Today we are swinging through the south to visit Lark & Key in Charlotte, NC. Owners Sandy (not pictured) and Duy have taken their passion for art and the handmade from exhibiting in their home to not one, but two fantastic locations in Charlotte. Sandy walks us through their vision, and the reason they love owning a brick and mortar shop.
Lark & Key evolved naturally over the course of several years, beginning when Duy and I met at an outdoor art market. As our relationship grew so did the desire to open our own space, something that both of us had pondered for years. Duy was (and still is) a full time studio artist and I was working as a freelance textile designer, making jewelry on the side. I was renting small spaces inside existing stores to sell my jewelry as well as pottery and other items by several friends. We started hosting art sales, first in our home, then at a local yoga studio and eventually took the plunge into opening the gallery.
The visual and tactile experience of having a physical space is important for fine art, handmade and one-of-a-kind. For instance, there is a joy in finding the right mug, the one that fits just perfectly in your hand – you can’t do that online. And even though a 48″x48″ painting may look lovely online, seeing it in person evokes a very different mood. We have had requests for online shopping so we are looking to add a shop to our website, for now we are happy to send photos to out of town customers and take phone orders.
The aesthetic we lean towards tends to be organic, slightly whimsical, somewhat minimal and always handmade and well crafted. We aren’t exactly sure what to call our style but some customers have described it as ‘refined rustic’. Although we carry a mix of goods we stay true to what we personally love and strive to maintain a cohesive feel throughout the space.
Art galleries can often be intimidating to the general public. Our vision for Lark & Key was rooted in the fact that we wanted an inviting space to showcase a mix of art and crafts in a variety of price points. You can pick up a painting for $4,000 or for $400 or even a card for $4.00, but if shopping isn’t on your agenda we are thrilled to simply be a source of creative inspiration. Many customers come in and are inspired to pick up their paintbrush again or take a pottery class.
Another key factor in establishing the gallery was not limiting our demographic. Our customers come from every walk of life and are of all ages. We try to educate those that aren’t familiar with fine art and/or handmade, they often feel they can’t appreciate it if they don’t know how to make it or what it means. Even though we give as much information as possible we let them know that the most important thing is the connection they feel to something. One of my favorite things about owning the gallery is hearing those stories, what speaks to a customer and why they are drawn to something. The connection can be simply because they like birds or as meaningful as reminding them of a departed loved one.
Lark & Key
453-B East 36th Street (Noda)
Charlotte, NC 28205
Lark & Key
128 E. Park Ave, Ste B (Southend)
Charlotte, NC 28203