Artistic license 

Rounding out the year in visual arts, theater, books, and the performing and culinary arts

Felicia Feaster's Top 10 Visual Art Exhibitions

1) New Photography, High Museum of Art -- An exhibition of contemporary photography this provocative at the High Museum hasn't happened in a long, long, long time. If this is a sign of things to come from the museum's curator of photography Julian Cox, we say bring it on!

2) Jennifer Celio, Romo Gallery -- The diminutive delicacy of these ethereal graphite on panel drawings from California artist Celio was immediately countered by their gritty content: urban blight and industrial decay and the margins of the contemporary urban and suburban landscape.

3) David Humphrey: New Paintings, Solomon Projects -- Fanciful, wry, kitschy paintings by this New York-based artist were inspired by amateur paintings and examine material as familiar as President Eisenhower, clowns and kitties, to vignettes as hilariously "What the hell?" as an androgynous nude boy cradling a monkey in a waterfall. Humphrey manages to both inspire fits of convulsive laughter and offer commentary on the competing tendencies in American society for reverence and bad taste.

4) a year in the yards of clutter and the driveways of divestment: Tom Zarrilli and Recess Playscape: Didi Dunphy, The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center -- Talk about interactivity. Zarrilli's yard-sale installation allowed viewers to browse some of the detritus of American life while offering rueful commentary on the poignant, pathos-laden manifestation of our lives in the material objects we cast away. And Athens artist Dunphy's beautifully constructed skateboards, swings and balancing games -- all interactive -- also brought a delightful inventiveness, sense of play and top-notch design chops to this summertime-appropriate pairing of artists.

5) Niki in the Garden, The Atlanta Botanical Garden -- An even more impressive follow-up to the garden's record-breaking Dale Chihuly exhibit, Niki de Saint Phalle's skulls, lion's heads, totem poles and bodacious babes translated into an installation that took more risks and yielded enormous rewards. Interactive, feminine, playful, saucy, sexy, this was art that made you proud to live in Atlanta and in the cosmopolitan, sophisticated vision of its institutions.

6) Glennville: Photographs by David Yoakley Mitchell, Whitespace Gallery -- This Southern artist's impressive body of photographs of old folks and trains, squared-away domestic interiors and dying downtown shops capture with heart and feeling a disappearing part of small-town life and the elderly relatives left behind who define it. The exhibit captured the complicated emotional brew of nostalgia and sadness that can define the past.

7) Ruud van Empel, Jackson Fine Art -- These sublime, hypnotic color photographs of black children surrounded by a nature of surreal beauty and menace showed both the enchanted relationship children have with nature, but also the vulnerability of children negotiating their way through life's wilderness.

8) Serial City: Matt Haffner, locations around the city -- Public art in Atlanta can often be a drably civic affair, but this Atlanta photographer's Atlanta Celebrates Photography project, of wheat-pasting large black-and-white photo murals around the city proved public art could be edgy, engaging and tip a hat to other public forms, from film and graffiti to culture jamming and political propaganda.

9) Happily Ever After ... Marcus Kenney, Marcia Wood Gallery -- This Savannah-based conceptual collagist cuts and pastes a plethora of old-school material culled from thrift-store archivist Kenney's vast storehouse of cultural debris into commentaries on subjects from ecology to race.

10) Plush, Young Blood Gallery -- This adorably lo-fi installation of stuffed animals and plants, fish and anthropomorphic raindrops positioned in a soft and cuddly landscape was one of the most inviting illustrations of the dominance of craft in local art circles.

Curt Holman's Top 10 Plays of 2006

1) Jelly's Last Jam, Alliance Theatre -- Directed by Kent Gash, this revival of the spectacular musical about the life of self-proclaimed founder of jazz Jelly Roll Morton crowned a year marked by numerous provocative plays about race, and proved to be exactly the kind of show that should be the Alliance's specialty.

2) Keeping Watch, Theatrical Outfit -- Thomas Ward's superbly well-observed comedy/drama tracked the subtle, complex dynamic of race, class, religion and friendship in the modern-day rural South.

3) Metamorphoses, Georgia Shakespeare -- The 300-gallon swimming pool helped transform Mary Zimmerman's adaptation of Ovid's fables into an artful, sensual, abundantly theatrical experience, but the superb production would have delighted audiences even without the aquatic gimmick.

4) Yellowman, Theatre in the Square -- Young actors Jade M. Lambert-Smith and Will Cobbs vividly portrayed all the roles in this intimate yet scalding portrayal of black-on-black racial animosity.

5) Brooklyn Boy, Jewish Theatre of the South -- This impeccable staging of playwright Donald Margulies' semi-autobiographical work proved so finely crafted and well-pitched that you felt like each scene could be expanded to its own rewarding, full-length play.

6) Permanent Collection, Horizon Theatre -- Gary Yates and Christopher Ekholm led a strong cast in a fascinating, plausible drama about how the communication breakdown between races can lead to escalating conflicts all too easily.



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