Alexandra Lange | Essays

Carolina On... (No, I Just Can't Do It)

I grew up in Durham, NC and my whole immediate family lives there today. I often recommend it to friends desperate to escape the high cost of ownership in the tri-state area. And yet, everything cool that has happened in Durham and environs has happened since I left.

There was no foodie culture, no downtown farmers market, just one renovated tobacco factory, no art house movie theater, no documentary film festival and so on. I took my best babysitting charge to Northgate Mall in my Sentra, let her ride the carousel and eat McDonald’s French fries, and everyone thought that was fine. (Except the horrified woman who once stopped to check that Ariel was not my child. We were both blonde and blue-eyed, but I was 16.)

The latest episode in the rise of the Triangle is the reopening of the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh on Saturday, with what looks like a gorgeous addition by Thomas Phifer & Partners and new identity by my friend Yve Ludwig at Pentagram. We went often in my childhood, and always thought the original Edward Durell Stone building was dreary (brown on brown) but the collection could be inspiring. I remember a set of refrigerator magnets that now make me cringe: “Say Hey to Monet,” etc. I am sad I can’t find anyone to fly me home to write about it, but looking forward to it the next time I am there.

UPDATE: And the New York Times recognizes Durham as foodie heaven, with the farmer’s market given a starring role. Amy Tornquist, chef and owner at Watts Grocery, catered my wedding in 2003. It is great to see her talents recognized.

UPDATE 2: ArchNewsNow with an early report on the NCMA.

Posted in: Arts + Culture

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