A full fall day of arts uptown, and everything's free

Football fans aren't the only people who can take over uptown on a crisp autumn weekend, you know. Saturday, it'll be arts lovers.

They'll converge on Tryon Street as museums throw open their doors, performing groups go into action indoors and out, and a street festival takes over South Tryon. Everything will be free of charge, thanks to the Wells Fargo Community Celebration.

The bank is sponsoring the daylong event to commemorate its arrival in Charlotte, where its name and red logo just replaced Wachovia's blue and green on branches across the region, and to thank its employees and the city after the three-year transition.

The festival will celebrate the cultural community in the broadest sense: from ballet to Lego sculpture, from jazz to topiary, from Shakespeare to African-American storytelling.

While most of Saturday's action will be on South Tryon, home of a cluster of new arts facilities - and also Wells' neighborhood - the activities will stretch all the way up to the McColl Center for Visual Art on North Tryon.

There's a lot in store. Here's an overview:

The main stage on Levine Avenue of the Arts - the former First Street - will feature performances intermittently all day. The headline show, starting at 4:30 p.m., will feature jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis and his quartet. The roster earlier in the day includes the Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble from Durham.

Uptown museums will offer free admission. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Levine Museum of the New South, Light Factory, McColl Center for Visual Arts and Mint Museum Uptown will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Discovery Place will have 1,000 free tickets for each of these admission times: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.

Ganttfest will be under way all day at the Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, including a youth poetry slam, storytelling sessions, African dance and other events. Activities for children will take over The Green nearby. (Ganttfest details: www.ganttcenter.org.)

A street festival will spread out from Tryon, which will be closed between Stonewall and Third streets. Nathan Sawaya, who builds sculptures from Lego blocks, will unveil a new, large-scale creation. On The Green, S.C. topiary artist Pearl Fryar will demonstrate his magic with greenery. A vintage Wells Fargo stagecoach will offer rides.

At UNC Charlotte's new uptown building at Ninth and Brevard streets, the university will showcase its music, theater and visual arts programs 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Performances include the Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble and scenes from "Twelfth Night."


The Gold Rush trolley will shuttle among locations. For details on that and the events: www.charlottecultureguide.com.

Main stage, Levine Avenue of the Arts near Tryon Street: 10 a.m., House of Prayer Band; 10:35 a.m., C.N. Jenkins Presbyterian Church; 10:55 a.m., Shade Family Puppeteers; 12:15 p.m., Tommie Lopez Band; 1 p.m., Candice Jennings; 1:45 p.m., Bassments & Addicts; 2:30 p.m., Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble; 4:30, Branford Marsalis.

Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St.: 10 a.m. and noon, N.C. Dance Theatre in "Bolero"; 11 a.m., Charlotte Youth Ballet; 1:30 p.m., Charlotte Children's Choir; 2:30 p.m., Central Piedmont Community College Chorus; 3:30 p.m., Carolina Voices.

McGlohon Theatre, Spirit Square, 345 N. College St.: 10 a.m., Men Standing in Christ; 11 a.m., Matt Walsh, Blues 101; noon, Burford Brothers; 1 p.m., Kari Sickenberger and Laurelyn Dossett; 2 p.m., Snyder Family Band; 3 p.m., John Doyle.

Wells Fargo Atrium, 301 S. Tryon St.: 10 a.m., Martha Connerton/KineticWorks; 11 a.m., American Indian Dance (Many Journeys); noon, Caroline Calouche & Co.; 1 p.m., Chinese Variety Show; 2 p.m., Maha's Dances of India; 3 p.m., Opera Carolina.

N.C. Dance Theatre studios, 701 N. Tryon St.: Free events from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. include a ballet class for children aged 6-12 at 11:15 a.m.; a performance by the NCDT2 pre-professional company at 1:15 p.m.; a modern dance class for ages 13 and up at 2:15 p.m.; and a jazz dance class for ages 13 and up at 3:15 p.m.

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