Genome art gallery shaking things up with The Gnome Show, this Sat Apr 21
Posted on 20 Apr 2012 by Ryan Pitkin
If one were to be walking through the Brevard Courtyard in uptown Charlotte on Thursday, April 12th after a spending some time at one of the local bars, they would probably have to look twice into the Genome art gallery.
They would have seen a group of anywhere from 5–15 artists throughout the night working together with beers in one hand and paintbrushes in the other, all stabbing their brushes at a large yellowish tree trunk that rose from the middle of the floor to near the ceiling.
The team of people, made up mostly of local artists, were preparing for Genome’s newest art exhibit, The Gnome Show, to be held on Saturday, April 21. The large object they were all helping to paint brown is a tree trunk with the gnome logo, designed by local artist Scott Partridge, staring out at any passersby.
Genome is a gallery tucked into an outdoor corner storefront in Brevard Courtyard, also often referred to as the French Quarter. Founded by John Josef in the summer of 2011, Genome showcases mostly surrealistic and figurative art.
Josef has always been an art enthusiast and was simply looking for a studio apartment that could serve as a community space when he came through Charlotte early in 2011. He found the space for Genome on Craiglist and was blown away by the location and the price.
Josef opened up the shop with the help of his friend, local artist Henry Schreiber. The two have turned the second floor of the building into a studio place for Schreiber to work on paintings and a lounge area for artists, gallery visitors and friends.
Although Josef has a great understanding of and devoted passion for art, he is not an artist himself. “You could say I have artistic vision but I just don’t have that technical skill,” he said.
He was inspired by some of the galleries he would go to in Orlando, where he lived and ran an internet-based business before moving to Charlotte in 2011 to open Genome. “There were some spots there I really liked. They all moved, so when I’m here I’m trying to recreate that feel.”
Changing the scene
“It sucks.” That was the resounding answer at Genome when the artists painting the tree trunk and walls for the upcoming exhibit were asked how they felt about Charlotte’s art scene.
As that answer sank in, some were willing to look into the future with hopeful eyes.
“It’s improving,” said Partridge. “There’s always a market for tame work. There’s not much out there for those that are pushing the envelope, though.”
Alexandra Loesser, a local artist who does figurative work and has shown her pieces at Genome before, agrees that it’s getting better, sort of. “It’s improving for certain types of artists, not for others. It’s difficult to sell figurative art. Genome is trying to change all that,” she said.
“Genome has a sense of humor, and that helps,” added Loesser.
The sense of humor is noticeable as the crew of artists and friends prepare the shop for the upcoming Gnome Show. There’s a piece being handed around that Partridge painted of Josef as a gnome.
Upstairs, Schreiber is putting the finishing touches on a painting of local band Hello Handshake, all as gnomes. Hello Handshake will be playing live outside in the Brevard Courtyard during the show.
“The word Genome has to do with growth, becoming something greater than what you are,” said Josef.
“That’s what we’re about; giving artists some attention that are trying to be known.”
Josef and some of the other artists are already looking past The Gnome Show to their next show, “Botanica,” which will showcase lowbrow and pop-surrealist artists from around the country.
“Not many Charlotte spots are doing that,” Partridge said of “Botanica.”
“Botanica is going to be a big deal,” said Josef. “This is the first time we’ve done something this big. That’s going to be a show that brings attention to us and the city.”
The Gnome Show, like all Genome exhibits, will be free to enter. Josef only asks that patrons tip the bartender at the open bar and show the artists some love.
Some corrections regarding the upcoming show, “Botanica,” and spelling of Josef’s last name were made on April 24th.