Fall Arts Preview 2019: Visual Arts
Galleries and gatherings, plastic and static, memories and narratives
Same as it ever was, the visual arts scene in Atlanta is in a state of flux, particularly at the street level where the West and Southwest flanks of downtown mark the next major front for the newest of the new to appear. With the Goat Farm closing and morphing into who-knows-what; the construction of The MET continuing apace and attracting entities like MINT and Mammal Gallery; and The Bakery executing its inspiring, if sometimes bewilderingly eclectic, strategy with characteristic DIY aplomb (while facing a move in the next year, as the lease on the arts center’s Warner Street building will not be renewed), the west side is the best side for seeking out the edges of Atlanta’s art/art music/art performance scene.
“Atlanta’s strong suit for the 40-something years I’ve been here is how incredibly active the grassroots community is,” says Louise Shaw, curator of the Senser Museum at the Centers for Disease Control and cofounder of Idea Capital, an arts funding group. “People, particularly young people, are continually trying to reinvent the art scene.”
Otherwise, the more things change, the more stalwart venues, such as the High Museum, Atlanta Contemporary, Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, the major arts institutions and fine art galleries, keep moving forward with their respective missions. At the same time, public art, street art, mural painting, and graffiti are exerting a particular influence on the Atlanta art scene for which the city is becoming increasingly recognized nationally and internationally.
“The street art trend is really exciting,” says Shaw. “The work along Edgewood and in Cabbagetown, the Krog Tunnel, these works that stay up for a few months and are then replaced by new work — this kind of activity creates a vibrancy and excitement lacking in many cities.”
From gleaming white halls and walls to sandblasted slabs of brick and concrete to just about any flat accessible surface with a sightline, Atlanta’s visual artists, curators and gallery owners use whatever means are available to satisfy the muse. That’s how it works.
Entering its third decade, Atlanta Celebrates Photography (ACP) — www.acpinfo.org — is both an annual festival and the name of the organization responsible for staging the event. Billed as the largest community photography event in America, the 2019 edition of the ACP festival, which begins in mid-September and runs through the end of October, features more than 100 happenings including five lectures, three professional development workshops, a photobook fair, a film series, and numerous exhibits. This panoply of activity takes place at site-specific outdoor installations including the BeltLine, arts facilities, museums, galleries, retail businesses, and special venues spread across metro Atlanta.
“The ACP festival provides a comprehensive platform not only for people to experience our events, but to participate as creators,” says ACP Executive Director Amy Miller. “This allows for a true celebration of all that photography can be — a multifaceted art form with the power to change lives and connect people.”
The ACP has no event facility to call its own. All exhibits, lectures, screenings, and sundry programs are arranged through partnerships with other organizations and institutions. “The beauty of this business model is that the entire city becomes our venue,” Miller says. “The ACP festival raises awareness of arts venues and cultural organizations throughout the city, which creates a rising tide that, hopefully, lifts all boats.”
The FENCE (Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail): This truly mega-outdoor photo exhibition returns to Atlanta with more than 40 photographers from around the world, selected by a jury of 40 experts from a global call for entries, spreading the joy of their craft along a 700+-foot-long fence.
ACP Auction Gala (Saturday, September 14): Cocktail reception, open bar, dinner, plus a silent auction at The Landmark honoring Dr. Sarah Kennel, newly installed curator of photography at the High Museum of Art. The auction serves as the primary fundraising event for ACP and the 2019 ACP Festival.
ACP Special Exhibition: Teen Spirit at Mason Fine Art – www.masonfineartandevents.com – (Artists Reception, Thursday, September 19, 6-9 p.m., Exhibition September 19-October 11, free and open to the public). Volunteer photographers, led by ACP co-founder Corinne Adams, guide teens at Scottish Rite and Egleston hospitals in an exploration of identity, including (or in spite of) their diagnosis, through writing and photographic self-portraiture. This exhibition showcases the creative work produced by the teens during the past 12 months.
Photobook Fair (October 4-5): The photo book event of the Southeast at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. For the complete list of exhibitors, artist talks, and book-signings, please visit ACPinfo.org
Chris Verene’s “Home Movies” (Thursday, October 10): The Landmark Midtown Art Cinema hosts a one-night-only screening of “home movies” (video clips) shot by renowned photographer Chris Verene during the course of documenting his family’s life in rural Illinois, which has been the former Atlantan’s primary subject for the past three decades. A post-screening panel discussion will feature photographer Ashley Reid and Mona Bennett, ambassador of the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, moderated by Felicia Feaster.
In conjunction with the Landmark screening of “Home Movies,” Marcia Wood Gallery – www.marciawoodgallery.com – which represents Verene, will be exhibiting a large selection of the artist’s photographs during the ACP Festival. Verene will be in attendance at the gallery opening in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood on September 18 and closing reception on October 12.
In 2015, the Atlanta Contemporary dropped the “Arts Center” from its name and fully embraced the institutionalized practice of “free admission, every day.” Today, Atlanta Contemporary – www.atlantacontemporary.org – occupies a special position in the arts community not only because of the price of admission to the facility, but also by virtue of its varied offerings, which include showcasing and commissioning new work by emerging artists; diverse educational programs, such as Contemporary Kids, Contemporary Cocktails, and Contemporary Talks; and on-site subsidized studio space for working artists through the Studio Artist Program. Atlanta Contemporary, incidentally, also throws great art parties and openings.
“Any city that is a beacon for tourism and advancement in technology, any city that wants to be recognized as a destination, needs a contemporary art center that advocates for what’s happening today,” says Executive Director Veronica Kessenich.
With the departure of curator Daniel Fuller at the end of June, Kessenich is moving forward with a full slate of previously scheduled fall exhibitions and looking with anticipation toward a new chapter in the evolution of the Westside arts center.
“Daniel was such an integral part of Atlanta Contemporary over the last four and a half years,” says Kessenich. “We will surely miss him and thank him for his leadership and service to Atlanta Contemporary.”
On tap between Saturday, August 24, and Sunday, December 22, are solo exhibitions by Bryan Graf and Emma McMillan, plus Contemporary On-Site projects featuring Coco Hunday, an artist-run exhibition space in Tampa, Florida; Atlanta-based artist Wihro Kim; and Bailey Scieszka who lives and works in Detroit.
In “Landlines,” Bryan Graf explores a range of photographic approaches and subjects, seeking balance or an equivalence between conceptual, visceral, and narrative elements. “The photographs in this show are notes, recordings, observations, and questions from specific places and times,” notes the Atlanta Contemporary press release. “This is an optical research into the debris of the days; a self-portrait of the dust that sculpts us.”
Emma McMillan’s “Project X” is inspired by the work of Atlanta architect John Portman, whose influence on the contours of the Atlanta skyline can scarcely be understated. Appropriating the name of an unrealized 1969 utopian residential building, Project X conjures up the architect’s design theory and manifest legacy in a series of large oil and aquarelle paintings, which are displayed across aluminum scaffolding, creating an immersive environment reminiscent of Portman’s iconic downtown Atlanta structures.
Coinciding with the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival, EBD4 – www.EBD4.com – an industrial space for creatives in Chamblee, is staging a special “ACP at EBD4” exhibition. “1980’s ATL Portraits of Drag Queens & Club Kids (think RuPaul)” by Al Clayton showcases Clayton’s chronicling of the intersectional-before-it-was-cool club scene in Atlanta back when the local celebrity head count included RuPaul, Larry Tee, LaHoma, Sable Chanel, Charlie Brown, and Spike, among others.
The exhibition will also display images from Clayton’s landmark 1969 book, Still Hungry in America, along with select images of Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Townes van Zandt, Tammy Wynette and other luminaries from Ken Burns’ documentary Country Music. The Clayton family will have prints from the photographer’s personal collection available, as well as limited edition prints.
Opening: Saturday, October 19, 2019, 6:30. Dance party starts at 8:30, admission $10.
Open House: Wednesday, October 23–Saturday, October 26, 1–5 p.m. or by appointment.
It may come as a surprise to some that the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs has its own art gallery. Opened in 2014, Gallery 72 — www.ocaatlanta.com — is located downtown on the first floor of the 72 Marietta Street building. During the past five years, Gallery 72 has hosted a variety of exhibitions addressing relevant topics ranging from human trafficking, civil and human rights, memory and ritual, to the growth of local arts organizations (e.g., Wonderroot, The Creatives Project) and the rise of hip-hop.
“Gallery 72 is a space where artists can push the experimental aesthetics of their work, which they may not choose to pursue in more commercial venues,” says gallery director Kevin Sipp. “It is also important that the gallery represents Atlanta as it is now, which is a melting pot of vibrant cultures, political views, and ideas.”
Gallery 72 will host two exhibitions in the fall: In “Reclaim/Proclaim Blandtown” (October 10-November 22), Gregor Turk takes up the subject of a long-neglected Westside Atlanta neighborhood. In the 1950s, the African-American community of Blandtown, which once boasted more than 200 houses, was rezoned to heavy industrial without proper public review. Today, much of the area, which is bisected by the BeltLine, is being rezoned back to residential for rapid redevelopment. Of the four original remaining houses, one was converted by Turk in 2003 into his studio. Comprising wall-mounted sculpture and photography, “Reclaim/Proclaim Blandtown” is part history lesson, part manifesto, and part civic rousing. In 2017, Turk received an Idea Capital grant for developing this project followed by an Artist Project Grant the next year from the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.
"Contrapunto: A Latin American Art Collective in Atlanta" (November 28-February 7) celebrates the work of a Latin art collective founded in 2008 by Carlos Solis. In addition to Solis, Contrapunto members, all of whom are based in Atlanta, included in the exhibition are Jorge Arcos, Pedro Fuertes, Catalina Gomez Beuth, Dora López, and Graciela Núñez Bedoya, Their work ranges from surrealist, cubist, and abstract to realist and naturalistic. In Spanish, “contrapunto” usually refers to the musical practice of joining two or more melodies to create harmony while maintaining the individual quality of each player’s contribution.
Says Sipp, “The narratives that fuel Atlanta and its present growth have expanded beyond past narratives to include transcendent global perspectives from all corners of the world.”
Established in 2015 in what is now a thriving Westside neighborhood jam-packed with live-work spaces, restaurants, and entertainment venues, Hathaway Gallery – www.hathawaygallery.com – strives to “foster and expand the contemporary art collector base in the Southeast through inclusivity and education.” Hathaway’s fall exhibition schedule includes:
“No Place Like Home” (July 20–September 7): A three-person exhibition of works by Jaime Bull, In Kyoung Chun, and Maryam Palizgir. Each of the artists brings a distinctly expressive technique and vision to bear on the idea of “home.”
“Changing Tides” (September 14–November 9): A solo exhibition featuring the highly kinetic, vividly colorful abstract paintings of Fran O’Neill.
In the realm of mainstream visual arts, every major metropolitan city has its leader of the pack. The museum with the largest and deepest collection, the curatorial punch, and the financial wherewithal to make things happen that other institutions can’t and, truth be told, don’t need to match.
In Atlanta, the High Museum of Art – www.high.org – has filled that role since the founding of the Atlanta Art Association (the museum’s organizational precursor) in 1905. In 2019, the sensually curvaceous, gleaming white structure, situated on a gently rising grassy slope at the corner of Peachtree and 16th streets, stands alongside the Alliance Theater and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as one of three pillars girding the Woodruff Arts Center.
In 2018, the High undertook a total reconfiguration of its almost 94,000 square feet of gallery space. The massive makeover allowed for the rearrangement of artwork from the museum’s 16,000-piece permanent collection and the inclusion of a trove of never-before-exhibited artistic treasure. Among those treasures were selections from a 2017 acquisition of visionary folk art from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which shone new light on the art of Thornton Dial, Sr., Lonnie Holley, Henry Church, Mary T. Smith, and the fabulous quilts created by the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.
At the end of last year, the High Museum presented Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors,” a wildly popular exhibition seen by 136,000 people before closing in February. For a minute at least, it seemed like Kusama-mania had imbued the museum with a rejuvenating hipness, tagging the joint as being worthy of regular visitation by a new generation or two of art-curious fans.
“We’re always committed to presenting the finest examples of artistic achievement we can get our hands on,” says High Museum director Rand Suffolk.
“Something Over Something Else,” Romare Bearden’s Profile Series (Sept. 14, 2019– Feb. 2, 2020):
Organized by the High, this touring exhibition brings together dozens of works from Romare Bearden’s “Profile” series for the first time since its debut nearly 40 years ago. A series of collages conjures up the original presentations from 1978 and 1981, which featured accompanying wall texts written by Bearden (who died in 1988) in collaboration with essayist, jazz critic, and novelist Albert Murray.
“A Thousand Crossings,” Sally Mann (Oct. 19, 2019–Feb. 2, 2020):
One of the preeminent art photographers of the last half-century, Sally Mann (American, born 1951) is a Virginia native whose work is often deeply, sometimes defiantly, rooted in her journey as a Southerner. Notes the High’s press preview: “The exhibition is both a sweeping overview of Mann’s artistic achievement over the past four decades and a focused exploration of how the South emerges in her work as a powerful and provocative force…”
“Figures of Speech,” Virgil Abloh (Nov. 9, 2019–March 8, 2020):
Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, where it debuted in June, “Figures of Speech” showcases the work of Virgil Abloh, the 39-year-old creative operator at the console of a thoroughly modern matrix enveloping art, music, fashion, and celebrity. The exhibition includes clothing designs for Louis Vuitton (Abloh is the first person of African descent to lead the Parisian fashion house’s ready-to-wear line for men); videos of fashion shows, which have garnered no small amount of viral online attention; and Abloh’s distinctive furniture designs (some for IKEA) and graphic art.
“Each exhibition also complements our permanent collection, adding context and insight across multiple collecting areas,” says Suffolk. “Presenting one of these shows would be exceptional. Having all three here this fall is extraordinary.”
Widely recognized as one of the most important supporters of contemporary fine art photography in Atlanta and beyond, Jackson Fine Art – www.jacksonfineart.com – caters to artists, collectors, museums and corporate clients with services ranging from curating and managing collections to framing and installing.
For the fall season, Jackson Fine Art is showcasing a large selection of photographs by Sally Mann to supplement her retrospective at the High Museum (see above). Specifically, the exhibit (October 18–December 21) draws heavily from “Remembered Light,” a series that produced a book of photographs documenting painter-sculptor Cy Twombly’s studio in Lexington, Virginia, where both artists grew up.
2019 marks the centennial celebration of the formal establishment of a museum to house Emory University’s collection of art and antiquities, which was relocated in 1919 from the original campus in Oxford, Georgia, to the main campus in Atlanta. In 1985, with the support of local philanthropist Michael C. Carlos, the museum moved into the old law school building following a complete renovation by architect Michael Graves. In 1993, an expanded museum and new conservation laboratory, which also benefited from Carlos’s largesse and Graves’ architectural acumen, opened as the Michael C. Carlos Museum – www.carlos.emory.edu.
Today, the Carlos Museum serves as a repository for more than 16,000 works, including what is arguably the largest ancient art collection in the Southeast. In addition to ancient artifacts from Rome, Egypt, Greece, the Near East, and the Americas; works of Asian art and sub-Saharan African art from the 19th and 20th centuries; and works on paper from the Middle Ages to the present, the museum also presents special exhibitions and educational events open to students of all ages and the general public. “The Carlos Museum’s collection of ancient art is unique in Atlanta and the Southeast, but we’re so much more than mummies,” says Allison Hutton, director of communications and marketing. “The oldest piece in our collection was created around 6,500-6,000 BC and the ‘youngest,’ a print by Tom Hück, was created in 2018, so we have quite a range.”
The museum recently launched SmARTy Packs, which lets families learn about art together in the galleries through hands-on projects. This fall, in conjunction with the exhibition “Through a Glass, Darkly” (see below), the museum will host an engraving workshop with artist Andrew Raftery.
“Through a Glass, Darkly: Allegory and Faith in Netherlandish Prints from Lucas van Leyden to Rembrandt” (August 31-December 1) considers the form, function, and meaning of allegorical prints produced in the Low Countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) between the 16th and 18th centuries.
“Minor White Unburdened: Photographs from the Collection of Lindsay W. Marshall” (October 12-December 15) features works by Minor White alongside photographs by friends and colleagues including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Rose Mandel. Accompanying the photographs will be a selection of White’s writings in which he reflects upon his career and lifelong personal struggles with religion, sexuality, and the constitution of the spirit.
In 2011, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) – www.museumofdesign.org – celebrated its grand relocation to the sleek, stylish, ground-floor confines of Perkins + Will, a renowned architecture firm on Peachtree Street across from the High Museum, with an exhibit titled “Passione Italiana: Design of the Italian Motorcycle.” Since then, MODA has pursued its mission “to advance the understanding and appreciation of design as the convergence of creativity and functionality.”
“MODA is the only design museum in the Southeastern United States, which makes us different from institutions in Atlanta and far beyond,” says Executive Director Laura Flusche. “Our exhibitions and our programs demonstrate that design can inspire change, transform lives, and make the world a better place.”
MODA has mounted exhibitions that celebrate beautiful products (espresso machines, motorcycles), graphic designers and architects (Paul Rand, Eero Saarinen, Louise Fili), wearable technology (biofeedback devices), activist art and craft, urban design, landscape architecture, and food production techniques and distribution methodology. The museum organizes public lectures and educational programs that tackle serious topics and engage the imagination.
“Attendance at MODA has skyrocketed in the past 18 months,” says Flusche. “We’re attracting a young, diverse group of design-lovers who are passionate about social justice and human rights issues and the ways that design can address those things.”
On display at the gallery through Sunday, September 29, is “Wire & Wood: Designing Iconic Guitars”, which explores the basics of guitar design and construction alongside the ways in which musicians use the instrument to shape their public image. Included in the exhibition, curated and designed by W. Todd Vaught, are a number of instruments which have acquired legendary status by virtue of the musicians who wielded them on concert stages around the world.
Among the famed axes on display in “Wire & Wood” are Bo Diddley’s Gretsch 6138, Buck Owens’ Harmony Acoustic, Derek Trucks’ Gibson SG, Jack White’s Diddley Bow (from It Might Get Loud), Junior Brown’s Custom Guit-Steel, Kurt Cobain’s Fender Stratocaster, Steve Vai’s Ibanez EVO, and St. Vincent’s Signature Ernie Ball Music Man.
“Wire & Wood” confronts the age-old conundrum of whether form follows function or vice-versa by first presenting the guitar in its simplest form along with information about the ways in which traditional design elements and materials affect sound. The exhibit then discusses advancements in the luthier’s art, including mass manufacturing and alternative materials, accompanied by stories explaining how and why certain modern guitars are endowed with a status beyond their mere existence.
It’s right there in the name: The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) — www.mocaga.org — collects and archives significant, contemporary works by artists who hail from or reside in the state of Georgia. That said, to provide context and accommodate relational concepts, the museum’s exhibitions include Georgia artists and artists from around the world.
Co-founded in 2000 by David S. Golden, then president of CGR Advisors, and Annette Cone-Skelton, an accomplished Georgia artist and now President/CEO/Director of MOCA GA, the museum’s collection includes more than 1,000 works by 330 Georgia artists in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, and installation.
“Before MOCA GA, much of the work being exhibited locally was by artists imported from other urban centers, which did not necessarily acknowledge the narratives that were important to this area,” says Cone-Skelton. “This left a tremendous void in the landscape of arts institutions in Atlanta.”
Consequently, the Atlanta arts community experienced an exodus of talent to cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. MOCA GA stepped into the void with a mission based on programs that create a forum for interchange between artists and the community, and a platform from which to launch local artists and their works into the orbit of the global arts community.
Recently, Atlanta Contemporary announced Cone-Skelton and Atlanta mixed-media artist Kevin Cole as recipients of the 2019 Nexus Award. The award recognizes “individuals, groups, or organizations that have made significant contributions to the contemporary arts landscape and celebrates local leaders who are instrumental in making Atlanta an exceptionally vibrant arts community.”
Tuesday, August 13: Working Artist Project (WAP) Fellow Krista Clark artist talk for “Base Line of Appraisal” exhibition, 6:30-8:30 pm
Thursday, September 5: “Dorothy O’Connor: Scenes” opening reception, 6:30-8:30 pm
Friday, September 6: Public panel and reception for the Latin American Association exhibition (unnamed at press time), 6-9 pm
Friday, September 13: WAP Fellow Myra Greene’s opening reception (unnamed at press time), 6:30-8:30 pm
Tuesday, October 1: WAP Fellow Myra Greene artist talk, 6:30-8:30 pm
Friday & Saturday, October 4-5: MOCA GA hosts the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Photobook Fair
Friday, October 18: MOCA GA hosts the Atlanta Photography Group panel
Friday, November 15: WAP Fellow Cosmo Whyte’s opening reception (unnamed at press time), 6:30-8:30 pm
Opened in 2010 and curated by writer and filmmaker, Robin Bernat, Poem88 – www.poem88.net – declared a reorganization of its roster of artists. Consequently, 70 percent of the artists on the Poem 88 roster are women while approximately 28 percent represent ethnic or cultural minorities and 42 percent are 50 years of age or older. As a woman-owned business, Poem 88 is committed to supporting and nurturing “a community that is frequently sidelined in today’s contemporary art world.”
“Raymond Goins: Infallible Beauty” (Saturday, September 7–Saturday, October 19): This exhibition will provide an unadorned and decontextualized view of the work of Raymond Goins, a self-taught artist who moves fluidly between the realms of interior design, decorative art, and fine art.
Established in 1989 by Georgia-born owners Debbie Hudson and Robin Sandler, Sandler Hudson www.sandlerhudson.com — Gallery specializes in innovative and provocative contemporary art that spans a multitude of disciplines including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video, and new media. For the fall season, Sandler Hudson is presenting three exhibitions:
“Recent Drawings” (June 28–September 14): A group exhibition featuring works by Krista Clark, William Downs, Yanique Norman, and Rocío Rodríguez, “Recent Drawings” explores a variety of mark-making using various instruments, techniques, and mediums.
“JET” (September 20–October 19): Los Angeles-based artist Erin D. Garcia brings his vibrant and colorful paintings to the south for the first time. “JET” will present Garcia’s distinctly rendered varicolored gradient shapes on his largest canvases to date, along with multiple works on paper.
“Blue Distant” (October 25–November 30): A solo exhibition of new paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by Savannah artist Namwon Choi. Choi’s elegantly offbeat works fuse conceptual notions of Eastern and Western art into a wondrously personal vision.
The Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) opened its Midtown Atlanta campus in 2005. Among its prominent facilities is the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film – www.scadfash.org. With nearly 10,000 square feet of exhibition space, SCAD FASH serves as a teaching museum for students and a platform for public presentations of fashion-focused designs, films, gallery talks, and lectures.
“SCAD FASH’s exhibitions and programs are curated in collaboration with world-renowned designers and artists, and are developed to inspire and engage visitors with varied backgrounds, not only fashionistas!” says SCAD’s public relations director Jeanette McWilliams.
Past exhibitions have featured fashion luminaries, such as Oscar de la Renta, Guo Pei, Mary Katrantzou and Carolina Herrera, and fashionable work including costumes from The Handmaid’s Tale television series (SCAD exhibit ends August 12).
“The public’s interest in fashion has never been more ardent and continues to grow,” says McWilliams. “Last May, our first-ever student runway show sold out almost as quickly as the tickets went online.”
“Aura and Invention: Alternative Processes in Photography” (September 26–November 14) showcases works by SCAD students and recent alumni from the Atlanta and Savannah campuses. According to a SCAD press release, “Works in this exhibition were chosen for their inventiveness in process and design, by young artists who are pushing the limits and potential for photography in an image-saturated society. Through alternative perspectives in the composition of photography, these artists challenge modes of reproduction, and offer alternatives to a culture of instant production and dissemination of images.”
“Form & Function: Shoe Art by Chris Francis” (August 13–December 8) puts the spotlight on the Los Angeles-based street artist-turned-shoe-designer who learned his trade by consulting with and acquiring vintage machines and tools from immigrant cobblers. Francis credits the punk movement for inspiring the independent design house where he crafts small batches of wildly stylized shoes, many of which have been worn by rock stars including Mötley Crüe’s Mick Mars, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, and former Runaways guitarist Lita Ford.
Isabelle de Borchgrave exhibition: “w” (October 22–January 12) explores five centuries of fashion through the trompe l’oeil masterpieces of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. Using paper and paint, de Borchgrave creates sculptural replicas of garments found in early European paintings and collections. The exhibition includes de Borchgrave’s series “Les Ballet Russes,” which interprets costumes designed by Léon Bakst, Giorgio de Chirico, and Pablo Picasso, as well as her “Kaftans” series, which was inspired by the Silk Road textiles of central Asia. The exhibition also includes work by eccentric early 20th-century artist Mariano Fortuny, whose famous Delphos gown debuted in 1907.
In a converted 1893 carriage house on Edgewood Avenue behind her Inman Park Victorian residence, Whitespace – ww.whitespace814.com – owner Susan Bridges stages exhibitions of contemporary art along with the occasional chamber ensemble performance. Opened in 2007, Whitespace was the Creative Loafing Reader’s Choice for Best Gallery in 2013.
“On Singing the Body Formless and Electric” (Friday, August 2–Saturday, August 31): In the spirit of poet Walt Whitman’s “I sing the body electric,” Whitespace hosts a tripartite exhibition curated by Atlanta native Lisa Alembik, assistant professor at Perimeter College of Georgia State University on the Clarkston campus. The main gallery will feature eight artist or artist groups, which include Carrie Hawks, Catherine Lucky Chang, Eleanor Aldrich, Hannah Adair, Hannah Ehrlich, Larkin Ford & Joe Hadden, Michelle Laxalt, and Parker Thornton. In the Whitespec space, the two-artist collaborative of Pinky/MM Bass and Carolyn DeMeritt will display their work, while Amanda Britton commandeers Shedspace.
“7th Annual Short Shorts 2019, Jiffy Louvre: Leave Worry Behind” (Thursday, August 29, 7:30-9 p.m.): An evening of one- to five-minute films selected by guest juror, painter, sculptor, and animator Joseph Peragine, director of the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University.
Opened in 2014, the Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art (ZMA) — www.arts.kennesaw.edu/zuckerman — on the Kennesaw State University campus encompasses three exhibition galleries, a collection research center, and a two-story-high glass atrium, which is the most striking feature of the 9,200-square-foot facility designed by Stanley Beaman & Sears. The museum regularly presents works from the university’s 6,000-piece permanent collection along with exhibitions of contemporary works by local, national, and international artists. The ZMA's Fine Arts Satellite Gallery in the Wilson Building features faculty, student, and alumni projects.
“The ZMA team, which has significantly altered in the past year, is proud of what we accomplished in the institution's first five years,” says Teresa Bramlette Reeves, director of curatorial affairs, who will have resigned from her position by the time this article is published. “We routinely presented exhibitions of depth and variety, supported local artists, shared the work of nationally and internationally recognized artists, and produced associated brochures and catalogues.”
The ZMA’s two main fall exhibitions open on Saturday, August 24, with a free reception and special programming from 3-5 p.m.
"Painting Who?" (through December 15) presents a series of paintings by multiple artists, which serve multiple roles and stretch the definition and traditional boundaries of painting. “I see them as alive,” wrote Moira Dryer (1957-1992) about her work, which is featured in the show. “I see them as walking away from the wall. It’s a feeling I have that the work is active, active in our own world, not separate.” The other artists showcased in “Painting Who?” are Jeff Conefry, Gracie Devito, Chris Hood and Wihro Kim.
"Fruitful Labors" (through November 10) focuses on strategies and tactics for coping, according to a ZMA press release. Ranging from the absurd to the essential, the tactics include conversation, repetitive labor, intergenerational storytelling, and healing practices. The artwork “reflects our innate fear of uncertainty and the unknown while simultaneously valuing the power of belief in the face of struggle.” Featured artists include Lenka Clayton, Harry Dodge/Stanya Kahn, Shanequa Gay, Stanya Kahn, Michelle Laxalt, Shana Moulton, and Kaitlynn Redell.
Atlanta-based artist-musician Lonnie Holley ruminates on the journey from obscurity to notoriety in the art world.
We struggle too long and some give up.
Not appreciated in the world.
Not appreciated in the art world.
We weren’t invited into it.
We’ve never really been invited into it.
So we had to create our own way of making and seeing the world.
I just kept pushing the boundaries of what I thought I was capable of. I kept going.
I saw so much material out there that I couldn’t stop.
I had so many other issues I had to face in my life that I couldn’t focus on the rejection. Or the criticism. In some ways I had to keep ahead of the criticism.
I kept doing my art. And kept reminding myself that my art was the purpose. It was more important than me and my feelings. I had studied and learned so many things just by looking. And listening. And doing. And looking at what National Geographic and encyclopedias contained.
Which came first, the artist or the art?
I always say, “Which will you drop first, the baby or the bomb?”
Sometimes we are on a journey and we think we are alone. And it’s scary to be alone.
But then you find out you are not alone and it gives you power. It makes you work harder.
I was not alone. I was not even alone in Alabama. People like Thornton Dial did the same thing. They had to. Mose Tolliver. Arlonzia Pettway and Nettie Young and Mary Lee Bendolph and Rita Mae Pettway and so many others, in Gee’s Bend, did the same thing. They even taught their children, so you have Louisiana Bendolph and she was paying attention. Thornton Dial’s children looked and listened. I hope my children watched, too.
Jimmie Lee Sudduth used mud and his fingers to be heard.
Ronald Lockett cut tin.
Joe Minter, right in Birmingham, had to build an entire African Village in America, to call attention to the fact that he was there. His people were there. Like me, the city tried to condemn his land and make his call go away. He didn’t.
Purvis Young in Florida painted and painted and put his paintings on a big wall. Crying out to be heard. “I have a voice,” is all he was trying to say.
Ms. Mary T. Smith painted on whatever she could find, even after losing her real voice, and surrounded her house with her work. “HEY, I AM HERE. CAN YOU SEE ME?”
Joe Light in Memphis covered his house with paintings and signs. He had something to say.
Across town from him, Hawkins Bolden, who couldn’t even see but still wanted to be seen. Even if it was just the birds that would see him.
I cried out, too.
Sometimes it only takes a few people to listen and look and understand. Bill Arnett heard our calls. And he answered them. Our story exists because he, too, wanted us to be heard. And seen. And appreciated. I thank him all the time for seeing and understanding.
I want to be looked at as an American Artist. I didn’t want to be put in categories that made feel lesser than an artist.
I was called an outsider. Folk artist. Self-taught. An orphan in a storm. A passionate visionary. All these titles they were giving me, I didn’t want to be called those names. We were always called names.
All those names clung to me like an ill-fitting suit.
The trail that I took as an artist was pretty well like my whole life. Going up and down the ditches and the creeks. Playing and messing with the debris. Stacking the stones and broken glass. Moving things out of the creek so the water could continue to run. I was like the caretaker of something much bigger than me, when I was a child, and now that I’m an older man, I see the same ditches and walk the same railroad tracks, and I’m in the same alleys, but I see waste material so much different now. I can’t help but be drawn towards making a difference with the material. And hopefully teaching others about our wasteful ways.
At one time or another, we were all dismissed. Hopefully those days are over.
The artists I mentioned can now be seen all over the country and the world. Most of them are not alive anymore, but their lives and their art lives.
In the Metropolitan Museum. The Philadelphia Museum. The Whitney Museum (Joe Minter is in the Whitney Biennial right now). The de Young Museum. The LA County Museum. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. And maybe most importantly, in the High Museum, the Birmingham Museum, the New Orleans Museum, and the other museums in the region that once rejected us.
My message to young people trying to make art. Or music. Or write. Or dance. Or whatever. Is this: Believe in yourself. Be true to who you are. Be like a duck and let the water run right off your back. It may take time, but if you are doing something that makes you happy, don’t stop. It takes people time to change. If they want to put you in a box that you don’t fit in, reject the box.
And Thumbs Up for Mother Universe.
An exhibit to honor Georgia civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis is one of the first art installations you see when walking into the vast atrium at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Dedicated in April 2019, the “John Lewis — Good Trouble” wall display is a tribute to his life that includes artifacts, photographs, videos, and music. Above the display is a three-dimensional painting by Atlanta-based Cuban artist Alexi Torres titled “The Hero’s Journey” that employs an intricate “basket-weaving” style to portray famous faces and images from the Civil Rights Movement.
That’s just for starters: Atlanta’s entire airport has become a rich environment for all kinds of art and artists, with multiple installations, displays, galleries, and sculptures throughout the facility, and plenty more are in the works.
An enormous, permanent installation called “Flight Paths” has proved popular with weary travelers. Conceived by the late artist Steven Waldeck and costing more than $4 million, it’s a multisensory walk through a Georgia forest, according to David Vogt, Austin’s colleague. “The sculptural canopy is mostly made of tin,” he said. “Trays of LED lights create the lights of the forest canopy. The sounds of the birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians are all indigenous to Georgia.” Effects include sun shafts, rain showers, and ceiling videos showing bird species, and the installation evolves as you continue through it, becoming “more reflective of Georgia mountains and deciduous forests,” Vogt said. “You’ll see red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, swallows, and then it transitions to Georgia’s wetlands with species such as ospreys, cranes, and black ducks.”
He continued, “Part of what the artist was envisioning is the power of memory to connect people to experiences in nature that can soothe and lower blood pressure. The idea is to bring in a bit of nature and hopefully conjure a bit of awe. I think it’s been very successful at that.”
The Transportation Mall where “Flight Paths” is located hosts two other major projects: “Zimbabwe Culture: a Tradition in Stone” was installed in 2001 and features 20 different pieces by 12 prominent Zimbabwean sculptors, and Vogt calls it one of the most significant publicly held collections in the world for this type of art, second only to the country’s National Gallery in Harare. Traditional music accompanies the sculptures as well as images of local wildlife by South African photographer Denny Allen. Two of the works in this permanent exhibit are by Gedion Nyanhongo, a master of the traditional techniques and style of what Zimbabweans call Shona Sculpture.
The third installation in this part of the airport is “A Walk Through Atlanta History,” a multimedia collaboration with the Atlanta History Center that depicts milestone events in the city’s past. Filmmaker Gary Moss created short historical-reenactment films that are part of the mix. “We were responding to the need to create a sense of place without resorting to cliches like images of the skyline. We wanted much more substance, ” said Vogt. “The History Center helped define the narrative of the chapters in Atlanta’s history.” The “walking museum” features wall murals and displays that showcase eight significant time periods in the life of Atlanta.
“Pushing Portraiture” has been getting a lot of attention too. The rotating exhibits, displayed in four different corridors, combine work from four photographers — Manuel Archain, Rob MacInnis, Ulric Collette, and Laena Wilder — known for extending the limits of contemporary portraiture by using digital manipulation to create surreal or hyperreal effects in their work. Austin said they “wanted to focus on different photographers who all had a quirkier take on portraiture.” He conceded that some of the photos are “a little unsettling” but insisted any art at the airport “has to be visually arresting, otherwise people won’t notice it.”
Special climate-controlled display cases are used to protect much of the art. “We have UV-laminated glass and filtration systems that create a positive airflow and don’t allow a lot of dust to enter the case. Our newer cases all have that system,” Austin said.
The process of acquiring commission pieces for Hartsfield begins with identifying sites and then shortlisting artists, Austin said. “Then we’ll either ask those artists to submit proposals for that particular site or we’ll select artists based on past work and qualification. Then we convene a selection panel, and we interview the artists and select one based on their recommendation. For the rotating exhibit program, it’s a mix between getting proposals from entities and us reaching out to people and soliciting proposals from them.”
Vogt and Austin are busily planning more exhibits for the coming months and years: “In October we’re going to be putting in an impressive exhibit of contemporary art from Haiti. That will run for one year in our display cases on Concourse E,” Vogt said. There will also be works from the late folk artist Eddie Owens Martin, who created a seven-acre art compound called Pasaquan in rural Georgia.
“Next year we will have an artist named Nancy Judd who makes clothing out of recycled materials,” Vogt said. “It’s a more environmentally-themed exhibit. The garments she makes are exquisite, but they are intended to focus on our wasteful consumerism.”
Ned Kahn, a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient, does environmentally-based work too and has been commissioned to do a large kinetic wind-activated piece on the facade of a new parking deck in College Park. A recurring employee art show is scheduled for later this year, as is a photo exhibit in the atrium in conjunction with the annual Atlanta Celebrates Photography festival.
Photographer Joel Sartore of National Geographic fame has embarked on a project to document every living species on the planet, and Vogt is hoping to land an exhibition of his work as well.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Vogt added, “We just passed legislation to contract with artists to create a six-part sculptural installation for a tiered granite step that follows the up escalators to Concourse D.”