The Mint Museum’s history is women’s history

The Mint Museum’s history is women’s history 

By Ellen Show


A postcard of the founding women of The Mint Museum
L-R: Susie Van Landingham, Katherine Clark Pendleton Arrington, Mary Myers Dwelle, Sadie Burwell, October 1936, unknown photographer. Image courtesy of The Mint Museum Archives.

When the Mint Museum opened its doors on Oct. 22, 1936, it was thanks to the efforts of a passionate sisterhood devoted to bringing art to the Charlotte community. At the helm was the Mint’s fairy godmother Mary Myers Dwelle. Hailing from a family who made it their mission to advance culture in Charlotte, it was fitting that she was the driving force behind the creation of the first art museum in North Carolina. As Charlotte Woman’s Club art department chair, Dwelle organized art exhibitions and lectures that were eagerly attended. 

Recognizing the need to give the arts a permanent Charlotte home, sights were set on the historic-but-condemned U.S. Mint building on Tryon Street. The task of transforming the Mint into an art museum was daunting until a passionate speech for saving the U.S. Mint building was presented in February 1933 at a luncheon hosted by Dwelle. The speech inspired a spontaneous donation, and a significant sum was given toward the purchase of the building—that was already in demolition—for rebuilding on another site. The generosity was contagious. Within two days, the required funds were raised and paid to the demolition contractor.

A developer donated the Eastover neighborhood land on which Mint Museum Randolph sits today. Dwelle continued with her determination to establish the art museum. She tirelessly wrote letters to government aid agencies from Raleigh to Washington, D.C. lobbying for reconstruction funds. In her Mint Museum Association leadership roles, she coordinated the rebuilding process, built relationships with other arts organizations and garnered public support. She also courted art acquisitions, including the now iconic portrait of Queen Charlotte donated by Jane Hall Liddell Battle. The Mint Museum opened its doors three years later with an inaugural gala. Dwelle’s determined efforts made what seemed impossible, possible, and her devotion to the arts is the perfect way to celebrate Women’s History Month this March.  


This story first appeared in Spring 2020 issue of Inspired, the Mint Museum’s member magazine. 

Thank you for your hard work – A note on the Nov. 5 tax referendum

Dear friends and supporters of The Mint Museum,

I want to personally thank each of you for the work you did on behalf of the Mint and the cultural sector in Charlotte, from setting out yard signs to having conversations with friends to volunteering at polling stations. The proposed sales tax for arts, parks and education launched an effort that galvanized the arts community and its supporters. This collaborative teamwork is a building block we can use as we move forward to enrich the community through the arts.

While we are clearly disappointed by the outcome of the referendum last night, one thing was made clear in conversations with those who were voting against the tax increase: it wasn’t a negative reflection on the importance of the arts. They appreciate and value the arts, and many have enjoyed our programs. The support is there, we need to work out the right funding model. This, too, is an important building block as we create a strategy that allows us to reach our goals for increasing equity, inclusion, and quality of life for Charlotte.

The Mint is committed to breaking down barriers to the arts and we will continue to work in as many communities as our resources allow. But it will take a commitment – of time, money and advocacy – to reach our potential and be a leader in the country in arts engagement and education.

Thank you again, and we ask you to walk alongside us in the journey ahead.


Todd A. Herman, PhD
President & CEO,  The Mint Museum

The most important issue the Mint faces right now

A Note from Our CEO, Todd Herman, PhD

The citizens of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have an opportunity to invest in the quality of life we enjoy and improve our collective well-being. When you vote FOR the upcoming sales-tax referendum during early voting or on Election Day, you are voting to transform YOUR county and community by improving PARKS and GREENWAYS, investing in TEACHERS and classroom support staff, and supporting a thriving ARTS & CULTURE sector.

The Mint needs your help to make this a reality. If you have ever enjoyed an exhibition, program, or lecture at either of our locations, been moved by a work of art, or watched your children or grandchildren light up with excitement when engaging with the arts, vote to allow that experience to be shared! When arts, culture, history, literature, and science are an integral part of kids’ lives, it improves their academic and social skills and creates thoughtful citizens. There are many important social issues that face our community, from domestic violence to the need for more affordable housing. But the arts—which touch the soul, grow the spirit, and offer hope—are a critical component if we are to improve our communities. The Mint Museum enthusiastically endorses this referendum, and I ask you to join us in investing in our future through a simple action: VOTE YES.



The revenue (approximately $50 million per year) will be invested in Mecklenburg County in four ways:

  • 45 percent ($22.5 million) to restore and expand arts, science and history education in public schools, enable cultural programs that reach deep into neighborhoods and ensure residents have access to arts and culture regardless of where they live or what they can afford.
  • 34 percent ($17 million) in increased funding for our parks and greenways to revitalize our system, which was ranked near the bottom of a recent national study of metropolitan parks systems.
  • 16 percent ($8 million) for increased teacher supplements and additional classroom support, such as psychologists and teacher assistants.
  • 5 percent ($2.5 million) for arts and culture programs and parks in Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville

For more information please visit, A Better Mecklenburg’s website.


By state law, the ballot will not mention arts, parks, and education. To give your support, vote FOR the quarter-cent sales tax increase in Mecklenburg County.
Early voting begins Oct.16 and Election Day is Tuesday, NOV. 5 (polls open 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM).

Show your support now by picking up a yard sign at Mint Museum Randolph, and by sharing this with your friends!
We can win this!

Todd Herman, PhD
President & CEO,  The Mint Museum

Major juried exhibition with $16,000 in cash prizes to open on Oct. 10

Major juried exhibition with $16,000 in cash prizes to open on Oct. 10 at The Mint Museum

Charlotte, NC (October 1, 2019): The Mint Museum is pleased to announce its upcoming presentation of Coined in the South, a major juried exhibition with $16,000 in cash prizes that will showcase some of the most innovative and emerging artists in the Southeast. Organized in partnership with the Young Affiliates of the Mint, the show will be on view from October 10, 2019 through February 16, 2020 in Mint Museum Uptown’s Level 4 Brand Special Exhibition Galleries.

Ken West. Black Boys Cry, 2018, metallic paper. Courtesy of the artist.

The purpose of the exhibition is simple: to bridge the gap between the museum, gallery and studio, and to present fresh and innovative works that have not yet been seen by a broader audience. Nearly 2,000 works of art were submitted for consideration; 65 were selected. The artists range in age from 23 years old to 82 years old, and hail from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Unconfined to any aesthetic, the works of art are made from materials ranging from the traditional (oil on canvas and collage) to the decidedly untraditional. Consider one piece made from concrete, brass-plated chains, and human hair, or another made from steel saw dust, alpaca fur, and alligator skin. Some explore personal and familial histories, while others explore notions of place and identity. Some are gurative, others abstract. They evoke humor, tenderness, whimsy, and awe.

The 65 works were selected by jurors Adam Justice, Jonell Logan, and Marilyn Zapf—all well respected in uencers in the southeast’s art scene. On the night of the opening, Oct. 10, the jurors will announce the $10,000 Atrium Health Prize, and the Young Af liates of the Mint (better known as the YAMs), will award a $5,000 winner. Over the next few months, visitors will have the opportunity to vote in the gallery on the $1,000 “People’s Choice” award, which will be named at the end of the year.

“One of the roles of a museum is to reflect the pulse and energy of the artistic community where it resides,” says The Mint Museum’s President and CEO Todd A. Herman, PhD. “Coined in the South shines a spotlight on the quality, themes, and diversity of narratives that are being generated by artists in our own backyard.”

The name Coined in the South refers to both The Mint Museum’s origins as the first branch of the U.S. Mint, as well as to the act of inventing. Many of the artists have created works so unforgettable they’re in a class all their own.

Adrian Rhodes. Searching for Callisto (detail), 2018, woodcut print installation with dyed paper and sky chart wall collage. Courtesy of the artist.

This is the fourth juried exhibition put on by the YAMs, following on the successes of 80×80 (2016), Gendered (2017), and Mainframe (2018). These exhibitions revived a tradition of the museum—from the 1950s through the 1990s, the Mint hosted a number of juried shows, highlighting the work of talented local artists.

“When we sat down and cooked up the idea for 80×80, the Young Affiliates’ inaugural art show in 2016, we had no idea what would unfold,” says Lauren Harkey, former president of the YAMs and co-creator of the YAMs inaugural art show.

“We were instantly humbled by the response and energy our ‘little show that could’ created. And today, in its fourth iteration, it is a proud moment to see the YAMs partner with The Mint Museum and witness this show really grow up and into its own.”

Senior Curator of American Art Jonathan Stuhlman, PhD, served as the Mint’s curator of the show. Kaitlyn McElwee and Anna Hamer served as the YAMs art show co-chairs.


Coined in the South is generously sponsored by Atrium Health, with additional support from Cran ll Sumner & Hartzog LLP.


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

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 the Young Affiliates of the Mint (YAMs)

The Young Af liates of the Mint (the “YAMs”) is a diverse group of young professionals promoting and supporting The Mint Museum through cultural engagement, social leadership, and fundraising events. Established in 1990, the YAMs are the premier social arts organization for young professionals in Charlotte. All proceeds raised by the YAMs sponsor free tours of The Mint Museum for local school students to inspire a new generation of artists, art enthusiasts, and leaders.

Artists selected for this year’s show:

Deighton Abrams (Seneca, SC)
Eleanor Annand (Penland, NC)
Yvette L. Cummings Arendt (Conway, SC)
Austin Ballard (Charlotte, NC)
Johannes Barfield (Winston-Salem, NC)
Ivana Milojevic Beck (Raleigh, NC)
Susan Brenner (Charlotte, NC)
Amanda Britton (Athens, GA)
Danielle Burke (Asheville, NC)
Thomas Campbell (Penland, NC)
Erin Canady (Durham, NC)
Micah Cash (Charlotte, NC)
Erin Castellan (Penrose, NC)
Kevin Cole (Fairburn, GA)
Sarah Elizabeth Cornejo (Carrboro, NC)
Travis Donovan (Banner Elk, NC)
Robert Fritsche (Huntersville, NC)
Riley Hammond (Richmond, VA)
Caroline Hatfield (Carrolton, TX (formerly Claiborne County, TN)
Donna Cooper Hurt (Charleston, SC)
Joyce Watkins King (Raleigh, NC)
Kenn Kotara (Asheville, NC)

Nathaniel Lancaster (Charlotte, NC)
Jasper Lee (Birmingham, AL)
Elizabeth Lide (Atlanta, GA)
Jackson Martin (Asheville, NC)
Rachel Meginnes (Bakersville, NC)
Chieko Murasugi (Chapel Hill, NC)
Claire Pope (Hickory, NC)
Chloé Rager (Durham, NC)
Adrian Rhodes (Hartsville, SC)
Kristi Ryba (Charleston, SC)
Katie St. Clair (Davidson, NC)
Tom Schmidt (Charlotte, NC)
MJ Sharp (Durham, NC)
Beverly Smith (Charlotte, NC)
Tema Stauffer (Johnson City, TN)
Denise Stewart-Sanabria (Knoxville, TN)
Stephanie Sutton (Buford, GA)
Harrison Walker (Athens, GA)
Jan-Ru Wan (Chapel Hill, NC)
Shane Ward (Chattanooga, TN)
Ken West (Mableton, GA)
Fletcher Williams, III (North Charleston, SC)
Stephanie J. Woods (Charlotte, NC)

Mural slam Battle Walls to launch at Mint Museum Randolph June 22

A mural by arko and owl. It is of a person in a spacesuit floating

The Mint Museum and Southern Tiger Collective have partnered to launch Charlotte’s first “mural slam” on Saturday, June 22 at Mint Museum Randolph, starting at 2 PM.

The event, known as Battle Walls, is a street art project focused on bringing Charlotte’s best street artists to compete as they create. The Mint is just the first stop in a five-week tournament, which is expected to draw hundreds of spectators of all ages and backgrounds.

The mural slam will take place on the lawn of Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road.

It’s free to attend, and viewers will be able to vote on their favorite piece of art, sending the winner to the final championship round, says Southern Collective co-founder Alex DeLarge. The competing artists are Arko + Owl, Dammit Wesley, Matt Moore, and Bree Stallings.

The collaborative effort of The Mint Museum and Southern Tiger Collective is call to action to break down the barriers of traditional mindsets that say classical and scholarly works of art can’t mingle with street art. It’s also the opportunity to make new friends and bring diverse communities together.

The Southern Tiger Collective was established in 2017 by local artists Alex DeLarge and Dustin Moates. The collective works to bring artists together to enhance vehicular and pedestrian traffic exposure to street art, murals, and creative marketing and branding. Since 2017, the number of artists at Southern Tiger Collective has grown, and their work can be seen throughout Charlotte in areas such as the Peculiar Rabbit, Abari, Pure Intentions and many other walls in the Queen City.

Battle Walls kicks off at a time during the public opening of Never Abandon Imagination: The Fantastical World of Tony DiTerlizzi, a retrospective exhibition featuring more than 150 magical works of Tony DiTelizzi (@diterlizzi). Most may know DiTerlizzi as a designer for Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Spider & The Fly, Kenny and the Dragon, and the WondLa trilogy.

DiTerlizzi himself will be on site June 22, giving a public talk on how he became an artist at 1 p.m., followed by a book signing at 2 PM.

Museum admission will be free that day, so visitors can experience both the new exhibition and the excitement of Battle Walls without pulling out their wallet.

There will be music by DJ AHUF (@djahuf), local craft beer, and food trucks such as Scratch Kitchen CLT (@scratchkitchenclt) and The Chimi Spot (@thechimispotnc).

Meet the four artists in round one of Battle Walls:

Arko + Owl | @arko83art + @owl.clt

Arko + Owl were the first artists to be featured in Constellation CLT, a museum-wide project designed to connect visitors with the universal talent found directly from the community of Charlotte. Arko + Owl’s murals were housed in Mint Museum Uptown in Fall 2018 but their work can currently be found at Common Market (South End), Wooden Robot Brewery, Spirit Square, and more.

Dammit Wesley | @dammit_wesley

Wesley’s most notable mural, Strange Fruit can be found at Spirit Square. He is an artist, graphic designer, and the Creative Director at BLKMRKTCLT, an 800 sq. ft gallery and studio space located at Camp North End. On Wesley’s Behance portfolio he states, “I am a bold individual and it speaks through my work, its more flashy colors and subject matter but strong composition and structure that accomplish a harmony thunderous visuals.”

Matt Moore | @puckmcgruff

Most may know Matt Moore as one of “The Matts” who tackled the infamous five-story mural of Neptune along the wall of The Nook apartments on Central Avenue in Plaza Midwood. Moore’s work can be found in many other locations, including Camp North End, Townsquare Interactive, and Revolve Residential.

Bree Stallings | @breequixote

A multimedia artist, activist, writer, and illustrator, Stallings has done work at  Camp North End, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, C3 Lab, and more. On her website, she states that she uses “art as her vehicle to raise awareness for many causes that affect her life and those closest to her such as economic mobility, sexual health advocacy, displacement and homelessness and environmental consciousness.”

Be sure to stop by Mint Museum Randolph on Saturday, June 22 to enjoy all these activities, and stay tuned on The Mint Museum website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for future Battle Wall updates.

Credits to promo designer: @hello.soto

7 unexpected items, from human hair to coffee filters, in Jan-Ru Wan’s The Noise We Make installation at Mint Museum Uptown

Visitors can find larger-than-life art installations with a variety of unexpected materials in a special project housed in the level-five expansion space at Mint Museum Uptown. 

Known as The Noise We Make by artist Jan-Ru Wan, the installation is a study in art created with found materials from industrial sites. The installation was organized by independent curator and arts advocate Jonell Logan, who met Wan at the Greenhill Arts Center in Greensboro, N.C. after learning about her work. Logan says she was enthralled by the complexity and beauty of Wan’s creations, which use everything from human hair to coffee filters, chanting boxes to spoons.  

The Noise we Make, on view until June 14 at Mint Museum Uptown, came to fruition a year later. Here’s a look at a few of the materials used to create Wan’s stunning works of art:  

  1. Chanting boxes: The type of chanting boxes in Wan’s Kneeling (2019) are common in Taiwan.  While there are several prayers recorded on the boxes, the one Wan selected was a chant for the bodhisattva (a sanskit mantra) of compassion. It is used mainly for praying for one who is suffering in life.

  2. Coffee filters: When Wan came to the United States 20 years ago, it was her first time seeing coffee filters. She was shocked that people would use them and dispose of them every day. The filters seen in her A Tangle of Hopelessness (2006-2019) also represent something more to her: the idea of filtration in our society—how we filter information, how it influences our individual realities. Wan began to see the coffee filters as symbols of individuals’ memory and mind. The two-sided nature of A Tangle of Hopelessness represents the act of filtering certain aspects of one’s life, and in turn, only seeing small pieces of others’ lives.

  3. Spoons: In Kneeling (2019), Wan uses previously manufactured items and manipulates them so that they stand in for new ideas. In this piece, the small spoons represent Buddha spoonfeeding people religion, not necessarily spirituality.

  4. Wax: Many of the pieces in the show incorporate wax—a substance Wan says reminds her a tears and skin. She also uses wax to freeze objects in time, creating a protective seal on the object.

  5. Pink plastic: In the titular piece, The Noise We Make (2019)the pink plastic used was originally found by the artist in the trash. Wan washed, cut, screen printed, folded and sewed each piece herself. Also used in Kneeling (2019), the magnificent size of each of the plastic pieces captures the audience’s attention and draws focus to the everyday, repurposed items.

  6. Bean sprouts: Grown in Wan’s own kitchen, bean sprouts are used repeatedly in the artist’s work. They represent the life cycle and Wan’s interest in impermanence. 

  7. Human hair: In each of the small, silk, smiley-face-adorned pouches that Wan uses in her Residue of Separation (2019)there is a bundle of human hair.  Collected from salon floors across the world—from the Netherlands to Taiwan to several cities in North Carolina — the hair represents physical separation to Wan. The prayer bench centered in the same piece was acquired in Charlotte, specifically for this installation.  

    About The Mint Museum

    The Mint Museum is a leading, innovative museum of international art and design committed to engaging and inspiring all members of our global community. The Mint Museum is dedicated to leadership in collecting, exhibiting, conserving, researching, publishing, interpreting, and sharing art and design from around the world.

    These commitments are central to the museum’s core values of leadership, integrity, inclusiveness, knowledge, stewardship, and innovation, promoting understanding of and respect for diverse peoples and cultures.

A mural in the entry way of mint museum uptown by ark and owl. Large leaves and curved lines surround a pointy monster-like hand and a square that resembles outer space


The two people sitting across from me, ARKO + OWL, are an artistic duo who set out to find love in each other and with the city of Charlotte. They were chosen as the first artists to be featured in The Mint Museum’s newest project, ConstellationCLT. Every year The Mint Museum will highlight approximately three contemporary artists in the Charlotte region to showcase their distinct works of art.  

Having just finished painting for the night, the two enter the room beaming with unfiltered joy and happiness. They graciously meet me at Mint Museum Uptown, site of their most recent mural, to sit down for a chat about their career as artists and their views on the community that Charlotte is beginning to build.  

“Why the mask?” I start with the most obvious question. The two, though unmasked when sitting in front of me, prefer to conceal their identities when posting online or doing public events. 

The question of the masks is answered by OWL, one half of the duo, in a way that showcases the smooth friction produced by the anonymity in art. “Before the mask I was very concerned with how I looked and how people saw me. The mask gives me the opportunity to not care as much about that and to just go through the process. In a way I can focus more on the art and not about what people think of it.”  

Arko + Owl

With the mask, OWL feels that she could make things more freely than without it. “I can fully embrace my art,” she says, “and then when I overhear someone say something critical, it’s a little less personal. It’s not directed at me. They don’t know that I’m standing behind them and they don’t know who I even am. At that point it is all about the art that they see in front of them.” The words of criticism are relevant in a way that separates her feelings of being connected to the work from being a part of the work itself.  Freely losing one’s sense of self in the artistic process is what propels that same art to the forefront of the collective imagination. Raw feelings of the human condition are brought forth from artists that are allowed to embrace the intricate details of love and loss; of joy and anguish. 

Art of that substance acts as a reflection of the person standing in front of it, as well as a reinterpretation of the artist that made it. Seeing that reinterpretation and hearing its voice is indicative of the overreaching power of art to bind people together. Art allows others to connect with people who seemingly would never have been able to before. Cultivating a sense of understanding in all people is what brings gravity to a work of art. Common ground shared among people different from one another erases boundaries of isolation. It forms strings of connectivity that pull on the human vital of compassion. “Community, much like culture, is what you make of it,” says ARKO, “we are at the beginning of a really big push right now. And It’s not just us, it’s everybody. Everyone who is out doing pop-ups, doing stencils, doing graffiti, everyone showing in galleries.” Everyone who is striving to put art out into the city of Charlotte. Everyone, he seems to be suggesting, who is working toward that same goal of using art to bring people together, both physically and ideologically.  

Arko + Owl at Mint Museum Uptown

“I went to art school, I showed in galleries, I did the whole academia thing,” ARKO says, specifically recalling his interaction with the traditional structures surrounding art institutions, “but personal success isn’t what all of this is about to us. We want to bring this art to everyone and to let those voice of the minorities be heard. Not just the people that are traditionally held up as artists.” ARKO originally rejected the ideas of tradition, but says he is coming back around to it and is now looking to build upon them to form a new meaning around art. There is an evolution of traditional spaces, he says, that can be utilized to educate people about different ways of thinking and living. He describes art as an open door to other people’s worlds; a way to see things from a different perspective. Specifically, he wants to bring people, art and happiness in any way possible; whether that means working with traditional museums or utilizing Instagram to give away free art.  

OWL shares this sentiment as she recalls the protest surrounding the tragic death of Keith Lamont Scott in 2016; a time when things didn’t look as promising for minorities who may not be given the chance to have their opinions heard. She speaks about how they both wanted to do something to help recover Charlotte’s lost sense of community. “Some people’s voices aren’t as free as others, and because of that we decided to say something in the way that we could; by using our art. After the protest we helped paint the windows of the Hyatt Hotel. It was our way of reaching out to the community and making our voice heard.”  

Arko + Owl at Hyatt Hotel

ARKO + OWL are both taking note of Charlotte’s lack of representation, and they hope to help bring those voices that are traditionally silenced to the forefront of the conversation. Charlotte is currently in a unique position of having the opportunity to develop a new definition for itself, one that could include everyone’s voice. The duo hopes to capitalize upon this to help make diversity a large part of the new culture that is emerging in Charlotte. The installation at Mint Museum Uptown lies in the same contextual vein of equal representation within the city. The pair said they immediately rejoiced when they were contacted about the mural at the Mint, but more for the vocalization that the mural is giving minorities rather than their personal success. Like the painting of the Hyatt’s windows, they viewed this too as a start to bringing a level playing ground to the Charlotte art scene. Progress of building upon and moving on from traditional viewpoints lies in the collaboration between institutions of long-standing reverence and independent artist like themselves. They say they are excited at the prospect of institutions being willing to reach out and work with local artist to bring in fresh voices. “I think it’s amazing that we get the chance to help break down the assumption that there is a corporate world in Charlotte that doesn’t interact with the real people…I am in awe that I am literally drawing with a marker on the walls of a museum. Its completely crazy.” Together, both ARKO + OWL and the Mint hope they can elevate the voices of the people they serve. Working with one another can allow the artist and their art to present a new face to the Charlotte that looks like them; to a Charlotte that is culturally rich, ethnically diverse, and welcoming to everyone who wants to call it their home. 

ARKO + OWL have multiple installations inside of Mint Museum Uptown that are going to be featured in the Talking Walls Mural Festival, October 10-13, as well as serving as the launch of the Mint’s ongoing ConstellationCLT project.

You can find ARKO on Instagram at @Arko83art, and OWL at @owl.clt