After months of renovation and anticipation, the McDowell Arts Center will open to the public Dec. 1.
The Town of Matthews will host a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony at the center, 100 E. McDowell St., adjacent to the Matthews Community Center. Following the ceremony, residents will have a chance to view the center’s first exhibit: the Matthews Artists Guild’s “Introducing the Artists of MAG.”
The town also will dedicate the theater in the Matthews Community Center as the Fullwood Theater in memory of John Miles Fullwood, the community’s first postmaster. KidzArt will host activities for children, including drawing and painting.
The event ends at noon.
Formerly known as the “Agriculture Building,” the McDowell Arts Center was purchased for $1 from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools several years ago. For months, the town has been renovating the building to get it ready to host art exhibits, classes and more.
George Fossett of The Construction Institute, who has worked on the project, reported to Matthews commissioners last week the building was granted a certificate of substantial completion and, minus a few “punch list” items, is officially ready to use.
For the first exhibit, the town chose the Matthews Artists Guild, an organization that currently meets monthly at the Matthews Community Center.
“We have a wonderful relationship with the Matthews Community Center and (the) Town of Matthews,” Debbie Yacenda, president of the guild, said. “We’ve done the Matthews Alive show. We’ve worked with (the town) before, so they know us, we know them, and this is their first show and they wanted to work with (an organization) they knew.”
Forty-seven of the more than 70 Matthews Artists Guild members will display their work at the show. Yacenda said the show will feature everything from oil paintings to colored pencil art, pastels and photography. More than 80 works will be displayed, and most of the artwork will be available for purchase.
All of the artwork is framed or gallery wrapped, although Yacenda said the guild plans to branch out and offer a wider variety of work in the future.
The artwork will be displayed throughout the month of December and taken down the first Saturday in January. The Matthews Artist Guild also is planning a January show: “Colors of the Cold.”
Yacenda said the show will feature some winter-related pieces as well as other themes stemming from the artists’ interpretation of “cold.”
“We don’t want to restrict artists, so we don’t really tell them exactly what (theme) they should do,” she said.
The McDowell Arts Center doesn’t just give the Matthews Artists Guild a place to display their work; it also offers them a new place to hold classes.
While the upper two floors are designed for gallery space, the bottom floor will be used for art classes, Yacenda said. New technology and accommodations – a sound system, a mirror and video capability – will allow the guild to display video demonstrations, better view their work and teach without shouting.
“We don’t have to scream anymore,” Yacenda said. “The technology makes the demonstrations even better. We can see and hear better. It’s a very nice improvement.”
Yacenda said Matthews Artists Guild members are grateful to the Town of Matthews for accommodating their group in the new building and are excited to be the first organization to host an exhibit at the new center.
“It is heaven. It is so wonderful,” she said. “When they told us they were building it, we had hopes that we could put a show in there, but for them to say, ‘Hey, can you do the grand opening for us?’ it just floored us.”