Artists depict downtown Concord for benefit auction

03/06/2013 12:00 AM

03/06/2013 4:52 PM

Let the bidding begin.

Nearly 30 original paintings, created by 26 Cabarrus County students and seven professional artists, are available for auction through the Concord Downtown Development Corporation’s second annual Concord on Canvas.

Artists’ original works were used to create the banners that will be on display through March 9 on light posts along Union Street and Church Street. The 29, two-foot-square pieces of downtown-themed scenes will be auctioned from 7-9 p.m. March 15 at the Hotel Concord.

Roughly 90 people attended the event last year, and every piece sold. This year, organizers are hoping to fill the 250-seat ballroom.

“It isn’t so much about making money as it is about supporting downtown and being a part of what people feel is a real exciting event,” said Diane Young, executive director of the CDDC. “This year…we decided we really wanted to open it up to the community, and we thought the best way to do that would be to get the high schools involved.”

The CDDC created the event to draw visitors to downtown while spreading awareness about the growing grass-roots arts community, said Young. Some of the high schools involved serve students in relatively new developments, and this effort also could help raise awareness about downtown Concord for residents who may not know the historic area exists.

Need not be present to win

Online bidding is under way, and those who place bids online do not need to attend the live auction to win.

The March 15th event also will include a silent auction of products and services offered by downtown businesses.

“Of course we want people to come to the event, but they can also participate online,” said Young. “At this day and time, I think it’s important to get creative about the ways we support programs in our schools.”

When a painting sells at the live auction, 25 percent of the selling price will be donated to the school’s art department. Opening bids on each painting is $100, and professional artists also get 25 percent of the winning bid.

A competition among students, the Vote For Me campaign, allows people to donate as little as $1 to support a student artist. Fifty percent of the money raised through online voting also will go to the students’ art department.

Students from each grade level who raise the most money via the live auction and the online campaign will have their artwork displayed at The Galleries in the Historic Cabarrus Courthouse during the April Art walk.

Student artists

A painting by Melanie Bush, a senior at A.L. Brown High School, already has raised $100, the largest amount in the “Vote For Me” competition.

She recently won a Portfolio Award and Silver Award at N.C. Scholastic art competitions, but Bush said her work has never been sold or viewed by so many people – or received such recognition.

“It’s both exciting and nerve-racking at the same time,” she said.

Caswell Turner, a Concord native and senior at Concord High School, is in the middle of an internship at the Mud Slingers Pottery and Glass Studio in downtown Concord.

Turner said she loved art since she was a child, but when she took on her first “serious self-portrait” during her freshman year, art became her passion.

“From that point on, I knew that I would be following that passion in some way when I got out of high school, and if possible, the rest of my life,” she said.

Turner joined the Concord on Canvas effort to try and earn some recognition for her artwork, which she hopes charms people who see it.

“My artwork is a slightly abstract piece with lots of color,” said Turner. “Essentially, it is a street tunneling down the middle of the canvas with buildings on the side that are curved outward. There is a water tower, which also looks a bit like a celestial body; the classic downtown trees, with lights in them folding around the buildings; and a sunrise peeking out from behind a building at the end of the street.”

Two-time participant

Andrea Sowle, 31, is a professional artist and a teacher at Central Cabarrus High School for the last seven years. She participated in Concord on Canvas last year and this year.

Sowle helped connect the CDDC with art teachers at Cabarrus County high schools. Each high school was able to submit up to one entry for each grade level.

Sowle said student artists went to school early, stayed after school and even toted the large banners from school to their homes in order to complete the paintings.

“The time commitment was intense during December and January, but the pride and honor each student felt when creating far outweighed the pressure,” said Sowle. “There is so much more beauty to this event than the literal beauty that adorns the light posts in downtown Concord right now. There is an excitement in the air that could only be brought about by a connected community.”

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