In case you haven’t heard, Raleigh’s festival for creativity, SPARKcon, is going on this weekend. Check out their website for more details. (seriously, I would have done more for SPARKcon this year, but their marketing efforts were so woeful this year, that I never even heard about it until last night.)
I recently received a press release referring to an interesting retail move. Gallery C has moved from Ridgewood Shopping Center to the Blount Street Commons area in downtown. Here is more from the pre-move press release:
On Saturday, July 30, Raleigh’s City Plaza will host the ComeUnityNow Festival (Warning: music) . The event is a nonprofit music and art festival featuring performances by over 30 bands, street entertainers, and visual artists. from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on July 30 at Raleigh’s City Plaza. The event lasts from 10a-10p and will:
Raise funds for ongoing April 16 tornado relief;
Honor the First Responders and volunteers who saved lives, offered comfort, and are helping move people from victims to recovered lives. First responder and emergency vehicles will be on display at the ComeUnityNow Festival; and,
Celebrate the community spirit of togetherness that makes Wake County a great place to call home, especially in the aftermath of a disaster. Local nonprofit organizations and service organizations are encouraged to contact festival organizers to be included under the "Big Tent" ComeUnityNow is organizing on behalf of local charities.
I was really impressed by the work imagined by my brother-in-law’s nephew, Ryan Whitley. A freshman in the NCSU School of Design, Whitley imagined a Warhol-like tribute to the college’s Dean, Marvin Malecha. It took 9 hours for the 35 students to complete the masterpiece tribute.
The group is now selling $15 t-shirts to commemorate this fantastic project. If you are interested let me know.
It would be great if Raleigh had more murals. I love the one that graces the back of the Mission Valley Theater. Perhaps something like this imaging all of Raleigh’s mayors would spruce up some blank wall in downtown…
The only constant in life, is change. There is no better proof than what happened today at the Crabtree Hudson Belk. As detailed in last Sunday’s News & Observer, the entire Belk chain is executing an image overhaul, and this means two things: standardization of the name and changing the logo.
The article detailed how Belk is going for a more modern image by retiring the scripted font and replacing it with a sans serif, all lowercase font. While one of the first new signs was installed last week at Crabtree and I had a chance to discuss it with the installers. The new logo does convey a radically different image for the store, however perhaps more intriguing is the sign technology itself. The second featured photo is a closeup of the “b” and it reveals that the sign’s surface is actually a sea of LED lights. The new Golden Corral on Glenwood features a highlight stripe on the building consisting of yellow LEDs, but their actual sign is still neon. Belk’s is the first such LED sign that I’ve seen in the Raleigh area, and I look forward to seeing it at night.
Another major change that will be difficult to accept is the disappearance of the “Hudson” name from the area stores. Several decades ago Charlotte-based Belk bought several local department stores in the region, but allowed their local flavors to remain. For many years Karl Hudson and his family ran the Triangle area stores and did a fine job. Mr. Hudson died about a decade ago and the rest of the family sold their interest, so the Hudson name has been a non-functional relic; a vestigial reminder of the store that once had fabric, toy, electronic, and furniture departments worth visiting.
The new-look “belk” signs aren’t the only recent addition to the walls of the Crabtree Belk store: 5 banners featuring major works displayed at the North Carolina Museum of Art. The banners are gorgeous, and a significant amount of warmth compared the the building’s beige brick facade. I’m also struck by the selection of the works. They all are classic, but show five extremely different styles of painting, yet as a collection, the colors blend well as a set. This is a real treat for those going to dine at Brio, Fleming’s, or McCormick & Schmick’s.
This fifth annual SPARKcon event begins tomorrow and ends Sunday. SPARKcon the Triangle’s showcase of creativity, talent, and ideas. This year the event showcases events in (a whopping) 16 main categories, including:
The festival has an iPhone app and has excellent event summary pages that are connected to Google Calendar events. However neither of these quite fit my needs, so I created a master event list for the entire weekend. I’ve found it’s easier to just subscribe to the master event list and run off of it and a companion map of the area included than to hassle with the walled gardens of an app.
You can follow all 150+ events by subscribing to gogoraleigh’s SPARKcon calendar at Google Calendar. (Those subscribed to the gogoraleigh Hopscotch calendar are automatically subscribed – just check your calendar for all of the events.) See an event you like? Add it to your own calendar. Unsure about an event? Open up the calendar’s event, and see its link to SPARKcon’s event page, see a map to the venue, or see the overall SPARKcon map (which I highly recommend keeping in your mobile device’s photo gallery. You can even enable an alert for each act if you want.
While people flock to the event and enjoy many of the offerings, the Friday night fashion show is the big event of the weekend. The hour-long show begins at 8pm and features fashion from local designers. Be sure to check out the impressive and always-fresh offerings by Mollybeads at the show!
While SPARKcon has a very good website, to me it is easier to just follow the links to the elements pertinent to mobile devices:
Triangle ArtWorks, Inc., a newly formed nonprofit organization, recently announced the launch of its website and a series of events to link the creative community of the Triangle area and the public. Triangle ArtWorks’ website is a virtual platform to educate and connect the artistic and creative community in the Triangle region, their supporters and the public via discussion forums, articles, blogs, and a clearinghouse for regional resources. The organization is hosting several launch events in the Triangle during the month of August to promote regional networking and collaboration.
Triangle ArtWorks’ charitable and educational mission is to provide services, support and resources to cultivate a vibrant creative community in the Triangle region of North Carolina. From large corporate campuses in Research Triangle Park, to artist cooperatives in Chatham County, the Triangle region has attracted creative talent from across the nation. In fact, the Triangle’s success in attracting artists and creative people has garnered national praise and attention. Yet, the region has lacked a central resource for artists to come together for support, resources and education, for supporters to have an easier way to connect with and support artists and arts groups, and to promote the importance of this community to our region.
Former Raleigh Arts Commissioner, Beth Yerxa, founded Triangle ArtWorks to “create a sense of cohesion for the Triangle’s creative community and its supporters.” Yerxa explained, “The Triangle is made up of many separate towns and cities, with multiple arts councils, different governments, and different priorities for supporting the arts and the creative community. The idea for the website is to have a regional resource for information, education and discussion about what matters to the creative community of the Triangle. We need a better way to connect this community across disciplines and county lines.”
One of our favorite restaurants in Raleigh is Mo’s Diner. Back when the restaurant opened, Hamid and Holly were urban pioneers. They invested their livelihood into a little house at Moore Square, and it turned out to be one of the best restaurants in the Triangle.
The restaurant is still great as ever, but unfortunately Hamid is having health troubles and needs our help. Holly and Mo are not the types of people who want a ton of attention, but if someone’s biggest regret were that too many people loved them, they’d be the richest person in history. Like it or not, y’all , here is the letter the restaurant’s staff sent to fans yesterday, and information about the ways we can all help (in addition to eating at the restaurant, of course).
On behalf of Hamid and Holly, we, Vanessa, Kenneth, Jim, Chris, Stan, Cecilia, and Maria, the staff at Mo’s Diner, want to extend our great appreciation for your patronage over the last thirteen years. We are writing this letter to inform you of some very sad news. Hamid has been diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. It has spread to his spine, and most other bones in his body. He has not worked at the restaurant in some time, and he has been going to medical appointments daily to deal with his situation. Holly has been cooking, managing the restaurant, and accompanying Hamid to all of his appointments. In addition, Holly has been working a second job which provides health insurance. To make matters more difficult, the health insurance for Hamid’s illness has capped, and all of the medical bills are now being paid out of pocket.
We are launching a series of benefits for Hamid to assist in paying his mounting medical bills. We humbly ask that you join us in this endeavor through donations, attendance at the events, and any other means of assistance which you deem appropriate. With the help of Capital Bank, we have set up an account, Friends For Hamid, to manage any funds received for this cause. If you can not attend an event and want to donate, you can send a contribution to Mo’s Diner c/o Friends for Hamid.
We have set up several sites to inform you about the upcoming events:
With some convincing, Holly allowed us to use this e-mail database to send you this message. We felt that sending it through the database of the patrons of Mo’s, it would reach the most people familiar with Mo’s and Hamid and Holly. Again, thank you for dining at Mo’s for all of these years. We look forward to seeing you at the upcoming events.
With our kindest regards and appreciation,
Vanessa Smith Kenneth Strothers Jim Knott Chris Adams Stan Krepps Cecilia Flores Maria Lopez
Below, are the events we have planned to date. Other events will be announced later.
Thursday, July 22 @ 9:00 pm Table for a Friend featuring DJ Robert Mooney $10.00 donation at the door Five Star Restaurant 511 W. Hargett St. Come join us for appetizers, great music and maybe a little dancing.
Sunday August 1 @ 6:30 pm Wine Dinner $100.00 donation Poole’s Diner 426 S. McDowell St. creative, simple offerings carefully executed by Ashley Christensen
Sunday August 15th Mo’s Better Benefit Pour House Music Hall 224 S Blount St Rock Show by Raleigh’s Local Musicians
Sunday August 29th Guest Chefs Benefit Dinner $150.00 Mo’s Diner 306 E. Hargett St. Ashley Christensen, William D’Auvray, Bret Jennings, Matt Kelly & Walter Royal
Sunday September 26th Art & Music Reception Flander’s Art Gallery Art, Hor d’oeuvres & Live Acoustical Music 302 S. West St
Oct (to be announced) Silent Auction 18 Seaboard, Suite 100 Appetizer buffet, silent auction & live music
The color wall art piece that can be seen through the large windows of D.H. Hill will be relit at a special event coinciding with the reopening and dedication of Hillsborough Street. The even will take place on September 25.
A feature piece in today’s Wall Street Journal centers around the North Carolina Museum of Art’s new wing. While the author is somewhat flattering and quickly conveys the NCMA philosophy, she also seems to pine for something more inspirational instead of something so quietly functional. Sound familiar?
Coincidentally, today’s Vanity Fair has a feature where they asked 52 “experts” to name the five most important works of architecture since 1980. They named 132 different structures, including the following museums:
While the list isn’t exclusively iconic structures, it is a list dominated with such. Making 28 of the 52 critics’ lists, the clear overall winner was Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. It is an iconic, daring, world-class masterpiece that has made Bilbao an internationally-known name. Why didn’t we get a building like this?
"I didn’t want a Gehry or a Calatrava," said museum director Lawrence J. Wheeler. "It needed to be not an overstated building, but an art experience; one that’s personal and inviting, not intimidating."
To be fair, the NCMA addition is probably too new to make these critics’ radars. If the Menil Collection made some lists, the NCMA addition is bound to make future lists. However, make no mistake, like Calatrava’s art museum in Milwaukee (which I visited Monday), Gehry’s Guggenheim is an art experience that is personal and inviting, and not intimidating. I do want to enter them.
When You Go… When venturing out to the NC Museum of Art’s Grand Opening Adventure, there are a few things you should know before going:
Wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking, and some surfaces are not solid and stable. Be particularly careful when the long, winding paved path from the parking lots inexplicably becomes a gravel path. Many older patrons had difficulty in this section.
Take a camera. You can now take photos in the galleries. Don’t use your flash, though. Lighting is excellent in the galleries, so your photos will likely have better results using no flash anyway.
Preview the Grand Opening Program (.pdf). It has a complete schedule of events and highlights some key areas that should not be missed.
You will need a free, Timed Ticket to enter the new West Building this weekend. Tickets are completely sold out for the weekend with the exception of Saturday at 9pm.
Download the mp3 audio tour (121Mb) and Sound Track (21Mb) tour at home before you go. That’s right, you no longer have to rent those crappy audio players the museum offers. You can download the dialogue in advance and listen with your own mp3 player. Additionally the selected exhibits with audio commentary are accessible via cell phone. The call is a local call using normal minutes on your plan. Also be sure to charge your phone before entering.
Plan for Wifi. The facility has free wifi. Be sure to check in with Foursquare or and add #ncmaOPEN to your tweets.
Going during lunch? Plan on eating there. There is a food garden this weekend located between the West and East buildings, behind the giant tent. Vendors include Big Oak Catering, Chubby’s Tacos, Hereghty Heavenly Delicious, Neomonde, Only Burger, and more. They all take credit cards. Iris, the Museum’s new restaurant, is not open during the Grand Opening Festival.
Ladies and Gentlemen….your new N.C. Museum of Art!Excuse me. That isn’t right. How about this?
Oh! My bad. How about this?
Pardon me! There has apparently been some sort of malfunction. I now present YOUR new North Carolina Museum of Art:
Yes. That’s actually it. After 3 years of construction, the museum’s new West Building is finally open. The 127,000 square foot building is the new home for the museum’s permanent collection. Designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners, the $72.2million, one-story building features 362 skylights as well as 50% exterior walls of glass to provide 65,000 square feet of daylit galleries. The building’s heating and cooling systems perform at 45% over ASHRAE standards, and its roof water runs to a 90,000 gallon cistern to irrigate gardens and replenish pools.
There are five courtyards accessible from the galleries, and all are paved with loose grey gravel (so be cautious of unsure footing). The courtyards feature several black fountains in which lilies have been planted. While the design near the building is cold, stark, and industrial, the pattern fades as the properties approach the surrounding grass-covered landscapes.
The hallmark of the West building is the Rodin Court and Gardens, made possible by numerous generous contributions, none greater than those of Iris Cantor. The interior portion of this exhibit finds itself in large node connecting several galleries. Oddly the numerous displays of small Rodin pieces on waist-high platforms are reminiscent of a retail setting.
Elsewhere in the West building galleries holding American, Judaic, European, Classical, African, and Modern portions of the master collection can be found. Highlights include a new “spool of thought” on the Mona Lisa, three Monet holdings, the Standing Hanukkah Lamp, and the chilling “Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian” (Michael Richards, pictured). Be absolutely sure that you read the placard for this piece.
The renovated East Building houses the box office, special events, offices, research library, auditorium, and three renovated and expanded exhibition spaces.
There are two schools of thought on the building’s daylit design. One is that a museum design should not distract the patrons and simply provide a framework for appreciating the works in an unbiased environment. By letting as much natural light in and providing a neutral interior, the colors of the works appear as they were intended, and allow a clear interpretation. In order to provide such a light system, a one-story design is used in a setting where land is abundant.
The other school of thought is that the house of great works should also be a great work unto itself, inspiring patrons as future artists no matter the current exhibition.
I tend to be in the second camp. While I personally am more inspired by kinetic arts, the one static art that moves me is architecture. How about the new Taubman Museum of Art (photo) in little bitty Roanoke, VA? Pretty inspiring, eh? I saw some works by some Picasso guy in the New York Guggenheim (photo) and was completely moved by the building, but can’t tell you much about the art on the walls. OK, that’s an exaggeration. However, it should help to explain how disappointed I am with this building. Clearly the building’s strength is its interior but, to me, it looks like a Crate & Barrel store (yes, Apple ripped them off). It is the coldest building complex I’ve ever encountered, and that includes N.C. State Biochemistry classrooms and several prison facilities in which I worked.
The bleak exterior unfortunately appears to have been stricken with the overwhelming bashfulness that besets this city’s architecture. As we drive our visitors around Raleigh, we will have to omit this $75M investment as it can only be appreciated with a significant investment of time and energy.
While the West building certainly earns the spotlight as the primary facility in the grounds, there is an extreme visual disconnection with the 1970’s era East Building. By no means should the museum have felt that they were locked into the existing visual theme (colors, materials, proportions, etc.). However, the West building should have carried some new reinterpretation of the East building, no matter how minor, in order to tie the complex together visually. The architect missed a fine opportunity to make this a stronger complex than it is.
That said, the overwhelming response from dozens of patrons I encountered was that the facility is a success. The West Building is a result of an incredible amount of work by a talented crew. It is a quality building that affords patrons a quality experience on par with the country’s best art museums. For the entire State of North Carolina, it is a fantastic book with an unfortunate cover that should not be missed by its people and their visitors.
The 31st annual Artsplosure celebration will take place on May 15th and 16th in downtown Raleigh. The organization lists on their website some of the acts they already have lined up for the celebration. So far they have listed: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Charlie Musselwhite, The Iguanas, Tinsley Ellis, Maurice Brown, The Explorers Club, Sachal Vasandani, Sharon Little, Pimps of Joytime, Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos, Greg Gelb Band, and Thinkopation. More signings are to come!