May art events: photography studio to a progressive dinner at Levine Center for the Arts

May art events: photography studio to a progressive dinner at Levine Center for the Arts
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There are always interesting, engaging visual art events in Charlotte and this month is no exception. Here are HappeningsCLT’s picks to enjoy an art-filled month.

Wednesday, May 6

On May 6, Chandra Johnson opens her new gallery, SOCO (Southern Comfort), at 421 Providence Road. Galleries are an integral part of any vibrant art community so we are delighted that new ones like SOCO are starting to pop up. This gallery fills a necessary gap in our community. Along with one of our favorite local non-profits, The Light Factory, SOCO will be a place to specifically buy photography. Focusing on big name contemporary photographers with works priced around $5,000 and under, you can start – or continue – your art collection at SOCO. The inaugural exhibition, A Fluid Journey, derives its name from the 1969 movie about west coast surf culture. The exhibition explores the transformative nature of water and leisure and includes works by Will Adler, LeRoy GrannisXavier Guardans, Mona Kuhn, Karine Laval, Ken Van Sickle and Massimo Vitali. Did we also mention there is a record room? We’ll give you an update about all things SOCO after the big opening reception.

Laval_Poolscape_SOCOKarine Laval

There is also a Contemporary Architecture + Design lecture tonight with Carlos Rolón, known as Dzine from 6-8pm at the Mint Museum UPTOWN (500 South Tryon Street) in conjunction with the Body Embellishment exhibition. Rolón creates ornate works of art and installations inspired by his Puerto Rican upbringing in Chicago, specifically his mother’s beauty salon installed in his family living room.  The event is $5 for Mint Members and $12 for non-members (and free with ID for teens and college students). The cost includes pre-program admission to Body Embellishment. 


Thursday, May 7

Tonight, Sozo Gallery (Hearst Tower, 214 N. Tryon Street) opens new exhibition featuring paintings by local artist Liz Orvos. Stop by the reception between 5:30-8:30 pm and check out Orvos’ paintings – representational landscapes as well as abstract paintings.

Friday, May 8

On Friday, May 8 you can show your support of the local art community by attending Soirée Bohème at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art (420 South Tryon Street). The backdrop for this annual black tie fundraiser is the Bechtler’s current exhibition, The Art Books of Henri Matisse. Throughout the museum there will be specialty cocktails and food from French street food to haute cuisine, entertainment, dancing, and a silent auction. Get your tickets now. Individual tickets are $175 ($135 is tax deductible), with reduced pricing for members.

Saturday, May 9

While you are in Southend having a leisurely Saturday morning, we suggest dropping by Hidell Brooks (1910 South Blvd., Suite 130) to check out new exhibitions by Windy O’Connor and Virginia Scotchie. The exhibitions are on view through June 27 and the gallery is open on Saturdays from 10 am-3 pm (and 10 am-5 pm Tuesdays-Fridays).


Then, head uptown to the Open House at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation. The event is from 12-4pm and offers a great opportunity to meet new artists-in-residence – a local bunch for the summer – including Erik Waterkotte, Charles Williams, Ivan Toth Depeña, and Caroline Rust Ward. The Open House event is a non-intimidating way to meet artists and learn firsthand about their processes and concepts. Just walk into a studio and strike up a conversation. It’s not nearly as difficult as it sounds. Just think if you were the artist and people lingered near your door, peeked in, but never fully engaged. That would be weird. Like a zoo. So just go for it. You won’t regret it. And you will learn something new, we promise. 


Monday, May 11

On Monday evening at 6 pm, visit the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art (420 South Tryon Street) for the latest installment in their Modern Monday events. Alex Matisse, ceramic artist, will discuss his family history and how the artists in his family influenced his work and career, including his grandfather, the gallery owner Pierre Matisse, and his great-grandfather, Henri Matisse. Alex creates wood-fired, salt-glazed, intricately slip-trailed, functional pottery at his studio, East Fork Pottery, in Marshall, NC. There is a cash-bar reception at 6pm, followed by the program at 6:30 pm. Events are $4 for Bechtler members and $8 for non-members.


Wednesday, May 13

Every Wednesday evening, both Mint Museums (Uptown and Randolph locations) open their doors until 9 pm. The best part? General admission is FREE from 5 pm on, though you may have to pay fees for special exhibitions. Regardless, it’s a great way to visit the permanent collections at both locations. If you visit the Uptown location, we suggest dining at the Asbury at the Dunhill because they always have art from local artists on display!

Friday, May 15

On May 15 from 6-9 pm, the McColl Center for Art + Innovation hosts an Open House and reception for a new exhibition by former artist-in-residence Alix Lambert. Based on her experiences working in and around the world of crime, Lambert has explored this concept through sculpture, printmaking, drawing, theater, film, books, and animation. The centerpiece of her new multimedia exhibition, Prison Zoo, is a new claymation piece produced in collaboration with Charlotte-based filmmakers Tim Grant, Nick Vitelli, and Moria Geer-Hardwick. Check out Lambert’s new short, likely to be an important social commentary made approachable through humor. Again, this is a great time to dip into artist studios. We plan to visit Matt Horick, Taproot, and Stephen L. Hayes, Jr.

Alix-LambertAlix Lambert

Also on May 15, check out Union Shop Studio’s (5019 Wilkinson Blvd.) opening reception for Micah Cash’s exhibition, Land Marks. The photographs featured were created for the Arts & Science Council’s Community Supported Art Program (CSA), and explore Charlotte’s growing surburban presence. The reception runs from 6-10 pm. Can’t make it? Hit the Union Shop’s open studio event on Saturday, May 16 from 12-5 pm.


Saturday, May 16

On Saturday, May 16 from 12 to 4:30 pm, kids and families can explore the art and artists in the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art (420 South Tryon Street) during a special Family Day. Drop in anytime during the afternoon for special hands-on art activities, a scavenger hunt, and family-focused docent-led tours (from 1-3 pm). Admission is free for kids and $8 for adults (reduced by $2 if you show a ticket stub from the Lollipops concert).

Remember, for those of us without kiddos, there is also an open studio event at the Union Shop (5019 Wilkinson Blvd.) today from 12-5 pm!

Monday, May 18

For regular readers of HappeningsCLT, you have heard us complain before that many of the arts institutions in Charlotte are not exactly known for their interest in collaboration. So we were delighted to hear about The Amazing Taste – a progressive dinner at the Levine Center for the Arts, on May 18 from 5:30-9:30 pm. The event, held on International Museum Day, will benefit all three of the participating institutions. Tickets are between $100-$120 (depending on whether you are a member of none, one or more institutions), you will enjoy appetizers at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, (551 South Tryon Street) dinner at Mint Museum Uptown (500 South Tryon Street) and dessert and coffee at Blumenthal Performing Arts’ Knight Theater (430 South Tryon Street). The event includes tours of the Gantt’s current exhibition, Venturing out of the Heart of Darkness, the Mint’s exhibition, Body Embellishment, and a musical performance at the Knight Theater. Food is catered by Something Classic Catering and includes West African chicken shish kebob, lamb & potato samosas, spicy beef meatballs with peanut sauce, rocket salad with avocado, spring Strawberries, crispy chick pea croutons ,and a mango vinaigrette, squid ink fettuccini with peppadew pesto and seared scallops, Bang Bang beef short ribs, fresh plum tart with almond cream, individual espresso chocolate cakes, and more! (Sounds good for 2/3 for the HappeningsCLT team but what happened to the veg options? Lettuce. Always lettuce. Sigh.) Wine, beer, and signature cocktails included at all locations, with wine courtesy of Shelton Vineyards and Raffaldini Winery.

Friday, May 22

Head to the McColl Center for Art + Innovation from 8-9:30 pm for New Frequencies, an event showcasing cutting edge music and film from acclaimed international artists. Funded through generous support from the Knight Foundation, the May 22 event features a one-hour program of short films by Janie Geiser, internationally acclaimed animator whose innovative films use cut-out animations, old children’s toys, and bits of archival Hollywood films to weave a hypnotic spell. Admission is $5, with limited seating. The show starts promptly at 8 pm.

Sunday, May 24

Spend the afternoon with at the Culture Initiative’s Culture Fair. This family friendly event will be at the Chop Shop from 1-5 pm and is like a giant swap meet-Memorial Day pig pickin’-arts fair-vintage market all in one. With chefs from Passion 8 and Heirloom and a slew of local artisans already on board, we can’t wait for this event! Stay up to date by checking into the event page on facebook.

Wednesday, May 27

Looking for something fun to do on a Wednesday evening? Check out the Mint Museum’s Fourth Annual Party in the Park. This free event takes place on the front lawn of the Mint Museum’s Randolph Location (2730 Randolph Road). It’s a fun-filled, family-friendly event, benefiting the Mint’s Annual Fund. Pack a picnic and participate in outdoor games set to summer music. The event includes an opportunity to check out the permanent collection, while enjoying a cash bar, food trucks, and a movie once the sun goes down. The event is free, but registration is preferred (with a suggested $10 donation to the Annual Fund).


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