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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 One-Breath.org  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: 

yamo.jpeg

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, PEOPLE.

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.  

'PollyHannah'

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 www.one-breath.org 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. 

Breathe. 

(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. 

Breathe. 

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. 

Breathe. 

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? 

Tragedy.

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.

Period. 

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.

Sufferings

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...

blog-2015-05-25.jpeg

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"

blog-2015-05-25-daddy.jpeg

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! 

We'll Figure it Out

Parked, waiting by the train tracks in a field for my friend and her dog. I wait. I breathe my deep yoga breaths and I pray. Some call it Dharma. I call it Jesus and Yoga. It's basically connecting and compassion. (the root of dharma)

I see her figure in the distance, hobbling along with her two walking canes and her sidekick and trusty dog companion. My mouth curls up into a smile and I exhale some relief. She's safe. She's here, and today we get to just be and enjoy our passion together.

Art. 

We got our own private tour of Matisse's works at  The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. She's 5'5, thin and in her oversized plaid shirt, dirty apron, scarf and hat-- her hands covered in old paint and she carries the aroma of earth. Me- 5'8 and curvy, dressed 'down' for comfort, palpating heart, anxious and hopeful that today we'll laugh some more, learn together and most importantly build trust.

blog-2015-03-10-bechtler.jpeg

We studied Matisse's works, enamored with the love he had (like my friend has) with poetry, read poetry, and savored his use of figures and introduction of modernism to our world.

He created most of these works from his later years in his wheelchair. I noticed the tilt in her head and how her eyes light up when we discover this. This was a period of intense suffering for Matisse. His artistic cut-outs were created while confined to a bed or wheelchair, hiring assistants to help him and using a long stick to draw and point. Despite the physical agony Matisse endured during the works' creation, they appear as boundless and carefree as freed animals in a colorful field.  

Tears filled my eyes and my stomach had that heart wrenching gut pang. I cannot even explain the deep correlation here. If you don't get it, please repeat college Psych 101. 

After she selected a book on Matisse's art, I bought it and told her we'll share it and study more of his works and his figures.

Together.

blog-2015-03-10-fariss.jpeg

Trust and friendship.  I'm sure we'll figure it out.  

While we're on the topic of FIGURES. New York City's claim to fame, Inslee Fariss' figurative drawings are on display starting March 27th. Bold figures with brilliant bright ink designs. Elegantly full of heart and emotion. Please join us and meet our darling new artist Inslee at her artist reception on Friday, March 27th from 530-830. These figures will fly out the door.

No doubt Henri himself would have been impressed with Inslee's figures.

I'm also betting money he would have joined our laughter and conversations today at the museum while reviewing his works and would have been the type of artist to roll up alongside my artist friend and relate. And paint. 

Together. 

Conversation Heart

What's that perfect gift that keeps giving? You know it.

Art.

We've got works starting at $70! Local glass art, contemporary oils, works on paper, abstract oil hearts on glass, necklaces and more.

Flowers wilt (even though we love our neighbors at The Blossom Shop). And chocolate goes straight to your booty! So make a small investment and give something that promotes conversation and curiosity and lasts a lifetime.

Speaking of conversation and hearts... our hearts here at Sozo have been broken with the arrest and incarceration of one of our most favorite and loved homeless artist friends. She should have been taken to mental assistance, but instead, because of a misinformed and broken system, she sits and waits in jail - without receiving ANY treatment.

"If you don't like something, change it." Right?

So here we go. I love it when my husband 'comforts' me and says 'Honey this is WAY out of your ball park!' Dude...that is FIRE to my soul when you say that!

And I think he knows it. :)

Sozo loves nothing better than some uptown collaborating and creating. Minus the paint and canvas, we're about to help create some freaking amazing bridges. 

We've got former judges, public defenders, attorneys, doctors, jail liaisons, investors, psychologist and one spunky art gallery owner all coming together this week to create some magic. These folks have big hearts and are offering their time and wisdom and love to start the conversation. Conversations to connect, bridge the gaps, and identify resources. 

Besides selling some unbelievable art at Sozo and representing our 'family' of overly talented artist....we have a big heart. Of course we like connecting and selling you that perfecto piece that sings to your soul and says "TADA" when you enter that room. But we also want you to feel, hear and see our results in uptown. 

White collar plus conversation hearts. Dare me to start off our meeting tomorrow at the courthouse with a game? Nothing better than 'breaking down' some new friends, eh?

Have a heart this Valentine's Day, and try stirring up some conversations of your own.

Or better yet, come check out our art at Sozo and tell us what's on your heart.

Yep, Conversation Hearts by the handfuls. On us!

You Can't Always Get What You Want

I know, I know. Rolling Stones again? It seemed pretty fitting considering Christmas is over and by the looks of our children's faces  I should have blasted that song throughout our house Christmas Day.

Brown (10) wanted some hi-tech smart soccer ball that measures how fast it's spinning and it's trajectory, Charles (13) wanted a Go Pro 4, and Virginia (16) all she wanted was a car. I mean 'Like, EVERYONE else gets a car when they turn 16!' Right? Just to clear it all up…Santa brought none of the above. 

I remind them of one of my favorite quotes by Pablo Picasso. "One of the greatest things in life is to find your true GIFT. The purpose of life is to give it away." They roll their eyes and insinuate I've been doing too much yoga and overdoing it with the kombucha consumption. 

All I wanted for Christmas was a hormonal free home with no fighting and everyone to stay out of Mom and Dad's shower and stop using MY towel, no double dipping in the peanut butter jar, and peace and love and harmony. Right?

… But if you try sometimes, you just might find ... you get what you NEED. 

We at Sozo got to enjoy the beauty of the season uptown (not downtown) in Charlotte. Besides 'making the sale' and breathing a sigh that we can still pay a steady salary to our new gallery coordinator, Annemarie Weekley, we got to see and experience some fabulous things uptown and 'got exactly what we needed'. 

We gained new friends-ones that bought and ones that couldn't quite yet. We connected more with our uptown executives, restaurant owners and managers, hotels, and builders. The wait staff and chefs give us the royal treatment when we dine with them.  But even better, we know our security officers and janitors by name. We've purchased hot meals for homeless friends and 'bought art' so they could buy a bus ticket. Our reception bartender is now like our sister and she has a testimony that will blow you away. We've helped start Grier's Gallery at Hemby Children's Hospital and Blume clinic and have seen firsthand the effects of art therapy on children and how creating helps with their suffering. 

We are representing some of the finest and most soulful artist in the US and Canada and have made some tremendous connections all over the world. Nope, I haven't paid off college for our three and still haven't remodeled our 1950's bathrooms, and Annemarie isn't buying her first home yet, however in 2014 we got what 'we need'. 

New friendships, relationships, Gary's gold tooth smile, encouragement, tears of joy, catching a glimpse of a child's toothless grin while creating art after receiving their 14th round of chemo, uptown breezes, and Port City Java's unsweetened apricot iced tea. 

Sure, I'd love to buy our sweet 16 a new car and pay in cash! But, working hard gives us exactly what we need. 

Experiences. LIfe. Messy homes. Too many take out meals. Relationships.

And some pretty good damn art.

Grateful and excited for what 2015 brings and hoping we all 'GET WHAT WE NEED'. 

Gift Giving

Christmas morning circa 1975. Santa delivered a 3 story barbie dream house, WITH an elevator. Hands down the BEST.GIFT.EVER.  

My bff and next door neighbor Abby and I would spend countless hours playing with that dream house.  As we grew up we moved on to performing 'live' shows on our swing sets for the entire neighborhood (and yes we sold tickets), Wonder Woman, Lost In Space in our tree fort, and then acting out Charlie's Angels (while we fought over 'The Six Million Dollar Man'). Sweet childhood memories. ...and why ask?! Of course I always got to be Farrah! We waded through the streams in our hood (and found a missing 2 year old boy/that's another blog) rode bikes uptown without helmets, and spied on neighbors.

Abby and I spent hours in the kitchen making magic healing potions of oil, flour, salt, and sugar for our friend Bozi (our sweet 70-something year old neighbor) who was dying of cancer and actually allowed us to spread magic 'potions' on his skin.

We wanted to heal him. And we believed we could.

Sozo's heart was stirred up a bit this fall (I like to claim the Holy Spirit) and decided to move forward with an idea and do a little gift gifting ourselves. 10% of all our sales this month will go to Cookies For Kids Cancer where 100% of funds go to research in finding cures for pediatric cancers. 

Carmella Jarvi is an outstanding fine art glass artist and former art teacher who has been working incredibly hard on her masterpieces. You won't find glass with outstanding colorful layers and detail anywhere else in NC. She's even prepped some works with extra orange layers honoring our special friend Grier Christenbury and CFKC.

Carmella Jarvi fine art glass details

Carmella Jarvi fine art glass details

We don't have magic potions for sale or salves that claim to cure cancer, but we have created something (along with one of our new favorite peoples Trish Rohr and Rohr Rockstars) that we are incredibly proud of. Through faith, visions and a little yoga we're creating grier's gallery at and grier's gallery artist residence program at  Blume Pediatric Hematology & Oncology and at Hemby Presbyterian Children's Hospital.  We want to remember our hero Grier Christenbury, his love of art, and keep his ongoing legacy and spirit alive through this gallery. The awareness of pediatric cancer that he and his family have brought to Charlotte and the Carolinas is unfathomable.

So do come out on Friday, November 14th from 530-830 and find inspiration through this fine art glass made right here in Charlotte.  Help support these programs, do a little Christmas shopping and give one of the best gifts that keeps giving and giving.

Healing art. (no salves needed)

Controlled Chaos

Today I cried in a cycle class and I couldn’t stop. I know, right? Not during a movie or a massage or savasana … but a high energy cycle class. A Jay Z remix is blasting and I'm sobbing. The huffing man beside me was probably like ‘it’s okay lady - you can turn down the torq … '

It started when my friend Jenny saw me walk in and asked, "are you okay?" That’s all it took. You know that feeling - your throat gets all tight and eyes swell with tears. I’m so thankful to have friends that know me so well … and just by peering into my eyes.

I know I’m not alone. This seems to happen about every mid-August to many mamas I know. Or who knows maybe we can blame it on the Supermoon or menopause?

Regardless, most of us are overloaded and overcommitted with back to classroom shopping, sending kids off to college for the first time, forms, physicals, school sign ups, football games, soccer games, carpool arrangements, committee commitments, "will you be a sunday school teacher?" And the list goes on.

On top of which, I'm watching my Daddy die a slow death thanks to alzheimers, a Mother in pain who’s ‘lost’ her husband of 61 years, a sister who has drifted away from me, a daughter learning to drive, boys that freely ‘fight’ and wrestle on the floor fighting over the remote and an art gallery that is taking off bigger than I ever dreamed.

I encourage all of you to surround yourself with those who lift you up - your yoga community, Red Hots Tennis team, bible study, prayer group, book club. Make a point to connect with those who will comfort you or call you out when needed.

When life is messy I remind myself to keep my eyes on the one who created me and my heart open to His plans for me. It’s the only place I’ve found that offers refueling when I’ve got nothing left in my tank. Oh, and of course … my realist rockstar husband who knows how to listen with his heart - and embrace me with his ‘I’ll protect you forever hug,' or even wipe the snot from my face. 

Controlled Chaos. That’s my target.

So with the chaotic end of the summer schedule, I’d like you to highlight stopping by for Claire Desjardins’ reception on Saturday, September 20th. Come meet her! Her bright, soothing colors will engage you and unfold an effervescent energy. And yes, she is ‘THE’ Anthropologie designer you’ve been hearing all about.

If you don’t see any art finds that soothe your soul, I'll meet you at Flywheel. Back right row. Bike #43 and #44.

I'll bring the hugs and tissues. 

Wine Club? Don’t even think about asking me to join.

Go Big or Go Home

For the last two weeks I served as one of the Camp Seafarer nurses and it was a beautiful escape. While boating on the Neuse River (on our time off) with friends we were discussing all the 'dirt on life'-one being how important it is at a summer camp (or anywhere in life honestly) to show up BIG. Whether it's screaming/singing 'Let It Go' at the top of your lungs, assisting in an emergency call to the lake, consoling a homesick child or evacuating 600 plus children for Hurricane Arthur (that's another blog) then for crying out loud- SHOW UP BIG!

Show up smiling. Put your best foot forward. Stop complaining. Bring it. It's contagious.

All duds need not apply.

Sozo's next brightest star is the incredibly talented Taylor Thomas. Taylor is our featured local artist until the end of August. 

This chick is no dud.

She is showing up with abstracts created with big brushstrokes, big color and an unveiling story behind each amazing work. When Taylor describes her creative process you will capture a glimpse of her grace, humility and her devotion of showing up 100% while still humbly crediting others for her talented gifts.

'Courage' by Taylor Thomas

'Courage' by Taylor Thomas

This gal has passion, purpose and is stepping out with some bold courage. Taylor's not settling.  

She has shown up big people. Taylor has arrived. And she's not going anywhere. (but up)