The Best Contemporary Art Galleries In Charlotte, NC

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A. J. Samuels

Traditionally associated with sports and banking, North Carolina’s largest city has become increasingly arts-focused in recent years. The skyscraper-laden uptown district is home to several prestigious new museums, whilst elsewhere the city boasts a variety of thriving private and independent galleries. From specialists in U.S. art to those exploring Latin American creativity, these are some of the best galleries and museums for contemporary art in Charlotte.

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The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

The Harvey B. Gantt Center celebrates African-American culture through visual art, music, dance, theater, and film. It is located in the heart of Charlotte’s business district, alongside other institutions that form the Levine Center For The Arts. In an area that was once the hub of the black community, this stylish new building exhibits works that explore issues relevant to this particular community. The building’s architectural design takes inspiration from the neighborhood’s old Myers Street School, with stairs and escalators mimicking the school’s ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ concept of enlightenment and educational advancement. The Center is also home to The John & Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art, which includes works by the likes of Jonathan Green, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.

Mint Museum UPTOW

Mint Museum UPTOWN is one of Charlotte’s three new museums built as part of the Levine Center For The Arts in the uptown district of the city. In 2010 it acquired its Modern & Contemporary Art Collection from the pre-existing Mint Museum RANDOLPH. This globally significant collection includes paintings, sculptures, photography, works on paper, artists’ books, installations, and new media. The five-story museum is also home to contemporary decorative arts, with a focus on international craft and design from the 21st century. In addition, Mint Museum UPTOWN houses a collection of American art, including works by Robert Henri and other American realists. Its varied exhibition program features artists such as Jennifer Steinkamp, whose nature-themed digital animations have been projected on the walls, captivating audiences.

Jerald Melberg Gallery

Jerald Melberg Gallery brings over 30 years of experience to Charlotte’s art scene. When the gallery first opened, owner Jerald Melberg used his previous expertise as curator at the city’s Mint Museum Of Art. The gallery today represents acclaimed artists from the U.S., Argentina, and Spain, including the world-renowned Romare Bearden, Wolf Kahn, and Robert Motherwell. Past exhibitions have shown diverse styles, especially via group shows, which range from a celebration of the figure in art to collage works by 16 different artists. Jerald Melberg Gallery has also participated in international art fairs, such as Art Miami, Exposition Chicago and New York’s The Armory Show.

LaCa Projects

Charlotte’s art scene has been enriched by the exciting new LaCa Projects gallery, which opened on Bryant Street in March 2013. The initiative hopes to ‘become a premier resource in the U.S.’ for Latin American Contemporary Art (LaCa). The objectives of LaCa Projects also include an on-site restaurant and studios where visitors can watch artists at work. The gallery represents a small group of emerging and mid-career artists in addition to hosting exhibitions by established and master Latin American artists. Past shows have featured color lithographs by the likes of Rufino Tamayo, the internationally acclaimed Mexican modern artist whose career spanned more than 70 years.

New Gallery of Modern Art

Home to one of the most significant private collections in Charlotte, New Gallery of Modern Art holds works by Picasso, Chagall, Miro, Matisse, Basquiat, and Warhol. It also showcases prominent contemporary artists, such as Anish Kapoor, Robert Mars, Damien Hirst, and Shepard Fairey. By introducing internationally renowned artists to Charlotte, the gallery hopes to inspire private collectors and fulfil its educational goals. In addition, it supports regional artists like Hoss Haley, Willie Little, and Maja Godlewska amongst others.

Shain Gallery

Located in Myers Park, Shain Gallery is one of the more established contemporary art galleries in North Carolina. Founded in 1998, it represents over 40 regionally and nationally acclaimed artists. The gallery’s annual exhibition program includes group shows with themes such as Low Country Scenes and September Introductions, the latter featuring the work of new artists. Shain Gallery also hosts solo shows by individuals like Andy Braitman, Dennis Campay, and Carol Bodiford. Braitman has played an important role in Charlotte’s art scene by opening a Studio that teaches over ten classes per year and has a successful artists-in-residence scheme.

McColl Center for Visual Art

Housed in a neo-Gothic church in uptown Charlotte, the McColl Center For Visual Art is home to nine artists’ studios and a large gallery. Its artists-in-residence are encouraged to work in front of an audience, engaging with visitors through their practice. Such artists include Aurora Robson whose beautifully inventive sculptures made from recycled materials address issues of environmental conservation. With a strong community focus, the McColl Center For Visual Art also runs open studios, workshops, and various outreach programs. Furthermore, in 2005, the Center’s President and CEO, Suzanne Fetscher, set up the Innovation Institute to inspire businesses and other organizations to find creative solutions via the help of successful artists.

The Light Factory

Charlotte’s photography and film specialist The Light Factory is both a contemporary museum and an educational facility. It runs inspiring courses catered towards adults and school students, covering skills such as photojournalism, animation, and black and white photography. For over 40 years it has played an important cultural role in the city, which will be further enhanced by the opening of its renovated gallery in summer 2014. In addition to exhibitions, the venue hosts film screenings, which sometimes feature the works of local and regional filmmakers. The Light Factory also holds gallery talks, members’ shows, and a prestigious annual art auction.

Elder Gallery

Larry Elder founded the Elder Gallery to showcase a diverse mix of American art. Its spacious venue, filled with light from large windows, is ideal for displaying all genres. The gallery also exclusively represents nationally significant artists’ collections, including Leon A. Makielski (1885-1974), Ernest Walker (1892-1991) and Carl Plansky (1951-2009). Its exhibition program often features group shows, such as that displaying works of the ceramics specialists Peter Callas, Warner Hyde and Michael Weber. In addition, Elder Gallery runs a popular jury-judged art competition, called Carolina’s Got Art!, for artists living and working in North and South Carolina.

Hidell Brooks Gallery

Located in Charlotte’s historical South End, Hidell Brooks Gallery is a bright, airy space. The gallery represents established and emerging American artists, including those whose talents are rarely seen in the Southeast. Its exhibition program rotates every six to eight weeks with both solo and group shows. Shows have included Ruth Ava Lyons’ and Johan Hagaman’s works themed around an exploration of the inner self, especially with regard to the natural environment. In 2013, Hidell Brooks celebrated its 15th year with a gallery renovation and enlargement, which was perfect for displaying new pieces created for the occasion.

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