Two new exhibitions and special events coming up at Mint Museum Randolph

Board of Trustees Annual Meeting, Party in the Park are May 31; And the Bead Goes On and Heritage Gallery Exhibitions Will Open to Public

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 25, 2012) – The Mint Museum is preparing to unveil its two newest exhibitions, celebrating both its past and future, at the same time its Board of Trustees invites the community to join the museum in a 75th anniversary celebration.

May 31 is a significant day at the museum, as The Mint Museum Board of Trustees holds its annual meeting, open to museum members only, at 5:30 p.m. at Mint Museum Randolph, followed by Party in the Park at 6:30 p.m., which is open to the public. A revival of the Mint’s former “Jazzy Ladies” tradition, the event will invite visitors to bring picnics, hear live music, and see a screening of the movie “Hugo” under the stars at 8:30 p.m. The event caps the celebration of the Mint’s 75th anniversary year and raises money for the Mint Annual Fund – admission is $10 for non-members, $5 for members, and free for children under 18.

During the evening, the public is invited to the opening of two new exhibitions: And the Bead Goes On, celebrating the Mint’s renowned Fashion Collection by showcasing a variety of historic beaded garments along with cutting-edge contemporary runway fashions; and Heritage Gallery, which celebrates the Mint’s 75-year history as the state’s first art museum with a display of photos, artifacts, and art, plus a detailed historical timeline. (Rain cancels the outdoor portion of the events, but galleries will be open from 5:30-9 p.m. regardless).

“The Mint has much to celebrate on May 31, from its history as an innovator to its present as a center for inspiration to its future as a global leader among art museums,” said Richard T. “Stick” Williams, outgoing chair of The Mint Museum Board of Trustees. “We hope the community will join us to enjoy the latest cutting-edge exhibitions the Mint has on view, and will find many reasons to return.”

And the Bead Goes On

Alber Elbaz for Lanvin; Oscar de la Renta;  Halston; Bob Mackie; Giorgio Armani; Lisa Folawiyo. These designers, both classic and contemporary, have all earned acclaim for their use of inventive beadwork on their fashions. And they’re among those featured in And the Bead Goes On, on view through February 2013, which will display twentieth and twenty-first century women’s garments from the museum’s Fashion Collection, supplemented by additional contemporary looks hot off the runways.

“This exhibition includes some of the top talents in the fashion world – from America, France, India, Nigeria, and elsewhere,” said Charles Mo, the Mint’s director of fine arts. “These fashions present unique statements of creativity that speak to the human passion for beauty, adornment, and identity.”

This seemingly modern surface decoration, the variety of bead materials and shapes, and the basic sewing techniques used to embellish the fashions on view were developed in Paris workshops in the eighteenth century. Glass beads, metallic sequins, metal filigree beads, faux pearls, and faceted crystal rhinestones hand-sewn onto the cloth impart beauty, opulence, and artful originality.

Among the dresses in the exhibition is one by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin that can’t be seen anywhere else in the country except the Mint. The exhibition also marks the first time Nigerian designer Lisa Folawiyo has been featured in an American museum. “The Mint is dedicated to presenting the most innovative fashion in the world, and today a lot is happening outside the Paris/New York/Tokyo axis in places such as Lebanon, India, and South Africa,” said Annie Carlano, the Mint’s director of craft + design.

Also featured in the exhibition is a 17-year-old Charlotte designer, Kevin Carter (who uses the label kevinVain). In response to being bullied in school, he turned to fashion design as an escape, and began experimenting with dyes and shards of glass on clothing designs. That led him to be noticed by organizers of local fashion shows, which eventually led to his discovery by the Mint. The museum selected Carter, who produces hand-beaded garments, in part to pay tribute to Charlotte’s own emerging fashion scene, making the exhibition both local and international. “I strive to challenge the way Charlotteans view fashion. I want to change what is accepted in society as ‘beautiful’ or ‘cool,’” he said. “I’m still in shock that at age 17 my work is on exhibit alongside some of the gurus in fashion and pop culture.”

Heritage Gallery

The Mint Museum opened on October 22, 1936. Since its inception as the first art museum in North Carolina, it has held a central place in the history of Charlotte. The building was constructed in 1837 as the first branch of the U.S. Mint, and originally stood on West Trade Street in uptown Charlotte between Mint and Graham Streets. In 1932, this historic building was saved from demolition through the efforts of a small group of passionate, dedicated citizens, and moved to its current site on Randolph Road.

Unlike many art museums, which are established to house an existing collection, the Mint had neither an art collection nor the financial reserves to assemble one. Instead, it was founded upon the dream to create and preserve a unique cultural legacy for future generations. From these modest beginnings, the museum has grown into an internationally recognized institution with a collection of over 34,000 objects. Over the decades, the museum has expanded four times to accommodate the growing collection and increasingly global audience: in 1968, 1983, 1999, and 2010.

“The museum has a very unique and inspiring history that many people aren’t familiar with—it was built upon the dreams of group of hard-working, dedicated citizens who rallied the support of the entire community to establish a cultural center for the region,” said Amber Smith, curatorial assistant, special projects at the Mint. “It is a truly grassroots American story that will strike a chord with many. The exhibition will include key works of art and objects from the Mint’s collection, as well as never-before seen photographs and archival documents that give a rare glimpse into the Mint’s incredible journey, and the many people who have made this journey possible.”

The exhibition has been crafted to occupy the central space surrounding the Van Every Theatre on the first floor of Mint Museum Randolph, and will remain on view long-term.