Hands-On Exhibition Will Test Childrens Activities for New Mint Museum

A new exhibition at ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center will not only encourage children to touch the objects on display, but will actively seek their feedback regarding their experiences. Co-developed by The Mint Museum and the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, the exhibition Art Under Construction will feature working models of interactive art activities for families to test out from March 2 – May 10, 2009 at ImaginOn.

The Mint Museum is presently involved in a major expansion project: the construction of a new 145,000-square-foot facility in Center City Charlotte scheduled to open in October 2010. One of the centerpieces of this new facility is a 1,900-square-foot Family Gallery, designed as a fun and educational setting for families to feel comfortable with art as they explore activities together. Families with young children represent an increasing segment of the Charlotte region’s demographics, and this interactive space will make the new museum a welcoming destination for area families with children age two to 10.

The Family Gallery will provide an introduction to the Mint’s collections of American art, contemporary art and international craft and design through creative, collaborative play in a hands-on environment. The aim is to create an intuitive space where the visitors drive the experience. With grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Mint is conducting a year of research, visitor studies, prototype development, family testing and formal assessments.

As one of Charlotte’s most popular family destinations, ImaginOn is collaborating with the Mint to conduct testing for the prototypes’ user-friendliness, accessibility, safety and interest. Children will enter a three-dimensional Memories of Mecklenburg house to explore of the collage of renowned Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden. In My Museum, children are “in charge.” They can create and name sculptures, pose within a 19th century portrait; respond to abstract art and add to a giant weaving wall. Finally, children and parents will be encouraged to share their ideas and suggestions for the future Mint Museum Family Gallery at the Talk-Back wall.

The Miniature Worlds of Bruce Metcalf Offers Riveting Look at Big Issues

The engaging and spirited work of prominent art jeweler Bruce Metcalf will be on view in the exhibition The Miniature Worlds of Bruce Metcalf at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design February 21 – May 17, 2009.

In this show, small size matters. Cast in silver or carved in wood, Metcalf’s tiny characters act out issues on the stage of miniature worlds. Most of his pieces serve dual purposes as both sculpture and wearable brooches in which the characters “venture” out into the world and engage the unsuspecting viewer with their stories.

As Metcalf has observed, “the miniature can only be entered through an act of imaginative projection. Looking at small objects, viewers will get very close and the object will fill their field of vision. There’s no scale in the imagination, and very small things can become psychologically large.”

The Miniature Worlds of Bruce Metcalf features 76 pieces by the artist, dating from the 1970s to 2001. Taking center stage are Metcalf’s emotional characters, distinguished by their distorted bodies that manifest inflicted pain from human nature’s “dark side.” Big-headed with atrophied limbs, all of Metcalf’s figures are born from cartoon traditions, yet appear strangely credible as they address the artist’s overarching themes of the human condition and issues of dissent.

Also featured is a train layout with trompe l’oeil surfaces created by the artist. This miniaturized world is based on an imaginary winter in a train station near Munich, Germany. In exhibiting this scene, Metcalf seeks to help the viewer understand how miniature worlds may act upon us and how his miniature worlds differ from those in the public imagination.

Born in 1949, Metcalf has long been revered as a leading art jeweler, curator, essayist and critic of contemporary craft. His work has been featured in major exhibitions at venues such as the American Craft Museum in New York and the Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Most recently, he co-authored Makers: 20th Century American Studio Craft, to be published by the University of North Carolina Press in late spring 2009.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 120-page full-color catalogue available for purchase in The Mint Museum Shops (704/337-2061). For a complete schedule of programs surrounding this exhibition, visit www.mintmuseum.org.

The Miniature Worlds of Bruce Metcalf was curated by Signe Mayfield and organized by Palo Alto Art Center, Division of Arts and Sciences, City of Palo Alto, Palo Alto, California, and has been made possible through the support of the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation; Rotasa Foundation; Windgate Charitable Foundation; the Arts Council Silicon Valley; and private contributions. The exhibition is sponsored by The Founders’ Circle Ltd., the national support affiliate of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design.

From the Melting Pot into the Fire: Contemporary Ceramics in Israel

Exhibition on view at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design February 14 – June 7, 2009

Powerful ceramic sculptures crafted by acclaimed Israeli artists will be on display at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design February 14 – June 7, 2009. The special exhibition From the Melting Pot into the Fire: Contemporary Ceramics in Israel will feature innovative ceramic works that explore issues of cultural identity and display a wide range of technical and philosophical approaches to this art form. Notably, the Mint Museum of Craft + Design will be the only United States venue for this special offering.

Raising questions about identity within an ancient land, but within the borders of a country created a scant 60 years ago, the exhibition’s artists grapple with issues of immigration, ethnicity, and a sense of place, be it the natural world or the built environment. Ranging from hand-built pieces to wheel-thrown and cast objects, the works feature a diverse array of textures, colors and forms. Surfaces are unglazed or glazed, colorful or subdued, or mixed with other materials or technologies.

From poignant to witty, all of the exhibition’s works have stories to tell. In Sabras in a Tin Can by Zipi Geva, the artist playfully reflects on cultural identity in his work’s title. Sabras are the fruit of the prickly-pear cactus that grow throughout Israel, but an Israeli native is also known in the country’s vernacular as a sabra, which refers to a person who is sweet on the inside, but prickly on the outside.

Artist Yael Novak, co-organizer of the exhibition, said, “Israeli ceramic art today illustrates a diversity and intricacy that derives from a multitude of cultural influences characteristic of immigrant societies.” Indeed, people from all over the globe continue to immigrate to Israel, and the artists among them have created eloquent expressions of life in their adopted country in From the Melting Pot into the Fire.

Just as wine makers speak of terroir, or the taste of place that is evident in great wines, works of art and architecture can reflect particular geography, climate, history and traditions, conveying a distinctive sense of place. As a historical crossroads and a relatively new nation comprised of immigrants, Israel has forged a unique identity. Artists represented in the exhibition explore their personal identities, as well as connections to their homeland through their work in clay. Public educational programs will use the exhibition as a catalyst to explore this unique Israeli sense of place as it is manifested in contemporary art, film, architecture and literature.

Community Members in the Arts Honored at Spirit Awards

23nd annual awards ceremony recognizes Charlotte’s top arts supporters

The Mint Museum and Donald Haack Diamonds & Fine Gems honors the recipients of the 2009 Spirit Awards February 1, one of the Charlotte metro area’s highest honors in the arts.

“The Spirit Award recipients embody the excitement and vitality of Charlotte’s arts supporters,” said Fred Dabney, event coordinator. “Their work for the arts enriches the lives of all Charlotteans and helps us appreciate the diversity of art in our community.”

The 2009 Spirit Award recipients are: Jeanne Brayboy, Dorothy Hodges, Christie Taylor, Jane and Hugh McColl, Pat Riley, Kristine Matthews and Neiman Marcus.

The annual awards ceremony will be held Monday, February 1 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Mint Museum Randolph. Created in 1986, the Spirit Awards honor community members whose contributions of time, talent or resources have significantly enhanced the relevance and vitality of the arts in Charlotte and surrounding areas. A recipient of the 1999 Spirit Award, Donald Haack Diamonds & Fine Gems has been co-sponsoring the Spirit Awards for several years. For more information, contact Fred Dabney at (704) 258-8887.

Two Parties Celebrate Final Weeks of Warhol Exhibition at the Mint

Two events on Friday, January 23 will celebrate the final weeks of the Mint’s Andy Warhol exhibition and will pay homage to the artists legendary parties.

Enjoy a free walk-through of Andy Warhol Portfolios: Life & Legends from 7:00-10:00 p.m. during a Takeover Friday at the Mint Museum of Art. Hosted by The Mint Museum, Takeover Friday, the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund, and Wesley Mancini, the evening features an exhibition viewing and discussion with the curator, hors d’oeuvres and cash bar, dancing to the hottest tunes spun by DJ Edward Jones, and a special guest appearance by Miss Shelita Hamm. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit Take Over Friday.

The Garden & Gun Club is also hosting a Warhol-themed party January 23. From the psychedelic 60s and the glittery disco of Studio 54 to the progressive sounds of today, DJ Andy Kastanas delivers a musical biopic of Warhol’s world. Local nightlife impresario Scott Weaver recreates Warhol’s studio, The Factory, with live models, video and slide projections and live art exhibits. Doors open at 8:00 p.m., tickets are $20/person with a portion of proceeds to benefit The Mint Museum. For more information, visit The G&G Club or call (704) 246-1752.

Museum Visitors Will Select Mints Next Acquisition of American Art

Come and join in the “Vote for Art” contest sponsored by the Mint Museum Auxiliary. Visit the museum anytime between November 8-30 and cast a vote for your choice of paintings to be added to the American Art Collection.

While visitors to the Mint Museum of Art after November 4 can no longer vote for the next American president, they will be able to cast a deciding ballot for the next American presence in the galleries. The Mint Museum Auxiliary is sponsoring a “Vote for Art,” which will allow visitors to choose between two works of American art currently under consideration for purchase. The voting kicks off on Saturday, November 8 and runs through Sunday, November 30.

“We are delighted to offer this opportunity to residents and visitors to Charlotte,” said Jonathan Stuhlman, Curator of American Art. “I am extremely grateful to the Museum’s Auxiliary for making it possible for the Museum to acquire one of these fabulous pieces, either of which would be a meaningful addition to our collection.”

The works under consideration for acquisition are both still lifes, but strikingly different examples of the genre. Laura Coombs Hills’ Peonies and Velevet is a sumptuous turn-of-the century pastel that exemplifies the artist’s exquisite technical skill and fabulous sense of color. Blanche Lazzell’s Bouquet of Flowers, on the other hand, was painted in 1914 and shows the artist’s synthesis of the latest trends in European modernism. With its high-keyed palette and patchwork of thick brushstrokes, Bouquet of Flowers demonstrates why Lazzell has come to be regarded as one of the most cutting edge and inventive modern artists working in this country in the early 20th century. These two selections represent the diversity of styles among American women artists and underscore the Museum’s efforts to broaden its holdings by female artists. The winning painting will be purchased for the Mint through the Auxiliary’s endowment funds.

Established in 1956, the Mint Museum Auxiliary is an affiliate group of the Mint that supports the Museum’s acquisitions and education programming. The Auxiliary has added hundreds of works to the Mint’s collections since its inception. Most recently, the Auxiliary purchased a striking version of Augusta Savage’s important sculpture Gamin.

Visitors can view Gamin in the Museum’s American art galleries before casting their votes in the ballot boxes by the two paintings under consideration.
For more information, visit www.mintmuseum.org.

What:      “Vote for Art” Contest sponsored by the Mint Museum Auxiliary
Where:    Mint Museum of Art ~ 2730 Randolph Road
When:     November 8-30, 2008 during regular museum hours.
Why:       Voters will select the Mint’s next acquisition of American art.
How:       Ballots can be picked up at the Museum’s reception desk.

Scene in America Explores Black Male Identity through Contemporary Art

The groundbreaking exhibition Scene in America: A Contemporary Look at the Black Male Image explores how artists address race and identity when using images of Black males in their work.

On view at the Mint Museum of Art from April 19 to November 2, 2008, the exhibition features works from the collections of The Mint Museum, the Van Every/Smith Gallery of Davidson College, and private collectors and artists.

“Scene in America undoubtedly marks an important cultural event for Charlotte and the region,” said Dr. Jae Emerling, Assistant Professor of Art at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  “By addressing the ways in which Black males have been represented in contemporary art, the exhibition offers viewers the opportunity to contemplate a series of complex issues ranging from the continued effects of racial stereotypes to the importance of extended families in the African American experience.”

The exhibition investigates shifts in power—from usurpation to attainment—found in contemporary portrayals of black masculinity. The South’s painful past of persecution and stereotyping is a recurring topic explored by the exhibition’s artists. Conversely, images of activism, family and community, and a positive and resilient identity hint at overcoming the societal obstacles left by the legacy of slavery.

Elizabeth Catlett invokes these positive attributes in her loving sculpture Family, while her lithograph To Marry portrays a couple sharing a kiss over the contradictory image of a lynched man, suggesting that the memory of past brutalities is present even in moments of intimacy. Similarly, Benjamin “Old Folks” Davis’ woodwork, Black Men Pledge Unity, shows that activism in great numbers can overcome many barriers.

Other works in the exhibit provide positive alternatives to past stereotypes. Chuck Close’s Lyle, a portrait of contemporary artist Lyle Ashton Harris, is created from many colors and forms, perhaps suggesting the complexity and beauty of Harris’s identity. Tommie Robinson incorporates an image of Charlotte’s Public Library into the background of his portrait titled Product, suggesting that one can achieve a positive self-identity through education, achievement and embracing an African heritage.

Many contemporary artists have found the history and persistence of racial stereotypes to be a compelling source of subject matter for their work. Robert Mapplethorpe’s Untitled #1, portrays model Ken Moody as physically beautiful: an object of desire striking a classical pose. Mapplethorpe acknowledges the stereotype of the black male as a physically powerful being, and seems to celebrate this quality rather than casting him as a figure to be feared.  Photographer Larry Fink’s Black Hand, Checkered Rump depicts a black man with a white female companion at a high society function, and asks viewers to consider his or her own views on mixed-race relationships and the cultural bias that often accompanies them.

Other prominent artists featured in Scene in America include Hale Woodruff, Romare Bearden, Camille Billops, Samella Lewis, John Hairston, Jr., Antoine “RAW” Williams, Juan Logan, Willie Little and John Biggers.

“This is not simply a show about race; rather, it is a promising example of how art instigates discussions, raises questions, and forms communities of viewers,” said Emerling. “With this exhibition, The Mint Museum has taken another important step in promoting not only contemporary art, but cultural diversity as well.”

The exhibition was curated by Kimberly Thomas under the direction of Carla Hanzal, curator of Contemporary Art. Curatorial and library staff have created a blog linked to the Museum’s Web site to encourage dialogue about this exhibition and the important themes it investigates.

Mint Museum of Art Presents Major Andy Warhol Exhibition

The iconic works of Andy Warhol, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, will be on display at the Mint Museum of Art beginning this October.

The landmark exhibition Andy Warhol Portfolios: Life & Legends presents rarely seen selections from Bank of America’s prized Warhol collection. Sponsored by Bank of America Corporation, the exhibition will be on view October 4, 2008 – February 15, 2009.

“Warhol’s enduring influence on American art establishes him as one of the most important artists of our time,” said Phil Kline, Executive Director of The Mint Museum. “This exhibition will allow viewers to experience and discover anew the profound impact of his art.”

Andy Warhol (1928-1987), born Andy Warhola, became the central figure of the Pop Art movement that emerged in the United States in the 1950s. The 1960s was an extremely prolific decade for Warhol. Appropriating images from popular culture, Warhol created paintings and silkscreens that remain icons of 20th century art, such as the Campbell’s Soup Cans, Disasters and Marilyns. Warhol, as an artist and an avant-garde filmmaker, became a renowned celebrity who created often controversial works. His art has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and is highly collected.

Andy Warhol Portfolios: Life & Legends spans the artist’s career from the 1950s through 1986, and features key early works from landmark series such as Endangered Species, Flowers, Jews, Myths, Muhammad Ali and Space Fruits. Using mass production techniques to create works, Warhol erased traditional distinctions between fine art and pop culture. From household objects to Hollywood starlets, Warhol’s subjects captured the essence of American culture.

The Mint Museum Announces New Director of Community Relations

The Mint Museum announced today the appointment of Rubie Britt-Height as Director of Community Relations. She will begin work at the Museum on September 30.

Britt-Height brings a strong combination of community outreach, education and public relations experience to The Mint Museum. For the past four years, she has served as Director of Community Affairs at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond, where she successfully collaborated with culturally diverse community groups to develop programming related to those groups’ historical and contemporary art contributions. While there, she also hosted speaking engagements to promote VMFA’s message of accessibility to all and oversaw four of the museum’s support groups, along with a new initiative to engage 100 community business and non-profit opinion leaders in experiencing the museum’s amenities.

In her new position at the Mint, Britt-Height will work closely with the Executive Director and board of trustees to cultivate and enhance partnerships and educational opportunities with diverse civic, academic and arts organizations, and existing community partners, and will speak to audiences throughout the region about the Museum’s featured exhibitions, collections and programs.

“This is an exciting time to join The Mint Museum as it prepares to open its new facility in Charlotte’s Center City,” said Britt-Height. “I’m thrilled to be a part of the Museum as it continues to serve the city, state and region as a first-class arts destination. I look forward to collaborating with other arts venues, businesses and civic groups to promote cultural education and understanding through proactive museum outreach and community inclusion.”

Previously, Britt-Height worked in Durham as Executive Director of Sister 2 Hermana, a two-year grant program for African-American and Latin American women to help eradicate breast cancer. She has also served as Head of Communications, Community Relations & Cultural Arts for Greater St. Paul Baptist Church in Durham; Head of Public Affairs for the North Carolina Department of Transportation in Raleigh; and Information and Communications Specialist for the City of Charlotte. Britt-Height also established the “Black Art Expo” and African-American contemporary art collection at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, which showcases works donated by local artists during the annual expos.

“We are extremely pleased that Rubie will be joining the Mint,” said Cheryl Palmer, Director of Education. “She has a great wealth of experience in developing accessible programs and building appreciation for the arts across generations. Her passion for serving the community, combined with her creative leadership, makes her the right person to expand our outreach initiatives and build and enhance relationships with Charlotte’s leaders and its citizens.”

Britt-Height received a bachelor’s degree with honors in mass media arts from Hampton University and has begun advanced coursework in the master’s program for technology and communications at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also a 2006 graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond, a member of the Public Relations Society of America and Americans for the Arts, and has served on the boards of the YWCA and YMCA for the Richmond region. Britt-Height has two daughters, Brittanie, 20, and Chauncie, 10.

Museum-Raising Kickoff Celebration

Join us on Sunday, September 7 to kick off the countdown to the new Mint Museum in Center City! The community is invited to help celebrate as we raise excitement about our new location, raise awareness of what the new facilities will offer, and ultimately, start to raise a new Museum!

New plans for the Museum and its collections and programs will be unveiled at this family-friendly celebration. The festivities will take place on The Green (directly across from the Charlotte Convention Center) from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Enjoy live entertainment, refreshments and art-making activities for all ages!

The new Mint Museum in Center City will be housed on the Wachovia First Street Cultural Campus in a five-story, state-of-the-art facility. Construction on the new building is scheduled to start during the fourth quarter of 2008 and we expect to celebrate our grand opening in Fall 2010. Come be a part of the excitemint!