Friday, February 25, 2011

French's Time Capsule

As a resident of Charlotte I am happy to see this city grow and change. In the three years I have been here I can honestly attest to the fact that every time I take a walk through this city there is a new restaurant, a new shop, a new pub that has popped up, and somehow they are all brimming with people and functioning as if they have been there the whole time. Each brings a different vibe, and each makes up a small piece of this ever-changing, ever-growing puzzle known as Uptown. You can’t ignore the art here, because it is everywhere: from the unique and funky décor and signage of the establishments, to the live jazz band that plays on the streets and fills the city with rhythm and life, to the people that cross every intersection.

I met David French the night of the Uptown Christmas Tree Lighting, in the market across the street. He had a booth there, amongst other artists and entrepreneurs selling their artistic specialties: fresh foods, seasonal décor, off-beat gifts and the like. I loved the fact that his booth represented all there is to enjoy in the QC. Many of his paintings were of favorite hot-spots and other local attractions, and for me, this took “local art” to a whole new level. Two paintings of his in particular caught my eye. They were similar in style in that they were the artist’s interpretations of both the intersection of 6th & Tryon, and the intersection of Trade & Tryon. The colors are what drew me in initially, and once I got closer I noticed the beautiful drawings of the statues that box the intersection in the center of the city. Even though I have passed these statues every day, for some reason they seemed even more beautiful in French’s painting. I wasn’t planning on purchasing them, but I was enjoying checking out the detail. Then, a couple came over to look at the paintings. They loved them, and for a moment I was nervous that they would purchase them. The man's complaint: “Hmmm…these would be great, but they are missing some important buildings – the Wachovia Building, The Vue, and the Avenue. That stinks.” The woman quietly nodded, and off they went.

I took a few steps closer and noticed that he was right – those buildings were in fact missing. The artist must have painted these before those buildings broke ground. It put into perspective for me how fast this city was growing, and as a result, his paintings became a time capsule of how this city looked before I called it home. Sometimes when a road is re-done, or a new building goes up, it’s hard to remember what it looked like in the first place. One credit card swipe, two nails and one hammer later, a frozen snapshot of what once was the Uptown skyline now hangs on my wall and serves as a constant reminder of a work of art – even if it is a work in progress. 

-Alessandra Macaluso

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