The Charlotte Art Revolution Continues: The 80 x 80 Art Show

By: Derek Bastien


A New Art Show for a New Art Age

You’ve probably been to an Art Show before. You’ve probably even been to a couple here in Charlotte. But I can tell you, you’ve never been to something like this.

I think there are a lot of very special aspects to this show. Here are three:

  1. It’s the first show put on by the Young Affiliates of the Mint, Charlotte’s oldest Young Professional organization dedicated to supporting the Mint Museum and arts in Charlotte.
  2. It’s the first show in Charlotte’s recent history to open up space in an institutional art museum to the contemporary arts community at large in this scale of survey.
  3. And it’s the only art show in Charlotte’s history to accomplish this on this scale in the unfinished gallery space at the Level Five Expansion Space of Mint Museum Uptown.

Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to 80 x 80.

80 X 80? Are those the Dimensions of the Pieces? (Hint…No)

Nope. The 80 X 80 Art Show presented by Beacon Partners is a celebration of the Mint Museum’s 80th anniversary with 80 pieces of artwork. Established in 1936 in the old Charlotte Mint Building completed in 1837, the Mint Museum is North Carolina’s first art museum and a cultural institution of the southeast.  

The show has a total of 80 pieces of artwork by 68 artists from 17 states. 80 X 80 received an overwhelming amount of support from the art community with the number of submissions that were received, with the final collection being narrowed down by the show’s three esteemed jurors from a staggering 1,100 artwork submissions by 320 artists.

What to Expect when Expecting

…An incredible experience (not a baby, lol). I had the privilege of previewing the completed show this week, and let me just tell you: I was speechless. It’s an incredible experience to go to a polished, institutional art museum like the Mint Museum and feel like you are at an underground art show at the same time. Because the show is specifically in the Mint Uptown’s unfinished Level Five Expansion Space, I got such a pure, unadulterated feeling from it all: no fancy ceilings, no fancy décor, just raw art in a raw space.

One of the best parts of 80 X 80 was the specific intention of not having a specific theme or medium. So what you see is a range of works in painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, and much more. But most importantly, what you see is a range of perspectives and stories all blending together in one space: eerie stories, complicated stories, sad stories, happy stories: but all of them beautiful stories.

The Universal Language

Some people say it’s math. Others say it’s love. Nay, I say, our universal language is art. I’ve said to many of my friends that there are four fundamental components of being human that have transcended all races, cultures, civilizations, and ages of humankind. And they are 1) music, 2) dancing, 3) visual art and 4) making love. These are four things that humans have used to express their emotion since the beginning of humankind.

And really, if you think about it, all four of those things fall under the umbrella of art (I couldn’t pick just one, so insert your own inappropriate joke about item number four being art, lol). But in all seriousness, these are fundamental components of being human.

I’ll admit I am not the most terribly well versed man in the language of art. Many of my YAM colleagues and friends in the art community are far more educated, refined, and cultured. But for this show, you can just be a human being and experience it just as powerfully.

Because I did. In that raw space, you can feel the artists’ emotion bleeding from their work, into the space, and into you. I was surprised by how much I was feeling and the wide range of emotions I felt by just walking that space and studying the different pieces. I was blown away.

And that emotion that you feel, that understanding with the artist…that’s art. That’s the universal language. Because that’s just being human.

The Art Revolution in Charlotte Continues

I’ve only been in Charlotte for three years, but in that time, the art scene in Charlotte has completely transformed. We’ve seen many art organizations created; we’ve seen new art studios, new galleries, and new artists; and just in general, we’ve seen a renewed interest and momentum of art in our city.

This support for human expression through the gift of art is a huge part of what turns a city into a cultural institution. It’s a huge part of what makes a community understand different ideas and people of different backgrounds. It’s a huge part of what makes us realize that despite our differences, we are really the same. Because art brings us together.

And this, ladies and gentleman, is precisely what makes the 80 X 80 Art Show so incredible.

Additional Information:

The Grand Opening for the 80 X 80 Art Show presented by Beacon Partners is this Friday, June 10th from 6pm-10pm on the Level Five Expansion Space of the Mint Museum Uptown. Entry is open and FREE to the public. It will be open and free to the public for the duration of the exhibit until June 25th.

The panel of distinguished jurors includes Mary Edith Alexander, curator for Bank of America Corporate Art Program; Grace Cote, Senior Coordinator at Jerald Melberg Gallery; and Lori Kornegay, Curator of Art & Public Engagement at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.

Derek Bastien |

Chief Business Development Officer at EatWorkPlay, freestyle rapper, expert jokester, and professional socializer.