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Cabarrus Magazine

‘Dream In Color’ Exhibit, A Milestone for Local Painters

Jan 18, 2019 11:49AM ● By Jason Huddle
McCoy and Allen

Andell McCoy and Erin Allen became friends over 10 years working together at Stanly Community College. With different personalities, backgrounds etc., they found that they shared a love of art, and were both working on a lifelong dream of becoming a painter, in their spare time. Now their artworks hang side by side in their first-ever joint exhibition, ‘Dream in Color’ which is on view until Jan. 25, 2019 at the Main Gallery at ClearWater Artist Studios in Concord, NC. 

“We have different styles, temperaments and personalities… but we both love abstraction and letting color tell us where to go with the painting,” said McCoy.  Over the years, they’ve encouraged each other’s efforts, sharing opinions, notes on techniques and influences. Until recently, they only entered their paintings in the annual community college show, garnering awards over the years. Until this past fall, neither had ever exhibited her works in a public gallery.

When Andell McCoy approached Sarah Gay, Manager of ClearWater Artist Studios for the City of Concord, about a ‘guest artist’ show, they discussed sharing the experience.  Gay invited her to

consider a joint show. McCoy’s first and only thought was of Allen.  “I love her work, her commitment, and our sharing and support for each other over the years,” McCoy said.

Erin and Andell grew up in neighboring counties, and both enjoyed other careers before reconnecting with art.  After high school McCoy was accepted in UNC- Charlotte's Nursing School; upon arrival she decided that nursing was more of a dream for her mother and grandmother and she opted to pursue classes in the arts before transferring to UNC- Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism, receiving a BA in Radio/TV and Motion Pictures (now Communications) with a minor in Journalism.  She then moved to the Washington, D.C. area for a time at Howard University Law School before moving to Los Angeles. Through years of work in advertising, TV, real estate and education, McCoy wound up getting a Master’s Degree in Psychology with emphasis in Marriage, Family Therapy before returning to NC.

Allen also moved to the Washington D.C. area, working in a CPA firm, publishing, and the federal government while raising a family. Eventually she also returned to NC. Allen has maintained a steady career in education administration.

McCoy is gregarious and sometimes boisterous in manner; Allen, quietly cheerful and enthusiastic. Their different approaches to painting were evident in their Artist Talks at the Opening Reception of ‘Dream in Color, on Friday Nov. 2, 2018. Allen methodically presented several of her artist-influences, and then shared her own process in a carefully annotated slideshow; McCoy free-formed her talk, encouraging the audience to share their emotional responses to the art and their own connection with the creative process.  The audience of roughly 80 were enthusiastically attentive to both women.

Allen’s methodically intentional approach, McCoy says, is the opposite of her own.  “Erin plans a painting after being moved by a color, a shape; she stands back, looking at each painting over days, and reflects on where she wants to go with it before making each new addition.”  McCoy

said.  “I just let how I feel guide where I put the brush though I do pay attention to the balance of color; I work fast, being responsive and spontaneous, very present in the moment.” For both, the process is therapeutic. 

The beauty of their personal connection, and complimentary spirits is evident in the exhibition. The two styles help set off the power of each other’s work.  “Just like our friendship supports our mutual goals of returning to an art path,” says Allen.  “Why we had to wait until later in life to find our way back, we aren’t sure; but we are happy to have done it together, and we hope this will inspire others to allow ‘Dreaming in Color’ to free their artist’s spirit!”

The exhibition is on view at ClearWater Artist Studios through Friday, January 25.  Groups are welcome to schedule a visit with a guided tour.

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