Celebrate Romare Bearden, Richard Hunt and ‘Spiral Odyssey’

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Why This Matters: “Spiral Odyssey,” a sculpture by Richard Hunt, will be dedicated Sept. 23, 2017, at Romare Bearden Park in uptown Charlotte. Hunt and park namesake Romare Bearden will be celebrated in several events that day.
Spiral Odyssey.
Spiral Odyssey.
By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

Two of the most influential African-American artists of the 20th century – one of whom is one of Charlotte’s favorite sons – and one of uptown’s newest public artworks will be celebrated on the same day.

The public dedication for “Spiral Odyssey,” the public artwork created by Chicago artist Richard Hunt and installed in May, takes place Sept. 23 at uptown Charlotte’s Romare Bearden Park, where the nearly 30-foot tall and 8,000-pound stainless steel sculpture is located.

Its title references the role of park namesake and Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden in convening African-American artists in 1963 around arts activism during the Civil Rights Movement. It also alludes to Bearden’s series of works that took Homer’s epic poem as a point of inspiration and departure.

Richard Hunt, legendary sculptor from Chicago.

Hunt and Bearden share the distinction of being the first two African-American artists to have solo exhibitions at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1971. Hunt’s artwork is displayed in museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C. and the National Museum of Israel in Jerusalem.

The dedication of “Spiral Odyssey” will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. It will be followed by free Jazzin’ on the Terrace performances one block away at Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts, where the museum will pay tribute to Hunt and Bearden with two jazz sets of finger-snapping, toe-tapping compositions performed by a local jazz ensemble at noon and 1:30 p.m.

Afterwards, venture inside Mint Museum Uptown to view the Romare Bearden Gallery, which is on view through Nov. 18, 2017, and hosts Bearden’s “Odysseus Series” that Hunt’s sculpture was named for. Admission will be free Saturday, Sept. 23 as part of the national Smithsonian Museum Day Live! celebration. (The Mint will offer free admission all day at both of its locations.)

To continue celebrating the artistic legacy of Romare Bearden, you are encouraged to visit the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, where two additional works by Bearden are on display as part of the museum exhibition “Instill & Inspire: Selections from the John & Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art.” Admission to the Gantt Center will also be free Sept. 23 as part of Museum Day Live! The exhibition runs through Jan. 22, 2018.

Bearden’s “Before Dawn” is also on display at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Main Library in uptown Charlotte. The artwork is part of Mecklenburg County’s public art collection.

The night before the dedication – from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 – Hunt will take part in a conversation with Romare Bearden scholars Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman College, and Robert G. O’Meally, Ph.D., Zora Neale Hurston professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University. The conversation will be livestreamed by The Mint Museum at the link below (the link will be active during the event).

How You Can Celebrate Romare Bearden, Richard Hunt and “Spiral Odyssey”

The following public events and/or exhibitions will take place and/or be available Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017:

  • Public art dedication of “Spiral Odyssey” by Chicago artist Richard Hunt
    10 – 11 a.m.
    Romare Bearden Park (300 S. Church St., Charlotte)
    More Details 
  • Jazzin’ on the Terrace, a musical tribute to Richard Hunt and Romare Bearden
    Noon and 1:30 p.m.
    Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts (500 S. Tryon St., Charlotte)
    More Details
  • Romare Bearden’s “Odysseus Series” on view in the Romare Bearden Gallery
    Free admission Sept. 23 as part of the national Smithsonian Museum Day Live! celebration
    Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts (500 S. Tryon St., Charlotte)
    More Details
  • “Instill & Inspire: Selections from the John & Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art” exhibition featuring two works by Romare Bearden
    Free admission Sept. 23 as part of the national Smithsonian Museum Day Live! celebration
    Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (551 S. Tryon St., Charlotte)
    More Details 

From 6:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, a “Connect & Learn” conversation between artist Richard Hunt and Romare Bearden scholars Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman College, and Robert G. O’Meally, Ph.D., Zora Neale Hurston professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University will be livestreamed by The Mint Museum at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheMintMuseum/live.

Video by Ben Premeaux.

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