paint until she tried the class. “It’s so much fun to paint - it’s a great experience and (is) such a (great) experience to sit with veterans….who have served in all sorts of conflicts.”

“We have a lot in common with those who are in the different branches of the military,” said Felicia LaGrant, 59, US Army – one of the newest members of the group. “The lessons are a way to meet new people, make a connection and express ourselves through our art.”

cyma veterans 3.jpg

Dom Spedicato, 86, US Army/Korean War, said the class has helped “reveal (your) inner self and feelings,” adding that the experience has helped him ”feel what others” in the class have experienced - both physical and emotional pain. “I feel compassion for (many of) them,” he said.

“It’s a good time to spend with comrades-in-arms,” said John Prestbo, 77, US Air Force/Vietnam. “and lets me pursue my art,” said John Prestbo. “It’s a good, comfortable time. I look forward to coming here each week.”

While many classes often involve a revolving group of participants, many of the students in this class have stuck with the program, finding comfort, joy, and fulfillment in a safe space. “This is a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of for as long as I can,” said Rahe. “It’s just enjoyable to learn different techniques – it’s relaxing… It’s helped me heal. Sometimes you see things or experience things you don’t have words for and you don’t want to explore. We’re lucky to have this class. I wish more (veterans) would do this.”

Morning Minute: October 3, 2018

News Around Town: While Matthews survived Florence largely unscathed, old trees shed a lot of twigs and limbs. As a result, Republic Services, the waste company that services Matthews, is a bit behind on yard debris pick-up.  Starting today, the Town of Matthews Public Works Department will be working with Republic to finish up Tuesday’s routes. Day-by-day they’ll continue working together until all of the routes are cleared.

Older trees are an interest point for the Town of Matthews.   News Above Town:  The heat is on as the temps climb back to the upper 80s. Expect some clouds.   News Around Town:  A local moms group rallied around Tammy Panovich as her husband, Brad, was kept at work (WCNC) watching Florence creep in. In an effort to provide meals to the station crew, the moms, led by Matthews mom Amanda McGrath, raised $1325 in under a day. The idea was so popular the  Fanovich tee shirt  was born. In two weeks 3,100 shirts were sold and $37,001.05 has been raised for charities aiding in storm relief.

Older trees are an interest point for the Town of Matthews.

News Above Town: The heat is on as the temps climb back to the upper 80s. Expect some clouds.

News Around Town: A local moms group rallied around Tammy Panovich as her husband, Brad, was kept at work (WCNC) watching Florence creep in. In an effort to provide meals to the station crew, the moms, led by Matthews mom Amanda McGrath, raised $1325 in under a day. The idea was so popular the Fanovich tee shirt was born. In two weeks 3,100 shirts were sold and $37,001.05 has been raised for charities aiding in storm relief.

amanda fanovich.png

One Good Thing: This Thursday don’t miss the First Thursday Crawl in Downtown Matthews. Expect to find food and drink specials at area restaurants, entertainment, and some local makers selling their wares around the green in front of Town Hall. The fun starts at 5 p.m. 

Artist Tom Risser Puts Heart in Matthews Art

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Sculptor, skater, and corporate man Tom Risser

Sculptor, skater, and corporate man Tom Risser

For many people driving quickly down South Trade Street, they may have seen or glanced at the nearly eight-foot metal heart sculpture off the sidewalk at the front of Stumptown Park.

Known as “PDA or Public Display of Affection,” the piece was loaned to the town in 2013 by philanthropist, skateboarder, and sculptor, Tom Risser. Should someone choose to buy it, the price is $5000.

“I’ve been placing little heart-symbols in my work for 15 years,” said Risser.

This message was amplified nearly three years ago when he suffered a massive heart attack and had quintuple by-pass surgery. “I always put heart in my art,” he said.

Owner of US Bottlers Machinery Company, a Charlotte-based specialized packaging company, nearly all of the materials he uses for his artwork are left-over metals from his company - refurbished and repurposed scrap stainless steel. He sees his contribution as “just putting (in) my labor and imagination for it.”

risserquote.jpg

A philosophical and intentioned man, Risser feels strongly about the work he does: “art itself is just an escape, a therapy – rehab,” and the places his art lands on: “I love the fact that Matthews is willing to put art out in public space…..Let’s take and put art (out) for public viewing.”

Risser’s other artistic contribution to Matthews is the small horse sculpture in the town’s pocket park located on Old 51 near Town Hall – a memorial to Kay Plyler, a deceased town employee.