2 Stanly artists receive grants, to be honored Saturday

The Arts Council of Moore County partnered with the NC Arts Council to award $15,800 in Artist Support Grants (ASG) for Region 12, which consist of Anson, Montgomery, Moore, Richmond, Stanly and Union counties.

ASG provides direct support to individual artists to fund professional and artistic development for emerging or established artists to create new work, improve their arts business, receive training or bring their work to new audiences.

Stanly County artists receiving grants were Richard Dean Cutright Jr. for purchasing a computer and software to record new music and Susan Lackey to upgrade equipment to create larger artwork.

Cutright, a resident of Albemarle, plans on using his grant to pursue sync placements across entertainment mediums. The project will include themes about perseverance, inner strength, overcoming obstacles, unity through teamwork and celebrating victory.

Richard Cutright Jr. will use his grant to record new music. (Contributed)

Comic books, choir practice and Hip Hop are a few of the ingredients that helped shape Cutright into the man he is today. The oldest of three children, Cutright spent the first few years of his life growing up in one of the meccas of Hip Hop: Queens, New York.

His father was assistant pastor at a local church in the city, while his mother served as the lead musician for the church.

While singing in various choirs, he began to appreciate the power of unity and developed a love for creating and performing music. His love for comics fueled his hunger for reading and his love for the literary arts. He also discovered his passion for art through drawing and composing short stories, which helped him find his voice through creative expression.

Cutright and his family would relocate to North Carolina. Cutright struggled with confidence due to a speech impediment.

When he tried his first rap, his speech impediment disappeared. After his father passed away, he vowed to follow in his father’s footsteps, promising to bring positive change to those around him and become a voice for the voiceless.

Cutright has been recognized for his artistry and music production, with some of his past productions being used for NASCAR. He has been a past winner of BET’s Showtime at the Apollo Tour and is co-founder of the JustHis League, serving as the group’s music director for the past decade in Charlotte and its surrounding area, including venues such as The Neighborhood Theatre and the Blumenthal Performance Theatre.

He’s also been involved with community-based organizations like Heal Charlotte for its annual Stop The Violence events, Hopes Vibes with creating its organizational theme and sharing his message at community outreaches and juvenile detention centers across North and South Carolina.

It wasn’t until 2017 that he made the decision to pursue music as a full-time career, creating the Realize Anything’s Possible Tour alongside fellow rapper Ike Hill.

This was a motivational rap assembly program built on character education that brought the feeling of a live concert into K-12 schools nationwide. He performed in more than 750 schools until Spring 2020 when Covid forced the group to disband.

Since then, he has had the opportunity to work with All Elite Wrestling, as its music director Mikey Rukus tapped him to create several themes for on-air talent and an upcoming video game.

Lackey used her grant to purchase a large easel that will enable her to paint on larger canvases safely. Her first project will be four 36×48 paintings. She is excited to no longer have to hold the canvas with one hand while painting with the other hand.

Susan Lackey will use her grant to assist her with her art. (Contributed)

Lackey is a contemporary painter working in both acrylic and mixed media. Intriguing and playful images are the common threads in her work, with her goal being to help viewers remember the beautiful and meaningful things in their lives through connections with her paintings.

Her creative process includes developing short poems, often including the poem in her artwork description, to express the depth of her feelings while painting. Expressive abstraction is how she labels her style.

Her work is often open-ended so the viewer can connect with the painting on a level meaningful to them.

Lackey developed a strong foundation for the arts in her youth. Her father was an oil painter and supported her interest with materials, classes, and as a role model. She majored in art at East Carolina University and has studied under artists Gerald Brommer, Alex Powers, Pat Dews and Linda Baker.

Lackey is originally from Charlotte, and currently resides in Albemarle.
Lackey was the recipient of the 2018 Regional Area Project Grant, sponsored by the NC Arts Council, 10 area county Arts Councils and the Blumenthal Endowment.

She is a signature member of the Watercolor Society of NC and has won awards for her paintings. Her work has been shown at local, regional and national exhibits and juried shows. She displays her work in area galleries and in private and corporate collections.

Both Cutright and Lackey will be recognized for this grant at the awards ceremony at the Celebration of the ARTS! at 2 p.m. Saturday in the auditorium of the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center.

ASG was revamped in 2020 to offer artists help during and following the COVID pandemic. The program is managed by the NC Arts Council through partnerships with other arts councils divided into 18 statewide regions. The Arts Council of Moore County is the lead partner for Region 12.

All ASG applications are evaluated by a panel consisting of discipline-based artists and arts professionals not associated with any Region 12 partner. The grant awards are based on the artist’s overall excellence and talent in their art form and how the proposed project will benefit the artist’s professional growth.

Artists at any stage of their careers are eligible to apply in all art disciplines, such as visual arts and crafts, traditional art forms, music, film, drama, writing and dance.

Types of fundable projects include the creation of new work, purchase or upgrading of equipment and materials, website and other promotions, professional development workshops and more.

For more information about ASG and how to apply this fall, contact the Stanly County Arts Council or Moore County Arts Council.