GREENSBORO — It’s Drink & Draw night at The Artist Bloc.
Patrons sip coffee, beer, and non-alcoholic and mixed drinks as they sketch or paint. A jam band plays onstage. Others just listen and chill.
This month, The Artist Bloc marks its fifth year in business in the West Lee Center, a strip shopping mall at 1020 W. Gate City Blvd. amid the UNCG campus.
It operates as an art supply store, coffee shop and bar that offers arts programming.
“I am amazed that we were able to sustain ourselves this long,” said Darlene McClinton, a co-owner and N.C. A&T art professor.
For the first three years, the three artist owners drew on paychecks from their other full-time jobs to keep it afloat.
That picture has brightened.
The business that started with $1,200 from owners’ pockets now brings in annual revenue of $100,000 and growing, owners say.
McClinton owns The Artist Bloc with Watricia Shuler, a filmmaker who teaches at Winston-Salem State University, and entrepreneur Sunny Gravely.
An Aug. 23 event will mark its fifth anniversary, while celebrating Triad artists.
The Bloc Awards will be at 8 p.m. at Harrison Auditorium on the N.C. A&T campus.
Nominees have been narrowed to five in 14 categories of visual and performing arts including the entertainment, fashion, cosmetic and culinary industries.
More than 16,000 public votes already had been cast online for winners, two weeks before the awards ceremony.
Winners will receive trophies created by the company Pendragon 3D in The Forge, the makerspace downtown on Lewis Street.
This marks the second year for The Bloc Awards. The first in 2017 attracted 350 people.
“I believe the Triad has a lot of talent,” McClinton said. “People could be getting Grammys and Oscars, but they don’t get a lot of exposure.”
The Artist Bloc offers creative activity and exposure. With a slogan of “Where Creative Minds Meet,” it now attracts about 100 artists each week.
Many customers are not artists, but…