My North Carolina Journey: Part 3 At Home Gallery / by Bethany Handfield

As anyone who reads my blog or newsletter knows, one of the places I was extremely excited about visiting on this trip was Michael Smith's At Home Gallery in Greensboro.

I had been following one of his featured artists, Dan Casado, on Facebook for many years and couldn't believe my luck at being about to see some of his work in person. I had been stocking the At Home website for months leading up to the trip.

I have to tell you the reality went way beyond the imagined and I could have moved right in. First of all, the gallery is literally right in Mike's home. Mike has the most impressive collection of folk and self-taught art I have seen in one place.

It was an immersive experience and I wanted to take everything home with me. Art covers every surface and is in every room. He is an accomplished photographer and has been covering this scene for many years through his own artistic journey documenting the artists and their world.

(Benny Carter New York - Sisi & Frank McGuigan - photo in artist's decorated frame R.A. Miller + other artists)

(Benny Carter New York - Sisi & Frank McGuigan - photo in artist's decorated frame R.A. Miller + other artists)

(Large face Black Birds - Julia Sisi --- Next to it are Howard Finster  & Kathryn Demarco Cat- Three figures Matt Sesow - Carl McKenzie Statue of Liberty & Philip Long Metal Man - William Pumphrey Japanese Battleship)

(Large face Black Birds - Julia Sisi --- Next to it are Howard Finster  & Kathryn Demarco Cat- Three figures Matt Sesow - Carl McKenzie Statue of Liberty & Philip Long Metal Man - William Pumphrey Japanese Battleship)

Mike is a charming raconteur and my mom and I could have listened to his stories all day long. I really hope that he makes a documentary of his experiences in the world of folk and self-taught art as it is a rich history and one he is steeped in through his personal connections and deep love of the subject. We could have listened for hours more.

Though I came for a Casado I ended up going home with two by Julia Sisi - who is Dan's wife!

Though I came for a Casado I ended up going home with two by Julia Sisi - who is Dan's wife!

If you are ever in Greensboro, do yourself a huge favor and stop in to see Mike and the amazing At Home Gallery.

I am so happy that there are champions like him in the world who see the value and artistry in works like these and also acts as an advocate for the artists. Helping them get their work into the world, be seen by other galleries, and get fair prices too. It is visionaries like Smith who through curating these works keep them from slipping away into obscurity and how wonderful for that.

This kind of expression touches me to the core and I am so happy to have had a chance to visit and see all of the magic in person. Fingers crossed that I get to go back soon.

Don't forget to stop off for some hush puppies and a bbq sandwich at Stamey's. I will have dreams about those hush puppies for a long time to come ;)