Over the last decade, many familiar with Charlotte’s “arts district” of NoDa have watched helplessly as the neighborhood has turned into more of a bar district. The artistic presence has dwindled as art galleries and the artists who run them have been priced out of the neighborhood and new condos and restaurants have taken over.
Though the pace of development can be seemingly impossible to slow down, some longtime residents aren’t willing to let the neighborhood lose its character yet. That’s why two friends have partnered up to bring the service industry and arts community together for the inaugural Pig Wiggle, an all-day event at The Blind Pig that will feature live music, live painting and a dozen local vendors and merchants.
Justin Zalewski, bar manager at The Blind Pig (and also, for full disclosure, Queen City Nerve’s Tips From Last Night columnist), and Dustin Moates, co-founder of the Southern Tiger Collective, planned Pig Wiggle as a way to showcase the different things NoDa has to offer.
“Living in the neighborhood for the past 12 years, I’ve always known NoDa as being the art district, and there’s so much talent in the neighborhood,” Zalewski said. “Being a bartender and not really being in touch with my artistic side, I’ve always wanted to have some sort of event here to highlight local artists and vendors and merchants around the NoDa area.”
The event will run from noon on Saturday until the bar closes early the next morning, with events planned throughout the day. Vendors will set up in the morning, with live painting and live music kicking off at 2 p.m. Moates will be joined by fellow STC artists Mike Wirth, Aimah and John Bates, aka Cheeks, and while they spray paint their respective works, DJ Wawa will spin records accompanied by a drummer.
At 4 p.m., one-man-band Aarodynamics will perform, followed by soul rockers The Jay Mathey Band then DJ Boss Austin will spin until the lights flicker around 2 a.m.
For Moates, who met Zalewski about eight years ago when they were both working in the service industry, the event is a good way to connect the two cultures that define present-day NoDa.
“He’s been here, and I went on the arts route, but our relationship is still strong, and now Southern Tiger Collective is a part of Blind Pig and we’re able to build that family of NoDa,” said Moates, who recently celebrated STC’s first anniversary party at his studio further south down North Davidson Street. “Hopefully with us doing these shows, we only want more bars or venues or whatnot to be throwing events like this.”
Folks will get a good mix of the service industry and the arts — more like crafts — during one event at Pig Wiggle during which Maker’s Mark representatives will help attendees create custom-made rocks glasses by dipping them in the company’s signature red wax.
Those looking for other shopping opportunities will find vendors like Accelerate Clothing, Luna Lo Designs, Canvas Tattoo, Kure Vaporium, Philthy Beard Care Co., Four Dogs Pet Supplies and more.
“That’s NoDa, 100 percent: dogs and beards, paint and beer,” Moates said, laughing as Zalewski rattled off names of the vendors.
Like Moates, Zalewski hopes the Pig Wiggle will help kickstart more collaborative events that will keep the “arts” in “arts district,” and keep NoDa from losing the flavor that made it special.
“A friend of mine has a quote that he uses a lot: ‘Collaboration over competition,’” he said. “We want to make sure that everyone in this tight-knit family is together and we help one another out, but this is also an opportunity to showcase that to the rest of Charlotte. It’s a great opportunity to put NoDa on blast for the weekend and show how we do things around here.”