Concord on Canvas highlights local artists, downtown scenery

Now in its fourth year, the Concord Downtown Development Corp.’s annual fundraiser, Concord on Canvas, continues to grow and attract supporters of the arts community.

This year, 16 professional artists and 16 student artists from four area high schools have depicted downtown themes in art work that eventually will be sold.

Banners of the digitally-printed artwork will be displayed on light posts along Union Street throughout February before the original paintings are auctioned in March.

The free banner launch party will be 6-9 p.m. Jan. 30 at Union Street Bistro. The live auction of the original artworks will be 7 p.m. March 13 at the Hotel Concord on Union Street in downtown Concord. Online bidding will start Jan. 30 and run through March 12.

Last year’s live auction sold all 180 seats. This year’s auction will have a 240-seat capacity, said Diane Young, executive director of the CDDC.

The 2014 event grossed roughly $15,000 in sponsorships, ticket sales and the live and silent auctions. In its first year, the event grossed around $4,500.

Money raised helps support the artists, the art departments of the high schools involved and the CDDC.

In previous years, artists painted their creations on banners that were hung on the street.

This year, the artists painted on 2-foot-square stretched canvases. The canvases will be photographed and digitally printed on the banners. That allows organizers to store and protect the artwork from the elements.

The launch party will feature the original paintings.

Each year, Young said, she is impressed by the quality of work, especially from the student artists.

The event continues to grow in popularity, Young said, but also shines a light on professional and up-and-coming artists in the community. The auction event each year has drawn first-time guests of downtown Concord who have grown into supporters of downtown.

“Last year’s auction felt like a pep rally, with loud cheers and applause for our artists, especially the students,” Young said.

“There was tremendous energy in the ballroom of the Hotel Concord. This event has become a much-anticipated event that draws from a wide segment of our community.”

Josh King, 44, recreated Concord’s former train station. The station was razed many years ago, he said, but it fits the historical theme he wanted to incorporate into a print reminiscent of the mid-1900s.

“Josh is the only 3-D artist in our collection this year. The rest are hand-painted,” Young said. “The fact we chose to digitally print on the banners, as opposed to having the artists paint directly on the banners, allowed Josh to participate in his own creative way, doing what he does best.”

This is King’s second year submitting art work, along with his mother, Lorna McLaughlin. He worked on his piece for roughly three weeks.

“The artwork submitted is as varied as the artists,” King said. “That is what I like best. Some of the student work that I have seen is amazing, and it is a great chance to share and develop talents for everyone.”

Michelle Pentoney, 34, painted a friend’s dog, Marley. Pentoney has been involved in the effort for three years and serves on the Concord on Canvas organizing committee.

In her first year participating, Pentoney helped three students with paintings as a teacher with the Cabarrus County Schools. She has participated as an individual artist for the past two years.

“Living and working in downtown Concord, I love what this artwork does for the community,” she said. “It gets people out and interested in the arts.

“Not one piece stands out because all of the artwork is so different,” Pentoney said. “I am excited for the unveiling to preview all of the hard work that everyone has put into this.”