The Mint Museum Announces Inaugural Exhibitions for New Facility

Mint Museum Uptown opens October 1, 2010 as part of Levine Center for the Arts

Mint Museum Executive Director Phil Kline announced today the inaugural exhibitions to be presented in conjunction with the new Mint Museum Uptown’s grand opening on October 1, 2010. They are New Visions: Contemporary Masterworks from the Bank of America Collection and Contemporary British Studio Ceramics: The Grainer Collection.

Designed by noted architectural firm Machado & Silvetti of Boston, the 145,000-square-foot Mint Museum Uptown will be part of the Levine Center for the Arts located in the heart of Charlotte’s business district. In addition to the Mint, the cultural campus includes the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, and the John S. and James L. Knight Theater, along with corporate, retail and restaurant facilities.

The Mint Museum Uptown will house the world renowned collections of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, as well as the American Art and Contemporary Art collections and selected works from the European Art collection. The latter three collections are moving from the Mint Museum Randolph. The new five-story facility will include two full floors of galleries, each featuring 12,000 square feet of permanent collection space and 6,000 square feet of changing exhibition space. A dramatic multi-story atrium, named for the late Robert Haywood Morrison in honor of his foundation’s gift to the Museum, will serve as a central hub of activity and features a 60- by 60-foot glass curtain wall offering spectacular views of the urban landscape. The building also includes a café, a Family Gallery, painting and ceramics studios, classrooms, a 240-seat auditorium, a Special Events Pavilion with outdoor terrace, and an expanded Museum Shop specializing in crafts of the Carolinas. These amenities and special features will provide inspiring venues for hosting public programs to reinforce the Museum’s dual priorities of making art and education experiences accessible to the community.

Following the opening of the new uptown location, the Mint Museum Randolph will maintain its current location in the historic Eastover neighborhood and execute a reinstallation plan of its galleries designed to showcase collections of Art of the Ancient Americas, Decorative Arts, and Historic Costume & Fashionable Dress, along with selections of African Art, Asian Art, Ceramics, Coins & Currency, European Art, Native American Art and Spanish Colonial Art.

“The opening of our new facility marks a pivotal chapter in the Mint’s history and in Charlotte’s emergence as a cultural destination,” said Executive Director Phil Kline. “We are thankful to the City of Charlotte, the Arts & Science Council, and our corporate, foundation and private donors who have committed funds and significant works of art towards this historic initiative. When our doors open in October, the public will have the unique opportunity to view never-before-seen works from our permanent collections, in addition to seeing two landmark inaugural exhibitions.”

Inaugural Exhibitions:

New Visions: Contemporary Masterworks from the Bank of America Collection, October 1, 2010 – April 17, 2011

The Mint Museum and Bank of America will collaborate to present an exhibition comprising over 60 works from the bank’s Art Collection. Widely regarded as one of the world’s finest corporate art collections, the Bank of America Collection is noted for its high quality, stylistic diversity, historical depth and attention to regional identity.

The exhibition contains a broad selection of regionally diverse practitioners and presents an extraordinary opportunity to experience significant works by some of the most visionary artists of the past decades. The exhibition will feature paintings, sculptures and works on paper from an array of artists, including Milton Avery, Jennifer Bartlett, Roger Brown, John Chamberlain, Janet Fish, Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Gilliam, John Marin, Elizabeth Murray, Louise Nevelson, Jules Olitski, Edward Ruscha, Miriam Schapiro and Frank Stella, among others.

Beginning with works from 1945, the exhibition highlights the strengths of Bank of America’s postwar collection and reveals a wide variety of philosophies, approaches and movements reaching into the early 1990s. Historically significant works focusing on intense color and geometry as an organizing principle, such as Frank Stella’s Damascus Gate and Ellsworth Kelly’s Black and White Triangle, reveal the monumental scale and rigorous structures of late 1960s through early 1970s Minimalism. Postminimalist works from the 1980s, such as Elizabeth Murray’s Split and Join and Jennifer Bartlett’s In the Garden, present a return to imagery, while still retaining defined formalist structures.

The vibrant and irreverent canvases of Ed Paschke and Roger Brown exhibit the influence of outsider art and Surrealism. This influence was a hallmark of the second generation Chicago Imagists, a regional offshoot of Pop Artists. The influence of popular culture and media fueled diverse works by Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Longo. Masterful paintings by some of California’s most heralded artists—including Edward Ruscha (Clock Speed), James Weeks (Ocean Park Studio) and Wayne Thiebaud (Dark Cake)—demonstrate a surprising and complex relationship between abstraction and realism. Deborah Butterfield’s cast lead horse sculpture, as well as Lynda Benglis’s biomorphic reliefs  and John Chamberlain’s steel assemblage, comprise some of the compelling sculptural works within the show.

“We are grateful to Bank of America for this extraordinary opportunity to bring together and share with the public major works by some of the most important artists of our time,” said Curator of Contemporary Art, and curator of the exhibition, Carla Hanzal. “While many corporations boast large art collections, it is rare to see such a comprehensive collection of contemporary and modern art that is both dynamic and historically significant. This show exemplifies the excellence and regional diversity that Bank of America’s collection is uniquely suited to reveal.”

New Visions: Contemporary Masterworks from the Bank of America Collection is organized by The Mint Museum, Charlotte, N.C., and provided by Bank of America Art in our Communities™ program. Through this program, Bank of America has converted its collection into a unique community resource from which museums and nonprofit galleries may borrow complete or customized exhibitions. By providing these exhibitions and the support required to host them, the program helps sustain community engagement and generate vital revenue for the nonprofits, creating stability in local communities. From 2008 to 2010, Bank of America will have loaned more than 30 exhibitions to museums internationally.

“Bank of America is committed to strengthening artistic institutions and in turn, the communities we serve,” said Charles Bowman, North Carolina and Charlotte Market President, Bank of America. “Our continued partnership with The Mint Museum is a further extension of our commitment, and we are honored to be part of this resurgence in the Charlotte arts community.”

In addition to this collaboration, The Mint Museum is also part of Bank of America’s Museums on Us™ program. Through this unique program, anyone with a Bank of America ATM, credit card or check card has the opportunity to gain free admission to more than 120 cultural institutions across the country, including the Mint, during the first Saturday and Sunday of each month.

Contemporary British Studio Ceramics: The Grainer Collection, October 1, 2010 – March 13, 2011

Drawn from the collection of Diane and Marc Grainer of suburban Washington, D.C., this exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of Contemporary British Studio Ceramics in the United States and Great Britain. Comprised of functional and sculptural objects made between the 1980s and 2009, the show features work by 100 artists either born or residing in Great Britain, including established “contemporary classics” like Lucie Rie and cutting-edge ceramicists such as Julian Stair, Kate Malone, Neil Brownsword, and Grayson Perry.

The Grainers are well-known in the United States as collectors of Studio Furniture and American craft in general, and as leaders in the craft community through their work with the Americans Crafts Council, the Furniture Society, Museum of Arts and Design, the James Renwick Alliance, and the Founders’ Circle, the national support group of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design. Their extensive and virtuoso collection of contemporary British ceramics is perhaps their greatest contribution to the field. Over a 30-year period, the Grainers’ keen connoisseurship skills and tenacity led them to acquire some of the very best work.

Rooted in the materiality of clay, a hallmark of studio pottery, the ceramic art featured in the exhibition chronicles the history of Contemporary British Studio Ceramics. Whether a pot or sculpture, the properties of the raw material, from its soft malleable texture to the alchemy of slips and glazes, and its propensity to melt and harden, are at the core of the artist’s passion. The exhibition begins with a recap of the earlier 20th century masters, then moves to works that demonstrate the two different strains of influence that informed contemporary makers—from the historicism of Bernard Leach and his successors to the refugee modernism embodied by Lucie Rie.

A plethora of “honest pots” highlights the straightforward, form-following-function vessels and platters of master potters such as Richard Batterham, Clive Bowen and Bill Marshall. The show then explores the sculptural forms of Gordon Baldwin, Ken Eastman and Nicholas Rena, moving on to the figurative and narrative compositions of Christie Brown, Claire Curneen and Phil Eglin, ending with a look at the most recent intersection of ceramic art, design and social commentary.

“The most thrilling quality of Contemporary British Studio Ceramics is that the field remains free from a defining aesthetic and cannot be tied together by one common visual thread,” said Annie Carlano, Director of Craft + Design and curator of the exhibition. “There has never been a comprehensive exhibition on either side of the pond about these objects. Building on the Mint’s internationally recognized collection of historic English ceramics, this exhibition allows us to explore a wider wealth of riches and continue the story from art pottery to clay art today.”

Contemporary British Studio Ceramics: The Grainer Collection will be accompanied by the eponymous book, published by Yale University Press. Academic and lavishly illustrated, it features contributions by Tanya Harrod, Glenn Adamson and Michelle Mickey, as well as an interview with Diane and Marc Grainer. Edited by Annie Carlano, this important publication underscores the Mint Museum of Craft + Design’s commitment to scholarly excellence. The exhibition is organized by The Mint Museum and sponsored by Duke Energy.