Artists Reckoning with Home: Celebrating Romare Bearden
Acclaimed visual artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988) spent his early childhood in Charlotte, part of a thriving African American community that centered on the Black business district known as Brooklyn. Though Bearden lived and created most of his art in New York, the Charlotte of his memory is prominent in much of his work. He understood himself as a southerner. eventually claiming, “I never left Charlotte, except physically.”
In iconic collages created in the last 15 years of his life, Bearden reckons with his homeland in a fusion of memory and mythic imagination that depicts the rich and complex daily lives of African Americans in an early 1900s Charlotte.
In October we honor Bearden’s legacy and the Brooklyn he knew by inviting creators and community members from all backgrounds to engage in a similar reckoning through a series of events that provide opportunities to learn about Charlotte’s past and re-imagine its future.
Bearden Imagines Home: A Community Conversation
Wednesday, October 19, 6:00 pm. Charlotte Lit partners with Mint Museum for this capstone event in our Bearden initiative. Dr. Glenda Gilmore presents “‘I never left Charlotte’ — Romare Bearden Imagines Home.” She will discuss her scholarship on Romare Bearden and read from her new book, Romare Bearden in the Homeland of His Imagination: An Artist’s Reckoning with the South.
Afterwards, Gilmore and Charlotte Judge Regan Miller will engage with audience members in conversation about Bearden, Brooklyn, and the roles of memory and imagination in art and life. The evening is part of the Levine Center For The Arts’ free Wednesday Night Live series. Doors open at 5 pm with music by Dawn Anthony, so plan to arrive early to join the evening’s festivities and see the Mint’s Bearden collection before the 6 pm talk. Then, stay for a post-talk book signing with Dr. Gilmore. Copies available for purchase at Mint Museum that evening.
Chief District Court Judge Regan A. Miller is a native of Charlotte. He obtained his B.A. in Political Economics from Williams College and his law degree from the UNC Chapel Hill. He has worked for the federal government as an Attorney Advisor with the Interstate Commerce Commission, and a Trial Attorney, Supervisory Trial Attorney and Administrative Judge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He was a partner in the Charlotte law firm of Murphy, Chapman & Miller. Governor Jim Hunt appointed him to the bench as a District Court Judge in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina in June 1999. Although he has presided over all types of civil and criminal matters filed in district court, since 2001 Judge Miller has specialized in presiding over family court matters and has primarily presided over juvenile court cases since 2004. He has presided over the Family Drug Treatment Court for Mecklenburg County and is currently Chairman of the North Carolina Family Court Advisory Committee. Judge Miller was appointed by North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker as Mecklenburg County Chief District Court Judge in June 2013.
three more great events
A Night in Brooklyn
Kevin Jones Experience
Marsha W. Rhee, PhD, is Associate Professor of English and founding Co-Director of the Center for Languages, Rhetoric & Culture at Johnson C. Smith University. She is a postcolonial performance scholar who specializes in twentieth-century African American and American literatures. Marsha also serves on Charlotte Lit’s Board of Directors.
Malin Pereira, PhD, is Professor of English & and Dean of the Honors College, UNC Charlotte where she teaches African American literature and poetry as well as an Inquiry into the Visual Arts honors course. She has published extensively on contemporary Black poetry, scholarship on Toni Morrison, and diversity issues in honors leadership.
Kevin Jones — vocalist, recording artist and vocal coach — has enjoyed a music career that spans over four decades. He is one of Charlotte’s most sought-after male vocalists, and has shared the stage with many notable recording artists & musicians, including, B.B. King, Natalie Cole, Bobby Womack, and many more.
Bearden’s Brooklyn: A Walking Tour through Early 1900s Charlotte
Dr. Tom Hanchett is author of a book about Charlotte’s neighborhood history, Sorting Out the New South City. He recently worked with residents to document histories of McCrorey Heights and Oaklawn Park, Black neighborhoods that are Charlote’s first two Post World War II historic districts. Find his writings at HistorySouth.org.
Michael Turner Webb, a graduate of Charlotte’s historically Black Johnson C. Smith University, has worked as a living history interpreter at museums in both Carolinas, and served as Museum Director at the Historic Penn Center near Charleston. In addition to his expertise in Charlotte history, he is a scholar of Negro League baseball.
Writing with Bearden: An Ekphrastic Workshop
Sunday, October 16, 2:00-3:00 p.m., Mint Museum Uptown. Join Charlotte Lit Co-founders Kathie Collins and Paul Reali at the Mint Museum Uptown’s Bearden Gallery to learn about ekphrasis (writing about an art object) and write your own response to one or more pieces of Romare Bearden’s artwork. All ages welcome (under 14 requires parent/guardian participation). Admission is free, but registration through Mint Museum required.
Kathie Collins, co-founder and creative director of Charlotte Lit, is a poet, mythologist, and lifelong student of Jungian psychology—which, consciously and unconsciously, makes its way into her work. She earned her graduate degrees in mythological studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she also served as adjunct faculty. Kathie is author of Jubilee (Main Street Rag). Her poems have appeared in Immanence, Kakalak, Pedestal Magazine, Flying South, and elsewhere.
Paul Reali is co-founder of Charlotte Lit and is a lead for its Authors Lab book-writing program. His fiction has been awarded first place in the Elizabeth Simpson Smith Short Story and Ruth Moose Flash Fiction competitions, and his play Fresh Paint was selected for the Playmakers 10-Minute Play Festival in 2022. Paul was awarded a Wildacres residency in 2022 and received a Regional Artist Project Grant from Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council in 2018. He has an MS in Creativity from SUNY Buffalo State.