McColl-UMAR partnership adds art to nature on Charlotte Rail Trail
“Everyone has the ability to hide something,” Mary Matthews, McColl Center for Art + Innovation Rasumson Artist-in-Residence, said. “You just have to have the ability to find it.”
Using this hide-and-seek concept, Matthews collaborated with UMAR artists to create a natural art installation along the Rail Trail between East Park Avenue and East Boulevard in Charlotte. In preparation, she rode her bike twice each week to UMAR Arts’ North Davidson locations and worked with artists as they created floral and leaf dresses, crafted miniature mud pies and decorated doll house furniture.
“It was pretty neat,” Amy Smith, an UMAR artist said of her experience with Matthews. Smith enjoyed her time with Matthews so much that she helped install the dress and furniture.
“Where can we hide it?” she asked her fellow artists as they scanned the bushes and flower beds.
Beginning October 15 Rail Trail visitors can search for these hidden treasures, Matthews said. “I hope that it will make people look harder and the world around them,” she added.
Matthews’ residency in Charlotte ends this month, but artists will always remember their time with her, Alex Cruz, manager of UMAR’s Charlotte Arts Center, said.
“Working with artists like Mary Matthews, our artists learned how to solve problems creatively and learned more about themselves—their likes and dislikes,” she explained. “I can’t say enough how very thankful we are for our partnership with the McColl Center, and how they welcome UMAR artists, allowing them to grow as a person and an artist.”
To view the installation, visit Charlotte’s South End and walk the Rail Trail between East Park Avenue and East Boulevard. Art lovers can also view and purchase UMAR art this weekend at the NoDa Eclectic Marketplace, 514 E 36th St., Charlotte, next to the Smelly Cat Coffeehouse. For more information on the program visit umarinfo.com/art-and-day-programs.
Twice each year the smell of pancakes, eggs, bacon and syrup wafts from Gastonia and Lincolnton, N.C. churches.
On those evenings, eggs are beaten, batter is stirred and spirits are high as diners devour breakfast for supper, or as organizers of this biannual event say, ‘breakfast for UMAR.’
The biannual breakfast for UMAR began five years ago when a group of United Methodist parishioners decided to host and event to support UMAR.
“No one comes to a pancake meal who doesn’t love pancakes,” Phyllis Kaiser, a UMAR volunteer from Gastonia, said. “Since we knew people here love pancakes we decided to hold a supper in Lincolnton and a supper in Gastonia.”
“We get lots of compliments,” she added.
Kaiser and the committee invite residents from area UMAR homes, churches and the community to First United Methodist Church in Gastonia or Boger City United Methodist Church in Lincolnton. They share their love for UMAR residents and encourage their guests to do the same.
“We always encourage people to volunteer or support UMAR in some way,” Kaiser said. “But, we always warn them . . . if they don’t want to lose their hearts, UMAR is not for them.”
For Kasier and the committee, their hearts are lost, but they would not have it any other way.
To learn how you can get involved with UMAR, contact Cameron Hunter, Director of Development, at CameronH@UMARinfo.com or 704-659-7624.
Every Thursday the Charlotte Arts Center is alive with the sound of music.
Artists play instruments, sing and move as Queens University students Ava Marvin 17’ and Rachel Robinson 16’ lead two small groups of up to eight artists for one hour. From drum circles to boomwacker rhythms (a boomwacker is a hollow pipe that creates a note when hit on a hard object), artists create group rhythms and music.
“Music is helping each person connect,” Marvin said. “During class, creating music provides a sense of control and independence.”
Music can also teach. After assessing the artists’ strengths, the Queens’ students put together goals and objectives for their weekly class—creating a strong curriculum tailored to meet UMAR artists’ needs.
“Music therapy is beneficial for artists experiencing dementia or with limited motor control,” Alex Cruz, the Charlotte Arts Center Manager, explained. “Music allows them to self-soothe through repetition, and it also gives artists opportunities to express themselves out loud.”
After each activity, smiles, laughter and high-fives abound. Then the room calms as Melissa Reinhardt, the Queens’ music therapy supervisor, gathers artists in a semi-circle for a goodbye song.
“Who should we sing to first,” she asked the group.
Artists yelled out names.
“OK, let’s sing!” Reinhardt exclaimed; and, the five artists present relaxed, smiled and made music.
The Queens’ music therapists’ impact is evident, according to Cruz.
“We are thankful for Queens’ music therapy program’s partnership and support,” she said. “We’ve watched the artists grow and blossom thanks to these talented students and look forward to working together for years to come.”