An awning hangs over double French doors on the exterior of Stone House Art Gallery in west Charlotte. The small building projects a fairy-tale charm. Inside, the simple, 11- by 19-foot converted garage oozes with artistic depth.
Referred to by area residents for decades as “the stone house,” due to its quartz-rock exterior, Stone House Art Gallery — SHAG, for short — was founded by Kilee Price, a native Charlottean who grew up in the home adjacent to the gallery.
Located off N.C. 27 on six acres of land at Price’s parents’ current home, “It’s only about 15 or 20 minutes from downtown, but it feels like it’s far away,” said Price.
Charlotte artist and poet de’Angelo Dia said exhibiting at SHAG offers unique opportunities for local artists. He and fellow artist Julio Gonzalez had an exhibit there in January.
“It was a great opportunity to experiment with a body of work, particularly in collaboration, that I don’t think the typical gallery space would have allowed for,” Dia said. “The smallness of (the space) forces the artists to really conceptually think in a different way.”
A first for Price
Price finds many of her artists through Instagram. Using hashtags like #callforentries, #callforart and #emergingartists, she is able to expand SHAG’s visibility to a global art community.
“When I put out this call for entries, I was highly specific to choose (proposals) with very intentional reasons behind why the artist wants to do what they’re doing,” Price said. Proposals came in from Oregon and California, Illinois and Arkansas.
“It’s been an experiment for me since this is the first time I’ve run my own space,” Price said. “I’ve shown in artist-run spaces, and I have friends who have run them, but this is my first go-around.”
Since opening the gallery in 2020, Price has shown the works of Michigan-based artist Lyndsi Schuesler, whose art examines the history of textile objects and their cultural implications, and Kara Gut, a Cleveland-based artist who showed works in March alongside Clare Gatto, co-director of Bulk Space, an emerging artists residency in Detroit.
The January installation by Dia and Gonzalez, called “Legacy,” was an examination of heritage. Price met Dia, whose art has been featured at The Mint Museum, at Goodyear Arts.
With each installation, Price’s goal at SHAG is to allow emerging artists the space and freedom to direct the content and curation of their ideas. The artists themselves, versus a gallery or a museum, are able to create “spatial conversations” with their work, given increased control over exhibition space.
“It’s a gallery in my parents’ backyard,” Price said, “so, it’s a free space. I don’t have to worry about revenue.”
Reality TV exhibit
In SHAG’s latest exhibition, “It’s All Coming Up,” Las Vegas-based artist Kristin Hough depicts crying contestants from the reality television series, “The Bachelor,” and its spin-offs. In all, 36 paintings show the sobs and despair of the show’s women — 30 line the two longer gallery walls; six more hang from a red-velvet curtain on the shorter back wall.
“Wavering between moments reminiscent of Post-Impressionism and Fauvism, (Hough) contemplates the commercialization of romantic love through determined brushwork and fluctuating figural poignancy,” Price said in the installation write-up.
Hough’s series spotlights not just the manipulation prevalent in these types of media portrayals of women, but the audience’s voyeuristic complicity. “It is a flagrant reminder about the commercialization of romantic love, the exploitation of women’s bodies and minds, and the creeping grip that reality TV has over American culture and politics,” the write-up said.
Connecting with local artists
The gallery also provides Price with a way to reconnect with her hometown arts scene.
Though she grew up in Charlotte and attended Northwest School of the Arts, Price left to study fine art at Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio. She earned her masters in fine arts from Cranbrook Academy of Art, north of Detroit, before returning to Charlotte in 2018.
“I’ve been here for almost three years since returning from grad school, and I’ve still found it difficult to make my mark in Charlotte and make those connections,” she said.
She has taught courses at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is also a 2019 resident alumni and current collective member at Goodyear Arts, an artist-led, nonprofit residency in Camp North End.
“(Goodyear) has been a really great tool to get into this art scene and learn about what other artists are doing and have to offer,” Price said.
Artists curating their own shows, pop-up and DIY shows were all commonplace in her past artist communities. “We don’t see that as much in Charlotte, so that’s something I wanted to bring (home),” she said.
Dia is glad she did.
“(Price) is providing an opportunity for artists to experiment and to determine what they will present and display on a larger scale, eventually,” he said.
That’s a platform that many of Charlotte’s larger institutions typically don’t offer, Dia said, because their spaces tend to be more restrictive. There are some opportunities similar to SHAG, — BlkMrktClt and some Goodyear Arts exhibitions — but overall there aren’t many, Dia said.
In the case of “Legacy,” he said, “the limitations of the space become a blessing, and the challenge for us was figuring out how to communicate with each other given the parameters of the space.”
“It helps artists venture outside of our own geographic bubble,” he said. “Had it not been for DIY opportunities similar to (SHAG), I don’t know if my art would have got outside of the Charlotte region.”
Next month, Price plans to feature solo works by ceramic/installation artist Caro Burks. “We are in a steady groove of one show per month and have a full roster until the end of the year,” said Price.
“(Artists) need to be able to show their artwork how they intend to show it,” she said. “Not necessarily (to be) focused on sales. … It’s about experimenting with the relationship a space has with the artists’ work, not just about putting a painting on the wall.”
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