A new gallery seems to open every week. SCAD-Atlanta plans to add to its growing empire with an art and culture center in the historic Peters House in Midtown. And the biggest boost to the art scene will come in November with the opening of the $130 million Renzo Piano expansion of the High Museum. It's the kind of destination architecture that could convince art types to see the city as more than a fly-over zone.
We'll just have to wait and see if the lines for the inaugural Andrew Wyeth show beat the ones for the IKEA grand opening. Maybe if the High promised a Wyeth to the first in line, the odds of pup tents on the High lawn would be a little higher.
In preparation for that November debut, the High has just completed the last phase of its reinstallation of the permanent collection in the Richard Meier building. The process began in 2003 when the museum's second and third floors were reinstalled with European and American art arranged chronologically rather than thematically. The High recently debuted the newly installed modern and folk art selections on the fourth floor.
One of the more interesting aspects of the modern and folk art exhibition is how it mixes up a variety of media - tea sets, radios, Robert Motherwell paintings and a Jackson Pollock etching all rubbing elbows. Chief curator David Brenneman says the multimedia exhibition strategy was greatly influenced by the Brooklyn Museum's similar practice. Showing art in the same medium is "really dry ... unappealing," says Brenneman. The pairing, for instance, of furniture by Eero Saarinen and the Eames with works by Harlem Renaissance painter Beauford Delaney and Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti illustrates how a simplicity of form could jump disciplines.
The only thing missing as the new High prepares to sail into Blockbusterorama? A new curator of decorative arts.
Brenneman says one probably won't be hired until after the official Piano expansion debuts.
It's not just the High. The entire Atlanta art community seems to be in a terminal state of flux, with new galleries popping up overnight and old-guard spaces finding new digs. Aliya Gallery has opened a second location, called Aliya Linstrum Gallery, at 2833 Peachtree Road in Buckhead, and Galerie Timothy Tew, rechristened TEW Galleries, has new elegant, three-story digs in the luxe Galleries of Peachtree Hills where Spalding Nix Fine Art, Kendall Fine Art and Frances Aronson Fine Arts are also tenants. Parking was always an issue at Tew's previous gallery, but with ample free parking comes the new obstacle of luring unfamiliar gallery-goers into the Peachtree Hills complex, whose entrance some may confuse with the adjacent Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, which is not open to the public. But there are other benefits to the location. The close proximity of high-end furniture shops may inspire the moneyed homeowners and decorators who frequent the complex to do a little one-stop shopping and pick up some art for a part of their design scheme.
Meanwhile, in the former Galerie Timothy Tew space on East Paces Ferry is now Chrysalis Gallery, specializing in emerging Southern artists. Across town and an aesthetic world away is Get This! Gallery, the latest addition to the Castleberry Hill gallery boom. The enthusiastic, plugged-in proprietor is Lloyd Benjamin, a self-taught artist and semi-reformed train-hopper whose own work has been recently featured in a solo show at Young Blood and in New American Paintings magazine. Benjamin sees the gallery as a launching pad for emerging artists such as New York-based Drew Conrad, whose black-and-white photographs (on view through July 15) document the artist's wiseguy efforts to craft himself into an art star as commentary on our fame-crazed culture and the art world's own quest for the Next Hot Thing.
The Atlanta Gallery Association will hold its second annual city-wide gallery tour, Introductions , July 15 from 6-9:30 p.m. Galleries throughout the city will spotlight young emerging artists such as Conrad and Benjamin. Highlights include Edward West's compelling photography of South Africans melding documentary and conceptual elements at Kiang Gallery; the quirky-kitsch offerings of Jeff Schaller and Robert Deyber at Matre Gallery; Egyptian artist Khaled Hafez's mixed-media works at Wertz Contemporary; and Vespermann Gallery's exhibition of kaleidoscopic work. For details, visit www.atlantagalleryassociation.com/gallery_shows.
The 90-degree Georgia heat is almost a relief after the literal and emotional pressure cooker of Richard Sudden's installation The Wreathmaker at White Space Gallery (www.somecallitart.com) through July 3.Inspired by the funerary wreaths placed at French gravesides, Sudden has created a memorial to American soldiers and Iraqi civilians who have died in the Iraq War. The installation of stacked plaster wreaths is added to daily from the makeshift factory Sudden has set up in the gallery space. Alongside the wreaths is a calendar that keeps a running tally of the dead. The installation records the powerful human urge to commemorate and make some material document of the unquantifiable feelings of loss and sadness that accompany death.
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