Local Arts

‘Everyone needs an outlet to express themselves.’ Their art studio is just the start.

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Charlotte Arts Guide 2019-20

Here’s all of our stories on the new arts season. We’ll introduce you to the diverse group of people making vital contributions to the arts. You’ll find them in museums, on stage, in studios and even outdoors. And you’ll get our calendar listings for theater, dance, music, museums, literary events and visual arts.

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David Galloway finds it hilarious that his son, Dion Galloway, and daughter, Davita Galloway, named their creative studio, dupp&swat, after the random nicknames he gave them as children growing up in Winston-Salem.

When brother, Dion (Dupp), and his older sister, Davita, (Swat), decided to become entrepreneurs, they had trouble finding a business name that wasn’t already trademarked. The name, dupp&swat, came to Davita in a dream. Although the business evolved over the years, the name stuck.

“It’s organically transformed into this cultural shift,” said Davita, 39. “When we opened our doors in NoDa in 2010, it was going to be office space for us to do our photo shoots. But because we had so much space, creators of all kinds just flew in. They asked if they could put their artwork on our walls. Of course we said yes.”

Almost 10 years and four moves later, dupp&swat is in Camp North End, a 76-acre industrial site on Statesville Avenue. It was adapted into mixed-use event, creative and business space.

A colorful mural by North Carolina native John Hairston Jr. covers dupp&swat’s floor. Canvas works by local artists adorn the walls. Davita’s paper coffee cups hanging from the light fixtures is a work in progress. She calls it, “Wake Up.”

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The gallery space at dupp&swat in Camp North End is colorful and modern. THE CREATIVE GENT Courtesy of Davita Galloway

“Not only, ‘wake up,’ in terms of, ‘you’re groggy,’ ” she said, “but, in terms of, our state of Charlotte and where we are — morally, values. We need to wake up.”

The studio sells men’s and women’s wear and accessories from local designers such as Shani Amara, Denise & Friends Vintage and Feminist Goods Co. The space is also rented for book signings, fashion shows, birthday parties and other special events.

“It definitely provides a safe place for the art community to come and thrive,” Dion said. “It just so happens that the two owners are African American, (and) that automatically brings in a minority group: other African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ folks, anyone who may be perceived as looked over or undervalued.”


Most recently, dupp&swat added the iNCubator, a membership-based co-working studio for artists and entrepreneurs. It shares space with dupp&swat and is an extension of the community over competition philosophy that the Galloways promote.

“Our vision is for it to be home for black creatives, for black innovators” said Tierany Griffin-Purdie, the community manager at the iNCubator. “Almost like an epicenter when it comes to building a space for them to come. Not to just come and work but for them to be a resource for each other.

“This little hub can grow into a massive resource for those in the arts and the creative community.”

Expressing herself

Art became an outlet for Davita at an early age.

Growing up, Davita said, she was an awkward kid with thick glasses. And school kids picked on her because of the size of her lips.

Davita has always been a fan of colorful clothing, and was drawn to fashion. “It started with wardrobe and how I expressed myself,” she remembered.

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In 2014, Dion and Davita Galloway founded the nonprofit CrownKeepers to support overlooked communities of artists and “sustain the arts and creative culture in Charlotte.” WILL JENKINS

“My parents would try to edit my wardrobe so I wouldn’t appear such a rainbow or be so alarming with what I had on,” Davita added. “I liked the way it had the ability to say all the things I couldn’t with words.

“When you walk into a room and you are very colorful, it says a lot about you.”

An ‘asset to the city’

Davita also wrote poems and painted in her youth. Running dupp&swat hasn’t stopped her from continuing to pursue her own art.

She recently created “Charlotte’s Web” in the Creative Suite at Advent Coworking. The multimedia project is a play on the movie by the same name, but it also represents the connectivity of the Queen City. Trinkets that characterize Charlotte are woven into the project.

Davita also designs costumes for local theater production companies such as On Q Performing Arts, Inc. and the Actor’s Gym. In August, she worked on costume designing for Three Bone Theatre’s production of “Pipeline.”

“It’s her role to come up with the look and the feel of the costumes for the actors,” said Robin Tynes-Miller, founder and artistic director at Three Bone Theatre. “I’ve always been a huge fan of her work. She is a huge asset to this city in terms of her creativity and talent.”

An easy relationship

In 2014, brother and sister founded the nonprofit CrownKeepers to support overlooked communities of artists and “sustain the arts and creative culture in Charlotte.” The organization works with local schools to introduce careers that involve art and creativity.

At Whitewater Middle School, students put on a fashion show using repurposed clothing. The unwanted clothing became works of art they could wear.

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Davita Galloway says that “everyone needs an outlet to express themselves.” Observer file photo

“Art is being forced out of our schools these days,” Davita said. “Everyone needs an outlet to express themselves. This day was a way for them to do it.”

Working together has come natural for Davita and Dion. It’s an easy relationship, she said.

At first, they divided the roles — Davita handled the creative aspects of the business, and Dion took care of the financial and administrative parts. Now they tag team, allowing for each to stretch their skills and experiment with new roles.

“I couldn’t imagine not working with my brother,” she said. “He’s always been there. He’s been a champion, huge supporter. He’s seen me fumble through life. He’s seen the triumph as well as the trials.”

Obvious cool/Hidden cool

We asked artists and arts administrators interviewed for the Fall Arts preview to talk about their favorite piece of Obvious Cool art in Charlotte and their favorite Hidden Cool art.

In 2017, Camp North End, a 76-acre industrial site on Statesville Avenue, was redeveloped to include mixed-use event and business space. Charlotteans visit for Friday night events with live music, food trucks and art. For Davita Galloway, the murals by artists Brandon Sadler, Dr. Dax, Sharon Dowell, James Moore, Maxilie Martel and several more are the Hidden and Obvious Cool art in Charlotte. Their art fills the brick walls and loading dock garage doors throughout Camp North End.

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Camp North End’s loading dock is filled with murals. Diedra Laird dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

“It’s an amalgamation of visual artists,” Davita Galloway said. “Here, ‘on this stage,’ renowned visual artists share space with artists who have never used spray paint before. That speaks to the platform, the opportunity and even the possibilities when a ‘yes’ is given. The works are colorful, vary in size and, collectively, represent all parts of life — as it should.”

More arts coverage

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