Tag Archives: art

ASC Honors – Wesley Mancini, Design

12 Oct

ASC Honors-Lifetime Achievement in the Field of Arts, Science or History celebrates the lifetime achievements of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg resident in the visual, design or performing arts, history, literature or science. Thanks to the generosity of the Cato Corporation, ASC is also able to honor lifetime achievement in teaching art, science and history for Pre-K-12 teachers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region with the ASC Honors-Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Awards. To find out more, click here.

By Bea Quirk

Wesley Mancini was drawn to art when he was growing up in Connecticut, he says, “because the art teacher was the only unusual person I knew.”

So he went to the (then) Philadelphia College of Art, where he became interested in fiber. He did some fiber art, but soon realized he couldn’t support himself and his mother that way. So he went into textile design instead.

Wesley Mancini is recognized for lifetime achievement with an ASC Honors award.

The world is richer for it. Although Mancini is not a household name, his work – encompassing more than 15,000 fabrics — graces households across the world. As the designer of fabrics for bedding ensembles, decorative trimming, drapery and rugs, Mancini’s name is often not on the items; it’s the brand name that appears: such as Henredon, Kravel, Duralee or Horchow. Well-known designers such as Alexander Julian and Laura Ashley have purchased his designs that now carry their names. Interior Magazine, an international publication based in London, once called him “America’s best secret.”

But Mancini is no secret in Charlotte, where he opened his company, Wesley Mancini, Ltd., in 1983 to be near the textile industry. Many of those mills are closed now, but he still works extensively with Valdese Weavers in Valdese, NC. The firm was based in an uptown historic building that he renovated on North Tryon Street for more than a decade. Last year, he moved into a loft in the South End.

“My passion is patterns and creating something beautiful,” says Mancini. “For me, textiles are about aesthetics as well as the tactile thing. It’s very much a hands-on design process. So I have studied weave structure, dyeing and finishing, and how looms work.”

Mancini’s fiber art has been exhibited widely, and pieces are owned by the NC Museum of history and RJ Reynolds. In 1983, he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that he used to buy a large wooden loom that still dominates a space in his home.

Mancini is also a community activist. In 2000, he formed the Wesley Mancini Foundation, which supports freedom of speech and funds projects that foster the inclusion of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual individuals in the Charlotte community.

YDS Tours Packard Place, Art Collection

20 Aug

By Tori Chester

Early last month, ASC’s Young Donor Society held its monthly event at Charlotte’s new entrepreneurial incubator, Packard Place. In addition to serving as an office space for start-ups and non-profits, the building boasts an impressive collection of artwork, done mostly by local artists. This particular wave of artwork had been on display for around six months. Over the course of the evening, YDS members were invited to enjoy the artwork on its final night in the gallery. YDS members had the opportunity to not only view the artwork on display, but meet many of the artists as well.

“The gallery supports Packard Place’s core values, which are innovation, entrepreneurship, and community,” said Carmella Jarvi, a painter and curator of the Gallery at Packard Place.

With Jarvi as a guide, YDS members had the opportunity to take a tour through the building. They were also encouraged to participate in a scavenger hunt based on the artwork. Together with the artists, they searched among the paintings to find what was detailed on the lists. The added mystery of the scavenger hunt in the gallery gave the evening a whimsical air.

“I think that [what is] very special about Charlotte is that we have this creative industry,” Jarvi said. “We have what a lot of cities don’t have.”

The visiting artists were each given a chance to talk about their inspiration and finished products. As the event drew to a close, some YDS members watched as several artists removed their pieces. Due to wall renovations, a new wave of art will be on display in September.

Carmella Jarvi, curator of The Gallery at Packard Place

“Tons of people who work there are saying, ‘Oh, I miss the art!” Jarvi said. “People don’t often realize how much [art] does impact the [business] environment.”

“Innovative business has an element of creativity to it,” Jarvi said. “Artists are naturally entrepreneurs, but because we’re often a team of one, we lack… the understanding of basic business skills. [Business and art] really fit together.” 

Special thanks to our friends at Morton’s The Steakhouse for providing the evening’s hors d’oeuvres.

Art and Youthful Offenders in Charlotte

14 Aug

By Jackie Chang

Jackie Chang
Photo by: Joseph Matunis

When I finished the installation at the Youthful Offender Facility at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg North Jail in March 2009, I had thought that I would never have another opportunity to see the pieces installed. It was eight sets of art glass panels in each of the facility’s cell pod dayroom areas (each pod had a group of 12 individual cells).   The facility is designed for male youthful offenders between the ages of 16 and 17 awaiting trial or sentencing.

Was/Am/Will Be, 2009
Photo by: JoAnn Sieburg-Baker

On July 17 this summer, I was given the chance to visit the facility and speak to the current offenders about the project and the artwork.  I had specifically placed the artwork where every young offender will be able to see it.  I wanted the work to reflect the passing of time, the possibility of growth, a sense of the individual as part of greater whole, and use a graphic aesthetic that would not be sentimental.  I also wanted to use glass as a contrast to the other surfaces and materials found in the cell pods which were very sturdy and hard.  The glass panels would mimic windows, dividers between the outside and the inside. In order to stay within budget and to be able to have pieces in all eight pods, I created one composition that could be repeated with different background colors to give each set of panels a different distinction. The final composition had the image on the glass refer to the outside and the text evoking the passage of time.

Was/Am/Will Be, 2009
Photo by: JoAnn Sieburg-Baker

That day I presented to the offenders turned out to be one of the proudest moments of my life.  I felt that the work was understood and appreciated by youthful offenders who respectfully paid attention to my talk and gave truly thoughtful insight into the artwork.  The project was made possible through the efforts of many guided by the Arts & Science Council.  It was a project of hope, the hope that art can inspire and that it can happen in the most seemingly unlikely places.

America I Am, Other Exhibits Converge on Charlotte for DNC

4 Aug

By Karin Reed, Arts & Science Council

As Charlotte welcomes thousands of delegates and media from around the world for the Democratic National Convention, the museums at the city’s Levine Center for the Arts are showing major national exhibits. Largest among them is Tavis Smiley’s America I Am: The African-American Imprint at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture.

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

America I AM is making its eighth stop at the Gantt Center.

This vast exhibition is divided into 12 galleries and covers more than 10,000 sq. ft. Based on the question, posed by W.E.B. DuBois, “Would America have been America without her Negro people?”, the exhibit takes you on journey through the last 500 years and highlights the African American impact on culture, religion, and politics.

America I AM begins with the Africans voyage to North America. Displayed on the wall is another W.E.B. DuBois quote that reads “Before the pilgrims landed we were here.”  Neon footsteps lead you into the first gallery which features dungeon doors from Cape Coast Castle also known as the “Doors of No Return.”  African contributions to the Americas such as instruments, spices, and traditional celebration are highlighted as well as what life was like in America for Africans.

The second floor of the Center features significant events in American history like the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, World Wars I and II as well as the Civil Rights movement. It also emphasizes effectual African Americans and their contributions to the time period. More than 200 artifacts and relics are on display including Fredrick Douglas’ proof of freedom, Rosa Parks’ arrest report, and the key to a jail cell that detained Martin Luther King, Jr.  America I AM also features memorabilia from present day African American idols like Serena Williams, Prince, and Michael Jordan.

While touring America I AM you will learn about African heritage and the African American impact in a unique way. This exhibition is visually interesting and entertaining, and a great educational experience.

To learn more about America I AM visit www.americaiam.org. More information about the Harvey B. Gantt Center can be found at http://www.ganttcenter.org.

Mint Museum Uptown 

The Mint Museum Uptown features two major exhibits for convention goers. The pin collection of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the artwork of Thorton Dial take center stage.

During her career in public service, Madeleine Albright famously used her jewelry to communicate diplomatic messages. Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection reveals an intriguing story of American history and foreign policy as told through Secretary Albright’s jeweled pins.

To learn more about Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection, click here.

Thornton Dial is a keen observer of the human spectacle and its narratives of corruption and moral strength, folly and triumph. As an artist, he has spent the last two decades exploring the truth of American history and culture in all its complexities and contradictions. This exhibition presents a major survey of Dial’s work, an epic gathering of over thirty large-scale paintings, sculptures and wall assemblages that address the most compelling issues of our time.

To learn more about Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial, click here.

Bechtler Museum of Art

Opening on August 31 is the Bechtler’s homage to Alberto Giacometti and his place in the Bechtler family’s history.

Giacometti: Memory and Presence celebrates the extraordinary relationship between the Bechtler family and Alberto Giacometti. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art will present sculptures, paintings, prints and drawings spanning the artist’s oeuvre that reveal the aesthetic evolution, emotional power and existential qualities of his creations. Works from the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art collection as well as loans from European institutions and Bechtler family members will be on view.

To learn more about the exhibition and the Bechtler, click here.

Carpenter Artwork, Site Getting Ready for Installation

1 Aug

A conceptual design of Ed Carpenter’s work at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

In just a few weeks, Ed Carpenter’s public artwork at Charlotte Douglas International Airport will be installed, making its debut to motorists along Billy Graham Parkway and travelers heading into the city from the airport. Carpenter’s 60-foot tall sculpture combines a steel fabricated form that suggests imagery associated with the excitement of flight with colorful dichroic glass that plays off both natural and artificial lighting.

The sculpture’s site at Billy Graham Parkway and R.C. Josh Birmingham Parkway.

The sculpture is in the final stages of fabrication at SteelFab, a local company which is one of the nation’s largest suppliers of fabricated structural steel. Carpenter’s artwork is new territory for the company that is better known for supplying the steel for buildings like the Duke Energy Center in Uptown Charlotte and Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ga. For the last several months, SteelFab’s fabricators have worked with the artist to construct the three, 60 foot steel trusses that make up the body of the sculpture.

While SteelFab fabricates the artwork, subcontractors are busy grading and running electricity to the sculpture’s site at North Billy Graham Parkway and R.C. Josh Birmingham Parkway. And back in Portland, Ore., Carpenter is finishing the dichroic glass pieces that will cover the sculpture.

Carpenter returns to Charlotte on August 14 to begin the installation. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks.

To read more about Ed Carpenter, click here.

One of the fabricated trusses in process at SteelFab.

Finished dichroic glass pieces that will be part of the sculpture.

Jackie Chang: On Knowing Where

26 Jul

By Tori Chester, Arts & Science Council

Charlotte’s McColl Center for Visual Art has a new artist-in-residence, acclaimed public artist Jackie Chang. Chang, who previously completed public artwork for Mecklenburg County’s Jail North facility, returns to Charlotte to develop artwork for the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) Lynx Blue Line extension project.

The project is a series of public art at the J.W. Clay Blvd. and University City Blvd. stations. Chang’s larger-than-life, mixed-media artwork is characterized by a combination of words and images to communicate a deeper meaning. For the CATS project, she chose to focus on the concept of abstract locations when she noticed the compass rose as a recurring theme throughout Charlotte.

“It’s everywhere!” Chang said. “The statue at the airport of Queen Charlotte is a compass rose… the University center [features] a compass rose.”

With the idea of the compass rose solidly in mind, Chang decided on three words for the piece: here, there, and where, which will be accompanied by glass windscreens depicting a field, a mountain, and trees.

“‘Here’ is [a] concrete [concept,]” she explained in her studio at the McColl Center. “‘There’ is more abstract, like the horizon, [or] the ocean… ‘where’ is in motion.”

Born in Taiwan and raised in America, Chang is not a stranger to public art. After graduating with her Master of Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she went to New York City, where she had her first gallery show at the Peter Miller Gallery. The show was well-received.

Encouraged, she set to work on another project—a series of awnings that focused on consumerism. The gallery owner offered her a chance to do a second show. Chang asked to display her work outside, but the owner refused. Undaunted, she asked a series of shop owners on a single street to display the awnings for exactly two weeks, the length of time her work would have been in the gallery. The owners agreed, and she never showcased a new piece of art in a gallery again.

Chang’s work has been displayed in locations ranging from the youthful offender facility in New York’s Riker’s Jail to the Minneapolis Public Library. “Signs of Life,” a series of six mosaics commissioned by the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority and displayed in a Brooklyn subway station, has been very popular.

Now, as artist-in-residence at the McColl Center until July 27, she feels that the Queen City personifies the “where” of her piece. Although Charlotte has been around since before the American Revolution, it was not always the active center that it is now. The banks helped to bring in jobs, but the blooming cultural sector gave the city an active nightlife. Now, as a center for both business and art, Chang feels that Charlotte is the ideal place to represent a city in a “swirl” of constant motion.

ArtWorks 945, ASC Grant Provide Access to Struggling Artists

4 May

By Maria Mazzocco, Urban Ministry Center

ArtWorks 945 participants and volunteers at the Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts for Pilobolus.

As a program of Charlotte’s Urban Ministry Center, ArtWorks 945 is a functioning gallery and studio comprised of local artists who struggle with homelessness and urban poverty. In celebration of the power of human resilience, ArtWorks recognizes that profound healing and validation is possible through the act of creating. By offering arts instruction and open studio time, ArtWorks provides a safe space for positive action. In turn, relationships are built and people can work towards transitioning out of homelessness.

During the month of March ,ArtWorks participants engaged in a study of Surrealism. Starting in the 1920’s, Surrealism emerged as an art movement that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind. With guidance, ArtWorks artists explored how their dreams are connected to art making, and navigating the reality they live in. This included playing the Surrealist game “Exquisite Corpse” where artists collaborated on drawing figures without first seeing the work of their partners.

The result of the class’ game of Exquisite Corpse.

These studies culminated on March 26 when ArtWorks took a field trip to see Pilobolus Dance Company at the Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts – made possible with a $582 Special Project Grant from ASC. For many of the artists, it was their first time seeing a live dance performance. Pilobolus, an internationally renowned dance company, is known for its playful choreography that uses physical interaction to create new forms. Human bodies morph into the shapes of cars, trees and other unbelievable shapes such as an elephant or camp fire. Not only did this performance expand ArtWorks artists’ understanding of visual art and human movement, it also challenged their understanding of what is possible in their lives. When the first dancers appeared on stage, one attendee exclaimed, “Wow! This is unbelievable.”

For more information about the ArtWorks 945 program contact Artworks945@urbanministrycenter.org or click here.


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