Robert Krumbine is the man behind the murals and events in Center City and South End.
by Vanessa Infanzon
Robert Krumbine is on a mission to un-beige the city. Krumbine, chief creative officer and senior vice president of events for Charlotte Center City Partners since 2011, and his staff started the Art Connects Us Mural Program more than six years ago. He envisions murals and more light-and-sound art, interactive art, and three-dimensional functional art throughout uptown, engaging people and creating moments to get out of the mundane.
Krumbine and his staff are also responsible for planning events and programs such as the 7th Street Public Market, Charlotte SHOUT! and the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade. The 74th annual event will move to TV this year due to Covid-19 and will showcase “best of” segments from years past, along with other entertainment. The show will air on WBTV on Thanksgiving Day.
Comments were edited for brevity and clarity.
How does Charlotte Center City Partners determine which projects to work on?
We do a lot of long-term strategic planning. We are nimble and very good at reacting to what is happening to the marketplace at the moment. We’re quick to action. We try to have our ear to the ground to collaborate with the people who can bring the next big thing
Has anything good come out of the pandemic?
The pandemic has actually opened up opportunities. It’s created a different thought process. It’s allowed us to slow down for a minute and think clearly about how we utilize our space as a community. It’s happening all over the world. It’s not something special to Charlotte.
How has the creation of the Black Lives Matter mural on South Tryon Street changed the way your organization views space in uptown?
The Black Lives Matter mural has created a new dynamic for us to look at and consider how we could make streets more open for pedestrians, commerce and interactive activities that will get people out and about. We’re looking at opportunities to close more blocks for [shorter time periods], like weekends, and do more programming with art installations. It’s really all about trying to generate energy back into our urban core, which is right now sitting static and empty.
What was behind the Windows of Hope project in
We needed something to promote hope for the future.
We selected 13 local artists to produce pieces of art that were then printed on vinyl and installed in windows and storefronts of buildings that have not been leased yet. We worked with ArtPop Street Gallery, Lowe’s Home Improvement and several other local organizations. We also commissioned a mural artist, Georgie Nakima, to paint a mural on a building on the corner of Bland and Church streets. It’s called “Stronger Together.”
Why are murals important?
If we can tell stories, celebrate our community and bring messages of hope and peace and love and equity, maybe we can get people to think for a moment. … There is beauty to it, but there’s deeper messaging in what you see. It’s truly art at its very best because it takes it out of the gallery and makes our community a giant gallery — and a place for all of us to come together and experience it. SP