Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Rhythms Music Hall Opens, Adding 600 Seat Performance Venue in Durham

Ryan Moeller Photography

Ryan Moeller Photography

Rhythms Live Music Hall opened on January 18 in the Lakewood neighborhood of Durham, adding to the list of available performance spaces in the Triangle. Rhythms offers a seated capacity of 600, to a standing capacity of 1000, performance stage, state-of-the-art sound and lighting, and an onsite engineer. The space opened in January and is already hosting a variety of events and arts performances, from Delbert McClinton and Jeffrey Osborne, to local comedians.

Ryan Moeller Photography

Ryan Moeller Photography

The space has a full-service bar and food services available, but you can provide your own caterer, as long as insurance is provided, etc. If you have other specific needs for your performance, owners and longtime Durham residents Victor and Jerre Graham are willing to work with you to customize the space for your event. The Grahams are working with local producer Tess Mangum Ocana of  Sonic Pie Productions for booking.  Venue rental information




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CURRENT Opening Electrifies Downtown Chapel Hill Arts

Downtown Chapel Hill gained an exciting new arts venue with the February 2 opening of the  CURRENT™ ArtSpace + Studio on Franklin Street.CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio Presented by California Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina, the 7,000-square-foot space houses both an adaptable black box-style theater and multi-purpose studio. The facility is designed to feature immersive and co-creative arts experiences, including interactive theater and full-scale installations by exciting and emerging artists. CURRENT™ will also serve as Carolina Performing Arts’ physical and intellectual home for world-class artists-in-residence to collaborate with faculty, researchers, students, and the community.

The new venue,  strategically located in the new, mixed-use development adjacent to both the UNC campus and the vibrant downtown shopping and dining district, is distinguished by its unconventional, flexible architecture. The 3,000-square-foot Studio features three floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Carolina Square outdoor space, passersby can peek in to see dance rehearsals, artist lectures, and much more.

Photo & Caption, University Gazette: The CURRENT venue features one wall that is all glass and seating that can go anywhere (one side to four sides)—or nowhere (completely retractable).

The Studio is also a new home for the Carolina Performing Arts artists-in-residence to develop their work in collaboration with others. The theater space can accommodate many different configurations, depending upon the needs of a particular event, from artist talks to post-performance gatherings, creative workshops, and many other artistic and community events.


Emil Kang, Executive and Artistic Director of UNC Performing Arts and Special Assistant to the Chancellor at UNC, speaks at the Opening Ceremonies.

The CURRENT™ opening ceremonies included a tour of the inaugural Sound Maze installation by artist Paul Dresher. Sound Maze is a hands-on art experience featuring more than a dozen giant musical instruments invented by Dresher. Visitors were invited to wander through and discover new ways of creating sound with these fantastical instruments. Opening events included works involving audience participation (“We are Gob Squad and So are You,” and “Revolution Now” by Gob Squad) ; activist hip-hop performance (Boots Riley and the Coup); and contemporary theatre (“The Fever” by 600 Highwaymen).

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The PIT – Performance Venue & Classroom Space on Franklin Street

We are thrilled to report that 462 West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill is returning to use as a arts performance venue and classroom space. People’s Improv Theater, which has two New York venues already, has recently completed a renovation of the upstairs performance space and bar and “The PIT- Chapel Hill” began welcoming performance acts to their stage on December 16 and are already hosting a weekly Pitch Jam and Open Mic nights. The new stage is handicapped accessible and has flexible space for multiple performance types. Despite the name, The Pit will not be just an improv venue, but is currently open to all genres of performance. “We want to be open 7 nights a week and be a multipurpose arts venue”, explains Will Neville, Artistic Director at The Pit.

Interested?  Here is the form to submit a performance request.

IMG_8621_previewA more dramatic renovation is taking place in the downstairs space at The PIT and in the lobby. The lobby is getting a coffee shop, while the basement will include two classrooms, a podcast recording studio that can be rented out, and a gathering/co-working space for classroom participants, as well as customers of the coffee shop. Classes will start in January. Current offerings include classes on improv and podcasting, but Neville says he is open to discuss proposals for new classes in any arts discipline. Find the current class schedule here.  Contact information is here.

Neville recognizes that the venue is a work in progress. “We want to be here to serve the arts community” and will adapt use of the space and programs to meet that goal.  “Our first year will be very different from our third year”. To find out more about The Pit, visit their website or Facebook page.

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NCCU Debuts Teaching Artist Certificate Program for Visual and Performing Artists

North Carolina Central University has introduced a new online certificate program for visual and performing artists who want to bolster their arts education credentials. The NCCU Teaching Artist Certificate Program (TACP), will concentrate on skills required to plan, design and implement arts experiences for general audiences, such as auditorium performances, school residencies, and cultural-arts programs for schools and community-based organizations.nccu logo

The Teaching Artists program, offered by the College of Arts and Sciences, is open to junior and senior NCCU students and members of the general public who have either an Associates degree and background in the arts, a Bachelors degree in an arts discipline, or five years as a professional practicing artist with a high school diploma. The 16-hour program consists of seven courses such as Cooperative Learning for Teaching Artists, The Business of Art for Teaching Artists and   Methods and Teaching Practicum for Teaching Artists.

According to According to Carlton E. Wilson, Ph.D., NCCU interim provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, the program is ““The certification is unique to the University of North Carolina System and the first of its kind at a Historically Black College or University.”

More information on the program is available on the NCCU website.

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Artist Link Project – Arts Access Promotes Accessible Arts & Artists with Disabilities

821364.aa-artist-link-projectby Annie Poslusny

Arts Access recently launched the Artist Link Project – a directory of North Carolina artists, teaching artists, and advocates. Program Coordinator Jennifer Marshburn explains, “The Artists Link Project is primarily designed as a database for artists of all mediums who identify as having a disability, and for arts educators who offer (or wish to offer) inclusive arts programming.” The Artist Link Project will allow the public to search for a unique artist based on a variety of search criteria or to search for teachers of varied art disciplines who welcome all abilities in their programming. Inclusion in the database will enable artists to exhibit and promote their work and fully participate in the cultural and artistic life of our state. To join the database, click here.

“We suggest three broad categories of art form: Visual Arts, Performing Arts and Literary Arts and allow our artists to categorize their work however they see fit.” Marshburn states, “Our current database is populated with 32 artists ranging from painters, photographers, actors, musicians, and writers. All of our artists range in skill level from the Novice or Hobbyist to Professional. The purpose of our program is to support and promote the work of artists who have disabilities and wish to develop in their craft.”

Arts Access also offers monthly opportunities for the group to get together and enjoy cultural events around the Triangle. These events double as a networking opportunity for the artists. Future meetings will include an evening at Imurj’s Just Make Something and a tour of the Museum of Natural Sciences’ current featured exhibit “Race: Are We So Different.” These events are determined based on polling members and venue availability. Check Art Access’s website for more details.

Arts Access, a nonprofit organization based in Raleigh, enables North Carolinians with disabilities to have full access to arts programs and facilities. Arts Access provides audio description, consulting and training services, as well as on online resources on their website which connects individuals, artists, educators and organizations throughout the state. To learn more about Art Access’s programs, click here.

Annie Poslusny is an art history major and interior design/studio arts minor at Meredith College. She enjoys drawing and creating three-dimensional works of art, writing, and research.

North Carolina Film Orchestra Expands State Film Production Resources

NCFilmOrchestraThe newest symphony orchestra in North Carolina is aimed at supporting the growth of the State’s movie and television industry. The Raleigh-based North Carolina Film Orchestra is intended to fill the gap of live recording needs of filmscore composers and producers for the independent film industry. Beginning with semi-professional community players, the intent is to begin commercial recording of selected filmscore music for these studios, in place of the synthesized filmscore tracks on which they have historically been dependent.

Currently the Orchestra’s repertoire includes four filmscore pieces, including a work by composer Julian Smyth- music graduate of Nottingham University, and former Orchestra Manager for the Ulster Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra; his past collaborators include John Williams and James Horner.

The Orchestra’s member roster consists of 30 musicians, many of whom are music educators or have performance degrees. Local musicians who are at or approaching semi-professional playing level on either a strings instrument or double reeds and would like to be considered for a spot as a performing member, should contact or Patricia Pearce for further information.

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Triangle Hidden Gem – Learn about Hayti Heritage Center’s arts spaces & programming

This article is part of a continuing series on creative resources in the Triangle that are either little known, or you may have heard of them, but may be unaware of the extent of the services and resources they offer. Have an idea for a future article? Let us know.

By Taryn Oesch

With all the new arts events, venues and groups popping up all over Durham, long-time arts organizations and events are often overlooked. Last weekend was the 29th Annual Bull Durham Blues Festival at the Performance Hall at Hayti Heritgage Center.  To find out more about the Organization behind this longstanding Durham arts event, we visited Hayti Heritage Center to learn more about its mission and programming.

Director, Angela Lee, in Hayti's historic 400 seat performance venue.

Director, Angela Lee, in Hayti’s historic 400 seat performance venue.

The center opened in 1975 under the management of the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation. It’s a cultural enrichment and arts education facility whose mission, according to executive director Angela Lee, is “to preserve historic Hayti and to promote the African American experience through arts programs and events that benefit the broader community.” Booker T. Washington called the historic Hayti district “Black Wall Street,” and the Hayti Heritage Center works to honor that legacy, along with using the arts to bring communities and races together.

The center itself is the former St. Joseph’s AME Church, a national historic landmark. The beautiful venue is available for rent, with over 35,000 square feet of available space, including an auditorium that seats up to 400, community and meeting rooms, and a dance studio. There’s even affordable small office space.

Community and class rooms at Hayti, such as this Dance Studio, are available for rent.

Community and class rooms at Hayti, such as this Dance Studio, are available for rent.

The Hayti Heritage Center celebrates multiple art forms. Members of the community can sign up for classes on dance and martial arts, some for as little as $5 per class. The center also shows local artists in its Lobby Gallery – in February, the center hosted a Black History Month exhibition. At the Jambalaya Soul Slam, a staple program since 2005, local poets compete for a cash prize and membership in the Bull City Slam Team, which competes in regional and national competition every summer. The Heritage Music Series and Heritage Film Festival add to the cultural offerings.

Hayti's Lobby Gallery

Hayti’s Lobby Gallery

There’s a variety of ways artists and arts supporters can get involved with the Hayti Heritage Center and help, in Lee’s words, “preserve the heritage and embrace the experience of the arts.” Take a class, try out for the Bull City Slam Team, come to an event, rent their facility, and, of course, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.  Stop by, see the art, tour the performance venue, meet the hard-working staff and thank them for their work to continue to impact of this longstanding venue on the Durham arts community.

Taryn Oesch is an editor, writer, and long-time Raleigh resident, graduating from Wakefield High School and Meredith College. She volunteers with local arts organizations and Miracle League of the Triangle. In her free time, she plays the piano, spoils her godchildren, and battles for apartment space with her uncontrollable collection of books. Website 

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A Conversation with…Art of Cool’s Cicely Mitchell. Working to bring a jazz festival to Durham.

This article is the fourth in our series of “Conversations With” members of the creative community in the Triangle who are thinking big, working hard and making a difference in our Region. 

Today, we talk with Cicely Mitchell, who, along with trumpeter, arranger and composer Al Strong, is the founder of  The Art of Cool Project, a nonprofit presenting organization.  Art of Cool is dedicated to presenting and promoting live jazz (and related music) in unique venues throughout the Triangle.  Art of Cool is a Triangle ArtWorks Partner and we have been following AOC’s growth from the beginning.  It has been amazing to watch the impact of this Organization’s work on the jazz scene in the Triangle, largely brought about by the hard work and tenaciousness of  Cicely Mitchell.

In this interview, Cicely talks about the Art of Cool, what its like to build an organization from scratch and AOC’s quest to bring a jazz festival to Durham. 


Tell us about what brought you to create Art of Cool in the first place?

We wanted to connect the jazz musicians with the audience in an intimate distraction-free environment. Since one of our founders is a musician, it was very important to empower musicians and the pop-up jazz concerts, so we first started with just that.  Our first concert was at LabourLove Gallery in Durham.  We hosted shows in art galleries, then club venues, then outdoor stages like American Tobacco. The drive comes from the scene. The people who love jazz influenced music are growing in numbers and want more experiences. We aim to please. The festival is the next natural step to provide a larger cultural experience centered around jazz/soul music.

Tell us about AOC’s successes so far.  What are you proudest of?

I’m proudest of planning the jazz fest for 2014. We have been working on this for over a year now and it seems to be coming together nicely.

Pierce Freelon at an AOC show at American Tobacco.

How are you making this happen?

Volunteers. Hard work. Partnership resources. Hard work. Late nights.

Why a jazz festival, why Durham, why now?

Durham has the talent, venues, and audience to launch a successful jazz festival. Durham is currently home to three-time Grammy nominated jazz saxophonist, Branford Marsalis; six-time Grammy nominated jazz vocalist, Nnenna Freelon; Grammy nominated jazz bassist, John Brown; and Grammy nominated jazz vocalist, Kate McGarry. These Durhamites are great examples of world-class local talent that live among us in the Bull City. In 2012 The Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) finished #5 in box-office sales and Carolina Theatre finished in the top 100. Both of these venues are in one city block (five minutes walking distance) from one another in proximity. The audience for jazz is well-educated, high-income earners, and between the ages of 35-55. The Triangle area with its abundance of universities, health care and research companies, and technology startups is a great pool for a jazz roots audience. With these three elements (talent, venues, and audience) working in our favor, Durham is poised to tap into its rich music tradition of jazz/blues roots and produce a two-day multi-venue festival downtown in 2014. (Editor’s note-Can you tell Cecily is a statistician?)

F.O. Finch III, Ed Butler, Lisa Veronica Wood, Aaron Bittikofer and Jim Crew at Koka Booth Ampitheater. Photo courtesy of Sweet Life Studios 2013

How’s it going?

Great so far. We’ve formed a lot of partnerships in order to pull it all off. We just announced our first two headliners: Maceo Parker and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. We also will be partnering with NCCU to present their 2014 NCCU Jazz festival prensentations within our festival

What can the community do to help?

The community can purchase their wristband early via our  Kickstarter . We need the cash flow to continue booking and hiring production/logistics teams. By purchasing the wristbands early they help us get cash earlier than the day of show to build the infrastructure we need to execute the festival and we are offering them a slight discount. Tickets for the festival will be 10-15% higher due to taxes and the club membership fees.

To learn more about the Art of Cool Project visit their website, attend their next event: The Zombie Jazz Apocalypse at Motorco, or learn more about and support the Jazz Festival.

Sound Pure opens storefront in Durham

by Brandon Cordrey

Sound Pure is the Triangle’s newest independent music store. Since 2000 their online store has been selling high-quality equipment to musicians around the world. The new storefront marks the company’s newest chapter and strengthens their continued commitment to the local music community. Sound Pure recently purchased the Raleigh music store Indoor Storm as well as the vacant building next to their preexisting one on Washington Street in downtown Durham in order to provide even more services to their clientele.

Online sales have been strong since the start, which was in owner Todd Atlas’s Duke University dorm room in 2000. The new retail space is only the latest in a series of expansions since then. The original building on Washington Street, next door to the store, houses a full professional recording studio, acoustic guitar showroom and offices.

Don’t expect to buy anything made by Fender or Gibson, you won’t find the “big name” instrument companies on either the walls of the acoustic guitar studio or in the new store. The guitars available at Sound Pure are handmade by artisans from around the globe. It is time consuming and tedious work to make instruments by hand rather than in production, for this reason some of the instruments Sound Pure carries are one of a kind while others are extremely rare. This is also the case with the wide range of items in their new store. For proof that Sound Pure is confident about the products they sell look no further than their recording studio, which is fully stocked with items they market. Everything from the computers to the furniture, down to the cables, is available for purchase.

Sound Pure has been bringing national and international clientele to Durham for many years now, advertising the city to clientele looking to tryout and purchase rare handcrafted instruments and record in their studio. They also work with several well-known musicians in the area, including Shirley Caesar, Nnenna Freelon and Clay Aiken.

Sound Pure just ordered a sign for their new location, their first in 13 years of business. The new store is also the first opportunity for customers to access all the company has to offer, without appointment. However, they have been supporting the Triangle’s music community for many years already. They sponsored the Troika Music Festival during its time in Durham as well as Centerfest. They will be participating in the upcoming IBMA in some capacity and hope to continue that for the three years it will be held in the Triangle.

For more information about Sound Pure and its products, check out the website. For information on the recording studios, look here.

Brandon Cordrey is a studio artist working mainly in collage with found or reused materials. He also manages the Lee Hansley Gallery on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. While his main concentration is visual art, he has love for all the arts! Follow Brandon on Twitter: @BMCordrey or email.


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A Conversation with … Carrie Knowles

This article is the second in our series of “Conversations With” members of the creative community in the Triangle who are thinking big, working hard and making a difference in our Region.

By Cyn Macgregor

Carrie Knowles, in motion, as usual.

I met Carrie Knowles at her studio off Bloodworth Street in downtown Raleigh. The quiet neighborhood and her comfortable studio were the perfect spot to catch up with this busy writer/artist. We talked about her writing, visual art, the importance of collaboration, and her most ambitious and exciting project to date, the Cary Cross Currents Chamber Music and Arts Festival.

You began your career as a writer and you are a visual artist as well. What was it about the visual arts that attracted your attention?

I like how words can create images…visual images in our minds. Writing to me is both telling a story and painting a picture. Moving from the written word to a visual world was an easy transition. I’m not a trained artist, but I took a studio drawing class in college. I had this very unorthodox drawing professor who made us talk about what we were going to draw before he would let us draw. Not just talk about it, but discuss it in detail. We would spend the first two hours of the four-hour studio just talking about what we were going to draw. We’d look at the shapes, the shadows, the contours, then we’d take a break, get out our pencils and start drawing. I was the only non-art major in the class. One day, after class, the professor stopped me and asked what I did on Saturday mornings. He told me he had recommended me for a job. I got hired to teach art at the Detroit Art Institute with a group of art teachers from the university. I was the assistant teacher for the professors and had a great time learning about sculpture, printmaking, clay, and painting.

After leaving school I continued to enjoy drawing and creating things but didn’t take myself seriously as an artist. For a number of years, I helped organize and run the Boylan Heights ArtWalk. I loved working with the various artists and putting the show together and as time went on I began to want to do more artwork myself. I like working on paper and use traditional printing methods in non-traditional, non-toxic ways. Various editors have often commented that I was a very “visual” writer. It is an easy transition for me to go from writing about something to creating an image about the same thing. I see writing and visual art as the same.

You moved to Raleigh from Chicago years ago, before it was cool to be here. How did that decision affect your life?

I had a great life as a freelance writer in Chicago, then we moved down here to Raleigh. I felt I had done something very, very wrong in some past life and was being punished. Thirty-three years ago, Raleigh was a very different town than it is today. It was shocking coming from Chicago. You couldn’t get dinner after 8 o’clock, the airport wasn’t an international airport … we couldn’t get anywhere without going someplace else to change planes first. Other than Friends of the College at the University, where my husband was offered a position, the arts culture was barely visible. I wept for three years then woke up one morning and told myself to just get over it. If we weren’t leaving Raleigh then I decided to get involved and make Raleigh the kind of place I want to live in. I started volunteering with arts advocacy groups, Artspace, NC writers network, United Arts, Burning Coal Theatre, Raleigh Chamber Music Guild, and others where I built a lot of connections and met many friends.

The Boylan Heights Art Walk is a very successful Raleigh tradition, tell me how you got involved?

Nineteen years ago a very shy cabinet maker who lived in Boylan Heights asked for my help marketing these beautiful lathe-turned bowls he was making. I had been to this great neighborhood art show in Chicago one year that was held on people’s porches along this row of townhouses. It was a great show and great fun to walk from porch to porch looking at artwork. I thought Boylan Heights would be a perfect place to have such a show and that’s how it began. We started with seven artists that first year and now have over 100 artists who show with us. It’s such a great show. People love it and I’m thrilled that it has gone on for nineteen years now and has become part of the art scene in Raleigh.

You are the founder and director of Cary Cross Currents Chamber Music and Arts Festival. Tell us how you prepared yourself for this role and how this festival came to be.

As it happens, our son Neil is a very gifted musician and plays with the Brussels Chamber Orchestra, a collective of 12 musicians from all over the world, based in Brussels. They were looking for a place to have a festival. Neil called me saying they were going to be in New York and would like to make a stop in Cary/Raleigh. I had

The Brussels Chamber Orchestra

six-weeks to get the funding together and we did two concerts that first year. The audience loved them and the musicians loved it here. They came back the next year and did four concerts and from there, things kept building.

Last year we moved the festival to the Town of Cary. This year we’ll have 12 concerts, 6 open rehearsals, and 3 intensive week-long workshops for high school students. The festival collaborates with local professional musicians, artists, Cary Visual Arts, and Cary Creative Collective. This year, we’re bringing in the Gavriel Lipkind Quartet from Europe along with the Will Scruggs Jazz Fellowship from Atlanta and we’ll be doing a performance with NC Opera featuring two amazing young singers, Anthony Roth Costanzo and Rachel Copeland. We’ll also be presenting a juried art show, the unveiling of the 2012 Cary Visual Arts sculptures along Academy Street and a concert with one of the latest additions to the classical music scene in the area, New Music Raleigh. (The festival runs July 30th through August 11th and you can find ticket info here.)

What ideas can you share with individuals, entrepreneurs, and artists that could help grow the creative class in the triangle?

I think this area is at a real tipping point. We have managed to attract and build a wonderful basket full of exciting cultural events. We have music, dance, theatre, opera, visual arts, festivals, and a wide diversity of cultural events. We’re the real deal and people are coming here because we offer such a culturally rich community in which to live. But, we are in danger of losing these things if we don’t support them and encourage them to grow.

One of the reasons this area always makes the top of the list for the best place to live is not because we have sunshine.  Florida has that.  It’s because we have this wonderful bubbling of creative energy. If we lose the arts, we are just expensive real estate. There is so much cultural richness here, so many creative people who want to work…it’s exciting to think about what could happen if we began working together. We could build an arts community that would be second to none in the country.

I really believe in collaborations and think if art groups are not collaborating with each other, they will not survive in the next ten years. By pooling our talents we can make things bigger, fresher, and more interesting. For example, Philip Glass’s Opera Les Enfants Terribles paired with NC Opera and Carolina Ballet was fabulous. Or Burning Coal Theatre Company’s Henry V on Trapeze in collaboration with NYC Fight or Flight was wonderful and made you see that play in a different way. I really like collaborative work, it’s energizing, it makes us think differently, plus it is an opportunity to learn from each other and to push boundaries. I’m happiest when I’ve been pushed out of the “box.”

Cross Currents Festival "Side by Side" program teams high school musicians with professionals.

How would you advise artists and students to approach criticism of their work?

Ask yourself, does this work or does this not work. If it doesn’t work, how can I make it work. Be willing to let go, accept what others have to say, and have the courage to do something different. If you have confidence in your work, but you’re not arrogant, you can say, “yes, this is good but I have the talent and skills to make this great”. The creative process is one where you should always be looking for growth. If you’re not pushing yourself, you’re not engaged in the creative process.

What new initiatives, if any, are you looking to launch in the near future?

I am working with a colleague to establish a new collective of published writers who are looking to transition into eBook publishing. I am bringing out my memoir, The Last Childhood: A Family Story of Alzheimer’s, that was originally published by Three Rivers Press as an eBook. I’ve also decided to publish my latest work, a novel entitled Lillian’s Garden as an eBook. Also, I love the theatre and have been working with Ian Finley trying to learn how to write a good play. He’s a terrific playwright and a wonderful teacher. I would like to do more theatrical writing.

What is your favorite color?

I don’t know. I have a lot of egg yolk color in my life!  I prefer colors that reflect light, like the reds and yellows more than I do colors that absorb light like blues and greens. I guess you could say I like things that are both reflective and let other people/colors/things shine.

Cyn Macgregor is a guest blogger for Triangle Art Works, an artist on Zatista and city organizer for PechaKucha Night Raleigh.  You can reach her via email, her website or follow on Twitter @cynjustcyn.

Do you know an “unsung hero” that is doing incredible work for the arts community in the Triangle?  Tell us about it!

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