Charlotte photographer stumps for students’ ‘Inked’ exhibition

The Charlotte Observer

South Charlotte News

Mark Pendergrass hopes to bring light to students’ depictions of tattoo art

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis shows support for his home state as part of photography collection “Inked: The Story Behind the Art.” CEA Read more here:

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis shows support for his home state as part of photography collection “Inked: The Story Behind the Art.” CEA

The hundreds of photographs stored on hard drives waiting to be reviewed mean a great deal to Mark Pendergrass and his former students.

“These photos reveal untold stories about the people in them and the people behind the camera,” Pendergrass said.

Amy Stewart is a local YMCA member and Charlotte resident who showed off her tattoo for the photography project in 2010.
Amy Stewart is a local YMCA member and Charlotte resident who showed off her tattoo for the photography project in 2010. CEA
In 2010, Pendergrass, a professional banker and a photographer at Snap Photos, taught a photography class at the Stratford Richardson YMCA called Teen Scoop. The class consisted of 15 to 20 youths age 13 to 19 and focused on portrait photography.

The students created a photography project called “Inked: The Story Behind the Art,” that featured students, professionals, celebrity athletes and Charlotte residents with tattoos.

The students spent a couple months photographing tattooed people around Charlotte. The photo sessions took place on the streets, at the YMCA, in tattoo parlors and at Johnson C. Smith University. Pendergrass said they were able to meet and photograph a wide variety of people and tattoos.

“Some professional athletes – NFL Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, NFL Minnesota Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and Charlotte native NBA Oklahoma City Thunder guard Anthony Morrow – visited the students and shared stories about their tattoos, as well as inspired them to pursue their dreams,” said Pendergrass.

“People always look so negatively at tattoos, so I just wanted to show how many have meaning behind them,” Davis said. “I also thought it was a great outlet for the kids to be doing this.”

Pendergrass said his students also spent a day photographing and talking to college students at Johnson C. Smith University. “Being on a college campus was a first for many of my students; it was great exposure for them.”

Amy Stewart is a local YMCA member and Charlotte resident who showed off her tattoo for the photography project in 2010. CEA

Amy Stewart is a local YMCA member and Charlotte resident who showed off her tattoo for the photography project in 2010. CEA

As they were preparing the project for presentation, the YMCA changed its after-school program structure, and funding was cut for the photography program.

The photos have not been printed or viewed by the public, but Pendergrass refuses to allow the students’ hard work to go unnoticed.

Five years later, Pendergrass has pulled together a fundraising platform on the GoFundMe website. He needs $5,000 to print and frame at least 20 poster-sized portraits. He intends to exhibit the photos in various galleries, tattoo shops and venues around Charlotte.

Pendergrass’ efforts have raised almost $300 in donations in 20 days.

“I want to bring to light my students’ hard work,” he said. Pendergrass said their models’ tattoos symbolize the memories of loved ones, their faith and the hardships and joys they’ve endured.

“The project is diverse: mostly African-American youth photographers, but the models come from all walks of life,” he said. “The camera brings people together, my students and the rest of the world, as will the exhibit.”

Kevin Mitchell, 23, was moved by his experience as a student in the project. He said working with Pendergrass and on the project inspired him to pursue his passion for photography, which he now does full-time. Mitchell’s artistic photography, Surf Mitchell Photography, has been published by BET, MTV and in various skateboard magazines and advertisements.

Mitchell is enthusiastic about “Inked” being exhibited. “What really grabbed me about this project (were) the stories behind the tats,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for youth art to receive recognition and inspire others enduring hardships to focus on their passions.”

Pendergrass said he hopes to keep mentoring youths through photography, and that this project’s exhibition is just the starting point. He is in the early stages of establishing a nonprofit called Creative Exposure through the Arts to mentor and teach photography skills to Charlotte-area youths who face challenging financial and family circumstances.

He said the nonprofit will give such youths an artistic skill that can turn into a business opportunity; but he also said the camera is a vessel for delivering life skills, such as how to build relationships with clients, speak and act professionally and connect to the greater community.

“Exposure to the arts is exposure to life,” he said.

Crystal O’Gorman is a freelance writer:

To donate to the project or host an “Inked” viewing, visit or contact Mark Pendergrass at Follow CEA at or on Twitter @CeaMark.


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Waxhaw names first main street manager

The Charlotte Observer

Union County News

Posted on July 24, 2015

  • White’s former job was in Charlotte
  • New job hope to enhance town’s unique qualities
Posted in Achievements and Awards, Charlotte Observer, Civic and Government News, Newspaper, Traditional Journalism, Union County Weekly | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Menopause: The Musical’ coming to Charlotte, supports breast cancer research

South Charlotte Weekly

Characters joke about the physical, emotional and mental symptoms associated with menopause during the play, which takes center stage in Charlotte on Oct. 1 through 3. Tickets cost $45 to $50 and benefit Susan G. Komen. Photo courtesy of Aurora

Kathi Glist, director of “Menopause: The Musical,” believes she directs a show that inspires and comes alive in the hearts of all women.

Charlotte theatergoers will have the opportunity to participate in the inspirational experience Glist raves about Oct. 1 through 3 at Blumenthal Performing Arts McGlohon Theater.

The show comes to Charlotte in partnership with Susan G. Komen and Celebrate the Tatas, known as “The Survivor Tour,” to raise awareness and provide financial support in the fight against breast cancer.

“Menopause: The Musical” brings together a cast of four women from different walks of life who are all experiencing the “change of life.” The women meet at a shopping department’s bra sale and the show takes audience members through their shopping day, where the characters find commonalities and forge friendships – all the while, finding humor in their hot flashes, mood swings and other menopausal symptoms.

Glist said familiar tunes from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s are lyrically transformed into a musical parody that aligns with the story, such as when Mary Wells’ anthem “My Guy” turns into “My Thighs” and pokes fun at the physical changes that happen to women’s bodies when going through menopause.

Glist feels the story provides an honest, yet funny, depiction of the realities of menopause and the significance of women supporting one another through it.

“It’s not uncommon for a woman to strike up a conversation with another woman that she doesn’t know and discuss intimate details of her life,” she said. “It’s an integral part of the way women are wired.”

Jeanie Linders wrote the story having no prior production experience. Linders was, however, going through menopause and wanted to share her life experiences in a fun, lighthearted way. Glist said the rawness from her writing and desire to bring women together through menopause is evident in the script and transcends the stage to the audience.

“Women in the audience become the fifth character – shouting out lines and adding to the story,” she said. “Women leave the show with a feeling of camaraderie and even men leave the show with a better understanding and appreciation for what women go through.”

Glist said the show formed a partnership with Susan G. Komen last year, as a way to continue raising awareness for women’s issues. She said charitable causes have always been a part of the show; in the past they’ve made donations to support ovarian cancer and rebuild homes after Hurricane Katrina.

“Breast cancer is so rampant,” she said. “It is important that we committed to this cause.”

GFour Productions pledged to donate $50,000 to Susan G. Komen and also donate $2 from each ticket sold to support breast cancer research and services in the cities where it’s performed.

Glist and GFour Productions picked up “Menopause: The Musical” during its second year of production in 2002; it has since been produced for the last 13 years in 13 countries and 250 cities, and viewed by more than 11 million people.

Visit for more information on “Menopause: The Musical.”

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Weddington firefighters to make statement with Declaration

The Charlotte Observer

Crystal O’Gorman

July 04, 2015

1942 lithographic replica of the Declaration of Independence on view

Posted in Charlotte Observer, Civic and Government News, Events and Galas, Newspaper, Traditional Journalism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

CMPD Chief Monroe bids farewell at Hood Hargett Breakfast Club

South Charlotte Weekly

Monroe addresses retirement, the department’s standing

Chuck Hood (left) discusses CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe’s success in Charlotte. Crystal O’Gorman/SCW photo

More than 50 residents dined at The Palms at Phillip’s Place in SouthPark on June 4, a Thursday, during the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club’s farewell luncheon to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) Chief Rodney Monroe.

Monroe announced his resignation on May 18, adding he would officially step down on July 1. Monroe addressed attendees about the current state of the police department, and his reasons for retiring from the force.

“After seven years, now is a good time,” he said. “Your department and the city are in good hands and in a good state.”

Monroe has served in law enforcement for 36 years, spending 15 years as chief of police in three cities. Monroe added he is leaving to spend more time with his family.

“Finding the right time (to retire) is hard,” he said. “The suddenness came after a long deliberation with my family and I decided to retire now, especially since things are going well with the police department.”

The majority of his speech addressed the current state of the police department, where he reflected on the department’s efforts to rely on technology, as well as become more involved in the community.

Monroe cited the Democratic National Convention, held in Charlotte in 2008, as a catalyst for upgrading technology, which has continued to be a great resource benefiting the department by saving man hours and using resources more wisely.

“Camera access in public views allowed us to put that program on steroids to a tech system that allows tag readers and shot spotters to have 22-hours per day of crime surveillance,” he said.

There are 100 license plate readers throughout the city that help locate stolen automobiles, according to Monroe. He said car theft crime has decreased by 69 percent in seven years since the department began using this technology.

“When I first came here, people were more concerned about having their cars broken into and stolen and homes broken into than violent crimes,” said Monroe.

He also remarked how shot spotters use technology that pinpoints the sound of a gunshot to within a small proximity of its expected location.

“We get 10 to 15 calls per sound of a gunshot and it takes time to track down where it comes from, but the shot spotter gives the precise location and helps us pool our resources better,” he said.

Monroe believes the most valuable change the department has moved toward is becoming more community-focused. Under his leadership, the department started focusing on a division-centered model versus a central approach, making each division, such as South or University, the main connection to its corresponding community.

“Every community has different needs and conditions,” he said. “Every division can stand out on its own by making one person responsible for every neighborhood – having someone focused on your community level allows us to be more responsive to the community,” he said.

Monroe also mentioned the department’s community outreach efforts, where the police department works with local service providers to help repeat offenders get the help they need to prevent the cycle of crime.

Two of the department’s officers helped an 18-year-old boy, who had 17 arrests and dozens of charges, receive treatment for drug addiction. After his recovery, he got accepted to and eventually graduated from Central Piedmont Community College.

“Community outreach is important,” Monroe said. “We need to be out there everyday trying to understand what’s going on and working to prevent future problems.”

Monroe concluded he felt leaving while the department was at the “top of its game” was a good decision and he believes his replacement, which he said could be announced in the coming weeks, should come from within the department.

“We’ve been able to develop people to be the future one in charge,” he said.

Hood Hargett Breakfast Club members gave Monroe a standing ovation as the club’s owner, Chuck Hood, hugged Monroe and complimented him on a job well done.

The Hood Hargett Breakfast Club is a business development and networking group of more than 300 business and civic leaders at more than 48 events each year.

Jenn Snyder, executive director of the group, said Monroe has been active with Hood Hargett for the longevity of his time with the force.

“It’s a tremendous honor and we are forever grateful that he took the time to fit this into his schedule during his last 30 days as chief of police,” she said.

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