When Sybil Wornall Godwin first took over Shain Gallery in 2017, she’d already had more than a decade of art experience. After attending NC State University, she moved to Atlanta. There, she worked in various galleries until 2013, when she came to Charlotte. That prior experience has allowed her to help Shain Galley grow and prosper over the years. Now, it is one of the most renowned contemporary art galleries in the Southeast. But that doesn’t mean the work hasn’t come with its own set of challenges. Charlotte’s rapid growth has brought with it some rapid changes in its art scene. It has been up to Godwin and her team to navigate and embrace that change.
“The biggest change in the art scene in Charlotte recently has been all of the young artists and enthusiasts coming to the city,” says Godwin. “I spoke recently for the Charlotte Art Guild, which I have done in the past. This year, there was a huge rush of young and eager artists there.”
Some of the newer artists that Shain Gallery has started working with include Berkley Wooten, Vita Kobylkina, and Bess Whittington, all discovered from the Gallery’s Up and Coming Invitational.
Working with so many eager young artists has caused a shift in how Shain Gallery operates, particularly when it comes to the volume of art the team now works with.
“We are constantly changing the art,” notes Godwin. “Things will never look the same in the gallery for over a week. Ten years ago, when I first started working here, we would have shows hanging for over a month. Those days have come and gone.”
Because they sell art all over the world and work for individual clients, especially homeowners, Godwin’s team takes pride in what they focus on during the curation process.
“We do a good job here of listening to our clients and what they are looking for,” says Godwin. “That dictates a lot of what we do after that. It tells us what to take from our artists, and what to look for in new artists. We also listen to details like art sizes.”
Working this closely with clients has allowed the team to find homes for art made by newer artists much faster than used to be possible. It’s also allowed them to be strategic about what to sell and when. For example, they can focus on smaller pieces around the holidays for those clients who want to gift art.
Looking Ahead at Shain Gallery
As Shain Gallery continues to thrive, the team remains excited to continue working with talented artists. At the same time, they’ll make sure Shain Gallery stays a fun, lighthearted place to learn about contemporary art and visit with the family.
“So many parents come in here with their little ones and seem very stressed and apologetic that they are bringing them in,” says Godwin, who has practically raised her two daughters inside the Gallery. “I always say that we have seen it all. And if the artwork survived my children, it can survive theirs, as well.”