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ArtParty's dark side 

Things are getting bad at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. They're building pagan altars out of clay, hanging bloody slasher-flick photos, scrawling heavy-metal skulls.

It's all part of the preparation for "Decadence," the Contemporary's 19th annual ArtParty. A fund raiser for the art center, ArtParty also serves as a super-sized opening night for the new exhibition Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.

The collaborative show gathers works from eight artists exploring the gritty underbelly of youth culture. Named, appropriately, for a 1976 AC/DC album, the exhibition channels trends ranging from death metal to "Dungeons & Dragons," summoning an assortment of the "bad" influences irresistible to teens since the dawn of rock 'n' roll.

"Pretty much everyone [in the show] at some point has used outlaw rock imagery in their work," says exhibition organizer Jason Forrest, "so that's definitely a filter to see what we're doing, but not necessarily the filter. We're definitely trying to push people."

Forrest, a former Atlantan, plucked most of the artists in the show from his Brooklyn neighborhood. It's a tight-knit crew, he says, who "hangs out together, drinks together, vomits together." Such a graphic description perfectly fits the show's overlapping imagery of horror movies, skateboard ramps and rundown rock clubs.

Not that most of the ArtParty revelers are likely to notice. If past events are any indicator, the 4,000-plus attendees will gather in the Contemporary's two expansive courtyards, sucking down the spirits included in the $35 gate fee and enduring long lines for fleeting tastes of hors d 'oeuvres from the city's trendiest restaurants. Club diva Amber performs her house-heavy anthems for the fashion-forward masses, and the evening also features a mixture of performance artists, puppet shows and musicians.

But the party's "Decadent" slant, a departure from last year's venture into "Paradise," may actually be an odd fit for the Dirty Deeds exhibit, says Forrest, whose works are included in the show.

"While there would seem to be a tremendous amount of decadence with our work, it's really not there," Forrest says. "It's funny because while the work is truly extreme, it's super subtle. It's not an amazingly busy show."

ArtParty takes place Sept. 8, 8 p.m-1:30 a.m. at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, 535 Means St. $35 in advance, $45 at gate, $100 VIP passes. 404-688-1970 or www.atlantaartparty.com.

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