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Today Charlotte will come alive with activities to honor one of its native sons – Romare Bearden. The celebration was perfectly timed to begin on the centennial of Bearden’s birth. While other cities around the country, including New York City, Charlotte’s celebration will be the sweetest as we can claim the right to be called Bearden’s home (he was born here in 1911).

Locally, more than 30 local, regional and national organizations have joined forces to host events honoring the legacy of one of the nation’s most preeminent artists.

In addition, The Mint Museum Uptown and The Harvey B. Gantt Center will also debut exhibitions in Bearden’s honor.

The Mint Museum’s exhibition, Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections, debuts on Friday and runs through January 2012. Southern Recollections is the exhibition is the first of its kind to examine in depth how the South served as a source of inspiration throughout Bearden’s career. The exhibition highlights themes unexplored in prior exhibitions or writings, and surveys fifty years of the artist’s work including his early abstract paintings and the influential collages that dominated his later body of work. Among the large thematic groupings will be selections from the Prevalence of Ritual series, which includes Bearden’s first revolutionary collages that demonstrate his ability to transform life into art, revealing abiding rituals and ceremonies of affirmation. Elements seen in this series are repeated throughout Bearden’s oeuvre, serving as icons for his statements about life in America. One such icon is the locomotive, which not only symbolizes a means of moving from one place/mode of life to another but also references the Underground Railroad, as well as the migration of Southern blacks to northern cities in the early twentieth century. The exhibit was made possible by generous contributions from Wells Fargo and Duke Energy.

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture will present three exhibitions focused on Bearden beginning today.

Paper Trail: Romare Bearden Works on Paper features rarely seen watercolors and prints by Bearden. In Romare Bearden: The Life, photographer Frank Stewart captures the artist in his studio; with prominent artists and cultural figures; during moments of introspection; and with friends and family. The work of painters, printmakers and mixed-media artists represent those who were influenced by Bearden in Beyond Bearden: Creative Responses.

Below is a listing of select events occurring during the Bearden 100 opening weekend in Charlotte. To view a full list of weekend activities and for events following opening weekend go to

Friday, 2 September

8:30 a.m.

Groundbreaking for Romare Bearden Park, Corner of 3rd & Church Streets

Congressman Mel Watt, County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts and Mayor Anthony Foxx expected to make remarks around 9:15 a.m. Event program available at

6 p.m.

First Friday Exhibition Opening, Mint Museum Uptown

Enjoy gallery tours, live entertainment, hands-on collage activities, cash bar, and Bearden birthday celebrations as part of the Bearden 100 celebration!

8 p.m.

On Q Presents Paul Robeson, Duke Energy Theatre at Spirit Square

A two-man show that chronicles the life of actor, athlete, political activist and singer Paul Robeson. This true-to-life story takes us through his childhood to his adult life around the world as he tells personal stories about family, racism, injustices and the social climate of the era. The first show of the season is presented with support from Opera Carolina, and is a chronicle of actor, athlete, political activist and singer Paul Robeson. This show will also be held on Saturday, September 3 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, September 4 at 3 p.m.

Saturday, 3 September

1 p.m.

Conversations at Gantt Public Lecture Romare Bearden’s Innovative Printmaking Practice with Pamela Ford, Harvey B. Gantt Center

From the mid 1960s until the 1980s Romare Bearden created a body of print works using a range of techniques that include etching, screen printing and lithography. Working in close collaboration with master printmakers, Bearden expanded his artistic practice which brought his work to a broader audience. The prints share many familiar and admired themes and motifs with his collages that Bearden reinterpreted through cutting edge technology, employing his unmatched talent for invention. Ms. Ford’s talk will discuss selected print works from the Gantt Center’s exhibition based on recent research. The event is free with museum admission and open to the public; however, RSVP is required –

Sunday, 4 September

3 p.m.

Premiere: Romare Bearden’s Jazz Compositions in Performance

Mint Museum Uptown

A rare performance of some of Bearden’s written jazz compositions, part of the Bearden centennial celebration.