Swych and Brian Michelotti

Picnic Table Pop

Local artists decorate the dining area in Ballantyne’s Backyard

By Jodi Werner Greenwald | Photo by Shrimp & Grisettes

Over the summer, Northwood Office commissioned artists Brian Michelotti and Swych to paint nature scenes on picnic tables in Ballantyne’s Backyard. The arrangement was part of Northwood’s new CREATE Ballantyne program and its partnership with ArtPop Street Gallery.

Over a few days, Brian and Swych battled record-breaking temperatures to adorn the tables with birds, flowers and underwater scenes. Their work now brightens the outdoor dining area in one of Charlotte’s newest parks.

Here, the artists share their creative processes.

Tell us about the assignment and your interpretation.

Brian: The assignment was to create family-friendly representations of local flora and fauna. I saw this as a chance to create images of the creatures and nature I grew up around (in Winston-Salem). It was a nice reminder of where I came from.

Swych: We each picked a few different flowers, birds and environments, and I painted (mine) in my style with bold, bright colors.

Any takeaways on the materials used?

Swych: I’ve used spray paint as my main medium before, but working on that size was tricky but fun and a good learning process.

Brian: I encountered things I hadn’t seen before using spray paint. … It was an eye-opening experience and forever changed the way I approach painting wood. I’ll just say it’s worth it to spend time researching your canvas.

What was it like working in Ballantyne’s Backyard?

Brian: It was a beautiful backdrop; you couldn’t ask for a better place to spend your day. Rolling green hills and sci-fi towers in the background, it was like something out of Halo. I’ve always been into sci-fi and landscape art, so this really helped to capture my imagination.

Swych: It’s a nice landscape and has great potential for art and events.

How did you get involved with ArtPop?

Swych: I met Wendy (Hickey, ArtPop’s founder and executive director) when I was assisting another artist on a mural. Since then, I have worked on other projects through them. She’s awesome!

Brian: I saw their work in the community. I reached out on Instagram, they pointed me to Wendy and the rest was history. She really believes in the artist community and does everything she can to push us forward.

What are you up to next?

Brian: I’m currently working on private commissions and education. I’m enrolled in a few online art courses to keep learning and sharpening my skills.

Swych: I am always looking for more murals to paint for businesses and clients to bring color and art to their spaces as well as commissioned pieces.

Follow them:

Swych: @swych19 on Instagram and swychcreations.com.

Brian: @hobo_husband on Instagram and brianmichelotti.art.

See Yourself Here?

Share your creative projects and you could be featured on this page. Contact Jodi Greenwald at editor@ballantynemagazine.com.