Winston-Salem gallery showcases art made by people with developmental and intellectual challenges


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem’s Trade Street is known for its many boutiques, restaurants and art galleries. A new shop recently joined the list of artistic vendors and their work is amazing and will inspire.

Inside of the Gifted Gallery, paintings of fruit, flowers and even some colorful abstract pieces hang on the wall. On this day at the back of the gallery, three clients of Top Priority Care Services prepare to create another work of art under the watchful eye and helpful hand of art instructor Levi Ison.

“They can do almost anything,” Ison said. “If you give them a little push, they can create anything.”

The Winston-Salem shop is open to the public. Gifted Gallery is a showcase not only for the art but for the artist that have developmental and intellectual challenges. Sharon Johnson runs Top Priority Care Services. Johnson explained the reaction of people when they first walk into the gallery.

“They are very impressed, and I believe inspired,” Johnson said. “They want to hear more about the students and their disabilities, and we share that with them.”

Visitors to Gifted Gallery don’t leave empty-handed. You can buy the artwork. The artists get a third of the money from the sale.

“When they get that gratification, they know they are making works that is gallery-worthy and they selling to high-dollar clients,” Ison said. “It gives them inspiration to work.”

And the satisfaction of a job well done.

“I think they like to see their work sell,” Johnson said. “I think they want the world to see what they can do.”

Visitors also ask how did the artist become so talented? Sharon Johnson and Ison say James Johnson, Sharon’s husband, deserves the credit. James Johnson was patient and kind as he taught the students how to use charcoal, oils, and paints to make eye-catching artwork. James Johnson is no longer able to work with the clients of Top Priority Care Services because he is fighting terminal cancer. Sharon Johnson said the best way to honor her husband and support Gifted Gallery is to donate to Top Priority Care Services so that the art program can continue.

Gifted Gallery is at 619 N. Trade St., Winston-Salem.

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