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Annual art competition showcases unseen talents

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David Lari has liked photography since childhood, but as a youth, he could never afford the equipment.

On Thursday, five years after he finally took up the hobby, he won Best in Show at the 10th annual arts competition for Charlotte-Mecklenburg city and county employees.

Lari, who works in the county’s information services and technology department, still seemed shocked by his win a full 10 minutes after accepting the gold ribbon.

“There is some great work here,” he said, looking around the lobby of the uptown Government Center, which has been turned into a makeshift art gallery.

The competition is sponsored locally by the Arts & Science Council, the city of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. Its goal is to build public appreciation for art while allowing government employees – as well as their family members – to strut their artistic stuff.

“I’ve seen the works in past years, and it’s very impressive,” ASC spokeswoman Krista Terrell said before Thursday’s judging. “A few people (enter) each year, and their work is really good.”

One frequent entrant is Derrick Brown, a retired city employee. Brown said his acrylic-and-water paintings have won numerous awards in previous years.

For this year’s competition, he entered two pieces – a painting of the late jazz musician Miles Davis and another of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson – but took home no ribbon this time. Brown said he especially likes painting entertainers.

“I really just paint whenever I feel like it,” he said. “I can wake up at four o’clock in the morning and feel like painting.”

About 123 artists entered more than 200 paintings, drawings, photographs and other forms of visual art in this year’s contest, said Terrell. Contestants ranged in age from grade-schoolers to adults.

The competition is part of a larger effort sponsored by the National Arts Program. It began in Philadelphia and has spread to 40 cities.

Lari, the amateur photographer who won Best in Show, said that last summer he set out to create some “very moody” photos depicting the despair felt by some teens today. He contacted an aspiring model and shot the youth in an abandoned gas station somewhere in Charlotte.

The image shows the model, dressed in a white T-shirt, high-top sneakers and cutoffs, sitting on a dirty concrete floor, surrounded by trash and debris.

Lari named the photo “A Quiet Place”

The gallery will be on display at the Government Center through Friday, Feb. 26.


Photo Below: Security Guard William Alexander (below) takes in a piece of artwork at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. (Photo: Qcitymetro.com)

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October 9, 2015
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