Cinque let's not get carried away here and throw out the baby with the bathwater. Criticism is a necessary component of an art community. Nothing wrong with it, it just needs to be good. What is good, INFORMED. And I prefer it 'opinionated'. A lot of what happens here and in other places is that commentary is passed off as 'criticism'. I am not talking about coma inducing artspeak/theory as criticism, but a straightforward informed assessment with an opinion attached. Newsflash...critics are not gatekeepers unless you let them be. Critics should be facilitators of dialogue. And criticism is something to argue with or something to agree with or something that provides thought and maybe a different way of looking at things.
I have no issue with there being more voices involved in blogs elsewhere. I am happy that ATL now has all these other venues, for dialogue and writing. I think all that contributes to the ecology for lack of a better word. (my only issue w/blogs is people hiding their identities- If you've got something to say, say it, and put your name behind it- otherwise its just chatter in the wind to me. It's like talking in a void).
Thanks BPJ for expanding the conversation.
I can't speak to the inner workings of the High Museum but I can speak to the sometimes testy relationship that the High has had with some in the Atlanta art community. I have been living and working in this city for 25 years as an artist, have shown at the High, and have my work in its collection. The bad blood with the High and some within the Atlanta contemporary art community started back in the early 90’s when an exhibition that highlighted regional artists ,every two yrs. or so,was terminated due to lack of funding and some will say lack of interest or support on the High’s part. When this practice of inclusion with a specific exhibition was cut many in the local art community felt left out and some even betrayed. Understand though, that the High itself was undergoing major transitions as was Atlanta. The High had other priorities that were related to creating an audience that kept its doors open and expansion. As Cinque pointed out the High is not exclusively a contemporary art museum but a general interest museum that serves a number of audiences as are other comparable institutions in other cities. Contemporary art curators at the High such as Susan Krane, Carrie Przbylla and Julian Cox (Photography) were highly involved in the Atlanta art community during their tenure at the High. All personally knew many local/regional artists, regularly visited studios, knew the gallerists and their galleries, participated actively with other non-profit institutions and included regional/local artists in their programming whenever the opportunity arose. Carol Thompson who is presently at the High has also been highly involved with our community and is currently planning a one-person show of Atlanta artist Radcliffe Bailey. Today, younger artists and newcomers to our city that are involved in the cont. arts don't know that the High actually had a show at one time that showcased artists of this city (in the past) and this is no longer a real issue. People have moved on.
The rub with the High has been that some in the art community look to the High to be a leader and validate the importance of contemporary art as well as art of the past by mounting major contemporary art exhibitions which in turn may be a way of expanding the audience for contemporary art in general in ATL which would also benefit regional/local art non-profits, galleries, and artists. Their thinking is---if you show it, they will see it, then they might start to get interested, begin to understand it, and later support it ---exposure leading to education creating a wider audience that then expands the entire art ecosystem. Stuart Horodner is correct in stating that there is a very active art community in Atlanta. Artists continue to make work and stay here, galleries continue to exist (let me add Whitespace and Barbara Archer galleries to his list which were not mentioned and show work of emerging younger artists as well) and art non-profits continue to bring good programming into our city. The contemporary art ecosystem in ATL has expanded widely in the past twenty years. The community is larger and other players have entered the field such as Flux Projects, MocaGA (a museum whose mission is devoted to exhibiting and collecting contemporary art made in Georgia). New communities like Castleberry, have developed where galleries have relocated and artists live. Art Papers a nationally recognized art periodical (was started here over 25 yrs ago) has been based here for many years and continues to flourish. But the audience in terms of the greater population is still lacking or I should say behind. Audience is key to the rigor of what is exhibited in the city and Atlanta is no different than any other mid size city in this aspect. Education is the key. It starts by bringing your kid to the museum and not only walking through the 'blockbuster' show--- but the Wieland pavilion even if you don’t get or understand or are confounded by what you see there and by participating in all the other contemporary art venues in our city. That experience is education...all it takes is an open mind.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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