Carlos Espin Art collective facilitator
Art collective facilitator
The folks in the Optimist Park art collective known as Area 15 pride themselves on being a communal, nonhierarchical group where everyone shares and no one's opinion is more important than anyone else's. So Carlos Espin, fifty-two, refuses to give himself a neat little title for what he does there. Let's just say he's the guy who makes sure everything runs smoothly at the 23,000-square-foot warehouse that's home to a loose confederation of artists, small businesses, and do-gooder groups.
"We say that the building itself is an evolving piece of art that changes with the different people and groups that come through here. So I would say the future is whatever the people want it to be, wherever the people here take us."
"We think [the Charlotte art community] is too hierarchical, too conservative, too much fitting in to the same box. Not everyone needs to show their art at the same few galleries. There are too many committee meetings, too much talking. There needs to be more doing."
"I like to think of [Area 15] as a community of geniuses. Everyone has something to offer, and we all give what we can. We have a homeless artist, and what he does in exchange for his studio space is he sweeps up for us. We have another artist whose rent is $100 a month. We don't worry about the bottom line so much, and it ends up taking care of itself."
Big IdeaStack shipping containers in the grassy area beside the Area 15 warehouse and use them to house a coffee shop and other businesses that would operate entirely off the electrical grid, using alternative energy sources such as solar panels. He's working with Rich Deming (p. 56) on the project.