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FROM THE EDITOR
CATHY MARTIN EDITOR
PHOTOGRAPH BY TIM SAYER
rowing up, I was one of those nerdy kids who, by the time August rolled around, could not wait for the start of school. I loved all of it — shopping for pencils and notebooks, choosing my outfit for the first day, and the excitement of learning which friends would be in my class, therefore becoming a huge part of my daily existence over the next nine months. For many local children, rituals like these will be irrelevant this fall. Gathering school supplies, for the most part, will involve making sure your internet is up to speed and that every family member has a functioning laptop. Back-to-school clothes only matter from the waist up. But the most disappointing part for most kids will be the inability to socialize with and learn alongside their teachers and friends in the usual ways. Flash back to about 100 years ago, and many Black children across the South were experiencing the thrill of going off to school for the first time. I learned about Rosenwald Schools, which were built to educate Blacks during the Jim Crow era, last October when I visited the Charlotte Museum of History in east Charlotte. I was there to learn more about the nonprofit, its programs and facilities, and its goals. The museum doesn’t always attract as much attention as Charlotte’s other cultural institutions, many of which stand prominently among uptown’s skyscrapers. But the history museum’s efforts to interpret and preserve Charlotte’s history make it a true asset. On that trip, I learned about a museum initiative to preserve Siloam School, a small, single-classroom schoolhouse that opened in the 1920s to educate Black children in Charlotte. Thousands of similar Rosenwald Schools were built across the South between 1917 and 1932. North Carolina had the most, with more than 800. Today, few of the structures remain. The museum is raising money to relocate Siloam, which is in the university area, to its expansive site on Shamrock Drive, and to restore the structure. “If we lose this building, we lose our connection to the voices of the people in the Siloam community who persisted in their quest for a quality education for their children, despite the forces working against them,” says Adria Focht, CEO of Charlotte Museum of History. It plans to use the schoolhouse as a community gathering place, and a place “for conversations, dialogue and work toward reconciliation,” Focht says. And boy, don’t we need that now more than ever. Turn to page 66 to read contributor Michael Solender’s story about the museum’s efforts to preserve Siloam. SP
C H A R LO T T E C H A R L E S TO N World Class Living
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August DEPARTMENTS 19 | Blvd. Alchemy chef Ken Aponte dishes on cooking vegetarian; The Music Yard offers the thrill of live music; Rick Lazes’ favorite things about Charlotte; first look at Little Mama’s Italian Kitchen; Gantt Center CEO on being part of the solution.
41 | Spirit forward Barman Gary Crunkleton’s take on the piña colada.
43 | Simple life In the sweet by and by.
51 | Bookshelf This month's notable new releases..
53 | Omnivorous reader In her latest novel, Sue Monk Kidd imagines the wife of Jesus.
84 | Swirl Gatherings, parties and fundraisers in the Queen City
88 | Snapshot Meet Colleen Bridges, the woman behind Bubbles & Brews Charlotte.
ABOUT THE COVER Traci Zeller and Arcadia Homes create a backyard built for entertaining at Providence Country Club. Photograph by Dustin Peck.
additions renovations signature homes
Charlotte and Boone
making it home since 1950
A T O
YEARS Y DING I L CE EN
G SEVEN IN HO MEB T F X CEL L U E
2 5 O â€“ 2 O
G E N E R A L C O N T R AC TO R
78 FEATURES 58 | Culture picks by Sarah Malone
How to enjoy and support the arts while social distancing.
60 | Changing its tune by Page Leggett
Charlotte Symphony Orchestra brings the music straight to you â€” wherever you are.
62 | After intermission by Michael J. Solender
Blumenthal CEO Tom Gabbard plans Broadwayâ€™s return to Charlotte stages.
64 | Cool chemistry by Vanessa Infanzon
The unique musical partnership of Noel Freidline and Maria Howell.
66 | Walls that talk by Michael J. Solender
Charlotte Museum of History has an ambitious plan to restore Siloam School.
72 | Backyard bliss by Cathy Martin | Photographs by Dustin Peck
Traci Zeller designs an inviting outdoor living space for all seasons.
78 | Room to roam by Cathy Martin
Primland offers a luxurious escape where social distancing is a breeze.
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A TRADITION OF KNOWLEDGE AND TRUST
Alyssa Rocherolle Graphic Designer Whitley Adkins Style Editor Sarah Malone Editorial Intern Contributing Editors David Mildenberg, Taylor Wanbaugh Contributing Writers Vanessa Infanzon, Page Leggett Caroline Portillo, Michael J. Solender
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thejoint.com Offer valued at $39. Valid for new patients only. Initial visit includes consultation, exam and adjustment. NC: IF YOU DECIDE TO PURCHASE ADDI-TIONAL TREATMENT, YOU HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO CHANGE YOUR MIND WITHIN THREE DAYS AND RECEIVE A REFUND. (N.C. Gen. Stat. 90-154.1). FL: THE PATIENT AND ANY OTHER PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT HAS THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TO PAY, CANCEL PAYMENT OR BE REIMBURSED FOR ANY OTHER SERVICE, EXAMINATION OR TREATMENT WHICH IS PERFORMED AS A RESULT OF AND WITHIN 72 HOURS OF RESPONDING TO THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE FREE, DISCOUNTED OR REDUCED FEE SERVICES, EXAMINATION OR TREATMENT. (FLA. STAT. 456.02). Subject to additional state statutes and regulations. See clinic for chiropractor(s)’ name and license info. Clinics managed and/or owned by franchisee or Prof. Corps. Restrictions may apply to Medicare eligible patients. Individual results may vary. © 2020 The Joint Corp. All Rights Reserved.
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AND ANY OTHER PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT HAS THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TO PAY, CANCEL PAYMENT OR BE REIMBURSED FOR ANY 16 THE| PATIENT SOUTHPARK
OTHER SERVICE, EXAMINATION OR TREATMENT WHICH IS PERFORMED AS A RESULT OF AND WITHIN 72 HOURS OF RESPONDING TO THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE FREE, DISCOUNTED OR REDUCED FEE SERVICES, EXAMINATION OR TREATMENT. (FLA. STAT. 456.02). Subject to additional state statutes and regulations. See clinic for chiropractor(s)’ name and license info. Clinics managed and/or owned by franchisee or Prof. Corps. Restrictions may
Owners Jack Andrews, Frank Daniels Jr., Frank Daniels III, Lee Dirks, David Woronoff Published by Old North State Magazines LLC. ©Copyright 2020. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Volume 23, Issue 8
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blvd. People. Places. Things.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF LITTLE FETE
OUT OF THE BOX
If the novelty of cooking while hunkered down at home is wearing thin, Little Fête might be just the solution. Chef Craig Barbour of Roots Catering and Roots Café launched the meal-delivery service for small celebrations, from birthday parties to backyard weddings to family reunions. “Little Fête allows us to still feed our community and be a part of their celebrations, even from afar,” Barbour says. On the menu are shared platters and grazing tables with names like Dockside and Southern Picnic; three-course dinner-party boxes featuring seared chicken, grilled salmon or marinated flank steak; and meal kits for brunch, grilling and more. Add a couple of wine bottles and some lemon-lavender blondies (or another sweet treat) to your order, and dinner is done. Gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options are available. little-fete.com
southparkmagazine.com | 19
Dishing vegetarian ALCHEMY CHEF KEN APONTE DOESN’T SACRIFICE FLAVOR IN CREATING A VEGETABLE-FORWARD MENU. BY VANESSA INFANZON
PHOTOGRAPHS BY GLYN A. STANLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
hen the owners of the newly opened The Restaurant at Alchemy asked Ken Aponte to join the team as executive chef, he wasn’t sure if the idea would work. The vegetarian-focused restaurant is part of C3Lab, the South End arts incubator and coworking hub owned by Glen and Maria Nocik. Aponte has never been impressed with legume-only dishes — they’ve always seemed like an afterthought, he says. “I didn’t think doing a vegetarian-focused restaurant was going to be possible to sustain because of all my experiences with vegetarian-focused food,” says Aponte, 31. “It’s unappealing, unappetizing,” he thought. Aponte’s competitive nature convinced him he could do vegetarian better. Not being a vegetarian could give him the upper hand, he says. His experience as a meat eater can be used to pair texture and flavors for a gastronomical delight. “I see it as a challenge,” he says. Aponte was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, but raised in Charlotte. In high school, he joined the culinary program at East Mecklenburg High School. He attended Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, earning an associate degree in culinary arts in 2010. Aponte worked at Taverna and Zebra and gained experience in molecular gastronomy at Chicago’s Alinea. He spent six years at Napa on Providence, working his way up from sous chef to executive chef. Dining at Alchemy is meant to be an experience. Guests stroll through the adjacent gallery featuring works by local artists, then are seated in the midcentury industrial-style restaurant or on the outdoor deck. Before the meal, diners are treated to pickled vegetables and house-made lavash (an Armenian flatbread) to tickle the taste buds and cleanse the palate. “It’s a health-conscious amuse-bouche,” Aponte explains. “It makes more sense on a food-science level than giving bread. To make someone hungry, you give them something acidic. It gets the metabolism going.” Alchemy’s menu is designed to accommodate both meat lovers and vegetarians with items such as fried Lion’s Mane fettuccine, grilled eggplant, seared cucumber scallops, and seitan over polenta. Each entrée has a meat or seafood option for omnivores. The dinner menu also includes 13 small plates. Classic Italian braciole with pounded flank steak is stuffed with mozzarella and parmesan, rolled and cooked in a tomato sauce. Vegetarians seeking a similar dish might choose the eggplant rollatini.
|blvd. Mixologist Bob Peters developed the cocktail menu, and the coffee program is provided by Enderly Coffee. Brunch will never be the same after the vegetarian “chicken” and waffles with Lion’s Mane mushrooms. Meat eaters can order it with chicken sourced from Salem Hill Farms in Marshville. “I want everything to look and feel the same as its nonrestricted counterpart,” Aponte says. “I want two people who have different eating habits and order the same thing and not feel like one person got the shorter end of the stick.” SP The Restaurant at Alchemy is open for lunch on weekdays, dinner Wednesday through Sunday, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. 2517 Distribution St., c3-lab.com/alchemy/ restaurant-bar
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Concerts in cars THE MUSIC YARD OFFERS THE THRILL OF LIVE MUSIC — WITH THE SAFETY OF SOCIAL DISTANCING. BY PAGE LEGGETT
at a picnic table — all of which have been distanced from one another. While Southbound’s entire menu is available, Callie Murray, director of marketing for Mac’s Hospitality, recommends the simplified Taco Stand selection of tacos, burritos and build-your-own bowls. Abernathy’s lightbulb moment has turned out to be such a success that The Music Yard added drive-in movies (comedies like Wayne’s World and Pineapple Express) to its entertainment lineup in July. They happen every Thursday and, like the music events, usually sell out in advance. A COVID-capacity crowd at the Music Yard is 16 cars and 10 picnic tables, which seat six to eight people. When we’re not in the middle of a pandemic, the venue can hold 300 people. “People are really respecting the boundaries here,” Abernathy says. “It’s been nothing but positive.” Adaptive reuse is working beautifully at The Music Yard during this strange summer. And it’s all because of Preston Abernathy's “eureka” moment while passing an empty drive-in movie theater. SP Drive-in music. The Music Yard at 2433 South Blvd. offers something few venues can — live music in the midst of our COVID summer. Enjoy the band from socially distanced picnic tables or from the comfort of your own car. Ticket prices range from $50 plus fees for a small sedan with as many as four people to $150 for a VIP picnic table that seats as many as eight. Learn more at musicyardclt.com.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE MUSIC YARD
bout three weeks into quarantine, Preston Abernathy was on his way to Lake Tillery and passed Badin Road Drivein in Albemarle when he had “a lightbulb moment.” The nostalgic drive-in theater was like a ghost town, but just seeing it sparked an idea. “Cars are great for self-isolating,” says the events director at The Music Yard. Everyone has a good time at the drive-in — even though everyone keeps to themselves. It’s the perfect form of entertainment for a pandemic. Abernathy wasn’t originally interested in showing movies. He wanted to book musicians. “My leadership team at The Music Yard liked the idea. It would give people access to live music while also keeping our patrons safe. And we wanted to support local bands and give them a venue to perform.” The Summer Drive-In Series was born. The Music Yard is an outdoor, live-music venue sandwiched between Mac’s Speed Shop, the bustling barbecue spot, and Southbound, the hip taco joint, on South Blvd. The same ownership group manages all three places. The Summer Series, for ages 21 and up, had been scheduled to run on Friday nights through the end of July. But Abernathy says they’ll likely continue as long as people are required to socially distance. “I’m already booking for August,” he told us in June, “and we’ll extend it into September if we need to.” Abernathy programs a variety of musical acts and genres, from electronica to progressive rock to jam bands. Here’s how it works: Buy your ticket online in advance, pull in any time beginning at 7 p.m. and tune your radio to 90.5. The band usually starts playing around 8 p.m. There’s not a bad seat in the house. No stranger is going to spoil the concert by talking too much or spilling a beer (or a Mexican Coca-Cola) on you. It’s just you and your date — or your whole posse. As with the drive-ins of yore, you can order food and enjoy it in your car. Some people tailgate, and truck owners often set up picnic-style in the truck bed. You can also reserve a seat
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Green thumbs MOBILE PLANT SHOP THE CACTUS CLUB OPENS A BRICKAND-MORTAR LOCATION AT THE RAILYARD SOUTH END.
BY CAROLINE PORTILLO
f you don’t think a potted cactus can be a chic, statement-worthy piece of decor, it’s time you visited the new brick-and-mortar location of The Cactus Club at The RailYard South End. Co-founded by Ivy Mak and Anna Thomas, The Cactus Club specializes in cacti, indoor foliage and rare aroids, all of which are sourced from family-owned growers and presented in a modern array of terra cotta pots. Most range in price from $4 to $60, though some of the rarer items sell for as much as $200. Mak, a native of Hong Kong, began her plant journey while working in retail at Anthropologie. “We’d get to go buy plants monthly, and I just fell in love with going to nurseries, wanting one of my own one day,” Mak says. The partners met through mutual friends but got to know each other while working together at uptown bar and restaurant Draught in 2016. Mak had the love of plants, while Thomas, a lifelong North Carolinian who comes from a family of small business owners, had an entrepreneurial spirit. So in early 2017,
they launched The Cactus Club, a mobile plant shop. The duo’s signature green Cactus Bus allowed them to travel throughout Charlotte, “selling our plant babies to the community,” Mak says. Now, with a brick-and-mortar location in one of the RailYard’s micro-retail units, they have room to expand and continue to build their brand, which already has a thriving e-commerce business and nearly 9,000 Instagram followers. “Since it’s a micro-retail location, it is small,” Thomas says. “However, you should still plan on being overwhelmed by a lush, beautiful and urban jungle in the center of Charlotte.” itsthecactusclub.com SP
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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE CACTUS CLUB
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My favorite things ... Rick Lazes grew up in Long Island and lived in New Orleans for 25 years before moving to Charlotte after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005. The artist and real-estate developer lives at Lake Norman and has three children: Claire, a student at College of Charleston; Scott, a film director in Brooklyn; and Noah, a UNC Charlotte graduate who works alongside Lazes in the family real-estate business. Lazes’ ARK Group is the developer behind what is now The AvidXchange Music Factory, which opened in 2006. “When we purchased the property, which was one of the last textile mills in Charlotte, we realized the historic relevance of the building and put it on the national historic registry,” Lazes says. Like everyone else, Lazes has had to adapt to life during Covid. “Perhaps the greatest silver lining is that I have been able to connect with creative people from all over the world — in film, in movies, in theater and in art — who I otherwise might not have been able to collaborate with because they would have been committed to something else.” Comments have been edited for brevity.
DINING OUT Over the last decade, Charlotte has turned into a big city, and two of the things it has are great food and music. I enjoy North Harbor Club (below) and Hello, Sailor, where they have a really good soft-shell crab. Downtown, I really enjoy La Belle Helene — it’s an amazing culinary experience but also has a beautiful dining room that reminds me of New York or
near Camp North End. There are graphic artists, painters, sculptures and video artists who are located there. Hannah Blanton of Sozo Gallery gives regular tours of the Art Factory, by appointment only. LAKE LIFE I love everything about the lake: There is a really nice breeze. I swim to a small island in the late afternoons with my daughter. At sunset, you will see deer swimming from the island to our yard. I think the sunsets on Lake Norman rival that of one of my favorite vacation spots, St. Barts.
Paris. Barcelona has a great patio, and they have really good mussels and calamari, as well as a really unusual, delicious eggplant dish. I also love Bardo and Alexander Michael’s — it’s a very friendly, down-home place. LOCAL ARTS Of course, the Mint Museum and The Bechtler. I also really enjoy SOCO Gallery and Sozo Gallery. Paul Veto, Seth Koch, Stewart Milsaps and Dana Gingras are all great local artists. Part of my arts routine is to go to the Art Factory, which is located on Bancroft Street right 26
LIVE MUSIC Music is one of my favorite things about Charlotte, specifically at The Fillmore. I think the most challenging part of COVID-19, for me, has been not being able to hear live music
|blvd. or go to music festivals. Also I love Middle C Jazz uptown. I think it’s really nice that Charlotte’s got some rhythm and blues and jazz. The Visulite and Evening Muse are two other local favorites.
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES I really enjoy horseback riding. I have two Tennessee Walking Horses, Angel and Star, that I brought up from my farm in West Virginia. They are at Runnymede Stables in Davidson. I also really enjoy hiking. Rocky Face Mountain, about an hour from Lake Norman, is a great place, as well as Crowders Mountain State Park and Latta Plantation. SP — compiled by Whitley Adkins
Lazes is currently working on a Broadway play inspired by the life of [the late fashion designer] Alexander McQueen called Paper Dolls. Another project, Tune In, is a creative initiative envisioned by artists at The Art Factory that was set to debut at Martha’s Vineyard in early August. After making its way through the Northeast, Tune In will be on exhibit at Mint Museum Uptown in early September. The exhibit, which incorporates six vintage TV screens, seeks to focus a spotlight on artists and museums that have been impacted by the pandemic. Learn more at mintmuseum.org.
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southparkmagazine.com | 27
An instant classic FIRST LOOK: LITTLE MAMA'S ITALIAN KITCHEN BY CATHY MARTIN
New Jersey native Tom Dyrness, a Johnson & Wales grad, sharpened his culinary skills working alongside Wolfgang Puck in Las Vegas and Palo Alto, Calif., where Dyrness was executive sous chef at Spago. He returned to Charlotte in 2005 and now oversees the kitchens at Mama Ricotta’s, Paco’s Tacos & Tequila and Little Mama’s. 28
PHOTOGRAPHS BY REMY THURSTON
fter months of anticipation, Little Mama’s Italian Kitchen, the latest spot from veteran Charlotte restaurateur Frank Scibelli, opened in June in the Porter Building on Sharon Road. The restaurant’s comfortable vibe — equally suitable for a casual date night or dinner with the family — and approachable menu of Italian-American staples with a few new twists should make it an instant favorite among Charlotte diners. That’s not to mention Scibelli’s remarkable track record of success in building restaurant brands — he sold his Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar chain, which he developed with veteran restaurateur Dennis Thompson, for $21 million in 2015, and his Midwood Smokehouse and Yafo Kitchen casual-dining spots always pack a crowd. Little Mama’s is a nod to Scibelli’s Italian roots, which he first explored in the beloved Mama Ricotta’s on Kings Drive. Little Mama’s is modeled after casual Italian-American neighborhood eateries prevalent in the Northeast in the ’60s and ’70s. Scibelli and FS Food Group colleagues Stephanie Kalish and Chef Tom Dyrness honed the concept by sharing family recipes and tales of restaurants they frequented while growing up. The pictures covering the walls are the owners’ actual family photos. Near the host stand, Scibelli points to a snapshot of himself as a boy cooking alongside his mom, who lives in Charlotte and is a constant source of inspiration. The space formerly occupied by Luna’s Living Kitchen (and before that, Zebra) is almost unrecognizable from its previous incarnation. The stark white interior has been replaced with warm neutral hues, dark wood furnishings and leather banquettes. An underutilized patio space has been converted to a four-season sunroom that seats about 50. Park behind the building and pass the zinc bar before entering the main dining room, a bright, open space with a counter where guests can watch chefs make fresh mozzarella behind a glass partition. The music is a throwback to the same
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era that inspired the menu — think classic jazz and R&B such as the Four Seasons, Ella Fitzgerald and Smokey Robinson. “It is not another Mama Ricotta’s,” Scibelli says emphatically, though fans of the 28-year-old midtown establishment will find a handful of familiar favorites on the menu “because I didn’t want a riot in here,” he laughs. The popular penne alla vodka makes an appearance, along with Mama’s homemade garlic rolls and Nutella pie for dessert. “I get hate mail when I change anything [at Mama Ricotta’s],” Scibelli says. “So, it’s been fun to do some new dishes.” One new item is the pappardelle: A pasta-making machine imported from Italy allows the chefs to produce super al dente noodles, made from a semolina flour and tossed with a sweet San Marzano tomato sauce. Crispy chicken Parmesan is pounded thin and topped with fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce, while eggplant Parmesan cutlets are breaded, fried and topped with Asiago and Muenster. Can’t decide? Order the “combo Parm” and try both. Cheese lovers won’t be disappointed in selections like the Brown Cow Parmesan served with fettuccine Alfredo and other pasta dishes. But the made-to-order mozzarella ball, served warm and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, is a special treat. Available for dine-in customers only, tableside mozzarella service comes with a choice of two sides, such as oven-roasted tomatoes, roasted Sicilian red peppers or marinated artichoke hearts. Broiled specialties include shrimp with a white wine-oregano sauce and a whole roasted cauliflower served with three sauces: a zesty Calabrian chile agrodolce, a garlicky bagna cauda, and a lemon tahini, a crossover from FS sibling Yafo Kitchen. 30
Little Mama’s big ribeye is a tender USDA Prime cut steak served family-style with marrow bones, a whole head of roasted garlic and extra virgin olive oil. The hearty entrée, which serves at least 2-3 people and comes with choice of a family-sized pasta, was inspired by a similar dish the team came across when visiting Florence a couple of years ago. For dessert, expect familiar Italian favorites such as N.Y.style cheesecake, tiramisu and cannoli in portions large enough for sharing. If chocolate isn’t your thing, Mama’s olive oil cake with orange essence and served with limoncello sorbetto is delightful, as is the warm bread pudding topped with housemade gelato and dulce de leche. General Manager Bradley McClain, who spent six years as GM at Good Food on Montford, developed a cocktail menu that combines classics such as a spritz, a Negroni and an amaretto sour with seasonal refreshers like a basil smash and the lavencello martini — vodka, lemon-lavender simple syrup and limoncello. Overall, Little Mama’s menu is a blend of familiar, well-executed Italian-American dishes made with top-notch ingredients, along with a few new curiosities to satisfy more adventurous diners. The accessible menu — there's even an 8 oz. Prime brisket burger — and convenient location across from SouthPark Mall and adjacent to the new Apex development are sure to make it a culinary hot spot for years to come. SP Little Mama’s Italian Kitchen is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week from 4 – 9 p.m. Takeout is available, though several menu items are reserved for dine-in customers only. littlemamasitalian.com
Works Of Art With A Particular Visual Poetry, A Spiritual Quality and An Inner Integrity That Transcends The Ordinary Proud to be a part of the Charlotte art community since 1983 August 8 - September 19 Chris Clamp 12 x 12 x 12 Objects As Portraits September 26 - November 7 Kim Keever Underwater Canvas November 14 - January 2 Wolf Kahn In Memoriam
625 South Sharon Amity Road Charlotte, NC 28211 704.365.3000 Mon-Fri 10-6, Sat 10-4 email@example.com www.jeraldmelberg.com
A new view AN ICONIC CHARLOTTE GALLERY CELEBRATES 40 YEARS WITH A NEW SPACE. BY CAROLINE PORTILLO
PHOTOGRAPH BY LYDIA BITTNER-BAIRD
harlotte’s oldest gallery is getting a new home in the millennial capital of the city: Hodges Taylor, the gallery-meets-art consultancy known for working with Southeastern artists across a range of mediums, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with a move to RailYard SouthEnd. The 1,800-square-foot space at 1414 S. Tryon St. will have artist-crafted furniture and decor, along with wood floors and a finished ceiling. Owner Lauren Harkey wasn't interested in the open, industrial vibe — she prefers when the works of art provide the visual cues. Harkey moved out of the old Hodges Taylor space on East Kingston Street in March and is hoping for a late summer opening. But she isn’t sweating the fluid timeline. The opening exhibition at the new SouthEnd location will highlight new works from all 26 artist partners. “A family band show,” Harkey laughs. A Charlotte native, Harkey, 33, is a powerhouse in the local arts community, though it wasn’t her intended career path. She earned undergraduate and masters degrees in art history and then graduated from law school. She was working in family law when Christie Taylor, who co-founded Hodges Taylor with Dot Hodges in 1980, reached out. Harkey became friends with the business partners when she was studying art history. Hodges retired first, and, a few years later, as Taylor began legacy planning, she asked Harkey to be her partner. In 2016, Harkey made the leap. She became the sole proprietor of Hodges Taylor in 2019. To enliven the new space, Harkey turned to some of the artists she works with. She tapped sculpturist Ellie Richards to craft a bench and stool for gallery seating. UNC Charlotte associate professor Thomas Schmitt is creating a ceramic tile and mirror installation for the restroom. Woodworker Adam Jochim made a desk and an oak display unit. And while COVID-19 has prompted debate in the art world about whether gallery space is still a worthwhile investment, Harkey hasn’t wavered. She believes the idea of a meeting ground, a physical space for people to discover works of art and their creators, is critical. “A young woman called me the other day and said, ‘Are you open? It’s my birthday, and I want to see some art,’” Harkey says. “I was like, ‘You are my spirit animal.’ I felt so nourished after that.” SP
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Part of the solution GANTT CENTER PRESIDENT AND CEO DAVID TAYLOR DISCUSSES INITIATIVES SURROUNDING EQUITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE AS CHARLOTTE AND THE NATION CHART TURBULENT WATERS. BY MICHAEL J. SOLENDER
“The virus itself shed light on disparities that take place in our community. It made it so bright, suddenly you could see it.”
What is the context behind the Gantt’s Initiative for Equity + Innovation, and how does it resonate in the current climate? The Gantt Center made the intentional decision to say, “What can we do in terms of working with our community to be a resource to address issues like bias, inequities and social justice?” We knew it wasn’t going to be solved over a short period of time. We felt our institution gives the community a way to begin to address some of those issues. It’s part of our DNA. We needed to build it programmatically and more effectively. In the current climate, With [George Floyd’s] unfortunate murder, it’s beginning to shine light back on so many things we feel are important to be talking about and acting upon. You speak of art as activism, what does that mean at the Gantt? Our founders and the students at UNC Charlotte, through the unrest and changes taking place, felt they needed a place
PHOTOGRAPH: COURTESY OF HARVEY B. GANTT CENTER
ary T. Harper and Bertha Maxwell Roddey co-founded Charlotte’s Afro-American Cultural Center in 1951 to serve as a beacon to celebrate the Black experience. Nearly five decades later, what’s now the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture is more than living up to that vision. Today’s Gantt Center is the city’s most prominent Black-led nonprofit organization and one of the region’s most significant arts and cultural institutions. President and CEO David Taylor has led the Gantt since 2009, sharpening the institution’s focus and directing programming to move our community from conversation to change regarding some of the most pressing social-justice challenges. During the summer of 2018 after the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, Taylor implemented the Initiative for Equity + Innovation. The strategy uses the Gantt’s exhibitions, programs and community relationships to better inform and engage Charlotteans about social injustices Black communities face and systems in need of reform. SouthPark spoke with Taylor about this initiative, the center’s’ Unmasked online discussion series, and what the community can expect when the center reopens. Comments have been edited for length and clarity.
|blvd. where they could promote their culture, preserve their culture and nurture the next generation. [Former Charlotte Mayor and architect] Harvey Gantt has a legacy of affecting change through social justice and equality. We think continuing to [respond] to what’s relevant today is key. That’s what is activism. The heart of activism came about as an example of us looking at the great creators that we have in our community. How can we take the messaging in their artwork and use it to activate change, conversation to engage work affecting behavioral change? We’ve been extremely fortunate to do that. How did the Unmasked series come about? We began to have conversations about important and relevant topics in the community. [At the onset of] COVID-19, we had to rethink how we would deliver our work and what would be important to talk about. For us, one clear metaphor is found with wearing a mask. But the virus itself shed light on disparities that take place in our community. It made it so bright, suddenly you could see it. You could see where health care was and where it wasn’t. You could see how the impact of years and years of poor health care were extracting certain segments. Unmasked is about shedding the light on these things. Let’s take the mask off disparities: Let’s take the mask off health care disparities, education disparities, policing and those things.
That’s what led us in that direction of using our platform to inform the community, but also help find solutions. Are you reaching a diverse audience? This platform is meant to be a safe space [for difficult conversations]. It’s allowed more culturally diverse people to come, listen and contribute. All backgrounds recognize [these issues] affect our entire community. Sometimes discussions may be focused on the health and welfare of the Black community specifically, but without everybody being able to participate, we won’t ever have the kind of community we all want. What can the community expect when the Gantt reopens? We’ll have a new exhibition with 25 artists representing 17 countries throughout the Caribbean. It’s so timely, addressing these issues about equity and police brutality. All these things are captured. We are also working with local artists including [Charlotte photographer] Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. who is leading a team for an installation around the Black Lives Matter [movement]. We are including many of the artists who did the mural on Tryon Street. We look forward to welcoming back the community. We are a place where people can come to learn and better understand themselves, as well as their fellow man. SP
Melanie Parke Verbena gouache on paper 16h x 20w in
Kenny Nguyen Lost Memories, 2019 silk fabric, acrylic, canvas mounted on wood frame 65h x 53w x 5d in
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Liz Barber Sky Petal 1 mixed media on canvas 36h x 36w in
southparkmagazine.com | 35
Bringing the point home CHARLOTTE DEVELOPER CLAY GRUBB’S NEW BOOK AIMS TO SPARK ENGAGEMENT SURROUNDING THE AFFORDABLE-HOUSING CRISIS. BY DAVID MILDENBERG
he developers who have built Charlotte have generally stayed in the shadows, preferring to rely on lawyers and consultants to push projects through zoning and regulatory hoops. Clay Grubb takes a different approach. Earlier this year, he set off fireworks by proposing an affordable-housing apartment project in the gentrifying Seversville neighborhood near downtown that would offer modest rents by not including a parking deck — and block renters from owning cars to encourage walking, biking and mass transit. At a city meeting discussing the project, Councilman Braxton Winston, a progressive Democrat, responded, “that is a very, very dangerous place to be — it’s potentially inequitable.” The project is pending. Unconventional outspokenness is Grubb’s style, so it’s no surprise that the UNC Chapel Hill law-school graduate has written a lively book about his career and family business, with a focus on fixing the affordable-housing crisis. Creating the Urban Dream, published by ForbesBooks, emphasizes the importance of real-estate ownership in generating wealth, citing racist policies that inhibited many African Americans from benefiting as property values soared in many neighborhoods in Charlotte and North Carolina. Grubb understands white privilege, having grown up in a prominent Lexington family that owned lots of property in Rowan and Davidson counties. He attended Virginia Episcopal School and Tulane University before earning his law degree. His father, Robert, was a tax attorney who started a housing business in 1963. Unusual for the time, the Grubbs made mortgage loans to residents of redlined neighborhoods who had no other access to credit, often charging the same 36
interest rate as their borrowing costs. As president of the family business since 2002, Clay has expanded into about a dozen cities stretching from Richmond, Va., to Atlanta, raising capital from wealthy individuals and large institutional investors. In Charlotte, his signature developments have included the upscale Ratcliffe condos and SkyHouse Uptown apartments; The Shops at Morrison near SouthPark; and the Latta Pavilion mixed-use project in Dilworth. His brother, Gordon, has also enjoyed success by focusing his own real-estate company on projects in Raleigh. Grubb’s analysis defies simple characterizations. While a progressive on many issues, the book is full of libertarian-type criticisms of government bureaucracy. He quotes John Huson, whose Carocon is the Queen City’s biggest multifamily-housing builder, that “The most affordable housing I build is market-rate housing; the least affordable housing I build is what they call affordable housing.” Unreasonable government regulations enforced by well-meaning officials routinely boosts housing costs by as much as 30%, Huson and Grubb say. Building an “affordable” apartment development in many U.S. cities now costs about $250,000 per unit. Such issues may be distant for those for whom homeownership was never a serious challenge. The housing shortage is real, however. Fewer homes were built in the U.S. in any year in the last decade than during every single year between 1968 and 2007, with the exception of one year, Grubb notes. Likewise, fewer apartments were built nationally in the decade than any 10-year period over the last 50 years. As a result, many working families are priced out of urban markets and end up living in suburban areas that require lengthy commutes. He concludes, “A stable home is the foundation for a family’s health and security and the well-being of our communities. I encourage everyone to participate in this endeavor.” SP
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Taste of the tropics BY GARY CRUNKLETON
fter World War 2, America is booming. People are using a lot of rum to make these exotic drinks — because soldiers were going to all these exotic places — so they wanted to have drinks that are
beautiful. Also, with the American family prospering, it creates more leisure time. They have more time to drink, and they might want a piña colada because it helps them escape to Tahiti or wherever. The piña colada actually hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico. It sounds lame, I think because of that song (Rupert Holmes’ 1979 hit “Escape -The Piña Colada Song”). But it’s really a good drink. I like to use Flor de Cana rum. Rum is sweet, so what I like to do is give it a boost with a little high proof 151. Then I add coconut cream and some pineapple juice — we fresh squeeze [at The Crunkleton], so always shake the bottles because the juice will settle. Then I’m probably going to add a little bitters. It gives it more depth. When you make this drink, you can put Benedictine in here. You can put Cherry Heering in here. If it's too sweet, you can add some lime juice. You can do what you like. … I’m kind of experimenting with it. But the purpose of this experiment is to show that you don’t have to follow recipes. You can do what you want to do — you’re the one drinking it!” SP
The Piña Colada
1.5 oz. Flor de Cana aged rum 1 oz. Goslings 151 proof Black Seal rum 2 oz. Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut 2 oz. pineapple juice 3 dashes Peychuad’s bitters Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake for ten seconds to wake the liquor up, and mix the ingredients. Strain into a tall glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with pineapple leaves from the crown.
Spirit Forward is an occasional column featuring excerpts from conversations with Gary Crunkleton, owner of The Crunkleton in Chapel Hill and The Crunkleton Charlotte. Visit southparkmagazine.com to watch the video.
southparkmagazine.com | 41
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In the sweet by and by UNTIL THEN, THE DANCE OF LIFE CONTINUES. BY JIM DODSON
he Great Pandemic Summer of 2020 is drawing to a close. How have you coped? As you read this, I am coping by being thigh-deep in a tumbling stream at the base of Mount Mitchell, deep in a national forest, amusing a few sleepy rainbow trout with my rusty fly-casting skills. If ever there was a summer to get away to the wild, this is it. For me, fly-fishing has long provided relaxation and unexpected answers to questions that seem to resist easy answers. Twenty-five summers ago, during an unexpected family crisis, my daughter Maggie and I spent a glorious summer camping and fly-fishing our way across America. Maggie was 7 years old. Our old dog, Amos, was pushing 13. It was a summer to remember chasing trout in some of the West’s most iconic rivers. This summer, Maggie and her fiancé, Nate, and their two rescued pups are retracing portions of our route as they head for new jobs in Los Angeles, camping and hiking. The other night, Maggie phoned from the banks of Shoshone River in Wyoming just to hear her old man rhapsodize about the summer night we spent camped by the swift blue river beneath a quilt of glittering stars. Such nights stay with you. Throughout this devastating pandemic and summer of social discontent, many of us have faithfully sheltered in place and adopted wearing face coverings in public. We have placed our trust in science, avoided crowds, dutifully washed hands, and learned new phrases like “safe distancing” and “community spread.” We’ve also marveled at the human capacity for finding meaning, change and creativity in the midst of a crisis our children will probably tell their grandchildren about in tones of wonder and solemnity, and maybe even gratitude. Change and history move in halting steps, stumbling before we who are living through them finally come to terms with the truth. To many in America, a racial awakening in the midst of a worldwide pandemic either seems like a cosmic piling on or a clear message from the universe that it’s time for America to face up to the sins of our collective past and final-
ly take steps to end systemic racism, a reckoning long overdue. One man’s awakening, I suppose, is another’s End of Days. For what it’s worth, a different metric on this time of trials comes from leading astrologers who point out that for the first time in thousands of years, half a dozen planets are simultaneously in retrograde, and the rare success of three consecutive eclipses — two lunar, one solar, combined with the planet Pluto — passing through America’s chart in almost the exact location at the time of our country’s founding indicates a period of feeling “stuck” in a protracted time of intense disruption and bitter division. As the planets move forward, or so we are told, we may experience a vast spiritual awakening, possibly even a new age of enlightenment springing from lessons of the past. Whether the problem lies in our stars or ourselves remains an open question. In the meantime, lacking the gift of celestial prophecy, I stand in tumbling waters thinking how this year of chaos and change reminds me of valuable lessons learned early in life in the racially bifurcated world where I grew up. My father was a newspaperman with a poet’s heart who lost his dream in 1958 when his partner cleaned out the operating funds of their thriving weekly newspaper in coastal Mississippi, disappearing without a trace. One day later, his only sister died in a car wreck on an icy road outside Washington, D.C., and my mother suffered her second late-term miscarriage in three years. We left Mississippi with everything we owned in a Pontiac Star Chief and drove all night to Wilmington, where my dad worked for several months at the Star News before moving on to a better job in South Carolina. I started first grade in Florence, a pretty Southern town of old houses and shady streets. I was the only kid in my class who could read chapter books and never missed a day of school. At year’s end, Miss Patillo presented me with a small brass pin shaped like an open book with Perfect Attendance inscribed on its pages. I still have the pin. For my parents, however — something I learned many southparkmagazine.com | 43
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years later — Florence was like a silent ordeal, a twilight world between the unyielding values of the Old South and a brave new world of tomorrow. The summer before second grade, a lovely African American woman named Miss Jesse came to help my mother get back on her feet. She was said to be a natural healer and a woman who knew how to take care of families like ours. My mother held strong views about race and resisted the notion of having a maid like other women in town. But her health was dangerously frail. So Miss Jesse came. It is no longer the fashion to speak of having someone like Miss Jesse in your privileged white life. I get that. But for one summer, this kind woman took me everywhere with her to keep me out from under my mother’s feet — to the public library, to the Piggly Wiggly, to and from vacation Bible school at the Lutheran Church. I adored riding around town with Miss Jesse. The radio of her blue Dodge Dart was always tuned to a Southern gospel station. I can almost hear her singing “In the Sweet By and By” and “I’ll Fly Away.” I sang along, too. She and my mom quickly became friends. Among other things, Miss Jesse introduced my mother— a former Maryland beauty queen — to flower gardening and turned her into quite a respectable Southern cook. Her beauty and vitality returned. One evening while the two of them were cooking supper, a lively gospel tune came on the transistor radio and Miss Jesse invited me to hop on her strong feet, sashaying us both around the kitchen floor. She called this “feet dancing.” One night that autumn of 1959, my father’s boss came to supper. He was a thin old man with loose change jingling in his pants pockets. Miss Jesse was cooking supper. The adults were all standing in the kitchen talking about “protests” that were suddenly happening across the Deep South. My father’s boss jingled his change and declared, “Fortunately, we don’t have that kind of trouble around here, do we Jesse? That’s because we have good nigras round these parts.” “Jimmy,” my mother chimed instantly, “could you come with me, please?” I was barely into the hallway when she took hold of my ear and perp-walked me to the bathroom, leading me in and shutting the door. Over my protest, she ordered me to sit and hush up. As I watched, she calmly opened a new bar of Ivory soap and held it inches from my face. “If I ever hear that word come out of your mouth,” she said, restraining her Germanic fury, “you’ll be sitting on this toilet with this new bar of soap in your mouth for an hour. Is that clear?” I knew exactly the word she meant. She explained that “nigra” was the way “supposedly educated white people in the South” said the word my brother and I were forbidden to ever use, though I heard it often used in those days. For what it’s worth, I can’t stomach the smell of Ivory soap to this day. Weeks later, shockingly, Miss Jesse went into the hospital and we went to visit her in its “colored wing.” She passed a
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few days later. We went to her funeral service at the little brick church she attended. The place was full of flowers and people, including a few white women who’d benefited from Miss Jesse’s healing presence. The music was pure gospel. My mother cried. I remember meeting Miss Jesse’s daughter, her pride and joy whom she called “Babygirl,” an art teacher from Atlanta. A few weeks later, my dad took a new job and we finally moved home to Greensboro, where I started mid-way through the second grade. Just days after my brother and I got our new library cards, our history-mad father mysteriously turned up at school to spring us for the afternoon. He drove us downtown to stand near the “colored” entrance of the Center Theater and watch as four brave students from A&T attempted to integrate the Woolworth’s lunch counter across Elm Street. “Boys,” he said to us. “This isn’t just going to change life in Greensboro. It’s going to change America.” That event is considered a watershed moment of the nonviolent Civil Rights Movement of America. It was my 7th birthday, February 2, 1960. Sixty years later, as statues of Confederate generals and segregationists topple and sweeping racial reckoning has finally commenced, I’ve been playing a lot of Southern gospel in my car, thinking about Miss Jesse and the first music I ever learned to sing. Embarrassing to admit, I’m having trouble remembering her last name. To me she was always Miss Jesse. As I cast after slumbering trout in a gorgeous mountain stream, far away from that strained and vanishing South, I find myself humming “In the Sweet By and By” and wishing I could properly thank Miss Jesse for saving my mother’s life and unexpectedly shaping mine. Maybe someday, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to feet dance with her again. And learn her whole name. SP Contact Editor Jim Dodson at jim@ thepilot.com.
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August books NOTABLE NEW RELEASES.
COMPILED BY SALLY BREWSTER
The Silent Wife, by Karin Slaughter Investigating the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a Georgia state penitentiary, Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information: One of the inmates claims he is innocent of a brutal attack for which he has always been the prime suspect. The man insists he was framed by a corrupt law-enforcement team and that the real culprit is still out there — a serial killer who has systematically been preying on women across the state for years. Only days ago, another young woman was viciously murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it a fluke, or could there be a serial killer on the loose? As Will Trent digs into both crimes, it becomes clear that he must solve the cold case in order to find the answer. Yet nearly a decade has passed — time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear, and lies to become truth. Slaughter’s twentieth book is another must read. The Pull of the Stars, by Emma Donoghue Donoghue’s page-turning story takes readers to a Dublin beleaguered by wartime shortages and ravaged by a lethal new strain of influenza. On Halloween in 1918, nurse Julia Powers, single and ambivalent about marriage, is about to turn 30. When her supervisor gets the flu, Julia is left alone serving a ward of high-risk pregnant influenza patients. Kathleen Lynn, an activist involved with the radical Sinn Féin party, supplements Julia’s own knowledge of obstetrics, and volunteer Bridey Sweeney arrives to help with the backbreaking work. Julia feels a powerful draw to the smart and willing Bridey. As they cope with the ward’s unceasing cycle of birth and death, their closeness challenges Julia’s sense of herself and her life. While the novel’s characters and plot feel thinner than the best of the author’s remarkable oeuvre, her blunt prose and detailed medical descriptions do full justice to the reality of the pandemic and the poverty that helps fuel it. Donoghue’s evocation of the 1918 flu, and the valor it demands of healthcare workers, will stay with readers.
Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher, by Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz Detective Eliot Ness began his career as a hard-charging special agent tasked with enforcing Prohibition in gangster-ruled Chicago. Having moved to Cleveland to take the post of head of public safety, he’d been broken by “one case he could never publicly close — the monster who emerged to prey on the city’s weakest and most vulnerable,” a killer branded in the press as a “butcher” for what he did to his victims. And what he did to his victims, most of them marginal people whose disappearances didn’t excite much interest from the police, was horrific. Upon Ness’ arrival, the police begin to take notice, but they never could quite piece together the serial killer’s pattern until a resident of a veterans’ convalescent home voices his suspicion that the killer is a resident there. The cat-and-mouse game that ensues makes for a read that’s full of surprises. 12 Seconds of Silence: How a Team of Inventors, Tinkerers, and Spies Took Down a Nazi Superweapon, by Jamie Holmes This is the remarkable, lost story of how a ragtag group of American scientists overcame one of the toughest problems of World War II: shooting things out of the sky. Working in a secretive organization known as Section T, a team of physicists, engineers and everyday Joes and Janes took on a devilish challenge. To help the Allies knock airplanes out of the air, they created one of the world’s first “smart weapons.” Against overwhelming odds and in a race against time, the scientists of Section T would eventually save countless lives, rescue the city of London from the onslaught of a Nazi superweapon and help bring about the Axis defeat. A holy grail sought after by Allied and Axis powers alike, their unlikely innovation ranks with the atomic bomb as one of the most revolutionary technologies of the Second World War. Until now, their tale was largely untold. SP Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books at 4139 Park Road. parkroadbooks.com southparkmagazine.com | 51
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Portrait of “Little Thunder” SUE MONK KIDD IMAGINES THE WIFE OF JESUS BY D.G. MARTIN
t could have happened.” My friend was talking about The Book of Longings, the latest novel from Sue Monk Kidd, the bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees that sold over 8 million copies and appeared on The New York Times bestseller list for 2 1/2 years. The central character and narrator of Kidd’s new book is Ana, who opens the story with the following, “I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus ben Joseph of Nazareth. I called him Beloved and he, laughing, called me Little Thunder.” It could have happened, just as my friend asserted, but it is a stretch to believe Jesus was married. No, it would be many stretches, and Kidd, the expert storyteller, uses each one to build a rich, complex, and almost believable tale of a woman who became Jesus’ wife. Although the book is set in the Middle East of 2,000 years ago, the coming together of Jesus and Ana was framed in North Carolina, where Kidd wrote her book. That came as a complete surprise to me. I knew Kidd had deep roots in Sylvester, the town in Georgia where she grew up. Until I learned about her new book, I did not know that she and her husband moved to Chapel Hill a couple of years ago, a place they chose sight unseen after reading articles about best places to live in America. Her move to our state solidifies North Carolina’s claim to be a home and refuge for the nation’s best writers. The book’s story begins in the year 16 A.D. Ana is the teenage daughter of the head scribe of Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, and, subject to the Roman overlords, the ruler of Galilee. We know this Herod Antipas as the King Herod from the Bible’s account of his ordering the execution of John the Baptist. Ana and her mother, father, aunt and servants live near
Antipas’ palace in Sepphoris, a thriving city. Ana’s cousin and adopted brother, Judas, has left home to join with Zealots fighting against the Roman occupation. Near Sepphoris is the poor village of Nazareth, where Jesus lives in a less-than-modest hovel with his widowed mother, Mary, and his siblings. Unlike most other young women of the times, Ana is well-educated and writes stories of women heroes of the Bible. Although she cherishes her unmarried status, her parents arrange for her betrothal to an elderly, unattractive but wealthy man. She is distraught. When he dies before the wedding, she is relieved. Then her parents push her to become Antipas’ concubine, a position that would provide security for her and her parents. Meanwhile, she has encountered the young Jesus, who walks each day from Nazareth to Sepphoris to work on a massive construction project for Antipas. The spark is immediate. She appreciates his deep connection to God, or as Jesus calls him when he prays, Abba or Father. He appreciates her education and aspirations to write and promote the place of women. Their marriage transforms her privileged life into hand-tomouth poverty in the crowded house in Nazareth, where Ana does not get the warmest of welcomes from Jesus’ brothers and their spouses. Kidd describes the smells and the constant chores of cooking, milking, feeding, sewing, petty jealousies and resentments that fill the lives of the struggling poor family. Jesus is often gone for long periods to work on projects in other parts of Galilee, sometimes even going as far as the Sea of Galilee to work with fishermen. Jesus’ search for God leads him to the preaching of John the Baptist. He becomes a follower, and when John is arrested by Antipas, Jesus becomes a leader, leaving Ana alone with his family in Nazareth. southparkmagazine.com | 53
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When Ana offends Antipas, she becomes another of his targets. For safety, Ana’s aunt takes her to the great library city of Alexandria in Egypt, where she encounters another set of conflicts and challenges. Ana waits and waits for a message from Jesus telling her to return. The message finally comes in the form of a letter from Judas, who urges her to hurry. She arrives in Bethany near Jerusalem just in time for a Passover dinner with Mary, Martha, Lazarus and Jesus, but Jesus is not there. He is on trial in Jerusalem. The next day, Ana hurries to Jerusalem just in time to watch as Jesus carries the cross toward the execution site. He collapses. Ana rushes to comfort him and say goodbye. Kidd reconstructs the crucifixion experience in a way more horrible and poignant than any of the four Gospels. She also offers a surprising explanation of why Judas betrayed Jesus. Many deeply faithful religious people have never understood Judas’ motivation. Was it simply for the 30 pieces of silver? In Kidd’s version, it is not for the coins, but rather his belief that Jesus’ death at the hands of the Romans would ignite a rebellion against those occupiers, a goal Judas and his fellow Zealots shared, but Jesus rejected, working instead to prepare for the coming Kingdom of God. “One of the biggest questions in the Christian crucifixion story is why Judas betrayed Jesus,” Kidd says. “I wanted to give him a motivation for his betrayal, to humanize him, too, and cause our thoughts about him to be less black-and-white and more complex. In my imagined version, Judas is Ana’s adopted brother who was orphaned when his father was crucified and his mother sold into slavery after a failed Jewish revolt against the Romans, a historically real insurrection by the Jews of Sepphoris in 4 BCE. I portray Judas as a child consumed with hatred for Rome, as a radical Zealot, and as an ardent disciple who believes Jesus is the Messiah destined to deliver them from Rome. His betrayal of Jesus is a piece of intricate and earnest political theater. It speaks, I think, to the danger of hyper-idealism, how a person overly possessed by a principle can begin to justify almost anything for his cause.” That Ana’s story continues after Jesus’ death emphasizes Kidd’s and Ana’s belief that excluding and minimizing the role of women in the days of Jesus and today has been a tragic mistake. For many years, Kidd has been interested in feminist theology and has written “about silenced and marginalized women and the missing feminine within religion. I can only speculate that the premise for the novel bloomed out of that exploration.” Whether Kidd’s readers are true believers or skeptical inquirers, whether they are strong supporters of an expanded role for women in religious organizations or resisters of change, The Book of Longings will be an enriching and challenging read. SP D.G. Martin hosts North Carolina Bookwatch Sunday at 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV.
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Life has been challenging and isolating these past few months, and your travel plans to seaside escapes may experience of Warm Waters Waters , on ,view have been canceled or postponed. We invite you to the cathartic and serene experience of Warm th on view through August 29 .
Warm Waters, the gallery’s current anniversary exhibition, celebrates six years with six artists’ varied and creative interpretations of water. It features the art of Dusty Griffith, Daniela Schweitzer, Kerry Hays, Judith Judy, and welcomes Jonathan Smith and Allison Luce as the most recent artists to join the gallery’s roster. Since its inception, Anne Neilson Fine Art’s mission has been to give back and to be a lighthouse in the community. Each month the gallery donates 10 percent of monthly sales to a charitable organization in support of those whose efforts make the lives of others brighter. During the last few months, ANFA has partnered with local organizations such as Greater Enrichment Program’s Boxes of Love for Kids, and The Arts Empowerment Project—supporting the transformative power of art on the lives of at-risk youth. 532 Governor Morrison Street, Charlotte, North Carolina, 28211 ∙ 704.496.9181 ∙ anneneilsonfineart.com
nting with a purpose 2
1. Kerry Hayes, Reactions XI 2. Daniela Schweitzer, Dreaming 3. Dusty Griffith, In The Waters Above 4. Jonathan Smith, Yachts From Monte Solaro 5. Judith Judy, Far From Home 4
FALL ARTS FOCUS
WHILE IT’S TOUGH TO BEAT LIVE ENTERTAINMENT, CHARLOTTE ARTS GROUPS HAVE SHOWN CREATIVITY DURING THESE UNPRECEDENTED TIMES. WE’VE ROUNDED UP A FEW WAYS TO ENJOY AND SUPPORT THE ARTS IN CHARLOTTE OVER THE COMING MONTHS.
MINT MUSEUM: SUMMER WHEAT (AMERICAN, 1977–). WITH SIDE WITH SHOULDER, 2019, ACRYLIC ON ALUMINUM MESH
BY SARAH MALONE
CHINESE LANTERN FESTIVAL The sensational Chinese Lantern Festival returns to Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden this fall. Combining art and nature, the festival features hundreds of glowing, handmade lanterns shaped like animals, mythical creatures, trees and more. Participants can also explore Asian-inspired gardens and interactive light displays. To practice safe social distancing, visitors must register for a time slot to moderate the number of guests in the garden at one time. Oct. 15-Jan. 3; tickets start at $15.95 for children 2-12. dsbg.org
OPERA CAROLINA’S ISTREAM With a mission of bringing the joy of music to the community, Opera Carolina in April launched its iStream Series, which will continue through the end of August. Viewers can stream live opera performances on Opera Carolina’s Facebook page, some of which will be filmed at outdoor locations. The videos are later posted to YouTube for viewing anytime. Featuring special guests and popular songs, opera fans can unwind and enjoy outstanding music from the comfort of their homes. Facebook: @ operacarolina
JOEDANCE VIRTUAL FILM FESTIVAL Film lovers will have the chance to attend a “reimagined” virtual Joedance Film Festival this year. The 11-year-old event will feature 24 short films created by directors, producers and writers with connections to the Carolinas, Georgia or Tennessee. Instead of taking place at the Charlotte Ballet, this year’s festival will be streamed online, while still raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research at Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital. August 6-8; tickets for individual events start at $10; all-access passes start at $70. joedance.org
JAZZ AT THE BECHTLER The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art has moved its monthly jazz concert series online. Jazz at the Bechtler will stream live on Aug. 14 and Sept. 11, with future dates to be announced. Performances start at 7 p.m. and online registration is required. bechtler.org
NEW AT THE MINT The Mint Museum plans to reopen later this summer with an exhibition that inspires new perspectives. New Days, New Works will feature more than 80 works of art from the Mint’s permanent collection, including impactful photography, sculptures from international artists, paintings, fashion and more. This September, the museum also will debut a new “stained-glass” exhibition at its uptown location created by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based artist Summer Wheat. Foragers will showcase images of female figures performing various acts of labor, from farming to parenting to banking. SP
Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Wiggins
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FALL ARTS FOCUS
Changing its tune
CHARLOTTE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA BRINGS THE MUSIC STRAIGHT TO YOU — WHEREVER YOU ARE. BY PAGE LEGGETT
hen Charlotte Symphony Orchestra cellist Alan Black built a pavilion in his backyard, he thought it could be the ideal spot for al fresco concerts. But he wasn’t thinking of chamber music. He sometimes performs with Barnaby Bright, an indie-folk duo from Kansas, and he liked the idea of playing a backyard concert with them. Then COVID-19 happened. When the CSO was no longer able to perform on their home turf, Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Black began performing on his home turf. “I’d never used the pavilion for concerts,” he says, “but suddenly it seemed perfect.” Black, in his 28th season as CSO’s principal cellist, called some of his colleagues with his idea to perform together, spaced six feet or more apart, film it and share it on social media with music-starved fans. “Everybody wanted to be part of it,” he says. “We 60
miss playing together. We miss each other. We miss performing. So, these are always happy reunions.” Since launching the series in June, Black has tried to involve as many musicians as he can while still allowing everyone adequate space. “Winds in the Woods” featured a flutist, oboist, clarinetist, bassoonist and French horn player. Four cellists, including Black, performed “Cellissimo!” A brass concert featuring trumpet, horn and trombone was scheduled for late July. Originally planned through the end of July, Black says the virtual concerts will probably continue until CSO is permitted to return to the stage and perform in front of a live audience. It’s a labor of love for those involved. They’re outdoors. It’s hot. And taping can take two-and-half hours. “We do multiple takes,” Black says. “We want this to be as high quality as possible.” Bob Rydel, who plays the French horn with the CSO, serves as cinematographer and cameraman. And it’s all done pro bono.
You can take the musicians off the stage, but you can’t take the music out of the musicians. Cellist Alan Black says the “corona concerts” CSO musicians are offering are as much for them as they are for music fans. “This helps us mentally,” Black says. “Music is part of us; it’s the fabric of our souls. We need this.”
SAFE AT HOME The al fresco series isn’t the only thing the symphony is doing to keep audiences entertained. “We quickly pivoted to figure out how we could bring music to our fans,” says Deirdre Roddin, the CSO’s director of communications. Roddin had to quickly pivot herself: She came to the CSO from the New York Philharmonic in early February, just before the world turned upside down. A three-week mini-series was scheduled to take place this month at the Sarah Belk Gambrell Center at Queens University. Like so much else, plans were canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. #CSOatHome is how the Symphony has branded its new online content. From the CSO website, you can access video performances of some of the best-loved music from the classical canon. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 was filmed in February. Other selections include Mozart’s Symphony 41 and Dvořák’s Symphony 7. You can also tune in to WDAV 89.9 every Friday evening to hear archival concerts, including Holst’s “The Planets,” Mendelssohn’s “Scottish Symphony” and Mahler’s “Symphony No. 2.” On the Symphony’s “CSOatHome” page, you’ll find lots of CSO offerings, from “A Symphony A Part” (individual members of the CSO performing Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony from wherever they were sheltering in place) to the musicians performing individually in their homes. Season subscribers got an extra dose of fun — remote “happy hours,” involving a pre-concert talk by resident
conductor Christopher James Lees and a cocktail lesson from a local mixologist.
‘MUSIC IS PART OF US’ Until the pandemic forced Black to stay home, he used to be all over the place. When not practicing or performing with the CSO, he might be teaching at Davidson College, where he’s artistic director of the college’s concert series. He founded Chamber Music at St. Peter’s (at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in uptown Charlotte) in 1996 and serves as a coach and performer with the Chapel Hill Chamber Music Workshop for Adults. He’s appeared on stage with vocalist Bobby McFerrin, fiddler Mark O’Connor and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Incidentally, Black performs on a 1995 Moes & Moes cello originally built for and owned by Ma. “It’s a great instrument,” he says. “It’s changed my life.” So has COVID, as it’s changed everyone’s life. Black is looking for a silver lining. “If there’s something good that could come from this horrible time, it may be that people realize how much they miss live performances,” he says “I think people are yearning for that connection. For now, I hope we’re filling a void.” SP Your living room can be a concert hall: Follow the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra virtually until it’s safe to gather in public again. CSO al Fresco concerts are offered online via Facebook and YouTube each Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The next day, they’re available on the CSO website. Find out about all virtual offerings at charlottesymphony.org/csoathome. southparkmagazine.com | 61
FALL ARTS FOCUS
BLUMENTHAL PERFORMING ARTS CEO TOM GABBARD REVEALS HOW CHARLOTTE’S LARGEST ARTS ORGANIZATION IS PLANNING BROADWAY’S RETURN TO LOCAL STAGES. BY MICHAEL J. SOLENDER
Describe the early stages of shutdown for Blumenthal Performing Arts. We started canceling performances in the second week of March. As of now, 291 performances have been canceled. We quickly pivoted our staff to working from home. That’s one of the real suc-
PHOTOGRAPH BY DANIEL COSTON
oom-meeting maestro wasn’t a role Tom Gabbard aspired to over the last few months. The Blumenthal Performing Arts president and CEO spends far too much of his time these days on the online meeting platform working with colleagues all over the country — and across the pond in Europe and Asia — while planning for the safe return of Broadway to Charlotte. In the era of coronavirus, Gabbard and other executives in the live-entertainment business have been forced to navigate ever-changing state and municipal health and safety guidelines; dizzying logistics of touring show scheduling and resource allocation; huge volunteer and paid staff communications and morale; a loyal and curious group of subscribers and patrons; and 101 nagging details that shift as frequently as offensive sets at a Panthers’ game. Gabbard takes it all in stride. He’s led the nonprofit arts organization since 2003. BPA holds long-term management contracts with the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to operate the Belk, Booth, Stage Door and Knight theaters, as well as Spirit Square’s McGlohon and Duke Energy theaters. SouthPark sat down with Gabbard in late June to discuss what the city can expect regarding the return of live entertainment, best practices across the globe for safely attending the theater, and his personal experience battling the virus. Comments have been edited for length and clarity.
cess stories here — we had made a real investment putting in a new phone system and other things. Our customer-service activities, particularly the people who answer the phones to sell tickets [and] answer questions, all those folks were seamlessly able to move offsite and work from home. Because you can imagine, even though we haven’t been selling a lot of tickets, we’ve had a lot of questions to answer. All touring stopped. Broadway shows, concerts, everything very quickly came to a halt. Once Broadway shut down, that sent a strong message across the country. What does reopening look like, specifically for Broadway? When it comes to these tours, the logistics are complicated, and they require the cities be booked somewhat continuously. ... It’s a complex puzzle to figure out those schedules. The strategy we’ve been working on is to try to get touring productions started first. New York is largely a tourist market. Tourism is going to be down in a big way, especially international tourism. Those shows have a much more daunting challenge than on the road, where we have season-ticket holders, we have a financial base to make these shows viable. What have you learned in terms of best practices for theatergoers? What might local patrons expect when coming back? Uniquely, we did find that the theater business does have a model that gives us some inspiration from Seoul, South Korea. There, big musicals like Phantom of the Opera have played throughout the pandemic. Andrew Lloyd Webber is so impressed with it that his flagship theater in London, the Palladium, is introducing many of their techniques. Among the takeaways we learned are universal masking is a key element. Masking is required of everybody, including the musicians in the pit unless they play a wind instrument. [Everyone goes] through two different temperature checks as they enter the lobby, and they fill out a questionnaire in advance. The theater twice a week has a medical-grade cleaning. People don’t eat and drink
in the theater like they do here. There are hand sanitizers everywhere. They essentially quarantine the backstage area, and they tightly control who gets back there. We asked our ticket buyers, “What are the things you need to see to feel safe?” A majority have told us that they need to see a mask requirement, and we need to be serious about it. People should expect that there will be a mask requirement, one we take seriously. Ultimately, returning will be subject to government approval in the states where these shows will emerge. It will also be subject to having safety protocols that reassure the unions representing actors, musicians, stagehands, staff and patrons. You and your wife both had the virus, how are you doing? Vicki and I were over in the [United Kingdom] for a week (in March). I’m very certain that when we were in London or Manchester or traveling between there, that’s where we picked it up. I started with a fever and aches and pains. I fortunately didn’t have some of the effects that other people have had. It was just an uncomfortable three or four days with flu and [fever]. We’re fine and fully recovered. What do you want Charlotte patrons to know about the future of theater? We are working hard to get back. We want to get back safely. We know the kinds of things we do to bring people together are important to our community. We also introduced, and I think we’re the only theater in the country to have, a COVID guarantee. We’re eager to get back in the game as soon as we can. Rest assured, we’re going to do it safely. SP Blumenthal’s COVID guarantee: For tickets purchased before Sept. 1, Blumenthal Performing Arts will allow ticket holders for performances through August 2021 to exchange tickets for another show or receive a refund if they don’t feel safe attending.
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Cool chemistry OVER A DECADE, JAZZ DUO NOEL FREIDLINE AND MARIA HOWELL HAVE BUILT A UNIQUE MUSICAL PARTNERSHIP. BY VANESSA INFANZON
azz artists Noel Freidline and Maria Howell met playing a gig at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art’s jazz series in 2010. It was instant chemistry, Freidline says, and the duo known as Noel & Maria has been making music together ever since. Freidline sings and plays piano and keyboard, and Howell is on vocals. They perform at local venues and throughout the Southeast. Typically, they play songs you’ve heard before, but they might be repackaged or stylized, Howell says. For example, you might hear Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” but reimagined as a jazz waltz. In mid-March, as music venues shuttered as a response to the pandemic, Noel & Maria started Notes from Middle C, a Facebook Live performance on Wednesday nights. The first two shows took place at Middle C Jazz, the uptown music venue owned by Larry and Adam Farber that opened in late 2019. Noel & Maria moved the show to Freidline’s home studio on Moonlight Lane, a fitting street name for their music, when the club closed temporarily due to the state’s stay-at-home guidelines. Viewers from around the world tuned in to their 13 performances. The easy banter between sets, and the medleys and tunes by music greats such as Carole King and James Taylor brought together a community of listeners.
oel & Maria’s music partnership is built on trust, vital to musicians who do a lot of improvising, Freidline says. They hear music the same way and never have to explain something to the other when they’re rehearsing or performing. “They’ve cultivated that ability to give and take, and build off of each other,” says Tom Gabbard, CEO and president of Blumenthal Performing Arts. “I think there’s incredible mutual respect,” adds Farber, a music-industry veteran who is managing partner of the EastCoast Entertainment agency. “I think they’re in awe of each other’s musical talents. Neither one of them tries to usurp the other’s talent. They know how to bounce off each other. They’re really great friends — you can’t fake that.” While they typically play covers, Noel & Maria created their first original music in May when Tosco Music Party took its popular music series virtual. But Howell says a show can be equally enjoyable whether they’re performing original songs or 64
familiar tunes. “I’ve always been of the mindset that you don’t come here for the songs,” Howell says. “You come here for what you’re going to get, what you’re going to feel. People are attracted to that chemistry. No matter what song we do, we’re putting our stamp on it.”
PHOTOGRAPHS: APRIL FRIEDLINE PHOTOGRAPHY
owell grew up in Gastonia, the oldest of six children. At 13, she sang in the church choir while her mom played the trumpet. She majored in pre-med and biology at Winston Salem State University but was always involved in the college’s choir. When auditions for Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film The Color Purple came to Greensboro, family friends encouraged Howell to go, despite her fear. At the casting call, she stood on stage silently with a group of women. After everyone left, Howell handed the casting director a headshot and added, “By the way, I sing too.” When asked what songs she knew, Howell sang Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” in the casting director’s ear. “I was that bashful,” Howell explains. “It’s hard to believe that you couldn’t make me get in front of a crowd to sing by myself a long time ago. I had to get over it in a real big hurry.” After one more screen test, she received a callback for a solo in the movie’s choir scene. She got the part. After college, Howell performed at Jonathan’s Jazz Cellar on the corner of North Tryon and 7th streets from 1985-1990. Over the next couple of decades, her career took her to New York City, Japan, then Atlanta. She recorded voice overs and acted in commercials, film and TV. Her film credits include The Blind Side, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Hidden Figures, and she had a recurring role in the NBC TV series Revolution. All the while, Howell never stopped singing. At one point, she was playing with seven different bands and be
came known as “the girl who didn’t need to rehearse.” Now, Howell lives a bicoastal life, keeping homes in California and Charlotte. Her next project, One Thousand Flames, is being filmed in London. Freidline grew up taking piano lessons in his hometown of Clearwater, Kansas, about 20 miles from Wichita. His two brothers were much older, so he had to find a way to entertain himself. In eighth grade, a teacher introduced Freidline to jazz pianist Dave Brubeck’s album Time Out. While sitting in a dark auditorium at the Wichita Jazz Festival, Freidline thought, “This is what I want to do.” Freidline started at Wichita State University as a music major and finished at the University of North Florida, playing gigs throughout his college career. After graduation in 1991, he worked on cruise ships and in restaurants (he met his wife in one of them). He put together The Noel Freidline Quartet, and they performed five to six nights a week throughout the Southeast. On a whim, he and the band flew to Las Vegas for an audition at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in 2000. They were offered a contract as they walked off the stage. By 2003, Freidline and his wife, April, and their three young children were ready to put down roots. They chose Charlotte because it was centrally located, and he was familiar with the city from performing at Springfest in the 1990s. He came off the road in 2004 to accept a teaching position at Davidson Day School and became an adjunct professor at UNC Charlotte in 2006. COVID-19 has taught Freidline and Howell they can change and adapt – even engage audiences through a tiny camera in a smartphone. “We get to do what we love,” Howell says. “Just the fact that we’re still learning and discovering is really special at this point.” SP southparkmagazine.com | 65
CHARLOTTE MUSEUM OF HISTORY’S SILOAM SCHOOL RESTORATION IS AN AMBITIOUS PROJECT AIMED AT HIGHLIGHTING THE REGION’S PAST — AND INSPIRING DIALOGUE SURROUNDING RACE.
BY MICHAEL J. SOLENDER
ith a bit of imagination, it’s easy to envision how hopeful the Siloam School appeared to the young Black children, hungry for learning, who crossed its threshold nearly a century ago. The tiny single-classroom schoolhouse opened its doors in the early 1920s in a remote and rural northeast corner of Mecklenburg County. The gable-roofed, whitewashed clapboard school, named after the nearby Presbyterian church, proudly anchored more than an acre of cleared land. The school’s design yielded three distinct spaces: the classroom, where a handful of kids learned the “three R’s;” a small cloak room; and an “industrial” room for project work. The work room opened into the larger classroom to create a community meeting and gathering space. Perched on a sturdy brick foundation and sporting a metal roof, the electricity-free building was constructed facing north to allow in a continual stream of natural light from oversized windows on the east and west walls. A pot-bellied stove kept the classroom warm in the winter, and the windows captured a cooling cross breeze during the warmer days of spring. Today, the Siloam schoolhouse rests uneasily on its original site beside the Mallard Glen apartment complex and not far from the main campus of UNC Charlotte. What was once a distant and unremarkable patch of red clay in the country is today a mere 20-minute drive from Charlotte’s center city. And while Siloam holds a place in the National Historic Register, its current state of disrepair is so advanced, urgent intervention is needed to save it.
BOLD RESTORATION PROJECT Siloam is one of thousands of such schools built throughout the South after the turn of the 20th century to educate African Americans during the Jim Crow era. Few of the 66
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF CHARLOTTE MUSEUM OF HISTORY
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Students outside the McClintock School at McClintock Presbyterian Church, one of seven surviving Rosenwald Schools in Mecklenburg County, circa 1940s.
dialogue and work toward reconciliation.” At present, a steady daily stream of traffic whizzes by the broken building’s buckling frame. Partially hidden from view by tall grass and scrubby pines flanking its sides, the schoolhouse decays day by day.
HISTORY OF ROSENWALD SCHOOLS About 5,000 Rosenwald Schools were built throughout 15 Southern states between 1917 and 1932. Their moniker is a nod to Julius Rosenwald, president of retail giant Sears, Roebuck and Co. from 1908-1924. Rosenwald joined in an unlikely alliance with Alabama educator and African American community leader Booker T. Washington to raise funds and provide opportunities for southern rural Black children who otherwise had no access to education. Barely one generation beyond the end of the Civil War, Black Americans throughout the country — and especially in the South — experienced disenfranchisement in virtually every aspect of civic life, from property ownership to voting rights and, most dramatically, in education. Separate systems were anything but equal. By 1915, public schools in North Carolina spent $7.40 per white pupil but only $2.30 per Black pupil, compared with the U.S. average of nearly $30 per student, according to research by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Historian-in-Residence Tom Hanchett, a noted Rosenwald Schools scholar. “Because of institutionalized racism, African Americans were not getting their fair share of government funding for education,” Hanchett says. “Booker T. Washington had this college (he headed Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University) in the middle of Alabama cotton fields, and all around him were kids who couldn’t read or write. There were
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MCCLINTOCK PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
schools remain, and disappearing with them is a visible bridge to our history and important lessons that resonate today. Charlotte Museum of History is leading a bold initiative to preserve Siloam and honor its legacy. The museum plans to relocate the school to its east Charlotte campus, a project that is estimated to cost about $800,000. There, the museum will stabilize and restore the structure; upfit it with electricity, HVAC and modern safety systems; create an exhibition on the region’s African American history; and use the schoolhouse as a community gathering space to serve as a catalyst for discussion around racial cooperation and reconciliation. Siloam’s planned rebirth is garnering support from a group of diverse community partners, including the CharlotteMecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission; Tribute Companies, which owns the land on which Siloam School currently sits; Aldersgate Retirement Community; Pixelatoms creative studio; and Silver Star Community Inc. Both the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have provided significant funding for the project. “Jim Crow segregation is one of the roots of the many economic, social and educational inequities that persist today in Charlotte and beyond,” says Adria Focht, Charlotte Museum of History’s president and CEO. “Preserving the Siloam School will provide context and a place to interpret this history. If we lose this building, we lose our connection to the voices of the people in the Siloam community who persisted in their quest for a quality education for their children, despite the forces working against them. “Many in Charlotte are conditioned to thinking a plaque or marker is a place where something used to be,” Focht continues. “Siloam, once restored, will not just be an interpretive center, but a community space and place for conversations,
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF HISTORYSOUTH.ORG / COURTESY OF MCCLINTOCK PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
no schools for Black kids. Washington initially experimented with building schools with community support yet needed funds to expand.” He enlisted the aid of Rosenwald, who recognized the economic as well as social benefit in expanding educational opportunities in the deep South, Hanchett says. As the head of Sears, Rosenwald saw an expanded market for sales and distribution into rural America for his products, especially with the advent of the new postal concept at the time of Rural Free Delivery . “Washington convinced Rosenwald to help build the schools through the use of an innovative matching-grants program,” Hanchett says. “And what they created turned Rosenwald Schools into one of the most amazing stories in the American history of education.” A three-legged stool of financial support drove their development. Local community funds and land donations, Rosenwald Foundation contributions, and municipal school-system funds led to nearly one in five rural Southern schools being part of the Rosenwald program by 1928. No state had more schools than North Carolina with 813, including a small number of teacher homes and workshops. Mecklenburg County was home to 24 Rosenwald schools, according to Fisk University, which maintains a database about the schools. Just seven remain in the county today. Communities were provided with architectural blueprints and operating principles for the schools, in addition to cash for construction. Though no documentation indicates that Siloam received funding from the Rosenwald Foundation, the school’s design, location and historic pedigree place it clearly among its Rosenwald peers. Many of the South’s rural schools of the time built outside of formal Rosenwald funding were able to take advantage of resources such as design plans, according to Hanchett.
This architectural drawing shows one of the standard floor plans for Rosenwald schools, including Siloam School.
An interior image from the Rosenwald School at McClintock Presbyterian Church.
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“We knew we were getting hand-me-down materials; the names of other schools were imprinted in our textbooks. What bothered me the most was I lived off Idlewild Road next door to a white family and played with their kids, but I had to go to Clear Creek, and they went to East Mecklenburg. It didn’t seem right, yet that was the time we lived in.” — William Pride, who graduated from Charlotte’s Clear Creek Rosenwald School in 1959
The vestibule at Siloam School shows the original architecture and paint schemes common in many Rosenwald schools built in the South. 70
PHOTOGRAPHS PROVIDED BY PIXELATOMS FOR BUILT CITY/CITY OF CHARLOTTE
Left: The rendering shows Siloam School as it will appear once it has been restored. Right: City of Charlotte has granted $50 million toward the Save Siloam School project. Pictured are Mayor Vi Lyles, city council member Larken Egleston, city council member Greg Phipps and Charlotte Museum of History President and CEO Adria Focht in January 2019. Siloam was one of five schools for African American children in the Mallard Creek district at the time, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. The commission noted two successive teachers — who likely lived in the city and commuted daily to tend to their young charges — were paid annual salaries of $50 and $55, respectively, from 1922-1925. Wesley Heights resident William Pride attended Mecklenburg County’s Clear Creek Rosenwald School, graduating in 1959. “There was no indoor plumbing and no electricity,” says Pride, whose graduating class was about 15 students. “We knew we were getting hand-me-down materials; the names of other schools were imprinted in our textbooks. What bothered me the most was I lived off Idlewild Road next door to a white family and played with their kids, but I had to go to Clear Creek, and they went to East Mecklenburg. It didn’t seem right, yet that was the time we lived in.”
PRESERVING CULTURAL TOUCHSTONES “Few Rosenwald School buildings survive today, in Charlotte or elsewhere,” Focht says. “The Siloam School provided educational opportunities denied to Black children in the South. It represents an important moment in our history.” The projected cost of relocating and restoring the structure includes development of the history exhibit, Focht says. To date, about $200,000 has been raised. “We’re two years into our five-year campaign and experiencing tremendous momentum,” Focht says. “There is a groundswell of community partners coming together to support the project. Part of what we are doing is raising grass roots awareness and interest in the project as a community resource.” The museum is targeting 2023 for the project’s completion. As a prominent New South city, Charlotte hasn’t always taken advantage of preserving cultural touchstones that once defined and differentiated the city. Urban renewal projects of the 1960s tore at the fabric of Charlotte’s African American communities such as Brooklyn, and even re
cent efforts to preserve other significantly important Black landmarks such as the Excelsior Club have been met with limited enthusiasm. These actions have led some to believe Charlotte has a dubious reputation for tearing down rather than preserving its physical history. Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles helped secure $50,000 in city funding for the Siloam project. “Projects like Save Siloam School are important investments for our city to make,” Lyles said at an on-site ceremony in January 2019. “While we have great opportunities in our city going forward, we have to remember and be reminded that everyone didn’t have a chance to get equal footing,” Lyles says. “The idea of addressing social justice and equity through history is a very important one.” George Dunlap, chair of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, agrees. “There aren’t many historical sites for the African American community that still exist here,” says Dunlap, who attended grade school at the segregated Sterling School in Pineville, now Sterling Elementary and once known as Pineville Colored School. “This [segregation] is a part of history, the education of African Americans [during Jim Crow], and important to be preserved.” Mecklenburg County has supported the Siloam School project with $125,000. Dunlap expressed hope the county’s contribution might inspire others, especially corporate donors, to step up with support. Upon completion of the relocation and restoration, the museum looks for Siloam School to be a teaching resource, shedding light on the lives of rural African American families in Mecklenburg County in the early 20th century and acting as a lens to better view contemporary social-justice issues. “It’s important for African American children, and all of our children, today to see what their foreparents had to do to get an education,” Dunlap says. “It can provide both motivation and inspiration. I want this legacy preserved for my children, grandchildren and their children.” SP southparkmagazine.com | 71
Backyard bliss IT’S THE SUMMER OF BACKYARD LIVING. INTERIOR DESIGNER TRACI ZELLER HELPS ONE FAMILY CREATE AN OUTDOOR OASIS FOR ALL SEASONS. BY CATHY MARTIN PHOTOGRAPHS BY DUSTIN PECK
uburban living has its perks, especially in the summer of 2020 when staying home is de rigueur and green spaces have become the envy of apartment and townhome dwellers. Fortunately for one south Charlotte family, plans to create their own backyard sanctuary were put in motion long before the pandemic sent homeowners scrambling to spruce up neglected yards, porches and patios. When the family of five moved from Myers Park to Providence Country Club seven years ago, the interior of the 1990s-era home had recently been renovated. But despite the splendid golf-course views, the backyard needed a little TLC. The space was mostly void of landscaping, with a simple narrow patio extending the length of the home and a wooden playset in the back corner. The owners considered installing a pool, but given the home’s proximity to the neighborhood club, they realized they really didn’t need one. “They just decided that making this entertaining oasis would be a better idea,” says interior designer Traci Zeller, who teamed with Arcadia Homes and architect
“Lighting is just the jewelry in any space,” interior designer Traci Zeller says. The large, weatherresistant lanterns in the pergolas were custom-made by a 184-year-old Massachusetts lighting company. Before starting construction on the hardscaping, the homeowner enlisted The Whole Blooming Landscape and Brooks Nursery to add shrubs, flowering plants and greenery.
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The gazebo and swing chairs, sourced from Modway, are a favorite feature for the familyâ€™s 10-year-old twins and 15-year old son. The chandelier is from Arteriors, a luxury lighting and accessories company. 74
Ric Solow of Solow Design Group on the project. “They really just wanted a place where they could live outside and enjoy the weather.” Despite their eagerness to reenvision the space, the homeowners took their time in determining the aesthetic and function. The design phase took about 1012 months as the couple studied other outdoor projects and worked closely with Solow on developing the architectural plans. “They cared about every detail,” Zeller says. The result is a sprawling, casual-yet-sophisticated space with four distinct outdoor “rooms.” On a terrace just steps from the owner’s suite, a pair of chaise lounges provides a relaxing spot for the homeowners to start the day with morning coffee. An adjacent wood pergola lends privacy to a sunken spa surrounded by water-resistant ipe wood decking. Beside the spa, a pair of sofas surround a natural-gas fire pit, creating a cozy sitting area. Near the center of the home, a table and swivel chairs serves as a convenient gathering space when hosting larger get-togethers. Another pergola shades the
The custom cast-concrete countertops, fireplace mantel and hearth were designed and installed by Custom CastStone of Indian Land, S.C.
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outdoor kitchen and dining area, which is furnished with a galvanized steel table and chairs from Kingsley Bate. Bar seating in the adjoining gazebo allows family members and guests to socialize between the two spaces. “One design aspect that we really like is the communication of the gazebo into the dining area,” the husband says. The large gazebo with an oversized sectional sofa, a slipcovered swivel chair and a pair of swing chairs is a hub for most family activities, from movie nights to watching football games. “We always envisioned it to be our family gathering place,” the wife says. Infrared heaters and a wood-burning fireplace keep the space warm when it’s cold outside, while LED uplighting — hidden from view behind the crown molding — softly illuminates the cedar-planked ceiling after the sun goes down. Sourcing weather-resistant and climate-friendly fixtures
that matched the homeowners’ vision proved to be one of the designer’s biggest challenges. The decision to install a large chandelier in the center of the gazebo instead of a traditional ceiling fan required mounting small fans on the interior beams to keep the space cool. After the homeowner had her heart set on a large outdoor lantern she had seen in a photo, Zeller sought something similar for the pergolas. The task proved more difficult than expected. She eventually discovered Cape Cod Lanterns, a handcrafted lighting business in Massachusetts experienced at making fixtures capable of withstanding heavy wind and rain from coastal storms. “It really is a dream backyard for entertaining and just spending time,” Zeller says, and the family seems to agree. “I like that it encourages outdoor living for our family,” the wife says. “That’s been the greatest benefit.” SP
Room to roam PRIMLAND AND SOUTHWESTERN VIRGINIA PROVIDE A LUXURIOUS ESCAPE FROM THE CITY TO SOCIAL DISTANCE WITH EASE. BY CATHY MARTIN
he SUV rumbles down the side of the mountain, past the dense rhododendron and dewberry brambles that line the narrow gravel road — one way in, one way out. When we arrive at the trailhead that leads down to the river, Kevin, my guide for the afternoon, pops open the back, helps me into my waders and quickly gets me up to speed on the basics of fly-fishing. After a quarter-mile trek among leafy ferns and stinging nettles — which I am warned to steer clear of — we reach our destination, part of a 6-mile stretch of the Dan River that traverses Primland’s 12,000 acres of wilderness. This quiet, unspoiled place feels blessedly far removed from the city, the pandemic and pretty much every other concern I’d left behind when I arrived here this morning. From Charlotte, Primland is an easy two-hour-and-twenty-minute drive up Interstate 77 North, then east through Mount Airy before crossing the Virginia border to Meadows of Dan. The land once known as the Busted Rock Wilderness was acquired by French billionaire Didier Primat in 1977 as a family retreat. Soon after, Primat started a logging business that quickly grew into the largest U.S. manufacturer of packaged firewood. When that business was discontinued, Primland became an Orvis-endorsed wing-shooting lodge, adding sporting clays, fly fishing and horseback riding to its growing roster of activities in the 1990s. The Audubon-certified Highland Course, designed by noted golf-course architect Donald Steel, opened in 2006, followed by the opening of the 26-room lodge in 2009. Primat’s eight children now own Primland, and their love and respect for this remarkable land — as well as the region’s heritage — are apparent throughout. The lodge itself was constructed with timber sourced from the Appalachian Mountains.
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Accommodations at Primland range from the Lodge, where spacious rooms and suites boast a soothing neutral décor and luxurious Bulgari toiletries, to large mountain homes that can accommodate groups of seven to 22. If you want a little more elbow room, the one-bedroom Fairway Cottages are outfitted with full kitchens, an outdoor pavilion and a putting green. At 2,800 feet, the Pinnacle Cottages offer outstanding views with versatile floor plans. For the most privacy and spectacular views, book one of three Treehouses, pictured above, perched at the edge of a mountain..
When the golf course was built, special filters were installed to protect the mountain streams from harmful fertilizers required for course upkeep. At the spa, dreamcatchers and other Native American-inspired decor are a nod to the indigenous people who once inhabited the area. Staff members seem to share this respect for the Earth and living things. Kevin, my fly-fishing guide, couldn’t work fast enough to help me return the silvery trout we caught back to the water after we marveled at their beautiful patterns. He laments how the eastern hemlocks lining the riverbank are threatened with extinction due to invasive insects. Along the way, he shares the Latin names for every plant, spider or bug that crosses our path. The lodge at Primland feels surprisingly modern given its location along what’s known as “The Crooked Road” heritage trail in rural Virginia. Stone tile floors, leather sofas and dark woodwork combine to create an aesthetic that’s part luxury hotel and part hunting lodge, with a bit of European chalet. Walls are lined with striking aboriginal art, hand-picked by Bérengère Primat, Didier’s oldest daughter and an avid art collector. There’s a simplicity and sparseness to the place, and despite its price tag, it’s pleasantly unpretentious. Whether staying in one of the eco-conscious resort’s cottages, mountain homes or treehouses, the lodge is Primland’s hub for golfing, dining, relaxing at the spa, and late-night stargazing at the deep-space observatory, a reflection of the Primat family’s passion for astronomy. The observatory sits atop a silo-like structure, its architecture a nod to the area’s farming heritage. Though its roots are in hunting, Primland offers a full slate of activities and, with a growing number of families discovering the resort, has adapted nearly all of them for kids to partici-
pate as well. There’s kayaking and paddleboarding, mountain biking, RTV trail riding, a challenging 18-hole disc golf course, yoga, and miles of trails for nature walks among the white and loblolly pines. A fitness trail with workout stations, including pull-up bars and weights, was set to debut this summer. Primland’s food and beverage program is led by Chef Isaac Olivo, a Cordon Bleu graduate with experience at some of New York and Connecticut’s finest restaurants. Whether grabbing a casual bite at the 19th Pub or an elegant meal at Elements, the culinary team incorporates plenty of local, regional and organic produce, including some of which is grown on property. The lunch and dinner menu at the 19th Pub features carefully prepared pub offerings such as Joyce Farms chicken wings and a “pig candy” club, featuring bacon flavored with Virginia maple syrup and cayenne pepper. The slow-cooked farmhouse chicken with summer beans and heirloom tomatoes is fresh, simple and flavorful. For dinner at Elements, you might find seasonal entrees such as a tender American Wagyu ribeye with hen of the woods, chimichurri and Swiss chard; King salmon with cucumber, dill and pearl onions; and a house-made chitarra pasta with basil, parmesan and pomodoro. At either venue, spirits enthusiasts won’t want to miss the section of the drink menu dedicated to fruit-infused moonshines and seasonal cocktails made with this high-octane liquor. Bootlegging and moonshine production are ingrained in the history of this land. Five stills remain on the property, and Primland offers moonshine tastings during special events. During the summer months and on certain holidays, you’ll find Southern comfort foods at the Stables Saloon, a rustic onsite venue with a large outdoor deck. Expect family-friendly fare like buttermilk fried chicken, braised pork shoulder, and mac and cheese accompanied by live bluegrass music on weekends, a nod to the Crooked Road heritage of Appalachian music.
o explore more of this local history, head 45 minutes north to Floyd, Va., a modern-day hippie hamlet that will bring out your inner flower child. The town’s annual summer music festival, Floyd Fest, was canceled this year due to the pandemic, but Floyd still has a lot to offer. Order a couple of pints and a wood-fired pizza at Dogtown Roadhouse and grab a seat on the porch to enjoy the mountain breeze. The Floyd Country Store is a no-frills spot known for its Friday Night Jamborees. Since the pandemic, the popular concerts have moved to the lawn behind the store. Stop by the store’s soda fountain for a sundae, shake or icecream soda, then wander through thrift shops and boutiques like New Mountain Mercantile, which sells soaps, essential oils and works of art from regional craftsman. OuterSpace is a whimsical collective where you can shop for vintage clothes, musical instruments and jewelry in a big blue school bus, order a fresh fruit smoothie in the yurt that is home to Revolution Juice, or grab a bite to eat from the on-site Bootleg BBQ food truck.
Heading south on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Rocky Knob Recreation Area offers hiking trails from an easy 1-mile loop to the strenuous 10.8-mile Rock Castle Gorge Trail, with panoramic views and remnants of historic homesites. A few miles down the road from Rocky Knob and just off the parkway is Chateau Morrissette, one of Virginia’s top-producing wineries. At press time, the family-owned winery was temporarily closed but offering curbside pickup by appointment. On your way back to Meadows of Dan, you’ll pass Mabry Mill, a picturesque grist mill and blacksmith shop built in the early 1900s. During normal times, this pocket of rural Virginia and Primland, with its sprawling property and rich slate of amenities for both adventure-seekers and those looking to relax, is a one-of-a-kind getaway that’s an easy drive from the city. In these times, when social distancing is the new norm, it’s a nature-lover’s paradise. SP southparkmagazine.com | 81
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|swirl A monthly guide to Charlotte’s parties and galas
Raise Their Voices! A Night for Children’s Rights benefiting Council for Children’s Rights March 5, Westin Charlotte
Carolyn and Chris Brown
Leslie Schlernitzauer and Ellen Leitch
Anika Kim and Amy Tribble
Anja and David Zimmerman
Heather Johnson and father
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DANIEL COSTON
The Council for Children’s Rights works to defend and champion the rights of children through legal representation, advocacy and policy work. This year’s gala brought together supporters from across Charlotte for an evening of drinks, hors d’oeuvres and fundraising.
Friends of the Library March 2 and 3, Queens University
Bruce Hilton, Sheila Bennett and Carmen Hilton
Bruce Holsinger, Kate Quinn and Sherard Anne Gates
Amy Hockett and Selena Giovannelli
Beth Guinan and Melissa Kennedy-Blair
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DANIEL COSTON
Queens University’s Friends of the Library celebrated its 47th annual author event with a luncheon and appearances by Kate Quinn and Bruce Holsinger.
|swirl A monthly guide to Charlotte’s parties and galas
Women for Animal Welfare luncheon benefiting the Humane Society of Charlotte Mar. 11, Myers Park Country Club
This year’s luncheon featured Alexandra Horowitz, Columbia University professor and author of several bestselling books on dogs. The luncheon also honored Catherine “Cat” Carter for her care of local animals. The event raised more than $90,000 for the local chapter.
Felipe Gonzalez Edmiston, Amy Blumenthal and Robert Norris
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DANIEL COSTON
Elizabeth Medina and Brittany Meegan
Elizabeth Rostan and Andromeda Williams
Lauren Batten and Anne McGowan
Lisa Weston, Michelle Stauffer and Donna Stucker
Cat Carter and Shelly Moore
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|swirl A monthly guide to Charlotte’s parties and galas
benefiting Goodyear Arts June 6, Camp North End The nonprofit artist collective Goodyear Arts found a unique way to hold its spring fundraiser during socially distant times: Patrons remained in their cars and drove around Camp North End’s 76-acre campus to enjoy dance, poetry, visual art and other performances from local artists, flashing their lights to show appreciation.
Ghost Trees perform
Jennifer and Keith Cradle
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DANIEL COSTON
|swirl A monthly guide to Charlotte’s parties and galas
The Mannequin Group Launch Party March 11, Sophia’s Lounge at The Ivey’s Hotel Local artists and fashion mavens Berhan Nebioglu and Tony Howard launched the Mannequin Group, a fashion-show producer, with a private party at The Ivey’s Hotel.
Sandra and Vincent Voci and Grazia Walker
Christina Melissaris and Michael Garris
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DANIEL COSTON
Lisa Mandy Meredith and Tony Howard
Christina Parisi, Lisa Albaum and Berhan Nebioglu
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Life of the party COLEEN BRIDGES IS THE WOMAN BEHIND THE MOBILE BARS SURE TO MAKE YOUR NEXT EVENT A DARLING OF INSTAGRAM. BY CAROLINE PORTILLO
llow me to introduce you to Peaches. A year ago, she was serving espresso on the streets of Italy. Now she’s turning up at private functions around Charlotte, dispensing cold beverages from craft beer to cocktails, prosecco to root beer floats. And she can all but guarantee your next event (even a socially distanced one) is a hit on Instagram. Local couple Coleen and Thomas “TJ” Bridges bought into the Get Cozy - Vintage Mobile Bars national franchise last October and started Bubbles & Brews Charlotte. Their calling card: an Italian Piaggio Ape they affectionately named “Peaches.” The three-wheeled commercial vehicle with seven taps and loads of customizable options is available for rent with rates starting at about $250 an hour. The host is responsible for providing the alcohol. Before COVID-19, Peaches appeared at big weddings, gatherings for corporations such as Neiman Marcus and parties thrown by local luminaries, such as former Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart and his wife, Natalie. Now, in a world of mini-gatherings, masks and social distancing, Bubbles & Brews Charlotte has been forced to pivot. But the
pivot is something Coleen Bridges knows all about: In her career, she’s worked as a golf coach, a medical-device salesperson, and a publicist for NBC, where she connected the press with the cast of hit shows Friends and Seinfeld. Most recently, she’s been running her late father’s Ohio-based automotive and commercial-refrigeration company from her home in Fort Mill, S.C. SouthPark caught up with Bridges to discuss the latest venture. Comments were edited for brevity. How did things change for you when coronavirus hit? We went from “This is going to be an awesome year!” to “Holy cow.” Now we’re doing small backyard weddings with 10 people and birthday parties with 10 to 15 people. We’re doing neighborhood graduation parties, drive-through baby showers. We wanted to be part of people’s celebrations. There’s so much sadness right now, so it’s fun to see people go up and see Peaches and say, “Oh my gosh, this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.” So where’d the name “Peaches” come from? Thomas and I held a “name that bar” event on Instagram. We wanted something that was cute but that tied into Charlotte and Fort Mill. We have a lot of peach trees in Fort Mill. We just acquired a second bar and held another contest. People said “You’ve got Fort Mill ties. Now do Charlotte, and call it ‘Charlie.’” Love that. Tell me more about “Charlie.” It’s a freestanding bar that’s totally customizable. It looks like it’s made from shiplap, but they are actually magnetic panels that can be branded. It has a kegerator, three taps, a serving station, a prep area for glasses and a chilling tub. It’s smaller, and a little cheaper. Whereas Peaches is too big to get on service elevators, Charlie can go anywhere. Say a corporation wanted to put kombucha on tap for employees. They could rent it for a day, week or month. We have a bar for everyone. SP getcozybars.com
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