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CREATIVE COMMUNITY: encore and Coworx present art show featuring The Cargo District talent

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encore photographer Tom Dorgan captured Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Reel at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater in 2018.


It will be two years this fall since encore moved into Coworx at The Cargo District and became part of a growing culture that includes various businesses rallying to form a creative community. The district houses a barbershop, a branding company, an interior designer, a philanthropic retail space, real-estate agents, a soon-to-open coffee shop and more. Now that new private offices have opened at 1608 Queen Street, it will evolve greater. As part of its growth, encore and Coworx will host its latest art show “Uncontained,” on July 19, 6-9:30 p.m.

“Uncontained” is much as its name implies: No restraints have been put on this show other than the fact all artists participating live or work within The Cargo District. More than 30 works will feature a multitude of genres: illustration from Ebbing + Branding artists Jud Lively, Matt Ebbing, Rubens Scarelli and Matthew Flemming; pottery from Matt Ebbing of Ebbing + Branding; mixed-media from both Grace Brookshire of Half United and Caroline Heck of Sherry Black Designs; photography from Tom Dorgan of encore; Cargo District resident Audrey Keene’s pen and inks and watercolors; and spray paint on glass by Tres Altman of Barnacle Parking Enforcement.

“It’s a good representation of our community members,” Coworx community manager Ashley Arnold says. “They are all uniquely different and creative in their own way, but as a whole create something magical.”

Ebbing + Branding

Digital Illustration

Matt Ebbing, founder of Ebbing + Branding, worked at creative agencies worldwide from Oregon to New Zealand before founding his own company in The Cargo District. A graduate in graphic design from the University of Illinois, he taught art direction at the University of Colorado and credits the experience, along with being in the throes of working in the agency world, as stepping stones to his success. “That’s what really brought shape to my experience and skillset,” Ebbing tells.

Ebbing + Branding works with numerous clients, but has a focus on developing and marketing craft-centric food and beverage companies. It’s a passion Ebbing says must start first with a compelling story to help illuminate a vivid and evocative style and tone. “The best branding work is positioned to win hearts first, minds second,” he says. He points to a large format piece of artwork his company designed for Cosmic Journey Hazy IPA by Funky Buddha Brewery.

“The brewery told us how the flavors would swirl and linger amid a super soft mouthfeel,” Ebbing details, “giving it the name ‘Cosmic Journey.’ . . . The story in the artwork is an astronaut being sucked into a psychedelic cosmic vortex, surrounded by massive hops (to help communicate flavor) and pop-culture references from the ‘80s and ‘90s. [The] scene is beyond the construct of time—and offers a fun journey back to the hey-day of NASA shuttle missions. The objects and even part of the astronaut are melting as they swirl–emphasizing the imaginative sci-fi aspect of the story that really … sucks you in.”

Bright and detailed, every line was carefully inked by Brazilian artist Rubens Scarelli, while Ebbing’s group worked through its final color iterations and did the layout for the beer cans and 6-packs. Newcomer to the company Kelsey Lineberger graduated with a double major from ECU in graphic design and pottery. Though her work will be seen as well in the Ebbing art, she also will have her pottery on display at the show.

Kelsey Lineberger


A full-time graphic designer by day and potter by night, Kelsey Lineberger’s pottery comes from various degrees of inspiration, mostly influenced by nature: trees, water, sunsets. “There are textures and patterns around us everyday and I do my best to capture small elements of these within my pieces,” she says. Color and movement come from her watercolor finishes. She hopes to evoke the artist’s process, which can be seen in final touches of brushstrokes, fingerprints and organic forms she carefully rolls out, cuts, molds and fires in the kiln.

“I hand-paint everything with a thin layer of 22-karat gold and place it back in the kiln for a third and final firing,” Lineberger says. “If this process is done quickly, it would take anywhere from a week to a week-and-a-half to have a completed batch of work. The final pieces are handcrafted porcelain fired to cone six, food safe, and accented with gold. I love gold.”

Caroline Heck

Digital, painting

While it’s Lineberger’s first show in her recent move to ILM, “Uncontained” is mixed-media artist Caroline Heck’s third. Heck has hung an abstract piece at Cameron Art Museum and was involved in other exhibitions at UNCW, from where she graduated. Her love affair with art began in high school, wherein she took as many classes as possible.

“By the time I got to college to pursue a degree in business, I found myself falling in love with all the classes in the art history program,” she tells. Her art history degree comes to good use as an interior design project manager for Sherry Black. But her love light really illuminates when she’s putting ideas to canvas … or in this day and age, computer screens.

encore and Coworx is presenting its summertime art show, “Uncontained,” this Friday night with an artists’ reception, featuring seven artists from the Cargo District businesses, including (clockwise, back, left to right) Grace Brookshire of Half United, Tom Dorgan of encore, Caroline Heck of Sherry Black Designs, and Matt Ebbing of Ebbing + Branding.  Artist photo by Shea Carver

“I have found myself incorporating a lot of famous works into digital pieces,” Heck tells. While she’s painted for as long as she can recall, when in college she often would take her sketchbook to lectures and found herself in the scope of eye rolls from professors. So she brought her laptop, and rather than take notes in their classes, she began creating digital art.

“My process revolves around my own response to certain art pieces or movements,” Heck says. “When I am researching a painting or a movement, I become so inspired and tend to create art reflecting on what I am studying.”

One of her recent pieces, “St. Victoria,” comes from the inspiration of Cezanne’s piece of Mount St. Victoria. “I started off a composition with the background being a replication of one of Paul Cezanne’s most famous paintings and then decided to bring it into the modern era with the geometric forms,” Heck tells. “The shapes are a link into the Cubist movement, which has been accredited to the work of Cezanne.”

Bridging the past with the present is part of what Heck loves most about the freedom of creating. She is paying homage to where art began, while also guiding it toward its future through new techniques. “Digital art has such a strong presence in our generation,” she says. “It’s fun to speculate about how technology is going to change art in the future.”

Tom Dorgan


Photography is one medium that went through quite a modification when the digital revolution took hold. Film development became passe in the early aughts as digital cameras became de rigueur. When Tom Dorgan moved to ILM in 2003, he was attending live concerts at venues like Soapbox and Marzz, and because of the popularity of online ticket sales, most of the time he didn’t getting a ticket stub as a souvenir—something he enjoyed collecting throughout the years. So he began taking his first digital camera with him to shows to capture the memories instead. The practice led to a growing passion for concert photography, something he taught himself how to do via trial and error.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” Dorgan admits. “I didn’t know anything about the fundamentals of photography or using more advanced settings on the camera.”

He took an online class through UNC-Chapel Hill to force himself to learn new techniques. Along the way, he also learned a lot about the basics of photography. “I’m at a point now where I feel comfortable enough with both and I’m able to push my creative side a bit more,” he says. “This creative side is also a part of my post processing and editing pictures.”

He takes photos for encore of almost all shows that come through Wilmington, not to mention ones that tour outside of the area—from Charlotte to Charleston to Tennessee and beyond. Snoop Dog, Phish, Grace Potter, Gary Clark Jr. are among a handful of artists in his vast collection. Yet, his faves are the Nelson boys who tour through town frequently with their band Promise of the Reel.

“With the Lukas Nelson pictures, it was the second time I had the chance to shoot him,” Dorgan says. “I felt like I was better prepared and knew what to expect from where I wanted to be. As he came on stage, I noticed the rhinestones he had on his face and wanted to get a good portrait shot. It’s the little things I try to find that make this experience different from previous ones and I try to capture it.”

Though Dorgan has to roll with the punches, he’s become better suited on his feet to get a good action shot; after all, he can’t dictate what the band’s going to do onstage. He does try and prepare, however, by checking out the pictures and videos of shows from their current tour. “[I try] to get an idea of the layout of the band, so I know where I want to position myself,” he tells. “At most of the shows, I get the first three songs to take pictures. I always try to have a game plan going in so I’m not wasting time once the band hits the stage.”

Grace Brookshire

Pen and inks, painting

Another self-taught artist, Grace Brookshire of Half United will show her pen-and-inks, acrylics, pastels and watercolors. Brookshire’s love of art grew in youth during family vacations in the mountains. Her father would bring pastels so they could create together. “It has always been a way for me to connect with nature,” Brookshire says.

In college, rock-climber and illustrator Jeremy Collins caught Brookshire’s attention. She began doodling a few of his works during down time. “He commented on one once and shared a few tips for improvement,” she details. “It was really special and probably played a big role in propelling me toward my current style.”

The intricate details of Brookshire’s pieces help depict a larger story, sometimes one she has decided to tell ahead of time. Other times, she seeks the story from the imagery, which almost always comes from nature. “It’s like the lines jump out at me … I have to put them on paper,” she says.

For “Uncontained” Brookshire has done a series focused on a surfer theme—something common within her work. The series touches on the idea of fingerprints—more so that longboarding is woven into a person’s DNA. “The idea came from simply noticing how the lines of a fingerprint resemble the movement, or lines, in a wave,”Brookshire says.

It’s fitting, too, seeing as some works from this Friday’s show will be a part of a silent auction to benefit Surfrider Foundation; the highest bidders will score works for their collection. All monies will benefit the local chapter of Surfrider, which protects and preserves our oceans and beaches.

“Art is a passion for me, not necessarily a career,” Brookshire says. “My long-term plan would be to continue creating art in a way that spreads love and fosters community.”

“Uncontained” will do just that, with free beer from Waterline, wine from Mon Ame and snacks from Pine Valley Market. DJs from Gravity Records will spin the tunes. It’s free and open to the public, with most artist work’s for sale.

July 19, 6-9:30pm
Art show from Coworx members
The Cargo District, 1608 Queen St.
Free beer from Waterline, wine from Mon Ame Chocolate & Wine Bar, and snacks from Pine Valley Market
Silent auction to benefit Surfrider Foundation
Tunes from Gravity Records

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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