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. 

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.

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! 

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)

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)

Sercy (a small gift, a thoughtful surprise)

A sercy.  Love them!  Who doesn't? I like saying the word--try it. SERCY.

Fancy, fancy. (..and yes it's a real word. Look it up.)

I love surprising a friend with flowers from the Farmer's Market or gardenias from our yard to those crazy old fashioned photograph cocktail napkins that provide a good 'out loud' laugh.

It's the little things in life…I'll credit my Mama for that lesson.

However, when you are riding in the car transporting your 15 year old daughter from one destination to the next and she springs on ya, 'Hey Mom, SURPRISE! I'm getting a second earring piercing!' BAHAAAHA…I half snorted, and discovered nonstop belly laughter while wanting to cry. What happened to my smocked dress baby girl with a big pink bow? LIlly Pulitzer? Princess dress up?...Payback is Hell. 

I have sudden flashbacks of Duran Duran posters plastered in Sandi Wright's bedroom with a ice numbed earlobe and Sandi stabbing me with an icepick for that second piercing.

Walaa. My parents were so chill about it. DId I mention I am the 4th child?

Deep yoga breath. Move on Mama. Bigger issues on the horizon.

Sozo has some summer surprises for you. Southern ladies Liz Barber (from Atlanta) and Taylor Thomas (Charlotte) are bringing some huge colorful abstract sercys to Sozo.

Liz Barber

Liz Barber

Taylor Thomas

Taylor Thomas

Carmella Jarvi

Carmella Jarvi

Glass! Sozo is thrilled to debut local glass artist Carmella Jarvi. She's teasing you with elegant layers and layers of color creating fine art glass.

Just you wait.

Come spice up your summer with us. Take a morning or afternoon tour of our great galleries, museums, parks and restaurants uptown.

Walk away from your neighborhood pool for a day and get some culture people!

Miss Martha will be the only one at Sozo with an ice pick in hand. She'll be ready to serve you a refreshing cocktail.

You will not be disappointed. 

No surprises here.

Crack The Door and Leave The Light On

For as long as I remember him speaking, our youngest son Brown tells me every single night, "Cwack the door and leave the bathroom light on please." Two nights ago he had a sleep over and after I tucked the boys in he shouted out in his super K-o-o-L 9 year old voice, 'Mooom, crack the door please'…um um…but no leave the light on? 

Yesterday one of my favorite yoga instructors, Jenn Decurtins led me and about 60 other yogis in an awesome class. Our focus was centered around a great read she had just discovered and  that it's okay to be vulnerable and to accept our imperfections. Our intention during those 75 minutes was to forget those imperfections and focus on the light within our hearts and the light that surrounds us.

Yes, know me. I'm going somewhere with this. Chill.

Every single Wednesday at 7:50 am it's my middle school carpool day. I'm entertained while driving 6 hormonal, raging teens to school. We are basically 4 families that live 6 houses apart…actually we are ONE big family. And yes, crazy Mama Hannah has made it the habit of praying at a stoplight. My hope is that when these teens reach adulthood they can remember (even at the stoplights) to pause and be grateful, pray for others in need, or show thanksgiving for all the blessings we are given. Each time I drive I ask the kids what's 'going on' or heavy on their hearts and I pray out loud for each child in the car, and their personal requests of a sick friend, an ill prepared pre-algebra test they are about to take, a cold-hearted teacher, or sometimes even a snotty sibling or friend. Regardless where our prayers lead us, I always always end with...

'and may these children reach out to someone lonely or sad today and let the joy and light that lives in their hearts be reflected today.'

Yep, Runnymede and Sharon Roads. Our light.

In 3 weeks Sozo will introduce a new featured artist, Laura Liberatore Szweda. Her works are all focused on LIGHT. Her inspiration of light has evolved since she's moved to the low country. Laura's works are layers and layers of rich color and texture. Sultry. Elegant. Radiant light. She'll pull you in with different color combinations that soothe your soul. The paintings draw you directly to the light each and every time.

Light represents truth, peace, serenity, calmness, warmth, peace and purity.

Come see Laura's works.

The lights are always on at Sozo.

We'll even leave the door cracked open for you.

It Takes 2 To Tango

Juan Francisco Adaro…Juan Francisco Adaro…Juan Francisco Adaro…..

Drop your southern accent, throw in a little latino flavor, say his name over and over and BAM!….you will instantly fall in love with him. Besides the fact that he's (sort of) tall, dark, crest white teeth and ultra handsome….he's one heck of an artist. Born and raised in Argentina.

He's Sozo's vintage artist with a unique flair of modernism. His works are charismatic with life and big energy. The three dimentional touches are the extra bonus that bring his babies to life. It's like the toy in the box of cracker jacks or the prize in the bottom of the cereal box. (what happened with that?) Wooden wine boxes. Juan Francisco's wife Brooke is a sommelier and has a plethora of them. By carving the boxes with just the right curves and touches, Juan Francisco magically adds these to his canvases and TADA! the works come to life!

To top that- he's adopted a mantra that he sings while he paints. Even better, (settle down ladies) it's an Argentina tango love song. Poorly translated into english it's basically….

'First you suffer, then here you learn to truly love, next you learn how to let go, and finally you can just 'be'.' (and yes, I shared this in a yoga class I taught)

Most of his works have these soulful words around the edges written in his fluid spanish handwriting. You can truly feel his paintings and each one tells a different story.

Wooden boxes bringing canvases to life. Ying and Yang. Peanut butter and jelly.

Art collectors, REJOICE!

Tango anyone?

Juan Francisco Adaro: Dec 4 - Feb 28

Opening Reception: December 12, 2013

  • cider + cookies: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
  • wine + cheese: 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Exhibition continues through February 28, 2014.

Juan Francisco Adaro is an Argentina-born painter living in Florida.  We are thrilled to exhibit his multi-media works in Charlotte.  Please join us for one of our opening reception gatherings! 

Learn more about Adaro here.
Find and share this event via Facebook here.

Robert Langford: Oct 17 - Nov 27, 2013

Opening Reception: October 17, 2013, 5:30-9:00 pm
Exhibition continues through November 27, 2013

We are thrilled to open Sozo with the work of one of our favorite artists, Robert Langford. Langford works from a studio in Charlotte's Southpark area and is works hang in many public and private collections.  He has exhibited his contemporary works at Red Dot Art Fair in New York (during Armory Art Week) and in Miami (during Art Basel) , as well as in numerous solo and group shows throughout the country.