About Sozo Gallery

Tucked in a small storefront on the plaza of the beautiful Hearst Tower in Charlotte's Center City, Sozo Gallery is a contemporary art gallery that brings fresh, original artwork from local, national, and international artists to Charlotte collectors.

Sozo’s focus is to inspire soulful connections between collector, art, and artist by supporting and promoting a variety of artists, and displaying works that excite, calm, and engage all of the senses. We want our clients to discover a connection -- souls to be stirred up a bit, and conversations evoked. 

We love it when we see our clients' eyes squint a bit with a tilt of the head. Then, the half-smile, the eyes open a bit wider, the heart begins to melt... sparking the beginnings of that indescribable connection.  


SOZO: (sode'-zo)

Greek: to be healed by God, to make well, to keep safe, to save
Japanese: to create, to imagine

Our Team


Hannah Blanton
Gallery Owner

Hannah Blanton has an immense appreciation of, and connection to, art. She chaired the Carolina Art Soiree for four years and managed over 40 artists from North and South Carolina, while raising money for the International Guillain-Barre Foundation and Charlotte's Artworks 945 program at Urban Ministry Center. She is also a yoga instructor at Y2 Yoga, and teaches yoga to hospitalized children and families.

In 2003, Hannah was paralyzed from a rare illness, Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Since her recovery, she has become consciously more open to opportunities, embracing them with gratitude and the understanding that ‘life is too short’. As been her experience, yoga and art have been medically proven to soothe and stir the soul, and help with healing.

She owes a lot of her heart and inspiration to her parents. Hannah's father was a respected leader in their community, a big-hearted, small business owner dedicated to his employees and neighbors in need. Her mother, a local historian and teacher, is a gifted storyteller, inspiring her students and Olde English District Tour patrons with rich, empathetic narratives of people and places.

Hannah treasures the Uptown community of residents, businesses, and homeless friends in need. She co-founded About Face CLT, a project that uses photography and cinematography To bring awareness to social justice issues and to encourage compassion, empathy and using your gifts to help others.  She has also enjoyed working with other Center City arts organizations to bring back the Uptown Gallery Crawl.

Hannah lives in Charlotte with her husband Charles of 21 years and their three children.


Sara Frances Koontz
Gallery Manager

Sara Frances graduated from Wofford College with a BA in Art History and Environmental Studies. Though she thoroughly studied the history of art from Ancient Egyptian to Mid Century American, she devoted her senior thesis to an in-depth gender studies analysis of French Impressionism - a subject she studied extensively during her time in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Paris, France. She credits her liberal arts education for giving her both a critical and analytical eye, and fostering a deep appreciation of all forms and genres of art. Sara Frances loves to see the parallels between the contemporary art world and the rich history of art.

After graduating, Sara Frances moved to Charlotte with the hopes of pursuing a career in the arts. Sara Frances started at Sozo as the gallery's intern and is thrilled to now be in the position of Gallery Manager. As a lifelong student, she hopes to continue to grow and learn right alongside Sozo. Her favorite part of Sozo's mission is the attention to each artist's story, process, and the heart that is put into each of their pieces. She loves when a client's face lights up after hearing the details of just how special and meaningful the piece they chose is. 

Sara Frances's passion for the arts, both visual and performing, is one she has had her entire life. She is Sozo's Gallery Manager by day, and she is also a dance teacher at a local dance studio where she shares her love of the arts through dance with her students weekly. 


Hillary Wilks
Art Consultant

Hillary serves as Sozo’s Art Sales Consultant to both individual and corporate buyers and collectors.  Combining her 17 years of Sales experience with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals with her lifelong passion for the visual arts, Hillary brings a balance of knowledge and confidence in working closely with each client in making the appropriate, aesthetically-pleasing choice for a specific space. Having grown up in both Philadelphia and Savannah, two cities extremely rich in culture and the arts, as well as being raised in a multi-generational family of artists, Hillary has naturally been drawn to the intrigue and beauty of original art. After dabbling in art, herself, she has found her true gift to be in the pairing of the right pieces with the right people... an “art matchmaker”, of sorts. 

After graduating in 1989 from Mary Baldwin College with a BA in Communications and Psychology, she moved to, and fell in love with, the city of Charlotte where she remains active in the community and devoted to her college daughter and high school son. 

From the young, novice buyer, to the designer/collector, to the corporate setting, Hillary will ensure a professional and low-pressure style of consulting with attention to taste and budget. Her goal is to sell only to a buyer what they love and will enhance their surroundings. 

Kim Leaston
Communications Manager


Kim hails from the city of Boston and brings with her a love of history, culture, and the performing and visual arts. She is a graduate of UNC Charlotte’s Communication Studies department with a focus in Public Relations and Journalism.

Building connections with audiences through art and language is something that she is passionate about. It is no wonder that she has been involved with a number of arts organizations in the area, including the Charlotte Ballet and most recently, the Charlotte Symphony. Whether it is sparking up a conversation with an artist or visitor, or writing about our collection, she genuinely enjoys the exchange of thoughts and ideas. Kim hopes to use her diverse skills and passions at Sozo Gallery to help reach new audiences and spread the love of art around the Queen City!



Hearst Tower
214 North Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28202

Monday: 10 am - 4 pm      
Tuesday: 10 am - 4 pm
Wednesday: 10 am - 4pm
Thursday: 10 am - 4 pm
Friday: 10 am - 4 pm
Saturday: 11 am - 4pm

Sozo is located in the center of Uptown Charlotte. Street parking is often available along N. Tryon between 5th & 6th Streets. If preferred, you can park in the Hearst Tower parking garage with entrances on both 5th & 6th Streets, between College and Tryon.