The Biscuit – March 10 Batch

Already a community hub, CPCC’s Parr Center features a theater, gallery space and a knock-your-socks-off mural

The Parr Center

In a building with a lot of bells and whistles, one attraction stands out more than any other. It’s the eye-popping mural at Central Piedmont Community College’s newest facility.

Last spring, Central Piedmont selected two local artists – Rosalia Torres-Weiner and Felicia Sky Sutton – to create the massive, interior mural for the four-story Parr Center at 1201 Elizabeth Ave. The two were selected in a juried review process. The mural honors the college’s nearly 60-year history, its present and its aspirations.  

Torres-Weiner and Sutton, both former Central Piedmont students, were chosen from a competitive pool of applicants to work with current students, faculty and staff to create the interactive mural. (Yes, it’s interactive. More on that in a bit.)

The Parr Center is the student services hub that features a library, 450-seat theater, rooftop terrace, a 1,100-square-foot art gallery and a makerspace for students.

A wall of windows adjacent to the mural wall offers what Melissa Vrana, executive director of Performance Facilities and Events at Central Piedmont’s central campus, calls “the single best view in town of our skyline.”

Vrana said the center – designed by Moody Nolan from Chicago and their local architectural partner, Morris-Berg – has a central stairwell with “an M.C. Escher quality.” Visit, and you’ll see what she means.

Central Piedmont will host a panel discussion in the Parr Center Theater on March 22, 2023 at 3 p.m. The muralists and technical executive (Ben Weiner, Torres-Weiner’s husband) will share about their process and inspiration. The discussion and reception afterwards are free and open to all.

The show-stopping mural is just one of many stand-out features at the Parr Center, which took shape during the pandemic. Vrana, who worked closely with Amelia Zytka, the college’s director of galleries, on the arts and culture spaces, called it her “passion project.”

New mural at the Parr Center | CREDIT: Darnell L. Vennie, Central Piedmont

By and for the community

At 184,000 square feet, the Parr Center is the campus’ largest building. Its construction was made possible thanks to a 2013 bond issue that approved $213 million for projects across the city and county. Mecklenburg County added another $70 million.

“The community supplied the funds,” Vrana said. “So, we want community members to feel welcome here.” 

Indeed, everyone is welcome. You don’t have to present an ID at a security desk. There’s even – what a rarity these days – ample free parking for up to two hours in decks and surface lots.

Central Piedmont’s newest theater (the college awaits a naming benefactor) is on the lowest level. The pristine space – which doesn’t allow food or drink to keep it in that condition – seats 450 and has an impressive dressing room and a loading dock – a convenience local theater companies don’t always have.  

A hidden bar – you’ll never know it’s there unless it’s being used – can serve (but not sell) alcohol.

Just a few steps from the theater is Dove Gallery. Central Piedmont has two other galleries at its central campus – Ross Gallery and Overcash Gallery, both in the Overcash Center at Elizabeth Ave. and Kings Dr.

Click the button below to keep reading about what’s coming next for the Parr Center.

THREE WEEKS LEFT TO APPLY FOR THE CITY’S OPPORTUNITY FUND FOR CREATIVES

The city of Charlotte and the Arts and Culture Advisory Board have announced that the Opportunity Fund is once again accepting new grant requests from Charlotte-Mecklenburg artists and arts and culture groups to receive financial support for near-term/out-of-grant-cycle projects and initiatives. ⁠

According to the city: “Applicants can request up to $30,000 by submitting a letter of intent, and must meet eligibility requirements. Applicants who meet the eligibility requirements will be contacted to submit a full proposal.”

The current tranche of available funds for this grant cycle is $325,000. When these funds are allocated by the Arts and Culture Advisory Board, more than $925,000 in funds will have been distributed through the Opportunity Fund in the city’s fiscal year 2023.

Examples of projects and needs  eligible for Opportunity funding consideration are: 

  • Artistic and cultural experiences
  • Programming and collaborations
  • Organizational and technical support
  • Renting space for project activities
  • Permit payments
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Research and reporting
  • Personnel and training costs
  • Membership fees

Applications are due March 31. | MORE INFO. ⁠

Courtesy of Cassandra Richardson

To help nudge new artist ideas and events forward, Charlotte Is Creative, publishers of The Biscuit, give local creatives $250 and $1,000 H.U.G .(Helpful Unfettered Gift) micro-grants. 

Financial support for the H.U.G. program comes from the LendingTree Foundation, Google Fiber and Wray Ward. This month, the Kepler Team contributed resources to fund two $250 H.U.G.s. This month’s HUG grantees are:

  • Tara Levy
    Levy is buying books and journals for a poetry event she’s leading in April.
  • Madelyn Hernandez
    Hernandez is purchasing Adobe software to help finish her digital animation reel.
  • Katie Kummerer
    Kummerer is paying for canvases, brushes and art supplies she uses at the Saturday art sessions she organizes for pre-teens at local libraries.
  • Autumn Payne
    Payne is purchasing an extruder that will aid in creating shapes for ceramics that are difficult to accomplish by hand.

In addition to helping fund the grantees above, The LendingTree Foundation provided the funds for a Bear H.U.G., a $1,000 grant given to a previous $250 H.U.G. recipient doing remarkable work in the Queen City creative community.

The February Bear H.U.G. recipient is Cassandra Richardson, founder of Lexicon Gallery, which opens in the next few weeks. Richardson will use her grant to purchase movable walls that double as storage and display space for her new gallery.

Donate to a HUG. Apply for a HUG. | MORE INFO.

Drop Into New Art at The Drop on March 23

The Drop is a new quarterly cultural meet-up organized by Charlotte Is Creative featuring the unveiling of a new mural, a conversation with the artists and the opportunity to meet new Queen City creatives.

The first event featured the unveiling of a new triptych (three-part) mural created by Ricky Singh, Ty McBride and Danyelle Ray on behalf of the #BeattiesFordStrong movement. This art will now emblazon the label of a new beer brewed by Divine Barrel Brewing and distributed across the state. (See above.)

The next unveiling from The Drop is March 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Divine Barrel.

The evening will feature the reveal of a new work of art from Namaste Artists CLT, live music, creative networking and a conversation with the artists who painted the mural.

CLICK HERE to reserve your place at the event.

This project is supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

The Spark the Arts grant promotes audience inclusion and reengagement in the arts.