Uptown Charlotte is excited to announce the opening of Waterfalls, a large-scale, site-specific painting by Brooklyn-based artist Summer Wheat. Commissioned by developer Lincoln Harris, Waterfalls covers two prominent walls in the central lobby of Legacy Union’s 650 S. Tryon building, an 18-story tower that is anchored by Deloitte’s Charlotte headquarters. Wheat’s work, standing nearly 21 feet tall and approximately 20 feet wide, offers a dynamic art experience for both the occupants of the tower and the public at large.
Waterfalls is an ode to North Carolina’s history of makers in industries including ceramics, basket weaving, quilting, furniture and textile production. It also celebrates North Carolina’s female creators, including an abstracted figure inspired by Abigail Carter, a Clinton, N.C., native who became the first manufacturer of overalls in the United States. The depiction of strawberries is a nod to the region’s agriculture, while the piggybank commemorates the city’s banking history that dates back to the first branch of the U.S. Mint in 1835. The painting’s title is a reference to the renewal and transformation of industry in the Old North State.
“My work projects history through a contemporary lens and recalls our collective past,” said Wheat, whose work appears in permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, the de Young Museum in San Francisco and the Peréz Art Museum Miami, to name a few. “This painting is colorful, textured and vibrant, just like the city of Charlotte, a destination for artists and designers, and home to multitudes of significant public art.”
Wheat combines traditional art forms and mediums to create her large-scale paintings that could be considered equal parts painting, sculpture and textile. Her innovative technique involves physically pushing acrylic paint through a fine wire mesh to achieve densely textured surfaces. The vibrant color palette — fluorescent oranges, pinks, reds, blues, and greens — is a signature of Wheat’s, where the narrative holds equal significance to the color, line and form. She also brings together varied art historical references that range from Egyptian relief sculpture, Medieval art history, French Post Impressionism and Modernist painting, and Indigenous art traditions.
Waterfalls is the second large-scale commission by Lincoln Harris at Legacy Union, the city’s gateway project connecting Uptown Charlotte to the thriving South End corridor. The first, Unify, a generative audio-visual piece that boasts the largest native 4K LED display in the world, was installed in fall 2019 in the lobby of Bank of America Tower.
“We are grateful to Chandra Johnson and the team at SOCO Gallery for introducing Summer who brought her vision and art medium not only to Legacy Union but to the extended community — especially one with such meaningful ties to our great city and state,” –said Lincoln Harris President Johno Harris. “At its core, art brings people together. Much like what we do in our business, public art encourages people to explore, connect and build community, and we hope this piece will draw residents and visitors alike to Charlotte’s dynamic and artistic Uptown.”
Wheat’s piece Foragers appears just a few blocks away in the atrium of the Mint Museum Uptown, and she has held solo exhibitions at SOCO Gallery in Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood. Other recent solo exhibitions include the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City (2020); KMAC Museum in Louisville (2019); and Shulamit Nazarian in Los Angeles (2018). She is the recipient of the 2016 New York NADA Artadia Award and the 2019 Northern Trust Purchase Prize at EXPO Chicago.