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Cornelius Arts District Soiree – February 21, 2019

Join us on February 21 for an evening celebrating the arts in the historic Cornelius arts district. Cain Center for the Arts is partnering with Bella Love and Old Town Public House to host a Cornelius Arts District Soiree at Brick Row from 6 to 9 p.m. The event will feature entertainment by Rusty Knox and The HC Oakes Duo, food and beverages (provided by D9 Brewing Company and Olde Mecklenburg Brewery), and lots of giveaways featuring Cain Center’s new logo!

Cain Center for the Arts partners with Arts & Science Council to offer a day of culture on January 26

Cain Center for the Arts will host a day of culture during Connect with Culture Days, an annual Arts & Science Council (ASC) event that provides the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community with free cultural experiences and activities.

Connect with Culture Days kicks off on Friday, Jan. 25 and continues through Saturday, Jan. 26. In Cornelius, Cain Center for the Arts will present multiple free visual arts experiences on Saturday at Cornelius Town Hall (21445 Catawba Avenue, Cornelius) from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

“We are excited to be an arts and cultural hub for Connect with Culture Days in the Lake Norman area,” says executive director Justin Dionne. “There is a huge community here that believes in the arts, and we are excited to give them a taste of what the center has to offer during this community-focused event.”

The center’s visual arts experiences include activities that emulate artists like Piet Mondrian, Alexander Calder, Diego Rivera, Henri Matisse, Faith Ringgold and Georgia O’Keefe.

“Everyone deserves to experience arts and culture regardless of where they live or what they can afford,” ASC President Robert Bush says. “Connect with Culture Days brings a sampling of our vibrant cultural community beyond Charlotte’s Center City and directly into neighborhoods.”

In addition to offering arts, science, history and heritage experiences throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg, ASC’s Connect with Culture Days also offers free entry into participating museums in the Queen City. A full schedule of arts and cultural experiences and participating cultural organizations is available at ArtsAndScience.org.

ASC’s Connect with Culture Days is sponsored by Culture Blocks, Duke Energy, Novant Health, University City Partners and Atrium Health.

Cornelius Arts Center to be Named After Bill and Ericka Cain

The Cornelius Arts Center is proud to announce that they will name their upcoming arts center after local community leaders Bill and Ericka Cain. The renaming comes as a result of the Cain’s generous lead gift of five million dollars to the Center’s comprehensive campaign.

Bill and Ericka Cain relocated Financial Independence Group, FIG, to Cornelius in 1998.  Dr. Cain serves as Chief Executive Officer while Mrs. Cain serves as Executive Administrator.  The Cain’s are passionate about pursuing opportunities that allow them to help others. In 2017, they were both honored for their community work. Dr. Cain received the Robert T. Cashion Person of the Year Business Award, and Mrs. Cain received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Business Today.

“We are thrilled to be able to be part of the arts center,” says Dr. Cain. He notes that the center will benefit everyone, including adults, children, families, seniors, and members of the business community. “The arts center will improve the aesthetics of the community and it will be the catalyst to bring more improvement to the area. We can’t think of any reason not to support it.”

The Cain’s gift, alongside initial fundraising and public funding from the Town of Cornelius totals $12 million towards the center’s $25 million campaign goal. Cornelius Arts Center Board President, Greg Wessling, believes the Cain’s lead gift will help to build further momentum and excitement for the project during the early phase of the campaign.

“We are honored to have Bill and Ericka Cain make this legacy investment to name the facility,” says Wessling. “It not only provides a foundation for the center, but calls all of us to action in following their lead. It tells everyone that this arts center project is a reality.”

The new center will also anchor the revitalization and economic redevelopment of downtown Cornelius. “The Cains leadership for the arts center project is going to provide so many positive effects for Cornelius and the Lake Norman Region,” says Mayor Woody Washam Jr. “It’s going to provide quality education, entertainment and social experiences for all ages. It’s also going to create more opportunities for successful economic development projects for our downtown area.”

The Center will coordinate with the Cains in creation of the new organizational brand, with plans for unveiling in early November.

Cornelius Arts Center introduces 2018 Fall Programming

Not having bricks and mortar yet, isn’t stopping the launch of our 2018 fall programming. As we gear up for a capital campaign, in addition to architectural design and construction developments, this inaugural programming gives us even more momentum.

We will currently be utilizing space at the existing Parks, Arts, Recreation & Culture (PARC)-run Cornelius Arts Center at Oak Street Mill (19725 Oak St., Cornelius) for pre-kindergarten and senior dance classes provided through a partnership with Charlotte Ballet. This will be the renowned dance organization’s first presence in Lake Norman, although it has served portions of the Lake Norman community and beyond for years at its home base in Uptown Charlotte and through outreach in south Charlotte community programming.

Registration opens for the classes on September 1, 2018. Classes will be held weekly on Wednesdays, starting on October 3 and running through December 12.

Charlotte Ballet instructor Gretchen Jax (Photo by Jeff Cravotta)

Gretchen Jax, who graduated from Winthrop University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance Performance, and has worked as a faculty member of Charlotte Ballet since 2003, will instruct both classes. She is thrilled to serve the North Mecklenburg region and Lake Norman community. The dance organization has received national recognition for its excellence in programming, education and outreach, and dance training.

Offerings for seniors and youth showcase our diverse programming plans and no previous experience in dance is required. Executive Director, Justin Dionne, says the Center plans to provide new opportunities for the community through its programs. When in discussions with Charlotte Ballet, it was noted that classes for pre-schoolers and seniors are often overlooked. While the current PARC-run Arts Center provides art and ceramics classes, it does not offer any performing arts classes. 

Senior dance classes will be held on Wednesdays from 11-11:45 a.m., October 3rd through December 12th at Cornelius Arts Center at Oak Street Mill. (Photo by Peter Zay)

Senior dance classes, 45 minutes to one hour long, will be tailored to the needs and desires of the group and may be done on foot or in a chair. The senior dance classes do not have specific age limitations and are meant to introduce movement to the body.

Meanwhile, in the 45-minute “First Steps Pre-School” class, students (3-5 years old) will explore musicality, rhythm, creativity, and movement through space. The class aims to encourage age appropriate stretching, strengthening, balance, motor skill development and coordination techniques. The classes will provide students with the skills needed for pre-ballet classes. Following the end of pre-kindergarten classes, there will be a special showcase for family and friends of students.

Pre-kindergarten classes will be held on Wednesdays from 12-12:45 p.m., October 3rd through December 12th at Cornelius Arts Center at Oak Street Mill. (Photo by Lynn Spence)

Dionne plans to offer other dance classes and theater classes in the future. Design plans for the future Center include two classrooms, one for dance classes and another that can serve as a multi-purpose room for theater and arts classes. “We want to establish flagship programs,” says Dionne. “This partnership with Charlotte Ballet provides us with an opportunity to serve the community and test programs.” 

For more information on Cornelius Arts Center classes, visit corneliusarts.org/programming/.

Cornelius Arts Center unveils concept renderings

In October of 2017, we announced our partnership with two acclaimed architect firms, C Design of Charlotte, NC, and Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture of New York, NY. Since then, we’ve been busy working with architects like Rob Crane and Malcolm Holzman to determine what we’d like to incorporate into the Center.

Luckily, we’ve had some amazing developments. We’re happy to present our concept renderings, along with descriptions from Holzman. Cue the drumroll!

(Note: These are not finalized, detailed sketches of exactly what the Center will look like, but they present some very exciting possibilities.)


Concept rendering of the view from Town Hall on Catawba Avenue.

Community Arts Center: The community exhibition gallery, rehearsal and education space, and main entry promenade along Catawba Avenue announce this new cultural catalyst for the Lake Norman region. Complimenting other civic and retail structures, it welcomes children and adults to a myriad of daytime and evening programs.


Concept rendering of the view of the Center from above Oak Street Mill.

Backyard festival space: “Complimenting programs inside the Center, organized periodic gatherings celebrate special community events in an exterior park like setting. Tiered lawn and hard surfaces used regularly for parking form a general seating area for focused events on a flexible stage adjacent to the Arts Center. Film, live presentations and children’s events occur during the performance season. Seating, picnic tables, and data access allow for year-round usage.”

Concept rendering of what the interior of the Center could look like.

Cultural Promenade: “The multi-level animated space functions as an informal gathering area before and after events and as a destination with a rooftop terrace. Accessible to outdoors at three different levels it also serves as a landscaped drop off location for school groups and event goers. Complimentary planting elements unify the open spaces on adjoining sites.”


Concept rendering of theater space at future Center.

Regional Playhouse: “An open loft like space with a three-sided balcony accommodates 450 individuals for a variety of entertainment events. The flexible space permits music, theater, dance, film, conference meetings, dinners, celebrations and community gatherings to be equally presented and enjoyed. The timber roof truss system spanning the space recalls the mill buildings previously found on the site.”


Cornelius Arts Center Selected as 2018 Tate Cares Recipient

Northern Mecklenburg and Lake Norman residents are one step closer to enjoying professional dance, theater and visual arts close to home, thanks to the Allen Tate Companies.
Allen Tate recently presented a check for $6,345 to the Cornelius Arts Center (CAC), a planned arts and cultural facility in downtown Cornelius. The gift was part of funds raised by Allen Tate Realtors® and employees in its Lake Norman, Davidson and Huntersville offices through the company’s annual Tate Cares giving campaign, which benefits arts and culture and United Way organizations.

The check was presented May 3 at Allen Tate’s Annual Porch Party, on the patio adjacent to the Allen Tate office in downtown Davidson. The event celebrates the company’s commitment to its local communities and honors Tate Cares recipient organizations chosen by agents who work in the greater Lake Norman region. The Ada Jenkins Center was also honored as a Tate Cares recipient.
Davidson Mayor Rusty Knox, an Allen Tate Realtor, provided acoustic guitar music for the event.
“We are fortunate to have such a strong partner in Allen Tate Realtors,” said Greg Wessling, Cornelius Arts Center president and board chairman.
“Allen Tate’s investment in the Cornelius Arts Center furthers our commitment to the greater Lake Norman community through the building of our new arts facility and the subsequent programming, entertainment and education we will provide for this broad audience,” he said.
Justin Dionne, CAC executive director, also attended the event, along with members of the organization’s board of directors: Cornelius Mayor Woody Washam, Town Commissioner Denis Bilodeau, Kate Gaither, Jim Duke, Donna Johnson, and Carroll Gray.
“Tate Cares supports a broad spectrum of organizations that impact the quality of life in our local communities,” said Stephanie Gossett, Allen Tate regional vice president and 2018 Tate Cares chairperson. “A vibrant arts community helps drive people to the region, improving cultural and economic life at the same time.”
As part of the Tate Cares campaign, Dionne shared the CAC’s mission and future plans with three Allen Tate offices, including a presentation at the Old Town Public House, next to the future home of the CAC.
In 2013, Cornelius residents approved a $4 million bond project for downtown redevelopment, and funds were used to purchase 1.85 acres adjacent to the police station in downtown Cornelius for a future arts center. In 2017, Cornelius Arts Center was established as a 501 (c)(3), Dionne was hired as executive director, and two architectural firms were named to execute the center’s vision.

Exploring Beyond Walls at Robbins Park

Looking for public art? Beyond Walls has you covered. The inspirational public art exhibition at Robbins Park opened on May 5 and we were there to get the scoop from artists including Scott Froschauer, Jim Gallucci, Harry McDaniel and Amy Hart. We hope to bring similar experiences to the region once we open. Until then, here’s a brief rundown of the event, and  information on the sculptures and artists.

The public art project, which is coordinated by the Cornelius Parks, Arts, Recreation and Culture department, had a wonderful opening event. The process involved a national call for artists, which resulted in 34 submissions. A review period followed and 11 pieces by nine artists were selected by the Public Art Committee. Marisa Pascucci, who serves on the Public Art Committee as well as the Advisory Board for Cornelius Arts Center, guided the crowd across the park to view the 11 new sculptures.

Don’t miss wandering through this exhibition, which runs through Jan. 12, 2019.

Map of art installations.

1) “Summertime Blues”

    Cathy Perry, Lewisburg, KY


Cathy Perry is an avid gardener.  She takes her love for gardening to another level by cutting, forging and welding steel to resemble the plants she loves. This piece is part of her “Lace” series.

 2) “One Way Heart” and 3) “Infinite Clearance”

      Scott Froschauer, Sun Valley, CA

Scott Froschauer

Don’t miss these important street signs! Scott Froschauer, from Sun Valley, CA., constructs aluminum street signs which use wording and design choices to give off an intentional positive vibe.

4) “Divine Wind II”

        Jim Gallucci, Greensboro, NC


Part of the piece is meant to represent flying paper, much like the paper seen drifting through the air during the fall of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The sculpture is meant to portray “disaster and how it brings people together.”

 5) “Abstract #29”

         Robert Porreca, Columbia, OH


Sculptor Robert Porreca focuses on shapes and not so much on creating recognizable objects with this work, which is made with epoxy resin and fiberglass. The green coloring makes this sculpture pop when you look across the park. Get closer and explore the piece. What do you see?

 6) “Exploratory Unit 01”

       Harry McDaniel, Asheville, NC


Inspired by H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic, War of the Worlds, the aluminum sculpture features solar reflectors and stained glass cutouts. Harry McDaniel noted that the process for creating this piece was very spontaneous.

 7) “Tree”

     Adam Walls, Hope Mills, NC


This abstract sculpture resembles a jungle gym, but consider it a sort of nature sanctuary that is better viewed from afar. Stand back and look at the different birds perched between the cubist tree landings of the green painted steel.

 8) “Yellow Flower”

       Amy Hart, Charlotte, NC


This large flower sculpture was constructed of found materials. You can see even more of Amy Hart’s sculptures on display at the current Cornelius Arts Center exhibit, By Land…By Sea (on display through June 8, 2018).

 9) “Bear Family”

      Jim Collins, Signal Mountain, TN


This sculpture is inspired by a true bear family seen in sculptor Jim Collins’ frontyard in the Highlands. Silhouettes of a bear family are made of corten steel, while the fish is made of bronze. When you’re viewing the sculpture, see if you can find the artist’s signature.

 10) “Being Home” and 11) “Hurrying Home”

        Charlie Brouwer, Willis, VA

“Hurrying Home”
“Being Home”
 Situated across from one another in a way that looks like they could be passing a ball back and forth, these two pieces are a part of Brouwer’s “Homebodies” series. The sculptures are constructed of stained locust wood.

CAC Announces Architects

After a detailed search, followed by interviews with local and national architect firms, Cornelius Arts Center is pleased to announce its partnership with acclaimed architect firms C Design and Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture.


The local and national firms – C Design is based in Charlotte, NC, and Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture is based in New York – will collaborate in the design and development of Cornelius Arts Center, which will be located in downtown Cornelius adjacent to the police station.

Malcolm Holzman of Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture


Of local prominence, the firm has designed parts of Spirit Square, including the innovative ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center in Uptown Charlotte. With 50 years of experience in the business, firm partner Malcolm Holzman, a member of the Interior Design magazine Hall of Fame and the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows, will serve as the Center’s design architect. He plans to create a structure that will be unique to the Lake Norman area.

The opportunity to design a distinctive new Cornelius Arts Center is extraordinary. It isn’t often that an architect has a chance to provide a building that will serve as a regional focus for the next 50 years. Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture and C Design look forward to this unique juncture of favorable circumstances to enhance the life of this growing community and to add to the vibrant town center.


Marley Carroll and Robert Crane of C Design


The firm includes creative director Marley P. Carroll, a prestigious fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and other accomplished staff. C Design’s most recent work includes the revamping and expansion of Charlotte Douglas International Airport’s Concourse A, which features offices, retail, food & beverage facilities, seating areas and new gates. In 2016, the firm picked up honorary design awards for its work on the YMCA Camp Thunderbird Duke Energy Pavilion in Lake Wylie, SC, and the Piedmont Natural Gas Rockingham Resource Center in Rockingham, NC.

The new Cornelius Arts Center has tremendous potential to fuel redevelopment, be a cultural catalyst of a vibrant arts district, and form a centerpiece for the Lake Norman region’s transformation. It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that C Design begins the work of designing this exciting project with the Town of Cornelius and our partner firm Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture.


Cornelius Arts Center Hires Inaugural Executive Director

After a national search that included over 80 candidates from across the country, the Cornelius Arts Center has named Justin Dionne as its first Executive Director. “We are very excited to have Justin on board and are extremely confident in his ability to lead this effort,” says Greg Wessling, Chair of the Cornelius Arts Center Board of Directors.

“With his previous experience in building and managing a similar center, among other arts-oriented positions in his career, it was clear he was the perfect fit for us. We were gratified to have drawn such national attention for our program, and thrilled to be able to bring Justin to Cornelius and the Lake Norman region.”

Dionne is the former Managing Artistic Director of Lee Street Theatre in Salisbury. During his time there Dionne led a capital campaign to renovate a historic warehouse into a performing arts center and curated five seasons of programming. His efforts helped establish the organization as a leading cultural destination in the state. Dionne brings a rich background in community development and nonprofit arts management, including experience in downtown development, tourism, and arts council boards.

The Salisbury native received his BA in Theatre Arts from Catawba College and studied Theatre Management at the Graduate level at Florida State University. “I am honored to lead a project that will make such a large cultural impact on the Cornelius and the entire Lake Norman Community. I look forward to working with community members, leaders, and businesses to make this dream a reality,” Dionne says.

The Cornelius Arts Center will be a diverse, nonprofit arts facility that will be a place for learning and entertainment. This arts facility will serve as a force for creative momentum within the Lake Norman area and beyond.

In 2013 Cornelius residents approved a $4 million bond for use on downtown redevelopment projects. After much research and conversation, a need for a community arts center was identified to complement the already thriving arts district in Old Town Cornelius. The Town has purchased 1.85 acres in downtown Cornelius adjacent to the police station and has agreed to an owner/manager business model with the Center.