First-Ever #LongLiveArts Community Festival Hits Uptown Saturday


ON SATURDAY (May 21), the Levine Center for the Arts hosts the #LongLiveArts Community Festival in uptown. The free festival takes art into the streets, with a main stage located on Levine Avenue and host Moira Quinn of Center City Partners. Visitors can compete in a #LongLiveArts Festival Portrait Paint-Off after a demonstration by oil painter Gordon James. There are performances from Caroline Calouche’s aerial dancers, Drums4Life, Blue Moon Puppets, Africano Campbell, and a salsa demonstration throughout the day. The Symphony Guild of Charlotte's Musical Petting Zoo, a hands-on activity with instruments, takes place ahead of the Charlotte Symphony's evening performance of Romeo & Juliet, which follows the festival at 7:30 p.m. (The concert can be watched for free via a “plazacast,” a large screen displaying the show in front of the Firebird statue at the Bechtler.) And throughout the day, three museums offer free admission.

Catherine Courtlandt McElvane, the principal organizer, says this is an opportunity to “connect the dots” between the Levine Center's four institutions: The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Blumenthal Performing Arts’ Knight Theater, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, and Mint Museum Uptown. “This is about bringing the best of what’s inside to the outside,” McElvane says. “There are amazing things that happen inside those four walls of each institution, but this is an opportunity to bring that all out into the open and have some fun.”

During the past year, the Levine Center for the Arts rolled out initiatives to represent the partnership between the arts venues. These new concepts include the "Art Break" tours, which are free lunch-hour walkthroughs of new exhibits at the museums, and a common admission pass to visit all three for $20. Yet, on Saturday, they're free. Thirty-minute, docent-led tours, under the “ArtBreak” banner, occur at noon, 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. McElvane sees this as an opportunity for each of the museum’s core audiences to—and for first-timers to all of the institutions.

“There are definitely people who have never set foot in some places, like the Gantt Center, for a variety of reasons,” McElvane says. “This becomes a chance for people to take advantage of the free tours and peeks at new exhibits. And they may say, ‘Hmmm. Maybe I’ll come back here next week.’ We want to make these places into destinations for newcomers.”

Check out #LongLiveArts Community Festival on the 500 block of South Tryon St. on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you can’t make it out on Saturday, the symphony plazacast is also offered on Friday, May 20.  The Bechtler and Mint offer free access that night, too, with Bechtler By Night's 6 p.m. -9 p.m. window and Mint open 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

The complete festival schedule:
10:00 a.m.: Charlotte Symphony Musical Petting Zoo at Creativity Caravan

10:15 a.m.: Portrait Painting Demo with Gordon James at Live Art Circle

11:15 a.m.: Drums4Life at the main stage

11:30 a.m.: Blue Moon Puppets (Roaming)

11:30 a.m.: Portrait Paint-Off at Live Art Circle

12 p.m.: Guided tours at Bechtler, Gantt, Mint

12:30 p.m.: Conscious Co-Creation: Micaila Milburn Thomas performance on main stage

1 p.m.: Guided tours at Bechtler, Gantt, Mint

1:15 p.m.: Caroline Calouche & Co. Creativity Caravan Aerial Dance at Creativity Caravan

2 p.m.: Guided tours at Bechtler, Gantt, Mint

2:30 p.m.: Africano Campbell performance on main stage

3 p.m.: Art class with Cathay Dawkins at Live Art Circle

3:15 p.m.: Dancehall Groove with Soumayah on main stage

4:15 p.m.: Tenya Colemon performance on main stage

5:00 p.m. Salsa Dancing with Rossana Fore on main stage


More about each museum:
The Bechtler’s building, designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, is a modern work of art itself, and Niki de Saint Phalle’s iconic outdoor sculpture, “The Firebird,” welcomes visitors. Inside, you’ll find fine art exhibitions, films, jazz, classical concerts, and talks. The House That Modernism Built (through Sept. 11) explores mid-20th century art, furniture, textiles, and more, offering examples of how the principles of modernism still resonate today. The Art of the Print (through June 19) explores the medium of printmaking and how the different processes work. Examples by Eduardo Chillida, Marino Marini, Martin Disler, and many others are spotlighted. 420 S. Tryon St.

Once called the Afro-American Cultural Center, this museum opened in the 1970s and jumped around to different venues before settling in its current South Tryon Street location in 2009. Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts (through June 26) celebrates the famous ensemble with costumes, set pieces, and video excerpts. 1960Now (through June 26) is the work of photographer and activist Sheila Pree Bright, who provides black-and-white images of the ’60s Civil Rights movement and current activists. The museum’s permanent exhibition, the John & Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art, showcases the work of 20 artists, including Charlotte native Romare Bearden. 551 S. Tryon St. 

The offshoot of its sister location on Randolph Road, the Mint Museum Uptown has a renowned craft and design exhibit that showcases works in a variety of materials, as well as collections of American, contemporary, and European art. Here & Now: 80 Years of Photography at the Mint (through Sept. 18) highlights about 100 photos from the Mint’s permanent collection. Pumped: The Art & Craft of Shoemaking (through July 31) shows the wildest and most fascinating shoes from the museum’s permanent collection. 500 S. Tryon St. 

Categories: Arts + Culture