Carole Stockton November 3, 1953-March 23, 2009
Carole Stockton had worked at Wachovia for around twenty years when she decided to find a more artistic path to follow. It was a big and scary decision and she showed courage in making it. She had studied art and interior design at the Art Institute of Charlotte and in other classes but had never been able to pursue it. When she decided to make art her new raison d’etre, The Charlotte Art League was a fortunate recipient of her freshly directed energies. She, herself, was not as active at producing art as she was in making new visions for the membership at CAL come to fruition.
Carole showed her interior decorating sensibilities when she took over the exhibitions chair and installed the most beautiful and elegant of exhibits with our usual eclectic entries. The last half of the adage that goes something like “you can make a good piece of art look bad if poorly displayed and a bad piece of art look good if beautifully displayed” was, on occasion, proved by Carole’s skill. Her exhibits were of professional quality, even when the works were often amateur. She loved the works of all with an appreciation and belief that every artistic effort by anyone is of great value.
When she found an opportunity to form a partnership with Goodwill Industries, Carole took me and a few others with her to Goodwill to meet with Diane Weekley and Patrick Burris. It was time to begin a plan. Organization was important to her. The liaison between Goodwill Industries and the Charlotte Art League resulted in a stunning exhibit of works by the Goodwill consumers. Many pieces sold and the money went to the consumers, helping them realize that making art was more than just fun. It could take on a professional aspect and they could realize some income from it. The Goodwill Exhibit in March of last year, was given prominent publicity in The Charlotte Observer, putting CAL on the local map as a community minded organization.
Carole had wanted to do a Graffiti exhibit at CAL and found a “retired” graffiti artist from New York City who was living in Charlotte and raising three great kids. His tag was “Desism” and so she called him “Des”. She brought Des to the Charlotte Art League with other graffiti colleagues and they did a May graffiti workshop which drew people of all ages to discover the technique of spray painting large images onto walls……not an easy technique to master. There were middle school kids and their parents too. There were grey haired folks and tattooed and pierced young people and a member of the ASC. In addition to this workshop, the graffiti artists painted the walls of the gallery at CAL during the Art n Soul festival ……..which was down the street so, this graffiti project drew a crowd that would not have otherwise come by that day. The art league again got a major article in The Observer.
CAL’s main gallery sponsored an exhibit with graffiti as its theme and our members did special works that were so inspired. Other graffiti artists entered works and hordes of young people, who had never darkened the doors of CAL, flocked in that month. In addition, Carole had Des do a program on the history of graffiti and what it can be. He showed images from around the world and some were of practical public projects and professional designs that a graffiti artist could be paid to do. More people attended that May program then had ever attended a May program at CAL ….at least during the time of my membership. Carole wanted the side of our building to “pop” with life and color like some of the buildings in Des’ PowerPoint presentation and she obtained permission to have the graffiti artists she had met to design a graffiti mural that would make us show up and look like the vibrant grass roots organization that we try to be.
Not long ago she started talking a lot about an outreach classroom at CAL and, from the research we had done, it was a good idea. Art centers often have to provide services to the community by bringing in the people served. Doing that is very helpful in finding funding. We brought Goodwill consumers to CAL and started classes for the Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Clubs. The classroom we are now enjoying, was a dream of hers. She never got to see it. We are using it in her memory, to be sure. We may still carry out some more of her ideas for it. She had the idea to work with the visually impaired and to mount an exhibit in October featuring art by and for the visually impaired. It is an amazingly bold idea and one we have started working on.
To me, the most admirable trait Carole possessed was the innate understanding of true friendship. She was always interested in the “other guy.” A patient listener, she would draw out the shyest of artists …or other types. She was sympathetic about your fears, enthusiastic about your dreams, and forgiving of your mistakes. It was a rare gift. She was eager to enjoy more of the life she was now living and I watched her fight her dreadful disease with all the strength she could muster. I am so very fortunate that she became a part of my life and will carry her example with me as long as I am privileged to live. She was loved by many and we are all richer for knowing her.