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Charlotte SHOUT! festival brings music, culture and interactive art to city streets

Nick de la Canal
From left to right: Karley Sargent, Lori Norris and Kacey Norris of Canton, Ohio, inspect a human-sized impression box at the intersection of Trade and Tryon in uptown Charlotte. The interactive sculpture is part of the two-week 2022 Charlotte SHOUT! festival.

The streets and parks around uptown Charlotte look a little different this weekend. Where once there was plain grass or pavement, a colorful new crop of sculptures, interactive art installations and "streateries" has sprouted — seemingly in time with the spring daffodils.

Take a walk down South Tryon Street and you'll encounter a mini-golf course with replicas of some of Charlotte's famous landmarks. Farther down the street, there are a dozen colorful spinning tops made of metal and rope, and a row of musical, light-up seesaws.

The installations are part of the Charlotte SHOUT! festival — a two-week spectacle of music, culture and art happening mainly around uptown Charlotte from April 1 - 17.

There are nearly 200 installations, events and performances that make up this year's festival. They also include 300 glowing snails that crawl alongside a dozen oversized Easter eggs in Romare Bearden Park, and a two-day food festival at Gateway Village April 15 - 16.

One of the festival's organizers, Robert Krumbine of Charlotte Center City Partners, joined WFAE's Nick de la Canal to talk about the multi-week event, and what attendees can expect as the festival returns with a full roster after dramatically scaling back in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

On the festival's mission:

Robert Krumbine: What we are trying to do is a combination of celebrating our local art, our regional art, but also providing some aspirational aspects to this event so that people see some really big things that are being done around the world.

I actually saw these (light up seesaws) when they were first installed in Montreal and was fascinated by them, and thought this would be a really cool thing to bring into Charlotte ...

In really simple terms, it is a celebration of art, culture and community. That's what we want to do. We want to shout about Charlotte. We want to talk about the great things we have here and the great people, and just how we are such a special place here. And that's what it's all about.

Los Trompos.jpg
Nick de la Canal
A crew unloads a life-size spinning top with the "Los Trompos" installation onto Levine Avenue of the Arts on Thursday, March 31, 2022.

On the festival's must-see events:

Krumbine: Of course, "Impulse" (the light-up seesaws), and "Los Trompos," which is right next door here. And those are tops — giant, life-size tops — that you can get on and spin.

We also have this beautiful exhibit that is taking place over at Old Settler's Cemetery. It's called "Monuments." It's Craig Walsh's "Monuments." Craig is a fascinating visual artist out of Australia who has come to Charlotte and we are honoring descendants of enslaved people from the 18th and 19th century from Charlotte, and their photos are projected onto trees. You just have to see it. I can't really describe it, but it is amazing. It is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

The food festival is going to be something else. It will end with the food festival. The eggs in Romare Bearden — you got to go see those. There's a dozen Easter eggs that are just beautifully decorated and created by our local artists. The putt putt golf course — I mean, where do you want me to stop? So many things to do. There's over 200 things to do.

On how Charlotte SHOUT! connects people:

Krumbine: I think the purpose of a festival like this is to truly bring (together) that part of our souls that we don't get to share with each other on a regular basis.

I think when you bring people together with cultural arts and activities that are common to everyone, there's a certain vibe that people share together, and it brings us closer as a community, and that's really what it's all about.

Charlotte SHOUT! runs from April 1 - 17. A full schedule of events can be found on the festival's website.

Courtesy Charlotte SHOUT!
"Monuments" by Australian artist Craig Walsh pays tribute to the lives of Mecklenburg County's formerly enslaved citizens and free people of color in the 18th and 19th centuries by projecting the images of their descendants onto the trees at Old Settler's Cemetery. The projections are displayed every night through April 17 from 8 - 11 p.m.

Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal