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September 2011

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, NC, Presents Romare Bearden Centennial Celebration

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Romare Bearden’s Mecklenburg County birth, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, NC, will present three exhibitions, opening on Sept, 2, 2011, and continuing through Jan. 22, 2012. They include: Paper Trail: Romare Bearden Works on Paper, Romare Bearden: The Life, and Beyond Bearden: Creative Responses.

The exhibits will offer a look at Bearden’s richly textured work; a glimpse into his life and personality; and a sampling of the artistic impact he has had, and the respect and high regard he is given by artists who were his contemporaries and successors. All three will expand upon the exhibition of Bearden’s collages coming to Charlotte’s Mint Museum by covering different territory within Bearden’s artistic output, while exploring the African American cultural elements that persisted in his collage-era work and the impact his success and creative excellence has had upon African American artists.  

Paper Trail: Romare Bearden Works on Paper features rarely seen watercolors and prints by Bearden on loan from Charlotte-area collections. These works on paper explore several themes relative to African American cultural experiences as well as Bearden’s personal experiences in North Carolina and in the Caribbean.

Often Bearden’s southern roots appeared in works themed with cabins, conjure women, blues musicians, and rural landscapes.  His urban life in Harlem and Pittsburgh showed up in jazz clubs and musicians, family interiors, and street scenes reflecting community life.  Eventually his visits to the Caribbean led to lush landscapes.  

Though Bearden worked as a modern artist aware of the contemporary canon and its major artists and developments, much of his work was rooted in the specifics of his personal experience as an African American. This exhibition is organized to explore the complex, cultural being that Romare Bearden was.  

Romare Bearden: The Life shows that Frank Stewart had remarkable access to the personal life of Bearden and has documented - in photographs - Bearden’s associations with prominent artists and the political and cultural figures of his day. Stewart also captured moments of introspection, studio work, and Bearden’s personal experiences with his wife and family.  The work gives great visual insight into Bearden, the man behind the art.

The exhibition, Beyond Bearden: Creative Responses shows that as an artist, Bearden was able to master his craft in a singular and virtuosic fashion while - from his roots in African American life - he explored the intimate details of his culture and the grand, enduring themes and interests of the larger art world.  Bearden’s influence was wide and this exhibition presents artists who succeeded him, or those who were his contemporaries, whose creative expression was inspired by Bearden or whose use of collage was affected by his work.

Painters, sculptors, printmakers and mixed-media artists represented in the exhibition include Betye Saar, Camille Billops, Brett Cook, Louis Delsarte, Howardina Pindell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Kerry James Marshall, Nelson Stevens, Maya Freelon Asante, and Nigerian artist Moyo Okediji.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Center at 704/547-3700 or visit (


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