Local Arts

‘Art Break’ gets you free peeks at uptown arts

Here’s the new logo for Levine Center for the Arts.
Here’s the new logo for Levine Center for the Arts.

If you want to get to the art in uptown’s Bechtler and Mint Museums and Gantt Center, but you’ve got:

a) no available funds, or

b) not much available time beyond your lunch hour,

you just caught a break. “Art Break,” to be specific: A new idea.

It’s a series of free, public, 30-minute tours at each of the three, offered at noon every third Thursday. You’ll see just a few selected pieces of artwork, with a docent (an educated, volunteer guide) telling you about them, in – if the Thursday media preview is an indication – breezy and thought-provoking style.

At the Mint, Sidonie Webber showed Hoss Haley’s “White Ripple” to a small group, taking them through the material (he employed scraps of washing machines), interpretations (what’s he saying about economy? ecology?) and suggesting a mini-do-it-yourself Haley scavenger hunt through Charlotte (Blue Line, airport, Mecklenburg County Courthouse).

The idea is part of a continuing push to brand Levine Center of the Arts – encompassing the Bechtler, Mint, Gantt and Knight Theater – as a cultural center in Charlotte. Or as the cultural campus: “No city becomes strong without a cultural center ... and Levine Center for the Arts is that center,” said marketer Greg Johnson, whose Orbital Socket developed the campaign, in the effort’s announcement Thursday.

You’ll see the new logo (note the four building shapes and the hashtag: #LongLiveArts) popping up around town starting next month, Johnson said, in sizes from business-card to billboard. A website’s also part of the plan, serving as a portal to the quartet’s contents, and encouraging visitors to engage in “dialogue.”

Also mentioned Thursday: What’s coming up next at each:

▪ The Bechtler’s putting up “The House That Modernism Built,” an exhibition which opens March 24 and will show the relationship between mid-century design and the fine arts – and how there’s “far less a barrier between those two worlds than most people think,” said ED John Boyer. “All that Sparkles: 20th Century Artists’ Jewelry” is next, opening July 1. (Boyer also mentioned “Art Beyond Bars,” the show now in its cafe area: work created by people who are incarcerated, and other of the museum’s outreach work.)

▪ The Blumenthal’s Knight Theater hosts Charlotte Jazz Festival April 21-23, which Tom Gabbard said “will bring this campus to life,” from performances at the Mint and Knight to tented space on Levine Avenue of the Arts for free lunchtime concerts. The Broadway Junior Theater Celebration, April 19-21, brings almost four dozen schools who’ve done “junior” versions of musicals in to get coaching, and staging experience.

▪ The Gantt’s Dance Theatre of Harlem exhibition, as well as “1960Now” and “Art of a New Deal: African-American Artists in the WPA” will close June 26, ending its yearlong “Art as Activism” theme. Opening July 16 will be “Shaping the Vessel,” 26 works by woodturning masters Frank Cummings III, John Mascoll and Avelino Samuel, curated by Charlotte woodturner Charles Farrar.

▪ And the Mint’s “Here & Now,” opening April 16, will show off 200 of what president Kathleen Jameson (who also curated) calls “our most important” photos. “Pumped: The Art & Craft of Shoemaking” will step up in May.

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