First-of-its-kind collaboration between Levine Center for the Arts institutions


Food. Drink. Entertainment. Put them all together then add the Levine Center for the Arts in uptown Charlotte and you’ve got “The Amazing Taste,” a first-of-its kind collaboration between the Gantt Center, Mint Museum Uptown, and Blumenthal’s Knight Theater.

Qcitymetro spoke with Leigh Dyer, the Mint’s director of public relations, to find out what all the hoopla is about. Here’s how it went. (Editor’s Note: Qcitymetro is a media sponsor of “The Amazing Taste.)

Q. What’s so special about this event?

Dyer: Who doesn’t like the idea of a “progressive dinner” that gives you the chance to visit three cultural attractions at once? It’s a chance for both foodies and arts lovers to enjoy a truly unique combination – a menu inspired in part by current cultural offerings at the Gantt Center, Mint Museum Uptown, and Blumenthal’s Knight Theater, as well as a chance to experience the art that inspired the menu. And, importantly, it’s a new phase of collaboration at the Levine Center for the Arts – the first time since the campus opened five years ago that multiple nonprofits have collaborated on a fundraiser event. Proceeds from this dinner will be split three ways among the participating institutions, so all the participants can have the satisfaction of knowing they are helping three nonprofits at the same time they’re having fun!

Q. What’s the idea behind it?

Dyer: Two years ago, Jill Marcus at Something Classic Catering approached the Mint with the idea of hosting a multiple-course dinner fundraiser tied to a food-themed exhibition the Mint had on view at the time, and it was a sellout. Last year, the Mint repeated the concept with a floral-themed menu and art exhibition pairing. This year, with the Levine Center for the Arts approaching its fifth anniversary, it seemed logical to expand the concept to include multiple institutions. The idea has strong support from the business community, notably Bank of America, which was one of the original supporters of the Levine Center for the Arts and is now a sponsor of this event. And “progressive dinners” are a hot trend in the restaurant and foodie community right now, so Jill was interested in experimenting with that.

Q. What’s on the food menu?

Dyer: At the Gantt Center, the appetizers have a lot of spice and are inspired by African cuisine – West African Chicken Shish Kebobs, Spicy Beef Meatballs with Peanut Sauce, Yam Pancakes, and more, all inspired by their exhibition “Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness.” At the Mint, there will be two salad choices, and the menu takes another multicultural twist in celebration of the Mint’s “Body Embellishment” exhibition – Bang Bang Beef Short Ribs and Squid Ink Fettuccini with Peppadew Pesto and Seared Scallops are the entrée choices. At the Knight Theater, the dessert course is a celebration of performing arts capped off by “edible confetti.” We’ve also got wine from Shelton Vineyards, beer from two great local microbreweries – Birdsong Brewing Company and Lenny Boy Brewing – and some custom cocktails created by the mixologist at Halcyon, Flavors from the Earth restaurant. (You can see the full menu here:

Q. What about the entertainment menu?

Dyer: As I mentioned, participants will have the chance to tour two of the headlining exhibitions at the Gantt Center and the Mint. “Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness” at the Gantt is an examination of the impact of colonialism on black culture in America. At the Mint, “Body Embellishment” explores 21st-century forms of body augmentation including tattoos, nail art, jewelry, and body-altering fashion. And at the Knight Theater, Sean Mason, prized local jazz pianist, will perform during the entire dessert course. We also have a surprise in store when it’s time to “lead the procession” from venue to venue – some very special local musicians will be playing a part in that. FYI – here’s a little more info about Sean:

Q. Any tickets left?

Dyer: Yes, we have some tickets left – we know how Charlotteans sometimes wait until the last minute to buy tickets to things, so we’ve put a cushion in the headcount, but anyone who’s interested should hurry before they’re gone! (And a reminder: If you’re a member of any of the participating institutions, you qualify for a discount on the ticket price!)

Click here to learn more about “The Amazing Taste” from this WBTV News report!

And here’s more from Time Warner Cable’s News Channel 14.

And a dining note from Helen Schwab of The Charlotte Observer.


ABOVE IMAGE BY GEOFFREY SCOTT QUEEN: From left: Tara Spil of Blumenthal Performing Arts; Sharon Holm of the Gantt Center; Leigh Dyer of The Mint Museum

Mint-organized show explores fashion, jewelry, nail art, and tattoos

Tattoos, nail art, jewelry, and fashion – the newest Mint Museum-organized exhibition, Body Embellishment, explores the most innovative artistic expression in the 21st-century international arenas of body extension, augmentation, and modification. The exhibition will be on view from April 11 through September 6, 2015 at Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts, 500 South Tryon Street in Charlotte.

The human impulse to ornament the body is an ancient desire that crosses cultures. Seeking to modify the natural skin and shape of the body, people have created imaginative ways to expand and distort, and add color, pattern, and narrative. Focused on twenty-first century innovators, this exhibition provides a glimpse at inventive designers from around the world who explore the role of the body and its embellishment.

“What makes Body Embellishment such a fascinating exhibition is its exploration of radical ways artists are redesigning our bodies to reflect 21st century life,” said Annie Carlano, the Mint’s senior curator of Craft, Design, & Fashion. “Through interventions with skin, nail extensions, wearable sculpture, and redefined body shapes, designers from throughout the globe are expressing emotional and intellectual responses to the everyday, individual and group identity, and ever-shifting concepts of beauty. Groundbreaking research introduces audiences to work by emerging artists that has never been seen in this country, alongside works by international superstars such as Filip Leu, Carlos Rolon (aka Dzine),  Lauren Kalman, and threeASFOUR.”

Tattoo is one of the trendiest methods of skin decoration today, yet is millennia old. Originally associated with indigenous groups, this radical method of body intervention has become an exalted art form. Nail art — the adornment and extension of fingertips — has evolved dramatically from its ancient origins, and today, nail art is a burgeoning means of aesthetic expression. Studio jewelry explores avant-garde wearable art which utilizes the body as an armature for creative expressions. The body embellished through fashion is examined in an installation by the international design collective threeASFOUR, who have created fashions for Bjork, Lady Gaga, and others. Incorporated into a virtual catwalk environment, their recent fashion creations distort parts of the human silhouette and extend humanitarian content.

The exhibition includes approximately 100 objects by artists and designers, also including Naomi Yasuda (whose work has appeared on the nails of Madonna , among others), Stephanie Tamez, Mi-Ah Rödiger, and Nora Fok. It is accompanied by a dynamic interactive digital exhibition catalogue authored by Mint curators, which will be available in the gallery and via

The Mint Museum of Craft + Design Board of Directors is lead sponsor of Body Embellishment through their Adopt-A-Design program; major support has also been provided by Mint affiliate The Founders’ Circle Ltd. and US Bancorp. The exhibition media partner is WFAE 90.7fm.

Admission and programming

The exhibition will be accompanied by a full slate of educational programming, and several of its artists will visit during the exhibition’s run. Special exhibition admission requires additional fees on top of general museum admission. The cost is $24 for non-member adults; $18 for college students/seniors; $6 for children 5-17; and free for kids under 5. Discounted admission is available on Wednesday evenings and at select special programs. Unlimited admission is always FREE to Mint Museum members. Special programming details are available at (all events at Mint Museum UPTOWN unless otherwise noted). Events include:


Members of the media may preview the exhibition at 10 a.m. on April 9. Light refreshments will be served, and gallery tours and interviews with curators are available. Media photography is permitted and high-resolution images are available upon request. RSVP to or or call 704.337.2018.

Above image: Joji Kojima (American and Japanese, 1987-). Raspberry mask from Hotel Gluttony Collection, 2011, resin, brass, crystals, leather. Collection of the artist. © Joji Kojima.