Chandra Johnson of SOCO Gallery in Charlotte
Top Charlotte art gallery SOCO Gallery discusses their art and mission.
In May 2015 Chandra Johnson opened SOCO Gallery in Myers Park, Charlotte, North Carolina. Since then this quaint Charlotte art gallery has become a regional leader in promoting the visual arts in the Southeast. As a top art gallery in Charlotte, SOCO Gallery showcases art works from nationally renowned artists in a variety of mediums. Recently featured in artGuide Magazine's Arts Destinations Charlotte segment, SOCO Gallery is a must visit art gallery for any art collector!
SOCO Gallery has been opened since May of 2015. How did the gallery begin?
The genesis of the gallery stemmed from my personal passion for collecting contemporary art and a desire to support the artists I love. The gallery grew from pop-up exhibitions in Charlotte and the response from the community was so energetic that a permanent space was born. My goal is to bring in artists from all over the world to provide a strong dialogue with our talented artists working locally and regionally.
Where is the gallery located?
We opened in a wonderful 1920’s bungalow on Providence Road with a beautiful front porch and courtyard in the Myers Park neighborhood of Charlotte. Our space is contemporary with southern elements and provides the feel of an urban gallery mixed with warmth and soul. We share the space with one of the most finely curated boutiques for men in the South, Tabor, and have a lobby filled with vintage vinyl records by Creampuff Records. Most weekends, we have good coffee brewing or champagne pouring to create a welcoming and fun community space. We merged the best of art, music, fashion and culture to create a really dynamic experience.
Tell me about your artists?
Originally, SOCO focused on photography as that had been an early collecting interest of mine, and the south has such a strong historical connection with photography. As we grew it became apparent that painting, sculpture, and multimedia also deserved a role in SOCO’s program and we have been able to do exhibitions with leading painters such as Clare Rojas and sculptors/multi-disciplinary artists such as Robert Lazzarini. We still have a strong roster of photographers and have even reintroduced artists like Ken Van Sickle, who was one of the original artists in the first photography exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1960. This year, we have an exciting exhibition roster including artists Carrie Yamaoka, Linda Foard Roberts, Elliott Puckette and Jackie Gendel, among others. For many, it is their first time showing in North Carolina which makes us extremely proud.
Don’t you have a bookshop, too?
I am so excited about SOCO Shop, which is adjacent to the gallery. It began with beautiful books on art, architecture, design, music, fashion, lifestyle, travel and cooking to augment the art program of SOCO Gallery. Like our art program, it has expanded to meet the dynamic interests of our clients and now includes fine art prints, art objects, handcrafted jewelry, housewares and anything we find unique and inspiring by talented contemporary artists. I want everyone to come in and feel like they could acquire something special. If you can’t afford a piece of art on the wall, you could still buy a book for $25.
Do you offer any specialized services outside of the gallery or assistance to collectors new to art?
The gallery specializes in assisting private collectors, institutions, and corporations to build their collections with museum-quality artworks, from emerging to established artists. We frequently help collectors, both new and seasoned, with the overall direction of their collection, sourcing the highest level of works within their budget and guidance on understanding market values for art. An education on the world of collecting contemporary art is central to the gallery’s mission.
As you approach your second year anniversary, what have you learned about owning an art gallery?
Owning a business has been an incredible journey. I feel lucky to share my passion through SOCO Gallery. I learn something new in this business every day and hope to never stop growing. I find the world of contemporary art fascinating and feel honored to be an ambassador for the incredible artists we work with.