Translating modern art for the masses

Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Alberto Giacometti and Alexander Calder.

John Boyer wants to see these and other big names in 20th-century modern art become familiar in households across the region in the new year.

It's an appropriate resolution for the president, CEO and, now, curator of the year-old Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, a $17 million addition to the new cultural campus on South Tryon Street in uptown.

The staff is trying to draw a diverse group inside - not just those who already have an appreciation for art from the 1860s to the 1970s.

In its first year, the museum has hosted free jazz concerts in the lobby, lectures and film screenings, as well as specialized tours for schoolchildren or other groups.

Events such as these can make the striking terra cotta building designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta more welcoming.

Some visitors likely have returned with family or friends to see exhibits that have presented more than 100 items from a nearly 1,500-piece collection donated by Andreas Bechtler.

Most of the pieces had never been shown in the United States before.