Getting RAW with AWAKENING

Published Fri, Feb 07, 2014 01:57 PM
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Submitted by Melissa Howsam — Correspondent

Kicking of the 2014 season with record-breaking attendance at its AWAKENING show, indie arts org (for artists, by artists) RAW Raleigh brought a myriad of talented local artists center stage at Lincoln Theatre Thursday night.

RAW, operating in close to 60 cities, hand-selects 30 of the hottest up-and-coming local creatives — art, fashion, music, film, performing art, hair and makeup, and photography — monthly to showcase in a hip, chic (cocktail attire, y'all) and collaborative event to fulfill their MO of connecting and giving some much-deserved exposure to these artists and to “inspire and cultivate creativity” in the community, according to their website.

“Many of the success stories you hear about creatives getting their big break usually involve being seen by the right people,” RAW Raleigh Director Tomris McDaniel says of the org’s concept. “By providing up-and-coming local artists with the tools, resources and exposure to cultivate creativity, we hope to bring our artists the opportunities to take their talent to the next level, and highlight the creative talent that our city has to offer.”

Here’s a bird’s-eye view of some of artists who caught our attention:


Artist? Omar Cummings

The “it” factor? “From imagination… to reality,” Manifestationz founder/artist Cummings brings custom art services (framed originals, photog, prints, murals via a variety of visual artists, including Cummings) at its new gallery and studio location in Olde Cary Commons. Catch Manifestationz live painting act every Saturday at UnWine’d. He prefs acrylics and mixed media as his “mediums of choice.”

Cummings’ RAW take: “Art as a conduit for change in communities through creative innovation.” - statement via


Artist? Monique Cleveland

The “it” factor? A painter by craft who plays mostly in acrylics, the NC State Art and Design grad is also an aspiring children’s book author. Her Awakening acrylics showcase is part of a collection themed “Going Natural” focused on African-American women.

Inspired by? “The strength that comes from the experience of the woman, mostly African American women, inspire me to showcase the complexities of figures, complexions, hair, and styles. Finding a way celebrate these elements to tell a story and inflict an emotion, inspire me to create.” - statement via

Kimberly Void

Artist? Kimberly Void

The “it” factor? “The dark arts of Kimberly Void,” think relatively achromatic drawings (blacks, faints of red or yellow or blue) that make the sinister poetic. “There is a place inside my mind, it's very shaded. They all live there. I just bring them to life.” - from her Facebook page

Inspired by? “The things that inspire me are my own personal monsters in my life. Anxiety being the number one thing to bring on all of my ideas.”- statement via


Artist? Mitch Paul Yelver

The “it” factor? Drawings that make you feel, from a glowing technique to an achromatic portion of a face. And for good reason: “I have a simple giant mind: This is therapy for me. Drawing is like ironing out wrinkles in the stuff in my life that just doesn't make since.”

Dink’s Art & Blunt Street Graphics

Artist? Shawn “Dink” Densmore

The “it” factor? “Living the dream,” the jack of all arts, Dink, in addition to selling original art, also designs for murals, logos, tees, promo posters and marketing campaigns. He’s assisting in a North Carolina Museum of Art rock carving class and recently designed murals for a couple downtown Raleigh watering holes. Via drawing, painting and sketching, Dink’s a fan of gouache, acrylic, pencil, oil, chalks and more. “I especially love painting the Raleigh skylines and the city's landmarks.” - statement via

Tomris’ take: “Our artists left the show buzzing with excitement and eager to build upon the momentum created from the RAW Raleigh experience,” McDaniel said after the show. “It's all about our artists, so it's such a joy to hear some of their success stories at the end of the night: from being commissioned for new pieces, to almost selling out of pieces, and of course all of the connections they make for future networking opportunities.”

Be sure to hit up RAW’s next show, SPECTRUM, in April.

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