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The Mint Museum Receives Back Porch Serenade by Romare Bearden

The Mint Museum Receives Back Porch Serenade by Romare Bearden

January 14, 2011

Gift is first acquisition by the Romare Bearden Society

 The Mint Museum has received a striking collage by African-
American contemporary artist Romare Bearden from the Romare Bearden Society, an interest group
of the Museum. Back Porch Serenade (1977), which will go on view this fall at the Mint Museum
Uptown, marks the group’s first purchase for the Museum.

“We are grateful to the Romare Bearden Society for this generous gift,” said Curator of
Contemporary Art Carla Hanzal. “Back Porch Serenade is a notable addition to the Mint’s collection, as
there are few works within the Bearden collection from the mid-1970s, and the collage’s subject was an
important theme to the artist.”

Back Porch Serenade is an excellent example of Romare Bearden’s series of collages that provide
narrative and thematic explorations of his native South from late 1977 through 1978. Born in Charlotte,
Bearden lived there until the age of three. Although his family settled in New York, the artist’s brief
childhood in the South and return visits to Charlotte to see his great-grandparents (both emancipated
slaves) made a noteworthy impact on his art. After finishing the Odysseus Collages series in 1977, the
artist set out to create his own visual odyssey by way of the cities and neighborhoods where he had lived
or frequented: Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Paris, Harlem, and Canal Street. In Back Porch Serenade, Bearden
renders three musicians creating homespun music, a common ritual from his childhood memories of the
rural South. Portraying three musicians is a recurring theme in Bearden’s career. As early as 1942,
Bearden had painted Folk Musicians, which depicts a trio of men. Bearden had made the subject iconic in
his important Three Folk Musicians (1967), Soul Three (1968), and in later works such as Three Obeahs
(1984).

Housing one of the nation’s largest public collections of works by Romare Bearden, The Mint
Museum has had a gallery exclusively devoted to showcasing the artist’s works since 2003. The collage
will be included in the Museum’s upcoming exhibition Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections, which will
examine how the South served as a source of inspiration throughout the artist’s career, a theme which has
not been previously explored. The exhibition will open on 2 September 2011—the centennial of Bearden’s
birth—and will be on display at the Mint Museum Uptown through 7 January 2012. Following its
presentation at the Mint, the exhibition will travel nationally.

About the Romare Bearden Society
A special interest membership group of the Museum, the Romare Bearden Society supports and
grows The Mint Museum’s permanent collection of African-American contemporary art through educational,
outreach, and social programs, with a particular focus on the works of artist Romare Bearden. Through
fundraising events, the group plans to acquire additional works of art by African-American artists for the
Museum. For more information on the Romare Bearden Society, contact Director of Community Relations
Rubie Britt-Height at 704.337.2091 or rubie.brittheight@mintmuseum.org.

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