Two extraordinary exhibitions of American art to open at Mint Museum Uptown

“The Weir Family, 1820-1920: Expanding the Traditions of American Art’ and ‘Reflections: Portraits by Beverly McIver’ both open October 20

Two new exhibitions celebrating nearly 200 years of American art from the early 19th century to present day are opening to the public at Mint Museum Uptown on Saturday, October 20, and will remain on view for the next three months.

“The Mint is pleased to continue offering Charlotte audiences a range of exhibitions celebrating art that is beautiful, inspiring, and historically significant,” said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of the Mint. “We look forward to our visitors engaging with these works and being transformed in ways that transcend the walls of our museum.”

The Weir Family, 1820-1920: Expanding the Traditions of American Art

The Weir Family, 1820-1920: Expanding the Traditions of American Art, organized by the Brigham Young University Museum of Art and on view through January 20, 2013, is the first major exhibition to collectively examine the paintings of American artists Robert Walter Weir and his two sons, John Ferguson Weir and Julian Alden Weir, and in doing so it traces the trajectory of American art across the 19th century and into the 20th.

“I am delighted to be able to bring such an important exhibition to the Mint,” said Jonathan Stuhlman, the Mint’s curator of American art. “This exhibition traces almost the entire history of American painting in the nineteenth century through the lens of a single family, and does so with beautifully-executed paintings containing engaging subject matter.”

Robert Weir was one of the first American artists to study in Italy, working there from 1824 until 1827. Upon his return to America, he became an associate at the recently-founded National Academy in New York in 1829 and, a few years later, an instructor at the United States Military Academy in West Point. He was renowned for his talent as a portraitist and a history painter and painted one of the murals in the Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C. Robert’s first son, John, trained with his father and in Europe. He then taught at Yale University for 44 years and established the first academic art program at a university in the United States. John’s younger brother, Julian, was educated at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris from 1873 until 1877 and became one of the country’s leading Impressionist artists.

Mint members have the opportunity to preview the exhibition at a members-only First Look Friday on October 19 beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Mint will offer a number of lectures and other special events during the run of the exhibition, beginning with a Sunday Fun Day this Sunday, October 21 from 1-4 p.m. with activities celebrating the exhibition (FREE for children under 18; half-price admission for adults). On Tuesday October 30, David Park Curry, the Senior Curator of Decorative Arts, American painting and Sculpture at the Baltimore Art Museums, will visit for a FREE discussion of the life and career of James McNeill Whistler, who studied under Robert Walter Weir. A curator’s tour with Stuhlman will be November 14 at noon and is free after museum admission. A FREE concert featuring local handbell choirs, celebrating the 1866 painting The Christmas Bell by John Ferguson Weir and other holiday-themed works in the exhibition, will be December 18. And a FREE ArtFusion event with a lecture and other activities will be held January 15. For more information on these and other events, visit http://www.mintmuseum.org/happenings/.

The Weir Family, 1820-1920: Expanding the Traditions of American Art is organized by Weir expert Marian Wardle for the Brigham Young University Museum of Art. It is made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts and foundation sponsor, the Henry Luce Foundation. Additional assistance has been provided by Jack and Mary Lois Wheatley and the Milton A. and Gloria G. Barlow Foundation. Presentation in Charlotte of The Weir Family is generously made possible by McColl Brothers Lockwood and McColl Partners, and the Mint Museum Auxiliary. A fully-illustrated hardcover catalogue is available in the Mint Museum Shops for $49.95.

Reflections: Portraits by Beverly McIver

Reflections: Portraits by Beverly McIver, on view through January 6, 2013, celebrates the last decade of work by a North Carolina native artist who is renowned for her expression-filled, emotive canvases that commemorate her life and the lives of those closest to her – in particular, her mother Ethel, who passed away in 2004, and her sister, Renee, who is mentally disabled.

“Beverly McIver’s vibrant colors and expressive brushstrokes give voice to matters of identity and personal integrity. Having left the security of a tenured faculty position to honor a promise made to her terminally-ill mother to care for her disabled sister, Renee, McIver tracks the complex emotions of despair, hope and resiliency,” said Curator Carla Hanzal. “This is a powerful show that speaks to difficult choices made by contemporary families.”

McIver is a significant presence in contemporary American art, examining racial, gender and social identities through her experiences as an African-American female artist. Her family history allowed her to contemplate and illustrate complicated emotions that arrive from depression, frustration, compassion, and joy. “All of my portraits are self-portraits,” McIver has said. “I use the faces of others who reflect my most inner being.”

McIver’s 2002 work Dora’s Dance is a candidate for acquisition by the Mint through the museum’s “Vote for Art” project, which allows museum visitors to cast ballots for their favorites from among six works of art. The winning work will be announced at the museum’s Ballot Ball on November 9.

A documentary about McIver, “Raising Renee,” will screen at the Mint for FREE on Tuesday, November 20. The artist herself will visit for a FREE discussion on Tuesday, November 27. For more details on these and other events, visit www.mintmuseum.org/happenings.

Reflections: Portraits by Beverly McIver is organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. An illustrated softcover catalogue is available in the Mint Museum Shops for $15.

Catch a Movie at the Mint!

Series brings FREE documentaries to film lovers.

Did you know that you can catch a FREE movie at the Mint each month? Film is a form of art that can be every bit as inspiring as the works in our galleries. Our lineup for the next few months includes documentaries related to themes in both our permanent collection and our special exhibitions. (All screenings occur at Mint Museum Uptown). Film lovers, mark your calendars:

Tuesday October 9, 6:30 p.m.: Airmen and Adversity: The story of the “Tuskegee Airmen,” African Americans who enlisted in the Air Force during World War II.  Veterans on camera relate their struggle to become an integral part of the Air Force.  A segregated unity, they were assigned to escort bombers piloted by whites; in 200 missions they never lost a bomber. This documentary is by Charlottean Steve Crump, who has also created documentaries about Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden and many other subjects.

Tuesday, November 20, 6:30 p.m.: Raising Renee: The story of acclaimed artist Beverly McIver, a North Carolina native, and her promise to take her mentally disabled sister Renee when their mother dies – a promise that comes due just as Beverly’s career is taking off. The same themes that fuel the artist’s work – race, class, family, disability – propel this cinematic portrait. The film is by Academy Award nominees Jeanne Jordan and Steven Ascher. View it along with a visit to the special exhibition Reflections: Portraits by Beverly McIver, and come back on November 27 to meet artist Beverly McIver.

(December: No program)

Tuesday, January 29, 7 p.m.: Waste Land: This film follows artist Vik Muniz on a singularly ambitious project: going to the world’s largest garbage dump north of Rio de Janeiro, photographing its catadores, or trash pickers, and then collaborating with them to transform these photos into portraits created with recyclable materials. Winner of Audience Awards of Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals. View it along with a visit to the exhibition Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters, and don’t miss a visit to the Mint by Muniz himself on January 8.

The Mint Museum announces opening of Colorbind: The Emily and Zach Smith Collection

Exhibition opens April 28, concurrent with Matthew Weinstein spotlight exhibition, and is one of four new shows adding to the Mint’s 2012 lineup

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 20, 2012) – The Mint Museum has added four new exhibitions to its lineup for 2012, beginning with one opening this month that pays tribute to two treasured patrons of the local arts community, Emily and Zach Smith.

Colorbind: The Emily and Zach Smith Collection will be on view at Mint Museum Uptown from April 28 through August 12, and runs concurrently with the previously-announced multimedia Matthew Weinstein spotlight exhibition on view April 28-August 19.  Colorbind consists of nearly two dozen paintings, lithographs, etchings, and drawings collected by the Smiths.

Colorbind offers our visitors the opportunity to experience a selection of works by some of the most important modern and contemporary artists of the 20th and 21st centuries,” said Brad Thomas, the Mint’s curator of contemporary art. “More importantly, it offers an intimate glimpse into a private collection that informs and enlivens the everyday lives of Emily and Zach Smith, two of our region’s most important cultural supporters. We are extremely grateful to the Smiths for making this work available for display at the Mint for the benefit of our community.”

For over three decades, the Smiths have tirelessly dedicated themselves to improving the cultural infrastructure of this region. Through their patronage and extensive service on various boards including the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra,  The Mint Museum, Opera Carolina, and Penland School of Crafts, to name a few, their community investment has touched the lives of countless individuals.

This intimate display of works illuminates a decidedly more personal side of the couple’s relationship to art. One small landscape painting on view by North Carolina artist Claude Howell (1915 ­- 1997) was selected jointly even before their marriage. It was an auspicious beginning for lives that would be bound by a devotion to family, community, and the arts.

As for their own personal taste in visual art, the Smiths confess a shared love of color. Works by Pop artists Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Wayne Thiebaud play alongside geometric abstractions by Peter Halley, Sol Lewitt, and Sean Scully –– vibrant color binding each creative voice into the collectors’ unified vision. This exhibition is organized by The Mint Museum.

Colorbind and the other three exhibitions we are announcing today further the Mint’s role of serving the increasingly global community of Charlotte and beyond,” said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of the Mint. “From celebrating treasured local art collectors in the Smiths to tapping the unparalleled scope of our Fashion Collection to showcasing the unique and diverse viewpoints of renowned artists Vik Muniz and Beverly McIver, the Mint offers depth and range that is unmatched.”

Both Colorbind and Matthew Weinstein will be celebrated at a special event at 6:30 p.m. May 3 at Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts, 500 South Tryon Street. Weinstein, a multimedia artist, will appear with Robert Goolrick, acclaimed author of A Reliable Wife. After a viewing of Weinstein’s short film “The Childhood of Bertolt Brecht,” the artist and the author will discuss the importance of the role of narrative in art. The event costs $10 for Mint members; $20 for non-members; free to students with valid ID; and includes a reception immediately following. Pre-registration is required; visit mintmuseum.org and click “Calendar.”

And the Bead Goes On

26 May 2012 – 17 February 2013

Mint Museum Randolph

May brings the opening of the next exciting exhibition from the Mint’s nationally-renowned collection of fashion. The Mint has recently renamed its Historic Costume & Fashionable Dress collection the Fashion Collection.

And the Bead Goes On pays tribute to a form of ornamentation that has been used to enliven fashion designs since ancient times. Originally restricted to the wardrobes of aristocrats and made of precious materials, beads indicated wealth and status in numerous cultures throughout the globe. Sometimes beadwork was employed on garments to convey rank, spiritual significance, or protection of the wearer. Colorful and sparkling beads appeared on articles of clothing, ceremonial dress, ritual masks, and everyday objects.

And the Bead Goes On features 20th– and 21st-century women’s fashions, which display inventive beadwork embroidery. This seemingly modern surface decoration, the variety of bead materials and shapes, and the basic sewing techniques used to embellish the works on view were developed in Paris workshops in the 18th century. Talented designers and skillful artisans collaborate to achieve dazzling fashions that are comfortable and durable. Glass beads, metallic sequins, metal filigree beads, faux pearls, and faceted crystal rhinestones hand-sewn onto the cloth impart beauty, opulence, and artful originality.

Fashion was democratized in the 1960s, and previously exclusive beaded style became available to all. The fashion industry today, while still centered in Paris, includes major designers from India, Lebanon, and Nigeria, and elsewhere. And the Bead Goes On presents evening gowns, cocktail dresses, and ensembles from the museum’s Fashion Collection, complemented with exciting new works on loan from contemporary designers. Designer names featured in the exhibition include Halston, Bob Mackie, Giorgio Armani, Oscar de la Renta, and Alber Elbaz for Lanvin.

This exhibition, organized by The Mint Museum, will open at Mint Museum Randolph concurrently with the previously-announced Heritage Gallery, a look through the Mint’s 75-year history as the oldest art museum in North Carolina.

VantagePoint X: Vik Muniz

25 August 2012 – 24 February 2013

Mint Museum Uptown

Although Vik Muniz was born into poverty in Sao Paulo in 1961, he has arguably become the most famous contemporary Brazilian artist. His conceptual photographs are exhibited internationally, and he is represented in significant museum collections throughout the world. Beginning his art career in the mid-1980s after relocating to the U.S., Muniz established a studio in Brooklyn, where he creates large photographs that mimic recognizable images borrowed from the media or historical paintings.

Muniz’s recreations of famous paintings are notable for their uncanny attention to detail and the non-traditional nature of the media he chooses. Muniz painstakingly gathers such discarded objects as tires, bolts, coils of wire, broken appliances, and soda cans, arranging them on a warehouse floor in piles and layers to create representations of iconic paintings by historical artists. After this labor-intensive process is complete, Muniz photographs the massive creation from a balcony above, thereby preserving the final appearance before the image is disassembled.

Collectively, Muniz’s photographs bring to mind ideas of ecology, impermanence, and mortality. Muniz’s photographs, which intentionally incorporate discarded materials, implicate the viewer in a consumerist, transitory culture. His photographs fuse two important strands of postmodern photography—staging and appropriation. Staging, which is the creation of an image through choreographing all visual components of the photograph; and appropriation, which is borrowing imagery from a source of reference, in this case historically significant paintings from the Western tradition. The resulting photographs are both fascinating and disarming, and probe the function and traditions of visual representation. This exhibition is organized by The Mint Museum.

Reflections: Portraits by Beverly McIver

20 October 2012 – 6 January 2013

Mint Museum Uptown

McIver, a native of North Carolina, is renowned for her expression-filled, emotive canvases that commemorate her life and the lives of those closest to her — in particular, her mother, Ethel, who passed away in 2004, and her sister, Renee, who is mentally disabled. The exhibition celebrates the last decade of her work and highlights these two subjects, focusing solely on her self-portraits and on portraits of Renee and other family members.

McIver is widely acknowledged as a significant presence in contemporary American art, examining racial, gender, and social identities through the lens of her own experiences as an African American female artist. The history of her family allows McIver to contemplate and illustrate the complicated emotions that arise from these situations, including depression, frustration, tender compassion, and innocent joy.

Accompanied by an exhibition catalogue, Reflections includes numerous loans from the artist, private collections, and select museums. Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art, this exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions.