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Why art is about to start popping up in unexpected places across Charlotte

My neighborhood, Dilworth, has a bit of art. In particular, I’m thinking of the public sculpture “Timeline,” by Robert Winkler. It looks like a couple of giant Ruffles chips fused together, but symbolizes “the conflict between the limitations imposed by our individual histories and the ability of our minds to imagine other possibilities.”

If you think your neighborhood also needs a pop of art, it just might get one. In April, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture are launching Inside|Out Charlotte as part of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s national initiative to share collections and bring art into communities.

Basically, you can expect to stumble across some public art exhibitions around town. Framed, high-quality reproductions of artworks on display at the two museums will be placed in parks and various unexpected spots in the community. The museums will also plan with partner communities to bring corresponding educational opportunities like walking tours and discussions to the areas with art displays.

“The program focuses on visual art institutions and specifically those whose collections are digitized,” said Bonita Buford, Gantt Center COO. “The Knight Foundation was interested in expanding the national Inside|Out program to Charlotte and selected the Gantt and the Bechtler.”

The program actually began eight years ago at the Detroit Institute of Arts and has partners around the nation, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Perez Art Museum Miami.

It’s unclear where the art will be placed in Charlotte. Inside|Out Charlotte is busy reaching out to city and community representatives, development authorities and arts organizations interested in being part of this program.

Participating communities can get exhibitions — to be professionally installed — in the spring, from April to July, or in the fall, from September to December. Those exhibitions will feature five to eight reproductions within walking or bike-riding distance from each other. Total, there will be up to 60 reproduced artworks displayed around the city in the spring, with 80 more to come in the fall.

The reproduced works will be free-standing and/or mounted on a site, printed on weather-proof aluminum panels. They will only be placed in neighborhoods that have requested them.

“The works on display will range from abstract, to figurative, to photographs,” Buford said.

For example, some selections for the spring installation will be coming from the Gantt Center’s current exhibition “Jordan Casteel: Harlem Notes” (see featured photo), and from the Bechtler Collection’s current exhibition, “Summing It Up at the End: Alberto Giacometti’s ’45 Drawings’ Portfolio.”

“We anticipate work being installed throughout Charlotte,” Buford said. “We do plan to install two reproductions on The Green in Uptown Charlotte as a teaser in early March with the program launched throughout the city April 30.”

I can’t wait to see what I run across during my jogs this spring.

To learn more

Visit the Inside|Out Charlotte website at

Also worth noting

The Inside|Out Charlotte team consists of both institutions’ staffing:

Christopher Lawing – Bechtler, VP and Director of Programming

Bonita Buford – Gantt Center, COO

Sharon Holm – Bechtler, Director of Marketing and Communications

Lauren Houston – Bechtler, Public Programs Coordinator

Alexys Taylor – Gantt Center, Assistant Registrar

Catherine Courtlandt McElvene, Inside|Out Charlotte consultant

Image: Courtesy of the Gantt Center