Why This Matters: The summer offers many creative individuals a chance to recharge their batteries, tackle personal projects and grow in their chosen fields. Local artists use those experiences to benefit our cultural community.
By Bernie Petit
Summertime means more than trips to the beach and drinks by the pool for creative individuals.
For many, it’s the ideal time to grow in their chosen artistic fields or prepare for the upcoming cultural season.
The summer offers local artists opportunities to recharge, exposure to new techniques and time to tackle personal projects or just think about short- or long-term goals.
As a result, they are able to incorporate what they learn or experience in their work, much to the benefit of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural community.
Here’s a look at how four creatives spent their summer “vacations.”
Practice Like You’re On Vacation
Andrea Mumm is in Boulder as principal harp for the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra.
The Colorado orchestra’s six-week season features weekly mainstage performances and up to three chamber shows a week. (“It’s a very busy schedule,” Mumm said.)
Boulder’s low humidity, temperate weather and Rocky Mountains scenery add to the overall experience, said Mumm, who spends the rest of the year as principal harp for Charlotte Symphony.
But her favorite part of the summer?
“I can practice five hours a day, which is a luxury,” she said.
In addition to playing with Charlotte Symphony, Mumm teaches students at Davidson College, UNC Charlotte and UNC Greensboro.
She considers herself “the ambassador of harp in Charlotte” and said she won’t pass up a local opportunity to play. It makes time to practice, learn new pieces and recharge her solo battery a commodity.
“It’s so nice that my only job here is to play in a symphony and do my solo practice,” she said. “It feels like I’m on vacation.”
Solving Her Summer
Seventeen-year-old Cody Shields’ ability to speed-solve one of the world’s most popular puzzles landed her a summer job at Discovery Place.
She’s working at the science center’s “Beyond Rubik’s Cube” exhibit, which explores how the worldwide phenomenon has fostered creativity across the fields of science, technology, engineering, robotics, the visual arts, music, film, architecture and mathematics.
One out of every seven people on the planet has played with a Rubik’s cube and over 1 billion cubes have been sold around the world.
Shields wasn’t thinking about any of that when she first picked up the puzzle toy. She was bored.
“I just had one sitting on my shelf and I was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to solve this,’” she said. “It was winter and I couldn’t really go outside. I looked up a tutorial on YouTube and just figured it out from there.”
Working at the world’s first museum exhibition about the Rubik’s Cube has given her a new perspective of the puzzle.
“Now that I’m older,” she said, “I can appreciate the math and science and the mechanics that went into this twisty thing.”
Just a Bit of a Break from the Norm
“Summer time is chill time for me,” said Quentin Talley, founder and executive director of On Q Performing Arts. “By the time Fourth of July hits, I don’t even want to think about theatre.”
That’s because he’s flexing his creative muscles in other ways.
Since returning to Charlotte after a cross-country trip to help a friend move to Los Angeles, he’s been writing, doing poetry and performing with his R&B and spoken word band, Quentin Talley and the Soul Providers.
“The summer for me is always about taking time for me because I never have time to take time for me during my regular season,” he said. “It’s a different focus for me.”
This is the time of year when Talley said he usually has his best ideas because he’s not managing the daily operations of a company in the midst of its season.
“The summer is always a recharge for me,” he said. “But once that hiatus is over I’m ready to get back to it.”
Her Summer is History
This is Brenda Tindal’s first summer at Levine Museum of the New South as staff historian.
“I’m still learning so much about the routine and the rhythm of our museum,” she said. “We also have lots of wonderful changes on the frontier.”
For Tindal, preparing for those changes means getting a pop-up porch adaptation of the museum’s “¡NUEVOlution! Latinos and the New South” exhibit ready for travel to various community locations across the county beginning in mid-August. It also means getting the museum ready for life after “¡NUEVOlution!,” which explores how Latinos are shaping the South and the South is shaping Latinos.
That involves lots of research for future exhibits, which Tindal loves.
For her, it’s a summer scavenger hunt of sorts that entails taking on the white-gloved work of traditional historian, digging though digital resources, reading the work of other scholars and historians, and sitting in the archives to find photos that will illuminate the exhibits.
“I’m definitely a quintessential nerd of sorts so I love being able to dig into the archives,” she said. “Research is such a multi-pronged activity, especially in the realm of creating an exhibit.”