Archive by Author

First #LongLiveArts Festival is reason to celebrate

17 May
Levine Center for the Arts (Day)

Levine Center of the Arts. Photo by Mitchell Kearney.

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

A first of its kind event hosted by the four member organizations of Levine Center for the Arts – the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Blumenthal Performing Arts’ Knight Theater, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and Mint Museum Uptown – takes place this weekend.

And while you likely know it will include an incredible array of cultural experiences for the entire family, you might not know what else makes the inaugural #LongLiveArts Festival so meaningful.

The community-wide event, which takes place Saturday, May 21, will offer salsa dancing, puppets, a portrait paint-off, drums, aerial dancing, jazz, food trucks, an Arts Guy and free access to all Levine Center for the Arts museums all day.

It will also feature a free “plazacast” of Charlotte Symphony’s “Romeo & Juliet,” showing from a big screen in front of the iconic Firebird public artwork at 7:30 p.m. Saturday as well as Friday, May 20.

But beyond that, the community festival demonstrates how the four organizations are working more closely together than ever to increase visibility and access to the unified center. Such partnerships between cultural organizations make arts, science, history and heritage experiences more accessible and help build community – one of the pillars of the community’s Cultural Vision Plan.

It’s also reminiscent of the forethought that led to the creation of Levine Center for the Arts.

A view of what is now the site of Levine Center for the Arts before the facilities for four cultural organizations were constructed.

A view of what is now the site of Levine Center for the Arts before the facilities for four cultural organizations were constructed.

Back in 2005, surface parking came close to filling the one-block radius of South Tryon Street across from The Green in uptown Charlotte. There weren’t plans across the street to demolish the now-former Charlotte Observer building for a “major mixed use development” or to turn the old Goodyear Building into a really cool temporary space for artists before knocking it down for another mixed-use building.

But there was a plan for The Campaign for Cultural Facilities, the private endowment campaign launched that year.

In 2010, Leon and Sandra Levine, through The Leon Levine Foundation, contributed a $15 million gift to conclude the $83 million fundraising effort. In tribute to the Levines’ generosity, also recognized by a $5 million gift in their honor by Duke Energy, Wells Fargo renamed the cultural campus Levine Center for the Arts.

Photo by Patrick Schneider.

First Night Charlotte. Photo by Patrick Schneider.

With the subsequent openings of Knight Theater (Oct. 12, 2009), the Gantt Center (Oct. 24, 2009), the Bechtler (Jan. 2, 2010) and Mint Museum Uptown (Oct. 1, 2010), the cultural campus established itself as a vibrant and high-energy arts district where Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents and visitors can find blockbuster exhibitions, illuminating performances and community celebrations – all of which you’ll find for free this weekend at #LongLiveArts.

So while the festival is new, the commitment to program excellence and relevance by all four Levine Center for the Arts institutions has long been steadfast.

And that’s something to celebrate.

Want to Go?

The #LongLiveArts Community Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at Levine Center for the Arts, 500 block of South Tryon Street, including Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Blumenthal Performing Arts’ Knight Theater, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and Mint Museum Uptown.

A free “plazacast” of Charlotte Symphony’s “Romeo & Juliet” will be shown from a big screen in front of the Firebird at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 20, and Saturday, May 21. The Bechtler and the Mint will offer special hours of free access on Friday, May 20, in conjunction with the plazacast.

For more information, including a complete schedule of events, visit facebook.com/levinecenterart.

“Hornets Nest” connects CMPD to community

29 Apr

Why this matters: The iconography found in “Hornets Nest” at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Westovever station is representative of both the CMPD and the revitalization of the West Boulevard corridor.

"Hornets Nest" by Michael Morgan is a brick sculptural component integrated into the new CMPD Westover station.

“Hornets Nest” by Michael Morgan is a brick sculptural component integrated into the new CMPD Westover station.

By Emily Sogard
Cultural & Community Investment Intern

Bricks create a buzz in Michael Morgan’s new “Hornets Nest,” connects community members along West Boulevard to the groundbreaking Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Westover Station.

Morgan, a Philadelphia-based ceramic artist, sees hornets as masons working in unison to create their own environment. He sees the sculptural component he created for the new police station as a metaphor for the community members working together to revitalize the corridor.

What makes the piece successful is that it causes the viewer to look at an everyday material in a new and exciting way.

“What I love about brick is everyone can connect with it, you can alter it to have all sorts of connotations, without making it a representational sculpture,” he said.

Bent and glazed bricks are inlayed into the façade of the building, just above the front door, in the public artwork, which was dedicated in April. It is tight and systematic in the center and widens as it approaches the top of the station. The bricks are heavily textured, mimicking the organic feel of an actual hornets’ nest.

An up-close look at the bent and glaze brick found in "Hornets Nest" at the CMPD Westover station.

An up-close look at the bent and glaze brick found in “Hornets Nest” at the CMPD Westover station.

To illustrate the collaboration hornets display in building their homes, Morgan made it a priority to have community members make a physical impact on “Hornets Nest.” With their hands and feet, residents shaped several of the bricks found in the artwork, strengthening the work’s connection to its location.

“It was really a great experience – getting everyone involved,” Morgan said. “I think it is important they know they are a part of a work of art in their community forever.”

Appropriately, the hornets’ nest – a symbol of resurgence and of Charlotte’s Revolutionary War history – is emblazoned on the badges of the CMPD officers that protect and serve.

Indeed, its ties to Charlotte’s past and future make “Hornets Nest” a special addition to the station. It is unexpected and abstract, but it doesn’t “hit the viewer over the head with a sledge hammer,” Morgan said.

What it does do is challenge viewers to reflect on how we impact our physical environments through our very presence.

Meet the 2016 ASC Honors recipients

29 Apr

Why this matters: ASC recognizes that creative individuals and teachers enrich the cultural lives of everyone in our region and beyond through their work.

2016 ASC Honors recipients

2016 ASC Honors recipients (from left) Ann Jacob, Tyrone Jefferson, Sonia Handelman Meyer, Dr. Ray Tsu, Beverly Penninger, Dr. Tom Hanchett, Julie McConnell and Windy Fullagar. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

By Michael Solender

Dr. Tom Hanchett, 2016 ASC Honors award recipient for lifetime achievement in history.
Creating community together

Dr. Tom Hanchett, author and former Levine Museum of the New South historian who also developed the Community Building Initiative’s bus tours that introduce participants to Charlotte’s historical racial landscape, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in history.

Dr. Tom Hanchett. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tyrone Jefferson,  2016 ASC Honors award recipient for lifetime achievement in music.
We come from greatness

Tyrone Jefferson, executive director and musician with A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas and former music director and trombonist for music legend James Brown, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in music.

Tyrone Jefferson. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonia Handelman Meyer, 2016 ASC Honors award recipient for lifetime achievement in visual art.
Revealing subjects

Sonia Handleman Meyer, a former New York Photo League photographer whose images of social injustice in the 1940s and ’50s were rediscovered in Charlotte, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in visual art. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

Sonia Handleman Meyer. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverley Penninger, 2016 ASC Honors award recipient for lifetime achievement in film.
Replacing fear with understanding

Beverly Penninger, a Charlotte native who began her career as a production assistant at WBTV before moving on to create documentaries of regional and national prominence, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in film. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

Beverly Penninger. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Raphael Tsu, 2016 ASC Honors award recipient for lifetime achievement in science.
A lifelong search for meaning

Dr. Raphael Tsu, a Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and an acknowledged authority and world leader in the areas of quantum properties of materials and device physics, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in science.

Dr. Raphael Tsu. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Windy Fullagar, 2016 ASC Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching
Strike up the band

Windy Fullagar, band director at Alexander Graham Middle School in Charlotte, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors – Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award.

Windy Fullagar, band director at Alexander Graham Middle School in Charlotte. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ann Jacob, 2016 ASC Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching
Even better next year

Ann Jacob, a fourth/fifth grade teacher at New Town Elementary in Waxhaw, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors – Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award.

Ann Jacob, a fourth/fifth grade teacher at New Town Elementary in Waxhaw. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julie McConnell, 2016 ASC Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching
Taking it to another level

Julie McConnell, a biology teacher at William A. Hough High School in Cornelius, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors – Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award.

Julie McConnell, a biology teacher at William A. Hough High School in Cornelius. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

 

 

Creating community together – Dr. Tom Hanchett, 2016 ASC Honors

29 Apr

Why This Matters: ASC recognizes that creative individuals and teachers enrich the cultural lives of everyone in our region and beyond through their work.

Dr. Tom Hanchett, author and former Levine Museum of the New South historian who also developed the Community Building Initiative’s bus tours that introduce participants to Charlotte’s historical racial landscape, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in history.

Dr. Tom Hanchett, author and former Levine Museum of the New South historian who also developed the Community Building Initiative’s bus tours that introduce participants to Charlotte’s historical racial landscape, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in history. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

By Michael Solender

When Tom Hanchett arrived in Charlotte in the early ‘80s to work for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission his job was to study neighborhoods many saw as old and run down.

“People said, ‘You’re a historian? Go to Charleston, go to Williamsburg. That’s where the real history is,’” recalled Hanchett. “Dilworth was largely unappreciated. I saw the sidewalks and beautiful bungalows and thought this is a great place. If we can see the love that went in to it, we can be in it and feel love.”

Hanchett’s career is built upon sharing the love he’s found in the history of our forbearers and showcasing the living traditions he’s found in all corners of our city.

During more than 16 years as staff historian at the Levine Museum of the New South, Hanchett curated nine exhibits and served as scholarly advisor on three others. His work on the museum’s showcase exhibit, “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers: Reinvent­ing Charlotte and the Carolina Piedmont in the New South,” earned the Southeast Museums Conference award of Best New Exhibit in 2001.

The Hanchett-curated “COURAGE” exhibition, exploring the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision, won top national awards from the American Association for State and Local History and the American Alliance of Museums in 2006. The National Medal for Museum and Library Services recognized the museum’s team at the White House.

Hanchett’s “HistorySouth.org” website is a rich resource of essays and observations exploring food, music, architecture, history and culture in Charlotte.

“Food and music tell you a lot about who’s here and how people put together their world,” said Hanchett.

His regular “Food From Home” feature in the Charlotte Observer celebrates food traditions from the multi-ethnic and ever evolving cultural landscape of the New South. He teamed with Cedric Mangum of the United House of Prayer to launch the annual “Gospel Shout!” concerts, which connect new audiences to the storied music tradition of this exuberant African-American church. Hanchett helped create the 1985 Spirit Square reunion of bluegrass and mountain music legends in “The Charlotte Country Music Story.”

Working with planner John Howard and the staff of the Community Building Initiative, Hanchett developed the “Black, White, and More” bus tours providing context and history behind Charlotte’s racial landscape and shifting demographics.

Generous with his time and knowledge, Hanchett is quick to share credit with former Levine Museum president, Emily Zimmern, and one of his mentors, historian Dan Morrill, a past ASC Honoree, for shaping his collaborative approach and encouraging his work to be reflective of the community.

“History is really what the community creates together,” says Hanchett. “All the things that touch you are enriched by all of the people who make them.”

 

We come from greatness – Tyrone Jefferson, 2016 ASC Honors

29 Apr

Why this matters: ASC recognizes that creative individuals and teachers enrich the cultural lives of everyone in our region and beyond through their work.

Tyrone Jefferson, executive director and musician with A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas and former music director and trombonist for music legend James Brown, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in music.

Tyrone Jefferson, executive director and musician with A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas and former music director and trombonist for music legend James Brown, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in music. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

By Michael Solender

Tyrone Jefferson likes to quote civil rights activist Marcus M. Garvey who said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

The quest for ancestral knowledge is not only Jefferson’s lifelong passion, but part of the mission of A Sign of The Times, the nonprofit community service organization he founded in 2006.

Through music, dance and spoken word, A Sign of the Times develops community programming connecting people with history, heritage and traditions of the African Diaspora.

Seeds for the organization were sewn when Jefferson visited Kenya, Africa, in 1978. The experience became a turning point in his life.

“I went to Mombasa as a tourist,” recalled Jefferson. “Some locals saw me in the hotel and thought I worked there. When they realized I was American they wanted to take me into the bush, to their homes. It immediately reminded me of my grandmother’s neighborhood when I was a kid. The sense of community I felt connected me back to East Liddell Street in Charlotte. I saw where I came from.”

Jefferson believes historical contributions of his forbearers inspire people to see possibilities and realize dreams thought beyond reach.

“Discovering pre-slavery black history and the contributions we’ve made in engineering, science, medicine and beyond has changed my life. Once I know who I am and where I came from, I have no room in my heart to hate anybody.”

A renaissance man with a trail of success in a number of pursuits, Jefferson is well known for his musical career as a jazz trombonist, composer and musical arranger.

He enjoyed nearly three decades working as a trombonist and musical director with the legendary James Brown. He’s also had a distinguished recording career, collaborating with a diverse group of artists including soul-man Pee Wee Ellis, jazz pianist Alex Bugnon, rapper LL Cool J and hip hop pioneers Public Enemy.

A Sign of The Times touches the community in positive ways from scholarship offerings to jazz workshops and educational programming.

Bridging Musical Worlds is an annual collaborative program with the Charlotte Symphony and UNC Charlotte in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Held at Charlotte’s historic Excelsior Club, the program is a celebration of African-American musical forms such as jazz, blues and gospel.

Diggin’ History Through Music and Dance takes African-American history out of the classroom, using music, dance and spoken word to enlighten participants.

For his contributions to the community, Jefferson was recognized in 2013 by the Harvey B. Gantt Center with its Artist Spirit Award.

“Now is always the right time to learn about our culture,” said Jefferson. “It’s a sign of the times.”

 

Revealing subjects – Sonia Handelman Meyer, 2016 ASC Honors

29 Apr

Why this matters: ASC recognizes that creative individuals and teachers enrich the cultural lives of everyone in our region and beyond through their work.

Sonia Handleman Meyer, a former New York Photo League photographer whose images of social injustice in the 1940s and ’50s were rediscovered in Charlotte, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in visual art. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

Sonia Handleman Meyer, a former New York Photo League photographer whose images of social injustice in the 1940s and ’50s were rediscovered in Charlotte, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in visual art. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

By Michael Solender

Sonia Handelman Meyer’s passion for photography grew from a chance encounter she had in 1942 while working as a civilian for the U.S. Army Signal Corp at Ft. Buchanan in Puerto Rico.

“I met a young man working for the National Youth Administration taking pictures of the conditions,” recalled Meyer. “His photographs were beautiful and exposed things that needed to be changed. I knew immediately this was something I wanted to do.”

In photography, Meyer saw an opportunity to satisfy an unfulfilled longing to create art and seize upon a vehicle to influence change.

“The power of social change and the need for social justice was something very deep in me,” said Meyer.

Upon her return to New York, Meyer joined the New York Photo League, the historic photographers’ cooperative of pioneering change agents addressing social causes such as poverty, racism and civil rights.

From 1943 to 1951, Meyer’s studio was the streets of New York City. As she traversed through Harlem, Spanish Harlem and many of the city’s impoverished neighborhoods, she captured poignant reflections of everyday life during this turbulent time in American history.

Some of her most enduring images are of the children at Harlem’s Sydenham Hospital, the first racially integrated hospital in the city, where she volunteered her time. Personal, immediate and honest, her photographs unveil deeply intimate character studies.

“As I walked the streets my eyes opened to what was there,” said Meyer. “Instead of passing things by, I looked at them and I saw them for what they were.”

Meyer’s work gained prominent national attention as part of the 1949 major exhibition, “This is the Photo League.”

When the Photo League ended in 1951, Meyer lost much of her enthusiasm for her work setting it aside to raise a family.

Since relocating to Charlotte in 2002, Meyer’s work has been rediscovered and found a new following. Hodges Taylor Art Consultancy, her representative, held a solo exhibition of her work in 2007. In 2013, 90 of Meyer’s photos were brought to life in the Mint Museum’s extensive exhibition, “Bearing Witness: The New York Photo League and Sonia Handelman Meyer.”

“What’s been most gratifying,” Meyer said of the renewed interest in her work, “is that people today see what I saw then and share the understanding.”

Her work is held in many prestigious collections including, the Metropolitan Museum, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, New York City’s Jewish Museum, Charlotte’s Mint Museum and Bank of America’s Corporate Collection. “I never thought I was taking something away from the people,” she said of her subjects. “I felt I was revealing them.”

Replacing fear with understanding – Beverly Penninger, 2016 ASC Honors,

29 Apr

Why this matters: ASC recognizes that creative individuals and teachers enrich the cultural lives of everyone in our region and beyond through their work.

Beverly Penninger, a Charlotte native who began her career as a production assistant at WBTV before moving on to create documentaries of regional and national prominence, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in film. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

Beverly Penninger, a Charlotte native who began her career as a production assistant at WBTV before moving on to create documentaries of regional and national prominence, is honored with the 2016 ASC Honors award for lifetime achievement in film. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

By Michael Solender

Telling others’ stories is a privilege documentary filmmaker Beverley Penninger undertakes with the utmost respect and sense of responsibility.

“I never start a project with any preconceived ideas,” said Penninger. “My goal is to honor the subject and share the journey of discovery with the viewer.”

Subjects featured in Penninger’s assemblage of films over her decades’ long career include luminaries like NASCAR legend Richard Petty, NBA star Muggsy Bogues and musical giants of the Newport Folk Festival. She’s collaborated with such industry notables as Walter Cronkite, Stockard Channing, Charles Kuralt and Loonis McGlohon.

Yet it is often the voices of those on the periphery, our community’s underdogs, where her platform for their stories has the greatest impact on others.

One of the first features Penninger produced for WBTV in the early ‘80s featured the amazing back stories of developmentally disabled residents at Charlotte’s Nevins Center.

“Initially I was very uncomfortable, fearful actually, of what it might be like to be around the residents,” recalled Penninger. “When I first walked into the room, it was like the world stopped. They all waved, smiled and laughed and immediately I knew there was nothing to be afraid of.”

This experience cemented a core value in all her work. “There is nothing to fear from people who are different. That applies to everything, race, religion, orientation. This is at the essence of what I do, take away the fear and create in its place understanding.”

“Any Day Now,” a film she co-produced for local PBS affiliate WTVI, is a deep source of pride for Penninger. The film told the heart wrenching stories of 16 Charlotte wom­en, each domestic abuse survivors.

The compelling documentary won two national awards, including recognition by the American Women in Radio and Television. The production team raised the funds for the women featured to travel to the New York City awards ceremony where they were recognized for their courage.

Penninger established her own production company, Naka Productions, in 1993 after many years perfecting her craft. The breadth and depth of her work has earned her accolades and recognition, including Emmy, Telly, Gracie, IABC Gold Quill & Gold Crown and Cine Golden Eagle Film and Video awards.

In 2010 Penninger was chosen as one of only 25 producers for the PBS Producers Academy.

In the closing line of award winning film, “The Spirit of Sacajawea,” Penninger strategically ended the film with the narrator stating, “She made history simply by being herself.”

Just like one of her heroines, Beverly Penninger does great things by simply being herself.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 94 other followers