Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Exhibit - Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte, NC

There is the South and there is the New South. I didn't really know this until I toured Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, North Carolina. It's a history/cultural museum that begins the exhibits with a time-line hinging on the birth of the New South (1865 when the US Civil War ended with the defeat of the South). I highly recommend visiting this museum as the first thing you do in the city. It's within a 15 minute walk of the Convention Center and between Reid's Fine Grocery and the Mint Museum.

I didn't really know what to expect in this part of the South, though I had some ideas and some of them weren't very flattering. That's why I recommend visiting this museum first. It taught me a lot about the stew of cultural courage, the confederacy and change that are the history of the New South. The remainder of my stay was enriched by the understanding and knowledge I gleaned from the exhibits.

Touring the downstairs dioramas and exhibits, I was toured through Southern history from 1865 to now. It wasn't until I saw the the exhibit upstairs: Comic Stripped, A Revealing Look at Southern Stereotypes in Cartoons (Sept. 7, '07 to April 13, '08) that I realized just how much of my knowledge of the South was shaped by the daily comics.

I LOVE reading the newspaper comics and will read them all, even those I don't really like. I've read the newspaper comics for most everyday day of my entire life. For a few years, I studied comics so that I could draw them as part of my art job painting windows. Touring the Comic Stripped. . . exhibit I realized that cartoons I didn't even care about enough to actively dislike had shaped my perceptions of the South. Lil' Abner, Pogo, Snuffy Smith and others were part of the exhibit. The exhibit puts the viewer head-to-head with Southern Stereotypes. It gave me a wake-up call. Stereotypes I didn't know I had became apparent to me. It was an interesting exhibit to see before I headed to the Discovery Museum later to see the traveling Norman Rockwell Exhibit.

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