By Bernie Petit
A monkey on a gondola ride is artist Pam Cosper’s introduction to Charlotte.
Her acrylic painting, titled “This is the Life,” was one of five works selected for the Arts & Science Council’s (ASC) ArtPop program through a public vote on CharlotteCultureGuide.com.
The ArtPop poll winners will join the 15 previously selected artists who live or work in Mecklenburg County in having their work showcased on billboards across the Charlotte region throughout 2014 thanks to an ASC partnership with Adams Outdoor Advertising. The first of the artistic billboards went up the week of Dec. 23 and the rest will be up the week of Jan. 6.
“To have your art on a billboard, that’s better than a gallery for me,” Cosper said. “I’m in a small gallery and I have a wall and everything, but that is nothing compared to how many people can share your art on the road.”
As a newcomer to Charlotte, being selected for the program shocked Cosper, who moved to the city from Tennessee by way of Michigan in February.
“I emailed a few of my friends but I don’t have a huge following – I’m not on social media, I don’t have Facebook, I don’t have Twitter, I don’t do any of it,” she said. “The interesting thing that started happening was votes started coming in and I had no idea where they were coming from. I had no clue. That’s when I started getting excited.”
And that’s when she started telling folks around her uptown condo building and the arts supply store she frequents to go online and vote.
“It was amazing because what I learned was all of these people were interested,” she said.
More thrilling to Copser was that her work resonated with online voters. People called and emailed to tell her how much they liked her work, which encourages viewers to relax and not take life so seriously.
People “don’t need to be so rushed and so on time and so nervous about all the decisions they need to make,” said Cosper, who followed her dream of becoming an artist after suffering an early stroke. “Sit back and enjoy the ride. Let someone else take the reins, like the gondola driver in the painting. You don’t see his face –you’re not supposed to. It’s just that someone is taking you on this ride through a beautiful place.”
Cosper said her inclusion in the ArtPop program should bolster her efforts to establish herself in the local cultural community.
“Being on a billboard gives me credibility, that’s how I look at it,” she said. “It’s like, ‘You want to see my art? Drive down I-77.’”