Saturday, January 28th at 6 pm, join AIW (Arts In Wilmington) for the first annual Wilmington Awards show at theArtWorks. This year’s celebration will honor four outstanding recipients from the area. Beer, wine, and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Award recipients include: Individual Artist: Hiroshi Sueyoshi Individual: Jim & Betsy Knowles, Owners of theArtWorks Arts in Education: Gabriel Lovejoy Organization: DREAMS of Wilmington
AIW (Arts In Wilmington) connects artists, arts professionals, and arts advocates and includes Wilmington, Carolina & Kure Beaches, Wrightsville Beach, Hampstead, Surf City, Topsail Beach, Burgaw, Leland, Shallotte, Southport and Brunswick County Beaches.
Craig Stinson smiles and gives a little head shake. We have been discussing his project, Arts In Wilmington, and veered into a conversation about what the arts can or can’t do to heal societal ills. It’s oddly refreshing to hear someone actually put forth the idea that one visit to an inner-city school by a dance troupe for a master class might not be the missing element in eliminating prejudice from the world. Maybe “ars gratia artis” (“art for art’s sake”) is the point.
But back to Craig Stinson.
He’s a quiet man with a big smile. More so, he seems genuinely interested in collaborative work and listens attentively to other people’s ideas. Stinson started Arts in Wilmington as a newsletter in February of 2014.
“I just thought it would be fun to send out a newsletter every week with arts events happening,” he says. “I literally had five people the first issue. Two were me, one was my wife,” he says with a smile. “I’m almost at 1,400 subscribers now—by word of mouth.”
So, is Stinson making a living from this? No, he sells real estate by day.
“I just want people to know about the broad spectrum of stuff happening in Pender, Brunswick and New Hanover countiesm” Stinson tells. “Wilmington has one of the best arts scenes for an area this size, and it’s all so community-driven, which I love.”
Stinson has embarked on an interesting journey back to home. He moved away a little over two decades ago and in the meantime worked in arts administration in Washington D.C. and South Carolina. He cites the museum studies concentration at George Washington University as the motivator for persuing his degree there. He also worked with The Smithsonian, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Library of Congress, The Alamo …
“Really?” I interrupt him. “The Alamo? Was your office in the fort?”
He nods and gives me a surprised look.
This segued to South Carolina where he worked as program director for eight years at the South Carolina Arts Commission. “But I wanted to be home—I always wanted to get back to Wilmington,” he explains.
Stinson popped up on my radar about the time he started the newsletter. He was working in the Cucalorus office and we seemed to orbit each other. Then he started organizing networking events with Arts in Wilmington.
“There’s a lot of activity in Wilmington,” he says. “People hear of each other but sometimes they don’t know each other. We started the meetups so people could make that happen.”
Stinson rotates the location of the meetups monthly. He has utilized Flytrap Brewery on 4th Street and TheatreNOW on 10th Street, as well as art galleries like Eclipse at Blue Moon on Racine Drive and Spectrum Art and Jewelry at The Forum.
“Every time we have people come who have said, ‘I’ve never been in here,’” he notes. “They meet the owners, artists, performers. I think a lot of getting people involved is giving them a reference for the amenities in town.”
He says people then have a relationship with a venue and its location, including knowing where to park. It might sound minor, but it can actually be a pretty major hurdle for a business or venue.
About a month ago Stinson sent a notice seeking nominations for the first Arts in Wilmington Awards. My main inquiry for him was knowing how his newsletters and awards are any different from The Arts Council of WIlmington and New Hanover County. “I don’t give grants,” Stinson says. When Stinson decided to start the awards, rather than reinventing the wheel, he pretty much copied a model he has seen work: The South Carolina Arts Council’s Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Awards. “I want it to be as transparent as possible, [with judging that] has solid credentials behind it,” he explains.
Six categories will be covered in the awards: Arts in Education, Organization, Government, Business/Foundation, Individual, and Individual Artist. Stinson has tapped people from Mississippi, South Carolina, Florida, and DC to judge the nominations. “The plan is to have them reviewed by people outside of the area—who have really solid arts administration backgrounds and people who are not in Wilmington.”
Stinson is quick to point out the categories are open to interpretation. In “Government,” for example, a juror could be someone who is an elected official, or works in government or for a municipality. The “Individual” category presents questions about advocacy for arts, volunteering, fundraising, and arts administration. “They cast a wide net in very specific areas,” he notes.
Outside of joy of recognition for winning an award, Stinson says highlighting exceptional individuals and businesses leads to awareness beyond Wilmington. “Ultimately the arts serve as an ambassador for the town itself,” he says. “From my perspective, it’s an issue of awareness and recognition. [W]e’ve had a long history of community theatre and visual arts. Wilmington has always been an arts city.”
Stinson constantly hears from colleagues in other parts of the country who are surprised at how much happens in Wilmington. His job as a real estate agent makes him think about why people would move here. He says obvious reasons like climate and proximity to the beach and having a cool downtown are one. “But arts is one component of that,” he notes.As we veer toward a conversation about how to measure economic value of the arts in a community, Stinson surprises me again.
“Some people just know they can take classes or get involved in the theatre scene,” he says. “I think if you package the arts well, the economic implications become obvious. If you start from the economic issue of the arts, to me, it takes away from the intrinsic creative value and bravery that the arts engender They show bravery. People don’t understand how . . . intimidating it would be to get up onstage and put yourselves out there in front of people. That translates into all kinds of other aspects of people’s lives (be it starting businesses). You want to talk about economic development? Talk about people who stand on a stage or create a 2D or 3D piece of work, and put it out there for everybody.”
Stinson says Wilmington could call itself the “live-theatre capital of the East Coast.” He’s right. We have five to seven shows playing any given weekend. “So when you have a concentration of arts or arts activity, it ends up being the vanguard of economic development, in the sense that restaurants and retail pop up around it,” he continues. “Thus, housing values go up and people take pride locally and really reinforces sense of place.”
To nominate someone for an Arts in Wilmington Award, log onto www.artsinwilmington.com. The nomination deadline is April 29.
Arts in Wilmington Meetup
Art in Bloom • 210 Princess Street
March 9, 5:30 p.m. • Free
First 10 people get Art in Bloom T-shirt
As we head into the final weekend of September, The Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County will celebrate its monthly Fourth Friday Gallery Walk in downtown Wilmington. The Fourth Friday Gallery Walk is an event in which Wilmington art galleries participate and open their doors to the public and host receptions and openings throughout the downtown area.
Tonight, the after hours celebration and event begins at 6 pm and concludes at 9 pm. The self-guided tours of the downtown Wilmington art galleries have made Wilmington a destination for art lovers.
Here is a list of participating galleries:
1) ACES Gallery: 221 N. Front Street | 910.343.0998 | ACES, or Arts Council Exhibition Space, is a public gallery featuring rotating exhibits by New Hanover County-based artists, groups, and independent curators. www.ArtsCouncilofWilmington.org
2) ACME Art Studios: 711 N. 5th Ave | 910.763.8010 | Wilmington’s premier working studio space and gallery featuring 20 active studios and in-house gallery space with painters, sculptors and photographers of all ages and genres. acme-art-studios.com
3) Art Factory Gallery & Studios: 721 Surrey St. | 910.399.3793 | Art Factory includes a 1500 sf World Gallery, a Featured Artist Gallery and showroom, as well as 16 artist studios. They also have approximately 5000 sf of photography and film space available at an hourly or daily rate. Fourth Friday hours are 6-10pm. Join Art Factory for their special Fifth Friday events, including music, wine, and beer tastings, 7-11 p.m. Facebook.com/ArtFactory
4) The Artworks: 200 Willard Street | 910.352.7077 | A 7000 square foot art village, fostering a creative environment for artists, educational opportunities, and enhancing the community through art. theartworks.co
5) Dan Beck Gallery: 545 Castle Street | 910.299.8288 | Dan Beck is the Gold Medal winner of the 2011 Oil Painters of America National Exhibit. email@example.com
6) Bottega Bar & Gallery: 122 Princess Street | 910.763.3737 | Casual and fun Art Gallery serving a variety of wine, beer and activities. Friendly people and inspiring atmosphere. bottegawinebar
7) Crescent Moon: 24 N. Front Street | 910.762.4207 | Crescent Moon is a retail gallery for handcraft in America, supporting 3-D artists working in glass, pottery, metal, sculpture and more. CrescentMoonNC.com
8) The Wilma W. Daniels Gallery: 200 Hanover Street | 910.362.7442 | CFCC’s Wilma W. Daniels Gallery is located on the first floor of the Hanover Parking Deck in downtown Wilmington and features more than 2000 square feet of gallery space. cfcc.edu/blogs/wilmagallery
9) Cape Fear Native: 114 Princess Street
10) The Muddy Muse Studio & Gallery: 616 Castle Street
11) The Golden Gallery: 307 N. Front Street | 910.762.4651 Wilmington’s leading source for regional imagery for over 35 years! Watercolors, photography, illustration, and more. Inside the Cotton Exchange.TheGoldenGallery.com
12) MC Erny Gallery @ WHQR: 254 N. Front Street | 910.343.1640 | A fine art gallery located inside Wilmington’s historic public radio station, featuring exhibits from a variety of artists. Art exhibits rotate every two months. WHQR.org
13) New Elements Gallery: 201 Princess Street | 910.343.8997 | Fine art, craft, and jewelry by regional and nationally recognized artists since 1985. NewElementsGallery.com
14) Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts: 307 N. Front Street | 910.763.7111 |We are the first gallery in Wilmington dedicated exclusively to handmade, one-of-a-kind, three-dimensional art and crafts. PortCityPottery.com
15) River to Sea Gallery: 224 S. Water Street, Unit 1-A | 910.763.3380 | River to Sea Gallery features over thirty local artists offering their finest creations, including paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery, glass and mixed media. RiverToSeaGallery.com [Chandler’s Wharf]
16) Urban Revival: 606 Castle Street | 910.769.3648 | A retail collective featuring art, gifts, vintage & home decor located in the Castle Street Arts & Antiques District. 51 vendors in 5,000 sq ft! Facebook.com/UrbanRevival606
17) The Bellamy Mansion: 503 Market Street | 910.251.3700 | Tour the Bellamy Mansion which was built between 1859 and 1861 in a style that blends Neoclassical architectural styles, including Greek Revival and Italianate.
18) Detour Deli: 510.5 Red Cross | 910.538.4093 Facebook.com/DetourDeliCafe
19) Rescue Mission of Cape Fear: 502 Castle Street | 910.343.0366 | Art at the Mission: Stop by on the fourth Friday to support local artists, who donate a portion of their sales to the mission, and get some great bargains. Everything in the store, except clothing and plants will be 15% off from 6pm until 9pm. Facebook.com/RescueMissionofCapeFear
21) Wabi Sabi Warehouse: 19 North 9th Street | 910.262.0730 | Come see the latest work of Wilmington’s fabulous artists in an awesome group show including paintings, pottery, mixed media, jewelry and essential oils.
22) Spectrum Pop-Up Gallery: 105 Grace Street at INVEST Financial Corp | Featuring the works of Anne Cunningham with live music by Roger Davis.