National Arts Program


Friday, February 2, 2018, 5-7 p.m.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center
600 East 4th Street, Charlotte, NC 28202​

Join us for the 18th Annual National Arts Program Awards Ceremony and Exhibit Kickoff! Awards will be presented for each category: Adult Amateur, Adult Intermediate, Adult Professional, Teen, Youth (12 and under), Best of Show, Art Education Award, People's Choice and Honorable Mentions. The event features music, food and door prizes. Bring your family and friends! The event is free and open to the public.


Cotton Ketchie is a nationally known watercolorist and Mooresville native. His works depict North Carolina lighthouses, the Blue Ridge Parkway, local and state landmarks and florals. He began his career as an artist 25 years ago when he was a menswear buyer for Belk Department Store sketching on his sales books during meetings. His co-workers would take the covers and have them framed. During this time he was also sketching original pencil drawings of friend’s home places to supplement his income. The growing demand for his work soon launched his career. Today his works can be found in collections throughout Europe, Asia, the United States and Canada, including the private collections of the former NC Jim Martin and the former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. Cotton was selected as the featured artist for the 2004 North Carolina Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

In addition to his watercolors, Cotton is also well known for his dramatic photographs taken from all over the United States and Canada. He was written several books, including Memories of a Country BoyA Country Boy's Education, Little Did They Know and Trouble in Love Valley.  All of his work, from paintings and photographs to writings, reflects his love for his​tory and reverence for historic landmarks. "I feel an obligation to preserve our landmarks and our heritage through my paintings," he said.

​Schedule​ of events

​5 p.m.  - Check in

Browse the exhibit and enjoy music, food and kids' activities. As you're browsing, vote for your favorite piece to win the People's Choice Award!

6 p.m. - Keynote speaker 

​Watercolorist, photographer and writer Cotton Ketchie shares his artistic journey and offers inspiration and advice for anyone seeking to take their art to the next level.

6:30 p.m. - Awards ceremony

We'll give out first-, second- and third-place awards and Honorable Mentions for Adult Amateur, Adult Intermediate, Adult Professional, Youth and Teen categories. We'll also reveal  the Art Education and Best of Show winners. Our final award will be People's Choice, chosen by YOU!