An artist, a writer, Carole Mehle is a Rocky Mount native with a drive and dedication that contributes everyday to the place she calls home. She graduated from Rocky Mount High School and laughingly says, “I teach to support my art habit.” Edgecombe Community College, the Rocky Mount campus, is lucky to have Carole who teaches English and Humanities. Carole is downtown everyday, a prime example of staying at home and making a life that is creative and interesting. She has a grandmother who is 103! and checks on her everyday. That gives you insight into this young professional woman.
Carole paints, collages, creates mixed media, makes jewelry and glass magnets. She wrote a novel when she was ten years old. I bet she drew the cover jacket for it as well. She has a studio at Bel Air Artisans Center and is involved in planning an Artists Open House this fall. Once the date is announced, I urge everyone to attend. Carole will tell you what an amazing place the Center is. The artists help critique each others work, inspire each other, and have formed a community that is important to Rocky Mount when seeking creative companionship. Carole is a great spokesman for working and living in Rocky Mount.
A quote from Carole: “I have so many good memories of growing up in Rocky Mount, from riding the train at Sunset Park to visiting the Children’s Museum and Braswell Library as a child. I remember many wonderful afternoons spent shopping on Main Street, and going in the back doors. Much of my life has centered around Main Street, from my first “nursery school” on Hill Street to a former workplace on Howard Street and my current workplace on Tarboro Street and my space at Bel Air Artisans Center. I have always made the arts a part of my life. In the last few years, between the emergence of the Dunn Center, the Imperial Center, Nash Arts, and the Bel Air Artisans Center, Rocky Mount has developed culturally. For me, that has really made staying here a much easier decision. Because I was interested in things like art, music, drama, books, and culture that the general populus of our area does not seem too interested in, finding outlets and people to encourage these outlets has greatly enhanced my life, and hopefully those I touch on a daily basis — perhaps without even having to say a word, thanks to my art.”
Robin Owens Latham
Robin is a bright, articulate, native born Rocky Mount woman, who is living and working in a place she has always called home. One reason she remains is to live close to her family. Robin has memories of accompanying her grandmother on errands downtown Rocky Mount, stopping at Almands to pick up a prescription, on to Sonny’s Take Out for a foot long hot dog and a 10 ounce Coke. Robin says, “Coming downtown was just what you did.” She can tell you a lot of ‘once upon a time stories,’ the history of things, about the people who began to move away in the 1950’s, who have now inherited downtown buildings which they can’t bring themselves to sell, but have allowed the buildings to sit vacant. Robin has lots of ideas about these challenges, and is a big proponent of her home. Rocky Mount is lucky to have her on their team.
Robin graduated from Northern Nash high school and has gone on to teach English full time at Nash Community College. You can find her nurturing the creative side of herself at The Bel Air Artisan Center in a studio she shares with her husband, Mike Latham, the current Chair of Rocky Mount Historic Preservation Commission. Robin paints, collages, works in mixed media, and makes jewelry. The best birthday present I’ve heard about in a long time is the gift Mike gave Robin; the gift of her studio at the Center. FYI: Different size spaces include utilities and 24 hour access and can be rented by the month. No wonder the current 12 studio artists are big supporters of the Center. It provides them exposure, and the inspiration they derive from one another. Here is a quote from Robin you will enjoy.
“My dream is for the downtown area of Rocky Mount to come back to life. My family and I shopped downtown frequently all throughout my childhood. I loved the old Belk Tyler’s, Almand’s Drugstore, and so many more great shops. There are some wonderful local businesses still there and newly added. We just need more! If I had a billion dollars, I would buy up the buildings and give grants to people to create businesses on Main Street – some with apartments above! Life brings life! We can do it!”