Remembering Tom Martin

Remembering Tom Martin

It is with heavy hearts The Mint Museum shares that Special Events Director Tom Martin passed away on January 15, 2021 at the age of 60.

His memorial service for immediate family is Saturday, Jan. 22 at 11 AM and can be streamed virtually here.

Tom grew up in Massachusetts, and built a name for himself in events and food service as the Director of Catering and Convention Services for the Harvard Club of Boston, where he worked for more than 12 years. He relocated to Charlotte in 2013.

Tom was the Mint’s director of special events for over four years, and in that time, he helped grow special events revenue by over 40 percent, says Gary Blankemeyer, the Mint’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer.

In his tenure at the Mint, Tom helped secure and execute on a number of high-profile events for clients ranging from tech giant Facebook to billionaire businessman and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, who announced Charlotte’s new MLS team from inside the Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium at Mint Museum Uptown. During the NBA All-Star Weekend in February 2019 in Charlotte—the biggest event in basketball—Tom shepherded a museum-wide takeover by Nike and Jordan Brand that even included a basketball court in Mint Museum Uptown’s atrium and a wrap across the building’s facade.

“He was driven to do the best,” says Blankemeyer. “And not only was he a good business partner, but he was someone I could count on, someone I could rely on, which is all you want as a manager.”

Tom was a great man, says John Caldwell, special events manager at the Mint. “He taught me so much about the events business. He changed my professional life as well as my personal life because he became my friend.”

Tom is survived by his three daughters, Jessica, Katelyn and Kristina; two grandsons, Joey and Tommy; as well as a brother, Robert Martin; and his partner of eight years, Gladys Blakeman— all of whom he loved to spend time with at the beach and in Charlotte. His care for even the smallest details carried over into his personal life as well, whether he was pruning a tree, stocking the fridge for family coming to stay at his house for the holidays, or executing on one of his many DIY projects.

“He was always rebuilding, remodeling,” says Blakeman. “We built a patio together and flower boxes for one of his daughters. When the heater went out at my townhome, the electrician told him it’d be $1,700. He said, ‘I’m not paying that, I’m going to Google it.’ He did it himself for $500.”

Tom hired special events manager Laura Hale about a year ago. They both had backgrounds in catering and shared a love of the Boston Celtics. Tom was ambitious, yes, with big goals and ideas for how to grow the Mint’s special events business, she says.

But Tom was also nurturing and sweet. Above all else, Hale says she loved how Tom was always up for a good chat. “You’d go in and be like, ‘Hey, how’s it going? How was your weekend?’ And you’d be standing in his office door for the next 30 to 40 minutes. He’d tell you that weekend he’d had Bloody Marys and then he’d tell you about the time he was in Boston and had the best Bloody Mary.”

Remembering Robert E. Wylie Jr.

Remembering Robert E. Wylie Jr.

Robert E. Wylie Jr. passed away January 2, 2021 at the age of 70. For 12 years he was a beacon of kindness and grace at Mint Museum Randolph, where he served on the housekeeping team.

This spring, the Mint will dedicate a tree to him on the grounds of Mint Museum Randolph.

A native Charlottean, Robert graduated from Olympic High School. As a teenager, he fell for a cute girl named Mary who went to rival school West Charlotte High. She asked him to her prom. The couple went on to be married for nearly 50 years.

Robert and Mary had four children—Robert Wylie III, Dornetta, and twins Christina and Christopher—and later welcomed 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. They were all the beneficiaries of Robert’s love of cooking.

“He could cook anything,” says Mary. “Deviled eggs, barbecue ribs. Most people liked his slaw and his baked chicken.”

Before working at the Mint, Robert held a number of jobs at some of the city’s top country clubs. But his role at the Mint held a special place in his heart. “He loved everything about that job,” says Mary.

Robert E. Wiley Jr. (Right) Image Courtesy of Katherine Steiner

When Lisanne Smith, the facilities manager at Mint Museum Randolph, started her job five years ago, she was told that if she needed to know something, just ask Robert. She and Brian Gallagher, senior curator of decorative arts, both came to count on his warm “good morning” every day in the atrium, his kind, selfless devotion to his job.

It’s hard to quantify how much Robert took care of, says Joyce Weaver, the Mint’s director of library & archives. He did everything from transporting interoffice and external mail to setting up and breaking down for meetings and events, cleaning offices to mopping up spills from the leaky atrium roof—and all in a way that was usually invisible to visitors. “I can’t believe how many times he lugged bins of books from Uptown back to the library,” says Weaver. “He was an unsung hero, someone who didn’t want or need a lot of attention, but every day, took care of us, took care of the museum.”

Robert also had a sense of humor — and an undying love of Dallas Cowboys football. Guest services associate Sue Carver says she’ll never forget watching Robert sweep away a picture of former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton with a broom labeled with a big Cowboys star.

“Robert was part of a special group of people I count on here at the Mint,” says Katherine Steiner, the Mint’s chief registrar. “I always knew that he’d be there to help me with anything I asked, but more than that, I counted on his warm smile. I counted on his presence. He was one of those solid people that warm your heart just by being there, by being constant.”

In March 2020, when the spread of Covid-19 forced the museum to close, Head of Family and Studio Programs Leslie Strauss was at Mint Museum Randolph, frantically gathering art materials to bring home. Robert stepped in to say hello. “We chatted for a bit and I worried over whether our many houseplants in the studios would survive a few weeks without us,” Strauss recalls. But she gave them a heavy watering and turned to leave. Then those days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months.

“When we finally returned to the classroom, we expected to find withered plants,” says Strauss. “Instead we found a table full of happy and healthy plants, having weathered their time without us.”

Robert had watered the plants the entire time they were gone.

The Mint Museum’s new four-story window installation Foragers offers a transcendent experience while celebrating the female workers and makers that helped shape NC

Summer Wheat (American, 1977–). Foragers, 2020, colored vinyl on mylar, 805.5 x 738.5 inches. T0263.1a-qqqq. Photo credit: Chris Edwards

The Mint Museum’s new four-story installation Foragers offers a transcendent experience while celebrating the tradition of women as makers and providers


September 10, 2020, Charlotte, NC — Unlike anything ever seen at The Mint Museum before, Brooklyn-based artist Summer Wheat’s Foragers is a monumental piece of public work of art spanning 96 windows, four stories, and 3,720 square feet at Mint Museum Uptown’s Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium. The myriad of vibrant panels that give the illusion of stained glass and celebrates the tradition of women as makers and providers.

“In so many ways, Foragers is a monumental tribute to all those anonymous female makers and laborers who have made North Carolina the place that it is today: the Catawba clay workers, the Cherokee basket makers, the enslaved and freed African-American fishers and farmers, the countless woodworkers, weavers, and quilters,” says Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, the Mint’s chief curator and curator of contemporary art.

Summer Wheat (American, 1977–). Foragers, 2020, colored vinyl on mylar, 805.5 x 738.5 inches. T0263.1a-qqqq. Photo credit: Chris Edwards

Foragers is part of a larger exhibition In Vivid Color that opens Oct. 16 at Mint Museum Uptown. In Vivid Color brings together four innovative contemporary artists—Wheat, Gisela Colon, Spencer Finch, and Jennifer Steinkamp—who create works celebrating the power of color and its ability to permeate the space around us. Their work is juxtaposed with a selection of paintings and works on paper, drawn primarily from The Mint Museum’s permanent collection, which showcase artists’ more traditional exploration of color.

The magnitude and brilliance of Foragers turns the typical museum experience on its head and creates a transcendent space of contemplation and beauty at a time when a weary public craves an escape—and a spacious, social-distancing-friendly one at that. While standard admission rates apply to the museum’s Level 3 and Level 4 galleries, access to Mint Museum Uptown’s atrium and the Foragers installation is free.

“This gorgeous work will transform Mint Museum Uptown’s atrium space with color and light, making it a must-see destination in Charlotte,” says Todd A. Herman, Ph.D., President and CEO of The Mint Museum.

Summer Wheat (American, 1977–). Foragers, 2020, colored vinyl on mylar, 805.5 x 738.5 inches. T0263.1a-qqqq. Photo credit: Chris Edwards

Summer Wheat’s installation was commissioned by The Mint Museum. The installation and purchase of Foragers was funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation Women Artists Fund, which aims to address and rebalance gender representation in museum collections.

“The Wells Fargo Foundation Women Artists Fund is designed to address and help reconcile the imbalance of female representation in museum collections,” says Jay Everette, Wells Fargo’s senior vice president of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility.

“Just 11 percent of all acquisitions and 14 percent of exhibitions at 26 prominent American museums over the past decade were of work by female artists. According to a joint investigation by In Other Words and artnet News, a total of 260,470 works have entered museums’ permanent collections since 2008. Only 29,247 were by women.”

Foragers celebrates North Carolina’s creativity and industry—those named and anonymous.

Foragers presents a tradition in which women were the original hunters, technologists, and artists,” Wheat says. “This array of women connected by geometric patterns echoes the psychological space of women supporting each other. They are marching together connecting to creatures from land and water, demonstrating their inherent link to natural elements and to the intricate depths of the unconscious.”

About Summer Wheat

Contemporary artist Summer Wheat (b. 1977, Oklahoma City, Okla.) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York City. She received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Central Oklahoma and a Master of Fine Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design. She is known for being an innovator, constantly blurring boundaries between traditional art forms and mediums. Consider the way she pushes acrylic paint through fine wire mesh to create large-scale paintings, like her With Side, With Shoulder, part of the Mint’s permanent collection and on view in the Mint’s new exhibition New Days, New Works.

Wheat has had solo exhibitions with lauded institutions, galleries and museums across the nation, including the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City (2020); KMAC Museum, Louisville (2019); Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles (2018); Smack Mellon, New York (2018); Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle (2017); and Oklahoma Contemporary, Oklahoma City (2016).

Wheat will also have her first solo exhibition with SOCO Gallery in Charlotte—entitled Lather, Rinse, Repeat—September 16 through November 6, 2020. The exhibition will feature ve large-scale paintings and two “pebble seats” focusing on the theme of bathing and grooming. The theme, drawn on throughout art history, frequently depicts idyllic figures and scenery, but in Wheat’s work, the women portrayed are imperfect and defy traditional notions of beauty. Wheat will have a solo exhibition with Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles in 2021.

Additional museum exhibitions include Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2013–14); deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park (2013); and Torrance Art Museum (2013). Wheat received the 2016 New York NADA Artadia Award and the 2019 Northern Trust Purchase Prize at EXPO Chicago. Wheat’s work is in the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, Texas; de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; Peréz Art Museum Miami; The Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, Seattle; The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC and the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

About The Mint Museum

Established in 1936 as North Carolina’s first art museum, The Mint Museum is a leading, innovative cultural institution and museum of international art and design. With two locations—Mint Museum Randolph in the heart of Eastover and Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts on South Tryon Street—the Mint boasts one of the largest collections in the Southeast and is committed to engaging and inspiring members of the global community.

Contact: Michele Huggins, Communications and Media Relations Project Manager, 704.564.0826

Download PDF version of this press release here.

Images: Summer Wheat (American, 1977–). Foragers, 2020, colored vinyl on mylar, 805.5 x 738.5 inches. T0263.1a-qqqq. Photo credit: Chris Edwards

The Mint Museum plans to re-open to public for free weekend Sept. 25-27

The Mint Museum plans to re-open to public for free weekend Sept. 25-27

September 1, 2020, Charlotte, N.C.— In light of Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision to allow museums to re-open at 50 percent capacity in Phase 2.5, The Mint Museum is thrilled to announce it plans to welcome the public back with a free weekend and celebration, presented by Chase, at both museum locations the weekend of Sept. 25-27. (Mint members will be able to return beginning Tuesday, Sept. 22.) A strategic planning team has been working for months on re-opening plans and precautions. The museum is excited to open its doors again with a host of exciting new exhibitions and installations to share.

The Mint is also talking with several other museums in the city to possibly coordinate re-opening events.

“This is the great news we’ve been waiting for over the last five-and-a-half months,” says Mint President and CEO Todd A. Herman, PhD. “We appreciate the governor’s recognizing the special place museums hold in the community.”

To create a safe environment for staff and guests, all visitors will be required to wear masks, and we have implemented safety protocols that align with CDC directives. There will be timed-ticketing to ensure we stay within the occupancy guidelines, and we have social-distancing signage in place to guide guest through the galleries. The Lewis Family Gallery remains closed to the public due to the many touch points in the space. To make the signage noticeable and tie back to our collection, we used the iconic Queen Charlotte painting by Allan Ramsay, on view at Mint Museum Randolph, to inform our signage. Guests will even see a life-size cardboard cut-out of Ramsay’s Queen Charlotte, wearing a mask and holding a 6-foot-tall scepter that serves as a ruler to demonstrate social distancing.

Guests to The Mint Museum will be met with new exhibitions and installations, including:

  • Foragers by Brooklyn-based artist Summer Wheat: This monumental four-story “stained glass” work of art will cover all 96 windows of Mint Museum Uptown’s Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium. Foragers is a tribute to all of the female makers and laborers who helped make Charlotte the thriving metropolis it is today. Foragers is generously sponsored by the Wells Fargo Women Artists Fund. It will be on view when the museum re-opens.
  • New Days, New Works: The exhibition showcases 80 works of art from the Mint’s permanent collection, many of which have never been on view before. New Days, New Works is a striking juxtaposition of color, material, time and place—from a suite of black-and-white photographs done in collaboration by artists Carolyn DeMeritt and Pinky/MM Bass to artist Pilar Albarracín’s Ceiling for Offerings, a work made up of hundreds of colorful flamenco dresses that hang from the ceiling.
de’Angelo Dia (American, 1976–). Betty, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist. e’Angelo Dia (American, 1976–). Charlie, 2020, chalk on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
  • Local artist de’Angelo Dia is the latest Constellation CLT artist, whose work is on view in the public spaces of Mint Museum Uptown. His works portray characters with bold expressions and elements that explore African-American culture and the hybrid culture of the African diaspora.

Classic Black: The Basalt Sculpture of Wedgwood and His Contemporaries, on view at Mint Museum Randolph, has been extended through January 3, 2021. The exhibition features 100 black basalt sculptures made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late 18th-century England, and is set against the distinctive linework and colorful gallery walls painted by local mural artist Owl. 


Museum tickets will be available for purchase through our website, as well as iinformation on safety protocols. We encourage guests to purchase online, though in-person ticketing is still available.

Contact: Michele Huggins
Media relations and communications project manager, 704-564-0826 (c)

The Mint Museum celebrates the life of Dr. Francis Robicsek, a pioneering heart surgeon, art collector and Renaissance man

The Mint Museum celebrates the life of Dr. Francis Robicsek, a pioneering heart surgeon, art collector and Renaissance man

It is with heavy—yet grateful—hearts that The Mint Museum recognizes and celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Francis Robicsek, who passed away peacefully at his Charlotte home on April 3, at the age of 94.

Robicsek was best known for being a world-renowned heart surgeon who performed some of Charlotte’s first open-heart operations. Over his 64-year career, he performed the city’s first heart transplant, founded the Sanger Clinic (now Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute), and was known for his steady hand — and improvisation — in some extraordinary situations. (Consider this: On New Year’s Eve in 1964, when a fellow doctor’s heart stopped on a hospital elevator, Robicsek proceeded to cut the man’s chest open with suture scissors, massage the heart, and then shock it back into rhythm with the cord from a table lamp.)

But the doctor who fled Soviet control in his native country of Hungary in 1956 with his six-months-pregnant wife, Lilly, was also a student of the world. Robicsek saw beauty in the old and was an avid art collector who generously helped establish, grow and develop the Mint’s pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial, and European painting collections. Many of the works of art are on display in Mint Museum Randolph’s Lilly and Francis Robicsek Galleries.

“I only had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Robicsek once, but he was a figure who had an aura of well-deserved respect, almost reverence,” says Mint President and CEO Todd. A Herman, PhD. “And if you paid attention, he had a sense of humor that those willing to see past the aura would appreciate—with a twinkle in his eye and a slight rise to the edges of his mouth.”

Robicsek became interested in archaeology in the 1960s. “I have never enjoyed a vacation where you just go and sit around, and I have never enjoyed walking around a golf course,” Robicsek wrote in the 2008 book Pioneers of Cardiac Surgery, by Dr. William S. Stoney. “I have always needed an excuse or a reason for going from A to B.”

So it was auspicious when Robicsek saw an ad in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery for a hospital in Honduras that needed a surgeon with experience in tuberculosis surgery. Robicsek began spending summer vacations there. And when the hospital could only handle one thoracotomy per day, he spent his downtime “prowling around the ruins.”

For decades, Robicsek worked to expand healthcare facilities and operations in Central American countries, including Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize and El Salvador. He helped build pediatric and neonatal intensive care units, and he raised money to take pieces of equipment deemed obsolete by U.S. standards and have them refurbished and shipped to Central America, where he’d also train staff how to use them. Then, whenever possible, Robicsek would change out of his scrubs, pull out his camera, and go exploring.

Of course, he couldn’t have done it without Lilly. A medical doctor herself—she did two residencies in pathology and pediatrics—Lilly retired from medicine to help raise the four children and afford her husband the opportunity to work, study and travel around the world, often with Lilly by his side.

Dorie Reents-Budet, PhD—a former visiting curator for native art of the Americas at the Mint—spent years working with Robicsek and exploring his vast collection. But they first met in 1982 when Robicsek attended the Maya Hieroglyphic Workshop at the University of Texas at Austin. Reents-Budet was a graduate student at the time and was helping put on the workshop

The crowd was an insular group of art history and anthropology scholars from the U.S. and Canada. Reents-Budet, eager to make sure all attendees felt welcome, offered to drive Robicsek to all of the after-hours workshop cocktail parties, to introduce him to her professors. “It was memorable getting him to fold up those long legs so he could fit in my 1967 Nova,” she says.

Robicsek authored five books on Mayan culture and art, and just as he was a pioneer in the medical field, he was also an early adopter in the field of art history. He was publishing books on pre-Columbian art long before the National Gallery of Art even recognized it as art and not just a facet of anthropology, says Reents-Budet.

To Robicsek, she adds, these works were equally as poignant as any Grecian ceramic, Egyptian artifact, or Renaissance painting.

Michael Tarwater, formerly the president and CEO of Carolinas Healthcare System, first met Robicsek in June 1981. Tarwater was a vice president at the time and part of his purview included overseeing the hospital’s cath lab, where doctors studied the heart. He and Robicsek became fast friends, and for a period of about 15 years, Tarwater and his wife, Ann, would travel the world with Robicsek and Lilly—from Romania, where the ancient monasteries are painted with exquisite Biblical scenes, to Antigua, Guatemala, home of the world’s largest Easter celebration.

“To the very end, he had this beautiful youthful curiosity about life that you just wanted to tap into,” says Ann Tarwater, one of the Mint’s Board of Trustees. “He wanted to show you the world.”

That sense of curiosity didn’t wane after Robicsek retired in 1998. If anything, it picked up. “He was an inventor, an innovator, a scientist, a scholar, a humanitarian,” says Michael Tarwater. “And,” he added, “a prankster.”

In the mid-1980s, Carolinas Medical Center experienced a few power failures, which always caused a scramble, Tarwater said. A few days after one, the hospital administration announced to staff that they’d found the problem and resolved it. Afterward, Robicsek stopped by Tarwater’s office for a quick chat.

Minutes after Robicsek left, Tarwater saw the power go out yet again. “The first thing you think about are all the people in the operating room, all the things we rely on, all the people on ventilators,” he said.

Frantic, Tarwater raced out of his office. That’s when he realized that the power outage was isolated. The mischievous Robicsek had found the circuit breaker for just the administrative offices and flipped the switch.

Francis and Lilly Robicsek took every opportunity to travel with their children—Steven, Susanne, John and Frances—and later with their five grandchildren. They instilled a love of art, music and culture in all of them.

Robicsek’s daughter Frances Furr, the youngest of the four children, studied art history in college and went on to be an art teacher, a member of the Delhom Service League, and a docent at the Mint.

Furr recalls the time when, as a lover of North Carolina ceramics, she took her father to Seagrove to view the pottery. “In that thick Hungarian accent, he said, ‘There aren’t any cracks in it. I don’t like it,’” Furr recalls, laughing.

He later recanted, she says, but his premise remained: There was beauty and value in old things. Whether traveling the world with family and friends or simply browsing a flea market or art gallery with his children, Robicsek espoused the power of learning about the past, of finding beauty in artifacts.

Two weeks before her wedding day, 27 years ago, Robicsek took Furr to the jungles of Mexico, where he was on a mission to photograph Mayan ruins. There were no hot showers, they slept in hammocks, and she remembers looking out the back of a truck and realizing they weren’t on a road. But then they arrived at the most amazing old mounds in the middle of nowhere.

“I love how he taught me to see life through the lens of culture and art,” says Furr. “And that I’m very grateful for.”

We at the Mint are also grateful to Robicsek and his family for sharing the life and legacy of the remarkable doctor, buried in his scrubs, who saved lives and championed art in equal measure.


Todd A. Herman, PhD
President & CEO

12 Books Mint Staffers Are Reading During These Crazy COVID-19 Times

12 Books Mint Staffers Are Reading During These Crazy COVID-19 Times

We all need some inspiration for how to make the most of the time while home. From artful reads to novels and nonfiction, here’s what the Mint staff is reading. And though we know a run to the library is out, check out Audible, Hoopla, and Overdrive for digital versions.  


Of Cats and Men: Profiles of History’s Great Cat-Loving Artists, Writers, Thinkers, and Statesmen by Sam Kalda 

My niece sent me this book, assuming I would enjoy it because No. 1, I’m a man, and No. 2, I have six cats. She was right! This small, but completely delightful book profiles 30 famous and talented men — Mark Twain, Romare Bearden, Freddie Mercury, and Sir Isaac Newton, to name a few — and their love for their cats. Sam Kalda’s breezy, anecdote-laden write-ups, and wonderful color illustrations make this the purr-fect publication to pick up this reader’s mood every time he opens it. 

—Brian Gallagher, Curator of Decorative Arts 

Vincent Van Gogh: Letters from Provence by Martin Bailey 

An important moment in the history of this region of France. I always think it’s very important to hear the firsthand accounts from historical figures whenever possible. You get to know them better and often gain insights into their daily lives that never make it into biographies. 

—Todd A Herman, PhD, President and CEO  

Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art by Mary Gabriel 

I first began this book because of my love and curiosity for the Abstract Expressionist and the movement that changed the art world with swirls of color, often rooted in emotion rather than subject matter. But more specifically, I dove head first in this book because it features five of the women that passionately threw themselves into the middle of this movement. These artists, against all odds, used art to understand the chaos that surrounded them during a time when the world was changing drastically. When I first started reading it, we were not yet in the midst of a pandemic, but now as I read, it gives me hope that on the other side of our current situation there will be a lot of beautiful creativity… Who knows, maybe even a new art movement. 

HannaH Crowell, Exhibition Designer 


The Radium Girls by Kate Moore 

This book is about girls who applied radium to wash their faces before it was known how dangerous it was. Great lesson in history.  

—Lyndee Champion Ivey, Executive Assistant 

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 

I am reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. So far the book is about a young boy who lost his mother in a tragic accident at the Met. Theo, the young boy, survives and takes a small painting out of the museum when he escapes. The book is about love and loss, and the different people that come into Theo’s life. This is a book I haven’t been able to put down. 

—Martha Snell, Grants Manager 

The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Daré 

I just started Abi Daré’s The Girl with the Louding Voice, one of my Book of the Month Club picks. (NOTE: BOTM is perfect for self-quarantined book lovers.) It’s about a 14-year-old Nigerian girl who is first sold into marriage, then into servanthood, but remains determined to find her voice — and her future.  

—Caroline Portillo, Director of Marketing 


The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan 

The One Thing takes the position that multitasking is ineffective and that we should concentrate  on one goal at a time. The core idea is to determine what single achievement is most important in getting you toward your goals. I began reading this about 10 days ago in response to my ever-growing, unmanageable to-do list. As all of our lives go through rapid change, I’m grateful to have the reminder to slow my brain down and focus on the most important things.  

—Katherine Steiner, Chief Registrar 

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai 

I started reading I Am Malala last week. It was a gift from my boss, who knows how much I love nonfiction stories, especially about women. Here’s a little summary: “When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. She was shot in the head while riding the bus home from school. 

—Kurma Murrain, Community Programs Coordinator 

Becoming by Michele Obama 

This is the April discussion book for my book club. I have been a member of The No Name Book Club for over 20 years. While wine is an important part of our meetings, this is a serious group of readers. If one is present, it’s understood that you read the book! I consequently make it to about half of the meetings per year.  

—Amy Grigg, Manager and Buyer for Retail Operations 

The Complete Book of Garlic by Ted Jordan Meredith 

I am currently re-reading The Complete Book of Garlic by Ted Jordan Meredith because: 

  • Garlic is one of the most fascinating crops. What else do you plant in November? 
  • The photographs alone are worth taking the time to crack this book open. 
  •  It is calming to be gardening and reading about gardening during these stressful times. 

—Eric Speer, Associate Registrar 


Poe Won’t Go by Kelly DiPucchio 

Poe is a friendly elephant, but when he decides to just stop moving in the middle of the town, everyone is in an uproar about how to get him moving along. After lots of silly attempts by well-meaning grown-ups, one kind girl takes the time to talk with Poe and discovers the very reason he won’t goA story of kindness and friendship, and favorite of my 4-year-old. 

—Michele Huggins, Media Relations and Communications Project Manager 

Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by Alice Schertle 

A recommendation from my 21-month-old son, Jacob. It’s a tale about a truck who heads to the big city and encounters lots of traffic and me-first personalities. Chaos ensues, and our protagonist has to use his country sensibilities to effect change. Jacob’s passion for “beep beep” is indefatigable. Mine? Well … 

—Caroline Portillo, Director of Marketing 

On the Daily: 24 Hours in the Life of Katherine Boxall

On the Daily: 24 Hours in the Life of Katherine Boxall

Large abstract paintings may be Katherine Boxall’s lifeblood, but she’s no hippie artist. In fact, the 26-year-old Ottawa, Canada native finds freedom—and creativity—in the near-scientific precision she applies to her daily schedule. Boxall, who moved to Charlotte from San Francisco in 2018, is the new Constellation CLT artist, whose work will be on display in Mint Museum Uptown’s public spaces beginning Feb. 21.

Boxall currently splits her time between her 25-hour-a-week marketing job at Jerald Melberg Gallery and her west Charlotte studio, a haven for her work with acrylics, spray paint, pastels, and oils. While wrestling her golden retriever puppy, Sophie, out of a mud puddle, Boxall walked us through her typical Wednesday.

6:10 AM I wake up. I literally do not even get out of my bed until I’ve had two espressos with some oatmeal cream that my fiancé brings to me. We have a golden retriever puppy, Sophie, who will then come in and jump on my side of the bed. So it’s double espresso, then pet the dog. 

6:30 AM My fiancé drops me off at Burn Boot Camp in Elizabeth. When people say, “enjoy your workout,” I think that’s crazy. But I do it, and it feels great. Then I walk back to our home in Elizabeth. 

7:20 AM I pick up Sophie and we go on a walk around the block. Everyone wants to pet her. No one knows my name, but they all know her name. She gets catcalls from across the street. It takes us 30 minutes to go one block. 

7:50 AM I have a green smoothie every morning: spinach, cucumber, avocado, banana, celery, and protein powder. I try to ensure I do all my good habits Monday to Friday because I don’t want to think about doing any good habits on the weekends. Like zero. 

9 AM I get to Jerald Melberg Gallery. Technically I’m the social media manager, but we don’t do titles there—Jerald and his wife, Mary, are sticklers about that: not creating a hierarchy. Everyone is expected to be a team player. We usually gather around the coffee pot for 10 minutes. Then I go to my desk in the back and edit pictures and write copy. I have a fake Instagram account, so I can test out how certain things look. I post 10 different things and then log in as a user and see how someone would see it. No detail is too small. It’s about how you make people feel when they’re interacting with your brand. 

Noon I meet with Jerald for 10 minutes before I leave to go home and feed Sophie. Then she takes me for a walk. It’s usually breakfast tacos for lunch. I’ll scramble eggs and put them in tortillas or do a cheese board with cheese, crackers, and olives. It’s not measly. The worst thing I could ever do is under-eat at lunch. It will sabotage my afternoon at the studio. I can’t think about anything when I’m hungry. 

1 PM For the next hour, I sit on my couch and do business and admin stuff: answering emails, scheduling art shipments, applying for new opportunities and awards, and managing my website and social networks. Then I change my clothes. I literally wear the same raggedy Lululemon sweatpants, a vintage Nike sweatshirt and a polar fleece I’ve had since I was 11 years old. 

2 PM I get to my art studio on Wilkinson Boulevard. It’s 650 square feet and perfect for what I want to do. 

2:05 PM I set everything up and clean up my last session. It helps me get back in the zone. I put on a couple of playlists I’ve been listening to for years. On Spotify, it’d be categorized as “brain food”—ambient, repetitive, electronic, indie. Nothing with too many lyrics or anything that would affect my mood that much because that will affect the way I paint. I usually have two or three large, 8-feet-by-six-feet paintings in my studio at a time, and I also have small ones scattered everywhere. I use the smaller pieces to test out different colors and textures. Then when I go to the big painting, I’m super confident and it just flows. A lot of times I come at the smaller ones with such an intuitive eye that they end up being just as good or better than the big ones. So, there’s not a hierarchy between the works—it’s just my process, a way for me to say, “This is low pressure.” It’s a mind game. I don’t want to see the struggle on the large works. For me, it’s also about knowing when to stop, leaving a lot of negative space. That’s control. 

3 PM  I take some pictures of the work. I love putting progress pictures on my Instagram. It’s fun for people to see, and it keeps me from psyching myself out. 

3:30 PM  I take a break. My best artist friend calls me and we talk for an hour about painting. That really helps me feel like I’m still part of the community in California. We are in two different warehouses across the world, but we’re still collaborating and thinking about the same thing. 

4 PM I take the pictures I took of my work and upload them to my computer, where I test a bunch of things in Photoshop. It helps me have even more confidence in my designs. It’s a digital sketchbook. 

4:30 PM  This is the moment where I decide, “Am I going to beat traffic and go home, or am I going to push it until 6:30 p.m.?” It’s usually flipping a coin. Some days I need to do more thinking and work on my computer. Some days I am completely in the zone. 

7 PM I’m home and my fiancé and I make dinner. I usually marinate salmon in the morning for us to have for dinner that night. He always grills the vegetables. 

8 PM I take Sophie for a walk and then try to be as lazy as possible. At night, we watch a lot of Netflix and HBO. We just finished “You.”  

10:30 PM Bedtime. I’m definitely not a hippie artist—I’m a type-A artist. I think if you’re trying to take it seriously, you have to take it seriously. If you don’t treat it like your day job, it’s not your day job. It takes a lot of constant effort. 

— As told to Caroline Portillo, Director of  Marketing & Communications

Get your glow on at The Mint Museum’s “Light Up the Night” celebration Feb. 14, powered by Duke Energy-Piedmont Natural Gas


Get your glow on at The Mint Museum’s “Light Up the Night” celebration Feb. 14, powered by Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas

Charlotte, N.C. (February 6, 2020): The Mint Museum welcomes the community to its free Light Up the Night event, powered by Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas, 6-9 PM Feb. 14 at Mint Museum Uptown. The free Valentine’s Day event features immersive experiences for all ages, including glowing swings on the plaza, live music by DJ Fannie Mae, and pop-up maker spaces inside the museum.

One highlight sure to fill Instagram feeds: five circular glow swings installed on the plaza outside Mint Museum Uptown. The LED-lit hoop-shaped swings are designed for guests to twist and glide. Each swing is suspended on rubber-and-rope cords attached to steel structures. LED lights embedded in the swings rotate through neon candy colors when in motion, gradually dimming to a soft white light when still. 

The event—free and open to the public—is held in conjunction with special exhibition Immersed in Light: Studio Drift at the Mint, of which Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas is a corporate sponsor. The exhibition, which showcases the Dutch artist collective, runs through April 26 at Mint Museum Uptown. Spotlight tours take place every half-hour in the galleries on the museums Level 3 and Level 4 galleries.

In addition to the gallery experiences, enjoy light bites and illuminated cocktails at the cash bar, and make creative designs at pop-up maker spaces with glow-in-the-dark art activities.

Fans of Immersed in Light can enjoy a special “Fall in Love With Dutch Design” conversation at 6 PM in the boardroom, presented by the Mint’s Senior Curator of Craft, Design and Fashion Annie Carlano, curator for the exhibition. Carlano will showcase exceptional works by Dutch artists and the hottest Dutch designers of the 21st century. 


Want more info?
Contact Michele Huggins, the Mint’s communications and media relations project manager, or at 704-337-2122

The Mint Museum

Established in 1936 as North Carolina’s first art museum, The Mint Museum is a leading, innovative cultural institution and museum of international art and design. With two locations—Mint Museum Randolph in the heart of Eastover and Mint Museum Uptown on South Tryon Street—the Mint boasts one of the largest collections in the Southeast and is committed to engaging and inspiring members of the global community.

Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers’ experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit’s regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2020 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, and Forbes’ 2019 “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Piedmont Natural Gas

Piedmont Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, is an energy services company whose principal business is the distribution of natural gas to more than 1 million residential, commercial and industrial customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The company also supplies natural gas to power plants. Piedmont is routinely recognized by J.D. Power for excellent customer satisfaction, and has been named by Cogent Reports as one of the most trusted utility brands in the U.S.

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers’ experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2020 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, and Forbes’ 2019 “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

The first exhibition focused exclusively on black basalt sculpture to open on Feb. 9 at The Mint Museum with striking, contemporary presentation

Charlotte, NC (January 9, 2020): The Mint Museum is pleased to announce its upcoming presentation of Classic Black: The Basalt Sculpture of Wedgwood and His Contemporaries, opening February 9, 2020 at Mint Museum Randolph.

The exhibition will feature more than 100 works of art on loan from across the U.S., as well as England, and will focus exclusively on black basalt sculpture—the first show of its kind to do so. Classic Black will showcase works ranging from life-size portrait busts to fanciful vases, dynamic statues of mythological heroes to portrait medallions in low relief.

The exhibition features loans from major museums in the United States and England such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Birmingham Museum of Art, as well as important, one-of-a-kind objects from notable private collections in America, some of which are making their public debut.

One noteworthy aspect of the show is its presentation: a completely groundbreaking, contemporary treatment. With the help of the prominent Charlotte muralist and street artist known as “Owl,” each of the exhibition rooms will feature a specially commissioned graphic mural in striking, sunset hues. The bright colors and graphic patterns will challenge visitors’ expectations and enliven the historical pieces, making them more relevant to the modern viewer. And while completely unconventional, the design aesthetic nevertheless recalls 18th-century architecture and interior design, reinterpreting it for the modern-day audience.

And it’s a presentation that Wedgwood himself — as a master marketer of luxury, with an eye for presentation — would likely approve of, says Brian Gallagher, Curator of Decorative Arts at The Mint Museum. “Wedgwood would have never wanted his works to sit on a putty-colored pedestal, against a putty-colored wall,” says Gallagher.

Classic Black is also the Mint’s first exhibition dedicated completely to sculpture. And because the museum is known for its British ceramics collection, it’s appropriate that its first sculpture show draws from an aspect of that collection.

Classic Black and its remarkable presentation will break every mold,” says The Mint Museum’s President and CEO Todd A. Herman, PhD. “And we believe it will attract longtime Wedgwood enthusiasts as well as a new audience keen on seeing the marriage of 18th-century pieces with 21st-century mural art.”

About one-third of the works on view in Classic Blackare based directly on marble and bronze sculptures from the classical world. Other objects in the exhibition derive from works of art created in later centuries by some of the great figures in European art history, including Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, published by D. Giles Limited, London, which will include extended object entries and introductory essays contributed by Robin Emmerson, Gaye Blake-Roberts, Nancy Ramage, and MG Sullivan.

The exhibition was made possible with generous support from presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Private Bank.

“This is not your grandmother’s Wedgwood,” says Jay Everette, Officer of the Wells Fargo Foundation. “Wells Fargo’s Foundation decided to serve as presenting sponsor of the exhibition as part of its focus on arts, history, culture and heritage community grants. We were intrigued by the compelling contrast of past and present. We hope it allows viewers to see Wedgwood’s story, works and legacy in a different light.”

Additional support was provided by Moore & Van Allen and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. The Exhibition catalogue was fully funded by the Delhom Service League and an anonymous patron.


About The Mint Museum

Established in 1936 as North Carolina’s first art museum, The Mint Museum is a leading, innovative cultural institution and museum of international art and design. With two locations—Mint Museum Randolph in the heart of Eastover and Mint Museum Uptown on South Tryon Street—the Mint boasts one of the largest collections in the Southeast and is committed to engaging and inspiring members of the global community.


The Mint Museum launches new free Wednesday night event series that showcases Charlotte’s vibrant cultural scene

The Mint Museum launches new free Wednesday night event series that showcases Charlotte’s vibrant cultural scene.

Charlotte, NC (October 14, 2019): 

After years of being free to the public on Wednesday nights, The Mint Museum is launching a new free event series at its uptown location called Live at the Mint, which will celebrate and highlight Charlotte’s dynamic arts community. Live at the Mint, presented by Fifth Third Bank, launches this Wednesday, Oct. 16, from 6 PM to 9 PM.

The Live at the Mint lineup will feature everything from performance art to conversations with leading artists, provocative films to gallery tours with community leaders. And with a variety of hands-on activities—and a cash bar that opens at 5:30 PM—it’s the perfect way to wind down after a long day.

Live at the Mint, presented by Fifth Third Bank, will launch with an initial eight-week run at Mint Museum Uptown, with plans to continue the series in 2020. The programming runs the gamut: The Oct. 16 night features a jazz band and conversation with celebrated SC artist Dr. Leo Twiggs and Rabbi Judy Schindler about how art can offer a safe space to discuss uncomfortable issues. The following week, Oct. 23, is all about swing dancing, with no-experience-necessary lessons from Gottaswing Charlotte.

Many of the Live at the Mint nights feature local groups and artists who are helping shape the cultural fabric of Charlotte, from renowned jazz vocalist MercuryCarter (Dec. 4) to latin fusion band Chócala, who will perform on the heels of their new album release (Dec. 11).

And it’s all happening on Wednesday nights, which are free and open to the public thanks to the ongoing support of generous sponsors Bank of America, the Mint Museum Auxiliary, and Publix Supermarket Charities.

“Live at the Mint is a project that the museum has initiated in order to create layered and diverse cultural programs for our visitors in collaboration with arts partners throughout the city,” says The Mint Museum President and CEO Todd A. Herman, PhD. “It was important to us that these happen on Wednesday nights, when the Mint is free to the public, so that we can become a positive cultural destination for anyone and everyone.”

It’s the perfect time to come to Mint Museum Uptown, as two new special exhibitions have opened in the last month. Immersed in Light: Studio Drift at the Mint features breathtaking sculptures that show the intersection of art, technology and nature (think: massive glass wings that imitate the movement of a bird). And Coined in the South, which opened Oct. 10, features 64 works from some of the most innovative and emerging artists in the Southeast. Organized in partnership with the Young Affiliates of the Mint, Coined in the South features everything from the traditional (oil on canvas and collage) to the decidedly untraditional (one sculpture is made from steel saw dust, alpaca fur, and alligator skin).

“Fifth Third is proud to be the presenting partner for this exciting new series,” says Lee Fite, Fifth Third Bank regional president of the Mid Atlantic. “Live at the Mint represents the same values we do – collaboration, inclusivity, and community.”


Interested in interviewing the artists, musicians, or anyone from the museum? Reach out to the Mint’s Director of Marketing & Communications, Caroline Portillo, at or call 704-337-2009.

Here’s a look at the Live at the Mint lineup:

October 16
Enjoy a conversation with SC artist Dr. Leo Twiggs and Rabbi Judy Schindler, as they discuss how art can offer a safe space to discuss uncomfortable yet urgent current issues. Jazz ensemble Conversation Piece will play before and after the discussion. Twiggs made headlines for his work in the aftermath of the tragic 2015 murders at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

October 23
Ever wished you knew how to swing dance? Join Gottaswing Charlotte for free instructions, followed by an evening of dancing.

October 30
The 90-piece Youth Orchestra of Charlotte will perform a selection of spooky symphonic masterpieces, followed by a screening of the 1982 horror film Poltergeist.

November 6
Couldn’t score tickets to Sir Elton’s farewell tour at Spectrum Center? Catch the next best thing on the same night, as Elton John impersonator Carl Rosen of Yellow Brick Road tribute band performs the Rocketman’s classics. Rose-colored glasses included.

November 13
Enjoy Buster Keaton’s classic silent film The Freshman, as the brilliant and award-winning Ethan Uslan accompanies on piano. In partnership with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

November 20
The lauded Charlotte Storytellers will perform four original works created in response to pieces on view in Immersed in Light: Studio Drift at the Mint and Coined in the South. This one-of-a-kind experience will help you bring fresh eyes to the stunning exhibitions.

November 27
No programming – Happy Thanksgiving!

December 4
Relax and unwind with internationally renowned jazz vocalist MercuryCarter. It will be an evening of old standards and new songs destined to become classics.

December 11
Enjoy the inventive sound of Latin fusion band Chócala, as they ride the tide of their new record release this fall.


About The Mint Museum

Established in 1936 as North Carolina’s rst art museum, The Mint Museum is a leading, innovative cultural institution and museum of international art and design. With two locations—Mint Museum Randolph in the heart of Eastover and Mint Museum Uptown on South Tryon Street—the Mint boasts one of the largest collections in the Southeast and is committed to engaging and inspiring members of the global community.

About Fifth Third

Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and the indirect parent company of Fifth Third Bank, an Ohio-chartered bank. As of June 30, 2019, Fifth Third had $169 billion in assets and operated 1,207 full-service Banking Centers and 2,551 ATMs with Fifth Third branding in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida,

Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina. In total, Fifth Third provides its customers with access to approximately 53,000 fee-free ATMs across the United States. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer Lending and Wealth & Asset Management. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and, as of June 30, 2019, had $399 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $46 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for- pro t organizations through its Trust and Registered Investment Advisory businesses. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at Fifth Third’s common stock is traded on the Nasdaq® Global Select Market under the symbol “FITB.” Fifth Third Bank was established in 1858. Deposit and Credit products are offered by Fifth Third Bank. Member FDIC.