The new year is both a beginning and end. This month also marks your last chance to see a major Romare Bearden retrospective this coming weekend before it heads out on a national tour. The Mint Museum Uptown (a Knight arts grantee) is once again celebrating Bearden with a gift of a free weekend — the museum will be open to everyone.
The free community homecoming weekend Jan. 7 and 8 at the Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St. at the Levine Center for the Arts, celebrates Bearden’s work and his love for our city with two days of hands-on activities, discussions and performances commemorating this extraordinary artist.
Following the “Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections” run in Charlotte, it will travel to the Tampa Museum of Art and the Newark Museum. This Mint Museum retrospective of one of America’s most preeminent African-American artists and foremost collagists has received national attention in publications ranging from “The Wall Street Journal,” which noted it “brings into sharp focus the artist’s Southern roots,” to “The New York Times,” which hailed the innovative advertising campaign by local agency BooneOakley for “bringing art to life.”
It is an incredible show. Even if you previously saw it, there is so much to take in, one could walk through and see something new every time. The exhibition’s loose chronological structure traces the critical themes in Bearden’s work: music, religion, social change and family. Though all universal themes, he explored these particularly through the African-American experience.
To thank Mint members for their support, “Last Look Friday” is free for members. On Friday, Jan. 6, for members-only, there will be two tours of “Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections” led by Carla Hanzal, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. (Must RSVP to Martha Loftin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704.337-2011.) The Last Look Friday will end with a festive reception from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with live music, light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.
Of course, the most important activity throughout the weekend will be the final chance to view the exhibition itself. This show opened Sept. 2, which was the centennial of the artist’s birth in Charlotte, and is the first of its kind to examine in depth how the South served as a source of inspiration throughout Bearden’s career. It encompasses approximately 100 works of art drawn from The Mint Museum’s extensive holdings, as well as from national public and private collections.
Born in Mecklenburg County, N.C., Bearden lived in Charlotte until the age of 4. Although his family settled in New York, the artist’s brief childhood in the South and return visits to Charlotte made a noteworthy impact on his art.