Bearden, Charlotte intertwine in special

Romare Bearden's brushstrokes are spread large upon his native Charlotte as the city marks the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Major exhibitions are running at the Mint Museum Uptown and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture only a few blocks from his Third Ward birthplace.

At 8 p.m. today, WTVI (Channel 42) provides a look at the life of the prolific artist with "Bearden at 100," a documentary from WBTV reporter Steve Crump.

Bearden left town with his parents at age 4, though he often said he never really left. Memories of early 20th century life here, gathered on frequent visits to family through his teen years, inspired many of his works.

"Bearden at 100" is both a profile of the artist and a trip back in time to old Charlotte.

Looking at his works is like reading a history of the era, says Hugh McColl, former Bank of America leader and one of many prominent Charlotteans interviewed for the program.

Former Mayor Harvey Gantt and current Mayor Anthony Foxx note that Bearden's influence reached far beyond the segregated city of his birth. Bearden's collages came to be recognized as a transformative force in American art, not just African-American art.

"I've tried to give a universal feeling to the works that I have done," Bearden says in an interview done before his death in 1988 at age 76.

Crump's special notes that Bearden is probably getting more acclaim now in Charlotte than he did during his career.

"There is increased interest because there wasn't enough interest when he was with us," says Davidson College art professor emeritus Herb Jackson.

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