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MoNA gallery explodes 'local art' myth 

NoDa space carries curated, complex pieces

A love affair with texture, layers and contrast is taking place in a revamped industrial warehouse on Brevard Street known as the X Foundation. In the midst of artist studios, and filled with a lovingly curated collection of artworks, sits a lone commercial space known as MoNA gallery NoDA. The art on display fits the space with aesthetic perfection; paintings rife in texture adhere to the building's gray, white and black color scheme.

Owner Dan Butner started thinking seriously about owning a commercial art gallery 10 years ago in Winston-Salem, when he began to sell his own work. He eventually landed in Charlotte and opened MoNA Gallery in Plaza Midwood, making local art a priority. After a short stint in that area, Butner moved into the available front corner room in the X Foundation building, owned by artists Ruth Ava Lyons and Paul Sires.

MoNA feels somewhat more daring and unconventional than commercial gallery spaces tend to be in Charlotte. Its inventory — 80 percent of which is locally sourced — eradicates the connotation of "local art" as lacking skill or substance, and the works are both priced and curated with the art enthusiast and collector in mind, as opposed to designers or decorators.

The owner makes his own artistic preferences a priority when choosing who to represent. "To me, texture, depth and layering symbolize passage of time and the complexity found in humans," Butner reveals. "This is why I'm drawn to their work." Following a straightforward, non-market-related guideline like this is a tough model for success, but Butner should have no reason for concern: This is a very well-curated space with a varied, comprehensive inventory.

What's new for the gallery in May: Mdetal Bound by Asheville artist Andrew Hayes, whose distorted books bound in metal are sculptural showpieces; works by portrait photographer Nir Arieli; and more. Based on these promising shows, we can continue to expect great things from this little warehouse on Brevard Street.

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