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Q and A with Larry Elder

by Mark Peres

January 3,2004

How did the Elder Art Gallery come about? What inspired you to open the gallery?

I have always had a strong interest in painting and collecting art. I was fortunate enough to marry a woman who shares my passion for collecting fine art. After many years of working in the corporate environment, I wanted to develop a business where I could showcase a broad mix of art that might not necessarily be available in Charlotte. I was motivated to create a comfortable, casual environment where customers could view beautiful art without feeling pressured to purchase. I wanted the customer to know that they define the meaning of art, not the gallery owner.

You are on the Board of Directors of Historic South End. There is a debate about whether South End should be viewed as part of the Center City.

With the advent of the trolley line, the small geographic gap between the districts will disappear. Within 5 to 10 years, the skyline of Charlotte will have more mid-rise to high-rise residential and office units in and around South End. It’s easy to envision residents of the Center City and South End visiting each neighborhood. I am a strong advocate of joining the two districts as long as each can maintain distinct personalities—which is what makes a city great.

The Arts & Science Council has proposed renovating The Carolina Theater to house the Andreas Bechtler collection. How would Charlotte benefit?

The visual arts play a significant role in any city’s growth. Visitors rate a city based upon its galleries and museums. Without the visual arts, a huge void would exist. Charlotte has a rare opportunity with the Bechtler collection. The city needs to do whatever it can to make it happen, and let it become the basis of a city-wide art collection that could gain national and international attention.

What would help local galleries?

One of our challenges is letting people know about our exhibits. A more comprehensive gallery guide would help increase traffic and generate interest in our offerings.

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