By James Langston
Henri Matisse once said, “Creativity takes courage.”
Matisse, a French printer, painter, and sculptor, may not have ever lived in North Carolina, but artists everywhere understand what he means. Local artists downtown Fayetteville had the courage last year to create a seasonal Art Walkabout (happening in the summer, fall, winter, and spring) encouraging locals to come downtown, explore a handful of different galleries, mix and mingle with their neighbors, and see what the recent artists in our community have been up to.
In a downtown that is shifting and shaping itself to embrace the arts more wholeheartedly, I was excited to explore the summer Art Walkabout. It was a hot night when I toured around back in July. Though there is no specific way to enjoy the Walkabout, for me, Cape Fear Studios, the art gallery on Maxwell Street, seemed to me to be a good starting point. Cape Fear Studios happens to sponsor the Art Walkabout and collects donations to fund future ones.
The way Cape Fear Studios is set up, you can take a peek into where different artists of different mediums work. While wandering around, I got the chance to meet Nancy Edge, who conducts the Art Walkabout. She told me that even though this is the first year for the event, people are coming out specifically for the art. In her mind, that’s equivalent with success. Edge, a former art teacher herself, said, “Having the Walkabout four times a year makes it more of an event rather than an obligation.” Since a majority of the art galleries are all within walking distance from one another, why not celebrate that?
From Cape Fear Studios I headed down the street to Olde Town Gallery owned by Sandra McFarlane. Olde Town Gallery is a smaller space than Cape Fear Studios and the artist’s drawing table was along the back wall. You could see just what she was working on and I could see her art is very detailed. McFarlane, originally from Scotland, was very welcoming. She must have been one of the more popular artists because shortly after I arrived, her gallery was full. It was easy to see how much the artists and gallery owners look forward to this coming together of the community.
I left McFarlane and her friends and made my way to Diane’s Vintage Market. Among the antiques was the art of Sandra Dee. Dee, a self-proclaimed Army brat has also lived in Europe and Los Angeles, but she now calls Fayetteville home. Dee is most known for her murals. Her works are large and colorful and abstract. I asked her who most influenced her work and she spoke very fondly of the artist Tom Moore. Dee enjoys the community aspect of the Walkabouts, but credits their seasonal reoccurrence as another form of motivation. She likes the pressure of a timeline. “It’s good because I know I have a few months to come up with new work,” she said.
After leaving Diane’s Vintage Market, I headed to Gallery 116th on Anderson Street. Gallery 116th has more of a DIY-style and vibe to it. Hanging on the walls were clusters of black and white photographs by several local artists. A TV playing a video by James Throssel sat on top of a skate ramp. Throssel, a Fayetteville native, is a student now at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He spoke highly of the Art Walkabout, attributing its success and expansion to the people involved.
“The art scene here has grown immensely. I love to see events like the Art Walkabout and see how they are progressing. Any event like this that brings creative minds together is a beautiful thing."
From Gallery 116th, I headed to The Sweet Palette, where Patsy Crawford had her fashion illustrations on display in an exhibit entitled “A Love From My Past.” Crawford was busy speaking with everyone who was there, so I enjoyed her illustrations and the music Kia Walker, owner of The Blue Violin Music Education Center, was playing her very own blue violin.
Alter Egos Gallery and Studio, a new gallery on Gillespie Street owned by Marcos Mata and his wife April Day Mata, has a great energy. Both Marcos and his wife were very friendly. Alter Egos hosts paint nights and other DIY-specific nights that revolve around the arts, for beginner and expert artists alike. City Center Gallery and Books, Element Salon, and Ellington White are other art locations to stop in and explore, but my last stop of the night was the lobby of 300 Hay Street that had a collection of paintings from various local artists.The Art Walkabout is a very unique experience. It’s about the coming together of local artists and the rest of the community. What a wonderful way to enjoy downtown Fayetteville and explore the people and the art galleries you may have missed otherwise.
The next Art Walkabout will be October 12, 2017. In 2018, the Art Walkabout has been scheduled for the dates of January 11, April 12, and July 14, 2018. For more information visit Art Walkabout on Facebook or contact Cape Fear Studios directly at 910.433.2986.