The Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC has one of the best costume collections in the Southeast. They have regular clothing exhibitions at their original location in what was at one time a US Mint, but there is a second location in uptown Charlotte that is more craft oriented.
I’d never been to that location mainly because I hate uptown Charlotte. During a building boom twenty or so years ago, skyscrapers began to replace the old storefronts on Trade Street. The result is a pretty soulless place, with plenty of restaurants and banks and such, but few places to shop. I generally avoid it. But the Allure of Flowers drew me in.
The exhibition is arranged like a garden, with the objects being arranged according to the type of flower depicted, rather than by the type of craft. Clothing and textiles were sprinkled throughout the garden, along with ceramics, jewelry, glass, and furniture. It was interesting seeing how a flower, say a tulip, was interpreted by a Nineteenth century quiltmaker, a 1950s furniture designer, and a modern glass worker.
On the fanciful clothesline is hanging an Emilio Pucci print. I always think “geometrics” when hearing the name Pucci, but his designs were much more varied than I tend to think. This print is based on the lotus flower.
I somehow missed the maker of this fantastic light fixture. There were several of these scattered throughout the hall.
This is just a tiny part of an incredible work by artist Anna Torma. There are elements of embroidery, weaving, applique, sketching, and collage.
What would the Sixties have been without the daisy motif? Here we see a great example in a “paper” dress.
This piece is probably my favorite in the exhibition. It was made in 1929 by Kate Clayton Donaldson of Marble, NC, a tiny town in the far western part of the state. It is where my father was born in 1926. Granny Donaldson crocheted the figures and flowers from wool and then appliqued them to a piece of homespun. Granny Donaldson called these “Cow Blankets” as they reminded her of colorful blankets she had seen on cows in pictures of Italy. Note the bird at the top of the tree.
This is a small quilt, made for a crib using a technique called broderie Perse, or Persian embroidery. It isn’t embroidered though; it is appliqued. The flowers were carefully cut out from cotton chintz fabric and then were applied to a background.
Close-up of above quilt.
Note how this Lilly Pulitzer dress is blooming after being planted in a big pot. The dress is made from nylon, and was bought in 1970 by Patricia Somerville for a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC.
We call shawls of this type Paisley, but the design evolved from floral motifs many years ago. This example dated to the mid 1800s, and was woven in northern India.
This close-up of a late Nineteenth century crazy quilt shows a variety of flowers both real and fanciful, embroidered over the piecework.
This is one of the most famous of the Marimekko prints – Unikko. The print is actually celebrating its fiftieth birthday this year. Marimekko founder and owner Armi Ratia had said that the company would not produce any floral motifs, but one of the designers, Maija Isola, set out to make such a modern flower that Marimekko would have to produce it. The resulting design is still in production today.
And what would a garden be without a few insects?
Next week I’ll show a bit more of the Mint Uptown and the permanent collection display. I was thrilled to learn that the museum will be hosting in March an exhibition that is currently on display at the Warhol in Pittsburgh – Halston and Warhol: Silver and Suede.