‘State of the ART: Discovering American Art Now’ to debut at Mint Museum Uptown April 22

Exhibition from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to remain on view through September 3

The Mint Museum announces State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now , on view April 22 to September 3. The exhibition was organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, where it debuted in 2014, and features 75 works in sculpture, painting, drawing, video, and mixed media by 39 artists from every region of the U.S. The diverse range of styles and voices reflects what’s happening in American art right now. The exhibition examines how today’s artists are informed by the past, innovate with materials old and new, and engage deeply with issues relevant to their communities. The exhibition is presented in Charlotte by PNC Financial Services, with additional support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Young Affiliates of the Mint.

Members of the media are invited to preview the exhibition at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19 at Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts, 500 South Tryon Street in Charlotte. Light refreshments will be served and curatorial staff will be available for interviews. RSVP to the media preview to leigh.dyer@mintmuseum.org. High resolution images are available upon request and media photography is permitted during the event.

The State of the Art exhibition culminated a year-long process in which Crystal Bridges’ curatorial team logged more than 100,000 miles, crisscrossing the country to visit artists in rural communities, small towns, and urban centers. The exhibition seeks to explore what is happening in studios and creative communities and then introduce those artists to a broader audience. The exhibition opened to unprecedented national attention, such as a feature on CBS Sunday Morning, placing State of the Art at the forefront of an ongoing discussion about art in America. Accolades include a 2015 Excellence in Exhibition Award from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).

“I am very excited to share this exciting exhibition with our audience,” said Dr. Jonathan Stuhlman, the Mint’s senior curator of American, Modern, & Contemporary Art. “Visitors are sure to delight in the diversity of its subject matter, artistic approaches, and mediums – there truly is something for everyone. State of the Art demonstrates the many ways in which contemporary art can intersect and connect with our daily lives and personal histories.”

“We know what art can do, how it changes perspectives, even lives,” said Weston M. Andress, PNC regional president of Western Carolina. “We are committed to supporting innovative, thought-provoking works such as this fine exhibition offered by The Mint Museum. We are proud to bring it to our community.”

Among the included artists are North Carolina’s own Bob Trotman and Peter Glenn Oakley. Trotman’s carved wooden sculptures are tongue-in-cheek examinations of the corporate lifestyle and derive from his own childhood memories of his father’s corporate persona. Oakley reimagines mundane objects, in this case a sewing machine, into elegant marble sculptures, shifting our attention away from their practical uses to the beauty of their design.

Other exhibited artworks include Drawing E. Obsoleta, a video by former North Carolina artist Jeff Whetstone, where the artist attempts to manipulate the writhing form of a black snake to create a line-drawing of the landscape. Pittsburgh artist Lenka Clayton approaches her creations from a maternal perspective. In her installation titled 63 Objects Taken Out of My Son’s Mouth, Clayton showcases an array of small objects that would have originally been stepped on, ignored, or thrown away, but are now interpreted as potentially life-threatening hazards. The largest exhibited work is by Brooklyn artist Jonathan Schipper. Slow Room is an installation evoking ‘grandma’s living room’ where all the furniture and adornments are tethered to a hidden winch. Each piece is slowly pulled toward the back of the room until nothing exists but a pile of destroyed objects. For Schipper, this is a metaphor for the gradual progress and ultimate end of life; the slow lapse of time keeps us unaware of gradual changes made to our minds and bodies throughout our lifetimes.

Four of the artists will visit the Mint to give FREE public talks during the exhibition, along with NexGen Mint workshops to teens 14-18 and other opportunities for interaction. They include Delita Martin, whose free talk will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday May 4; Bob Trotman, who appears at 6 p.m. on Wednesday June 14; Eyakem Gulilat at 6 p.m. on Thursday July 19; and Jeff Whetstone at 6 p.m. on Wednesday August 9. Exhibition programs are supported, in part, by the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation. For details and other information about public programming surrounding the exhibition, visit mintmuseum.org/happenings .

Above image: Carl Joe Williams (1970- ). American Shotgun, 2012, mixed media on found door. Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photo: Edward C. Robison III.

‘Kidnapped Pagans: A Charlotte Arts Project’ goes on view April 29

Organized by Jonell Logan from 300 Arts Project, The Exhibition Features work by artist Antoine Williams

Kidnapped Pagans is not your traditional exhibition. Organized by Jonell Logan, founder of 300 Art Project, this arts public/private art installation features work by former Charlotte resident Antoine Williams. Engaging in issues of history, culture, and the black experience, Williams combines drawing, painting, and collage to present and challenge the spaces that people of color occupy within our society.  This show will be on view in April 29-May 20th, 2017 in the Level 5 exhibition space at the Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts. The exhibition will be available FREE to the public during regular museum operating hours. Works of art will also be installed throughout various neighborhoods in Charlotte for up to three months beginning in late April.

Kidnapped Pagans is one model for community ownership and engagement in the arts. As an independent curator, Logan partnered with The Mint Museum, individual property owners, Charlotte Center City Partners, and Charlotte Urban Design, City of Charlotte, to bring the work to Charlotte. In addition to being at The Mint, work by Antoine Williams will be installed on newspaper kiosks and private buildings throughout Charlotte.  The intention is to expand the exhibition beyond the museum boundaries, foster personal interaction with the work within our communities, and expand our collective understanding of how and where art can impact our lives. We will announce the installation and de-installation schedule so that Charlotteans who are interested in meeting Antoine can not only see the process, but talk to him one on one about art, culture, and the questions raised by the work. These installations will remain in Charlotte for 1-3 months, depending on site.

This dually-installed, public exhibition allows for a continuation of support of new and experimental methods of contemporary art making in Charlotte. Kidnapped Pagans creates a timely and creative dialogue around class, race and narrative within the African America perspective. As Charlotte investigates its challenges with economic mobility and cultural exchange, Williams’ work provides a unique opportunity to engage contemporary art, culture, narrative in a way that can foster greater exchange and understanding in a growing and learning Charlotte.

This project was made possible with support from the Knight Foundation and the Pollination Project.

Exhibition Description:

Kidnapped Pagans

“…And this is what it means to be an American Negro, this is who he is-a kidnapped

pagan, who was sold like an animal and treated like one…”  -James Baldwin


“I’m African-American, I’m African. I’m black as the moon, heritage of a small village

Pardon my residence. Came from the bottom of mankind, my hair is nappy… my nose is round

and wide.”  -Kendrick Lamar


Kidnapped Pagans is a site-specific installation of semi-autobiographical narrative vignettes by artist Antoine Williams. The installation, which will span the entirety of the front gallery, consisting of life-size figures made from wheat-paste and found object. These distorted figures are a part of the artist’s personal mythology, which, serves as metaphor for larger systemic issues that rest at the intersection of class, race, geography, and semiotics.

Also, within the space there will be one to two large to mid-size mixed media paintings that will encapsulate the narratives. Essentially this show will reflect the specifics of Black life in the southeast United States but echoes of contemporary issues we face as a nation.

About the Curator:

Kidnapped Pagans is organized by Jonell Logan, an independent curator and founder of 300 Arts Project. Logan recently curated the Lilith exhibition at The Light Factory, on view through April 6, 2017. Logan has worked at various museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

About the Artist:

Antoine Williams’ art practice is an investigation of his cultural identity through the exploration of societal signs as they relate to institutional inequities. He has created a mythology, which have become a narrative catalogue of loosely autobiographical humanoid beings that personify the complexities of perception, which can affect race, class, and masculinity. His works of art are heavily influenced by sci-fi literature from such authors as Octavia Butler and H.G. Wells. Themes in science fiction can be analogous to the Black experience in America. Therefore, Williams has created a world of beings that personify the complexity within hierarchies of power in everyday life. These figures manifest as mixed-media installations, paintings, drawings, and collage. These entities reference the Dadaist, who appropriated and re-contextualized images from society in order to create “anti-art”. Namely Hans Arp, who considered the destruction of “signs” as a subversive act. The signs he is interested in are tropes associated with the Black body within the American psyche.

In the vein of Felix Gonzales-Torres, Williams has a concern for making the personal, public. These beings (which are nameless) are inspired by personal experiences from a rural working class, upbringing, in Red Springs, North Carolina that related to wider contemporary concerns. Inspired by the Amiri Baraka poem “Something in the Way of Things”, these beings live in the intangible spaces that exist between the nuances of class and race. They are both born of and perpetuate the actions and thought processes due to social reproduction. They exist in an abstracted purgatory.

Michelle Erickson, Ceramic Artist: Contemporary Clay


Please join us for this special conversation led by esteemed speaker and ceramist Michelle Erickson. Michelle will discuss her practice as a self-supporting studio potter whose art is distinguished throughout the fields of contemporary art, historical archeology and studio ceramics by it’s strong commentary, authentic reference and technological virtuosity. Erickson’s clay art is replete with visual puns that provoke and amuse often channeling masters like the 18th century satirist William Hogarth through the use of humor, caricature and exaggeration. Garth Clark has mischievously dubbed Erickson a “Post Modern Chameleon” and Glenn Adamson described her as “magpie flitting through ceramic history.” In The Pot Book, Edmund de Waal included her “Pectin Shell Teapot” in his top 300 world’s pots.

Presented by the Delhom Service League and Friends of the Mint.

Mint Museum Acquires Major American Surrealist Work

Kay Sage’s Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool is a key acquisition of the Mint’s ongoing Collections Initiative

The Mint Museum was the high bidder at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale Thursday for American Surrealist Kay Sage’s 1947 oil on canvas Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool.

The purchase was the third made possible by a Charlotte philanthropist who made a significant cash gift in 2013 as part of the museum’s ongoing Collections Initiative ; the funds were devoted specifically to the acquisition of 20th century painting. Earlier that year, the same philanthropist’s foundation provided funds for the Mint to acquire the painting Trumpet Flowers by the American artist Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973). The painting is on view at Mint Museum Uptown. This year the museum purchased Alson Skinner Clark’s important canvas, In the Lock, Miraflores, one of the stars of its recent exhibition focusing on the centennial of the Panama Canal . In the Lock, Miraflores is currently on loan to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco for an exhibition celebrating the centennial of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and will be back on view at the Mint in spring 2016.

Sage’s powerful work was last on view at the Mint for its groundbreaking 2012 exhibition Double Solitaire: The Surreal Worlds of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy , co-curated by the Mint’s Senior Curator of American, Modern, and Contemporary Art Dr. Jonathan Stuhlman, who is one of the leading experts in the world on Sage’s art. That exhibition was the first major museum exhibition devoted to Sage since the 1970s.

The vast majority of Sage’s work was donated to museums upon her death; therefore, only the handful that sold during her lifetime now appear on the market. No others in private hands from this critical period of Sage’s career feature the same combination of scale, quality, and personal resonance found in Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool. “This is very likely the best painting by Sage that will ever appear on the market, particularly at this scale,” said Stuhlman.

Along with Dorothea Tanning, Joseph Cornell, and photographer Man Ray, Sage (1898-1963) was one of the leading American Surrealists, and perhaps the American painter most closely allied with the original group of French Surrealists given her marriage to Frenchman Yves Tanguy. Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool is a prime example of Sage’s signature style, which incorporates her interest in haunting, desolate landscapes, beautifully-rendered yet enigmatic forms, and sophisticated variations in tone and hue. It is also an early work in which she is has begun to explore ways to incorporate her unique “scaffolding” – a compositional element that scholars have argued set her work apart from that of her peers. The Mint’s Stuhlman was the first scholar to decode the work’s title, which he believes refers to the traditional anniversary gifts for a couple’s sixth and seventh anniversaries – 1947 was the seventh anniversary of the couple’s wedding and the sixth of their move from New York to Woodbury, Connecticut.

Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool is the second major American Surrealist painting to enter the museum’s collection, following the gift of Gordon Onslow Ford’s The Love Knot in 2013, which represents a very different take on Surrealism and has a very different aesthetic. “It is well in line with the museum’s desire to add significant works of art from the modern era to its collection, as well as its efforts to bolster its holdings of work by women artists,” said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of the Mint.

Staff reporter Kelly Crow of The Wall Street Journal noted the significance of the Mint’s purchase minutes after it occurred, tweeting out : “Kay Sage, the long-overlooked surrealist because she’s a she, gets a nice boost when her ‘Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool’ sells for $1 million, 10 times high estimate.”

Significant acquisitions to continue

“Not only will this gift enhance the experience of visiting the Mint for both Charlotte residents and our global visitors, but it will elevate the Mint’s role in cultural and economic development for the region,” said Jameson.

The prior acquisition, Trumpet Flowers, an oil on canvas created in 1919, is a rare example of Synchromism, a movement developed by Macdonald-Wright and his colleague Morgan Russell in Paris in 1913 that attempted to synthesize art and music through the use of color. It was acquired by the museum at Sotheby’s 2013 spring auction of American Art. The canvas by Clark had been on long-term loan to the museum from a private collector since the opening of Mint Museum Uptown in 2010. It is the first example of Clark’s paintings of the Canal to enter a museum collection.

In 2013, the museum announced the launch of its three-year Collections Initiative with the help of Bank of America, which donated Untitled (Seafirst) 1979 (38 x 19 feet) by California artist Sam Francis to the museum.

Other major gifts of works of art credited to the Initiative include the large abstract canvas Scotland (1960) by American artist Grace Hartigan, currently on view in the same gallery as Trumpet Flowers; and the video installation Orbit 12 by Jennifer Steinkamp, on view in the Level 4 Media Gallery, both given by the Mint Museum Auxiliary. Other announced gifts include Hoss Haley’s White Ripple, funded by the  Windgate Foundation, and Jens Praet’s Shredded Side Table, donated by the artist.

Above image:

Kay Sage (1898-1963)
Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool
signed and dated ‘Kay Sage ’47’ (lower right); signed and dated again, titled and inscribed ‘SAGE 1947 RING OF IRON RING OF WOOL WOODBURY CONN.’ (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
54 x 37 7/8 in. (137 x 96.2 cm.)
Painted in 1947


Mint Museum Uptown to host The Light Factory’s Moment Mile

Mint has also recently opened two other spotlight exhibitions with Charlotte connections

Back in November, the eyes of Charlotte turned toward Tryon Street, where 138 local photographers captured a simultaneous panoramic shot of a mile-long stretch of Tryon Street. And now, the resulting prints – 100 feet long – are going on view to the public FREE in a pop-up gallery inside Mint Museum Uptown.

Moment Mile will be on view in the museum’s Level 5 expansion space – raw, unfinished space on the museum’s top floor that was first used last fall for The Boombox Project, a pop-up gallery of photos by Lyle Owerko. This new project, which will occupy even more of the space first glimpsed during the Boombox run, will continue the museum’s recent emphasis on showcasing photography.

From December 17, 2014 through February 22, 2015, the Moment Mile gallery is open FREE to the public during regular museum hours – 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, and 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Museum visitors can receive special admission stickers to visit the Level 5 gallery without paying museum admission fees. The Moment Mile project has received generous support from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Wells Fargo, and the Arts & Science Council.

“Participatory projects like Moment Mile are a new avenue that involve the Charlotte community in what we are doing at The Light Factory, and more broadly involve others in the art of film and photography,” said Sean Busher, The Light Factory board member and Charlotte advertising photographer.

The new exhibition coincides with two new spotlight shows from the Mint’s own permanent collection – one from a photographer who got her own start at The Light Factory, and the other from the most famous artist born in Charlotte.

In the Mint’s Level 4 Modern & Contemporary Galleries, the museum is showcasing Kristina Rogers: Into the Labyrinthand Conversations: Romare Bearden and Richard Hunt.

This is the Mint’s first exhibition showcasing the work of Rogers (1945-2011), who was born in Germany and moved to Charlotte when she was nine years old. After studying in London and traveling widely, she settled with her husband in Waxhaw, N.C. and got involved with The Light Factory. She is known for multi-layered photographs created by overlapping negatives, to which she frequently added objects, historical photographs, and other artifacts. Shortly before her death, she donated nearly 100 of her prints to the Mint’s permanent collection, and this exhibition brings together 25 of her most provocative works.

Conversations:Romare Bearden and Richard Hunt is the latest exhibition in the Mint’s permanent Romare Bearden Gallery. It explores parallels between the two contemporaries – Bearden, who was born in Charlotte in 1911 and became the world’s most famous collagist before his death in 1988; and Hunt, widely regarded as one of the greatest living American sculptors. The Mint holds the largest repository of Bearden’s art of any public art museum, and has returned many of his signature works to public view, including Of the Blues: Carolina Shout, 1974, and Evening of the Gray Cat, 1982, which inspired the design of the museum’s Lewis Family Gallery. Hunt has been commissioned to create a monumental public sculpture in Bearden’s honor for Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Romare Bearden Park, just one block north of Mint Museum Uptown. The sculpture is scheduled for unveiling sometime in 2015.

Above image: Sean Busher, Photo by Kelly Busher