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.

XOXO: Putting the weird in local theater

1 May

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

XOXO presents the experiential performance "Bohemian Grove" May 7-30.

XOXO presents the experiential performance “Bohemian Grove” May 7-30.

Trying to win over the established theater crowd wasn’t working for XOXO. Traditional venues didn’t hold much appeal for the Charlotte experimental theater collective either.

So it got weird.

“We gave ourselves permission to do the kind of shows we wanted to see,” said founder Matt Cosper. “The audience came out of the woodwork, and it’s been really rewarding because it turns out it’s actually this elusive audience that theaters want—a very diverse audience, a young audience.

“People that don’t go see theater come see our shows.”

Case in point: “Bohemian Grove,” the three-hour-plus experiential performance piece the theater mounted last year. For each show, an audience of 14 people loaded up on a church van in Charlotte to be chauffeured by Cosper to a remote South Carolina farm, where a story exploring the afterlife unfolded.

XOXO will remount its boutique work from May 7–30, thanks in part to $5,000 in project funding from the Arts & Science Council (ASC).

XOXO founder Matt Cosper.

XOXO founder Matt Cosper.

The grant is “allowing us to pay artists, rent and insure the van—insurance for a performance like this is not cheap,” Cosper said. “It’s allowing us to do the work that we want to do and serve more people, and that’s a big thing.”

The performance starts on the drive, with the route to the farm specifically mapped out. Music, soundscapes, a monologue, poems and little scenes connect passengers to what they see out the windows—and prepares them for what’s to come.

If you’re used to the traditional theater-going experience, it gets weirder from here.

At the farm, audiences move through the encounter together. The actors are close enough to make eye contact and have one-on-one experiences with spectators. At one point, the audience sits in silence and watches fireflies. At another, each audience member is confronted with a choice.

If the thought of audience participation freaks you out, don’t worry. There aren’t any costumed characters dancing down the aisles. No one is being pulled up onstage or forced to do tricks.

It’s really more of a plugged in, connected experience that audience members get to immersive themselves in for a few hours.

“It might not be for everybody,” Cosper said. “Some people really want that distance. They want a nice frame around the picture and to sit back, but this is not that. You’re in it, you’re making the show.”

You’re also enveloped in the poetic afterlife that XOXO has imagined. It’s a party. It’s also quite silly, Cosper said.

“Most of the show is very comic in tone,” he said. “It’s almost like a clown show, but it also has sort of a spacey vibe. We do kind of think of it as a trip to another dimension.”

Yeah, it sounds weird. But here’s the thing—even though experimental theater can have the reputation of being prickly and inaccessible, “Bohemian Grove” is anything but.

“Whatever experience you have is the right experience,” Cosper said. “We’re not out to make anyone feel anything other than welcome.”

Want to Go?

XOXO presents the theatrical experience “Bohemian Grove” May 7–30. The performance party invites adventurous culture vultures to explore a cartoonish and poetic vision of the afterlife. Click here for ticket information or for more details.

Making art by breaking the rules

1 May

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Some of us are adults by the time we learn that it’s okay to color outside the lines.

Musgrove 1

Local artist Marcee Musgrove in her Eden Street Market studio in Davidson.

Take for instance artist Marcee Musgrove, who works out of her Eden Street Market studio in the shadow of Davidson College.

“I’m a rules follower,” Musgrove said. “I worked for corporate America for years. It’s been a hard transition for me as an artist to break the rules.”

However, she’s slowly learning to do so “because there is forgiveness on the other side.”

The Arts & Science Council’s Spring 2015 Community Supported Art (CSA) program, which connects regional artists to local arts patrons, provided her the perfect chance to break the rules while breaking the perception many have of her.

Musgrove is likely better known for her wearable silk art, which has gained her fans and followers throughout the greater Charlotte region.

But, as this season’s CSA shareholders learned, she’s equally as talented a mixed media artist. Her contributions to this spring’s CSA crop were artistic representations of the birch trees and nature scenes she grew up with in Michigan.

When she was a child, there was oil in the wilderness of West Branch, where she and her family vacationed. However, pursuit of the liquid gold left unnatural hills and valleys in the picturesque landscape.

She didn’t look forward to those vacations as a child, but upon her arrival she would always notice the quiet of the deep woods.

It’s the kind of quiet you don’t experience in your day-to-day life in the city or suburbs, the kind that slowly allows you to connect to the serenity of nature. It’s a quiet she’s missed in her 20 years living in the Carolinas.

“When I create these paintings, I’m re-creating that feeling of only being present,” Musgrove said.

One of the scenic mixed media images local artist Marcee Musgrove created for the Arts & Science Council's Spring 2015 Community Supported Art program.

One of the scenic mixed media images local artist Marcee Musgrove created for the Arts & Science Council’s Spring 2015 Community Supported Art program.

She produced her works on wooden boxes she had specifically made for the CSA program. Each piece contained five layers, with images spilling over to the sides.

“I want these to be seen,” she said. “It’s not about just what you see on the front.”

It’s about what’s outside the lines, too.

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.

What’s your big idea to improve Charlotte?

13 Apr

ASC Staff

Emerging 4 update 2

Do you have an innovative idea that will help make Charlotte more livable? Are you eager to serve and engage your community?

Share your idea with 880 Cities and Knight Foundation and tell them about yourself. You could be selected as a K880 Emerging City Champion.

What is the K880 City Champions program?

emerging 6 smallerThe K880 Emerging City Champions program provides young, emerging and diverse leaders with the opportunity to make immediate and lasting impacts in their communities. K880 and Knight Foundation believe that livable cities are successful cities. Making our cities safer and more enjoyable for everyone, from eight to 80 years old, will help our communities attract and retain talent, create economic opportunity, and build civic engagement.

If you are between the ages of 19 and 35; if you have the ideas; if you’re willing to try and fail and learn; if you have the drive and passion; and, if you live in either Charlotte, North Carolina; Akron, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Macon, Georgia; Miami, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Saint Paul, Minnesota; or San Jose, California, then apply today to be a K880 Emerging City Champion.

880 Cities and Knight Foundation will select 24 Champions from the pool of applicants: three Champions each city.

Benefits to becoming an Emerging City Champion

All Champions will:

  • Receive $5,000 in seed funding to implement his or her proposed idea;
  • Participate in The Emerging City Champions Studio, a training workshop held in Toronto in June 2015 (travel and stipends will be fully covered);
  • Receive professional media training and be supported in developing a communications and promotional strategy. This will include training in writing, social media, and video documentation;
  • Connect to a diverse and inspiring network of peers from across the country;
  • Interact with a mentor (an expert in the field) who will offer support, expertise, and advice throughout the program (880 Cities staff will also be available to support the Champions in implementing their projects);
  • Be recognized and promoted by 880 Cities and the Knight Foundation.

You should apply if you are:

  • A young urbanist, passionate about your community
  • An emerging civic leader, committed to your neighborhood or city
  • An innovator and a creative problem solver
  • A youth activist who wants a better future for your neighborhood
  • A young community organizer eager to explore new ways to get people engaged
  • Someone who loves to walk and bike and who thinks all cities should be bikeable and walkable
  • Ambitious, collaborative, and inclusive

The Emerging City Champions is open to anyone with an innovative idea and the ability to implement it. Applicants may be activists, tactical urbanists, designers, artists, planning professionals, hackers, architects; everyone is welcome. K880 and Knight Foundation are seeking applicants from diverse backgrounds, fresh perspectives, and innovative solutions.

So what are you waiting for?

Click here for more information or to apply. Application closes on MAY 8, 2015. Share your big ideas to make Charlotte better!

Matisse art books make for artful exhibition at the Becthler

1 Apr

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Icarus

Henri Matisse, Icarus, plate VIII of XX, from Jazz, 1947, stencil on paper © 2015 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Imagine sitting in your easy chair and taking in the work of renowned artist Henri Matisse.

That’s how comfortable you will be strolling through the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art at Levine Center for the Arts’ exhibition “The Art Books of Henri Matisse,” which runs through Sept. 7, 2015.

Drawn from the Bank of America Collection, the exhibition features 80 framed original illustrations with text from four of Matisse’s most significant artist books.

“This is truly the first time we have decided to work with another entity, this one Bank of America, to bring to Charlotte a show that had in fact been curated by their motif, which is remarkably strong,” said Bechtler President and CEO John Boyer. “So we do see this as a real partnership.”

Widely regarded as one of the most important painters of the 20th century, Matisse (French, 1869-1954) was part of a generation of artists who recognized there was no material difference between painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking and, in this case, art books, and how they strike us, Boyer said.

During his 60-year career, Matisse created a body of work that comprised paintings, drawings, cut-outs and sculpture. Starting in the 1930s, he devoted much of his time to printmaking and book illustration, as livre d’artise’ (artist’s books) had become popular in France.

“It’s increasingly important, I think, for this community and beyond to recognize that artworks such as artist books and prints with the etchings and all of the rest are in no way of less importance because they come in a series,” Boyer said. “Audiences come to understand fully that these were very much intentional acts on the part of the artists.

“This was a form of expression that was critically important to great modernists.”

Henri Matisse, The Cowboy, plate XIV of XX, from Jazz, 1947, stencil on paper © 2015 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Henri Matisse, The Cowboy, plate XIV of XX, from Jazz, 1947, stencil on paper © 2015 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Matisse became enamored with this art form and created a dozen books, 11 of which were widely reproduced and one made exclusively for his family. Charlotte-based Bank of America owns four of Matisse’s books, which have been loaned to the Bechtler for this exhibition.

Those books are: Poesies de Stéhane Mallarmé (The Poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé), 1932; Pasiphaé—Chant de Minos (Les Crétois) (Pasiphaé-Song of Minos [The Cretans]), 1944; Jazz, 1947; and Poèmes de Charles d’Orléans (Poems of Charles d’Orléans), 1950.

“In one instance in particular, in Jazz, the entirety of the book is a dimension of Matisse,” Boyer said. “That is to say the images, the text, the very view of the world are an expression of him.”

In addition to the core group of Matisse works, a limited number of artists’ books from the Bechtler’s collection are also on view in the exhibition.

For more information on the exhibition, including museum hours and admission, visit www.bechtler.org.

 

 

Stirring our community’s cultural pot

30 Mar

By Robert Bush
ASC President

ASC President Robert Bush.

ASC President Robert Bush.

I think Charlotte-Mecklenburg is the perfect example of a cultural jambalaya. Some residents came to work in the thriving financial sector, while others came as the result of other corporate ventures. When blended with lifelong Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents, these distinctive groups create a tremendous amount of social diversity. It’s what makes Charlotte such a unique place to live, work and play.

Just like any good jambalaya, the ingredients in our community’s pot (with so many different social perspectives and backgrounds) inherently need a unifying base. A stock, of sort, to bring everything together harmoniously, so every resident enhances the community and complements other residents, while still retaining their individuality.

The stock needed to build a unified community is often challenging to find in a region as diverse as Charlotte-Mecklenburg. A perfect example of that difficulty was in the Matthews community of Crestdale. As one of the nation’s oldest historically African-American communities (established by former slaves after the Civil War), Crestdale has deep ties to its rich historical legacy. However, like many aging communities, economic challenges caused many of the last few generations to leave seeking better opportunities, and they never returned.

An old picture of children that grew up in the Crestdale community from the short video "Tank Town: An Oral History of Crestdale."

An old picture of children that grew up in the Crestdale community from the short video “Tank Town: An Oral History of Crestdale.”

Time had eroded the community’s residential base to just a small core of its original families. Then, in what some lifelong residents originally viewed as an intrusion, the federal government began to send them new residents. Montagnard families from Vietnam were relocated to the community due to their assistance to U.S. troops during the ‘60s and ‘70s. During same time as the relocation, Habitat for Humanity began to build homes in Crestdale, which brought another influx of residents.

An old family picture from the Crestdale community from the short video "Tank Town: An Oral History of Crestdale."

An old family picture from the Crestdale community from the short video “Tank Town: An Oral History of Crestdale.”

Many would assume the new life in the neighborhood was all it needed to revive itself to its former glory, but without any ties to one another, the established and new residents found little reason to interact, let alone thrive as a cohesive community. That’s where the Arts & Science Council (ASC) found its window of opportunity.

ASC has always focused on connecting people to the arts, sciences, history and heritage that surround them, so it is a natural fit for ASC to build the bonds of community whenever possible by supporting culturally related projects, and Crestdale was the perfect place to do it. The individual histories, music and visual artistry that Crestdale’s multitude of ethnic backgrounds brought to the community would ultimately be the stock that bound them together with the help of ASC and The Light Factory.

A complex project that incorporated visual art, quilting and oral histories gave residents the platform and the freedom to share their stories, heritages and individual personalities in a way that was not obstructed by ethnic, language or social barriers. The end product was displayed at The Light Factory in an exhibit that most would say was as beautiful in its creative process as it was in its final result. Thanks to the connective power of culture, Crestdale now has the social bonds needed to find its new sense of identity.

We are all in this pot together. We must retain and support the cultural programs, organizations and institutions that strengthen the bonds of our community. ASC is adding a dash of creativity and a pinch of innovation to the stock. With your support stirring the mixture, we have the perfect recipe to keep our cultural jambalaya rich and diverse for years to come. ASC is You & Me.

Tank Town: An Oral History of Crestdale

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