From left: Murray Parker, Elaine Connors, Lambeth Marshall, Sherry O’Neill, Bre Crowell, Sally Mamer Brown and Dagmar Hollmers
The artists of abstract fabulous unite over a shared passion
story and photographs by Daniel Coston
Charlotte’s roster of regionally and nationally recognized artists has grown in recent years. Many work independently, establishing their own circuit of galleries and clients. In the southern end of Mecklenburg County, a small group of such artists and friends have come together to push their work even further.
“Like a family,” is how artist Sally Brown describes the group, which goes by the name Abstract Fabulous. “We all work independently but support one another,” sharing techniques, encouragement and ideas at semi-regular meetings at each other’s homes.
The group came together seven years ago following a conversation between Brown and fellow artist Sherry O’Neill. “She was telling me about a group that she had been a part of when she lived in Florida,” Brown says. “It sounded like fun, so I reached out to several artists that I thought would enjoy it.”
Brown contacted her friends Lambeth Marshall and Daggi Hollmers, then she invited Elaine Connors and Bre Barnett Crowell. Later, Marshall suggested Murray Parker.
“The group grew as we met other abstract artists,” Marshall says.
Scrolling through the group’s website, abstractfabulous.com, what becomes evident is a friendship and a shared love of the creative process. “Art That Resonates” is the group’s tagline. Each artist brings to the group her own unique background. Hollmers grew up in Germany and worked for many years in New York before moving to Charlotte. Parker is a third-generation artist who grew up in the Carolinas. O’Neill has exhibited her works in numerous galleries in North Carolina and Florida and is a member of the National Association of Women Artists. Marshall, an art instructor at Queens University, and Crowell are North Carolina natives.
“I am thrilled to see the growing movement in abstract art in the area,” O’Neill says, noting that Charlotte’s gallery scene now rivals others across the U.S.
“With the influx of California and New York people being transferred [to Charlotte], there is more interest in fine abstract art and respect for it now,” concurs Marshall. “Abstract or contemporary art challenges the viewer’s mind and draws one into it with color, texture, contrast, mark-making and interest. It is not just a perfect picture, like a photograph,” she explains.
“We have the best of all worlds,” Brown adds. “We are seeing the world of art growing and transitioning. We have world recognition and aggressive galleries. It’s every artist’s dream.”
On a recent Friday afternoon, the group came together for an informal meeting, and everyone brought a covered dish or snack. Along with discussing plans for upcoming shows, the artists shared their recent works with the group. Some were completed projects, while others were works in progress. Words of encouragement and conversation flowed throughout the day.
Along with the at-home gatherings and field trips to meet with other artists, the group has begun organizing exhibitions of their works throughout the Carolinas. This includes a November show at the O’Brien Gallery in Greensboro, and a 2022 exhibition at the Four Corners Framing Gallery in Mooresville.
“The nicest part of our group is our relationships with each other,” says Brown, who adds that the group intends to remain small to preserve that tight-knit sense of community. “All of us come from different backgrounds, cultures, interests, educations and learning experiences. We share our techniques. We solve creative problems together.” SP
Featured photo: From left, Murray Parker, Elaine Connors, Lambeth Marshall, Sherry O’Neill, Bre Crowell, Sally Mamer Brown and Dagmar Hollmers