(WGHP) — Stationary along South Elm Street in Greensboro since 2004, Ambleside Gallery has featured works from artists near and far since its opening under owner Jackson Mayshark. Much like the pieces featured on its walls, the district in which it sits has been dramatically transformed.
“When I first came here, this was the other side of the tracks,” Mayshark said, referring to the literal train tracks which remain operational a mere street away from his gallery. “It was sort of a frightening place in peoples’ minds.”
About half of the neighboring storefronts were boarded up when he moved in. Mayshark pointed to the antiques stores which also called that stretch of road home. As he put it, “antiques and art” go hand-in-hand.
“It was a funky but rather creative area,” he said.
Mayshark also recalled a time when nightclubs opened on the street, which led to an unwanted strike of violence.
“There was one club which experienced some shootings,” he said, adding multiple people had been shot. “One person died.”
Despite the challenges, the stretch of road Ambleside calls home has experienced a rejuvenation.
“It has been many ups and downs, and now I would say in the last five or six years there has been steady development,” Mayshark detailed.
In the worst of times, Mayshark says former Greensboro Mayor Keith Holliday was among his greatest sources of encouragement. Today, he credits the area’s success to city government, organizations and fellow investment.
“I’m sure they played a much greater part than I’m even aware of,” he said, of city leaders.
Downtown Greensboro, Inc. is less than a stone’s throw away from the gallery.
“Things are happening out there. It’s not desolation row as it was 18 years ago,” Mayshark said.
About 30 miles west, there’s been a revitalization of other sorts in downtown Winston-Salem. During the heat of the pandemic, many of the once-bustling storefronts within the city’s main stretch were shuttered.
Blocks away, along the city’s Liberty and Trade streets, would-be newcomers had their arrivals delayed. Today, a trip down the area’s sidewalks is complete with signs advertising self-starters and mainstays alike.
“It’s changed, but not to where it’s unrecognizable,” said Trevor Gabriel, music producer, director and mentor who frequents the area for work and play.
“My guys and I, we just had a great time over here at ROAR last Friday,” he said.
ROAR is a dining and entertainment venue which opened earlier this year on North Liberty Street. FOX8 featured its planning less than two months before North Carolina’s first documented COVID-19 case.
Being an entertainer by trade, Gabriel’s enjoyed the community’s hunger for change following the lifting of pandemic-era restrictions.
“From chill to really like, ‘let’s party,’” he said. “Which is cool, in my opinion.”
Back at Ambleside Gallery, Mayshark is conducting an experiment of his own, featuring works that are far more contemporary compared to those which decorated his walls when his doors first opened nearly two decades ago; the inside of his space, perhaps, taking a page out of what’s happening outside its walls.
“I’m getting a chance to meet with wonderful people,” he said. “It’s very fulfilling.”