Parts of Greensboro, Winston-Salem are going through a renaissance 2 years after the pandemic

(WGHP) – Stationary along South Elm Street in Greensboro since 2004, Ambleside Gallery has featured works by artists near and far since its opening under the direction of Jackson Mayshark. Like the pieces displayed on its walls, the neighborhood in which it is located has been radically transformed.

“When I first got here, it was across the tracks,” Mayshark said, referring to the literal train tracks that remain operational one street from his gallery. “It was kind of a scary place in people’s minds.”

About half of the nearby storefronts were boarded up when he moved in. Mayshark pointed to antique shops that also called this stretch of road home. As he said, “antiques and art” go hand in hand.

“It was a funky but quite creative neighborhood,” he said.

Mayshark also recalled a time when nightclubs opened on the street, leading to a strike of unwanted violence.

“There was a club that experienced shootings,” he said, adding that several people had been shot dead. “One person has died.

Despite the challenges, the stretch of road that Ambleside calls home has seen a rejuvenation.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs, and now I would say over the last five or six years there has been constant development,” Mayshark detailed.

In the worst of times, Mayshark says former Greensboro mayor Keith Holliday was one of his biggest sources of encouragement. Today, he credits the area’s success to municipal government, organizations and other investments.

“I’m sure they played a much bigger role than I realize,” he said of the city leaders.

Downtown Greensboro, Inc. is less than a stone’s throw from the gallery.

“There are things going on there. This is not the neighborhood of desolation like 18 years ago,” Mayshark said.

About 30 miles to the west, there has been revitalization of other sorts in downtown Winston-Salem. During the heat of the pandemic, many once-bustling storefronts in the main stretch of town have been closed.

A few blocks away along the city’s Liberty and Trade streets, potential newcomers have seen their arrival delayed. Today, a trip to the area’s sidewalks is complete with signs advertising self-starters and piers.

“He’s changed, but not to the point where he’s unrecognizable,” said Trevor Gabriel, a music producer, director and mentor who frequents the area for work and play.

“My guys and I just had a great time here at ROAR last Friday,” he said.

ROAR is a dining and entertainment venue that opened earlier this year on North Liberty Street. FOX8 laid out its planning less than two months before the first documented case of COVID-19 in North Carolina.

As an artist by trade, Gabriel appreciated the community’s thirst for change after pandemic-era restrictions were lifted.

“From chill to really like, ‘let’s party,'” he said. “Which is cool, in my opinion.”

Back at Ambleside Gallery, Mayshark is conducting its own experiment, showcasing much more contemporary works than those that adorned its walls when it first opened its doors nearly two decades ago; inside its space, perhaps, taking a page from what happens outside its walls.

“I get to meet some great people,” he says. “It’s very fulfilling.”

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