A building in Charlotte’s Uptown is experiencing a new, albeit final phase of life. WFAE’s Sarah Delia visited the structure before it’s torn down to see how its remaining days are being put to artistic use.
A former Goodyear tire service building turned art space sits on East Stonewall Street in Charlotte’s center city. Bursts of color fill the building’s walls. Three artists are busy, working in their various mediums.
But, this is not a story about saving an old building.
“To me it’s like a beautiful Viking funeral where you pile someone on this wooden raft and you cover this person with furs and then you send them off into the water and fire the flaming arrow….it’s a celebration in turning something into another state which that kind of funeral does as you see the body turning into smoke,” says Amy Bagwell.
"There was never any wavering; it’s always been this building is being demolished. And so how can we use it to its upmost potential in the mean time?" says Amy Herman.
The Amy’s along with Graham Carew (who is also part of "Wall Poems of Charlotte" team with Bagwell) are responsible for the artistic activity in the building that will continue through at least September.
After that, plans for the site include retail and office space with a hotel - a line heard time and time again in Charlotte’s development boom.
But between now and the inevitable demolition of the building, developer Crescent Communities has handed over the keys to the structure and have even offered some financial support to the Amy’s endeavors: Three, one-month paid artist residencies. Each artist gets $1,000 to spend however they like.
Todd Stewart is one of the "Skyline Artists in Residence." His studio space in the building is the garage area.
He works with metal, so he's finding all sorts of material and inspiration right where he is—taking actual pieces of the building down and using them for his work. And the fact that the residency is just a month and that the building itself has an expiration date fuels his inspiration.
He finds things like old notes, a former employee who carved his name into the space over and over again, a cage used for someone’s pet…or maybe to catch critters in the garage.
It’s not every day artists get to take pieces of the building they’re working in and use them as material for their work.
There are two types of art being created: pieces that will be taken out of the space and live on, and other works that will be installed or painting onto the building like a colorful mural. So when the structure goes down, so does that art.
"It’s bitter sweet because you’ll pass by this area when it’s developed and know that you’ve spent time in that area in that space and it looks totally different. I’ve always wanted to work in this space actually," says painter Holly Keogh.
An extended wake, is the phrase the Amy’s use. Although these residencies could be extended past September, one thing is certain: there is no stopping this development.
"Ideally, this would go so well, there would be a permanent artist program for local artists in Charlotte but I think if we were given another scenario in another building we would take it. It’s been an amazing opportunity for us and the creative community," says Amy Herman.
So if the opportunity arose to house another building awaiting demolition, they’d take it. But they both agree that’s not the permanent solution for Charlotte’s art scene.
Amy Bagwell points out the thing about the transformation of this building and the art its become is that you either see it, or you don’t. You really can’t postpone.
The first of three showcases is Friday evening and starts at 6 p.m.