Curators’ Pick: “Siamese Twins” by Virgil Ortiz

Curators’ Pick: Siamese Twins by Virgil Ortiz

Virgil Ortiz was born there and lives in Cochiti. Coming from a place where clay and life are synonymous, Ortiz did not know that making things out of clay was art until he was a teenager. The earliest Cochiti hand-built clay figures may have been inspired by circus performers or other itinerant entertainers, since the characters are usually depicted in an active state with an open mouth, suggesting singing.  Those early figures were much smaller in size than Ortiz’s sculpture, but the way he made and decorated this form is consistent with the way historic objects, including those made by his mother and grandmother, were made. 

Credit: Virgil Ortiz (American, 1969-). “Siamese Twins,” 1997, clay, slip, stain. Gift of Gretchen and Nelson Grice. 2002.124.1. Copyright Virgil Ortiz Creations 1997.

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Curator’s Pick: “Suzanne Hoschedé-Monet Sewing” John Leslie Breck

Curator’s Pick: Suzanne Hoschedé-Monet Sewing by John Leslie Breck

Suzanne Hoschedé-Monet Sewing, was created in 1888 by American artist John Leslie Breck. Breck was born in 1860, grew up near Boston, and trained in Germany, Belgium, and France. In 1887, he and seven of his colleagues visited the village of Giverny which lies approximately 40 miles northwest of Paris where the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet had settled in 1883. 

Suzanne Hoschedé-Monet Sewing was painted in the summer of 1888, not long after Breck had converted to Impressionism. In the painting, Suzanne sits in dappled sunlight under a leafy tree and in front of a field of golden hay. Breck’s skill at capturing the play of light and shadow is on full display. A canvas by Monet, completed at the same time, features his stepdaughter Blanche at work at her easel and in the distance, Suzanne, who peers over Breck’s shoulder as he, too, works on a painting.   

See this painting and 70 others by John Leslie Breck in the exhibition John Leslie Breck: American Impressionist on view at Mint Museum Uptown through January 2, 2022.

Credit: John Leslie Breck (American, 1860-99). “Suzanne Hoschedé-Monet Sewing,” 1888, oil on canvas. Gift of the Mint Museum Auxiliary and courtesy Heather James Fine Art. 2016.25

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Curators’ Pick: “King’s Voyage” by Bertil Vallien

Curators’ Pick: King’s Voyage by Bertil Vallien

Bertil Vallien is recognized as the pioneer of the sand-casting technique, in which molten glass is poured into a firm sand mold. Much like the cire perdue or lost wax technique, the delicate nature of the mold material prevents more than one sculpture from being produced. Thus, Vallien’s sand-cast sculptures are unique works of art.

One of the most prominent vessel themes in his stoneware sculptures of the late 1970’s, the boat became a hallmark of Vallien’s later sand-cast sculptures (1984-88). Vallien’s boats are containers for messages and metaphors for man’s existence. They explore universal themes, like the journey of life and the unknown destination.

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Curators’ Pick: “Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool” by Kay Sage

Curators’ Pick: Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool by Kay Sage

Kay Sage was one of the few American artists to be closely involved with the French Surrealist movement. “Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool” was completed at the height of her career and incorporates all of the hallmarks of her signature style: a haunting, desolate landscape; beautifully-rendered yet enigmatic forms; and sophisticated variations in tone and color. The title is thought to be a reference to the traditional gifts for a couple’s sixth and seventh anniversaries. 1947 marked the sixth anniversary of Sage and Tanguy’s move to Woodbury, Connecticut and the seventh of their marriage.

Credit: Kay Sage (American, 1898-1963). “Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool,” 1947, oil on canvas. Museum purchase: The Katherine and Thomas Belk Acquisition Fund. 2016.8. © 2016 Estate of Kay Sage / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

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Curators’ Pick: “Flowerbed” by Yann Gerstberger

Curators’ Pick: Flowerbed by Yann Gerstberger

Yann Gerstberger creates murals, sculptures, and textile tapestries from his home in Mexico City. In Flowerbed Gerstberger uses inspiration from his world travels, both in person and electronically, to create imagery of lush rainforest and desert flora and fauna.

The Mint Museum from Home is Presented By Chase.

The Mint’s community relations director recognized as an icon of the Latino community

The Mint’s community relations director recognized as an icon of the Latino community

By Rafael Prieto 

The Comité de Fiestas Patrias y Tradiciones de Charlotte (CFPTC) recognized Rubie R. Britt-Height, director of community relations at The Mint Museum, as an Icon of the Latino community, for her contribution to culture and the preservation of the Hispanic heritage.

“For years, we have wanted to cherish Rubie’s support to the local Hispanic artistic talent and the presence of the Afro Caribbean rhythms on the Charlotte Region,” says Rafael Prieto, co-founder of CFPTC.

The award was presented in person to Britt-Height by Charlotte’s Patriotic Celebrations and Traditions Committee on June 25 at CFPTC’s Third Encounter of Directors, Founders, and Volunteers on the Artesan Gelato Ice Cream place in Matthews. The award recognizes her initiative Mint to  Move, created in 2012, which represents the spirit of Afro-Latino culture through music and dance by Africans in the Caribbean and the rest of Hispanic America.

“We intended to honor Rubie in the Third Afrolatinos-Black History Month commemoration, held at Johnson C. Smith University on February 27, 2020, but imponderable circumstances prevented it,” Prieto says. The Third Encounter of Directors, Founders, and Volunteers was a perfect event to recognize Britt-Height. Representatives of many Hispanic nationalities affiliated with Fiestas Patrias applauded her work and accomplishments.

Thanks to the intervention of Britt-Height, the idea of preserving the beautiful and meaningful Colombian tradition of Candles’ Day became a reality. With the help of artist Edwin Gil, CFPTC proposed the commemoration be held at the Mint after the Colombian painter closed his gallery. Since 2016, Fiestas Patrias, Soy Latino Como Tu (SLT), Colombian American Foundation (COAMFO), Lideres Colombianos en Charlotte (LCC), and Manolo’s Bakery have been proactive partners of Candles’ Day.

Britt-Height created the event’s motto, “celebrate the LIGHT in CommUNITY, Family, Oneness, Sharing, Faith & Love for All of Humankind, based on a Colombian tradition.”

Manolo Betancur, from Manolo’s Bakery, and owner of Artesan Gelato, provided the appetizers and pastries for the CFPTC Third Encounter of Directors, Founders, and Volunteers.

Local artists and artist collectives are expanding opportunities to create and experience art in Charlotte

Styled word mark for It Takes a Village: Charlotte Artist Collectives

Local artists and artist collectives are expanding opportunities to create and experience art in Charlotte

By Liz Rothaus Bertrand 

 

The Mint Museum’s exhibition It Takes a Village: Charlotte Artist Collectives puts local artists and the organizations that nurture them in the spotlight. Opening June 12 at Mint Museum Randolph, the exhibition will feature individual and collaborative pieces by artists who are part of three of Charlotte’s innovative artist collectives: BlkMrktClt, Brand the Moth, and Goodyear Arts.

Curated by the Mint’s chief curator and curator of contemporary art, Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, sees the exhibition as a wonderful way to showcase the collaboration of local artists who are producing intriguing and inspired works of art. “One of the things I’ve found really wonderful about this city is the number of collectives that were created for artists to support each other. I rarely have encountered that in the other places I’ve lived.”

"Blocked" by artist Will Jenkins

Building artist communities

Collectives build something special for artists, says Todd Stewart, a member of the artist-led residency program Goodyear Arts. “There’s a reciprocal relationship within an art community, creating and seeing things,” he says. “Personally, I feel like I get more than I give.”

For Stewart, a trained sculptor who also explores painting in his mixed-media creations, working as an artist can be lonely. He says collectives really help to push past the feeling of isolation, even if you’re not actively collaborating with the artists around you. “That to me is just a huge boost of energy … seeing what these folks are up to really propels me forward,” he says.

The wide spectrum of artists—visual, performing and literary—and creative work at Goodyear Arts helps draw diverse audiences to events, most of which are free and offered in an accessible location. This expands relationships and exposure for other artists, too.

Matthew Steele, Division Phase. Courtesy of Artist.

Having the opportunity to show their work in a museum the caliber of the Mint is an exciting for collective members, Stewart says, with the potential to reach people who don’t yet know them and what they contribute to the community.

People often think of art coming from “meccas” like Los Angeles, New York, or London, Stewart says, “but Charlotte is building this creative capital, too. It’s rewarding putting your buckets down where you’re at and creating where you are,” he says.

Artists collectives depend on public and private support to continue their work. Goodyear Arts, for example, turns donated space into art galleries and studios. This kind of partnership is key to building opportunities for artists to create.

The fruits of such collaborations can already be seen around Charlotte through various public art initiatives.

Members of Brand the Moth and BlkMrktClt were pivotal in orchestrating Charlotte's Black Lives Matter mural on South Tryon Street in 2020.

What public art brings to the city

Besides beautifying and enriching the city’s landscape, public art like murals serve important social functions. Art inspires conversation and brings different communities together, says painter Sam Guzzie, partner and director of programming for Brand the Moth.

Last summer, Brand the Moth and BlKMrktClt were two of the key groups leading local artists in creating the Black Lives Matter mural on Tryon Street. The iconic project involved 20 different artists, who were each able to put their own distinctive mark on this collaboration.

Bringing community members into the creative process is important, too. For example, Brand the Moth’s 16th Street Bridge Mural was directly inspired by conversations with homeless residents at the nearby Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, who then volunteered side-by-side with Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department officers, and others to revitalize the area. Such efforts help create community dialogue over the paintbrush, says Hannah Fairweather, partner and director of curation at Brand the Moth.

Another unique collaboration took place at the McGill Rose Garden, where the Brand the Moth created a mural with UMAR, a nonprofit that promotes community inclusion for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Efforts like these strengthen community bonds and allow people all over the city to experience the arts. For some people, seeing or participating in a public art initiative may be the only chance they have to experience art. “Often public art is the gateway into that world for them,” Fairweather says.

Visitors to The Mint Museum can gain an appreciation for the role artist collectives play in our community through this exhibition. “It’s really something to be proud of and to invest in,” Sudul Edwards says.

Liz Rothaus Bertrand is a Charlotte-based freelance writer who has a love of the arts in all its forms.

This story was originally published in the January, 2021 issue of Inspired, the Mint’s biannual member magazine.

Gallery Chat with Curator and Community, Part 3

Gallery Chat with Curator and Community, Part 3

Coming together for another discussion surrounding works of art in the Mint’s permanent collection is Jon Stulhman, PhD, senior curator of American art, and Rubie R. Britt-Height, director of community relations at the Mint.

This series is a part of video series that examines and compares works of art currently installed in the Mint’s Contemporary Gallery at Mint Museum Uptown.

Watch the first two videos in this series using the buttons below:

Gallery Chat with Curator and Community, Part 2

Gallery Chat with Curator and Community, Part 2

Coming together for another discussion surrounding works of art in the Mint’s permanent collection is Jon Stulhman, PhD, senior curator of American art, and Rubie R. Britt-Height, director of community relations at the Mint.

This series is a part of new video series that examines and compares works of art currently installed in the Mint’s Contemporary Gallery at Mint Museum Uptown.

Watch the first video in this series here: https://mintmuseum.org/gallery-chat-with-curator-and-community-part-1/