Durham triumphant!

Painting by Diana Ciompi from “Homegrown: under 35″ at the Craven Allen Gallery, photo courtesy of Scenes from my Lunch Hour.”

What a weekend for the Durham arts and culture scene! It was vibrant, exciting, invigorating and inspiring. Friday, when the Clarion Content rolled up to the Carrack Gallery at 111 West Parrish Street for the PoPuP 3 art show, they were literally hanging out of the windows. Cars of Durhamanians, young and old, were spilling their passengers on to the street.

We took the long walk back down the hallway and up the stairs to the second floor to discover a room bursting with people, burbling with sound. Joyous expressions and happy murmurs were everywhere. Not the least, on the faces of Adrian Schlesinger, the organizer of PoPuP 3, and Laura Richie, the director of the Carrack Gallery. It was their doing, their combined efforts that brought us and this crowd here.

And here we were, on what mere months ago, might have been accurately described as lowly, West Parrish Street. Now on a beautiful Fall Friday Durham’s art scene was here, as they say, “blowing up.” An all ages crowd delighted in the works from more than twenty local artists. The PoPuP 3, like all the PoPuP art exhibits, was a fundraiser. All of the artists donated a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of their works. The Carrack is a commission free space so these donations are crucial to keeping the gallery open. (Even the cash box was being run by a brave art-loving volunteer.)

We in Durham know well the slogan, “Arts creates jobs.” The Carrack Gallery and the vibe it has brought to sleepy West Parrish Street is the proof in the pudding. Peter’s Design Works is now selling its wears just up the block. Loaf Bakery, known from the Durham Farmer’s Market, is reportedly opening beneath the Carrack. The boarded-up building across the street suddenly has a sold sign across its frontage.

And that was just Friday night…

Saturday the Clarion Content ventured just up the block from our Broad Street offices to the Craven Allen Gallery and another celebration of Durham arts and culture. Here sixteen homegrown in Durham, under thirty-five artists were opening an exhibit. This exhibit and the theme generated tons of press from the old stand-bys, like the fishwrap: the News & Observer and the Herald Sun, to new media like the Clarion Content and Durham Magazine, to Durham institutions using new channels to express their delight. Durham Public Schools has a Twitter feed! And they proudly tweeted about sixteen of their alumni showing their works.

Much like the PoPuP 3, “Durham Homegrown: under 35” was wall to wall with Durhamanians when we arrived. An all ages crowd sipped white wine, and under their breath could be heard the repeated whisper, in voices that combined pride and wonder, “Durham.” It was in Durham and of Durham. Even the subject matter, from rural northern Durham County farmers fields to street scenes from Watts-Hillandale, was this place, our town. And the 21/2 degrees of separation that we love to brag about in our community was clearly in evidence, as hugs and smiles were shared, while acquaintances were made and renewed.

Unlike the one night explosion of artistic energy that is PoPuP, where we at the Clarion Content, like you dear readers, have to wait for the word from Ms. Schlesinger about her next conquest for charity and the arts, “Durham Homegrown: under 35” runs through November 26th at the Craven Allen Gallery at 11061/2 Broad Street. So if you missed the opening Saturday, you still have plenty of time to check out the work. It will resonate with you, Durham.

Aaron Mandel

Aaron Mandel is a writer and an accomplished public speaker. He is the publisher of the Clarion Content. For more than a decade, the Clarion Content has covered Durham’s arts, politics, music, and cultural milieu. From breaking news stories to the hottest local acts, the Clarion Content is on the scene. The Clarion Content published more than twenty distinguished guest columnists and garnered nearly a million views. Mandel is a volunteer for the Durham Mighty Pen Literacy Project and serves as the President of the Board of Sustain-A-Bull Durham, a local small business collective with more than 200 members. He writes regularly on the Clarion Content and has been quietly writing fiction since the 4th grade. Mandel has been published in the Raleigh News and Observer. He has also produced numerous art shows, including, “Durham under Development”. He was a featured speaker at “The State of Publishing” conference. He has presented to Durham Chamber of Commerce, “Chamber U” on the “New Media”. He has also served as the play-by-play announcer for the D.B.L., a Durham youth basketball league. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Religious Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington. An avid policy debater at Indiana and a Nation Debate Tournament qualifier, Mandel was also a member of the New Jersey State Champion two-person Policy Debate Team. He has lived in North Carolina, New Jersey, California, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, and Baja California, Mexico.

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