Queen City Nerve

Charlotte's Cultural Pulse

Charlotte Fall Arts Guide 2019: The Institutions
What to look for at six of Charlotte's best museums this fall

By Ryan Pitkin

September 13, 2019

The following Arts Guide is presented by The Mint Museum

The Bechtler Museum (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

Bechtler Brings Back the Classics

With an underwhelming lack of good live jazz in Charlotte — outside of Jazz Room at Stage Door Theater and occasionally The Imperial — the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art does its part for the constantly evolving music growth of the Queen City by hosting Jazz at the Bechtler. Held on the first Friday of every month, Jazz at the Bechtler is described as mid-century art meets mid-century music.

Generally, the Ziad Jazz Quartet performs with occasional featured guest musicians and vocalists. Enter Joe Gransden. At 38 years old, Gransden has been compared to Frank Sinatra and Chet Baker. He’s released eight CDs and performed all over the world, and will perform two sets in an event titled “Sinatra Returns” on Nov. 1. Jazz is a part of American culture that we should all be immersed in and has influenced many aspects of social movements, music and style; if anything, it serves as its own subject of American history, so appreciate it when you can. 

Another recurring Bechtler event worth an honorable mention for the fall season is the next iteration of Modernism + Film on October 17, featuring a screening of Enough White Tea Cups. The documentary showcases the work of INDEX: Design To Improve Life, a Danish nonprofit and international design competition that explores how design can be used to plan and build affordable housing, prevent blindness, destroy landmines — or do anything you put your design to. The screening takes place in the main lobby and tickets are $10 for the public, $8 for museum members and $5 for students.

Museum of History Goes Modern

Though the Charlotte Museum of History often gets left out of the mix with those big-name institutions in Uptown, we’ve long been supporters of what Adria Focht is doing to bring more attention to the little east Charlotte museum.
The MoH will kick off the fall on Sept. 28 with a staple: the 8th annual Mad About Modern Home Tour, the museum’s most popular yearly event.

This year, the tour will feature residences in the Cotswold, Myers Park, Plaza Midwood, Oakhurst and Coventry Woods neighborhoods, most of which were built in the 1950s and ’60s, when mid-century modernism was at its peak. For the first time this year, the tour will also include a home during the restoration and renovation process – the iconic mid-century modern Cohen-Fumero house in east Charlotte’s Coventry Woods.

The exterior of a Mad About Modern home on Hermitage Road in Myers Park. (Photo by Dustin Peck)

“The Cohen-Fumero House is one of Charlotte’s most iconic mid-century modern masterpieces and one of only a handful of high-style mid-century modern buildings in the region,” Focht said.

On Oct. 25, the museum will provide a great teaser to Halloween weekend with an interactive murder-mystery evening based on the 1791 death of Polly Alexander, whose family built the Alexander Rock House in 1774.
Polly’s murder remains a mystery, although the fact that her husband was known around town by the nickname “Devil Charlie” might be a red flag for him.

Details of the event, which will feature a dramatic retelling of Polly’s death, have not yet been finalized, so stay tuned to the museum’s website for more details coming soon.

Gantt Center Turns 45 in Style

As the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture turns 45, staff there is also celebrating their 10th year in the facilites at the corner of Stonewall and South Tryon streets. To coincide with the building’s birthday, they’ve moved up their annual Jazzy Benefit Gala to Oct. 26, and it’s sure to be a special one with all these milestones.

“Floater” from the ‘Painting Is Its Own Country’ exhibit (Artwork by Derrick Adams)

A week later, on November 2, the Gantt will continue in its tradition of great work with the opening of two brand new exhibits. The first, Painting Is Its Own Country, will highlight contemporary African-American painters like the New York-based Derrick Adams and Will Villalongo, both nationally renowned for their past work among many disciplines.

Second, the tentatively titled And Justice For All examines the criminal justice system and mass incarceration. This exhibit will include works by former McColl Center artist-in-residence Dread Scott and current McColl artist-in-residence Sherrill Roland.

The museum will also extend the popular Welcome to Brookhill — featuring the work of local photographer Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. and curated by David Butler — through May 3, 2020.

“We want to delve even deeper into issues around affordable housing and the long-term effects of housing insecurity (if that’s a term),” said Gantt Center COO Bonita Buford. The museum plans to partner with WFAE for a joint public conversation as part of the public radio station’s Finding Home series.

Levine Goes to Brooklyn

With the upcoming development of a mixed-use residential and retail project called Brooklyn Village going on top of what is currently Marshall Park, more conversations have come up about what was there before that: a thriving, historically black neighborhood called Brooklyn, razed in the ’60s and ’70s in the name of urban renewal, displacing thousands.

A museumgoer at Levine Museum of the New South. (Photo courtesy of Levine Museum)

On Nov. 14, Levine Museum of the New South will bring museumgoers into Brooklyn when the neighborhood is added to #HomeCLT, an exhibit that currently features stories about the Eastland Mall, Enderly Park, Hidden Valley, Dilworth and Sedgefield neighborhoods. Brooklyn’s story won’t only be told in the museum, but in a walking tour through Second Ward using an augmented reality app. Users will see old Brooklyn streetscapes where current structures stand while sharing site-specific memories. As with existing #HomeCLT neighborhoods, the app will allow visitors to “see” the demographic changes in Brooklyn occur over time as visuals and graphics are projected on their phones and other devices.

More urgently, Levine will be closing its renowned K(NO)W Justice K(NO)W Peace exhibit on Sept. 29. The exhibit tells the story of the 2016 Charlotte Uprising, which followed the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott at the hands of a CMPD officer. If you haven’t been yet, now’s your last chance.

McColl Offers Workouts for Artists

In collaboration with the Mint Museum, McColl Center for Art + Innovation hosts an open space on selected Saturday afternoons for community authors, poets and storytellers to gather for fellowship and to develop new and in-progress works. The space is open to anyone who reads, writes, and/or speaks in English and/or Spanish.

Beginning just before fall on Sept. 14, the Creating Poetry workshop will run straight through to winter, with events on Sept. 21, Oct. 26, Nov. 9, Nov. 16, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14.

Writers at a Creating Poetry workshop. (Photo by José G. Vázquez)

Participants will read and talk about their work, hear new ideas from fellow writers, and, hopefully, find inspiration. McColl Center VP of Marketing and Operations Armando Bellmas says the intent of the workshops, much like other artist workshops hosted by the museum, is to spark opportunities to perform and share creations during upcoming events at McColl (Open House, The Outcome, Stimulus or Open Studio Saturdays) and as part of the Mint Museum’s Art of Reading Tours Program.

“One of the things that makes McColl Center unique is how we connect the artists that are here (or have been here) in residence to Charlotteans. We do this through events like the poetry workshop and all our art-making workshops,” Bellmas said. “When people like you and me learn directly from an artist about how to make artwork, everyone benefits.”

Mint Museum Lightens Up

Have you ever felt adrift in the dark? Let Studio Drift immerse you in the light.

The Dutch arts co-op — which creates breathtaking sculptures that explore the relationship between humanity, nature and technology — was founded in 2007, and the Immersed in Light exhibit they will unveil on Sept. 20 and run through next April will feature five installations ranging from 10 years old to brand new, as one named “Coded Coincidence” will premiere at the Mint Museum in Uptown.

“Cidade Matarazzo” from Fragile Future 3 in ‘Immersed in Light’ (Photo courtesy of Mint Museum)

Though they only held their first solo exhibition in Amsterdam in 2018, Studio Drift has been making their presence known internationally for years. They’ve won numerous international design awards and participated in group shows such as Design Society at the Victoria & Albert Museum (VAM) in 2016 and What is Luxury?, a collaboration between the VAM and the Crafts Council in 2015. Studio Drift’s work was featured at several major design fairs including Design Miami/Basel, Art Paris Art Fair, Dubai Design Week, artmonte-carlo, FOG Design + Art, and ZONA MACO.

Immersed in Light will include “In Twenty Steps,” an installation constructed of 20 delicate glass wings that suggest a giant bird in flight; and “Fragile Future 3,” a light installation formed of hundreds of tiny dandelion seeds that have been hand-glued, seed by seed, onto LED lights and held together by bronze electrical circuits.


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