Contributor: Meghan Meyers (Charlotte Studio Concierge)
Charlotte is an ever growing metropolis both financially and culturally. It is an interesting time to be a Charlottean and watch a hybrid culture emerge out of the new millennium. The city is easing its way onto the map of American architectural destinations while celebrating local past times and interests.
Downtown Charlotte radiates from the axis of Trade and Tryon streets. As you move South down Tryon street a few blocks you will come to the area that is developing into the Wells Fargo Cultural Campus. The African American cultural center, Mint Museum, Knight Theater, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, and NASCAR Hall of Fame are all located in this general area. I have recently had the pleasure of visiting the Bechtler Museum.
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is the first Modern Art Museum in Charlotte and the Bechtler family pulled out all of the stops to house their personal collection. The building was designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. This adds another world famous name to Charlotte’s architectural collection, which already includes I M Pei, Clark Patterson Lea, Harvey Gantt, etc.
The building is shrouded in terra cotta bricks that range in shape and size to give the building texture and hierarchy. The single column directs the eye to the largest portion of the collection above (the 4th floor) and also celebrates the classical beginnings of the column through its entasis as the terracotta modules recall the craft of brick making.
The collection is small but impressive. The specific foci of the collection are: the European Perspective focusing on the advantages and views of a family based in Zurich, The School of Paris alluding to modern art approaches to abstraction beginning after WWII, and American & British Artists many of which have personal relationships with the Bechtler family. Among the featured artists and sculptors are Alberto Giacometti Charles Edouard Jeanneret. These two artists make up the third floor gallery with many pieces placed together to form a living room. The 4th floor and largest gallery is the most impressive housing works from Italo Valenti, Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Max Ernst, Fernard Leger, Paul Klee, Joan Miro, Andy Warhol and many more.
I would suggest definitely taking the audio tour. It is individual and you are not required to listen to information on every piece of art, just those of your choosing. I learned a great deal about the artists and techniques through this! I will leave you with my two favorite pieces beyond those of Alberto Giacometti.