CHARLOTTE – In a time defined by technology and social media, the fine arts can sometimes feel forgotten, but not for Joni Purk. With more than 30 years of gallery experience and 20 years as a teacher, the owner and curator of Charlotte Fine Arts Gallery has made art her life’s work.
Purk opened her gallery seven years ago at 7510 Pineville-Matthews Road. It features work from both local and national artists skilled in representational, abstract, photography, sculpture, jewelry, glass and wood, as well as special collections.
“The focus is diversity – having something in the gallery that speaks to every customer, from abstract to realism and in both second and third dimension,” Purk said. “It really works.”
Each month, the gallery hosts a rotating exhibit featuring a specific theme or high profile artist. The work of Charlotte-born Romare Bearden (1911-1988), one of the biggest African-American artists, is currently on display until the end of February. His collection includes 35 limited edition, signed and numbered prints available for purchase.
“It’s really interesting because it’s part of Charlotte’s history,” Purk said.
Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from Bearden’s work will go toward brain cancer research and the fight for a cure, specifically the Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte and the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University.
The theme for March is “Fresh Art – The Color of Spring!” Purk said each piece will have an element of ultraviolet, which is Pantone’s 2018 Color of the Year.
In addition to the rotating exhibits, the Charlotte Fine Arts Gallery also displays artwork created in the studio by adult students and watercolor, acrylic and oil painters from the Carolinas. On Feb. 10, the gallery will host its first jewelry trunk show featuring one-of-a-kind handmade pieces.
Purk said one of the biggest draws to her gallery is the weekly classes and workshops for adults, children and teens. She also hosts a Girls Night Out painting event every third Friday of the month. Participants create their own masterpieces by following along with an experienced artist.
“I think art can be intimidating to people and Girls Night Out makes it not so intimidating,” she said.
Although Purk has found success, she admitted it can be difficult for small art galleries to adapt and stay alive today. The Ciel Gallery in SouthEnd recently announced it will be closing at the end of February.
The key, Purk said, is keeping things fresh, supporting local artists and emphasizing the importance of creativity in the community, especially when many schools are cutting back on arts programs.
“We always say creativity is like another kind of yoga. It’s peaceful. Plus, being creative helps you with any field because then you’re coming up with new ideas and different solutions to problems,” she said. “Galleries are important because if you’re looking to buy a piece, it’s not enough just to see something online. You really need to look at in person. When you physically see it in front of you, it can be very different from how it looked online. Colors will be off and abstracts will look one-dimensional.”
Purk has high hopes for the future of the Charlotte Fine Arts Gallery. She wants to host more themed exhibits, offer ceramics classes and eventually expand to a larger space so she can show more pieces at one time.
“Sometimes it’s limiting,” Purk said. “I just have so much more I’d like to put out.”
Want to go?
The Charlotte Fine Arts Gallery is open Tuesday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free. Visit www.charlottefineart.com for details.