A Peek into Four Charlotte Cultural Institutions
McColl Center for Art & Innovation
If you need proof of Charlotte’s status as an artist’s hub, look no further than the McColl Center for Art & Innovation. “Artists come to McColl Center from all over the world and just around the block,” explains Director of Marketing & Communications Armando Bellmas. Since 1999, McColl Center has hosted artists of all mediums from destinations around the world, from Cuba to Japan to our own South Park.
The artists at McColl Center aren’t recluses; while here, they become an integral part of Charlotte’s fabric and important pieces of our developing art scene. “The majority of McColl Center’s artists-in-residence incorporate some form of social practice into their work,” says Bellmas. “This means they’re out in the community collaborating on artworks, helping kids and adults to think creatively, and making our city a more vibrant place to live.”
McColl Center also hosts exhibitions, workshops with local artists, and music and cultural programs to engage the community in the arts. The building itself is a work of art, too, a renovated neo-gothic church on North Tryon Street.
Like the Levine, the McColl Center uses its exhibitions not only as art displays, but as a form of social commentary and discussion. “Our current exhibition, The World is a Mirror of My Freedom, was organized in response to the increasingly visible, lawful violence against black bodies in Charlotte and across the United States,” says Bellmas of the exhibit, which is on view through March 25.
Other Happenings at McColl
As part of The World is a Mirror of My Freedom, McColl Center will host a public performance and workshop, I Can’t Breathe, on March 18. This month’s Open Studio Saturday on March 11 will welcome families into the studios and processes of current artists-in-residence. McCollCenter.org
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
According to the mission statement of The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, named for our city’s first black mayor, the purpose of the institution is to “present, preserve and celebrate excellence in the art, history and culture of African-Americans and those of African descent.” Their latest exhibition, curated by Dexter Wimberly, certainly upholds those tenets.
“It’s a well-worn story that black artists have made contributions to all aspects of art, but have also been left out of history books,” says the curator, who hails from Brooklyn but invests much of his time and research in the artists and museums of the South. “A museum focusing on showing the work of black artists is so important; there’s just not enough diversity yet.”
In The Future is Abstract, Wimberly has gathered the varied works of four prominent black artists whose work is defined under the broad umbrella of “abstract.” The four artists—Rushern Baker, DeShawn Dumas, Torkwase Dyson and Brenna Youngblood—all gain inspiration from the current and historical African American experience, using their art to comment on sociopolitical conditions, ethics and modern urbanity. “This is engaging work that’s not just aesthetically provocative and beautiful, it’s also dealing with issues that affect all of us—crime, gentrification, war, etc.”
The Gantt Center is physical proof of the culturally and artistically diverse offerings of Charlotte. “I’ve been telling people all along that some of the most interesting places for art in the country are not what first come to mind,” notes Wimberly.
Other Happenings at the Gantt Center
This month, check out “Family First” on the 4 and “Gantt After Dark” on the 16. Current exhibitions include The Future is Abstract, Alison Saar: The Nature of Us, Zun Lee: Father Figure, and Jordan Casteel: Harlem Notes. GanttCenter.org
Levine Museum of the New South
Winston Churchill was a source of dozens of inimitable quotes and platitudes, perhaps none so well-known and incorrectly attributed to the Prime Minister as “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” It’s this spirit that has driven the Levine Museum of the New South for the past 25 years.
“Traditionally, Levine Museum has used historical events to prompt dialogue that absolutely is about today,” says Kathryn Hill, Levine Museum’s new president and CEO. “We look at New South history, from 1865 to present, in Charlotte and the piedmont. Our mission is to use history to build community.”
Following last fall’s protests, the folks at Levine were faced with a unique challenge and opportunity to uphold that mission. In a twist of fate, the staff was already at work on an exhibit about police involved shootings using the work of local documentarians—an exhibit planned for 2018. Though such exhibits usually take years of development, Hill made the decision to unveil the rapid-response exhibit K(NO)W Justice K(NO)W Peace last month.
The exhibit joins a series of programs that prompt healthy discussion about what is means to live in the South today. “We’ve always made Charlotte think, and sometimes I hope we can make Charlotte laugh and celebrate the strengths of this city and the wonderful achievements.”
Other Happenings at Levine
This month you can also check out the new exhibit on WWI and Looking at Appalachia, as well as fresh programming around K(NO)W Justice K(NO)W Peace. MuseumOfTheNewSouth.org
The Mint Museum
“I think we’re really the one museum that can offer a mini-art historical survey,” says Mint Museum curator Jonathan Stuhlman. At the Mint’s two locations—the Mint Uptown, housed in a modern edifice, and the historic museum on Randolph Road in a traditional park setting—you’ll find artwork that spans centuries. There’s a free shuttle between the two locations on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, plus your admission to one location is applicable to the other for two days.
The sheer span of artwork found at the Mint is astounding. “We host various special exhibitions on a variety of scales, with four to five large scale exhibitions per year and a variety of smaller scale shows,” Stuhlman points out. “Our permanent collection is deep, so there are always new things rotating into those galleries too, plus new acquisitions and gifts.” There’s always something new to see at the Mint.
Take, for example, the upcoming Wyeth family exhibition, which opens on March 11. For over a century, the Wyeths have created works that delve into the American consciousness and our imaginations. “I oversee the American art collection, and it’s an amazing opportunity to have works by one member of the family, let alone the whole family,” Stuhlman says excitedly. Visitors of the Mint can catch the collection through August 13.
It’s much more than a mere gallery. “We also have programs that are deeply engaged with our local communities,” Stuhlman notes. After-school programs, community programming, and classes keep the Mint bustling.
Their multi-faceted programming is a trait common among our Charlotte cultural venues. “So many of our galleries and museums are trying to pull together recently, to collaborate and let people know how much there is here,” Stuhlman says of the local scene.
Other Happenings at the Mint
As a complement to the Wyeth exhibit, the Mint will host Wyeth Family: Story Time with Readings from Rip Van Winkle on March 18 during the annual book sale. Celebrate the Mint’s 80th anniversary on March 3 at Mint Eight-O Aloha. MintMuseum.org