While much of Charlotte's fine art focus is Uptown with the city's new museum complex, officials at the Mint are shifting their attention back to their roots. The first major painting exhibit to come to the Mint's original home on Randolph Road in more than six years opens this weekend.
The Mint Uptown is like the glamorous and alluring younger sister in a Jane Austen novel; the Mint on Randolph is her older, spinster sister who struggles to compete for suitors.
But she's got one now.
Richard Caton Woodville was an influential American painter at a turbulent time in the nation's history. He lived from 1825-55, making him just 30 years old when he died.
His mostly domestic scenes of people playing games or chatting idly in pubs and parlors often feature soldiers from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Somber-looking slaves stand in the shadows.
Woodville's work is rarely on exhibit, so Mint communications director Hillary Cooper says this show on loan from a museum in Baltimore is a big deal. And it's at the Mint on Randolph Road for a reason: "We want to make sure that the community knows that Randolph is alive and kicking," says Cooper.
Keeping the Randolph building open eats nearly half a million dollars of the Mint's ever-tightening annual budget. For the first time in recent memory, Mint CEO Kathleen Jameson says the museum will dip into its cash reserves to make ends meet this fiscal year.
With a gleaming new building uptown, why hang onto Randolph Road?
"You know, I get this question all the time," says Jameson. "There is a perception that Randolph is somehow an albatross, but we don't view it that way at all."
Jameson says half of the Mint's staff is housed at Randolph Road along with 85 percent of the museum's collection. Without Randolph, Jameson says the Mint would have to rent space somewhere else. Whereas both of the Mint's current locations are rent-free thanks to a deal with the city, which owns the buildings.
"New Eyes on America: The Genius of Richard Caton Woodville" opens Friday evening and is free to the public on Saturday, June 29.
This story is produced through the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance, a consortium of local media dedicated to covering the arts.