Voyage Raleigh Names Charlotte Russell a Rising Star

Voyage Raleigh

Local Stories

February 14, 2022


Rising Stars: Meet Charlotte Russell of Five Points

Today we’d like to introduce you to Charlotte Russell.

Hi Charlotte, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Having art collector parents shaped my fascination with art. My childhood was spent in museums and galleries in our hometown of San Francisco, CA as well as around the world. I always knew I wanted to work in the arts so I studied Art History at the University of Virginia, and received my Master’s in Exhibition Studies from SFAI (San Francisco Art Institute).

The idea for Charlotte Russell Contemporary was conceived over a decade ago. A gallery girl at one of the leading contemporary art galleries in San Francisco, I dreamed of a space much more community-focused than the traditional gallery format. I felt that the classic gallery structure lost the connection between artists and their audience.

My desire to create an inclusive art experience started while working at Creativity Explored, an art gallery and studio in San Francisco, CA for adults with developmental disabilities. My role was telling the stories of the artists and how art changed their lives. Art truly does have the power to change lives that is why creating an art platform for artists from all different backgrounds is essential.

With the aim to make art accessible and approachable to all through art exhibitions for all ages and abilities, I opened Charlotte Russell Contemporary in January 2021 in a pop-gallery space in the Village District. The success was immediate and I knew I needed to find a permanent space. I opened my gallery on Fairview Road in Five Points in September 2021.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Opening an art gallery during a global pandemic with four weeks’ notice was anything but smooth.

When I first opened in January 2021, people in Raleigh were just starting to feel somewhat OK going out in public. Our grand opening event only allowed a limited amount of people in the space at a time to ensure proper social distancing. It has been hard to get the word out about the gallery because organic traffic and foot traffic is just not there and I do not currently have the budget for a lot of paid marketing.

I also opened with four weeks’ notice without any staff. My only “help” was from my son- he was two years at the time- whose school shut down for two months right after I signed my pop-up lease. Wearing every hat of the business with a two-year-old always in tow, and virtual learning with my then 5-year-old daughter was as exhausting as it sounds! I now have two staff members that make it all much easier.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I own an art gallery in Raleigh, NC.

As a gallerist, I exhibit and promote contemporary artists’ work in my gallery and other venues through rotating curated exhibitions. I work primarily with female and/or underrepresented artists, but not exclusively. I am drawn to a process-driven, colorful artwork with an interesting story behind the pieces and the artists themselves.

I am most proud of seeing the impact that my exhibiting artists’ work has had on advancing the careers of my artists.

What sets me apart from other galleries in Raleigh is my focus on the art and the story behind it. When you come to Charlotte Russell Contemporary, you are not there to simply buy something to fill an empty space. You are there to learn and engage with art and the artist and if you connect with it, bring a piece of that experience home with you.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Success to me is defined as making meaningful connections with the artists and collectors I work with. Collecting art is about finding pieces that move you, and works of art that make you see things in a new light.

When I help someone find a piece they love or discover, or discover a new artist they have never heard of, then I know I have had a successful day.

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February 14, 2022