Spending an evening at one of Charlotte’s gallery crawls is a great way to get a glimpse of the city’s local culture. While several spots around town offer the occasional tours, two of the most dynamic neighborhoods feature consistent monthly and bi-monthly versions where crowds fill the sidewalks, wandering in and out of the locally owned galleries, shops and restaurants. Here’s the scoop on how to get the most out of both:
NoDa Gallery Crawl
This historic mill village, named for its central North Davidson Street, has been drawing attention for its arts scene for the last decade. While several small art venues and creative shops remain, in recent years it’s been the street’s bustling breweries, restaurants and performance venues that have made it a favorite for the creative class. Gallery crawls offer the chance to check out the whole scene, starting at 6 p.m. on the first and third Fridays of the month when local vendors, artists and musicians offer their wares and entertainment along the sidewalks. Plan on stopping in Pura Vida Worldly Art, which offers art, clothing and home décor from around the world, and often features local painters at work during the crawls. For dinner, head to the new Heist Brewery, which is located in a nearby historic cotton mill. In addition to handcrafted beers such as oatmeal stout and Hefeweizen, the menu includes innovative small plates such as pork belly corn dogs and duck quesadillas. End your evening at The Evening Muse, where you’ll find live music from up-and-coming musicians such as four-man band The Kicks and trio Red June in an intimate setting featuring walls covered in local art.
South End Gallery Crawl
Over the last several years this historic neighborhood just south of uptown has drawn several galleries that were once housed in NoDa. Relocated spots such as the popular boutique and gallery Lark & Key, and The Boulevard at South End, a local artisan-focused boutique, along with spaces such as DOMA Gallery, featuring contemporary photography, or Ciel Gallery + Mosaic Studio, where you’ll find stunning fine art mosaics, mean that this lively neighborhood is firmly established as the city’s creative hub. Gallery crawls, which are on the first Friday of each month, offer the chance to pop into more than a dozen nearby spaces to find stunning pieces from local artists like Tim Buchman or catch other area artisans actually working on their next masterpieces. While there are several restaurants in the area, plan on casual fare from the city’s top food trucks as they gather in South End each Friday night, offering dishes such as gourmet grilled cheese from the Papi Queso truck or blackened fish tacos at The Tin Kitchen. Complete your night at The Common Market, an eclectic general store that stays open until midnight offering beer (think Southern Tier and Petrus), wine (popular varietals include Honoro Vera and Protocolo) and live acoustic music.
Photos courtesy of The Evening Muse, Heist Brewery, James Willamor