Chandra Johnson is a lady of many talents. Not only was she a past dancer, gymnast, and model, but she has also played a major role in the arts and philanthropic communities of Charlotte. Chandra’s authenticity (along with her husband Nascar legend Jimmie Johnson) shines through in everything they support. They launched the Jimmie Johnson Foundation in 2006. To date, more than $6.7 million has been contributed to various organizations. The foundation currently focuses on funding K–12 public education, primarily through the Jimmie Johnson Foundation/Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Champions Grants program. Champions Grants have been awarded to 63 schools located in California, Oklahoma and North Carolina, where the Johnsons grew up and currently reside.
Chandra’s latest endeavor, the founding of SOCO Gallery, brings a much welcome addition to the local gallery scene and raising the bar for creative talent in the Queen City. Her passion for supporting artists and cultivating their careers is extraordinary as seen in our latest Creative Minds interview…
Collecting contemporary art brings me so much joy and I wanted to share it with my community. I also love helping artists further their careers and connecting collectors to their work. SOCO is a natural extension of this passion to provide a platform for the artists I believe in.
I started with doing pop-up exhibitions and was hooked. Ironically, SOCO Gallery is now a permanent space, but will continue to have a pop-up feel with a revolving exhibition schedule. It will always feel fresh with each new show.
Absolutely. The mission of SOCO is to bring relevant artists and artwork to our program. A lot of time, travel and research goes into the global conversation of art world happenings, and we want to bring all of that back to Charlotte. At the same time, I hope to push out great, southern work into the world as well.
I collect slowly and thoughtfully. I have to really love the artwork and the artist. I have learned, over time, how important it is to support the careers of artists you believe in. I have a connection with every single piece in my home. Once I started surrounding myself with really great work, I became addicted.
‘A Fluid Journey’ is our current group show featuring Mona Kuhn, Will Adler, LeRoy Grannis, Massimo Vitali, Karine Laval, Ken Van Sickle and Xavier Guardans. This is the first time all of these international artists have been exhibited in Charlotte. The work selected for this show builds on our qualitative state around water and all images evoke a feeling of leisure. Perfect for summer!
Liz Nielsen is opening a great show with us in September. She had two solo exhibitions in NYC earlier this year and is slated to exhibit with Danziger Gallery (NYC) next year. We are thrilled to be included in her circuit.( See more below about upcoming exhibitions)
All of my surroundings influence my taste in art. Our daily experiences shape us and Charlotte has been a big part of my life for the last 11 years.
I started my collection with a lot of research and a lot of looking. I would frequent shows in major cities, mostly NY, and travel to art fairs. You definitely start to see a pattern of what you are drawn to and exposure is the best way to train your eye, learn and grow.
Collecting is so much fun and something you can do for a lifetime. It should be a completely different thing than just a decorative piece for your house. My advice is to build slowly and invest in pieces that you love.
Diana Vreeland and Eva Hesse
I have been fantasizing about a Louise Bourgeois sculpture and a Francis Bacon.
Riding bikes with my family. I am always happy when I ride a bike and my kids are the same!
“Happy” by Pharrell
Photography, works on paper, canvas, sculpture, mid-century furniture, Line Vautrin compacts, books, vinyl, cocktail napkins, pickle forks, and antique china…just to name a few!
The Aspen Art Museum and The Sculpture Center in Queens.
The Whitney! They flat out nailed the new space in the west village.
Tough question – I guess I would like to be remembered as a great human, mom, wife, philanthropist and creative force.
SOCO Gallery is my new happy place and I love the Sacred Garden at Avondale Presbyterian on Park Road.
Southern Comfort (SOCO) Gallery is delighted to present its upcoming exhibition, Night Garden. An exhibition of unique photograms by the New York based artist, Liz Nielsen. The exhibition will run from September 9th through October 31st, 2015. The opening reception will be held on September 9th from 5 to 8 PM. Additionally, there will be an artist talk on September 12th from 10:30 AM to 12 PM. This will be the artist’s first exhibition with SOCO Gallery, and her first time exhibiting in North Carolina.
Liz Nielsen’s unique, jewel-toned photograms take photography in a new and unexpected direction. She uses handmade, transparent color gels and filters to create complex and layered compositions. The photograms are made using handmade negatives, experimental light and darkroom techniques that she developed over the past decade. Her studio darkroom becomes a stage for an unseen performance; she skillfully shines lights through blocks of color and whizzes flash bulbs and candles past the light-sensitive photo paper. The resulting works teeter playfully between representation and abstraction; blurring the lines between photography, painting and collage.
In this new body of work, Night Garden, layered shapes of bright colors create fantastical, organic forms that pop from dark, glossy backgrounds. The layers of intersecting lines, shapes and color reveal her analog process, and push the limits of what a photograph can be.
Liz Nielsen studied Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she received her B.F.A., and attended University of Illinois at Chicago for her M.F.A. Nielsen’s work has been exhibited extensively in Chicago, New York, and Berlin; her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Schalter Gallery (Berlin), Benrimon Contemporary (New York), Interlochen Center for the Arts (Interlochen, MI) and in 2015 at Laurence Miller Gallery (New York) and Denny Gallery (New York) as well many group exhibitions including David Zwirner Gallery (New York), and Rawson Projects (New York). Nielsen’s work has been reviewed in the New Yorker, New York Times, Artslant, Hyperallergic, and the Wall Street Journal. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
is like a lady without lipstick,” said the inimitable Diana Vreeland. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I am sharing my favorite red rooms by legendary designers, artists and trendsetters…
|Photo by Horst P. Horst
Interior Design by Billy Baldwin
Ms. Vreeland is worthy of a blog solely dedicated to her larger than life personality and style. She worked as the fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar from 1937-1962. She left to become editor in chief at Vogue for the next decade. She gave all of her models, editors, photographers and stylists total creative freedom. After leaving Vogue, she worked at the Metroplitan Museum of Art as a special consultant to the Costume Institute. She organized several blockbuster shows including the Ballet Russes, the World of Balenciaga and Romantic and Glamourous Hollywood Design. When she lost her vision in the 1980s, she said it was because she had looked at so many beautiful things.
Ms. Vreeland used her surroundings to reflect her dynamic personality and was always drawn to red. She worked in a lacquered red office, ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day followed by a shot of scotch. She only liked red flowers, used red ink for her notes, and preferred to be dressed in red from head to toe. She asked Billy Baldwin to design a room for her that looked like a garden, but a “Garden in Hell” which is illustrated in the image above.
|The Red Room at the White House
Interior Design by Stephane Boudin of Maison Jansen
The Kennedy Archives
The Red Room at the White House was the favorite stateroom of Jackie Kennedy. The color red has always been associated with power, excitement and celebration. It grabs your attention and gets people to take action. It is the Chinese color of luck and prospertity and the offical marriage color in India.
|Interior Design by David Hicks|
Using red in an interior space can be tricky. Red makes a statement and is typically used in rooms for entertaining or in small rooms to make an impact. In the examples shown here, most of the designers (except for David Hicks and Billy Baldwin) have offset the use of red by adding, white, black, cream and blue to create a graphic punch.
|Interior Design by Mark Hampton|
Mark Hampton worked for Billy Baldwin before venturing out on his own. His daughter Alexa says her father used their apartment as a design laboratory to try out new ideas such as the red lacquered walls with the white contemporary sculpture above the fireplace.
|Mrs. Astor’s Library
Interior Design by Albert Hadley
|Interior Design by Miles Redd
Influenced by Mrs. Astor’s Library
Photography by Francisco Lagrisse
The library of Brooke Astor by Albery Hadley has always been a personal favorite. Mr. Hadley’s use of brass inlay to define the bookcases and add detail to the walls was pure brilliance. I love how Miles Redd reinterpreted this idea for a modern day library seen above.
|Interior Design by Mary McDonald
Photo Courtesy of the Kips Bay Showhouse
For the Kips’ Bay Showhouse, Mary McDonald took a narrow, obscure hallway and added her glamourous touch with a red backdrop, ebony accents and wonderful contemporary art.
|Interior Design by Ruthie Sommers
Town and Country
Ruthie Sommers created this cozy interior for cocktails, reading and entertaining. Imagine how it looks by candlelight!
|Interior Design by Miles Redd
Miles works his magic once again with the charming window treatments playing off the red walls. The room is sophisticated, yet playful at the same time.
|Interior Design by Mary McDonald
|Interior Design by Mary McDonald
Both of the images above illustrate how Mary McDonald used red as a backdrop and then punctuated the spaces with black accents. If committing to red walls sounds overwhelming, consider using red in small doses which still has a big impact. A red door, pair of red pillows or lamps, or even painting the back of your bookcases red can add a livley finishing touch to any room….just take Dianne’s advice!