Revisiting “A Tribute to Carolina Artists”

July 16, 2020 / Blog
By Liz Rothaus Bertrand

In today’s blog, we are throwing it way back to 2016 and celebrating “A Tribute to Carolina Artists.” This original multimedia project debuted in May of that year and honors eight of the Carolinas’ most significant artists. It was created by local artists too.


The honorees were chosen from among more than 1,200 entries submitted by the public, and their likenesses were painted by individual artists on columns inside Spirit Square (345 N. College St.). These art installments are permanently displayed inside the lobby.


In addition, local spoken word artists wrote and performed original poetry to accompany each of the pieces. While we’re on this COVID-19 “intermission,” join us for a stroll through the lobby and this celebration of unique Carolina talents from yesterday and today.


Here’s a key to who’s who in the exhibition:


Honoree: Maya Angelou

The prolific author, poet and civil rights activist, called Winston-Salem home for nearly 30 years. Her notable works include “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and “On the Pulse of Morning.”


Visual art by: Raquel Gaiten

Poetry by: Starr Steward


Honoree: Romare Bearden

The renowned painter, author and songwriter was born in Charlotte and later spent summers here visiting his grandparents.


Visual art by: John Hairston, Jr.

Poetry by: Jay Ward


Honoree: James Brown

Born in Barnwell, SC, Brown is referred to as the “Godfather of Soul” and had hit singles with classic songs like “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “I Got You (I Feel Good).”


Visual art by: Nick Napoletano

Poetry by: Bluz


Honoree: Dizzy Gillespie

Born in Cheraw, SC in 1917, Gillespie was a celebrated jazz trumpeter, bandleader and composer.


Visual art by: Owl and Arko

Poetry by: Ed Mabrey


Honoree: Andy Griffith

Griffith put the state of North Carolina in the Hollywood spotlight with his hit television show “The Andy Griffith Show,” which was based in Griffith’s hometown of Mt. Airy, N.C., or “Mayberry.”


Visual art by: John Burgin

Poetry by: Edgar Savage


Honoree: Earl Scruggs

Scruggs was a legendary bluegrass musician from Shelby, NC, known for his three-finger banjo playing style and songs like his Grammy Award-winning “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.”


Visual art by: Joe Dobson

Poetry by: Freddie Morgan


Honoree: Nina Simone

The acclaimed singer, songwriter and civil rights activist was born in Tryon, NC.


Visual art by: Matt Moore

Poetry by: Carlos Robson


Honoree: James Taylor

The singer-songwriter, who grew up in Chapel Hill, NC has won five Grammy Awards and his song “Carolina in my Mind” has become the state’s unofficial anthem.


Visual art by: Matt Hooker

Poetry by: Greylan Counts