Carlleena Person transformed Charlotte through her art

Arts / Article

Friday, June 1 is the opening of a local one-woman show that is deeply bittersweet for many in this community. Carlleena Person was overjoyed about sharing new paintings in her solo show, the “Tao of Savnac,” happening at a local funky art spot — that doubles as a custom bicycle shop.

Unfortunately for all of us, Person was involved in a terrible car wreck on May 1. Although it appeared she was improving, a few weeks later, she died of complications from the accident. Artists — like the rest of us — die and we mourn our losses. But, Person was different. Her art was incredible and her impact on others was far reaching.

One would be hard pressed to find an artist that truly embodied sharing the transformational power of the arts like Carlleena Person did. In addition to being an amazing artist who used her art to improve people’s lives, she was the kind of person who just lit up a room when she entered it.

A friend shared, “Carlleena’s spirit was and is so large that it has filled many hearts with joy and laughter through the years. She had an innate ability to smile or say a few words that would warm your heart, inspire you, or even change the course of your day.”

Person was not formally trained as a painter, though she was more disciplined, painted more often and pushed herself harder than most artists I know. Her work was just starting to achieve a rich, zen-like stride. Her paintings are a fusion of graffiti-style and colors blended with formal elements of art like rhythm and balance.

One could see the “Carlleena Person” brand in each one, yet there was new life, new directions in her most recent work. Like Person, her paintings may have seemed simple and straightforward. Yet both the artist and her work were quite complex and would not let go. This artist and her work were multi-layered, inspiring, inviting and most always left the world in a better place as a result.

She shared, in her last email blast to friends and fans, her excitement about this solo show — even against the mountain of physical difficulty she faced every moment. “This will definitely be a great show and a testament to my drive and my passion for my art.  I am incredibly grateful, and hopefully the works I am creating with my temporary limitations will show that.  So it truly will be me MAKING A WAY.  I am just honored and grateful I am alive to share my creativity.”

“TAO of SAVNAC”: New art of Carlleena Person, June 2012 at Espada Bicycles in NoDa, 3206 R North Davidson St, Charlotte. Reception and celebration June 1, 6-9 p.m.