Charlotte is just down the road from my longtime neck of the woods. It’s also my hometown--though it's sometimes easy to forget that part since it is truly hard to imagine a town more changed by the last 4 or 5 decades than Charlotte. Once sleepy, now sleek, what takes me back these days are not childhood ties but Charlotte’s extarordinary cultural scene.
There are an outsized number of museums and/or arts institutions. Take for example the Mario Botta designed Bechtler Museum of Modern Art with its 1,400 plus works by mid-20th century masters such as Picasso, Calder and Warhol not to mention that signature Nikki de Saint Phalle sculpture at the entrance that never fails to delight with its outlandish good humor.
And right next door to The Bechtler is The Mint Museum Uptown with permanent collections focused on contemporary and American art as well as craft and design.
Not so far away from this Mint is the other Mint Museum--Mint Museum Randolph, with its important permanent collections of historical costumes and Native American art. (And here’s a little known fun fact (or a very well known one if you were ever a school-aged child in this heritage-proud town)--this Mint, the ‘Randolph’ one, is housed in a gorgeous 1835 Federalist building which was indeed originally a US Mint. The first US gold rush, in the early 1800’s, was in Cabarrus County just north of Charlotte, hence the location of this Mint which specialized in gold coinage.)
For more history there is the Levine Museum of the New South, an interactive history museum that documents the complex evolution of post-Civil War southern society.
And for more intimate, often regional--but not strictly--art experiences, there are the McColl Center for Art + Innovation, a contemporary art center and residency program with over 5,000 square feet of gallery space and, The Light Factory, one of only four museums for photography and film in the country.
Pretty good for a once sleepy town, huh?
...and that’s maybe not even the very best part. The ultimate draw may just be the results of Charlotte’s enthusiast embrace of public art.
Since I am a complete and hopeless believer in images and experiences over words, I won’t even try to convey how rich this all is. What I will do is provide one photo--courtesy of the internet-and this invaluable link to a 45-minute self-guided podcast (click here) along with a map (click here), from The Arts and Science Council of Charlotte--a marvelous introduction to all that Charlotte has to offer in public art.
One final note--even this super culture geek does know that as of this past Sunday night there is yet one more reason to be proud of my hometown.
Repeat after me...
And for further afield travel--the Berlin Itinerary is now up! Click on the link on the top of this page for more information.