They say life imitates art.
    But what about when work imitates art?
    For Shani Gates, owner of Curbing Creations, her heart, soul and creative juices go into her work, which is creating custom concrete curbing for homeowners and businesses. Each piece of curbing and custom drain she constructs is stamped by her own well-tanned hand, making for a totally unique design.
{mosimage}Gates has been in business here in Fayetteville for about four years. She combines an artistic background as a painter and sculptor — she has had her work featured at the Fayetteville Museum of Art — with the sweat and aching muscles produced by 15-hour days to make functional art.
“I look at person’s house and give them what they need,” said Gates. “I do about 90 percent of the design.”
    After her two assistants —  Jason Dalton and Jeremy Petty — lay the concrete with a curbing machine, Gates has 30-45 minutes to imprint her vision before her medium grows hard.
However, her work doesn’t keep her from doing other artistic projects on the side. A native of Washington State who majored in art, she paints, sculpts and draws. At the most recent Fayetteville After Five, she built a detailed sand sculpture of a beach babe that drew quite a crowd. Perhaps her most visible work is the corporate logo for the local Partnership for Children which includes a group of her portraits of children. She even had some of her artwork on display at the offices of Up and Coming Weekly.
    However, her artistic ways and career in decorative concrete almost fizzled  before she made her first sculpture or dropped paint on canvas for the first time.
    “I went to college to get my accounting degree,” said Gates. “Since I paid for it myself I decided I was going to get something out of it. But I took one art class and fell in love with it.”
    She first got into creating curbing about six years ago when some folks in her native Washington wanted something other than the blah, bland gray concrete curbing everyone else had. She taught herself how to work with concrete, and after she created her first curbing she fell in love with the medium of water, gravel and sand.
    She says the concrete curbing business is getting more and more popular, so popular in fact that when she does one house in a neighborhood, she often ends up doing the entire subdivision. Now, contractors are asking Gates to put in her one-of-a-kind curbing as a perk to help sell their houses.
Despite her love for art and all things artistic, Gates says no one artist has influenced her work, saying she loves “too many to name.” Though she does admit a soft spot for artists who dabble in the medium of charcoal, such as Yvette Dede, who has an ongoing exhibition at the Fayetteville Museum of Art, and Rembrandt.
    “Rembrandt’s paintings were great, but I love his drawings,” said Gates.
Gates has acclimated well to Fayetteville, having been here 14 years with her husband Keith, who is a 19-year veteran of the Special Forces. Together they have produced the most beautiful of all artworks — four children.
    Fayetteville has been very good to me,” said Gates. “I never dreamed when I took that first art class that I would someday make art for a living. I count anyone extremely luck who can make a career out of doing what they love.”

Contact Tim Wilkins at

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