NoDa still stands as the Arts District — you just have to know where to look

Photos by Alex Cason


Is NoDa still the Arts District?

Absolutely, you just have to know where to look.

Enter a phone booth on the corner, knock three times on the wall and the phone will ring. Pick it up and whisper the words “Arts District” and you will be shown the way…

Ok, finding your way through NoDa’s arts scene isn’t quite so dramatic as a secret speakeasy, but some find it a little more challenging than it used to be. The area, formerly part of North Charlotte, has been historically known for its arts scene and local galleries, but many of the galleries have closed over the years. In fact, some in the Queen City question whether NoDa is still the Arts District at all.

We’re here to tell you it most definitely is — you just have to know where to look.

Before we talk about why NoDa is still the Arts District, we have to define the boundaries of NoDa itself. Lauren Schalburg of the NoDa Neighborhood and Business Association said according to the group’s bylaws, NoDa officially includes everything inside of the following main roads: Tryon Street, Sugar Creek Road, The Plaza and Matheson Avenue.

Many of the galleries in NoDa have closed over the years, but that doesn’t mean the local arts scene isn’t thriving. In addition to markets, monthly gallery crawls and regular street vendors, NoDa still has art everywhere you look (the Johnston YMCA even has an art studio inside of it).

NoDa still still stands as the market for art retail as much as ever. NoDa business owners are pairing concepts now: shop for art while you eat lunch, play pool or listen to music. Join us as we explore some of those establishments.

Baku Art Gallery

3200 N Davidson St. Located inside of Fu’s Tattoos.

“The reward of giving an unknown artist an outlet to shine has become the payoff,” said Baku Gallery’s manager Matt Terry. “Watching a barista sell her first piece of art while her parents beam over a glass of wine and thank you for the opportunity makes the late night art hanging, coupled with a busy personal schedule, totally worthwhile.”

Benny Pennello’s

2909 N Davidson St., #100.

Features art by local artists. Current artist is Erin Joy Svitko. Benny Pennello’s connects buyers with artists when purchase is desired. 

Blended Bartique

3100 N Davidson St #103.

Features art with rotating artists every three to four months. Hosts events surrounding the art pieces, including “Meet the Artist” nights.

“At this event, the artist will be present to answer any questions about his pieces, his inspiration, message and meaning behind each painting,” co-owner Estelle Helfrich said about “Meet the Artist” nights. “We believe that this provides an opportunity for the artist to tell his story and what he is trying to depict.”

Canvas Tattoo & Art Gallery

3012 N Davidson St.

Features art for sale by tattoo artists and their family members.

Artist Alex Santaloci said Canvas Tattoo, which is new to the neighborhood, has really been supported by the arts community in NoDa.

“It’s really nice to be around so much culture and so much art,” she said.

Evening Muse 

3227 N Davidson St.

Features art by mixed-media artist and NoDa resident Lori Love.

“I really feel that it is this symbiotic relationship between creatives and business leaders who are invested in the joy it brings that makes NoDa the historic Arts District,” Love said.

Four Dogs Pet Supply

2630 N Davidson St.

Features animal-related art, including artists from Umar Art Center, a program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities on E 36th Street.

“We have a lot of fun with it,” said co-owner Dan Owens. “We get to support a lot of local artists.”

Hart Witzen Gallery

136 E 36th St.

Actual self-sustaining art gallery. Features 32,000 square feet, housing 33 artist studios and a 5,000 square foot exhibit space.

Heist Brewery

2909 N Davidson St., #200.

Hosts local art openings once a month, including options for artists to bring in entertainment for the event.

Heist’s events coordinator, Tiffany Fawn Mogelberg, said the relationship between the restaurant and the artists is reciprocal.

“Each month the decor changes at Heist, thanks to the talented artists, which helps make our venue that much more special and unique,” she said. “And in turn we are able to help get the artist’s name and information out to the community and help spread their talent.”

JackBeagle’s NoDa

3213 N Davidson St.

Features art for sale by Charlotte artists.

“We like to keep the art affordable,” said general manager Mike McGuire of JackBeagle’s. “I like when people come in, have a drink, see something and take it home.” 

Mercury Apartments

3310 N Davidson St.

Includes local artist gallery wall where folks can purchase pieces directly from the artists. Once a piece is sold, Mercury rotates and adds a new piece. 

“We pride ourselves on our ‘support local efforts,’ from the art on the walls, the murals, the coffee and always incorporating local businesses for events and purchasing needs,” said community manager Kristine Smith.

NoDa Bodega 

1200 E. 36th Street A.

Features art for sale by local artists.

Owner Lisa Moore said this arrangement is a great way for the sandwich shop to have art for display while also giving artists an outlet to showcase their work.

NoDa Company Store 

3221 Yadkin Ave.

Rotating artists, changed monthly.

Orange Olive Hair Gallery 

2824 N Davidson St.

Rotating artists.

This summer our artist is Shane Pierce,” said Dréa Atkins, who handles brand management for the salon. “His work is so bold and colorful.”

Pura Vida Worldly Art

3202 N Davidson St.

Has an art gallery in the back room that sells paintings by Charlotte-area artists.

“To show art, it doesn’t have to be a true gallery; you can show it anywhere,” said owner Teresa Hernandez. “It makes it more inviting and less threatening, too, for people to look at.”

Ruby’s Gifts

3204 N Davidson St.

Includes art for sale by local artists.

Salud Cerveceria 

3306-C N Davidson St.

Rotating artists, changed monthly.

“The neighborhood is changing, and that’s fine, that’s normal,” said Salud’s owner Jason Glunt. “We want to still keep some of the roots of what makes NoDa, NoDa; what made people want to move here, open businesses here and hang out here.”

Sanctuary Pub 

507 E 36th St.

Photo gallery features Charlotte photography by Alex Cason, including photos of local residents.

“These photos have completely transformed the space,” NoDa resident Greg Levin said. “They bring out a character in the neighborhood because you see pictures of people that live in the neighborhood. They walk by you and you’re like ‘Oh, I know who that guy is — awesome!’”

Smelly Cat Coffee House & Roastery 

514 E 36th St.

Rotating artists, changed monthly.

“We sell art because it brings pleasure to customers passing through,” owner Cathy Tuman said. “It brings to Smelly Cat and our neighborhood custom tangible art that reflects local personalities.”

Photos: Alex Cason Photography


  1. The area has come a long way since it’s inception & heyday in the early 90’s. How do I get a reprint, or digital, or hard copy, of this article?


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