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Every Tuesday, a group of around 10 local artists gather together to paint in the basement of the Church of the Apostles in Raleigh.
Following the departure of the church’s former art teacher, artist Sally Preslar started a group called the Midtown Artists in 2010. Preslar recruited two other church members who she knew were interested in continuing painting, and, through various art classes and events around the city, eventually attracted a larger group of painters.
Dennis Redmond, a former registered nurse at UNC, found the group four years ago after retiring on disability due to a tumor he had to have removed from his spinal cord. Redmond says he got bored sitting around the house when he was used to running around all day, so he started painting. He originally painted with acrylics but says he wanted to learn how to use oil paints, so Redmond took a class at a local art gallery. There, he met Midtown Artists member Linda Ayers, who invited him to join the Midtown Artists.
Preslar taught Redmond how to paint with oil paints and he quickly became friends with the other artists. “That group has really become my family, my best friends,” Redmond says. “When you find your tribe, you just know it.”
Last year, the Midtown Artists held a pop-up art show the weekend before Mother’s Day at a group member’s home to sell their artwork to the community. They set up their pieces on easels and tables and put out some cookies and lemonade, then sat out on lawn chairs, chatting with each other and anyone who happened upon the pop-up. Redmond says his favorite part of the pop-up is the camaraderie. “I love meeting people and talking to people—a lot of them want to learn more about the group,” he says.
The Midtown Artists planned to hold another pop-up during the weekend before Mother’s Day this year, but the coronavirus pandemic forced them to reschedule for September 19. The pop-up will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 301 Hudson Street in Raleigh.
Preslar says tables will be spaced 6 feet apart and whoever visits will need to wear a mask. She says she’s excited to see what everyone in the group has been working on recently.
“I love the reaction we get from the public about our pieces,” Preslar says. “It’s a lot of fun.”
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