Deep In The Heart

If you've been following Sozo along, then you probably know that we just returned last week from the most exhilarating trip to Houston, Texas. (cue singing....'deep in the heart of Texas') My mentor Ron Gremillion, (crazy story here) offered our artist and friend Scott Gardner a solo show at his gallery during International Fotofest. 


Scott's solo show, stalking Deep Time was well, pretty mind blowing. The oversized works of the sky, mountains, clouds and the vast are printed on what appears to be velvet. The specific paper that Scott asked the printing lab to use is pretty dreamy. You want to touch it. Linger. No to be to cliche - but very much to me like the impressive Rothko Chapel. 


Yes! We visited that too of course. However, I didn't go back inside. I loved every single moment of my last (and first) visit that I didn't want it to take away from that experience. Rothko Chapel and viewing Mark Rothko's oversized canvases was a very spiritual visit for me, and conformation that chasing my mentor to Houston was exactly where I was supposed to be. 

In this short lived life we have on earth with the jobs we hold, the parents we are, the leaders in our community we strive to be- we must listen and stay open.  Scott's exhibit reminds me of that messaging each time I look at his newest works. 

Scott says that to him stalking Deep Time is about the fact that "Time is immeasurably vast and one single human life is but a blip. stalking Deep Time is a visual journal of my struggle to reconcile my fleeting animal moment with the infinite world I am swimming in."

Before the opening of his show he gave a heartfelt talk explaining his newest body of work to my mentor and their superb sales team of 5. I look over into my dear friend's baby blues and tell him, "you know I see God through you every single time you present your work". He sheepishly looks away with gratitude and rubs his tattooed arms- "I know- thank you," he says. My favorite is the one that has METTA beautifully inscribed on his inner arm.  


Metta - unconditional and unattached loving kindness. 

Oh to have more of that in our world, and fill it up with purely talented people that live the message as he does. 

Not only is the message inscribed on his arm, yet so evident that metta is inscribed Deeply In His Heart. 

(To read more about Scott you should visit and


Crafting Light from the Dark in UNSPOKEN

Aaron Hequembourg is an artist; this is clear the minute you lay eyes on his collection. What isn’t so evident is the story behind his work, and the faces of those in his pieces. Those stories are as important to each engraving as the materials used to create them.

In 1997, Aaron and his new wife, Hope, moved to her family’s rural Georgia farm. The property has been in her family since 1815, and much like many large farms in the south, their new home had a history. Aaron describes the farm as being like a small town, even having its own store at one time.


What remained when the Hequembourgs moved in were strong reminders of the property’s past: a number of sharecropper homes. Not only were the homes still standing, but members of the families that worked those lands were also still in the area. Faced with the question of what to do with these structures that stood vacant but held so much weight, Aaron decided that instead of burning them down, he would repurpose the materials into pieces of art.

 Stand | Aaron Hequembourg | Engraved assemblage from sharecropper house

Stand | Aaron Hequembourg | Engraved assemblage from sharecropper house

Many of Aaron’s art feature the faces of one couple in particular, Willie and Josephine. Willie and his wife, Josephine, have lived in the community for many years. Willie has lived on the farm his entire life, with generations of his family having worked the land. Josephine has never left the county that she lives in, and has never seen a reason to.

In many ways, the work that Aaron does captures the physical history of the farm and molds it together with the future – the families that live on it and around it today.

Although he does possess the skills of crafting and creating, his story, and the story behind his work are important elements to each of his pieces. Aaron’s art not only features a subject, but each has details that catch the eye. From catalog pages to images of lynching, Aaron doesn’t shy away from the controversial.  History, regardless of who it belongs to, deserves to be told.

Cultural history and American history are the threads that weave the fabric of his pieces, and that shared history is what is captured in the engravings and construction of each one that he creates.

Kim Leaston
Assistant Gallery Manager
Sozo Gallery

UNSPOKEN will be on display at Sozo Gallery from February 2 - February 16

Homage to Hokusai: Interpretations of "Interbeing"

The Great Wave off Kanagawa.jpg

Katsushika Hokusai, Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, (c. 1830-32), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, polychrome woodblock print, (25.7 x 37.9 cm)

Arguably, the most recognized piece of Japanese art, Under the Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai has permeated across all possible mediums since its creation circa 1830.

Iconic in its composition, use of Prussian Blue, and themes of nature, globalization, and impermanence, The Great Wave (how it is most commonly referenced) has been reproduced and reinterpreted an exorbitant amount of times in a wide variety of fashions. (i.e. on socks, tattoos, posters, coffee mugs, murals, etc…) The image has even been turned into an emoji:


Needless to say, the influence is tremendous and the image is inescapable. However, every time I see an image of the original, I am floored by the compositional integrity of Hokusai’s masterpiece.

The finger-like tentacles coming from the crest of the wave, the foam falling down like snowflakes on top of Mt. Fuji, the magnificent scale of the wave, the hunkered down fisherman bracing the impending crash of the wave on their boats, and the use of linear perspective and horizon line all exhibit Hokusai’s brilliance and talent.

This piece is one that stuck with me as one of the most profound pieces of Japanese artwork during my studies so it was no wonder that my eyes widened when I first laid eyes on these two works by Sozo’s featured artist, Kenny Nguyen; Waves of Impermanence, I & II.

All references or potential influence aside, these two works are visually striking and compositionally brilliant in their own right. Kenny’s use of mixed media brilliantly blends color and texture to create two pieces of art that nearly jump off of the canvas.

Looking more closely at the two paintings, Nguyen’s attention to detail paired with his vibrant color choice, result in a sound composition. (Is that Prussian Blue I see?) Kenny’s line work results in organic shapes that look like the spray of the ocean’s waves and is as precise and calculated as Hokusai’s… Each speck of paint is carefully drawn and filled looking simultaneously serendipitous yet perfectly placed.

Like Hokusai’s Wave, each piece looks as though it is a snapshot from a moment in time. The texture from the acrylic paint on top of an ombre background creates movement that draws the eye around the canvas in a spiral-like manner alluding to the familiar motion of a wave.

Placed side by side, the movement in Waves I appears to transfer across the void and into Waves II. The continuous movement from I to II alludes to the crest and subsequent crashing of a wave. What motion begins in Waves I, is carried to fruition in Waves II.

Waves of Impermanence I and II are the work of a truly learned and talented artist. Striking on their own accord and, intentional or not, a beautiful homage to Hokusai.

Sara Frances Koontz
Gallery Manager
Sozo Gallery

Kenny Nguyen’s exhibition, Interbeing, is on display at Sozo Gallery until January 31.


Robert Boyd's solo exhibition 'Unfettered' is quite meditative and leaves collectors lingering over each piece. Introducing his solo show during the start of Fall season, was undoubtedly perfect timing. 

Unfetter | un·fet·ter | verb | past participle: unfettered | release from restraint or inhibition

 Disappearing and Forgetting | Robert Boyd | 40x40 | Mixed Media on Panel

Disappearing and Forgetting | Robert Boyd | 40x40 | Mixed Media on Panel


On a personal note, the past two months were extremely emotionally tough ones for me. (Hello, My name is Hannah, and I've been defined as an empath.)  We sent our oldest off to UNC Chapel Hill, and an individual we care deeply about (who is homeless) was lawfully and gently evicted from her home and gardens of 6 years under the bushes of uptown. Salvaging possessions from her haven right before I saw it bulldozed down nearly ripped apart my heart and rocked me to the core. 

 Out Of Reach l Robert Boyd l 40x40 | Mixed Media on Panel

Out Of Reach l Robert Boyd l 40x40 | Mixed Media on Panel

Unfettered. It is a reminder of letting go of things that you have zero control over. Letting go of things that control you. Letting go of loses, disappointments, fears, judgements, perfection, or even the past. 

To instead, be rooted with unfettered faith, and discover an inner peace that has been patiently waiting on your arrival.

Finding contentment. Peace. Ease. (I call that God). 

 Salt & Shadow | Robert Boyd | 60x48 | Mixed Media on Panel

Salt & Shadow | Robert Boyd | 60x48 | Mixed Media on Panel

One can certainly see traces of Rothko's expressionism in Robert's works. His sultry colors and textures will have your inner voice screaming, "I need a comfy bench, please." This body of work is a reminder of contentment and releasing all those things that don't serve our well being. 

I can't control how late our daughter stays out at night, or how many times in one week she eats at Al's Burger Shack. I cannot control the fact that our homeless friend choses to live outside in the freezing cold, or the fact that she refuses medical treatment. But I CAN easily get lost in Robert's works, and rediscover that peaceful rhythm of my breath.  

Find you inner unfettered beast. She releases. She refuels. 

She wins. 

Thoughts From the Artist: Laura Alma McCarthy

"Perhaps the dead weight of my arm is a wing..." 

 -Molly McCully Brown, 
The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded

          In the paintings and works on paper I create - I am looking for that space of “perhaps”.  A place I imagine inside of all of us that is the birthing space for the raw material of our lives to transform into the experiences and choices that will shape us into human beings who engage with the world and the people in it.  These paintings are my process for staying connected with a world I often feel I don’t have the skills to embrace or understand. Often I feel that sensation of just being a dead weight, of not wanting to move.  However, through the process of my work - allowing tar and oil paint to mix and transform one another on canvas, and the physical process of me moving those products around, making marks, etc. - it gives me a tangible product for an intangible internal process.  My work allows that space of “perhaps” to open up within myself and I begin to think that what may feel like dead weight may actually be a wing, and I move.  

 | Laura Alma McCarthy | "Maybe the Dead Weight of my Arm is a Wing" | Tar and Oil on Canvas | 48x72 |

| Laura Alma McCarthy | "Maybe the Dead Weight of my Arm is a Wing" | Tar and Oil on Canvas | 48x72 |

Orchestrated Serendipity

"Vital lives are about action. You can't feel warmth unless you create it, can't feel delight until you play, can't know serendipity unless you risk.” ― Joan Erickson

Six months ago,  I discovered this very article that caught my attention and interest. I started out on a path for one reason, but was instead lead down a very different path, that somehow ended up leading me exactly where I needed to be.

I am immensely drawn to others that have suffered and discovered something greater within themselves that they never knew existed. I can relate, as I’m sure many of you can. 

For over a year I’ve been disciplined in praying for a much needed gallery mentor. "Fake it 'til you make it," first year. Check. "Growth," 2nd year. Shock/check. "Double growth," third year. Happy Dance/triple check. 

Sister needs a mentor. 

I’ve needed someone that understands our fast growth, my self-doubt and stubborn determination, our passion at Sozo and our willingness to stay true to our beliefs while managing growth. My Dad was the one who always provided those answers and when he directed me with a nod and those baby blues, well then- I believed it. And he believed in me. God, I miss him.  

In February I contacted artist Patrick Fagerberg and told him of my interest in his work and desire to see more. He put me in touch with his mentor, Ron Gremillion and ‘warned me’ that Ron was appropriately protective of him as a friend and an artist and to not to be surprised if he Ron didn't offer his blessings. Sigh. And eyeroll. Another one of ‘those’ gallerist. Lawd. 

An hour into my conversation with Ron, I’m confident I’m talking to my Dad/Jesus/ and Santa Claus all wrapped up into one glorious gift. Tears streamed down my face after I asked him if I could hire him as a consultant. “Hannah, just hop on a plane and fly down to Houston, and I will tell you everything you need know to properly run a successful gallery.” 

Seriously? Do people like this still exist in this world? 

   Houston airport...and our first Uber driver.  

Houston airport...and our first Uber driver. 

Hubs think I am coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs crazy. ‘You mean to tell me you are flying to Houston/ meeting with another man we know nothing about/ and taking business advice from him?’ “Yep. Yes sir-eee. It’s a God thing. I know it. I really feeeel it, Charles.” He eyerolls and half smiles. (#hisapproval)  He knows me and he gets me.  I felt 100% confident this was meant to be, and God placed this Godsend into my life.. It’s beyond happenstance or serendipity. 


After meetings, introductions, artist and sales education we are wined and dined at a favorite local Houston restaurant. Ron’s baby blues gaze firmly into mine and he gently pushes me, yet I already know that he believes in me. “Hannah, what are you afraid of? “ 

In Houston I learned that it is perfectly okay to be vulnerable in this industry, yet to trust your heart, stay true to your values, your prayers, your intuition. When something scares you, then pull your shoulders back and stand tall, tap into your yoga breath, and trust the process. That’s exactly when the magic happens. 

Our last day in Houston, Sara Frances and I ended our art journey at the Menil Collection and The Rothko Chapel  (one of my all time favorite artists BTW) After sitting in complete silence in the chapel and studying, praying, meditating and being in awe of his infamous works (and yes, I wanted to break out into some sun salutations, but refrained), we met on a bench outside. As if I needed anymore confirmation of this trip, the sun was setting and casting extraordinary colors onto the Texan sky,  we were serenaded with a warm breeze and doves confidently calling back and forth to one another in the large oak trees. (Honestly, I can’t make this stuff up.) 

In THIS very moment I’m convinced I have finally understood and nailed the truest meaning of ‘deep in the heart of Texas’…it’s not a place, it is what lies within certain people in this heartland and the magic and hope they offer to others. 

Hannah and Ron (Houston) .jpg

Please join us on Thursday, September 7th for our newest exhibition Transcendent Light. Come meet my mentor, gallery owner Ron Gremillion and two of his artists, and our new friends Nicola Parente and Patrick Fagerberg

Truly, C.S. Lewis nails it best on the gratitude I have for my orchestrated serendipitous friend and mentor. Here. 

The Gentle Giant

Exactly 2 years ago (the day after Mother’s Day) we watched my Daddy take his last breath. He was our Rock and my Idol, and I was his ‘baby girl’. My father-in-law called my dad the ‘Gentle Giant’... He was a striking 6’1 tall man (many say he looked like an older Tom Hanks) with a deep voice, a hard hand shake, but the purest and kindest heart. When you love someone so endearingly that loss is always present, but we honor them by marching onward and keep living the love and legacy they created with and for us. He’d want that.

Our dining room. (Stay with me, there is a correlation here) 

When Charles and I married we were extremely fortunate to inherit a complete dining room furniture set from my in-laws and we had the traditional chairs recovered in a gold and Burgundy checked fabric. In 1995. Every day for the past 15 years, I’ve walked through this small dining room, turning my body a certain way to shimmy behind the chairs and open the door into our renovated kitchen/family room. Traditional, crowded, and did I mention ---1995. 

Meet our Sozo artist and friend Laura McCarthy.  For those of you who haven’t met her, well you should. She is genuinely a breath of fresh air. Extremely witty, authentic with a capital A, and she teaches yoga and mindfulness to incarcerated or currently homeless friends, as well as friends struggling with addiction, through her non-profit  Laura is the ‘baby’ of five and lost her sweet Virginia-bred Daddy a few months before I lost mine. After her loss, while stumbling through her grief, she found comfort by reading Japanese death poetry. (Meanwhile, I was reading Tracy Curtis blogs and drinking a lot of La Crema). Inspired by the death poetry and her personal grief, Laura created a soulful series of internal landscapes. Beautiful big white backgrounds with thoughtful, gut-wrenching paint, pours, and textures of black, deep brown, gold, and hints of pink. 

Meet Yamoto Takeru-No-Mikoto: 


When I saw this 6x6 diptych that Laura created, I cried. I knew nothing about this piece of art, yet I immediately felt it’s intensity and the light that radiated from the top right corner. When she shared the story with me about the Warrior, I, of course, cried more. 

Yamoto Takeru-No-Mikoto was a very well respected warrior in his Japanese village. He was a faithful father, husband and well respected warrior of the village. It was time for him to die, and he knew it. He walked to the beach and dismantled his robe covered in many expensive golden threads. He was searching for his Peace and was ready for his departure. His family was not. His wife and children chased him over rocks and dunes and sticks, and cut their feet along the way to convince him to stay on Earth just a little longer with them. To their dismay, he passed and in traditional Japanese style, flew off as a beautiful white crane. 


This is when your heart lights up SO big, you actually feel the work and you know it belongs with you. 

Bye Bye 1995 dining room. Yamo (my new name for him) now hangs in our most prominent place when you enter our home. We said goodbye to furniture used twice a year and the display of my grandmother’s antique wedgewood china and welcomed a room centered around the most magnificent piece of art, tranquility, light, and PEACE.  

My hubs jokingly says we now have a pretty hotel ‘Lobby’…but I disagree. My heart swells every single time I see the work and I breathe in PEACE. I’m reminded of my biggest Warrior, cheerleader, advisor, confidant, and how when his baby blues looked at me I knew that I was loved, and quite possibly his favorite girl :)  (Sorry Sister) 

Many of Daddy’s most favorite days and memories were centered around family at our Lakehouse at Lake Wateree. If you close you eyes with me—you might see with me what I encountered often. A 9 year old Hannah swinging in a hammock in the arms of my Dad. In the distance at the end of our dock on a quiet evening we hear the bull frogs chirping, the comforting creak of our hammock back and forth/back and forth, the whip-poor-wills start to sing, the faint ripples and circles in the cove of the Brim catching Mayflies, and always always we’d spot a big white Crane—flying away into the peaceful dusk. 

A room - and a home - can most certainly be transformed around a piece of art. 

Come tell us your stories. We’ll help you find that piece that makes your heart sing.  

xo Hannah

Finding Me, Seeing You

Hi there. It’s Hannah and it’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged. You’ll start to see a pattern in our Sozo blogging. Smart and thought provoking (big words) means Sara Frances is at the keypad. A little all over the place and snarky trying to prove a point…then it’s me. 

We’re beyond thrilled to introduce Winnie Sidharta Ambon to Charlotte. Her works are much more mysterious and more thought provoking (to me) than anything we’ve ever shown at Sozo. “The Unbound Self” is a selection of Winnie’s introspective works that have intense layers of collage and paint. Winnie joins together the two mediums beautifully and uniquely and uses women’s fashion magazines for most of her fragmented body selections. She’s cutting and pasting and painting and layering to create a ‘whole.' A whole which represents a deeper symbolism of women and identity. 

Winnie’s work has certainly connected with my deepest core of identity- being a woman and a mother. 14 years ago on Mother’s Day I felt bound, caged, and certainly not whole. Bound by a terrifying rare illness that left me paralyzed for 2 1/2 months, I was situationally depressed and desperately crying out to God and making deals with Him daily. Guillain-Barre Syndrome stole a little bit of my time, but it taught me how to be a fearless believer in healing and passion and rooting myself in faith. (Earth, Wind and Fire, R.E.M. and Ambien helped a bit too!) 

This month we’re giving proceeds back to NAMI Charlotte and Artist Recovery Movement. Both of these non-profits connect to those struggling with mental illness and recovery. Throughout our journey of opening Sozo, my heart has been deeply touched by those suffering and living with mental illness: a homeless friend, a neighbor trying to overcome the stigma of Bipolar Disorder, a neighbor who's son developed schizophrenia in college and unfortunately passed away, a yoga student of mine battling a severe eating disorder, a friend going through an ugly divorce. These situational bouts of depression or life long battles have really rocked my perception and understanding of being bound by a disease that effects not only the person suffering but their entire support group.

We all have a story. Some of us are fortunate enough to have suffered and recovered. Our past, our suffering, our own personal cutting and pasting creates our identity. Our whole. 

What whole are we tending to and nurturing? What perceptions are you making of your self or others that you’re only getting a glimpse of? 

These exploratory works of Winnie’s remind me that I am a wife and mother who will not be imprisoned to what society thinks we should be. 

Trying is enough.

 (This was created LAST minute by my big sister Helen for a High School English paper assignment about 'Mothers' that she had forgotten to do. And   this   is what I have to live up to! All joking aside, it is framed and has been my parent's room for over 35 years. Simplicity and truth win.)

(This was created LAST minute by my big sister Helen for a High School English paper assignment about 'Mothers' that she had forgotten to do. And this is what I have to live up to! All joking aside, it is framed and has been my parent's room for over 35 years. Simplicity and truth win.)

Show up. Try. Repeat. 

Choose your own identity. Don’t allow society’s kiss on the forehead try to determine it for you. 

Own your story. Believe in others. Try seeing the whole. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all my mamas our there. Wishing you boundless love and high fives for showing up and trying.

It is enough. 

xo Hannah

Sozo Gallery's Gift Guide For The Person Who Has Everything

Having trouble finding the perfect gift for that one person who has everything? Sozo is here to help! We've compiled a list of small works by a few of our awesome artists, that anyone would be thrilled to have waiting for them under the tree! 

BJ WEEKS | Hazel 1, Hazel 2, Hazel 3 | 12x12 | $150 ea. 

MICAH CASH | Overpass 8x8 $200 | Spillway 6x8 $150

ARTHUR BROUTHERS | Ecosystems 13.5x13.5 $545 framed | Rivers in the Sky 13.5x13.5 $545 framed | Study 3 6x6 $150 | Study 7 6x6 $150

LAURA McCARTHY | Remnant IV, Remnant V, Remnant VI | 10x10 | $100 ea.  

BRUCE NELLSMITH | Cross Configuration XII 13x15 $450 | Kite 12x12 $125 | Native 12x12 $125

 DENNY GERWIN | Handmade Ceramic Cups | $48 ea. 

DENNY GERWIN | Handmade Ceramic Cups | $48 ea. 

CURT BUTLER | Epicenter, framed, $350 | Bechtler Museum, framed, $350

To Be Healed

Our petite art gallery is blessed to call Uptown home. 

We pride ourselves as a splash of creativity in a part of Charlotte known for pristine, bustling streets and shiny windows. But, Sozo is more than that. 

During our three years in Uptown, we've learned to seek and strive to do more than selling 'great art'. 

We are community. We are relationships. We are love. 

That's the Uptown we call home and this is the Uptown compassion we will continue to perpetuate...

 Healing Water, 24x24, Wan Marsh

Healing Water, 24x24, Wan Marsh

Gracie, Hillary and I have grown so much from our friendships with many of our fellow small business owners, homeless neighbors, CEO executives, janitors, bank managers, servers, hotel managers, and chefs -- all of different races, ethnicities, and religions. 

All of us are hurting to see our beautiful city in this turmoil. 

We are firm believers in healing. And, that's our prayer. 

In fact, that's our name. 

Sozo in Greek means to be healed by God. In Japanese, it means artistic and creative. Our petite gallery is not only a haven of creativity, but it is also a haven of healing. 

Sozo = healing.

This healing now must start here, in Uptown.

We are committed to using our gallery, and our relationships, to heal our beautiful city-- to heal our home. We hope you join us.

Be creative. Be healing. Share compassion. Share empathy. Share Love.  


Let me introduce you.

For those who don't know about her....Pollyanna is a best-selling classic novel from 1913 about a young girl with a sunny personality and robust optimism. Pollyanna is an orphan child who goes to live with Aunt Polly. Unfortunately, Aunt Polly is too concerned with appearances, propriety, and local politics to appreciate her effervescent niece and her ideas. 

This story is much deeper and profound than 'that', so maybe you should pick up a copy or share/read it with your children. (she too, was even paralyzed and had to learn to re walk again)

Pollyanna created a 'gladness game'. (fast forward 100 years...think 'The Power Of Positive Thinking', etc...) 

I think some of us in Charlotte, or the state of NC, or even our country should be required to play at least 15 minutes a day. Just like your cross fit, or yoga, or running fix. Or your vodka tonic. 

Have a glad fix. Change your outlook. Change your perspective.

At Sozo we want to spice up our community and outlook on art. It's not about looking out for numero uno. It's about us. Community. Teamwork. We're pulling out our finest Pollyanna attitudes and playing the gladness game with our uptown art community.

 Urban Mystique 60x36 Curt Butler

Urban Mystique 60x36 Curt Butler

Debbie downers and spinster Aunt Pollys you are invited too. 

Along with a great team including Charlotte Center City Partners, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Mint Museum Gift Shop, Levine Museum of New South, McColl Center, UNCC Center City Gallery, Goodyear Artists, New Gallery of Modern Art and Sozo we're introducing to Charlotte the Uptown Crawl. 4th Thursday of every month. 6-9pm. Explore many different cultural venues uptown.  

It's time for our uptown art community to shine.

Pollyanna style.

Something In The Water

Hello heat wave! Here at Sozo we’re hoping you and your family have been able to escape the summer heat and enjoy the serene beauty and rest of our local mountains and beaches. Camps. Beach time. Restorative summertime rest. 

Recently our family packed up and sold our lake home that has been in our family for over 53 years. That was my childhood ‘camp’. Swimming, skiing, boating, sailing (or capsizing), family BBQs, and the whispers at night of whip-or-whils and bull frogs. No cell phones, no internet. Just friends, family and nature. 

And the water. 

 Written In The Water, Windy O'Connor

Written In The Water, Windy O'Connor

There is truly something in the water there. We've experienced something deeper and more powerful than the regular Sunday church ‘by boat’ and ‘river' baptisms we’d witness, or catfish the size of your smallest child, or the occasional stumps you avoid when skiing.

Truly something in the water. 

Reflective peace. Strength.

Sozo is thrilled to announce the solo exhibition of friend and artist Windy O'Connor. Windy and I go ‘way back’. Church friends, raising children the same age, lake trips, beach trips, laughs, introducing and selling her artworks through the Carolina Art Soiree for GBS/CIDP | Facebook (and my hubs thinks she looks and sings like Carrie Underwood and in my opinion her legs come in pretty darn close too) 

Come join us Friday August 12th and see Windy's newest art inspired by water. We’ll help you find the perfect piece to reflect on your happy place. Every time you study Windy's work you’ll discover a connection to stillness and internal peace. 

 Find it daily through your art. Reflective peace through your home surroundings. 

“Live every day, give it all that I have. Trust in someone bigger than me. There must be something in the water."

Drink it up.

 Photographer: Ari Clare

Photographer: Ari Clare

Too Subtle for Words

Pain is a pesky part of being human, I’ve learned it feels like a stab wound to the heart, something I wish we could all do without, in our lives here. Pain is a sudden hurt that can’t be escaped. But then I have also learned that because of pain, I can feel the beauty, tenderness, and freedom of healing. Pain feels like a fast stab wound to the heart. But then healing feels like the wind against your face when you are spreading your wings and flying through the air! We may not have wings growing out of our backs, but healing is the closest thing that will give us that wind against our faces.
— C. JoyBell C.

There have been so many unexplained tragedies and horrific deaths recently in our country. Our hearts at Sozo hurt and pray for all the families and communities that are heart broken and questioning. This week's show couldn't have be more 'timely'. We will be showing the works of BJ Weeks. BJ has suffered and is coming out on the other side via her faith journey and through her art. Her bountiful colors and elegant brushstrokes will pull you in...asking for more. When I study her art I feel music (and a cold glass of Pinot Grigio). 

Art won't erase our pain but it's been proven to offer comfort and open up space for conversation.

Please join us for a lunch and lecture featuring BJ and Dr. Dianne Collard. Dianne chose to forgive the unforgivable, the unthinkable. I Choose to Forgive: An Intimate Journey with God: Dianne B. Collard ... 

Art rescued her...and gave her soul a big shake up. You'll never 'see' abstract art the same again.

Join us either Thursday June 23rd 12-1 and/or June 24th 6-830pm.

The summer winds will escort you in to Sozo and of course you'll find the Pinot chilled. We're always open to hearing your stories of suffering, of loss and how art has helped you heal. 

Breathing Space

It's been a while since we've blogged, but yesterday's installation was such a pivotal moment for me personally.  Blog worthy indeed. 

Breathing Space is a dual artist show of Scott Gardner and Laura McCarthy's works.

Scott's work is from The Finding Silence Project , focusing on the significant importance of silence, and prayer and meditation.  Scott and I have a beautiful love story. True brotherly/sisterly love. It's beyond coincidental that he was brought into my life shortly after my father died...through Johnna Smith - Charlotte, my beautiful yoga mentor and teacher. More than his sheepish humble blue eyes, the fingers that twist the back of his hair when he's 'thinking', and his scruffy beard...I'm in awe of the layers of soulful giving and thoughtfulness Scott has taught me through his lens, his creativity...his heart. 

 Thu Nanda Theit Hti, 16x24, Scott Gardner

Thu Nanda Theit Hti, 16x24, Scott Gardner

Laura, is the founder of and artist. Yesterday, she explained my most favorite painting. Possibly ever.

Stories. They are magic that Sozo wants to see by connecting your heart to the actual work.  Scenes From The Land of Yomi is about a Japanese narrative and was passionately produced after Laura lost her father. Grief. Alchemy. The stirring of emotions. This triptych creation is an internal landscape of her heart. Or yours. Or mine. 

And ohhh yes, I cried through the installation yesterday. (with Laura) 

 Scenes from the Land of Yomi, Triptych, Laura McCarthy 

Scenes from the Land of Yomi, Triptych, Laura McCarthy 

You'll notice the vertical movements of the tar and paint representing the heartbeat....and then the slow and steady decline...and then a peaceful passing. Into Death. A transformational experience silenced with shimmers of gold. One last breath.

And quiet. Peace. 

And silence. 

Join us Friday May 20th 6-830 to hear more about Scott and Laura's works.

Join me in slowing down and catching our peace, our breath. 

I just threw up the white flag to crazy Maycember and booked a room in Charleston. Tonight. Solo. Going to gather some peace and quiet and reflective rest. 

We can't wait to hear your interpretations and personal stories when you view this show. 

Inhale - Exhale

  Inhale, Wan Marsh

Inhale, Wan Marsh

Merry Christmas! As we come to the end of 2015, I wanted to express how overwhelmingly grateful I am. Despite losing my father this year and some other recent family medical emergencies...I look to hope. And gratitude. And breathing. 


(If I were to write a ‘braggadocious’ Christmas letter…here’s how mine would go this year.)              

I lost my beloved father this year to Alzheimers yet he leaves with me the legacy of remaining a faithful servant to God and charged both Charles and me (at our rehearsal dinner) to forever be Good Samaritans. (If you need a sweet snoozer...I’ve got the 20 plus minute video of  for proof! He could talk. :) ) In May we watched him take his last breath on earth, as he gained his first breath in Heaven.

Shoulder surgery in November took a toll on my physical spirit leaving me without my most addicting and beneficial love of Yoga (the asana part at least…the physical practice) But no one can steal my 'yoga breath'. 

A week ago my dear mother was just diagnosed with a large carcinoid tumor (cancer) in her lungs. You should see her tackle her lung 'exercises'. Believe me, YOU are no match for my Mama. 


I've attended labor classes on all 4’s learning how to breathe through childbirth,  pranayama training through my yoga teacher Johnna, and paid money for a workshop on breath work from Johnathan Winn. I even heard Brene Brown recently speak on breath work. Box Breathing…In for 4 seconds, Hold for 4, exhale for 4. Try it. Like now. 


It gives energy, helps us sleep better, aids digestion, lowers blood pressure and stress level, improves our awareness and even our personal relationships. I've got research to prove it. 

Despite the detours life brings, our Sozo business has tripled, and we continue to plant our roots into Uptown. At Sozo we commit to leave an imprint not only on the collectors that run through our doors and easily whip out their credit cards, but also to the friends on our streets that huddle under bushes for shelter and deserve more than any of us have to offer. We are forever indebted to our incredible team of artist, our collectors and our community of friends.  Here's to a peaceful Christmas full of hope, laughter, and memories. 

Remember.... “inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4."

For the Spirit of our God has made me, and His breath gives me life.
— Job 33:4

-- Hannah and Gracie 

  Exhale, Wan Marsh

Exhale, Wan Marsh

Our 5 Senses and Art

Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.
— Oscar Wilde

Recently our family of five road tripped to Charleston (home of my college alma mater). As we crossed over the infamous bridges into the Holy City, I rolled down the windows and breathed in that magical sulfur breeze, instantaneously dropping my blood pressure and soothing my soul. “NASTY!!!…..OOHHH….roll up the windows MOM…WHO passed gas?!” (they used another word/I don’t like to repeat) Seriously children, that stench does not soothe your hormonal teenage souls? 


Fall has arrived and I’m feeling a bit nostalgic lately. My sweet hubs caught me red handed last week with bathroom doors closed, sitting on the bathtub, and crying. I was sniffing (totally legal kids) my Daddy's after shave and craving his scent, his strength. I needed him near me. 

Fall is the time to harvest and reconnect with our sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. We all have certain senses that ‘take us back’ to a prior time of either freedom (childhood/college), relaxation (BC- before children), tension/heartache (poor relationship decisions), bliss/happiness (beautiful relationships), or ecstasy (non proper posting material or possibly retirement/ traveling)? 

Cool breezes and the smell of Tea Olive (it’s blooming now folks) -smell of security- my parent's bedroom (they had it planted all around their windows and frequently kept the windows up)

Hearing Prince and The Revolution- High School cheer routines/and thinking we ‘owned’ it. White gloves and all. I can still recite parts of 'When Doves Cry'. (but it would take a few martinis to show you)

Sound of a steam escaping the hole of a pot lid…the ‘dinging’- please be my Mom's infamous homemade vegetable beef stew

Smelling like The Bus Station- (for real) the best meat and three in Winnsboro….and the scent identified where you've dined

Musky scent of Bonfires- Beachside college Oyster Roast (heaven)

Halston cologne for Men- boyfriends that broke my heart (stench) 

A whiff of Mustela baby lotion- sweet days of mothering a newborn

Hearing Bagpipes - my father’s graveside service

Experiencing these senses is exactly how we want you to feel and experience art. We intend you to feel freedom, relaxation, ecstasy, and help take you to a place in your past or possibly a place you’ve never been. We all have different time periods of our lives that molded us into the beautiful human beings we are. Art can be enjoyed as a sentimental reflection, a mystery, thought provoking or a hope for something new to experience. I challenge all of you to ask yourself these questions next time you ‘double take’ a piece of art. What do I SEE? What do I TASTE? What do I FEEL? What do I HEAR? and What do I SMELL?

When you purchase a piece of art from us, we want you to connect to your senses every single time. 

 work by Mary Rousseaux 12x12 

work by Mary Rousseaux 12x12 

Don’t wait for a tragedy, or a loss, or a clean or quiet house, or to be ‘perfectly’ organized to relish in your 5 senses. Pop your trunk, pull up your soccer sideline chairs in your yard this evening, and huddle up with some loved ones. Enjoy the sight of our lunar red moon and let us know what you experience.

Consciousness is inherent in each one of us. 

Be alert.  Connect to your senses. If you're having trouble, let us know. Pop in to Sozo and we'll help you explore.

But let's keep it real. You are not allowed near my after shave.

Preconceived Notions

I was a big surprise for my parents. My mother always wanted a big family, but after 3 children and a few miscarriages they thought they were 'done'.

Mama turned 40, her father passed away, her mother was dying and their nest was full with a 15, 13, and 9 year old. And BAM!...they were blessed with MUAH. When choosing a name for me, my mother wanted to name me Caroline, and the rest of the crew 'out voted' her and named me Hannah (after my Mama). So she lost. (and, today as a mother myself, I'm like 'WHAT??'...I think push votes outweigh sibling votes any day.) 

In the south we true southerners name our littles after a family member or a biblical name.


We don't choose a name by the place we 'fell in love' or our favorite actress or the month we conceived. 

Growing up with the name Hannah was pretty cool. Then my friend Esther ruined it. 'Hannah the big fat banana'. Violin~ please. I was the one who had to order her clothes from the Chubbies section in the back of the Sears Roebuck catalog. (for real) I won't even go into detail what we called Esther. (despite the name rants, she is still one of my oldest, truest and dearest friends)

 Hannah (already dreaming about colorful Art Basel Miami) and Esther /circa 1974 or so

Hannah (already dreaming about colorful Art Basel Miami) and Esther /circa 1974 or so

This month Sozo is introducing Wan Marsh at Sozo and she is fab. Before I met Wan I envisioned a tee-tiny petite hispanic or oriental gal with beautiful long black hair, quiet in nature. Right?

Far from it.

Wan is a primo talented abstract artist. Her background is in interior design and she is a gardener and giver to nature and birds. She is a HOOT. Wide open, full of life, bubbly, in LOVE with what she does (people like that give me the biggest high), over 50 something years old, confident and curvy.

She's the type that likes an ice cube in her chardonnay. Sassy and owning it.

After being rejected from show after show she decides to change her name. And then the magic began.

She dropped the DA.

Wanda became WAN overnight. Wan was accepted into the next highly acclaimed art show and won 1st place. She's been on fire and selling to collectors all over. 

 Garden Path 60x48~ Wan Marsh

Garden Path 60x48~ Wan Marsh

You must stop by Sozo and check out Wan's layers and layers of mixed media and collage fabulousness this month at Sozo. And please don't forget about inviting your friends named Linda, Sandra, Brenda, and Wanda. 

No judging here. 

My nieces (and sisters/one of them named Hannah Brown/refer to paragraph three and Ruthie) are due with their 4th and 2nd babies just a few weeks a part. Not too many good names left on the ole' family tree. We're down to Killough (pronounced KILLA) Ivor, Gladys, and Narcissus. 

I'm voting for Killough. Killough Henry to be precise.

Preconceived notions? Ehhh.

Nobody's gonna push that boy down on the playground.


No, I'm not referring to missing your yoga for 3 days in a row, or your daily Starbucks, or even losing out on a huge business deal. I don't want to bring us all 'down' with this post...but sufferings exist amongst all of us and they don't come easy.

At all.

They sting and force you to have that 'I'm so tired of sobbing and dizzy feeling that I may throw up at any moment' feeling. One of my favorite scriptures from Corinthians, reminds us that when we suffer and endure hardships, we are better equipped to encourage and support others through their hardships. So if we don't let that grief and those hurtful times swallow us up or push us into a dark corner...then we march on.  And we slap on a bandaid (with hot meals delivered by good friends for weeks), and cry big tears and wipe off snot (into the armpits of tremendous friends and neighbors), we learn who our real supporters are, we deepen our hope, and we heal. 

We heal. And we support. And the cycle continues.

So here 'we' go...


Meet Madison Licare. Madison is one of Myers Park High School's best and brightest artist they've seen in a very long time. Madison is inspired by the Renaissance and Dada periods and aspires to be one of best selling artist in our country. Take my word for it. She is beyond bravo, and yes sweet Madison has suffered. 

Her mother became pregnant with Madison when she was a high school student, and unfortunately abandoned Madison. Her mother suffers from schizophrenia. Her father abandoned Madison as well. Madison's grandmother has raised her, but not without difficulty. Guidance counselors have had to enter the home and plead to city officials in order to have water/heat turned back on.

She's petite, soft spoken, and timid in nature.. .but once you discuss art... her dark brown eyes beam fire and she quickly chimes in on the imagination and force that nature and art has brought to her life. This child has suffered beyond what most of us could comprehend, and she has magnificent artistic talent and true composition. She lacks a small amount of money and has been accepted into one of our countries most prestigious art schools, Pratt Institute in New York City. 

Please join us on Thursday, June 4th from 530-830pm. Meet Madison, see her work and be a bigger part of her dream. See her passion and her hope in those big beautiful brown eyes. 100% of Madison's sales will go directly to her college fund. A percentage of Sozo's sales will support Madison's college fund as well. 

And lastly, I'd like to dedicate this post to my loving Daddy. He suffered. I suffered watching him. And God knows how my heart hurts. But we heal...and we continue the cycle. Thank you all for your comfort and support these past two weeks.  He truly lived out his favorite scripture... a man who 'acted justly, loved and promoted mercy and kindness, and walked humbly with our God' (Micah 6:8) 

 Let's surround this incredibly talented young artist with our support and help her fund her dreams.  Come spread your mercy, your love and your kindness. 

If you are unable to attend but would like to donate toward Madison’s education, you may do so at this link to the MPHS Foundation - Please earmark your donation for Madison Licare.   Donate via PayPal or google “MPHS Foundation" and click on "CONTRIBUTE"


The Inside Scoop with Inslee Fariss

Inslee Fariss, Sozo's figurative featured artist, who has illustrated for the likes of Kate Spade, Neiman Marcus, and Stuart Weitzman, spills on some of her favorite things. Join us Friday, March 27th from 5:30 - 8:30pm to meet Inslee and view her art at Sozo. 

Sozo: Go to wine or beer? 

Inslee: Wine - whatever my husband brings home from work! He’s director of retail for Manhattan Wine Company and is an expert in “mineraly french whites” in particular. My favorite beer is Colomba from Corsica. I discovered it on our honeymoon last May. Several of the paintings in the show were inspired by and named after various beaches we visited on our trip where we’d lounge around with our new favorite beer and I’d sketch sunbathers as figure studies. 

S: Tips for traveling? What one thing do you always make sure you have for the flight?

I: I am a nervous flier because my greatest fear is being trapped in the sky in a tin can without an activity! So I always travel with a sketchbook and a laptop for writing and drawing.  Best tip for traveling is pack lightly so you look really relaxed and easy going, and then figure out a sneaky way to slip more and more extra outfits into your husband/friend/travel companion’s luggage so you’re never caught in a new exciting place without the perfect outfit. 

S: Favorite writing pen? 

I: I just received a Sailor Chalana fountain pen as a Christmas gift and it is so beautiful and delicate and creates the thinnest, most graceful lines.

S: Workout? What gear must you always have/or be wearing? 

I: Yoga! I love Y2 Yoga when I’m in Charlotte and am a regular at a hot flow studio here in NYC. I’m becoming addicted to collecting crazy patterned leggings. Go to brands are Prism Sport and Jala Clothing right now. 

S: Latest greatest read?

I: The Goldfinch. It made me feel melancholy but made me fall more in love with New York. 

S: Sunscreen?

I: Yes please. And big floppy wide brimmed hats. and long flowy caftans and coverups. And big cheery striped sun-umbrellas. Basically stay inside. Sun is not your friend.

S: Lips?

I: I believe that lips should just be an extension of a perfectly kept complexion, there’s no need to accentuate with complicated colors. I only use Aquaphor on my lips to stay hydrated. 

S: Clothing or shoe line?

I: How much time do you have…? I’m a bit of a clothes horse. Just rediscovered how much I love a classic Jack Rogers sandal after partnering with them on a new illustration project to unveil this summer - stay tuned! And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I took the plunge on a pair of enormous platforms from Sigerson Morrison - all their new spring/summer pieces are must owns.

S: Signature jewelry piece?

I: Three solid brass bangles from a boutique in the West Village. I received one as a gift from my husband on three special occasions, our engagement date, the date of my confirmation in the church and the date of our wedding. The clang together musically while I work and remind me how lucky I am in love. 

S: What music do you listen to? Any certain genre while creating your art?

I: I love some good juicy old soul music or contemplative jazz while painting, or on a particularly perky Saturday am painting session, some throw back 90’s hiphop. Biggie’s top hits and painting nudes really goes hand in hand. 

S: Favorite coffee drink?

I: All of it. I love coffee. Just discovered the cortado - the smaller, lighter little sister of a cappuccino. 

S: Any superstitions?

I: Yes, but I’m too superstitious to tell you what they are. 

We can't wait to have Inslee at Sozo along with her beautiful nudes!