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Q and A with Christy Taylor

by Jennifer Garner

May 5,2006

Why does art matter in Charlotte?

Goodness, that’s like asking “Why do we need air”! Let me just sum up my response in this quote by Henry Miller: "Art teaches nothing, except the significance of life."

How did an art major end up owning a gallery?

I think a lot of gallery owners had dreams about becoming artists. When I was 8 years old, my drawing, A Day at the Circus, was awarded a blue ribbon. My parents framed it and hung it in our home! The personal satisfaction of being acknowledged for my own creative expression; to see the pleasure and delight my image brought to others has made a life long impression on me. I certainly had found my passion.

I continued my interest in art throughout my academic career. When I graduated from Queens, I realized that I had developed a stronger passion to promote the contribution of artists to our lives and to assist others in discovering themselves through art. At the time, honestly, it was a better fit for me rather than pursuing a career as a painter. I didn’t have enough life experience to have something to “say” visually. The choice I made continues to enrich my life daily.

Who inspired/influenced you?

My parents. As I mentioned, framing my drawing was a statement of faith in me as an artist. They also played a role in encouraging my entrepreneurial spirit. At an early age, I observed the importance of identifying a mission that matters in life, the willingness to take responsibility and the thrill of the challenge to accomplish goals.

My mother led by example. She taught me the importance of volunteerism as I watched her run the Garden Club Council and chair the first Beautification/ Don’t Litter campaign in Winston-Salem. I took on her commitment, much to the dismay of my friends, as I would stop the car and make them pick up gum wrappers that they mistakenly had thrown out the car window.

It is a little known fact, but my father was the visionary behind the state highway flower program, right up there with Lady Bird Johnson! As he traveled for Wachovia, my mother would load the truck of his car with flower seeds and he would pull off the highway and scatter them along the road.

So, with their guidance and their gift of playfulness, I took on leadership roles in high school and college. I naturally gravitated towards “community” by serving as President of the Teen Council in Winston-Salem, a citywide organization to study teen issues and plan events. At Queens College, I served as President of the Student Union for two terms. We established “The Pit,” a gathering place for students and we coordinated all events on campus. This experience landed me my first l experience in the art gallery business. If I knew how to book bands, play hostess, handle money, deal with public and delight in watching others enjoy themselves, then I could manage artists and a gallery. Oh, and yes, I even took out the trash.

Influences as for my artistic endeavors? Miss Walton, my third grade teacher,
John Fox, my high school teacher and Dr. George Shealy, head of the art department at Queens. They, too, all had faith in me as an artist. I am very grateful.

Why did you chose uptown as a location for your gallery?

The main street of a city is where you can find all walks of life. We believe that no one person is greater than another in the presence of a work of art. This philosophy puts us on Tryon Street where we can all learn to see, rather than know.

What should Charlotte do to encourage and support artists?

Be curious! I am on a personal crusade to launch a campaign about curiosity in Charlotte. We are a great town about recognizing the arts as good business, with lots of bricks and mortar to support its growth, but….how do we get people to be curious about seeking out experiences that push beyond entertainment?

My business is about celebrating the self expression in all of us. And, I believe self-expression begins with curiosity. As adults, (not to mention children staring at TV and computers all day)….coupled with the pace of our lives…we are losing touch with our senses. Let’s wake them up!

So how about this as a campaign idea? What if we all wore buttons that that stated what we had wanted to be when we grew up? Think about it. Walking down Tryon Street, you would pass strangers that had cowboy/cowgirl pinned to their suit. Think how differently we would relate to each other. Think how we would relate to ourselves?

I truly believe IF we are willing to re-connect to the “curious child” in each of us, there would be more people in the seats at cultural events, more creative dialogue around the corporate table and even more kids staying in school.

I know how fortunate I am that I have a career that encourages me to wear that ARTIST button that I put on at age 8. And, I feel very fortunate that I get to witness the curiosity in others in the front of a work of art. So…what would YOUR button say?

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