By Caroline Makepeace | March 14, 2022 | Sponsored by Charlotte Russell Contemporary Art Gallery
I am excited to share with you the work of King Nobuyoshi Godwin, on display this month in a solo exhibition at the Charlotte Russell Contemporary Art Gallery in Five Points. (Details below)
I first discovered King’s artwork hanging on the walls of Hartwell House, an event space in Downtown Raleigh. It was a pop-up exhibition presented by the Charlotte Russell Contemporary Fine Art Art Gallery.
My 10-year-old daughter Savannah and I walked over from across the room to peer a little deeper and were enamored to discover a painting created, not from dots like we first thought, but from a series of repeated numbers. It’s his unique artistic signature. King was diagnosed with autism when he was two and a half. Painting by numbers and colors to describe the complexity of his feelings was something he discovered many years later.
Eight years ago, King chose to pursue art as he did not want to be trapped in a job or career that others chose for him. Not long after he started painting, his artist mother, Yuko, offered wise advice, “art is about putting into the canvas how you feel.” King immediately picked up the brush and began to overlay the canvas with numbers and colors that described how he was feeling. Yuko was astounded to see how her son was interpreting emotions in a world with limited vocabulary to do so.
Since then, she has recorded his complex number and color system in a chart to help discover the patterns of the connected feelings. It’s been a journey that has not only given King independence and a career he loves, but has helped King’s parents to experience more of their son’s personality and understand his perspective better.
Once you learn the story of King’s paintings, you can’t help but stare longer and deeper to see what you can discover and feel from them. It was only a few short weeks later I found myself inside Charlotte Russell’s newly opened contemporary gallery in the quirky Five Points district learning about her story. Her gallery adds to the laid-back, yet refined personality of this area north of downtown Raleigh, where five different neighborhoods meet.
After a gallery visit, you can pop over the road for a drink at the local’s favorite, Crafty, or enjoy a slice of the world’s largest mouth-watering cake at Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery. Or, why not do brunch first at NOFO @ the Pig? In Five Points, you have so excellent options!
The Charlotte Russell gallery is a warm space that invites you to engage with the art on exhibit. With her focus on contemporary art, you can expect bright splashes of color and abstract forms that brightens any wall with a story to tell.
Charlotte deepens your connection to the pieces by focusing on sharing the story behind the art and the artists, most of who are local to North Carolina. Exhibitions are rotated in the gallery every 4-6 weeks and the artist’s work can be purchased in the gallery or via her online store.
When Charlotte moved to Raleigh four years ago, she immediately noticed that there were surprisingly few art galleries in Raleigh that focus on non-traditional work and contemporary artists. So, in the keeping of Raleigh’s entrepreneurial spirit, she went to work creating it. First with a pop-up space in the Village District that was embraced by the locals. Her success demonstrated a permanent space was needed, and so in late September 2021, Charlotte found the perfect gallery on Fairview Road, Five Points. Charlotte’s mission is to give a voice to underrepresented and emerging artists through rotating exhibitions in her gallery.
HOW DOES CHARLOTTE KNOW WHAT MAKES A PIECE OF ART STAND OUT?
Charlotte’s fascination with art started as a young girl with her art collector parents.
Much of her childhood was spent exploring museums and galleries, especially on family vacations to Europe.It was a natural path then for her to create a career in art. She holds a B.A. in Art History from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in Exhibition and Museum Studies from the San Francisco Art Institute as well as being trained in ISA Appraisal Methodology.
Her eye for art has further sharpened with over 13 years in arts administration, working numerous art jobs including auction houses, galleries, and nonprofits. She sits on various art boards including the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco, Triangle ArtWorks, and is a member of the Art Society at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh.
King Nobuyoshi Godwin is one of those emerging artists native to Raleigh that Charlotte is an avid supporter of. His story and art has always been popular with those who frequent her gallery, and so Charlotte his thrilled to be sharing his work in a solo exhibition running now until April 6, 2022.
Before opening this exhibition in Charlotte Russell Gallery, King had exhibits in both New York City and Austin, proving he is definitely an artist on the move. His work has also been featured in galleries and museums like the North Carolina Museum of Art and the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC. In 2021, Raleigh Magazine named Godwin one of the “The New Influentials 20 people in their 20’s”. His life success doesn’t begin and end on the canvas. King is also a proud team member of the Special Olympic Raleigh Racer Swimmers and a performing member of Special Japanese Taiko-Drum ensemble.
We met with King and his mother Yuko Taylor, and father Thomas Taylor, at the opening reception for his exhibition at the Five Points gallery. I found King to be as delightful as his paintings. While he was limited in conversation, he was abundant with smiles and gratitude. He radiated the same vibrant joy that can be felt through his artwork. I loved learning more about King through his mother, Yuko, whose eyes lit up as she talked about her son’s successful journey into art.King typically paints animals and plants, adding rich texture and depth through his painted numbers, which cover every inch of the canvas.
Purple and yellow are the happiest colors, orange is positive, and red is the least favorite. He uses the numbers 11, 15, 71 and 99 a lot and are often good. 07 is bad. Be careful not to confuse it with 77 repeated on his paintings, as 77 is a good feeling.
You can see a diversified collection of his work on display in the gallery. They range from giant canvases to smaller framed prints, all as fascinating and as interesting as each other. King’s father, Thomas, helped me see how the light changed each painting when looking at it from different angles.
These are details King thinks carefully about when creating his paintings. It was while crouching down to look up at the painting, “The Wild Birds Are Having A Great Day Because They Are With The Sharks “66” that I could more easily see the glow of King’s signature ‘Nobuyoshi’ weaved into the numbers on the bird’s mouth. In another painting, ‘The Bearded Monkey Is Having A Great Day Because It’s With The Leaves “33′ ‘ his signature was easy to see in the top left corner of the painting, but this time the K for King was written inside a crown.
King is now turning some of his paintings into wooden sculptures. On display in the window is a painted wooden chair, The Chair Is Having A Good Day Because Its With The Goat, 2021.
And in the middle of the gallery sits another painted sculpture, which is probably my favorite, called, “The Ice Cream Is Having A Good Day Because It’s With The Banana” Banana and ice cream is one of my favorite combinations so I totally felt the joy of that Good Day Vibe.
I think any day spent looking at King’s work is a Good Day Vibe.
Here is what King has to say about painting, “I have autism. I speak a little. I paint because it is my job and it feels good. I like to paint what I care about and what I love. I like to paint animals and leaves because they are my friends. They speak to me, they feel me, they are sweet. . . I paint sweet love. I believe that all of my loves to be together. That is a very good thing. I want to be a part of it too. I connect with them in my own way. I put colors and numbers to speak my mind. That is a wonderful thing.”
King is really proving that life doesn’t have to be limited by disability.
I’m so grateful, I have gotten to know him and his work through Charlotte Russell’s gallery and passion for giving voices for those local artists creating beautiful contemporary art.
CHARLOTTE RUSSELL GALLERY INFORMATION
- Address: 2012 A Fairview Road, Raleigh
- Hours: Wednesday – Saturday from 11 – 4 pm, by appointment
- Website: charlotterussellcontemporary.com
- Instagram: @CharlotteRussellContemporary
- Parking: There is a shared parking lot with 5 spaces available located between Nofo and Tao Day Spa with 1 handicapped space. Street parking is also free.