Monday, February 1, 2010
What Should You Do When You Go to NoDa?
I used to think the NoDa historic arts district in Charlotte was like a mysterious territory, an intersection with four streets of galleries, restaurants and whatnot. I still find it kind of mysterious, but have learned my way around some of the blocks, and am happy to pass on what I've learned. So for anyone interested in venturing over there for a Saturday afternoon outing with your dog, a date with your spouse, or a casual weekend stop at the Friday Night gallery crawl, here are some highlights of NoDa to orient your visit.
The first thing you might notice is the large building with the purple wall (see photo), which becomes a bright green wall a little farther down the road. This is at the corner of 36th and North Davidson (hence, NoDa). The purple building is the excellent boutique called The Boulevard. It's stocked with a variety of interesting items. You can browse hand-made jewelry, scarves, clothing, and accessories, as well as nice pet dishes, and whatnot! After that, stroll a few feet down the sidewalk and walk right into the next door you see at the Lark & Key, a cool and moody gallery. Back on the street, keep going just a few feet farther down the sidewalk to the green wall, enter the next door and go right into the Green Rice Gallery. (If I haven't mentioned it in the last 5 minutes, my artwork is there! There's a juried show opening Feb 5th, opens at 6, awards at 8 p.m. It's a NC/SC show, featuring 50 pieces; they asked the artists to write a paragraph explaining their inspiration for their piece, should be interesting)
Back on the street, well, across the street you will spot a dark little place with the name painted in graffiti, The Rat's Nest. I haven't actually been there yet, but I always stare at it and wonder. If you go there (tell me about it sometime), and then go up the street back toward the purple building intersection; on the right you'll see the awesome Evening Muse. It's an atmospheric little music place that features great bands and performers. There's usually a small crowd of people on the sidewalk listening at the door, because a) there's a cover, and b) it's usually sold out. If you accidentally walk in, like we have, the bouncers will step in front of you and politely let you know that it's full. And you can go stand outside in the crowd or keep walking.
Around the corner to the right, hmm, Salvador Deli, will make you any kind of sandwich you can think of. Sometimes they have bands outside, and you see people from college kids sitting on picnic tables, to little kids with their parents dancing in front of the bands, very pleasant there. Sometimes you find local artists selling from tables on the street near here, and they are pleasant to talk with and to buy from, plus you can find bargains. There's also a Wine Bar and a Taco Restaurant that are popular. I heard that the taco place was on the food channel once in a story about offbeat places. And down one of these streets, I think it's this one, you'll find the Center of the Earth Gallery, which has contemporary landscapes, sculpture, and pottery.
Now for you and your dog, up the other way, past the intersection, there's a place, I think it's called the Dog Bar. Dogs and owners are inside and outside there. I'm not sure, but I think they offer dog bones and treats, among other things. If you're not a dog person, try the Smelly Cat Cafe (named after the song from Friends, and decorated in the style of Friends.) They have snacks and such. And there's a nice bakery around (I'm not sure where) called Amelie's, I've heard great things about it.
Other than than, you'll see the Neighborhood Theatre (which offers venue to big names like Leon Russell/ I read somewhere that it might be closing, but I think the NoDa area is rallying to keep it there) and you'll see some busy railroad tracks which you need to watch out for at the edge of the district. I think AmTrak goes right through the area, frequently, lots of RR lights and warnings. And there's a whole different artist area back off of 36th St., called the Arthouse. I've been there, know some of the people, and recommend a visit. You'll think you're driving into a quiet deadend street if you follow the sign to the Arthouse, but proceed anyway; they have busy crawls you will see once you're in the building/warehouse there. The people are nice and the art is great.. You can walk throughout the main NoDa area, but the Arthouse is a short drive away.
Then back onto Tryon St. you can drive left to downtown or right to University City.That's about all I know at this point about NoDa. Check it out this winter and spring.
Photo Courtesy of Blue Wheel Photography + Design