The Triangle’s vibrant arts community has strengthened and grown in 2023, according to multidisciplinary artist and UNC first-year master’s student John Felix Arnold — but he senses even bigger things on the horizon.
“You can sort of feel it,” he said. “There’s this bubbling in the undercurrent of things — there’s people that want to create spaces and there’s opportunity, too. As the area grows, the audience grows.”
Arnold, a Durham native, has exhibited work in New York and California, as well as in the Triangle, over the course of his career. He said he has noticed an amazing upsurge of creative community in the Triangle in the last 10 years.
“More artists have stayed, or artists from elsewhere have come here,” he said.
Arnold said BASEMENT, a creative space in Chapel Hill that opened in 2019, is inspiring new activity and bolstering growth with residencies and support for experimental art practices. Established Raleigh galleries Lump and Anchorlight continue to do great things in the arts community, as well as Durham’s Ella West Gallery, Carrboro’s Peel Gallery, Chapel Hill’s Attic 506 and local museums, he added.
Over the past year, Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture has continued to contract local artists for public artwork projects.
They undertook a number of projects, including storm drain murals, bus shelter prints, murals on pipes along greenways and trails and interior ceiling vinyls on Chapel Hill Transit buses, according to public art coordinator Steve Wright.
This summer, the group also commissioned a wrap for a Chapel Hill Transit bus. The colorful design by Durham artist Gabriel Eng-Goetz reads “From Asia to Chapel Hill with Love” and celebrates the Triangle’s Asian American community.
Wright said that for Women’s History Month in March, they selected the design of Sri Lankan American artist Mayanthi Jayawardena for the mural “Lotus Rising — An Ode to Women” on the side of Lantern Restaurant off West Franklin Street.
Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture aims to beautify the town and add interest to the everyday Chapel Hill experience by installing art in places people might encounter it unexpectedly, Wright said.