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.
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
Free Bearden-themed tours of Mint Museum Uptown to be offered as part of grand opening of Romare Bearden Park
As Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation is gearing up to open its newest facility this weekend, the Mint is doing its part to highlight connections between world-renowned artist Romare Bearden and the city where he was born.
Mint Museum Uptown will offer three free Bearden-themed tours during grand opening festivities this Saturday, August 31, as the Mint encourages the public to visit both the park and the museum with the largest public holding of Bearden’s works.
Tour groups are invited to depart the new Romare Bearden Park from the corner of Martin Luther King and Church Streets at 10:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m., or 12:45 p.m. this Saturday, or meet at the Guest Services Desk of Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts, 500 South Tryon Street, at 11 a.m., noon, or 1 p.m. The museum is one block south of the park via South Church Street. Tour group participants will be granted free admission to the museum; all other museum visitors pay $10 for general adult admission (free for museum members). Children ages 5-17 pay $5 general admission and children 4 and under are free. Groups will experience the Bearden-inspired house inside the kid-friendly Lewis Family Gallery, as well as the permanent Romare Bearden Gallery which displays a rotating selection of works from throughout the artist’s career. Trained museum docents will lead the tours.
The park’s grand opening includes a wide range of art-related activities, including hands-on children’s art projects, an art show, and free tours of the Kinsey Collection at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture. Free music and other performances will be offered at the park throughout the weekend.
For more information about grand opening weekend activities or Romare Bearden’s connections to the Mint, visit mintmuseum.org. Or, see a full schedule of the weekend’s events at parkandrec.com.
“Living billboard” performance to capture Bearden’s music-themed work
An innovative ad campaign recently recognized in The New York Times continues this weekend with an appearance by three live musicians accompanying Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden’s colorful music-themed work Back Porch Serenade.
The musicians will appear as a “living billboard” in front of an advertisement featuring Bearden’s work from 1-4 p.m. this Saturday, December 10, near the Enso Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar at the EpiCentre, the entertainment complex at the corner of College and Trade streets in uptown Charlotte. The performance is part of the “EpiCentre Spread the Cheer” holiday event, which begins at 11:30 a.m. and also features an appearance by Santa and a “private snowstorm.”
The “living billboard” follows other appearances by live musicians in front of Bearden’s artworks around Charlotte in October, a campaign conceived by Charlotte advertising agency BooneOakley. “Art can blend in, and sometimes goes unnoticed,” David Oakley, president and co-creative director of BooneOakley, told the Times. “But we’re trying to make it more part of the culture, and more three-dimensional and alive.” The Times highlighted the campaign as one of several around the nation that “bring art and artists to life.”
Saturday’s performance is aimed at promoting a special event, the Mint’s Community Homecoming Weekend coming up on January 7-8, which concludes the Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections exhibition. The FREE two-day event at Mint Museum Uptown includes live music, hands-on art activities and lots of memories. The museum will premiere excerpts from the groundbreaking Romare Bearden Memory Train, a documentary and video collage that celebrates the reflections of the community that inspired Bearden’s work. From now through that weekend, visitors to the exhibition can contribute to the video using kiosks, or the public can email video contributions anytime via smartphone by sending to the email address email@example.com.
The first video talkback project ever produced by The Mint Museum has now gone live as part of the celebrated Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections exhibition at The Mint Museum Uptown.
The first video talkback project ever produced by The Mint Museum has now gone live as part of the celebrated Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections exhibition at The Mint Museum Uptown. Memory Train: Celebrating Community Through the Power of Remembrance now allows visitors to share reflections on how their life journeys have been inspired by images of Charlotte native Romare Bearden’s work.
Visitors can record their own stories at the exhibition, on display through January 8, or at home by using their smartphones. Stories are also being collected at a series of community reflection day events at venues around the city. The collected video responses will be combined and edited to create a film that will become part of the community record, and excerpts from the film will premiere at the museum at a special Community Homecoming Weekend on January 8-9.
“The Mint Museum is proud to engage the community in such a vibrant, historic, and relevant project, and to create an exceptional record of our community’s dynamic response to Bearden’s work,” said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President and CEO of The Mint Museum.
“Bearden was a masterful storyteller through collage, and this project encourages people to share their stories about home, childhood, and family. Already we have collected personal reflections at university homecomings, in schools and churches, at festivals, at social and civic meetings, and at cultural programs and events at the museum,” added Cheryl Palmer, Director of Education at the Mint. “The momentum is really building toward the final weekend of Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections. Bearden would be so pleased to see and hear the collage created in honor of his centennial.”
The Memory Train project is tapping into community responses on the themes of migration, memory, home, family, and loss. Memory Train is being supported by a grant of more than $90,000 from the Museums of America, a part of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Community partners working with The Mint include the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Johnson C. Smith University, and the Levine Museum of the New South.
Visitors to the exhibition are prompted with five questions:
- Bearden’s art depicts scenes from the past. Describe a memory from your past.
- Many of Bearden’s works depict happy family memories. What is your favorite happy memory from your family?
- Think about the first place you remember living as a child. Where was it? What colors and textures do you recall? Think about the furniture, the walls, and the floors. Who lived there with you? Does the building still exist?
- Bearden’s family moved from the Charlotte to the North when he was a child. Describe a time in your life when you moved to a new place. Why did you move, and how old were you? What did you take with you? What did you have to leave behind?
- Bearden experienced a sense of loss when he returned to Charlotte as an adult and saw many changes to the city. Have you experienced this kind of feeling when you visited the place where you grew up?
- To contribute a video via smartphone, members of the public are asked to email a video clip to the address firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the project, including clips of video responses that have already been collected, is available at www.beardenmemorytrain.org.
Community reflection day events are scheduled on the following dates:
December 1: 6-7 p.m. at Spirit Square
December 3: 6-9 p.m. at Charlotte Museum of History
December 4: 2-5 p.m. at Mint Museum Randolph
More community reflection days are being scheduled, so check mintmuseum.org for updates. And the museum is preparing for a variety of special events during the Community Homecoming Weekend that coincides with the closing of the Bearden Southern Recollections exhibition. On January 7 and 8, admission to Mint Museum Uptown will be free, and the museum will remain open until 9 p.m. on January 7. Visitors can enjoy special performances, visual arts demonstrations, and hands-on craft activities, including designing postcards that will travel with the exhibition to its next stops in Florida and New Jersey. Confirmed performers include a gospel choir; Jazz Arts Initiative performing five of Bearden’s original songs; and the UNC Charlotte Faculty Jazz Ensemble.
“Impressionistic Memories”, by David Yezzi
Born a century ago in North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County, the American painter and collagist Romare Bearden (1911–1988) moved with his family to New York when he was 3 years old. While many of his most famous images—including the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “The Block” (1971), depicting a teeming section of Lennox Avenue
in Harlem—focus on scenes of African-American urban life, Bearden never strayed far in his work from the countryside and people he glimpsed as a child in rural North Carolina.
For Bearden’s centennial, the Mint Museum here has mounted a retrospective that brings into sharp focus the artist’s Southern roots—the fields, farmhouses, rituals and trains, which Bearden worked into brightly colored Cubist landscapes and intimate domestic interiors. Subsequent stints in New York, Pittsburgh and St. Martin in the Caribbean all found their way into Bearden’s work. But beginning with his early figurative gouaches of the 1940s, Bearden made it clear in image
after image that, as he put it, he “never left Charlotte, except physically.”
National Tour of Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections
CHARLOTTE, NC (July 31, 2011) – This fall The Mint Museum will present Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections, a major retrospective of one of America’s most preeminent African American artists and foremost collagists. Opening on the centennial of the artist’s birth in Charlotte, the city in which he was born, the exhibition is the first of its kind to examine in depth how the South served as a source of inspiration throughout Bearden’s career. Encompassing approximately 100 works of art drawn from The Mint Museum’s extensive holdings as well as from national public and private collections, the exhibition will be on view at the Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts from 2 September 2011 through 8 January 2012 and then travels to the Tampa Museum of Art (28 January through 6 May 2012) and Newark Museum (23 May through 19 August 2012).
“Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections is an incredibly compelling retrospective assembled by The Mint Museum that showcases the immense contribution of America’s most renowned African American artists and the significance of his Southern heritage as a source of inspiration, “said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of The Mint Museum. “It is an important and timely examination of Bearden’s work.”
The exhibition highlights themes unexplored in prior exhibitions or writings, and surveys fifty years of the artist’s work including his early abstract paintings and the influential collages that dominated his later body of work. Among the large thematic groupings will be selections from the Prevalence of Ritual series, which includes Bearden’s first revolutionary collages that demonstrate his ability to transform life into art, revealing abiding rituals and ceremonies of affirmation. Elements seen in this series are repeated throughout Bearden’s oeuvre, serving as icons for his statements about life in America. One such icon is the locomotive, which not only symbolizes a means of moving from one place/mode of life to another but also references the Underground Railroad, as well as the migration of Southern blacks to northern cities in the early twentieth century.
“Given the long association between Bearden and the city of Charlotte, the Mint has a special interest in organizing such an important retrospective,” said Carla Hanzal, exhibition organizer and Mint Museum curator of contemporary art. “Romare Bearden broke new ground with his innovative collages and left a powerful legacy to generations of American artists. As Charlotte’s oldest visual arts institution, we are proud to have a substantial history of collecting and presenting works of art by Romare Bearden.”
ABOUT ROMARE BEARDEN: SOUTHERN RECOLLECTIONS
The exhibition’s loose chronological structure traces such critical themes in Bearden’s work as music, religion, social change, and family, particularly informed by an African American experience. The earliest group of works, from the 1940s, focuses on his memories of the rural South, painted in tempera on brown paper and characterized by strong colors, flattened perspective, and stylized, highly formal compositions. Such works as The Visitation (1941) and Folk Musicians (1942) depict scenes of agrarian life yet also portray universal emotional bonds.
As Bearden developed his iconic collage technique in the mid-1960s, he made use of a wide range of art practices, both Western and non-Western. His use of collage, with its distortions, reversals, and surrealistic blending of styles, enabled Bearden to convey the dreamlike quality of memory, and was, therefore, a perfect vehicle for recording his memories of the South. After helping to found an artist’s group in support of civil rights in 1963, Bearden’s work became more overtly socially conscious. One of his most famous series, Prevalence of Ritual, concentrated primarily on his knowledge and experience of African American life, and the myth, rituals, and socially maintained rites within communities Collages like Prevalence of Ritual: Tidings (1964) examined the evolving nature of African Americans’ rights. Though rooted in traditional renderings of the Biblical Annunciation with an angel greeting a young woman and offering a flower, Bearden’s addition of symbols, including the train in the background and birds flying through the sky, perhaps implied a journey towards greater freedom and equality made possible by the civil rights movement. In Carolina Reunion (1975), the subject matter is emblematic of the longing for a better life and the comforting familiarity of home embodied in the northern migration of African Americans from the South during the early part of the twentieth century.
Bearden returned to Mecklenburg County in the seventies as his career was beginning to gain momentum. This Southern homecoming proved bittersweet. Charlotte was undergoing urban renewal, and already traces of Bearden’s past had been erased. This nostalgic experience imbued Bearden with a greater sense of urgency to both celebrate and to eulogize a lost way of life, a theme that would inform his artwork for the remainder of his career. Drawn to “journeying things”—trains and birds—his inclusion of these recurring motifs implied a movement from one way of life to another. Bearden increasingly used richer colors and more decorative patterns to mediate ideas about African American community.
A 144-page, fully illustrated catalogue co-published and distributed by D Giles Limited, London, will accompany the exhibition. Contributors to the book include: Mary Lee Corlett, Jae Emerling, Glenda Gilmore, Leslie King-Hammond, Carla Hanzal, Myron Schwartzman, and Ruth Fine. Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections has been made possible with generous support from Duke Energy and Wells Fargo. This exhibition has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius. In addition, a series of special events and programming are scheduled to support the exhibit and to highlight Bearden’s centennial birthday.
ABOUT ROMARE BEARDEN
Born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Bearden lived in Charlotte until the age of four. Although his family settled in New York, the artist’s brief childhood in the South and return visits to Charlotte made a noteworthy impact on his art. During these visits, Bearden absorbed stories and observations about the rituals of daily Southern life—the relentless toil of crop cultivation, women tending gardens and mixing herbal remedies, fish fries, and other community gatherings, and religious activities. These experiences, as well as stories passed from generation to generation left a lasting impression on him.
His life and art are marked by exceptional talent, encompassing a broad range of intellectual and scholarly interests, including music, performing arts, history, literature, and world art. Bearden was also a celebrated humanist, as demonstrated by his longtime support of young, emerging artists. Bearden began college at Lincoln University, transferred to Boston University, and completed his studies at New York University (NYU), graduating with a degree in education. While at NYU, Bearden took extensive courses in art and was a lead cartoonist and subsequent art editor for the monthly journal The Medley. He had also been art director of Beanpot, the student humor magazine of Boston University. Bearden published many journal covers during his university years and the first of numerous texts he would write on social and artistic issues. He also attended the Art Students League in New York and the Sorbonne in Paris. From 1935 – 1937, Bearden was a weekly editorial cartoonist for the Baltimore Afro-American.
After joining the Harlem Artists Guild in 1935, Bearden embarked on his lifelong study of art, gathering inspiration from Western masters ranging from Duccio, Giotto, and de Hooch to Cezanne, Picasso, and Matisse, as well as from African art (particularly sculpture, masks, and textiles), Byzantine mosaics, Japanese prints, and Chinese landscape paintings. From the mid-1930s through the 1960s, Bearden was a social worker with the New York City Department of Social Services, working on his art at night and on weekends. His success as an artist was recognized with his first solo exhibition in Harlem in 1940 and his first solo show in Washington, D.C., in 1944. Bearden was a prolific artist whose works were exhibited during his lifetime throughout the United States and Europe. His collages, watercolors, oils, photomontages, and prints are imbued with visual metaphors from his past in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Harlem, and from a variety of historical, literary, and musical sources. Bearden died in 1988.
Exhibition brings together 100 works from every stage of artist’s career
This fall, The Mint Museum presents a major retrospective of the work of Romare Bearden (1911-1988), widely regarded as one of
America’s most pre-eminent African American artists and foremost collagists, as well as a noted writer and musician. The exhibition Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections surveys 50 years of the artist’s work, from his early abstract paintings to the influential collages that dominated his later body of work. Opening on the centennial of Bearden’s birth, the exhibition will be on view at the Mint Museum Uptown (at Levine Center for the Arts, 500 South Tryon
Street) from 2 September 2011 – 8 January 2012.
“Romare Bearden broke new ground with his innovative collages and left a powerful legacy to generations of American artists,” said Curator of Contemporary Art and exhibition curator Carla Hanzal. “Given the long association between Bearden and the city of Charlotte, the Mint has a special interest in bringing this important career overview to the public.”
Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections will include approximately 100 works of art drawn from The Mint Museum’s extensive holdings, as well as national public and private collections. This exhibition examines how the South served as a source of inspiration throughout his career, a theme which has not been explored previously. Among the large thematic groupings will be selections from the Prevalence of Ritual series, which includes
many works referring to Bearden’s childhood home in North Carolina.
Born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Bearden lived there until the age of four. Although his family settled in New York, the artist’s brief childhood in the South and return visits to Charlotte made a noteworthy impact on his art. During these visits, Bearden absorbed stories and observations about the rituals of daily Southern life—the relentless toil of crop cultivation, women tending gardens and mixing herbal remedies, fish fries and other community gatherings, and religious activities. These experiences, which stood in stark contrast to the urban rhythm of his parents’ New York City household, left a lasting impression on him.
The exhibition’s loosely chronological structure traces critical themes in Bearden’s work such as music, religion, social change, and family, particularly informed by an African- American experience. The earliest group of works, from the 1940s, focuses on his memories of the rural South, painted in tempera on brown paper and characterized by strong colors, flattened perspective, and stylized, highly formal compositions. Works such as The Visitation (1941) and
Folk Musicians (1942) depict scenes of agrarian life yet also portray universal emotional bonds.
As Bearden developed his iconic collage technique in the mid-1960s, he made use of a wide ranges of art practices, both Western and non-Western. His use of collage, with its distortions, reversals, and Surrealistic blending of styles, enabled Bearden to convey the dreamlike quality of memory, and was, therefore, a perfect vehicle for recording of his memories of the South. After helping to found an artist’s group in support of civil rights in 1963, Bearden’s work became more overtly socially conscious. One of his most famous series, Prevalence of Ritual, concentrated mostly on southern African American life. Works like Baptism (1964) examined the changing nature of African Americans’ rights. Illustrating the movement of water being poured onto the subject being baptized, Bearden conveyed the temporal flux of society during the civil rights movement. In Carolina Reunion (1975), the subject matter is emblematic of the longing for a better life and the comforting familiarity of home embodied in the northern
migration of African Americans from the South during the early part of the 20th century.
Bearden returned to Mecklenburg County in the 1970s just as his career was beginning to gain momentum. This Southern homecoming proved bittersweet. Charlotte was undergoing urban renewal, and already traces of Bearden’s past had been erased. This nostalgic experience imbued Bearden with a greater sense of urgency to both celebrate and eulogize a lost way of life, a theme that would inform his artwork for the remainder of his days.
During the 1970s, Bearden developed a complex iconography that spoke to these new developments. Drawn to “journeying things”—trains and birds—his inclusion of these
recurring motifs implied a movement from one way of life to another. He increasingly used richer colors and more decorative patterns to mediate ideas about African American community and culture, as in Of the Blues: Carolina Shout (1974), Back Porch Serenade (1977), and
Sunset Limited (Mecklenburg County) (1978).
A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition with contributions by Mary Lee Corlett, Jae Emerling, Glenda Gilmore, and Leslie King-Hammond. The exhibition will tour nationally following its debut at the Mint.
Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections is made possible with generous support from Duke Energy and Wells Fargo. Additional funding is provided by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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
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 email@example.com.