South Charlotte

What does art mean? Answers on display

Upcoming and established artists in all media have a new haven downtown.

Several years ago, Pineville worked with the Arts and Science Council to produce a cultural action plan.

One recommendation from that plan was the Civic and Cultural Arts Center of Pineville.

The nonprofit center started in January with the mission of being a “regional service and supplier for the performing and visual arts, craftsmen, musicians and creative writers, as well as a hub of activity for community service organizations, educational outreach programs and a cultural showplace ...”

Their first major endeavor was a series of summer classes for children and youth.

Lee Baumgarten, artist and executive director of the center, says it's important to start art education before adult reservations set in.

“The cool thing about kids is that they are very high energy, they're creative, and they have no fear. Lack of those things are what stops adults from learning art,” he said.

Chosen through a poster contest held in area schools last spring, 28 students ages 9–18 years old were awarded scholarships to summer classes at the center in its temporary location at the Belle Johnston Center.

The students produced several art pieces. Now the walls in the permanent location, at 314 Main Street, are lined with their work.

“I asked the students what art meant to them. Michaela Epperson thought about it for about 20 minutes, then said, ‘Making something … spiritual or emotional … solid.' It was an amazing answer, something Picasso could have come up with,” Baumgarten said.

The students' self-portrait collages and designs were unveiled at a recent grand opening entitled “World Treasures Exhibition.” That name was chosen as all the students live in the Pineville area but have heritages that cross the globe, spanning India, Iran, Germany, England, Puerto Rico, Peru, Mexico, and more.

The “World Treasures Exhibit” will continue 7-10 p.m., each Friday evening in September.

In October, the Center will begin Saturday School, offering art classes for children and youth. Other classes and workshops for children and adults will be added in the afternoons and evenings.