Levine Center for the Arts to participate in Art Museum Day on May 18

Charlotte’s premier cultural destination, Levine Center for the Arts, is celebrating the Association of Art Museum Directors’ (AAMD) Art Museum Day by offering free admission to museum visitors on Friday, May 18.

Charlotte’s premier cultural destination, Levine Center for the Arts, is celebrating the Association of Art Museum Directors’ (AAMD) Art Museum Day by offering free admission to museum visitors on Friday, May 18.

Three of the cultural institutions at the South Tryon Street campus, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, and Mint Museum Uptown, are joining forces to offer visitors an unparalleled arts experience. The Mint Museum is also offering free admission at its other location, Mint Museum Randolph. (Normal admission is $8 each to the Bechtler and Gantt Center and $10 to the Mint. The Mint Museum offers a $3 discount to Gantt Center visitors and Bechtler Museum visitors showing their receipts to Mint Museum front desk staff within the same 48-hour period. The Bechtler Museum and the Gantt Center will offer a $2 discount to Mint Museum visitors showing their receipts to their respective front desk staff within the same 48-hour period).

Since 2010, the AAMD has encouraged art museums across the nation to participate in conjunction with the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) International Museum Day, dedicated to promoting the value of museums in society. Over 100 AAMD member museums have participated each year. This year’s theme is “museums in a changing world.”

“Art Museum Day brings attention to the important role institutions such as the Bechtler, Mint, and Gantt Center play in maintaining Charlotte’s vibrant cultural life,” said Christopher Lawing, Vice President for Programming and Research at the Bechtler. “This special day of free admittance is a great way to introduce art museums to new audiences or welcome back those who we haven’t seen in a while.”

Visitors who are familiar with one or two of the institutions are encouraged to use the day to experience one they may not know as well.

“We are excited to join our partners on International Museum Day and will open our doors so visitors have the chance to celebrate the art, history, and culture of African-Americans and those of African descent,” said Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture President & CEO David Taylor. “We believe this is an excellent opportunity to recognize the important role that museums and cultural centers play in contemporary society. International Museum Day is a global celebration of the incredible collections and programs at museums and cultural centers around the world, and their commitment to public service and audience engagement.”

The museums are pleased to have an opportunity to highlight Charlotte’s emergence as a national leader on the arts scene. “The Levine Center for the Arts is a jewel in Charlotte’s cultural crown, and each resident of this region has reason to celebrate its presence here,” said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of The Mint Museum. “The Mint also welcomes visitors to experience both of our locations, including our beloved historic facility on Randolph Road, which was the state’s first art museum and is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary year.”

Support your local museum’s annual fund

The Bechtler, Gantt Center, and Mint all rely on a combination of public and private fundraising to offer their world-class exhibitions and programming to the public. Annual fund drives enable the museums to offer benefits such as occasional free admission to visitors. If visitors are inspired during their free-day visits to these institutions, their leaders hope they will make a donation to enable the museums to share that same inspiration with others.

More information about supporting each museum can be found at bechtler.org (click on “Support”); ganttcenter.org (click on “Join & Support), and mintmuseum.org (click here: https://mintmuseum.org/annual-fund.html).

ABOUT LEVINE CENTER FOR THE ARTS

Levine Center for the Arts is one of Charlotte’s key cultural destinations, comprised of Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, John S. and James L. Knight Theater, Mint Museum Uptown, and Duke Energy Center. The Levine Center was made possible through the Campaign for Cultural Facilities, the support of the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, and the generosity of the Leon Levine Foundation, one of the country’s largest and most impactful philanthropic organizations.

ABOUT THE BECHTLER MUSEUM OF MODERN ART

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to the exhibition of mid-20th-century modern art. It is named after the family of Andreas Bechtler, who assembled and inherited a collection created by seminal figures in modernism. The museum is located at Levine Center for the Arts, 420 South Tryon Street, Charlotte. Operating hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.; closed Tuesdays. The museum is open until 9 p.m. the first and third Fridays of each month. Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for seniors, college students and educators; $4 for youth (11 to 14) and free for children (up to 10). For museum details visit www.bechtler.org.

ABOUT THE HARVEY B. GANTT CENTER FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN ARTS + CULTURE

Founded in 1974, Charlotte’s Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (formerly the Afro-American Cultural Center) exists to present, preserve and celebrate the art, history and culture of African-Americans and those of African descent through dance, music, visual and literary arts, film, educational programs, theatre productions, and community outreach. Named for Harvey B. Gantt, the prominent Charlotte architect and community leader and former Mayor of Charlotte, the Center is housed in an inspired and distinguished award-winning structure and is home to the nationally celebrated John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American art.  Please visit www.ganttcenter.org.

The Mint Museum acquires major work of art: Sheila Hicks’ May I Have This Dance?

Through generous gift by Target Corporation

The Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts has acquired Sheila  Hicks’ monumental bas relief, May I Have This Dance?, through a generous gift by Target Corporation. Originally  commissioned by Target for their lobby headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2003, May I Have This Dance? has  been recently reimagined, and reconfigured, for exhibitions in Paris and Philadelphia, each metamorphosis informed by
the particular architectural setting.

With a redesign of Target Corporation headquarters, a search for a new, permanent home for the work began in earnest in 2010. Target consulted Sheila Hicks regarding where May I Have This Dance? might permanently reside. Some of the largest and most important art museums in the country were considered for this major gift.

With the new progressive initiative of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, a newly opened facility, new leadership, and a renewed focus on world-class acquisitions, exhibitions, and educational programs, The Mint Museum presented a unique
and compelling case. The Mint committed to install the work for an extended period of time in the Robert Haywood  Morrison Atrium, the largest public space and principal gathering area of the new museum uptown. In this prime location, Hicks’ powerful sculpture will command tremendous visual impact and set the tone for visitors’ experiences as they enter the museum. Similar to the original architectural setting for May I Have This Dance? at Target, The Mint’smMorrison Atrium provides a distinct opportunity to honor the integrity of the artist’s original intent and design.

“The Mint Museum is deeply grateful for this exceptional gift from Target Corporation,” said Dr, Kathleen V. Jameson, President and CEO. “Our permanent collection offers a strong complement to the themes and craftsmanship present in May I Have This Dance? The Mint Museum and Target Corporation also share the same core values of integrity in all we do, a commitment to excellence and making art and arts education accessible to diverse audiences throughout our
respective communities. We feel extremely proud and privileged to share this work with our city, region, and our national and international visitors.”

Annie Carlano, Director of Craft + Design, states, “While Sheila is a resident of Paris, she is a citizen of the world. The nomadic nature of May I Have This Dance? parallels the extensive global travels that have influenced and inspired Sheila’s work. Sheila finds innovation in tradition and contemporary expression in the hand-made. May I Have This
Dance?
is the apotheosis of Hicks’ monumental bas relief creations. Transcendental in both concept and form, this ebullient installation was inspired by the natural light soaked space of the Mint’s atrium, the integration of the outside sky scape and the interior, the energetic vertical sweep to the high ceilings, and the modernity of the building materials and furniture. In fact, Sheila commented that standing in the atrium, reminded her of being inside Le Corbusier’s chapel
(Notre Dame du Haut) in Ronchamp, France.  It is not surprising to me that her initial ruminations about the reconfiguration, of May I Have This Dance?, for the west wall were about shapes and patterns from the natural world, for example streaking lightning bolts and a circling hurricane.”

The official unveiling of May I Have This Dance? will occur in unison with the preview of Sheila Hicks: 50 Years, an exhibition organized by The Addison Gallery of American Art, the art museum of Phillips Academy. This comprehensive exhibition, running 1 October 2011 through 29 January 2012, at The Mint Museum Uptown, marks the first retrospective devoted to this pioneering figure. Sheila Hicks is an artist who builds with color and thinks with line. From her earliest
work of the late 1950s to the present, she has crossed the boundaries of painting, sculpture, design, drawing, and woven form, and has been a critical force in redefining the domains of contemporary art-making.  While challenging the relationship of fine arts to commercial arts and studio practice to site-specific commissions, Hicks has, above all,
re-imagined the profound, vital connection of artist to artisan.

The Sheila Hicks: FiftyYears exhibition and the long-term installation of May I Have This Dance? will serve as important highlights of The Mint Museum’s 75th anniversary celebration beginning this October

First Major Retrospective Honoring work of Sheila Hicks opens at the Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts

Sheila Hicks: 50 Years bridges distinctions between artist and artisan

The Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts proudly presents  Sheila Hicks: 50 Years, an exhibition organized by The Addison Gallery of American Art, the art museum of Phillips Academy.This comprehensive exhibition, running 1 October 2011 through 29 January 2012, marks the first museum
retrospective devoted to this pioneering figure. Sheila Hicks is an artist who builds with color and thinks with line. From her earliest work of the late 1950s to the present, she has crossed the boundaries of painting, sculpture, design, drawing, and woven form, and has been a critical force in redefining the domains of contemporary art-making. While challenging the relationship of fine arts to commercial arts and studio practice to site-specific commissions, Hicks has,above all, re-imagined the profound, vital connection of artist to artisan.

Sheila Hicks: 50 Years
addresses the artist’s conceptual, procedural, and material concerns via five distinct, though intimately related, fields of inquiry: bas reliefs and sculptures; small weavings and drawings; site commissions for public spaces; production textiles; and process works made of recuperated textiles, clothing, and other found objects.

Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President and CEO of The Mint Museum, has stated, “The Mint is honored to be the third and final venue for this exhibition, which fulfills the museum’s mission of bringing the most important international contemporary art and design to Charlotte and the region. Astonishingly original, the art of Sheila Hicks deifies
categorization as it engages our intellect and our senses in its exploration of line, form, texture, and color. Choosing thread as her medium, she was a trailblazer, forging the then unknown path of ‘cross over artist,’ straddling the fields of design, craft, and contemporary art. What I find particularly relevant for the Mint, is the artist’s long standing interest in the art of the ancient Americas and other world cultures, locating in them the visual vocabulary for a tremendously
contemporary language.”

Born in Hastings, Nebraska, Hicks received her BFA and MFA degrees from Yale (’57; ’59), studying painting with master teacher and theorist Josef Albers and history of art with George Kubler, a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Mesoamerican art. Hicks’s self-described practice of “linear thinking” and “composing texture” reflects the Bauhaus
tradition of finding the expressive voices of different materials and the dynamic interactions of color. Equally, her work reflects her studies with Kubler, in particular the juxtapositions she first saw in his class of small Pre-Incaic weavings with the colossal structures of Machu Picchu.

From her earliest experiments with woven forms, Hicks has explored processes that skew the traditional grid, incorporating traditional and new materials or integrating found objects, even deconstructing her own works and reusing the elements to create any number of others. She has explored the role of the artist’s hand and the use of technologies to produce works that range from the size of a page to that of a football field.  In addition to her studio works and commissions, Hicks is noted internationally as a teacher and mentor of several generations of artists and designers.

The Mint Museum Celebrates Romare Bearden with Major Retrospective

Exhibition brings together 100 works from every stage of artist’s career

This fall, The Mint Museum presents a major retrospective of the work of Romare Bearden (1911-1988), widely regarded as one of
America’s most pre-eminent African American artists and foremost collagists, as well as a noted writer and musician. The exhibition Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections surveys 50 years of the artist’s work, from his early abstract paintings to the influential collages that dominated his later body of work. Opening on the centennial of Bearden’s birth, the exhibition will be on view at the Mint Museum Uptown (at Levine Center for the Arts, 500 South Tryon
Street) from 2 September 2011 – 8 January 2012.

“Romare Bearden broke new ground with his innovative collages and left a powerful legacy to generations of American artists,” said Curator of Contemporary Art and exhibition curator Carla Hanzal. “Given the long association between Bearden and the city of Charlotte, the Mint has a special interest in bringing this important career overview to the public.”

Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections will include approximately 100 works of art drawn from The Mint Museum’s extensive holdings, as well as national public and private collections. This exhibition examines how the South served as a source of inspiration throughout his career, a theme which has not been explored previously. Among the large thematic groupings will be selections from the Prevalence of Ritual series, which includes
many works referring to Bearden’s childhood home in North Carolina.

Born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Bearden lived there until the age of four. Although his family settled in New York, the artist’s brief childhood in the South and return visits to Charlotte made a noteworthy impact on his art. During these visits, Bearden absorbed stories and observations about the rituals of daily Southern life—the relentless toil of crop cultivation, women tending gardens and mixing herbal remedies, fish fries and other community gatherings, and religious activities. These experiences, which stood in stark contrast to the urban rhythm of his parents’ New York City household, left a lasting impression on him.

The exhibition’s loosely chronological structure traces critical themes in Bearden’s work such as music, religion, social change, and family, particularly informed by an African- American experience. The earliest group of works, from the 1940s, focuses on his memories of the rural South, painted in tempera on brown paper and characterized by strong colors, flattened perspective, and stylized, highly formal compositions. Works such as The Visitation (1941) and
Folk Musicians (1942) depict scenes of agrarian life yet also portray universal emotional bonds.

As Bearden developed his iconic collage technique in the mid-1960s, he made use of a wide ranges of art practices, both Western and non-Western. His use of collage, with its distortions, reversals, and Surrealistic blending of styles, enabled Bearden to convey the dreamlike quality of memory, and was, therefore, a perfect vehicle for recording of his memories of the South. After helping to found an artist’s group in support of civil rights in 1963, Bearden’s work became more overtly socially conscious. One of his most famous series, Prevalence of Ritual, concentrated mostly on southern African American life. Works like Baptism (1964) examined the changing nature of African Americans’ rights. Illustrating the movement of water being poured onto the subject being baptized, Bearden conveyed the temporal flux of society during the civil rights movement. In Carolina Reunion (1975), the subject matter is emblematic of the longing for a better life and the comforting familiarity of home embodied in the northern
migration of African Americans from the South during the early part of the 20th century.

Bearden returned to Mecklenburg County in the 1970s just as his career was beginning to gain momentum. This Southern homecoming proved bittersweet. Charlotte was undergoing urban renewal, and already traces of Bearden’s past had been erased. This nostalgic experience imbued Bearden with a greater sense of urgency to both celebrate and eulogize a lost way of life, a theme that would inform his artwork for the remainder of his days.

During the 1970s, Bearden developed a complex iconography that spoke to these new developments. Drawn to “journeying things”—trains and birds—his inclusion of these
recurring motifs implied a movement from one way of life to another. He increasingly used richer colors and more decorative patterns to mediate ideas about African American community and culture, as in Of the Blues: Carolina Shout (1974), Back Porch Serenade (1977), and
Sunset Limited (Mecklenburg County) (1978).

A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition with contributions by Mary Lee Corlett, Jae Emerling, Glenda Gilmore, and Leslie King-Hammond. The exhibition will tour nationally following its debut at the Mint.

Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections is made possible with generous support from Duke Energy and Wells Fargo. Additional funding is provided by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mint Museum Uptown to Host Seminal Symposium on British Ceramics

Event marks closing week of landmark ceramics exhibition

A public symposium organized by the Mint Museum of Craft +Design will be part of a closing celebration for the inaugural exhibition, Contemporary British Studio
Ceramics: The Grainer Collection
during its final week on view. Featuring innovative discussions by leading international art scholars and artists on important trends and developments in contemporary British ceramics, the Symposium will be held Thursday, 10 March, 3:00-7:00 p.m. at the Mint Museum
Uptown (at Levine Center for the Arts, 500 South Tryon Street) and is free with museum admission.

Drawn from the collection of Diane and Marc Grainer of suburban Washington, D.C., the landmark exhibition Contemporary British Studio Ceramics is the first to focus exclusively on this subject in the United States and Great Britain. The Symposium will feature talks by art scholar and critic Tanya Harrod
(keynote speaker); artist and scholar Julian Stair; artist Neil Brownsword; and Mint Museum Director of Craft + Design Annie Carlano. Following the talks, there will be a panel discussion moderated by Carlano featuring Harrod, Stair, and Brownsword, as well as Mint Museum Curator of Decorative Arts Brian
Gallagher and ceramic artist Kate Malone.

The schedule of events is: 1:00 p.m. – Exhibition walk-through and discussion with Diane and Marc Grainer in the Mint

Museum of Craft + Design special exhibition galleries 2:00 p.m. – Book signing by the authors of the exhibition catalogue in the Robert Haywood

Morrison Atrium
3:00 p.m. – Symposium begins in the James B. Duke Auditorium
4:30 p.m. – Break and reception hosted by The Founders’ Circle in the Atrium
5:30 p.m. – Symposium resumes; panel discussion begins
7:00 p.m. – Symposium ends

Keynote speaker Tanya Harrod is the principal essayist of the exhibition catalogue, Contemporary British Studio Ceramics: The Grainer Collection (Yale University Press: 2010), and Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art in London. She is co-editor of the Journal of Modern Craft and author of the award-winning study, The Crafts in Britain in the Twentieth Century, and the forthcoming biography, Michael Cardew: A Life (both published by Yale University Press). Harrod will offer a survey of British
studio ceramics over the past 20 years with a focus on the “Englishness” of ceramic production.

Ceramic artist and scholar Julian Stair is the recipient of the 2004 European Achievement Award from the World Crafts Council and a regular contributor to craft journals and other prestigious publications. He holds a Ph.D. in Critical Writing on English Studio Pottery from the Royal College of Art
in London. Stair will be speaking on the topic of funerary ware, from urns to sarcophagi, related to his most recent work, which includes both thrown and hand-built vessels.

Born and raised near Stoke-on-Trent, ceramic artist Neil Brownsword began working at the Josiah Wedgwood factory at age 16. He studied ceramics at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, and received his Ph.D. from Brunel University in London following the completion of his groundbreaking series, Collaging History. Brownsword will be speaking on the development of his contemporary ceramic
installation art in historically significant Stoke-on-Trent.

Annie Carlano is the Director of Craft + Design at The Mint Museum and the exhibition curator of Contemporary British Studio Ceramics: The Grainer Collection. She holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and a master’s degree in art history from Università degli Studi in Florence, Italy. An internationally recognized scholar, Carlano has published and lectured on textiles, fashion, and decorative arts. Her recent books include Sleeping Around: The Bed
from Antiquity to Now
(University of Washington Press: 2006) and Contemporary British Studio Ceramics: The Grainer Collection. She will speak on the topic of collecting ceramics.

Brian Gallagher is the Curator of Decorative Arts at The Mint Museum and a graduate of the Bard Graduate Center in New York. Prior to joining the Mint, he served as Assistant Curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Gallagher is a member of the
Indemnity Panel for Domestic Exhibitions at the National Endowment for the Arts and serves as a board
member of the American Ceramic Circle.

Born in London, ceramicist Kate Malone studied at Bristol Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art. Known for her use of shapes inspired by natural forms and vivid crystalline glazes, this Barcelona-based artist is one of the most fearless innovators in the field of international studio ceramics. The Mint Museum of Craft + Design has commissioned Malone to create a ceramic work for the new Mint Museum Uptown as part of its Project Ten Ten Ten series. She will be the guest artist at the upcoming
10th Annual Mint Condition Gala sponsored by The Founders’ Circle.

The Mint Museum Announces Inaugural Exhibitions for New Facility

Mint Museum Uptown opens October 1, 2010 as part of Levine Center for the Arts

Mint Museum Executive Director Phil Kline announced today the inaugural exhibitions to be presented in conjunction with the new Mint Museum Uptown’s grand opening on October 1, 2010. They are New Visions: Contemporary Masterworks from the Bank of America Collection and Contemporary British Studio Ceramics: The Grainer Collection.

Designed by noted architectural firm Machado & Silvetti of Boston, the 145,000-square-foot Mint Museum Uptown will be part of the Levine Center for the Arts located in the heart of Charlotte’s business district. In addition to the Mint, the cultural campus includes the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, and the John S. and James L. Knight Theater, along with corporate, retail and restaurant facilities.

The Mint Museum Uptown will house the world renowned collections of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, as well as the American Art and Contemporary Art collections and selected works from the European Art collection. The latter three collections are moving from the Mint Museum Randolph. The new five-story facility will include two full floors of galleries, each featuring 12,000 square feet of permanent collection space and 6,000 square feet of changing exhibition space. A dramatic multi-story atrium, named for the late Robert Haywood Morrison in honor of his foundation’s gift to the Museum, will serve as a central hub of activity and features a 60- by 60-foot glass curtain wall offering spectacular views of the urban landscape. The building also includes a café, a Family Gallery, painting and ceramics studios, classrooms, a 240-seat auditorium, a Special Events Pavilion with outdoor terrace, and an expanded Museum Shop specializing in crafts of the Carolinas. These amenities and special features will provide inspiring venues for hosting public programs to reinforce the Museum’s dual priorities of making art and education experiences accessible to the community.

Following the opening of the new uptown location, the Mint Museum Randolph will maintain its current location in the historic Eastover neighborhood and execute a reinstallation plan of its galleries designed to showcase collections of Art of the Ancient Americas, Decorative Arts, and Historic Costume & Fashionable Dress, along with selections of African Art, Asian Art, Ceramics, Coins & Currency, European Art, Native American Art and Spanish Colonial Art.

“The opening of our new facility marks a pivotal chapter in the Mint’s history and in Charlotte’s emergence as a cultural destination,” said Executive Director Phil Kline. “We are thankful to the City of Charlotte, the Arts & Science Council, and our corporate, foundation and private donors who have committed funds and significant works of art towards this historic initiative. When our doors open in October, the public will have the unique opportunity to view never-before-seen works from our permanent collections, in addition to seeing two landmark inaugural exhibitions.”

Inaugural Exhibitions:

New Visions: Contemporary Masterworks from the Bank of America Collection, October 1, 2010 – April 17, 2011

The Mint Museum and Bank of America will collaborate to present an exhibition comprising over 60 works from the bank’s Art Collection. Widely regarded as one of the world’s finest corporate art collections, the Bank of America Collection is noted for its high quality, stylistic diversity, historical depth and attention to regional identity.

The exhibition contains a broad selection of regionally diverse practitioners and presents an extraordinary opportunity to experience significant works by some of the most visionary artists of the past decades. The exhibition will feature paintings, sculptures and works on paper from an array of artists, including Milton Avery, Jennifer Bartlett, Roger Brown, John Chamberlain, Janet Fish, Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Gilliam, John Marin, Elizabeth Murray, Louise Nevelson, Jules Olitski, Edward Ruscha, Miriam Schapiro and Frank Stella, among others.

Beginning with works from 1945, the exhibition highlights the strengths of Bank of America’s postwar collection and reveals a wide variety of philosophies, approaches and movements reaching into the early 1990s. Historically significant works focusing on intense color and geometry as an organizing principle, such as Frank Stella’s Damascus Gate and Ellsworth Kelly’s Black and White Triangle, reveal the monumental scale and rigorous structures of late 1960s through early 1970s Minimalism. Postminimalist works from the 1980s, such as Elizabeth Murray’s Split and Join and Jennifer Bartlett’s In the Garden, present a return to imagery, while still retaining defined formalist structures.

The vibrant and irreverent canvases of Ed Paschke and Roger Brown exhibit the influence of outsider art and Surrealism. This influence was a hallmark of the second generation Chicago Imagists, a regional offshoot of Pop Artists. The influence of popular culture and media fueled diverse works by Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Longo. Masterful paintings by some of California’s most heralded artists—including Edward Ruscha (Clock Speed), James Weeks (Ocean Park Studio) and Wayne Thiebaud (Dark Cake)—demonstrate a surprising and complex relationship between abstraction and realism. Deborah Butterfield’s cast lead horse sculpture, as well as Lynda Benglis’s biomorphic reliefs  and John Chamberlain’s steel assemblage, comprise some of the compelling sculptural works within the show.

“We are grateful to Bank of America for this extraordinary opportunity to bring together and share with the public major works by some of the most important artists of our time,” said Curator of Contemporary Art, and curator of the exhibition, Carla Hanzal. “While many corporations boast large art collections, it is rare to see such a comprehensive collection of contemporary and modern art that is both dynamic and historically significant. This show exemplifies the excellence and regional diversity that Bank of America’s collection is uniquely suited to reveal.”

New Visions: Contemporary Masterworks from the Bank of America Collection is organized by The Mint Museum, Charlotte, N.C., and provided by Bank of America Art in our Communities™ program. Through this program, Bank of America has converted its collection into a unique community resource from which museums and nonprofit galleries may borrow complete or customized exhibitions. By providing these exhibitions and the support required to host them, the program helps sustain community engagement and generate vital revenue for the nonprofits, creating stability in local communities. From 2008 to 2010, Bank of America will have loaned more than 30 exhibitions to museums internationally.

“Bank of America is committed to strengthening artistic institutions and in turn, the communities we serve,” said Charles Bowman, North Carolina and Charlotte Market President, Bank of America. “Our continued partnership with The Mint Museum is a further extension of our commitment, and we are honored to be part of this resurgence in the Charlotte arts community.”

In addition to this collaboration, The Mint Museum is also part of Bank of America’s Museums on Us™ program. Through this unique program, anyone with a Bank of America ATM, credit card or check card has the opportunity to gain free admission to more than 120 cultural institutions across the country, including the Mint, during the first Saturday and Sunday of each month.

Contemporary British Studio Ceramics: The Grainer Collection, October 1, 2010 – March 13, 2011

Drawn from the collection of Diane and Marc Grainer of suburban Washington, D.C., this exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of Contemporary British Studio Ceramics in the United States and Great Britain. Comprised of functional and sculptural objects made between the 1980s and 2009, the show features work by 100 artists either born or residing in Great Britain, including established “contemporary classics” like Lucie Rie and cutting-edge ceramicists such as Julian Stair, Kate Malone, Neil Brownsword, and Grayson Perry.

The Grainers are well-known in the United States as collectors of Studio Furniture and American craft in general, and as leaders in the craft community through their work with the Americans Crafts Council, the Furniture Society, Museum of Arts and Design, the James Renwick Alliance, and the Founders’ Circle, the national support group of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design. Their extensive and virtuoso collection of contemporary British ceramics is perhaps their greatest contribution to the field. Over a 30-year period, the Grainers’ keen connoisseurship skills and tenacity led them to acquire some of the very best work.

Rooted in the materiality of clay, a hallmark of studio pottery, the ceramic art featured in the exhibition chronicles the history of Contemporary British Studio Ceramics. Whether a pot or sculpture, the properties of the raw material, from its soft malleable texture to the alchemy of slips and glazes, and its propensity to melt and harden, are at the core of the artist’s passion. The exhibition begins with a recap of the earlier 20th century masters, then moves to works that demonstrate the two different strains of influence that informed contemporary makers—from the historicism of Bernard Leach and his successors to the refugee modernism embodied by Lucie Rie.

A plethora of “honest pots” highlights the straightforward, form-following-function vessels and platters of master potters such as Richard Batterham, Clive Bowen and Bill Marshall. The show then explores the sculptural forms of Gordon Baldwin, Ken Eastman and Nicholas Rena, moving on to the figurative and narrative compositions of Christie Brown, Claire Curneen and Phil Eglin, ending with a look at the most recent intersection of ceramic art, design and social commentary.

“The most thrilling quality of Contemporary British Studio Ceramics is that the field remains free from a defining aesthetic and cannot be tied together by one common visual thread,” said Annie Carlano, Director of Craft + Design and curator of the exhibition. “There has never been a comprehensive exhibition on either side of the pond about these objects. Building on the Mint’s internationally recognized collection of historic English ceramics, this exhibition allows us to explore a wider wealth of riches and continue the story from art pottery to clay art today.”

Contemporary British Studio Ceramics: The Grainer Collection will be accompanied by the eponymous book, published by Yale University Press. Academic and lavishly illustrated, it features contributions by Tanya Harrod, Glenn Adamson and Michelle Mickey, as well as an interview with Diane and Marc Grainer. Edited by Annie Carlano, this important publication underscores the Mint Museum of Craft + Design’s commitment to scholarly excellence. The exhibition is organized by The Mint Museum and sponsored by Duke Energy.