The chilly temperatures that accompanied the weather system that rolled in this week prompted me to look for indoor adventures. So, on Friday, my friend Anya and I headed towards Camp North End in Charlotte for a girls’ day.
Camp North End in Charlotte is a 76-acre mixed use development area that includes the historic Ford Motor Company factory built in 1924 from which 300,000 Model T and Model A cars were built prior to the Great Depression. During World War II and the Cold War, the U.S. Government added massive warehouses and even missile development areas. The site became known as the “Charlotte Area Missile Plant”, or CAMP for short (gotta love Government acronyms!). Over the ensuing years, this manufacturing complex was sold and used by Eckerd factories and then Rite Aid. Now, it’s becoming a hip commercial space featuring shops, restaurants, and areas for collaboration and the arts. We chased away the chill with a lunch of hot ramen at Saru (yummy!) before walking a couple of buildings over for a Van Gogh exhibit.
The Van Gogh exhibit is housed in the 240,000 square foot historic Ford Building. One of the first things I noticed was movement of the bricks under my feet. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it wasn’t traditional bricks, but was what looked to be two-ish inch deep end sections of lumber. As we walked a little further, we came upon a sign indicating that the “wooden bricks” were laid 100 years ago. I’ve never seen this before! What kind of wood is it? Was it glued down at some point? So many questions! I dug around the internet, but I couldn’t find information specific to the floors, so my curiosity has not been satisfied ☹ Feel free to leave a comment if you have any insight!
OK, back to the exhibit. . .
Immersive Van Gogh involves 60,600 frames of video. The experience takes you through his paintings appearing, moving, and morphing across the walls and floor accompanied by music that evokes the emotions he felt throughout his short life as he created some of his most iconic works of art. From sunflowers to Paris cafés to wheat fields to unsmiling portraits of himself and others, you get a sense of the highs and lows of the mental illness that influenced his work. By the time he took his own life at the age of 37, he had created over 900 paintings while living in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Japan.
The show lasts about a half hour, then you exit into a retail and local artist area. After ooh-ing and ah-ing over all the merchandise covered with iconic Van Gogh images of sunflowers, starry nights, almond blossoms, and a skeleton smoking a cigarette, we were drawn to a huge illuminated sculpture of a woman’s face and hand by the artist Nancy Jo Sauser. Lots of cool stuff!
My love of random things to see and do lead me to Atlas Obscura on social media. A while back, their site highlighted a produce clock in Charlotte, so of course we set out to find it after the Van Gogh experience! Intended to promote local agriculture and highlight the importance of eating seasonally, the folks at Freshlist created a 12-foot diameter clock face covered with NC Piedmont region seasonal produce on the side of their building. The 12 o’clock position aligns with the winter solstice and as the single hand progresses for one full rotation over a year, it aligns with hand-painted images of fruits and vegetables associated with the progressing seasons. It’s a unique and educational concept and absolutely aligns with the mission of Freshlist to cultivate a better food system by bringing fresh, healthy food grown on local community family farms to its residents.
As we made our way out of the city towards home, we made one more stop – we wanted to continue all this great culture with a good coffee and pastry 😊 A random smart phone search pointed us towards Villani’s Bakery. The coffee was strong and the pastries did not disappoint! The pastries we had with our coffees were decadent and the almond croissant I brought home and had for breakfast this morning melted in my mouth! Such a great day spent with a good friend!