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Finding uptown Charlotte’s “hidden” public art

1 May

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Public art is all around us—even places we don’t expect to find it.

Hidden works lurk in interior locations and blend into parks and architecture, beckoning to us and inviting us to stick around awhile.

Some greet you warmly as soon as you enter one of our uptown buildings. Others force you to look up. Or down. Or to stop and smell the roses.

But once you discover any of them, your perception of that place and space is forever altered.

In what we hope will become the first in an occasional series uncovering some of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s “hidden” treasures, we take a look at eight of our favorite uptown public artworks hiding in plain sight.

Oculus Reflector.

Oculus Reflector.

Oculus Reflector
Artist:
James Carpenter.
Where You Can Find It: Charlotte Convention Center.
What You’ll Uncover: Perched in the circular opening of the dome in the Convention Center’s Grand Hall, the three-dimensional light reflective sculpture made of glass and steel creates shifting patterns and designs on the floor. It’s one of nine public artworks found at the Convention Center.

 

 

Passing Through Light.

Passing Through Light.

Passing Through Light
Artist: Erwin Redl.
Where You Can Find It: I-77 Underpass at West Trade Street.
What You’ll Uncover: The immersive public artwork consists of three sequences of light that slowly loop through a color gradient, turning what was an unsafe, unwelcoming space into a visual, dynamic gateway for vehicles and pedestrians as they enter and exit Charlotte’s Northwest corridor. The project was the first in the state to test the N.C. Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) art on the right-of-way policy, which provides a way for communities to undertake public art projects within the NCDOT right-of-way.

Rendering the Familiar.

Rendering the Familiar.

Rendering the Familiar
Artists: Amy Baur and Brian Bolden.
Where You Can Find It: City-County Courts District, 700 E. 4th St.
What You’ll Uncover: Digital images past and present Charlotte are merged in this wall installation to provide a sense of perspective and peace.

We Hold These Truths.

We Hold These Truths.

We Hold These Truths (exterior) and Let Justice Like a River Roll (interior)
Artists:
Robin Brailsford, artist & Fred Chappell, poet.
Where You Can Find It:
Mecklenburg County Courthouse, 832 E. 4th St.
What You’ll Uncover: On the exterior, quotes from the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are accompanied by complementary phrases that provide historical and philosophical context. The interior holds a carved poem written by Chappell, a former North Carolina Poet Laureate, which echoes, in poetic form, the sentiments of America’s founders.

Wind Silos.

Wind Silos.

Wind Silos
Artist:
Ned Kahn.
Where You Can Find It: Parking deck of the International Trade Center, 200 N. College St.
What You’ll Uncover: The inspiration for the piece came from the Archer Daniels Midland silos still standing in Fourth Ward. Its undulating metal screens are evocative of grain silos and are designed to allow ventilation while creating a visual screen.

 

Cascade.

Cascade.

Cascade
Artist: Jean Tinguely.
Where You Can Find It: Carillon Building, 227 W. Trade St.
What You’ll Uncover: Cascade, created in 1991, was the last monumental work by the famed kinetic sculptor. Tinguely came to Charlotte at the behest of his friend Andreas Bechtler, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art benefactor. The artist incorporated pieces he discovered locally into the work, including a lion’s head from the façade of the old Hotel Charlotte, where the Carillon currently stands.

Continuum.

Continuum.

Continuum
Artist: Ben Long.
Where You Can Find It: Exterior rotunda of the TransAmerica Building, 401 N. Tryon St.
What You’ll Uncover: The fresco requires you to crane your neck in order to see faces and images iconic to North Carolina. Among them are the Tar Heel mascot and former Bank of America Chairman and CEO Hugh McColl.

Traces of Fourth Ward.

Traces of Fourth Ward.

Traces of Fourth Ward
Artist: Shaun Cassidy.
Where You Can Find It: Fourth Ward Neighborhood Park, 301 N. Poplar St.
What You’ll Uncover: The steel sculpture is fashioned in the style of the Victorian homes prominent in the historic neighborhood. It also supports a climbing rose bush that covers the structure.

Earth Day art contest for kids

23 Apr

Compiled by Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Earth Day celebrations may have taken place across the globe yesterday, but Earth Day KidsCharlotte-Mecklenburg area students have the opportunity to use art to illustrate why it’s important to celebrate Earth Day every day.

Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) and the Arts & Science Council invite kids in pre-K through 12th grade to participate in a Kids Art Contest honoring Earth Day. Artwork should best portray the child’s or teen’s response to the following:

“For a healthy community, we need a healthy environment. How might you show compassion to others and the natural environment to create a healthy future for all living things?”

Artwork can use any two-dimensional medium-such as watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, pastels, crayons and more-on a single piece of white paper. Artwork should not exceed an 8”x10” template area.

Participants have to be sponsored by a CHS employee to participate. All artwork submissions and completed entry forms must be received by May 22, 2015. Submission forms can be downloaded by clicking here.

Blumenthal announces newest Center Stage honorees

20 Jan

By Elise Esasky
Public Relations Manager, Blumenthal Performing Arts 

Blumenthal Performing Arts awarded three Center Stage Awards to community leaders during its annual meeting on Jan. 14 in Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

Center Stage awards are presented to individuals or organizations whose service or partnership with Blumenthal Performing Arts has furthered the mission, reach and improved the programs Blumenthal provides to the community.

Charlene McMoore with Henry and Rene Justice and Joyce Ford. (Courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts.)

Charlene McMoore with Henry and Rene Justice and Joyce Ford. (Courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts.)

Charlene McMoore

Charlene McMoore is a Charlotte native, and is a Project Manager in the IT Department at Duke Energy. She was a volunteer at Spirit Square in the 90’s before Blumenthal Performing Arts came into existence in 1992. Soon after that, she joined Blumenthal’s newly formed volunteer program. She has been a committed and faithful volunteer who always works more than her required number of events each month, and she provides excellent customer service to Blumenthal patrons. Last year alone, McMoore provided more than 200 hours of volunteer service. She says she enjoys volunteering at BPA because it provides a great atmosphere to meet and be of service to a variety of people in the community who attend events in Blumenthal’s six theaters.

Rebecca Henderson with Rick Puckett and Tom Gabbard. (Photo courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts.)

Rebecca Henderson with Rick Puckett and Tom Gabbard. (Photo courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts.)

Rebecca Henderson

Rebecca Henderson is completing six years of service as a trustee. During her tenure, she steadfastly worked as a volunteer fundraiser every year on the corporate campaign and she was very successful. Over the past six years, Henderson helped raise more than $500,000 for Blumenthal’s education and outreach programs, during the most challenging economic years in memory.

Mary Nell McPherson with Tom Gabbard and Rick Puckett. (Courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts.)

Mary Nell McPherson with Tom Gabbard and Rick Puckett. (Courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts.)

Freedom School Partners (accepted by Mary Nell McPherson)

Freedom School Partners is a non-profit organization that provides Charlotte area literacy based summer education programs to prevent summer learning loss for students in grades K-12. They are the largest provider of Freedom Schools in the Nation: a full 10% of the nation’s total Freedom School scholars and interns are served in Charlotte Mecklenburg. While many schools today are focused on STEM, Freedom School Partners believe STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, and Math) to be the key to a child’s success. Each summer they incorporate performing arts opportunities to broaden their scholars’ creativity, social and emotional intelligence and to inspire them to dream big.

Through a partnership with Freedom Schools in FY14, and fueled by the generosity of thousands of constituents, BPA increased access to a Broadway performance for families and kids least able to afford a ticket by 400%.

ABOUT BLUMENTHAL PERFORMING ARTS
Blumenthal Performing Arts serves the Carolinas as a leading cultural, entertainment and education provider. For more information, call (704) 372-1000 or visit BlumenthalArts.org. Blumenthal Performing Arts receives operating support from the Arts & Science Council and the North Carolina Arts Council. Blumenthal Performing Arts is also supported through the generous aid of its sponsors including, PNC Bank, sponsor of PNC Broadway Lights; and US Airways, official airline of Blumenthal Performing Arts.

Pouring over Arthur Brouthers

17 Oct

By Amy Bareham
Cultural & Community Investment Intern

Arthur Brouthers.

Arthur Brouthers.

Charlotte’s Culture Initiative, graphic design, painting and the Hornets all have someone in common: his name is Arthur Brouthers and he is a fall 2014 Arts & Science Council Community Supported Art (CSA) participant. Originally from Charleston, Brouthers is the embodiment of synergy, marrying multiple concepts and disciplines in order to produce art.

Like many, Brouthers initially put art dreams on hold, declining offers from SCAD and Parsons, and choosing to pursue graphic design at college instead. Once ingratiated in the Charlotte community, he partnered with a friend to develop Culture Initiative, a grassroots movement that supports emerging artists. After five years, roughly 30 shows and a whole lot of patience, Brouthers finally made the decision to step back and focus on his own art.

A successful show with Sharon Dowell and various other artists at Art Space 525 led to a commission and a contract with Sozo Gallery where Brouthers’ work is currently on display. Perhaps most impressive about his paintings is that they’re a result of trial and error.

“One day I was messing around…and I spilled paint. This is a true story,” said Brouthers, “I had some paint fall over, it got everywhere and I really liked the way that [the colors] blended.”

Never has trial and error looked so good. With his unique pouring technique, Brouthers is able to create different effects each time, and should it all go horribly wrong, he can scrape off the paint and begin again.

Artist by day and DJ by night, Brouthers has also made close ties with the Bobcats, now the Charlotte Hornets, playing a majority of home games, halftime sets and private functions. While music is an integral part of Brouthers’ character, he is thankful for the opportunity to invest more time into painting.

“I didn’t feel like I could really go anywhere with what I was doing before – I was doing abstracts,” he said. “I was doing what felt good and what helped me out. It was more like therapy for me. It really didn’t matter if anyone else liked it. Whenever I’m DJ-ing, if people don’t like my music, I don’t get hired or they don’t ask me to come back. But if I’m painting, I can just keep on doing whatever I want to do. It’s more of a freedom of expression.”

That freedom to create is bringing CSA shareholders 50 trademark pieces this October.

arthur brouthers work

Artwork by Arthur Brouthers.

“I’m doing 50 10x10x2 wood canvases,” Brouthers explained. “[They’re] basically my pouring style and then there’s a layer of epoxy resin on the top. It almost has a glassy look to it.”

All different colors and inspired by natural formations seen throughout the world, the canvases are labors of love.

“I work with a lot of acrylic and oil, gel mediums…different things to get that specific effect,” he said. “I use heat and I use fans and water, and I add oil…to kind of change the viscosity of the paint so that it will mix a certain way.”

Brouthers is completely self-taught, but as per his synergistic character, utilizes color theory from graphic design when working. With a new art studio and lounge-y house music in the background, this DJ-designer-artiste is set to revel in creative harmony.

Click here to see more of Arthur’s work.

Why Charlotte’s all of a-flutter

3 Oct

By Amy Bareham
Cultural and Community Investment Intern

Liz Saintsing.

Liz Saintsing.

If you circled Freedom Park at the recent Festival in the Park, you undoubtedly noticed Liz Saintsing, completely in her element and surrounded by silk screens.

Fall 2014 Arts & Science Council Community Supported Art participant and longtime art enthusiast, Saintsing has a vivacious spirit – one that absorbs the natural world in all its intricacy and translates each detail to paper. Drawing from observation is something she’s always known, often documenting scenes from childhood days.

“I grew up just south of Winston Salem,” she said. “It was a pretty rural area. We would constantly be outside. I remember hunting for birds’ nests and egg shells and snake skins.

“Being around nature, that’s certainly something that inspires me. I like the graphic qualities of the birds and the insects and the wide world around us.”

A Guildford grad, Saintsing moved out West, veering away from the stereotypical fine art route and pursuing art with a functional twist. She began printing on “really cool vintage handbags,” and found a niche with women who wanted a little something different on their arm. From there, Saintsing’s screening evolved into a home accessories line.

The process of silk screening caters to someone who’s a gifted drawer like Saintsing. She begins with a subject she wishes to draw and then transfers that drawing on a transparency film. After stretching a screen, she’ll coat it with a light sensitive liquid, leaving it to dry in a dark place before placing the image onto the screen.

As the screen is exposed to light, the image is essentially burned onto the screen and can then be used for production. Most impressive about this process is that computers aren’t involved. While some of the depth and detail form the original drawing are lost in the transfer, the design options are infinite.

CSA shareholders can expect a hand-dyed print, each uniquely different, signed and framed. Saintsing assured me, “They’re amazing.”

Bringing art into the home can feel daunting, especially when the medium is complex, like screening. I asked Saintsing her thoughts on this.

“People are definitely able to see the art,” she said. “Because it’s one of a kind and personalized, even if they’re not familiar with the silk screening process, they appreciate it and treasure it.”

She explained that her home décor products are “conversation pieces…there’s something really beautiful about [them].”

She’s right. Whether birds strike your fancy or you prefer silhouetted botanicals and sea creatures, Liz has something for everyone. With her wide range of coloration and pattern placement it’s easy to spend hours on her website trying to choose just the right piece. Indecisive shoppers beware.

Visit Saintsing’s website for more information.

Festivals kicking off the cultural season

28 Aug

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Festival in the Park. (Photo credit: Festival in the Park.)

Festival in the Park. (Photo credit: Festival in the Park.)

September has long been considered the unofficial start of the cultural season.

What better way to kick off the season than cultural festivals that engage the community in the arts?

The Arts & Science Council (ASC) will invest $42,500 in festival sponsorships in 2014-15 to help increase access and strengthen the quality of cultural programming in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Here’s a look at festivals taking place in September and October that are supported by ASC grants, as well as some other community festivals. Admission is free unless noted.

ASC-SPONSORED FESTIVALS

Festival of India

When: Noon-7 p.m. Sept. 13-14.

Where: Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St., Charlotte.

What’s Happening: Presented by the India Association of Charlotte, the Festival of India showcases the diversity of Indian food, art, dance, music and Bollywood entertainment. There will be yoga demonstrations, henna tattoos available for festival goers, traditional dances in front of Belk Theater on North Tryon Street and more.

Admission: $5 online, $7 at the door, free for kids 9 years old and younger.

Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441844635/20th_Festival_of_India.

Festival in the Park

When: 4-9:30 p.m. Sept. 19, 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sept. 20 and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 21.

Where: Freedom Park, 2435 Cumberland Ave., Charlotte.

What’s Happening: For more than 50 years, this Charlotte tradition has been seen as the last push of summer and a celebration of the fall to come. Local artisans, bands and crafts of all sorts are presented in an outdoors fair-like atmosphere. Festival in the Park features 180 artists and craft exhibitors and nearly 1000 entertainers.

Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441798104/Festival_in_the_Park.

24th Annual Latin American Festival

When: Noon-8 p.m. Oct. 12.

Where: Symphony Park, 4400 Sharon Road, Charlotte.

What’s Happening: The 24th Annual Latin American Festival will feature internationally renowned musical performances from Colombian electro-tropical band Bomba Estéreo, Puerto Rican sensation and masters of contemporary bomba and plena Plena Libre, the Latin Grammy award-winning Panamanian Ska-rock group Los Rabanes and more. The festival also features traditional and contemporary dance performances, Latin food, a marketplace with authentic handmade crafts and a Plaza de Artistas featuring some of North Carolina’s best Latino visual artists.

Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441843695/24th_Annual_Latin_American_Festival.

Admission: $5, free for children 8 and younger.

OTHER FESTIVALS

‘Tawba Walk Music and Arts Festival

When: 2-8 p.m. Sept. 13.

Where: Oak Street Mill, 19725 Oak St., Cornelius.

What’s Happening: The community-inspired street festival will include 60+ vendors, eight bands, special performances, a kid zone, food trucks and local breweries.

Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441868402/Tawba_Walk_Music_and_Arts_Festival.

39th Annual UNC Charlotte International Festival

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 20.

Where: Barnhardt Student Activity Center at UNC Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte.

What’s Happening: UNC Charlotte’s longest running tradition attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year to experience the sights, sounds, dances, food and cultures of the world. Visitors can wander through tents of brightly-colored displays, tasting authentic cuisine from around the world and enjoying an atmosphere of song, dance and story.

Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441868409/39th_Annual_UNC_Charlotte_International_Festival.

The Downtown Davidson Art Crawl

When: 6 p.m. Sept. 20.

Where: downtown Davidson.

What’s Happening: The crawl features the work of over 20 local artisans displaying and selling their handmade work ranging from fine art to functional art to wearables. Also featured are several live musicians, wine and beer tastings, food trucks and crafts for kids.

Details: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event/detail/441869225/The_Downtown_Davidson_Art_Crawl.

An Investment Worth Making: A Future Pop King?

9 Jul

By Scott Walker Cunningham
Davidson College Education Scholar

2014 Digital and Media Literacy Camp student Abekh El

2014 Digital and Media Literacy Camp student Abekh El

“Do you like your name, Abekh?”

“I don’t like it. I like Jackson 2.”

“Do you feel a certain way when you dance?”

“I just love dancing. And when I dance I feel like I’m famous.”

I overheard this hallway conversation between seven-year-old Abekh El and 17-year-old Morelia Trinidad as they collaborated on a 30 second film showcasing Abekh’s self-proclaimed dance skills.

The project was for a breakout session at Studio 345’s Digital & Media Literacy camp that Abekh enrolled in and Morelia worked at as an intern. Breakout sessions offer afternoon courses that students sign up for by preference, customizing learning experiences for participants. The options this time around included Claymation, piñata making, cup stacking, and movie making. Abekh and Morelia picked the last one.

Dressed in a dark, felt hat and leather shoes, Abekh spun around the room, liable to fling off his hat or spring onto his toes in a Michael Jackson-like manner at any moment. These moves were almost always accompanied by an impressive hip gyration. Once, he even moon walked the near quarter mile from 7th Street Market back to Studio 345.

During more sedentary activities, Abekh was often difficult to settle down. But in the white-walled hallway with cameras rolling, the setting seemed natural for him. Abekh came alive as the music echoed off the walls. He slid, spun, pounced, and clapped between beats. No one was telling him to sit down, and for six straight minutes he danced like the King of Pop was watching in the corner. It was beautiful.

Feeling the groove, Abekh shows off his best moves.

Feeling the groove, Abekh shows off his best moves.

While stories of young talent like Abekh’s are not rare, his opportunity to cultivate those talents in programs like Studio 345’s is much less common. Research shows that this proves true for both Charlotte and the nation as a whole.

The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) produced a report in 2009 on the benefits of and needs for afterschool programming. In 2006, “86% of the providers surveyed [by the Afterschool Alliance] said that children in their communities who need after school programs do not have access to them.”

The national statistics correspond on a local level as well.  In 2011, Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Out of School Time Task Force reported around 28,000 of the 140,000 youth in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County (CMC) that were enrolled in afterschool programming.

They also found “an estimated 35,000 additional youth [that] could benefit from afterschool programs,” leaving only 44-percent of students in need enrolled in programming. The demand exists in the CMC community for more programming, but the supply seems short.

The benefits such programs have on students are well documented by researchers. NIOST finds that arts-focused afterschool programs “can increase academic achievement, decrease youth involvement in delinquent behavior and improve youth attitudes towards themselves, and others and their futures.” Despite these findings, the Out of School Time Task Force found only “10% of youth were enrolled in summer programs that year.…[and] an estimated 3,800 youth on waiting lists for free and subsidized programs.”

When the task force approached the listed afterschool providers about this unmet need, they found lack of financial support and shrinking subsidies as commonly cited factors. These providers, however, state that they could meet the needs of additional youth with better financial support, leading to stronger staff, better facilities, and larger enrollment capacities.

The afterschool sector needs both private and public support, but the apparent costs are not as taxing as they seem. Investors and citizens alike capitalize on the social benefits of better funded afterschool programming. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids notes how “[q]uality youth development programs can cut crime immediately into academic enrichment, wholesome fun and community service.”

There are also economic benefits in supporting education. NIOST notes the Rose Institute’s findings that “[e]very dollar invested in high quality afterschool programs save taxpayers on average $3.00.” The World Literacy Foundation also finds a 3.7% increase in long-term economic growth and 6% increase in per capita income for every year that the average level of education is raised, a demonstrated result of well-executed afterschool programming.  For anyone unfamiliar with economics, ask a banking friend. That sort of growth is significant.

Aside from the financial incentives, Teach for America-Charlotte intern, Nate Harding, illustrates the social responsibilities for all citizens in improving education opportunities for youth. “We are stake holders in the future of learning [….] Volunteer, donate, advocate – the form of support you choose to take is of little importance; what matters is that you take action.”

In Studio 345’s media lounge, Morelia edited Abekh’s video on Final Cut Pro, a skill acquired during her time at Studio 345. When I asked Morelia why she decided to enroll in the program two years ago, she said that in fourth grade, she and her cousin wrote screenplays for videos. She loved filming, and when she heard about the opportunity at the studio, she had to sign up.

“I felt lucky, you know? Not many kids get to run into things like this.”

Abekh sat beside her on a dark-leather bench. Both stared at the computer screen while she worked on the video’s transitions. Abekh jumped up from his seat every time he saw himself pounce onto his toes.

“That’s me! I did that.”

Constant mouse clicks ticked over the music like a metronome.

“Yeah,” said Morelia, “Lucky would be the word.”

_MG_7199

Abekh giving all the right moves.

Abekh is by no means a criminal, but he's certainly smooth.

Abekh may not be the King of Pop (yet), but he already has some smooth moves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Cunningham is a rising junior at Davidson College with an interest in civic engagement, social entrepreneurship and the arts. His hobbies include creative writing, photography, acoustic guitar and most things athletic. He can be reached at scott.cunningham@artsandscience.org.

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