By Bernie Petit
The driver of the city bus you take into uptown Charlotte every morning?
She just might be an artist. So too could the librarian that recommended the last good read you checked out.
That’s the point of the 14th annual National Arts Program (NAP), which showcases the artistic talent of city, county and library employees, retirees and their families – fostering the creativity and encouraging the artistic skill that is found in abundance among local government workers.
“The talent and quality of work on display here is amazing,” said Danee McGee, a City of Charlotte employee who coordinates the local program. “You watch a lot of employees showing people their work, they are so happy and proud of their accomplishments – it is a lot of fun to be a part of this event.”
The exhibit kicked off Jan. 31 and will run through Thursday, Feb. 27, in the lobby of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, at 600 E. 4th St., Charlotte. Free and open to the public, the exhibit features more than 200 works of art ranging from paint and photography to sculpture, craft and mixed media created by more than 120 artists.
Upon entering the Government Center lobby, which has been transformed into a community art gallery, you’ll find a metal sculpture by Jennifer Everson, last year’s Best of Show winner and scholarship recipient. She used her earnings to take a metal working class and re-enter the contest this year.
Maybe you’ll prefer the artwork by Shawn Haraden, an automotive pin striper who transposed his professional work onto canvas. Or your eyes may be drawn to the abstract painting by city employee Natasha Warren, who entered her first-ever painting into the competition.
Routinely, the show is the first time many participants have formally displayed their work. Artistic work is judged in amateur, intermediate and professional categories, as well as youth and teen categories.
“Being able to display your work publicly is a big thrill for any artist, so supporting a program that provides a venue for government employees to show off their work is exciting for us,” said Arts & Science Council (ASC) program director John Horne. “Hopefully this program encourages all of the everyday artists among us to continue practicing and honing their craft.”
Charlotte’s NAP is a collaboration between the ASC, the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
The National Arts Program is a nationwide initiative that fosters creativity and encourages artistic expression among employees, retirees and relatives of government organizations. Now in its 32nd year, the NAP hosts exhibitions in more than 450 cities throughout the United States. Program participants produce more than 30,000 artistic works each year. Charlotte has hosted the exhibit since 2000.
This year’s Charlotte NAP winners are:
Natalie Baron, Bridget Hayes, Ellen Ward, Annabelle Fath, Alden White and Konur Handy
3rd – Alexandra Loesser for her painting “Beast”
2nd – Juanita Millea for her painting “The Last Supper”
1st – Sou Moua for his photograph “Snowy Moon”
3rd – Frank Bock for his craft submission titled “Whimsical Birdhouse”
2nd – Beverly Lawing for her work titled “Autumn Sunset”
1st – Susan James for her painting title “Inlet”
3rd – Linda Holmes for her mosaic titled “The Lost Coin”
2nd – Alison Naftel for her photograph titled “Whooo are you?”
1st – Dee Camm for her work titled “Follow the Light”
3rd – Khaleed Muhammad for his photograph “Colors”
2nd – Theo Pace for his watercolor titled “Snail and Shadow”
1st – Catherine Smiley for her painting “Reason to Hope”
3rd – Delaney Brigman for her portrait titled “Many Faces of Me”
2nd – Samantha Robinson for her drawing “Endless Eyed Adele”
1st – Sarah Anna Spinelli for her pencil work titled “Run Fast”
The People’s Choice Award
Best in Show
George Rivera for his pastel piece titled “Mama and Mana”