Metal, it seems, is Freddy's metier.
De Shon is also the curator of the new "anti-gallery" gallery, RAW in East Atlanta, a space with a distinctly alternative edge. RAW's debut comes as part of the Atlanta-based Independent Georgia Music, Art, Film festival, running July 31-Aug. 4. Organized by Tim Smith and David Railey, the art component of IG will feature works at such venues as RAW, Youngblood, Shawn Vinson Gallery, NoNo Art Collective and others.
For the past two years, De Shon says he's wanted to have an art space at his metal shop, and he's using the multifaceted IG festival to mark the gallery's birth.
Wedged between the Village Vidiot and Earthshaking Music, RAW is a narrow railroad car space ornamented by one of De Shon's distinctive gates. On a steamy July morning, Geo Brenick, another of the metalworkers who shares De Shon's shop, finishes up a space-age metal coffee table whose base looks like Saturn-gone-high-style domestic. De Shon is anxious to have his own and his friends' efforts appreciated as something more than utilitarian object: De Shon would rather have the work seen as art. To that end, the 20-plus artists whose work will appear Aug. 1 at the RAW opening include not only painters and sculptors, but also furniture makers, jewelry sculptors and computer animators.
RAW's philosophy is as against-the-grain as the rest of De Shon's life, a thumbed nose at Atlanta's cloistered gallery community. As far as De Shon is concerned, the Atlanta art establishment is a closed-door operation, devoted to astronomical mark-ups of art works and a snootier-than-thou attitude. "Total impersonal treatment," says De Shon. "You even walk in there and they're like, 'Who the hell is this guy?'"
De Shon's anti-commercial attitude is shared by the organizers of the IG festival, Smith, Railey, Jason Hatcher, Alex Weiss and Patrick Hill, a coterie of area musicians including members of American Dream, Drill Team and Hex Error, Red Level Eleven, and bookers for the Echo Lounge and The Earl. The organizers wanted to create an alternative cultural event for Atlanta audiences and to cultivate a pool of artists, filmmakers, musicians and hyphenated combinations thereof.
Smith, a singer with Drill Team and owner of East Atlanta's Village Vidiot, admits that at this early stage, IG has a certain testosterone-heavy element because of its emphasis on metal sculptural work, pyrotechnics and loud music. "That had a lot to do with the nature of the way it started, with me and Dave having a beer at The Earl. There probably is a machismo element to it, but we hope to move past that," he admits. In IG's defense, he adds, "If you look, a lot of the artists and filmmakers are women."
The IG festival began as a music event, but Railey says, he and Smith quickly saw art as "too much of an important presence to be left out. We all know artists living here and making a good living doing what they do and doing it well." Highlights of the IG art events include a group show featuring the paintings of Alice Nesbit at the IG Performance/Art Space and a rock photography exhibit at the Earl and Echo Lounge.
For Smith, the inspiration for IG was simple. "My own personal reason for starting it was a reaction to the more commercial and industry-related events in Atlanta -- music festivals and a lot of the arts festivals seemed to be based around commercialism."
For its organizers, IG is as much about building solidarity and support for its participants, as it is about entertaining an audience. "Musicians, artists, filmmakers, DJs or anyone creatively minded can realize they can make a living -- not necessarily getting filthy Madonna-rich, but surviving through work and networks, not just net-worth," says Railey. "Independent means you don't really need to be corporate."
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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