Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Art sprouts on doomed building

The long-lived but still-doomed Virginia Paper Co. building on West Third Street uptown sports new art on its boarded-up windows. It's the result of a collaboration among artists with ties to the McColl Center for Visual Arts, students at Hopewell High School, the Arts & Science Council and the Charlotte Knights.

Artist Annabel Manning, a former McColl Center artist-in-residence, worked with the students and their teacher, Ben Permeaux (a future McColl Center teacher-in-residence) on collages inspired by artist Romare Bearden, a Charlotte native and the namesake of Romare Bearden Park, which is to be built in Third Ward if/when the county parks department can find the money.

The students looked at Bearden's work, then used computer software to create their own, contemporary visions of what a Bearden collage might look like today. The vinyl panels were installed Monday on all the upper level of windows and all the windows facing Third Street. Each panel is the work of a different student.

The historic and architecturally significant building is owned by the county but has been leased for $1 a year (for up to 99 years) to the minor-league baseball team Charlotte Knights, which has planned to demolish to build a new uptown stadium. But with the economic crash, the Knights haven't moved forward with their plans. Under the lease agreement the county could void the lease if the Knights can't have their stadium ready to open by fall 2011 – which doesn't look likely. But so far the county hasn't opted to do so.

In my role as Observer editorial board member I've written before about the Knights' lack of upkeep of the building. Last summer a city building code inspection found the Knights weren't keeping the building up to code. It found trash, kudzu and standing water, as well as evidence vagrants had lived there. The new boarded-up windows resulted from that inspection.
And now, at least, some of those boarded-up windows have a more pleasing appearance. It's to the Knights' credit they've cooperated in the artistic endeavor.
Romare Bearden-inspired vinyl panels on the Virginia Paper Co. building (Nov. 15, 2010, photo by MELISSA SUE GERRITS/Charlotte Observer)
Broken windows mar historic building (Feb. 16, 2010, photo by MARY NEWSOM/Charlotte Observer)


Bréanainn Séaghdha said...

I didn't know about the lease, the building certainly has become an eyesore in one of the most obvious areas of blight in Uptown. That portion of third ward is rather desolate in appearance. Considering the Knights just upgraded their stadium, I doubt they'll be moving to uptown for another 10 years. In fact, I think there's a better chance of attracting an MLB team than there is of getting the Knights to build there anytime soon. Question is, what other predatory feline name could we use?

Anonymous said...

Carolina Cougars