Levine Center for the Arts Enters New Phase of Collaboration

Institutions are broadening access to Charlotte’s cultural treasures


For the first time since the completion of Levine Center for the Arts in uptown Charlotte five years ago, the presidents of the four member cultural institutions will appear in a joint public discussion to introduce their institutions’ future plans and collaborative strategies to the larger community.


On Monday, September 28 at 10 a.m., members of the media are invited to hear from Charlotte’s cultural leaders, each of them president and CEO of their respective institutions: John Boyer of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art ; Tom Gabbard of Blumenthal Performing Arts which oversees the center’s Knight Theater ; David Taylor of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture ; and Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson of The Mint Museum. The discussion, to be held at Wells Fargo Auditorium at Levine Center for the Arts, is the first time the four leaders have spoken together to the media. It marks a new phase of collaboration among the partners, following in the footsteps of such established arts centers as the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in New York City and the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.

Levine Center for the Arts, named for local philanthropists Sandra and Leon Levine, was completed in 2010 through the support of the Campaign for Cultural Facilities, 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. Each of its member institutions has elevated its own visibility on the local and national stage, but now a generous grant from the THRIVE Fund is enabling the four institutions to work more closely together than ever before to increase visibility and access to the unified center. The $250,000 award from the THRIVE Fund over two years will make possible the center’s first-ever joint marketing campaign, as well as a free community festival to be held in May 2016 and free docent-led museum tours to be offered during lunch hours monthly beginning in early 2016. The THRIVE Fund was established in 2013 to provide financial stability for Charlotte’s cultural sector under the leadership of Hugh McColl, former Bank of America chairman and CEO, and is currently administered by the Foundation For The Carolinas.

The Mint Museum spearheaded the grant and is managing the project in collaboration with the other institutions. It is one of two collaborative grants awarded this year – the second, led by the Bechtler, is enabling the three museums’ staffs to train together for enhanced membership development efforts and database management. “This grant is providing, for the first time, the funds needed to effectively launch a creative and strategic marketing campaign for this incredible community asset. Increased collaboration and communication across the campus will build visitation, membership, and support while also realizing valuable efficiencies for each organization,” said Hillary Cooper, the Mint’s Director of Advancement & Communications.

Representatives of the four institutions conducted a competitive process over the summer to select a marketing firm to create and administer the joint campaign. The selected firm will be announced at the September 28 media event. Representatives of each museum’s volunteer docent program will also be available to give interviews about the upcoming plans for free public tours. “This is the first time the docents of the three museums have collaborated on a public tour program,” said Laura Hamelau, a Mint Museum docent who is helping to lead the effort. “All three museums want to find new ways to engage the tens of thousands of uptown workers and residents who gather in and near Levine Center for the Arts, so we are thrilled this grant is enabling us to offer free lunch-hour tours to serve as the perfect introduction to the museums’ offerings for a wide audience.”

Following the discussion, members of the media are invited to schedule one-on-one interviews or gallery tours at each institution.

In addition to discussing their collaborative efforts, the four cultural institution presidents plan to offer media and the public a preview of their upcoming offerings this fall and winter. Among the highlights:


At Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Sam Francis was a peripatetic artist, moving swiftly through geographies, cultures, and artistic circles. His monumental canvases coupled with his ebullient enthusiasm inspired artists and audiences around the world. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art exhibition Sam Francis: Rapid Fluid Indivisible Vision, on view September 18, 2015, through March 7, 2016, will not only present the distinctive art Francis created, but will position him among the various artists whom he celebrated and influenced. The anchor of the show is the 1¢ Life portfolio that Francis edited with the poet/painter Walasse Ting in 1964. Collapsing geographical borders and stylistic differences, Francis and Ting assembled artists as varied as Joan Mitchell, Roy Lichtenstein, Asger Jorn, Robert Indiana, Karel Appel, Andy Warhol, Jean-Paul Riopelle, and Jim Dine to illustrate Ting’s poetry in this portfolio.

On view will be selections from Francis’s diverse output: mid-1950s abstraction, experiments in printmaking, and his various series including Edge paintings and Mandalas. Whether working in oil, acrylic, watercolor or lithograph, Francis exploited his media to service his unique treatment of composition and color.

Meanwhile, on view through January 18, 2016 is Portraying the Patron: Andy Warhol and the Bechtlers. On June 3, 1968, the militant feminist writer Valerie Solanas shot Andy Warhol at The Factory, his famous studio/club house in New York City. Although two bullets missed Warhol, the third went through his spleen, liver, stomach, and esophagus. He almost died during the five-hour surgery that followed, and remained bedridden for three months afterward. While at home, he painted small portraits of Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller, marking his return to portraiture, a theme that had preoccupied him since the 1950s and dominated his output for the remainder of his life. Through commissioned portraits, Warhol could control his public interactions and reliably earn a living.

The Bechtler family were serious collectors who filled their homes and offices with art, making personal connections with artists whenever possible. Although the Bechtlers and Warhol did not have a friendship, they intersected at a pivotal moment in Warhol’s life: a time of great vulnerability and uncertainty as Warhol sought to recover perspective and equilibrium. This exhibition celebrates that personal interaction between Warhol and the Bechtlers. Andy Warhol’s silkscreen portraits of the family hang alongside corresponding Polaroid photos, along with ephemera contextualizing that time in Warhol’s career.

At Blumenthal Performing Arts’ Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts

This fall, Blumenthal Performing Arts brings one of the most anticipated events yet to Knight Theater. Breakin’ Convention – An International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre, created by London’s Sadler’s Wells, comes to Charlotte October 9-10. This two-day event is sponsored by Sprite and will feature the best hip hop artists from around the world, as well as artists from Charlotte and the surrounding region.

Dance Theatre of Harlem takes the Knight Theater stage for incredible performances January 22-24, 2016, as part of a multi-event collaboration between Blumenthal Performing Arts, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts+Culture, and Wells Fargo. All performance tickets will also include admission to the five month long exhibition on the history of the world-renowned dance company opening January 2016 at the Gantt Center.

Blumenthal Performing Arts also brings PNC Broadway Lights and Broadway Extras shows to Knight Theater. This season, Broadway productions at Knight Theater will include the Tony Award® winner for best book and best musical score, Ragtime; the explosive and inventive percussion sensation, Stomp; and the stunning new Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The Bridges of Madison County.

Blumenthal Performing Arts’ Knight Theater is also home to the Charlotte Symphony, which brings KnightSounds, the Symphony’s most innovative series, offering unexpected collaborations and post-concert parties to Levine Center for the Arts.  And many of Charlotte Ballet’s masterworks led by internationally acclaimed President and Artistic Director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux come alive at Knight Theater each year. Charlotte Ballet is known for its strong dancers and versatile repertoire, ranging from classical ballet to bold, contemporary works.

At Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

Activism — exercised through art and culture — is the yearlong programming theme of the Harvey B. Gantt Center. Four exhibitions illustrate the long lasting legacies that use the visual arts as a tool for activism and social change. The first, AfriCOBRA Now: An Aesthetic Reflection, on view through December 31, consists of two parts. The first section, AfriCOBRA: Art for the People, contains work from various AfriCOBRA members who joined in 1968 — when the group was founded in Chicago — to year 2000. AfriCOBRA Now  looks at work by the current membership, revealing the shifting aesthetic of the influential group over their 40-plus year existence.

Charlotte Collects Elizabeth Catlett: A Centennial Celebration, on view through December 31, commemorates renowned visual artist Elizabeth Catlett’s life and work. The exhibition includes examples of her two-dimensional and three-dimensional works (including some loans from the Mint’s collection), as well as photographs of Catlett. The narrative also highlights the show coming from, and reflecting, Charlotteans’ appreciation and collection of her work.

I’m Walkin’ For My Freedom: The Selma March and Voting Rights opens October 9 and remains on view through December 31. The exhibition of images captured by photojournalist Matt Herron depicts moments of the march as the protesters traveled across Alabama. Based in Mississippi in the early 1960s, Herron covered the Civil Rights struggle for Life Magazine, Look Magazine, Time Magazine, Newsweek Magazine, and the Saturday Evening Post. He also provided photographs and support for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. This exhibition is presented by Bank of America.

And the collaborative effort with the Blumenthal, Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts opens January 22, 2016 and runs through June 26. This majestic exhibition of dazzling costumes, set pieces, and video excerpts celebrates the iconic company and its corps who defied prejudice, and gravity itself, in pursuit of their talent. In the process, the company made history and shattered barriers for future generations of aspiring performers. Dance Theatre of Harlem is a celebration of courage, and of the magic and uplifting power of the performing arts. The cultural collaboration is presented to the community by Wells Fargo.

At Mint Museum Uptown

Thursday, October 1 marks the fifth anniversary of the opening of Mint Museum Uptown – and the completion of Levine Center for the Arts. Mint supporters will gather for an invitation-only VIP celebration on the evening of October 1, and then the community is invited to commemorate the anniversary at a FREE weekend celebration October 3 and 4 during regular museum hours. Visitors will receive both free general admission and free special exhibition admission to America the Beautiful: Works on Paper from The Mint Museum, as well as enjoying free hands-on art activities, music, and other special offerings.

The centerpiece of the celebration will be the unveiling of a new public sculpture by internationally renowned artist Tom Joyce, titled Thicket. It is being installed during the week of September 28 on the Sally and Bill Van Allen Terrace, where it will be visible to the public from the plaza in front of the museum as well as from South Tryon Street and Levine Avenue of the Arts. The sculpture, generously funded by the Mint Museum Auxiliary, represents the completion of the Mint’s Project Ten Ten Ten – a series of commissions of ten major works by leading international artists and designers in honor of the museum’s opening in the tenth month of 2010.

Thicket is a seven-and-a-half-foot square block composed of stainless steel rods passing through cast iron hammer heads, based on the hammer that Joyce, a trained blacksmith based in Santa Fe and Brussels, Belgium, uses most frequently. Its cast iron is from a unique alloy that includes filings from most of Joyce’s previous projects, including his commission for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to forge steel from the World Trade Center into letters spelling out a phrase from Virgil’s Aeneid: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” Joyce will be available for one-on-one interviews following the media event.

On October 31, the Mint will open VIVA MOSCHINO! which is the first U.S. retrospective of celebrated Italian designer Franco Moschino’s work between 1983-1994. The brand is currently well-known thanks to its current Creative Director Jeremy Scott, whose designs have appeared at Katy Perry’s Super Bowl performance, Madonna’s latest videos, and the MTV Video Music Awards, but this exhibition, on view through April 3, 2016, will be the first to comprehensively explore the work of the man who launched the brand and first made it an international sensation. The exhibition is organized by the Mint and  presented by Novant Health and has received additional sponsorship support from the Mint Museum Auxiliary and Neiman Marcus.

And on November 21, the museum will complete its fall lineup with the opening of From New York to Nebo: The Artistic Journey of Eugene Thomason, a retrospective of the North Carolina native’s work organized by The Johnson Collection, one of the most comprehensive collections in the South. It remains on view through March 27, 2016.


For additional exhibitions and events taking place this fall at Mint Museum Randolph, check mintmuseum.org.

Special partnership: Local news website Charlotte Five is joining in the Mint’s anniversary celebration with an exclusive C5 Underground event on Friday, October 2. Participants will be among the first in Charlotte to mingle on the terrace with Thicket during a reception with beer and bites from 5:30-7 p.m. A $5 admission fee will support the Mint’s Annual Fund. Participants can register to attend at Eventbrite. (or use bit.ly/C5UndergroundMint).

MEDIA: To RSVP to the September 28 media event, request interviews or tours, or for more information, contact:

Leigh Dyer

Director of Public Relations, The Mint Museum





Levine Center for the Arts is one of Charlotte’s key cultural destinations, comprising Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, John S. and James L. Knight Theater, and Mint Museum Uptown. The 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.


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. More information: www.bechtler.org.


Blumenthal Performing Arts serves the Carolinas as a leading cultural, entertainment and education provider. Blumenthal Performing Arts receives operating support from the Arts & Science Council and North Carolina Arts Council. Blumenthal Performing Arts is also supported by PNC Bank, sponsor of the PNC Broadway Lights. More information: blumenthalarts.org.


Founded in 1974, Charlotte’s Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (formerly the Afro-American Center) exists to present, preserve and celebrate the art, history and culture of African-Americans and people of the African Diaspora through dance, music, visual and literary arts, film, educational programs, theatre productions and community outreach. Named for Harvey Bernard Gantt, the prominent architect, 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, which was generously donated by Bank of America. More information: ganttcenter.org.


The Mint Museum is a leading, innovative museum of international art and design committed to engaging and inspiring all members of our global community. Established as the first art museum in North Carolina in 1936, The Mint Museum has grown to include two dynamic facilities, Mint Museum Uptown and Mint Museum Randolph, and currently boasts one of largest collections in the Southeast. Mint Museum Uptown houses an internationally renowned Craft + Design Collection, as well as collections of American and Modern & Contemporary Art. The five-story, 175,000 square-foot facility was designed by Machado and Silvetti Associates of Boston. Historic Mint Museum Randolph is located three miles to the south. More information: mintmuseum.org.