Feb 11, 2023 - Culture

5 takeaways from the two Picasso exhibits on view in Charlotte

"Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds" entrance at the Mint Museum Uptown.

The entrance to "Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds" at the Mint Museum Uptown. Photo: Ashley Mahoney

Charlotte was buzzing in 2021 as the Mint Museum sought public dollars to bring a Pablo Picasso exhibit here. Fast forward to 2023.

What’s happening: Two exhibits featuring the work of Picasso open today at the Mint Museum Uptown. “Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds” and “Bearden/Picasso: Rhythms and Reverberations” are on view through May 21.

Why it matters: The lineup puts an international spotlight on Charlotte. The city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County saw enough value in the project to contribute $250,000 each. While the museum team wouldn’t provide an exact total, we do know pulling this together cost more than $500,000.

  • Approving the funding to bring “Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds” to Charlotte was one of the “easiest votes,” Charlotte mayor pro tem Braxton Winston said Thursday night at the media preview.
  • He also read a proclamation from Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles: Feb. 11 will be Picasso Landscapes Day.

Of note: Opening day is sold out.

Tickets: $25 for adults; $20 for seniors (65+); $10 for museum members and college students with ID.

  • Children ages 17 and under, as well as art teachers, receive free admission.

Here are five takeaways from my visit:

1.  I was wrong about Picasso.

I never understood the hype around Picasso until Thursday night. I understood his significance as a co-founder of the Cubism movement, but struggled to understand his work. I left the museum with a deeper appreciation for the Spanish artist because of the way the exhibit is laid out.

  • Informational tablets near the gallery entrance provide insight into Picasso’s life and works. They’re easy to navigate. I was particularly captivated by his time in Paris from 1943-1945 during World War II.
  • The tablet showed me related works as I made my selection. It helped me find it in the gallery with a big red dot. The experience almost felt like a treasure hunt.
A tablet detailing Picasso's works sits in the gallery at the Mint Museum.
Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
"Clicy Boulevard" in Paris by Pablo Picasso in "Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds." Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
“Clicy Boulevard” in Paris by Pablo Picasso in “Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds.” Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

2. Take your time.

There are more than 45 of Picasso’s paintings on display. There’s no need to rush through them.

"Mougins" by Pablo Picasso. Oil on canvas. Feb. 22, 1965. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
“Mougins” by Pablo Picasso in “Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds.” Oil on canvas. Feb. 22, 1965. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

3. Romare Bearden and I could’ve been best friends.

A photo of the Charlotte native and his cat Gippo covers most of one of the walls between the two exhibits.

  • “The studio he feels is his,” Bearden said of Gippo in a 1968 interview.
  • I’m convinced our mutual love of cats would’ve made us great friends.
  • Go deeper: A Smithsonian piece from 2017 discusses Bearden and his traveling cats.
Charlotte native Romare Bearden and his cat, Gippo. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
Charlotte native Romare Bearden and his cat, Gippo in “Bearden/Picasso: Rhythms and Reverberations.” Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

4. You get to see Bearden finding his voice.

Looking at the 17 Bearden pieces, you can see the difference in this work compared to the collages we’re accustomed to from him.

  • You can see Picasso’s influence on Bearden.
Entrance to "Bearden/Picasso: Rhythms and Reverberations" at the Mint Museum.
Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
"Now the Dove and the Leopard Wrestle" by Romare Bearden in "Bearden/Picasso: Rhythms and Reverberations." Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
“Now the Dove and the Leopard Wrestle” by Romare Bearden in “Bearden/Picasso: Rhythms and Reverberations.” Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

5. Getting local artists involved is crucial.

Something Charlotte did well during “Immersive Van Gogh” was getting local artists involved. You’ll see murals by local artists in what the Mint Museum is calling “Playing Pablo” during the run of the show. Some are already up, while others will go up soon.

  • Where you’ll find them: The Mint Museum Randolph and Uptown, Camp North End, Optimist Hall and Queens University of Charlotte. The murals at the Uptown location are currently up on the fifth floor.
  • The artists: Carla Aaron-Lopez, Dammit Wesley, Arko, CHDWCK, Sam Guzzi, Hannah Fairweather, HNin Nie, Kalin Renee, Mike Wirth, Emily Nuñez, Frankie Zombie and Garrison Gist.
A banner for "Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds" hangs outside the Mint Museum Uptown.
Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
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