“I’d rather not show anywhere else in Durham,” said local artist Lee Moore Crawford as she gazed through the beautifully decorated second-story windows at The Carrack Modern Art Gallery in downtown Durham. The natural light brings life and a sense of openness to the exposed brick walls and aged hardwood floor. “It’s an honor to be a part of this space.”
The Carrack has delved into its second annual fundraising venture, hoping to raise enough money to uphold the guarantee of being a zero-commission space for its exhibiting artists in the upcoming year. This two-week endeavor, consisting of events such as live performances, an intimate gala and a silent auction, has taken a slightly different approach from the Carrack’s past methods.
“We wanted to add something this year to our fundraising events that was also more community-oriented,” said Carrack co-founder Laura Ritchie. “We wanted to figure out as many ways for people to meaningfully give.”
This year, there will be the ticketed Gala and Art Auction on October 12, with live jazz accompaniment by the Brian Horton Quartet. The gallery will also host a Red Dot Community Sale on October 18, during which the public can purchase red dots to claim donated art pieces.
Artists who showed at the Carrack this past year have donated 27 pieces to the art auction, and the community sale has a collection of smaller donated pieces that will be displayed in a lively reception that is open to the public. All proceeds from the Red Dot event will directly fund the Carrack.
Additionally, there are donation-based workshops and performances, that will take place between October 9 and 19.
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“This whole space is an experiment, and it’s meant to be. We want this to be a space for experimentation for our artists, and we are also experimenting with our own identity,” said Ritchie. “There are a few things that are hard-wired in, but the actual manifestation of that is growing and changing because we want the community to be a part of that process too.”
The Carrack opened June 2011 due to the success of a Kickstarter campaign that funded the art space through 2012. “We feel that art really enriches any community, any cultural landscape, in a really meaningful way, especially right now in Durham.” Ritchie continued, “I think it has a lot to do with the revitalization of Durham that we’re seeing.”
The nourishment of the arts in Durham not only affects the arts community but also other surrounding businesses. Visual artist and Carrack volunteer coordinator Libby Lynn noted the immense changes that have taken place over the last three or four years, citing Parrish Street as an example. Property value has increased tremendously, and there has been a significant surge in the amount of traffic passing through the area.
The Carrack has been able to develop tremendous relationships with many of the surrounding businesses as well. The upcoming fundraising events will feature goods and services provided by Loaf Bakery, Bull City Burger and Brewery, Wagon Wheel Arts and more. “I’m totally overwhelmed with gratitude all the time here,” said Ritchie.
People welcome this space. The Carrack has helped increase visibility and access to the arts in Durham, and the sense of community has grown immensely.
"I love the Carrack," said Lynn, who will have a solo exhibition in November. "Every time I come here I either cry or have some amazing experience with someone completely random, whom I’ve never met, who just comes in and asks questions about the show and the business model, and we end up talking for hours.”
“A lot of artists come into their own and have their first public experiences here, and a lot of seasoned artists have had different experiences exhibiting here than in any other space,” said Ritchie, “[This] has helped them learn a lot about themselves and their work.”
Along with its zero-commission gallery, free arts space and quick exhibit rotation, the Carrack is also known for other programming and events, such as roundtable critiques, workshops and quarterly non-juried community shows. “Work comes in that I’ve never seen before. I’ve never met the artist, and a lot of times the artist has never displayed work. That’s one of my favorite moments,” explained Ritchie.
Over the past two years the Carrack has housed over 60 exhibits, providing support for a multitude of both visual and performing artists. And as a way to thank all those who have been involved with the Carrack over the past two years, the final event of the fundraiser will be a Community Appreciation Afterparty on October 19.
“The arts scene in Durham is flourishing and it’s been a massive honor to experience it and grow right along with Durham," said Ritchie.
For a schedule and more information on The Carrack's 2nd Annual Fundraiser, visit http://thecarrack.org/event/fundraiser/.