Curators’ Pick: Untitled by Beauford Delaney
Beauford Delaney was one of the most highly regarded Black artists working with abstraction in the 1940s and ’50s. Senior Curator of American Art at The Mint Museum Jonathan Stuhlman, PhD, discusses Delaney’s captivating untitled painting from 1959. Its energy, life and gorgeous palette of dashingly applied yellows, pinks, blues, and greens, are among key factors that distinguished it from other works by Delaney.
Curators’ Pick: The Birth of Venus, after Botticelli (Pictures of Junk) by Vik Muniz
The Birth of Venus, after Botticelli (Pictures of Junk), from 2008 by the American artist Vik Muniz is a play on the 15th-century Renaissance masterpiece Birth of Venus by Botticelli. To create his image, Muniz and assistants assembled thousands of pieces of recyclables on a warehouse floor and photographed the assembly from a high platform. Muniz’s images are a critical reflection on the vast waste created throughout the world and its ability to be recycled into compelling, beautiful objects.
The Birth of Venus, after Botticelli (Pictures of Junk) is on view in the contemporary galleries on Level 4 at Mint Museum Uptown.
Curators’ Pick: Transporter by E.V. Day
Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, chief curator and curator of contemporary art shares insight on Transporter, a sculpture by the New York City artist E.V. Day. In this work, Day’s undergraduate studies of nudes and objects in still life collide with her study of architecture and the psychology of space. She explodes those artistic concerns with gender theory that relates both to women and queer culture which was coming into its own in the 1980s and ’90s when Day started her Exploded Couture series.
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
Curator’s Pick: Siamese Twins and Statue 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. This figure was made with clay that Virgil Ortiz collected on Cochiti Pueblo land, and it has a characteristic cream and black body.
Credit: Virgil Ortiz (American, 1969-). “Siamese Twins,” 1997, clay, stain, and slip. Gift of Gretchen and Nelson Grice. 2002.124.1. (c) Virgil Ortiz Creations 1997.
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.
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.
Curators’ Pick: Beloved (Reering Deer) by Beth Cavener
The sculpture “Beloved” is from a body of work by the artist Beth Cavener, that, somewhat autobiographical, captures intense psychological states of the human condition, in anthropomorphic forms, usually feral mammals. These life-size portrayals function as a sort of camouflage for her own feelings, or her observations of other people going through some sort of inner turmoil.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.