The Arts

8 Cool Things About the New Andy Warhol Exhibit

September 25, 2022

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art’s new exhibition, “Pop to Now: Warhol and His Legacy,” looks backward and forward at the influence of Andy Warhol, a key figure in the Pop Art movement.

Across a variety of media, Warhol explored the links between advertising, celebrity culture and artistic expression. Known for his bright colored portraits and use of commercial techniques in art, he inspired other artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, whose work is also in the show.

Warhol helped reshape popular culture. This exhibition, developed by the Bechtler Museum in partnership with Aktion Art, focuses on Warhol’s work and impact post-1973. It runs through Jan. 2 at the uptown Charlotte museum.

“Warhol blew away most boundaries when it comes to what art was,” said Bechtler Museum Executive Direct Todd Smith, who recently gave The Charlotte Observer a guided tour of the exhibition, “and that’s what this show looks at, as well.”

The exhibition also highlights the creation of three ground-breaking contemporary artists: ThankYouX, Kristin McIver and HEES, who continue in Warhol’s footsteps, as they explore new digital frontiers in art.

Here are eight cool things to know about the show:

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Storyteller launches celebration of Black women in Charlotte

February 20, 2022

Recently, poet and storyteller Hannah Hasan walked onto the stage of one of Charlotte’s largest theaters, looked out at the 2,100 empty seats and wept.

It wasn’t her first time in Belk Theater. She had been there before to see shows. But now she was doing a walk-through in preparation for a new project — the biggest undertaking of her career to date — and emotions took over.

“I’ve worked really hard my entire career to lift and share and give light and honor
to stories of people who I see every day that deserve that honor,” Hasan said. “And
oftentimes, that’s in small churches and community centers, and on black box stages
and things of that nature. It’s with very little funding and resources…”

For years Hasan has been using poetry and storytelling to explore identity, unearth
and preserve the stories of marginalized communities, and build connections. She’s a
sought-after speaker, workshop leader and event organizer.

Now she’s at the helm of “I Am Queen Charlotte,” a multi-platform celebration of
Black women and their contributions to the Charlotte community, running March 6- 12.

The project includes a documentary-style book and a week of arts and
educational events.

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Broadway is Back! Hometown Celebs Share What It’s Like Returning to the Stage Right Now

Winter 2021-’22

The lights are shining bright on Broadway once more after 20 long months of pandemic living. Here in Charlotte, audiences have been celebrating the return of touring Broadway too, beginning with Wicked, Blumenthal Performing Arts’ first major theatrical production since the COVID-19 shut down.

The show drew more than 70,000 attendees over its four-week run and even smashed a box office record in its final days, marking the highest grossing week ever for a Blumenthal presented show at Ovens Auditorium.

As productions ramp up in New York City and all over the country, many things have changed, but one thing remains the same: Charlotte’s talent continues to thrill audiences on some of the country’s biggest stages, both as performers and in key behind-the-scenes roles. Here’s a look at what just a handful of our homegrown talent is up to now and a deep dive into what it’s like to be making theater again.

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Man behind Gantt Center design featured in museum exhibit

November 24, 2021

You’ve probably heard of Frank Gehry and Frank Lloyd Wright, but if you don’t yet know the name Phil Freelon, you should.

A new exhibition created by students and faculty at UNC Charlotte’s School of Architecture examines the design contributions of Freelon, a North Carolina-based architect who died in 2019.

“Container/Contained: Phil Freelon — Design Strategies for Telling African American Stories” is now on view at one of Freelon’s award-winning buildings — the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

in Charlotte — through Jan. 17. Then, it will continue on to the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, beginning Feb. 26.

Freelon, who was Black, imbued his architecture with meaning to express each structure’s content while reflecting the communities it would serve. The exhibition shows how Freelon turned ideas into subtle architectural elements.

Some examples include using the interlocking arms of civil rights-era marches as inspiration for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, incorporating the colors of hit vinyl records as architectural fins for a new expansion at the Motown Museum in Detroit and utilizing unfolded DNA strands on the facade of the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise at North Carolina Central University in Durham.

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This growing gallery helps artists of color collaborate and advance

June 27, 2021

On a quiet street in east Charlotte, a two-story house sits at the end of a cul-de-sac. Outside, it looks like any other home. But inside, it’s bursting with creativity and inspiration.

This is 9-18-9 Studio Gallery, a place to nourish local artists — especially emerging artists of color. Here, they showcase their work, meet other artists and collectors, and learn skills to advance their careers.

Its mission: build the largest and most diverse collection of work by local fine artists of color. Surrounded by art, only the open plan kitchen remains at 8838 Balsam Bay Road. That’s by design.

Since early last year, 9-18-9 has been frequently used for gallery events and monthly gatherings of The Palette Table, a private group with 82 members that seeks increased opportunities for fine artists of color. A “Sunday dinner,” prepared by owner/curator Joanne Rogers, follows every meeting.

“I feed the artists because I want that family, nurturing feeling,” said Rogers, 53, who loves cooking Caribbean food from her native Trinidad.

That camaraderie seems to be working: 9-18-9 Studio Gallery has had an impressive first year, despite opening right before the pandemic arrived.

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January 2021

When the world came to a halt in early spring 2020, so did museums everywhere. Doors closed, shipments stopped, planned exhibitions were put on hold. Then cities across the nation erupted in protest, as communities faced a reckoning with long-term injustices and systemic racism. The concurrent events posed a challenge: How could the Mint best serve the community through the crisis and uprising, while also facing financial uncertainty and logistical challenges caused by the pandemic?

“This gave us [an] opportunity,” says Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, the Mint’s Chief Curator & Curator of Contemporary Art. “Instead of showing an exhibition that seemed incongruous with the times, we were able to construct something that reflected the times.”

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BACKSTAGE WITH THE BAND’S VISIT | Producer Orin Wolf and Writer Itamar Moses talk about their multiple Tony Award-winning show

Summer 2019

When Orin Wolf saw an early screening of the film The Band’s Visit, he had an immediate impulse: to put it on stage. “It was a moment of clarity for me that doesn’t happen very often in my life,” says Wolf. Some eight years later, his initial inspiration would become one of the most celebrated and critically-acclaimed musicals of all time.

Winner of 10 Tony Awards in 2018, this story of an Egyptian military band that gets stranded for one night in a remote Israeli village is now beginning a national tour, and Charlotte audiences will be among the first to see it. The Band’s Visit comes to Knight Theater Aug. 6-25.

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