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The cross-pollination of projects is rampant. Take Vacation: The North Highland store was originally backed in part by Nisa Asokan, former board president at fellow indie arts nonprofit Eyedrum. Asokan also plays in the avant garde, noise-installation band Chinese Frankenstein with former Atlanta Contemporary Art Center communications director Stan Woodard and Artlanta blog keeper Allison Rentz. Chinese Frankenstein has played shows at WonderRoot. You can pick almost any band, artist, or art space in this city right now and play a similar game of Connect the Creatives.
But what distinguishes Atlanta's current grassroots arts movement from its predecessors is its positivity: The actions and ideals are of a similarly revolutionary nature, minus a reactionary attitude. Young creatives here are focused on positive forward motion.
That's not to say the kids are ignorant of the social and political issues surrounding them. In fact, the opposite is true. A kind of balancing act characterizes the movement. While Atlanta's young creatives are socially and politically active, and attempting to achieve structural change in Georgia on a legislative level, they're also not waiting around for the Man's approval before pushing for ground-level change. What in past generations would've taken the form of rebellious, defiant, fuck-you-ism is now more of a calculated lead-by-example movement. Dissatisfied artists in today's Atlanta aren't angrily spray painting the capitol building so much as they're putting on ties and scheduling meetings with lawmakers.
During the most recent legislative session, for example, Georgia's art supporters rallied against a proposed budget cut to eliminate the Georgia Council for the Arts, a move that would have devastated many arts organizations in the state. Artist Santiago Paramo shouted his disapproval all the way to the Gold Dome in a hundreds-strong march April 19 in opposition to the proposed cuts. The next morning, he stood composed and armed with facts, knowledge and well-conceived arguments at the state Senate budget committee meeting. In the end, the state preserved the Georgia Council for the Arts' funding.
As WonderRoot celebrates the anniversary of having a physical space to call home, Atlanta's emerging artists are fine-tuning their communal DIY cycle. Six years ago, when WonderRoot was struggling to raise the money to file for nonprofit status, Eyedrum opened up its space to the fledgling organization for a benefit party. Eyedrum itself came from humble roots. It initially operated in the basement of founder Woody Cornwell's apartment on Trinity Avenue, back in 1998. Eight years later, Eyedrum was in a position to help out the new guys. And now six years after that, WonderRoot is in the position to nurture fellow grassroots arts groups. WonderRoot is hosting a benefit for MINT Gallery July 31 and is sponsoring new arts collective Dodekapus as it strives to attain that oh-so-coveted 501(c)3 status.
Formed in early 2010, Dodekapus is a growing network of interdisciplinary young artists who have already hosted art, music, and dance events in Castleberry Hill, as well as several citywide bike races. The group has plans in the works for a kids' art stroll and a July 17 show at Westside art space the Goat Farm. And if you've taken a drive along Freedom Parkway in the last few weeks, you've might have peeped "Wickerpus," the collective's 20-foot wicker octopus, currently under construction for Art on the Beltline. The group's underlying mission lines up well with WonderRoot's – both are working to bridge the gap between community, artists and the urban environment.
"WonderRoot was all support and praise and inspiration and a constant reminder that we had this undying energy," says Dodekapus co-director Trevor Jones. "To hear that from Chris [Appleton] was like, 'Fuck yes, we got something right.' All of us are trying to do the same thing. We just need to work together. And we're the same age and WonderRoot was in our same position a few years ago. WonderRoot has been so on board with all of the projects we want to do – and they've already done so much. It's inspiring."
While in the midst of developing the plan for the next five years, Appleton and West feel pretty damn good about where they are.
Says West: "I think the 20-year-old version of myself would be proud of WonderRoot today."
I wonder if Ariel and Maya's "game hosted by friends" was the Georgia Tech Band's…
Su ch a blessing!!!
Captured every detail, you'll have to come back on a clear night.
does he need the Z and the S?
love this story !!!
Evan is a very funny fella