In this episode I visit 2 museums and discuss dining out during a pandemic.
I found a diner nearby that seemed worth a try. The Red Eye Diner is located in the Epicentre. The Epicentre is a multi-story hub of restaurants, bars, shops, and entertainment venues. Most of these were closed due to the pandemic. The Red Eye did have dine-in available and they were setup to allow for proper distancing. No one came in without a mask, either. All employees were masked properly as well. I felt fairly safe in this diner. I went with the 1 egg breakfast. It included an egg, any style, I went with poached, a meat option, bacon for me, a side, I chose hasbrowns, and a bread choice of biscuit or toast (white,wheat, or rye), toast was my choice for the day. They did have the option of ordering on your device (phone) or order with a person. I needed some human interaction, so I ordered through a server. The coffee was fresh and tasty. The egg, poached perfectly, the bacon nice and crispy, and the hashbrowns were spot on, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. I would definitely visit the Red Eye again.
I had been eyeing the Harvey B Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture. I checked before going over, it was open. I noticed a couple of the museums said they required an appointment. So, if you are traveling during the pandemic, look it up or call first. The Gantt Center was open and did not have a lot of people when I was there. It seemed that it was filling up just as I was leaving. Admission is only $9.00 for adults. Worth every penny. Established as the Afro-American Cultural Center in 1974 by Bertha Maxwell, Mary Harper, and other cultural leaders, The AACC grew to become the Harvey B Gantt Center for the Arts & Culture, opening in Uptown Charlotte in 2009. Gantt was the first African-American student admitted to Clemson University and the first African-American mayor of Charlotte.
“I always say African American History is the quintessential American story. It’s about perseverance and resilience – something everyone can relate to.” – Phil Freelon, Architect.
Currently on exhibition at the Gantt Center: Inter/Sectionality: Diaspora Art from the Creole City. From the Gannt website: “Inter | Sectionality: Diaspora Art from the Creole City, is a bold, multi-regional, multi- disciplinary curatorial collaboration and exploration of the emergence of the “Creole City” as a local, regional and global phenomenon.” Included in this exhibition are 25 Miami based artists, from 17 countries and 2 guest artists from North Carolina.
Moisés Aragón (Cuba)
Aisha Tandiwe Bell (Jamaica)
Minia Biabiany (Guadeloupe)
Christopher Carter (United States)
Katrina Coombs (Jamaica)
Esperanza Cortés (Colombia | US)
Michael Elliott (Jamaica)
Guy Gabon (Guadeloupe)
Rosa Naday Garmendia (Cuba | US)
GeoVanna Gonzalez (US | Germany)
Juan Erman Gonzalez (Cuba | US)
Kearra Amaya Gopee (Trinidad & Tobago)
Grettel Arrate Hechavarría (Cuba)
Caroline Holder (Barbados | Canada)
Izia Lee Lindsay (Trinidad & Tobago)
Anja Marais South (Africa | US)
Jared McGriff (United States)
Petrona Morrison (Jamaica)
Kurt Nahar (Suriname)
Devora Perez (Nicaragua)
Evelyn Politzer (Uruguay)
Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz (Puerto Rico | US)
Juan Ernesto Requena (Venezuela)
Asser Saint-Val (Haiti | US)
Deborah Willis, Ph.D. (United States)
Stephanie J. Woods (United States)
Monique Luck (United States)
I will do later episodes discussing the artists and their work. This exhibit was inspiration, heart breaking, and uplifting. I recommend you see it. It is up at the Gantt Center through January 2021. It is shown in collaboration with the Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator in Miami, Florida. So it is likely to be shown elsewhere. Keep an eye out.
Another exhibition showing at the Gantt Center is the …and justice for all. “America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. In just 40 years, those confined in this country’s prisons and jails has grown 500%. Over 2 million people are incarcerated today. This rise is not due to increased criminal activity, but the callous and inequitable execution of the nation’s laws and public policies. While 37% of the country’s population represents people of color, an incongruous 67% make up the prison population. … and justice for all illuminates this racially unjust system.” This exhibition includes some very powerful imagery, including continuous video of black men telling how many times they’ve been pulled over. Now, as a white woman, I can count the number of times I’ve been pulled over on one hand. 4 to be exact. 4 times in the 33 years I have been driving. This exhibit will make you stop and question many things. Artists in this exhibit are:
Again, I’ll do separate episodes discussing some of these artists. I will also put links to their websites on the blog, touristinyourtownpodcast.com
After the Gantt Center, I walked around a bit and decided to try my luck the Mint Museum. I had read on their website that they were doing timed ticketing. But it didn’t look really busy, so I wondered in. It was not a problem and admission was free that day thanks to Bank of America. Did I tell you that Charlotte is a banking town? Big bank corporations everywhere. There’s even a Wells Fargo Museum. I did not visit it, it was closed. Anyway, Bank of America was paying for everyone to enter the Mint that day. They were even giving away sketchbooks and drawing pencils. Nice ones, too. Don’t worry, I made a donation instead. There are two locations of the Mint, there is the Mint Uptown and the Mint Museum Randolph. The Mint Museum Randolph opened in 1936 in the Eastover neighborhood as the first art museum in North Carolina. I visited the Uptown location. When I return to Charotte, I would like to visit the Randolph location. The Mint is a large museum and had quite a few exhibitions. One of my favorites was called Airing Out the “Dirty” Laundry created by Andrea Downs. This is a large installation exhibit with clothesline upon which hang hundreds of pieces of fabric and paper. You put on gloves and lift the coverings from these papers and read about the traumas of hundreds of women. I love interactive art and this is by far one of my favorite exhibits. All of these people, writing down what can’t be said. If you get the chance to see this exhibit, don’t walk run and do it. I spent an hour in there pulling up those tiny covers.
After museum hopping, I was hungry, so went to hunt down food. It was later in the day, but apparently not late enough for things to be open. I did find a place open, but it was closing in 5 minutes and I got the “look”. I don’t blame them. I kept moving. I found the Essex Bar and Bistro. Lord, am I glad I did. I mean, y’all, I have eaten some of the finest food around the world. But this place had something that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Fried Artichokes. Not dipped in batter fried, but fried in oil until brown and served with greek yogurt, a balsamic glaze, fresh parmesan, and almonds on a bed of arugula. Now, y’all know I sometimes don’t read the description. So, I ordered this thinking it would be just like every other fried thing you get in the south. I did take this meal back to the room to eat. So, I am eating the arugula and artichokes and it’s all good. Then my fork hits the yogurt on the bottom. The combo was like nothing I’d ever had before. That tartness from the yogurt, with the lemony pepper from the greens, and that slightly bitter finish from the artichokes. Damn, it was good! I have vowed to try to make it myself. Since I’ve never seen it anywhere else. I also go the blackened grouper tacos which were perfectly good too. But those artichokes hold my heart. While waiting for my food to be prepared, I had a Copper from The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte. The Copper is a Dusseldorf Style Altbier. It’s considered a hybrid beer, while technically an ale, it is “lagered” (stored on the yeast in very cold temps) after primary fermentation. I’d called it an amber ale, that’s what it tasted like. It was reddish in color, with the slight bitter finish of an ale.
I stayed in my room the rest of the night, watching movies, drinking beer that I had brought (Dunkel), and snacking on my take home food.
The next morning, I visited Amelie’s French Bakery & Cafe to grab some pastries to bring home. I got chocolate croissants, one of my all time favorites. Some tea cakes, and a pecan sticky bun. All were delicious. It was early on Sunday, so they were not busy and everyone was wearing a mask.
Red Eye Diner