Opening a world of arts with Charlotte international festival

“We Are Hip Hop,” a celebration of Charlotte hip hop culture, is part of next month’s Charlotte International Arts Festival.

Charlotte is celebrating the arts with a new festival.

Blumenthal Performing Arts is launching Charlotte International Arts Festival, a salute to local and international arts across genres, mediums, and cultures from Sept. 16–Oct. 2. Venues from Uptown to Ballantyne will host creatives from more than 10 countries, as well as local international cultures and traditions. Several events are free and ticketed performances and exhibits range from $5 up. The festival lineup is on, with more events to be announced.

“Blumenthal has been building its capacity for a festival of this scope for quite some time, from the Charlotte Jazz Festival through Charlotte Shout!,” Blumenthal CEO Tom Gabbard said. “Charlotte is a top-25 metropolitan city. Our community is ready for a festival on the scale of other major arts festivals around the world. We are excited to bring compelling art and entertainment from all over the world, as well as highlight the rich international cultures right here in town.”

CIAF will be centered Uptown, but Blumenthal is also partnering with venues around Charlotte, including Ballantyne’s Backyard, a former golf course turned green space and Blumenthal’s Vincent van Gogh hot air balloon.

“In addition to the ticketed events, we are also thrilled to offer opportunities for discovery; you might be walking down the street or out having dinner and discover a new piece of art you haven’t seen before or experience something new,” Gabbard said. “That’s what we’re bringing during this 17-day festival: moments of joy, discovery, and play for all ages.”

Open with ‘We Are Hip Hop’
The festival kicks off a showcase celebrating Charlotte’s hip hop culture and artists with performances, DJ and B-Boy battles, and block party. Sept. 17-18 in and around Knight Theater.

Featured acts
• Architects of Air’s Luminarium, from Nottingham, United Kingdom, a walk-through experience that invites visitors to explore a labyrinth of tunnels and domes of saturated color accompanied by a sensory soundscape. The exhibit plays through the entirety of the festival, in Ballantyne’s Backyard. Tickets are $5.

• Blue Lapis Light transforms the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center into a work of art that transcends space. There’ll be aerial dancers swinging from the 12-story building, ground dancers, and larger-than-life projection-mapped imagery. Performances at 7:30-9 p.m. between Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Admission is free.

• Australian artist Amanda Parer and the studio that produced the “big bunnies” invasion of Uptown shows off “Man,” a large-scale, contemporized version of Rodin’s “Thinker.” Man will set up camp in Ballantyne’s Backyard. Free and open throughout the festival.

• Also from Australia is SWAY’s Bloom!, a colorful demonstration by aerialists atop 15-foot swaying poles. Performances will pop up Sept. 16–18; Sept. 22–25; and Sept. 29–Oct. 2.

• Moradavaga – Kraken

A giant squid in the form of Kraken is a free immersive, interactive art installation from Portugal and Italy that inspires play among visitors.

Free stuff
German artist Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s interactive, art-making charcoal drawing machine and sculpture. Filled with helium, floating freely, the transparent, membrane-like globe, spiked with charcoals, leaves marks on the walls, ceilings, and floors.

Mentalgassi is a trio of German artists who combine photography, sculpture, image manipulation, and street art to create large-scale photographs atop the Knight Theater throughout the festival.

• eVenti Verticali – WANTED
Live virtual animation inspired by comics and videogames from the 1980s that portrays landscapes and scenarios in which the characters interact. Two aerial artists are tossed around between spy story scenes and acrobatic combats.

Sept. 16–18 and Sept. 22–25 at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

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