Japanese artist Jun Kaneko just lost his hold on prime South Tryon Street real estate, but he'll be back uptown soon.
Movers arrived at the Mint Museum Uptown on Monday and packed up Kaneko's "In the Round." The 12-foot-tall sculpture had stood sentinel on the Mint's plaza since last winter, when it tied in with more of Kaneko's art on display up the street: his sets and costumes for "Madama Butterfly," which Opera Carolina brought to Charlotte last January.
Kaneko's "Butterfly" designs treated Japanese visual motifs freely, and many viewers saw power in their evocative colors and bold graphics. Opera Carolina had more of Kaneko's art in the works: It had gone in with several other companies to hire him for an opera that gives an artist's creativity free rein: Mozart's fairy tale "The Magic Flute."
Kaneko's "Flute" premiered last summer at the San Francisco Opera, and Charlotte's audiences will be the second to see it. Opera Carolina's staging opens Jan. 19 at the Belk Theater. Kaneko himself will come along to help introduce it.
In the meantime, "In the Round" is headed back to Kaneko's studio in Nebraska, and Christmas decorations will occupy the Mint's plaza through the holidays. The museum says it hopes to put another art work there next year.
("In the Round" photo: Kristen Watts, Mint Museum Uptown; "Magic Flute" photo: San Francisco Opera, 2012)