Midtown Raleigh News

Energetic Raleigh art staple sets sights on Wake Forest

Hang out in the Raleigh arts scene for a while, and odds are good you’ll run into Tamar Harris Warren.

She’s superintendent of the art show at the State Fair, she’s curator of corporate collections at Flanders Gallery in the Warehouse District, and since 2003, she has worked at more than half a dozen galleries and museums downtown.

Now she’s set her sights to the north, opening a contemporary visual art gallery in downtown Wake Forest.

The last time Warren opened a gallery, it was in downtown Raleigh – in 2007. The M.Street Gallery teetered through the recession and closed its doors in mid-2009.

Warren’s new Harris Warren Gallery will alternate between featured artist exhibits, such as the Carol Joy Shannon show this month, and shows of the artists Warren represents.

Staff writer Chelsea Kellner spoke to Warren last week about the ins and outs of opening her own gallery and how she made it in the art world. Responses have been edited for length.

Q: What is Wake Forest like as an art town so far?

I think we’re just starting to really embrace it. It has a nice small town feeling, and a small-town relationship with the community that’s very appealing to artists and to people who visit the town. I serve on the town’s Public Art Commission – we just had a call for artists, and we had people from all over the state applying. It’s appealing, and not just necessarily in North Carolina, either.

Q: How hard has it been making it in the art world?

That’s a question I get asked a lot talking to students at Meredith (College, where Warren has worked in numerous capacities). I think you have to make the most of it. I’ve never really turned down an opportunity, and I work a lot. I’m here, there and everywhere, it seems. That sometimes is the way to do it, the way to make it work. You may not find your dream job in the art world, but you can find lots of jobs in the art world that will suffice your hunger for art.

Q: What did you learn from your past experience running a gallery that you’ll bring to this one?

In my former gallery, we had 12 exhibitions a year. They were very cutting-edge exhibitions, which is the climate in Raleigh. In Wake Forest, the art climate is a little different. In Raleigh, you have numerous galleries, so you spend a lot of time trying to really get attention. The pressure is on. In Wake Forest, I could change that focus. I will still have stellar exhibitions, but the amount of pressure is different.

Q: What’s your first show?

My first exhibit is Carol Joy Shannon, who does abstracts of cityscapes. The show is titled “Crossroads,” which I thought fitting both because her work has changed style a little bit, and also because I’m at a crossroads too, starting another gallery.