Thursday, August 2, 2012

Arts venues lead into DNC with free Labor Day

The Mint Museum Uptown, Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and Bechtler Museum of Modern Art will open for free on Labor Day in conjunction with the CarolinaFest that precedes the Democratic National Convention. 

The Mint and other uptown cultural institutions hope to share the limelight when the political lollapalooza brings battalions of out-of-towners to uptown Charlotte. Many of them have exhibitions that tie in with U.S. politics and culture, from Madeleine Albright's patriotic jewelry at the Mint to centuries' worth of historic American artifacts at the Gantt Center. The Bechtler Museum, taking a more international tack, will spotlight the Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti. (Photo of Albright's flag pin: Mint Museum.) 

While the Democrats are swarming around uptown, locals who want to visit uptown for some culture will need to be on alert. The museums' hours of operation are likely to be off-kilter.

Eighteen special events are booked at the Mint during the week of Sept. 1-7, the museum says, and more may land on the schedule. When a big shindig takes over the entire museum, the doors will be closed to the general public. The Mint hopes to keep its Randolph Road location open during its normal times, but that could change if bookings proliferate. The Labor Day hours for the Mint Uptown will be announced as the date approaches.  

So the Mint urges Charlotteans to check its website before planning visits during the convention week. That will probably be wise with other uptown venues, too. The Bechtler Museum's schedule changes are likely to include closing Sept. 2, 5 and 6 and reduced hours Sept. 4 and 7. Because streets and parking may be out of whack, the Mint also recommends taking public transportation.  

Surely the convention throng will include James Carville, the Democratic strategist and ragin' Cajun. If he lands at any of the get-togethers at museums and looks around, maybe that'll make him rethink a comment he once made about Charlotte. 

It was before my time here, but Carville reportedly described Charlotte as: "Mayberry with a really big airport." At the time, he may have been right.