I had the privilege to go check out Mint Museum’s LOCAL/STREET pop-up art exhibit on Sunday, the last of its three-day run, and I’m so glad I did. The exhibit showcased the work of 40 local artists, with a focus on artists of color and underground street artists. It featured works from photographers such as Alvin C. Jacobs Jr., Carey J. King, and Kevin “Surf” Mitchell, alongside that of visual artists like Lo’Vonia Parks, Saloan Goodwin and Kyle Mosher.
As I finished up my two rounds through the exhibit, I couldn’t help but feel like it would be cool for the museum to keep this thing going for a week or maybe a month. After all, it served as such a powerful showcase for local talent that often goes overlooked by large institutions like the Mint, which was the first art museum to open in Charlotte’s history.
As I was leaving on Sunday, I ran into Carla Aaron-Lopez, the local artist, CMS teacher and BLKMRKTCLT co-founder who curated and organized the pop-up. I asked if there was any chance we could see an extension for LOCAL/STREET, an idea she shot down as quick as I could ask it. According to her, the exclusivity of a three-day run was the whole point.
“I did create this exhibition underneath the concept of a pop-up because I love underground culture; I just flat out like existing in that space of seeing new talent that’s unrecognized or recognized only on that level,” she told me. “Having [LOCAL/STREET] as a pop-up, making it disappear, making people feel like they missed out on something really big has been the important driving factor for the show’s success because, one, these are all people in our backyards, they’re literally our neighbors, and two, in terms of economic sustainability, we can’t keep going out if we have everything that we need here. The challenge is, are you willing to work with someone that you may have never chosen to work with before? So now that their talent is out there, their information was on the walls, go holla at that artist.”
As for her thoughts on the weekend’s turnout — which we don’t have confirmed numbers for quite yet but safe to say it was a success — the response from Queen City art lovers was enough to return Aaron-Lopez to a clean bill of health.
“Friday and Saturday I’ve had this consistent feeling of vomiting,” she told me on Sunday, laughing. “Today’s the first day where I don’t feel that way. I knew it was a great idea, and as it started getting in motion I was like, ‘Oh this is going to be super cool,’ I just didn’t think the city was going to show up. That blows my mind.”
If you weren’t able to make the exhibit and see the work for yourself (or grab the artists’ Instagram handles from the walls), let me point you to a convenient list of all the featured artists with the appropriate links, courtesy of Charlotte Is Creative. I’ll be the first to vouch for the fact that each and every artist on the list is worth your time and consideration for any type of collaboration/commission/whatever you might be planning.
As for Aaron-Lopez, she recently joined the team at Talking Walls, Charlotte’s only mural festival, and is now shifting her focus to making this year’s event even more memorable than the last. Keep an eye out for how that plays out this fall.
The following photos of the LOCAL/STREET pop-up exhibit were taken by the intrepid Grant Baldwin on Saturday afternoon.
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