I created this collage a few years back. That is Romare Bearden in the upper left window

Peg created this collage a few years back. That is Romare Bearden in the upper left window.
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Potatoes and Art in Charlotte, North Carolina

September 29, 2011

We came to Charlotte, North Carolina for the tailgating and stayed for the art and potatoes.

Metalmorphosis is giant stainless steel kinetic head created by Czech Artist David Cerny. It is the centerpiece of a fountain located in a corporate center a few miles outside of Charlotte.

Charlotte, NC

Positioned between two testosterone dripping venues, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the NFL Panthers Stadium, is a brand new Art Destination: The Levine Center for the Arts is a group of three new art museums and a theater. All are located along South Tryon Street near The Green (Charlotte’s small but lovely Central Park wanna be). The new museums include The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art,  (opened January 2010), The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (opened August 2009), and The Mint Museum Uptown (opened January 2010). All three museums are architecturally interesting, but by far my favorite was the Mario Botta designed Bechtler covered with yam-colored-terra-cotta tiles.

We had planned to travel on west shortly after the football game, but a billboard advertising Romare Bearden, “Southern Recollections” at the MInt Uptown and three Bearden (works on paper, photography of his life and Bearden inspired works) helped us decide to stay after all.

Since sometime in the early 70s when I first saw Bearden’s “The Block” I have loved his collage work. He was born in Charlotte in 1911, hence the celebration. Although he moved away when he was 3, he returned to be with family frequently.

No photographs were allowed inside the museums, so above is what I drew while walking through the four shows and completed it with gouache, and collage when I got home. The reverse and enlarged scan on the left reflects his practice of having his works photographed in black and white and blown up in order to rework them.

Niki de Saint Phalle Head, The Green, Charlotte, NCThere is an advantage to going to what would be a blockbuster show in New York City in Charlotte... it was like having a private viewing.

The Green had another large head. This big colorful one was by Niki de Saint Phalle, and the kids loved to play on it. We liked it because we could get out of the sun and sit on a bench inside and contemplate the cracked mirror interior.

Let’s move on to the potatoes...

Rí Rá Irish Pub, Charlotte, NC

Victor, our waiter from Bray, Ireland, serving oysters on the half shell. He said we were the only people he had met in his travels who had ever been to his hometown. We actually lived at the International Hotel there with the kids for a few months back in the 70s...but that is quite another story! (Chips with the curry dipping sauce in foreground).

Rí Rá Irish Pub, Charlotte, NC

Delicious potato cake with Cosmopolitan ;)

Located six blocks north of the museums is a Rí Rá Irish Pub... Only after we finished chowing down on oysters and roast beef did we realize that with our drinks and main course, we had eaten three different potato dishes. First there was the pan seared Irish potato cake, with savory sour cream sauce and a balsamic glaze for an appetizer. That not being enough we followed up with a second appetizer of hand cut chips with McDonnells Irish curry dipping sauce. Yum.. The main course was a small cut of roast beef with a huge mound of garlic mashed potatoes with lots of butter. (At least we skipped dessert.)

A few days later we returned to the Mint Museum to see the Bearden Collages again. Again very moving and unique... We finished about 4 in the afternoon and were suddenly overcome by the need to consume potatoes. We trotted back to the Rí Rá Irish Pub and cut straight to the heart of the matter. No main course, no oysters, no salad; just the same three potato dishes we had eaten before. We contemplated the sweet potato tater tots for dessert but decided we probably had consumed a little more of our daily carbohydrate allotment then perhaps we should have.

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