The Mint Museum does it again

Arts / Article

The Mint Museum may have a shiny new uptown location in the Levine Center for the Arts campus on South Tryon Street, but the original Mint Museum on Randolph Road has not been forgotten. Yesterday was a monumental testimony to that with the unveiling of the new Tetsunori Kawana ikebana bamboo sculpture, entitled “Passages: Green Wall.” This was accompanied by its free “Community Day” celebration of Japanese culture and traditions.

“Passages: Green Wall” is one of the Mint Museums’ “Project Ten Ten Ten” commissioned works. In conjunction with the October 2010 grand opening of the Mint Museum Uptown, the Mint Museum of Craft + Design launched “Project Ten Ten Ten.” When completed, the Museum will have commissioned 10 of the world’s most innovative craft artists to create works for its collections.

Kawana’s amazing bamboo creation is a unique example of the simple strength and graceful beauty of the ancient art of Ikebana. “Passages: Green Wall,” a 20 by 20 by 82- foot passageway, is a vision of Kawana that was brought to life with the hard work of the artist and community volunteers. ( This is in spite of the fact it was constructed while Charlotte faced some of the hottest and wettest weather in the past few weeks.) Built of straight and split Madake bamboo, the installation is a dichotomy of thick, strong bamboo stalks intertwined with fragile wisps of bamboo strips. The finished structure now provides a passage for spectators to travel through and around. The artist’s original hope is for visitors to leave the installation with a sense of well-being and connectedness to the natural cycle of life. It sure seemed like he was touching many lives yesterday.

Driving up to the Mint Museum Randolph Sunday afternoon was exciting for a number of reasons, the first being the immediate impression of this massive Ikebana bamboo structure against the backdrop of the classical museum architecture. But the jam-packed parking lot overflowing into the grassy area was a visceral reminder that other Charlotteans realize the value of yet another gift to our city from the Mint Museums.

The Mint Museums have long offered the city free opportunities to experience art through its “Community Days” and free access to museums. Now every Tuesday is free from 5 to 9 p.m. This weekend’s celebration was filled with demonstrations of things like traditional Japanese tea ceremony, ikebana, calligraphy, music and more. Even the artist Kawana was in attendance.

Celebrations are always significant, but realize that “Passages: Green Wall” will be with us for the next year. It’s a unique cultural, art experience, but, as an outdoor sculpture, it is ever-changing. Depending on the time of day or day of the year, the light, the shadows and the environment will vary. Take a picnic to hang out on the spacious park-like grounds of the Mint Museum Randolph. And, don’t forget there are great art collections inside, too. Among other things, explore art through the ages with its costume collections, and enjoy a wide variety of ceramic pieces spanning many years and cultures.

NOTE: If you donated to Arts & Science Council, a KnightArts grantee, your “Connect with Culture” card will get you a buy-one-get-one free admission. (This excludes specially ticketed events.)

Passages: Green Wall” by Tetsunori Kawana on view through the next year Mint Museum Randolph 2730 Randolph Road, Charlotte Plenty of free parking. Free to see Kawana’s ikebana bamboo sculpture. Museum hours for both Mint Museum locations: Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Free 5 to 9 p.m.) Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed: Mondays and major holidays