Art that reveres Native American culture and craft

Three works of art that remind us to revere Native American culture and craft

By Annie Carlano, Senior Curator of Craft, Design & Fashion, and Rebecca Elliot, Assistant Curator of Craft, Design & Fashion

Native American Heritage Day is celebrated the last Friday of November. Designated by President George W. Bush in 2008, it celebrates and recognizes the importance of Native Americans and their cultural heritage to our past, present, and future. Works of art by Native American artists encapsulate tradition, rich artistry, and stories that are passed down through generations. The Mint Museum’s Native Americas collection showcases works from Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Guatemala, from the nineteenth century to today. Objects from the Native Americas collection are on view at Mint Museum Randolph, as well as the Craft+Design galleries at Mint Museum Uptown. Following are three works of art by Native American artists that chronicle their roots, relationships, and environments.

Diego Romero 

Diego Romero (Cochiti, 1964–). Bowl, late 20th century, earthenware with slip paint. Gift of Gretchen and Nelson Grice. 2017.43.34

 

This bowl is part of an ongoing series of ceramics and prints by Diego Romero that chronicles the adventures of the Chongo Brothers, named for a characteristic hairstyle of Navajo and Pueblo people, a bun gathered at the nape of the neckthe chongo. Romero’s ceramics are impeccably hand built with local clays from the hills of Northern New Mexico.

The strong graphic design is a combination of geometric motifs related to ancient Mimbres pottery, pop art and comic-strip aesthetics. Chronicling the societal injustice rampant on and off the reservation, Diego Romero sometimes softens these difficult narratives with his cartoonish style.

Trained at UCLA, his work is included in museums and private collections in the US and Europe. In 2019 Diego Romero received the Native Treasures Living Treasures Award, given to artists who have made outstanding contributions to indigenous arts and culture. 

Diego Romero ceramics are hand built with clay from the hills of Northern New Mexico. Courtesy of Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Diego Romero’s bowl is on view at Mint Museum Randolph, in an installation featuring Pueblo ceramics from the Grice Collection. Experience more of Romero’s work through a virtual tour of his current solo exhibition at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, New Mexico, Diego Romero vs. The End of Art

 


Susan Point 

A collection of wooden circles surrounding a large disk with two fish carved into it
Susan Point (Canadian, Coast Salish [Musqueam First Nation], 1952–), Salmon Spawning Run, 2012, carved and painted Western red cedar. Project Ten Ten Ten commission. Museum Purchase: Funds provided by Fleur Bresler, Libba and Mike Gaither, Laura and Mike Grace, Betsy and Brian Wilder, Amy and Alfred Dawson, Aida and Greg Saul, Missy Luczak Smith and Doug Smith, Beth and Drew Quartapella, and Kim Blanding. 2012.107. Art © Susan Point 2012. Image © Mint Museum of Art, Inc. © Susan Point, 2012.

 

The round shape of Salmon Spawning Run is based on Susan Point’s well-established spindle whorl motif, which represents the Coast Salish, a First Nations tribe. For thousands of years salmon have sustained the Coast Salish people as the primary food source. As such, salmon are highly honored and respected. Symbolizing abundance, prosperity, renewal, and fertility, the fish and their eggs are depicted here in a composition that reminds us of the importance of clean water other sustainable resources to protect our natural environment. cedar from a tree trunk found on communal land, and painted the carved wood with natural pigments.  

Susan Point’s artwork symbolizes the natural resources that are central to life of the Coast Salish, a First Nations tribe. Image courtesy of the artist

One of a group of artists responsible for the resurgence of Coast Salish art and culture, her public art projects include works at Vancouver International Airport and the Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, D.C. She has received numerous awards including the Order of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and a British Columbia Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Salmon Spawning Run is a part of Project Ten Ten Ten and is a site-specific work on view in the Craft & Design galleries at Mint Museum Uptown. 


Tara Locklear 

Tara Locklear (United States), Bobble for Bob Necklace, circa 2017, walnut, laser cut plexiglass, recycled skateboards, costume jewelry, oxidized sterling silver, and other mixed media. Gift of Porter • Price Collection. 2019.93.117

 

Tara Locklear’s one-of a kind jewelery is inspired by her environments and includes repurposed elements, such as wooden skateboards. Image courtesy of the artist

Tara Locklear’s jewelry is inspired by urban environments and includes repurposed elements such as pieces of wooden skateboards. She made this necklace as a tribute to her jewelry professor and mentor, Robert Ebendorf, after his retirement from East Carolina University (ECU). Its materials range from ones she explored as a student there to ones she focuses on in her current practice. Locklear earned a BFA in Small Metals and Jewelry Design from ECU in 2012. She lives and works in Raleigh, North Carolina and is a member of the Lumbee Tribe. 

Holiday decor at Mint Museum Store

Add more merry at home with artful holiday decor

Whether it’s glamor and dazzle, or comfort and cozy you seek, bring holiday cheer home with these locally-sourced and inspired items available at the Mint Museum Store. From art-inspired decor to gifts for all ages and styles, there’s something for everyone on your gift list.

This year, Museum Store Sunday is extended to a full week. Save 29% on all regular-priced items in the store November 29-December 6. Just mention Museum Store Sunday at check out.

Flocked Green Stags Head, $100; and Frontier Platter, $64.
Limited Mint Edition Starworks (NC) Handblown Glass Ornaments, $28
Colorful Slim Champagne Glasses, $14 each

 

Multicolored Sequin LED Light Up Trees, $14-$22
Flocked Red HoHoHo’s (Set of 3), $28; and Flocked Green Trees, $10-$64
A man standing on the patio space at Mint Museum Uptown looking at a structure made of metal rods.

Intersect Chicago Studio Talks

Mint curator Annie Carlano presents studios talks with artists Danny Lane, Tom Joyce, and Kate Malone at inaugural Intersect Chicago art fair

In celebration of the tenth anniversary of Project Ten Ten Ten, The Mint Museum is presenting studio talks with three featured artists: Tom Joyce, Danny Lane, and Kate Malone. In conversation with Annie Carlano, Senior Curator of Craft, Design & Fashion at The Mint Museum, the artists will discuss the impact of The Mint Museum commissions on their work, as well current and future projects as part of Intersect Chicago.

More than 100 exhibitors are part of the Intersect Art and Design roster for the inaugural edition of Intersect Chicago, the virtual art fair replacing SOFA Chicago for the 2020 edition due to COVID-19. Intersect Chicago will be online from November 6-12, 2020.

The fair is the evolution of SOFA – Sculpture Objects Functional Art. It is the intersection of art, design, and objects, including daily highlights on glass, contemporary art, design, ceramic and craft, outsider art, fiber, and public art/sculpture. Intersect Chicago will feature institutions from around the globe, including The Mint Museum, with dedicated programming and a selection of galleries showcasing work of these disciplines. Cultural partners of Intersect Chicago will be featured on different days of the fair with special programming, talks, virtual tours, and more. See the full schedule.

Visit the Fair on Artsy

Intersect Chicago has partnered with Artsy, the global marketplace for discovering and collecting art. In addition to accessing the fair through IntersectChicago.com, visitors may also visit the fair through Artsy. As Intersect Chicago’s Main Marketplace Partner, Artsy provides a unique opportunity for exhibiting galleries to promote their virtual booths to Artsy’s global audience. Collectors can experience Intersect Chicago on Artsy to discover artists, save favorite works, view works on their home walls through Artsy’s AR mobile tool and directly purchase work from galleries.

Work by Gemma O’Brien

The Mint Museum, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, and Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture recognize frontline workers and their families by offering free admission

The facade of Mint Museum Uptown

The Mint Museum, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, and Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture recognize frontline workers and their families by offering free admission

Charlotte, NC — As a thank you to essential and frontline workers during the pandemic, The Mint Museum, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture are offering complimentary admission to health care providers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, custodial staff, transit workers, grocery store and restaurant employees, and their immediate family members through Dec. 31, 2020.

“Throughout the pandemic, frontline workers have helped to sustain health and well-being for our community. We want to recognize these efforts by offering an opportunity for these workers and their families to come and enjoy exploring art at our museums free of charge,” says Todd A. Herman, PhD, president and CEO at The Mint Museum.

Each museum has safety and capacity protocols in place to keep within COVID-19 guidelines. Visitors are encouraged to reserve tickets online in advance of their visit to support a low-touch environment. Tickets may be reserved on each of the museums’ websites. Walk-in visitors are welcome if space permits at that time. Guests are required to wear masks at each museum.  

“The Bechtler enthusiastically joins the Mint and the Gantt in supporting our frontline essential workers in the Charlotte community,” says Todd D. Smith, executive director at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. “We hope this move allows more people to enjoy the restorative powers of the visual arts and museums in this time of crisis.”

Work by Gemma O’Brien
Work by Gemma O’Brien

The Mint Museum also is recognizing frontline and essential workers with the digital installation Messages for the City displayed on the Wells Fargo screen along Levine Avenue of the Arts and on the Legacy Union screen at 620 S. Tryon St. Artist-made images and animations recognize and celebrate the commitment of these workers during the COVID pandemic. The images play continuously, as part of the general video displays on both screens. The project originated with Times Squares Arts in partnership with For Freedoms, Poster House, and PRINT magazine and was first shown in Times Square last spring.  

“We owe a debt of gratitude to our frontline workers for their selfless dedication during the pandemic. Being able to show our appreciation collectively as a museum community is the least that we can do in honor of their service,” says David Taylor, president and CEO of Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture.

For more information about safety protocols at each museum and hours, visit each museum website.

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, media relations and communications project manager
michele.huggins@mintmuseum.org, 704.564.0826

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra inaugurates installation of ‘Foragers’

Women’s artistry shines as Charlotte Symphony Orchestra concertos inaugurate Mint Museum Uptown’s newly installed Foragers

By Michael Solender

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra violinist Jenny Topilow could barely contain her enthusiasm when she learned she’d be performing in a special filmed concerto in the Mint Museum’s Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium uptown earlier this fall.  

 Topilowalong with three of her symphony colleagues, were part of a unique celebration showcasing the space and the brilliant newly installed 96-panel “stained glass” installation, Foragers, by contemporary American artist Summer Wheat.

“The beauty of great art is of importance to all of us,” Topilow says,I love spending time at the Mint, go there often, and am excited to be part of this collaboration between two of Charlotte’s favorite cultural institutions.” 

Bringing people together to enjoy beautiful artistry is at the core of the museum’s mission. As part of the Mint Museum’s 10th anniversary year uptown and in recognition of the challenges many in our community face getting out of their homes during the time of Covid, the Mint partnered with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in creating a short film featuring a pair of duets performed by symphony musicians.  

 The collaboration came at invitation of the Wells Fargo Foundation, longtime supporters of both cultural institutions. “Our foundation uses different mediums to help tell the story of impact and reach into the communities we serve,” says Jay Everette, Wells Fargo’s senior vice president of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. “The film represents a celebration of the power of women in art presented at the intersection of architecture, art and music. The film will ultimately be made available at no charge to the entire community.” 

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra players, cellist Sarah Markle and violinist Alaina Rea, teamed up for a performance that was filmed in front of “Foragers.” Photo courtesy Kelso Communications

Each duet is performed under the backdrop of Summer Wheat’s transformative atrium window installation. Bathed in glowing jewel-toned light, the compelling musical performances are elevated by the sublimity of the space. Topilow and CSO harpist Andrea Mumm Trammell paired to play contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Part’s Fratres, an enthusiastic set of frenetic activity juxtaposed against contemplative stillness. Charlotte Symphony Orchestra players, cellist Sarah Markle and violaist Alaina Rea, teamed for the contemplative and reflecting duet Limestone and Feltby contemporary North Carolina composer and Pulitzer Prize for music recipient Caroline Shaw.  

“During this time of COVID, we want to provide content that is uplifting, hopeful, positive, and optimistic,” says Hillary Cooper, Chief Advancement Officer for The Mint Museum. “It’s a gift to our donors and partners and comes with a promise of a brighter future.”

Foragers was realized through the generous support of the Wells Fargo Foundation Women Artists Fund, a special fund developed to support broader representation of women artists in museum collections. The work showcases Wheat’s commitment to telling the stories of women as laborers and makers. She redefines historic artistic gender representation in ways that make her work resonate loudly today. 

We asked our musicians to find inspiration in Foragers, and to select music that would complement it,” says David Fisk, president, and CEO of Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.To continue our focus on the impact of women in the arts, we feature two duets by female musicians, and one work by a contemporary female composer. I am pleased to highlight musicians from the Charlotte Symphony here at The Mint Museum for a performance that is at once classical and contemporary.” 

 For Topilow, the performance is a joyful experience at a happy junction of art and music.  

Everything right nowduring Covidhas unique aspect,” Topilow says, “We wanted to create a large amount of powerful music with a small number of players and the result is truly special.”

Michael J. Solender is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, American City Business Journals, Metropolis Magazine, Business North Carolina, the Charlotte Observer, and others. He develops custom content and communications for businesses and organizations.

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Members of the Metrolina Native American Association dressed in tribal colors and costume. Photo by Lance Bradshaw

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Compiled and written by Rubie Britt-Height and Kurma Murrain

 

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples, and commemorates their histories and cultures. It is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October.

In 2018, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in North Carolina. Cooper’s proclamation states “American Indians, who have inhabited this land since long before their first contact with English settlers, share their knowledge of the land and its resources, and have continued to play a vital role in the development of our local communities, the state of North Carolina and the nation.”

North Carolina has several indigenous peoples, including the Catawba, Eastern Band of  Cherokee‎, Chickasaw‎, Choctaw,‎  Coharie, Haliwa-Saponi, Meherrin, Muscogee‎, Occaneechi Band Saponi, Sappony, Waccamaw Siouan Seminole tribe, Lumbee‎, and‎ Pamlico‎.

Governor Cooper noted, “Our state has enjoyed a positive relationship with the indigenous people of North Carolina and continue to grow in our shared progress. We honor and respect the heritage and the many cultural and economic contributions of our American Indian tribes and people.”

Dancers from the Metrolina Native American Association perform at a Sunday Fun Day and Community Conversations event at The Mint Museum. Authentic costumes with feathers, bells, leather, and beads brighten ceremonial and celebratory dances.  The dances are a form of storytelling. Photo by Lance Bradshaw

The History of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Indigenous Peoples’ Day began in 1989 in South Dakota, where then Governor  George S. Mickelson backed a resolution to celebrate Native American day on the second Monday of October. It was a counter-celebration held on the same day as the U.S. federal holiday of  Columbus Day, which honors Italian explorer  Christopher Columbus. Some in the United States reject celebrating Christopher Columbus, saying that he represents “the violent history of the colonization in the Western Hemisphere” and that Columbus Day overshadows Columbus’ dismal actions, including enslaving Native Americans.

According to the Cherokee One Feather news, “Columbus’ landing in the Caribbean marked the beginning of decline among Native American tribes and the beginning of the Transatlantic slave trade.” Columbus Day is still celebrated the same day in many states, including by numerous Italian-American communities.

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day at the Mint

The Mint Museum joins North Carolina’s celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ day and embraces the idea of acknowledging the historic sacrifices of indigenous people and their contributions to the United States. The museum is proud of its relationship with the Metrolina Native American Association in presenting cultural history, heritage, dance, storytelling, and music during Native American Heritage Month.  It also has presented programming with Catawba artists.

A diverse audience of parents, children, and the Native American community enjoyed circle and tribal dance to the rhythms of indigenous musical instruments at a Sunday Fun Day event in 2019. Photo by Lance Bradshaw

In Vivid Color: Pushing the Boundaries of Perception in Contemporary Art investigates the power of color on our everyday perceptions and shared experiences 

Jennifer Steinkamp, Daisy Bell, 2008. Video installation. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer.

In Vivid Color: Pushing the Boundaries of Perception in Contemporary Art investigates the power of color on our everyday perceptions and shared experiences 

 

Charlotte, NC – Colors are linked to memories, experiences, and our environments. To celebrate the world of color and its effects on our perceived realities, The Mint Museum proudly presents In Vivid Color: Pushing the Boundaries of Perception in Contemporary Art. The exhibition is on view Oct. 16 at Mint Museum Uptown and features four innovative contemporary artists—Gisela Colon, Spencer Finch, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Summer Wheat. Installations in the exhibition are experiential by design, allowing each viewer to feel and engage with the works of art based on individual perceptions of color.

“We are so pleased to be able to share these powerful, engaging works of art with our visitors,” says Jonathan Stuhlman, PhD, senior curator of American art at The Mint Museum. “Not only do they demonstrate the wide range of innovative ways in which artists use color, but they also inspire us to reflect upon the many ways in which color infiltrates our memories, functions symbolically in our everyday lives, creates shared experiences, and sparks conversations and connections.”

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

Visitors are first greeted by Summer Wheat’s monumental installation Foragers in the Robert Haywood Morrison atrium. The four story, 3,720-square-foot installation fills 96 window panels with vibrant hand-cut layered vinyl gel panels that combine to tell the story of women as makers and providers. The presentation bathes the space in jewel-tone colors and hues that shift with natural light, enveloping the visitor. Foragers was commissioned for the Mint and generously funded by Wells Fargo Foundation Women Artists Fund.

Located on Level 3 in the Gorelick Gallery, immersive installations Daisy Bell and Orbit 12 by pioneering digital artist Jennifer Steinkamp explore the symbolic power of color through video technology. Using repeated floral patterns and hyper-saturated colors, Daisy Bell, which is part of Bank of America’s corporate art collection, challenges viewers to rethink their relationship with the natural world. Orbit 12, a gift to the museum from the Mint Museum Auxiliary, guides viewers through four seasons in which leaves, branches, and blossoms constantly morph through cycles of growth, abundance, decay, and renewal.

Spencer Finch (American, 1962–). Sunset, South Texas (detail), 6/1/03, 2003, fluorescent lights, filters. Courtesy of the artist.

At nearly 40-feet wide, Spencer Finch’s Sunset (South Texas, 6/21/03), also on loan from Bank of America, recreates a sunset on the Texas plains with green, pink, blue, yellow and orange filters fitted over fluorescent lamps. The horizontal stretch of the piece mimics the vastness of the plains and allows viewers to settle into the distance of space and color. Gisela Colon’s Hyper Ellipsoid pushes the boundaries of materials and sculptural form. Her objects, self-described as organic minimalism, use suspended pigments in acrylic to create forms that seem to shape-shift with light and motion.

The exhibition also includes 11 paintings and works on paper by artists Jennifer Bartlett, Annette Cone-Skelton, Peter Halley, Juan Logan, Harvey Quaytman, T.J. Reddy, Brian Rutenberg, Julian Stanczak, and Donald Sultan from the Mint’s permanent collection. In addition, local artist Juan Logan has loaned a painting from his Elegy series. Visitors can also play with color and light in the color shadow experience just inside the gallery.

In Vivid Color is presented by Wells Fargo Private Bank, with additional support from the Mint Museum Auxiliary, Bank of America Collection, and the GAVLAK Gallery. In Vivid Color also benefits from a media partnership with Peachy the Magazine.

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 michele.huggins@mintmuseum.org, 704.564.0826

Voices heard: ‘Foragers’ underscores Mint’s ongoing commitment to women artists

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 monumental Foragers underscores the Mint’s ongoing commitment to women artists, perspectives historically underrepresented in museums

By Michael J. Solender

Uptown visitors meet with a fresh sensory experience this fall as Mint Museum Uptown reopens its doors following the Covid-mandated lockdown. As guests enter the towering glass-paneled Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium, they’re enveloped in warm jewel-toned light bathing the space of the new 96-panel “stained glass” installation Foragers by contemporary American artist Summer Wheat.

And while the quiet beauty of hand-drawn, collaged and placed colored vinyl panels encourage many to slow their pace and reflect in the grandeur, the imagery of strong, powerful women, taking on traditional male roles of hunters and providers, makes a clear and confident statement—women are represented on their own terms, making vital contributions.

The messaging is not accidental. Wheat’s work is deliberate in pushing back on gender objectification and unidimensional portrayal often depicted in museum collections. “Histories we tell, and the histories told to us are never really true,” Wheat says, her slight Oklahoma drawl elongating her cadence. “They’re only telling one side of the story, and there’s a lot that’s left out.”

Wheat, a mid-career artist whose work has been displayed in museums only within the past few years, is bucking a trend unfavorable to women. 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 recent study by art market information company Artnet.

Recognizing this historical underrepresentation of women’s voices on public display, the Mint is leading the way to better balance the scales. “We have a strong community partner and advocate in Wells Fargo whose values align so closely with the museum on this important social and cultural issue,” says Todd Herman, Mint Museum President & CEO, “Something  we really admire and treasure in the relationship we’ve had with Wells Fargo is they collaborate with us and push us further in ways that make the community better. Their Women Artist Fund and their support of our Foragers installation is a wonderful example of that.”

Charlotte knows Wells Fargo as a significant community partner and stalwart investor in our region’s diversity and success. Their foundation focuses on projects and innovation at the community level such as awareness and social change, increasing housing affordability, and access to capital for businesses. Last year, they contributed more than $14 million in support of projects and programing in the Charlotte region. In addition to programmatic work with quantitative measure, like the number of low-income individuals placed into safe and affordable housing, a component of the foundation’s work focuses on bringing perspectives and understanding to social issues through the arts.

“As company, we’re one of the largest small business lenders to women owned businesses,” says Jay Everette, Wells Fargo’s senior vice president of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. “With the arts and culture sector of our [philanthropic] work, we realize putting a focus on female artists helps elevate and escalate women’s voices through promoting their artwork. Not only is Foragers a significant work by an important female artist, it’s also public art that anybody can come in and access without having to pay a fee.”

It was the Mint Museum’s 80th anniversary celebration and the 2016 Women of Abstract Expressionism exhibition that served as a catalyst for the formation of the Wells Fargo Foundation Women Artist Fund according to Everette. “We were beginning to formulate some of the strategies on this and through the exhibition discovered there were a group of other women artists leading the way in the movement.  But they did not have gallery representation. They were not being picked up by museums after the abstract expressionist movement.”

Inspired, the Wells Fargo Foundation set about to address and help reconcile the imbalance of female representation in museum collections. “The Women Artist Fund was established three years ago, and we’ve been successful in helping to place and acquire seminal pieces of art in permanent museum collections across North Carolina,” says Everette. Other museums benefiting from the program include the Cameron Museum of Art in Wilmington, The Weatherspoon Museum of Art in Greensboro, and The Blowing Rock Art Museum in Blowing Rock.

Admirers of Summer Wheat’s Foragers, on display through September 6, 2022, will be pleased to note that through the generosity of The Wells Fargo Foundation Women Artist Fund, the artist’s work With Side, With Shoulder, a large painting where Wheat’s technique extrudes paint through wire mesh, has been acquired for the Mint’s permanent collection.

Mary Myers Dwelle, one of the Mint’s female founders would undoubtedly be pleased.

Foragers is part of the exhibition In Vivid Color: Pushing the Boundaries of Perception in Contemporary Art that opens Oct. 16 at Mint Museum Uptown.

Michael J. Solender is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, American City Business Journals, Metropolis Magazine, Business North Carolina, the Charlotte Observer, and others. He develops custom content and communications for businesses and organizations.

A look back at the Mint through the years with Herb Cohen

Brian Gallagher, Curator of Decorative Arts at The Mint Museum (left) with Herb Cohen.

A stalwart supporter of the arts and dedicated staff member at the Mint, Herb Cohen provides an oral history of The Mint Museum

Herb Cohen, a well-respected potter, has been a part of the Mint family since the late 1950s and is still an active member of the Mint and the Delhom Service League.  First working with clay at the age of 6 at the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Herb earned two degrees in ceramics at Alfred University before becoming a designer for Hyalyn Porcelain Company in Hickory, North Carolina.

After two years at Hyalyn, he moved to Charlotte in 1958, and immediately became involved with the Mint Museum Drama Guild. He and his husband, José Fumero, a textile artist and painter, designed and built sets and costumes, as well as appearing onstage. This was the beginning of Cohen wearing many hats on the Mint staff, including exhibition designer, ceramics teacher, interim museum director (twice!), and exhibits director. In 1972, he and Fumero moved to Blowing Rock to pursue their art full-time, but never lost touch with the Mint.   

During the 38 years in Blowing Rock, Cohen made his living as a potter, was a founder of the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, and served on the boards of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, Piedmont Craftsman, and the American Craft Council. After he and Fumero returned to Charlotte in 2010, Cohen became active with the Delhom Service League and the Potters Market Invitational. In 2012, the Mint celebrated his work with the exhibition, Sophisticated Surfaces: The Pottery of Herb Cohen. 

The following interviews were conducted by Brian Gallagher, curator of decorative arts, and Ellen Show, archivist at Mint Museum Randolph during the summer of 2017. Cohen discusses his career at the Mint Museum, his life as a potter and artist, his experiences with the Mint Museum Drama Guild, and, during a walking tour, describes what the Mint Museum Randolph building was like before and after the 1967 expansion. 

 

Interview 1 – June 12, 2017: Cohen’s roles at The Mint Museum

 

Gallagher talks with Cohen about his years on staff at the Mint Museum, which ran from 1958 to 1972. Cohen began as a volunteer exhibition installer and Mint Museum Drama Guild technician and actor, and went on to become exhibition designer, interim museum director (twice!), ceramics instructor, and exhibits director. 

 

Interview 2 – June 26, 2017: Cohen’s Life in the Arts

Cohen discusses his relationship with the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and its contribution to his studying ceramics at Alfred University, his singing at Madison Square Garden and on Broadway as a child, and his work as a potter in North Carolina. 

 

Interview 3 – July 10, 2017: The Mint Museum Drama Guild

Ellen Show talks with Cohen about his experiences working with the Mint Museum Drama Guild. Highlights of their conversation include stories about Drama Guild founder Dorothy Masterson, and memories of other guild members, including Jan Karon, Leon Rippy, and his husband, artist Jose Fumero. 

 

Interview 4 – Aug. 18, 2017

 

A walk-and-talk through the original staff areas of Mint Museum Randolph. Cohen remembers the spaces as they were in the late 1950s to 1960s. 

 

Interview 5 – Sept. 12, 2017 

 

A walk-and-talk around the original gallery spaces of Mint Museum Randolph. Cohen describes the spaces before and after the 1967 building expansion.