Meet the Artbosses of ArtSpace UptownBy Naari Honor, Peacemaker Contributor / July 1, 2016
For an artist the concept of space can take on a kaleidoscope of meaning within a piece of artwork. ArtSpace Uptown, described by its owners as “a hybrid art gallery, live performance venue, lifestyle boutique, and incubator of dopeness,” is in itself a piece of living art with the ability to transform its space to meet the needs of those who occupy it.
Brooklyn born Joseph Wilkerson and Philip Young and Greensboro native DJ Herbin refer to themselves as Artbossess. They are the owners of ArtSpace Uptown located on 825 Huffman Street in Greensboro.
Since its opening, the owners have hosted a myriad of events that speak to every facet of Greensboro’s artistic community, turning ArtSpace into more than just a run-of-the-mill venue.
“It’s a beautiful space, a blank canvas,” said Young. “Once you come in your wheels start turning.”
The space has been a venue for elementary school children looking to hold their first art show and a space for at risk youth who have found a way to positively express themselves through art.Comic book enthusiasts experienced their first min-con in Greensboro within ArtSpace’s walls at the Comic Quest Mini Con, complete with Deadpool, Peter Parker, Captain America characters, and food trucks.
Twelve artists from all over North Carolina competed in a live art battle competition in the first ever Reign Supreme Art Battle. Remnants of paint can still be seen on the walls of the space from the artistic clashes held there.
Authentic smells and sounds from the Caribbean and Africa filled the air at the Triad Fete, the Caribbean family fun festival held back in June.
Poets, authors, singers, disc jockeys, bands and clothing designers, have all used the space at one time or another to share their gifts with the community, support their fellow artisans, or simply gather in a space of like-minded individuals.
“[We] saw that there was a real need for literally an art space. A place where art events could function whether it was poetry, music, film,” said Wilkerson. He added, “And to have art on the wall and [showcase] live art.”
There is more to ArtSpace than offering a space for the creative community of Greensboro to perform, exhibit their work or network with other artists.
“We were actually starting to see a community unite itself versus divide itself through perceived competition,” said Young. “We started to see conversations start about art and community [amongst artists].”
All proceeds made from events go right back into operating the space. For now, the business is completely self-funded by the Artbosses themselves. They do not currently have a grant writer but it is a position they would eventually like someone to fill.
There are also plans to hold workshops to help fledging artists in areas of marketing, social media, and 101 basics on entering art shows.
It is common for the bosses to put in long hours but uncommon to hear them complain. Why? Why do they do what they do?
“For me it’s the artistry,” said Herbin. “The fact that I can come up with something from my mind and actually put it together and have a final piece. I can wake up in the morning with an idea and work towards it every day and I know that when it’s finished it’s going to be dope. Here [at ArtSpace Uptown]I can do that for other people.”
And how are their efforts being received by the community?
Erran Hamlin. a resident of Winston Salem, decided to enter the Reign Supreme Art Battle held at ArtSpace Uptown. As a fulltime tattoo artist at The Basement Tattoo and Salon Studio in Winston Salem, he had never entered a competition like the battle and decided to on a whim.
“Joseph gave us an opportunity as artists to really put our voices out there,” said Hamlin. “I appreciate the fact that he provides a platform for different artists, musicians, poets, and painters, and puts us all in the same building and lets us be ourselves. I’m glad he provides that type of space for us to be creative. [ArtSpace] is showing that Greensboro is where the mecca of art can be.”
Currently ArtSpace Uptown is open during event hours which can be found on its Facebook page “ArtSpace Uptown.” The next event will be a Wednesday Night Mixtape – Harmony and Flow event on July 6, which is part of a series showcase of R&B and Hip Hop artists. Then, on August 8, ArtSpace will hold a Torso Nouveau Competition & Exhibit.
Anyone interested in holding an event at the venue, volunteering time or services, or would like to connect fellow artists can reach out to the Artbosses through the Facebook page, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (336) 255-6345.