CORNELIUS – When Case Warnemunde and Allen Sharpe met while working at Alton’s Kitchen & Cocktails, they had no idea their shared interest in the arts would lead to a burgeoning business called Bella Love in downtown Cornelius.
Started in June 2010 by Warnemunde, Bella Love facilitates a wide variety of artistic social gatherings that join forces with local businesses to give Lake Norman residents access to a tangible social network of like-minded individuals.
Warnemunde recalls moving to the area after graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a marketing degree and a lot of questions about what to do with his life. He soon met others who were also seeking ways to turn their creative gifts into paychecks.
“Everyone had such an amazing gift or passion,” he said. “And there were quite a few having to hang them up to work in restaurants.”
Inspired by good conversations, Warnemunde began a journey to connect people to the artistic culture of the lake community. He also wanted to support the local economy if at all possible. Soon, Bella Love was born.
The goal of Bella Love is to grow a physical network that turns Cornelius into a major arts hub in the greater Charlotte area, much like North Davidson.
“We’re in the age of selling experiences. That’s what people are willing to spend the most on, more than a product or anything else,” Warnemunde said. “They want something that really means something.”
To that end, he and Sharpe developed a series of open mic nights, festivals, art crawls, and improv comedy shows that draw on the best talent the Lake Norman area has to offer.
Bella Love’s next major event is a ‘Tawba Walk March 15 along Catawba Avenue in Cornelius.
The event will feature live music from local bands like The Goodnight Brothers, 50 vendor booths selling paintings, jewelry and pottery among other items, an array of food trucks from Sunrise Grill & Sandwich Company, Homegrown Crepe and The Roaming Fork and a live graffiti wall.
“You put up three pieces of plywood and just paint and create something awesome,” Sharpe said.
Warnemunde expects spray paint artist Joe Dobson, who lives in Cornelius, to contribute to the wall’s art.
Many Cornelius businesses will extend their hours to participate in the crawl, and in this way, Bella Love helps to bridge the gap between arts and commerce. Don’t be surprised to find bands playing within shops for example.
“Bella Love is a meeting space,” Warnemunde said of his office. “What we want to be are connectors in the community.”
Want to go?
The third ‘Tawba Walk takes place 6-10 p.m. March 15 along Catawba Avenue in Cornelius. Visit Bella Love Studios at 21325 Catawba Ave.