Thursday, January 12, 2012

Are the arts forever doomed to lose the funding war?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Yesterday, Salon published the article "The arts funding war the left will always lose: The right has defined the issue. The entire conversation needs to change if public arts aid is to be saved." The thesis: " As long as the conversation starts with funding, the arts lose."

Author Douglas McLennan argues that in our financially troubled and hyper-conservative Tea Party era, the arts community does itself a disservice by putting funding at the center of the conversation because the public's more concerned with cautionary belt-tightening than investing in aesthetic risk-taking. McLennan:

I think as long as it’s about money, the arts lose. As long as the conversation starts with funding, the arts lose. Yet that’s where the arts often start; if the debate is about money, then we try to prove what a good investment the arts are. But the problem with economic impact studies is that if someone isn’t in the market to invest — no matter how good the return is — they won’t. Concurrently, the problem with arguing aesthetic value is that if the aesthetic values aren’t my aesthetic values, they don’t sound compelling to me.

Conservatives have been successful not because they have a better economic case, but because they make an argument about values. In a time when people are angry over a sour economy and a lack of accountability for those they perceive got us there, they preach caution, living within our means, and trying to impose more responsible behavior. Argued in these terms, again, who wouldn’t sign on?

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Friday, December 30, 2011

The year in Atlanta arts and culture

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Tyler Perry says God says the world isn't ending in 2012, but just in case it is, read these stories.
As the culture editor for Creative Loafing, I assign, edit, and sometimes write somewhere in the neighborhood of 500-plus stories and blog posts in a single year. I work with awesome writers who, when they meet their deadlines (HA! journalist humor), make reading about the people, places, events, and harebrained ideas that make Atlanta Atlanta a pleasure. So, since everyone else is making a list, I thought I'd round up my favorite moments from CL's 2011 culture section.

In February, CL Food & Drink Editor Besha Rodell and I attended a collaborative event between pop-up restaurant Dinner Party and local arts co-op Dashboard in a vacant Westside warehouse. The event and its spirit felt immensely Atlanta, "a glimpse of how and what creative minds might accomplish when assumptions (of what a gallery or a restaurant is, for example) are put aside" we said in the article.

When I first read Wyatt Williams' profile on local author Blake Butler published last April, I printed out a copy, picked it up, walked over to another editor's desk and said something along the lines of, "Please read this. I'm worried because I don't want to change anything." Since then, Wyatt's also written memorable profiles of The Help author Kathryn Stockett and "CNN Newsroom" anchor Don Lemon. And done a pretty damn good Hunter S. Thompson impression.

Heeeeeres Don!

And then there was Curt Holman's expansive, compelling profile of Tyler Perry in April, in which he referred to the Atlanta entertainment mogul as "a riddle wrapped in a mystery — wearing a housedress and granny glasses." And the time he braved a Cobb County premiere of Sarah Palin's The Undefeated. Curt also produced a poignant piece this fall about the film industry not only abandoning 35mm, but destroying 35mm archives, and the effect on local movie theaters such as the Plaza.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

2011 Arts Issue out today

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 12:34 PM

For this year's arts issue, we talked to seven of Atlanta's most captivating creative minds working in everything from theater, comedy and photography to literature, dance, filmmaking and B-movie style stop-motion animation samurai movies. Boom!

Comedian Jamie Ward kills with weapons of mass hilarity.

Filmmaker Eric Haviv conquers Cannes with serious shorts.

Animator Takuro Masuda makes short films with guts.

Choreographer and dancer Helen Hale makes magnetic, inviting performances.

Conceptual artist Nikita Gale explores the language of advertising, one photograph at a time.

Laura Straub is vouching for small-press lit one book at a time.

Andrew Benator, the meek who inherits the Earth.

Plus, an oral history of pioneering underground art and music space Eyedrum and the people and projects to watch in the coming year.

Come hang/get free dranks tonight at Beep Beep Gallery to celebrate and check out our newest Art Boxes!

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

'Biscuits & Bellyrubs' comic strip rolls over at Java Monkey

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 3:43 PM

On Friday, Sep. 16, Atlanta cartoonist/musician Anna Trodglen will mark the one-year anniversary of her webcomic "Biscuits & Bellyrubs" with a showing of some of her comic strip prints and paintings. As the title suggests, "Biscuits & Bellyrubs" focuses on housepets with a sense of humor and rendering style reminiscent of Lynda Barry and Roz Chast. Through Sep. 30, Java Monkey will display Trodglen's artwork as well as the nature photography of her father, Richard Bondi. This Friday, Trodglen will also perform an acoustic music set with John Armstrong.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Solar Anus Reading Series presents Scott McClanahan and Wyatt Williams

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Stories and Stories II by Scot McClanahan
  • Stories and Stories II by Scott McClanahan

Scott McClanahan is a fictional character from West Virginia, but he’s also a real person. His real name is Scott McClanahan, and he’s a writer from West Virginia. Of the stories McClanahan writes, he claims them to be 25 percent true, 37.2 percent real and 62.8 percent fiction; statistics worthy of consideration when he begins a story with, “I’m going to tell you something, I used to hit myself in the face.”

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Q&A: Gyun Hur on Arts Advocacy Day 2011 at Capitol Hill

Posted By on Tue, Feb 8, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Georgia First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Deal speaking at Arts Advocacy Day
  • Photo Credit: Gyun Hur
  • Georgia First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Deal speaking at Arts Advocacy Day
It’s no secret the recessive economy affected arts funding in Georgia despite a burgeoning arts scene. As a result, many Atlanta artists and art supporters have taken it upon themselves to strengthen the presence of the arts community and vocalize their position on the importance of receiving greater funding.

Among the most recent actions was Arts Advocacy Afternoon at the Georgia State Capitol held January 25 by the Georgia Assembly of Community Arts. The event allowed artists and arts supporters to gather, train and speak with local legislators. Among the afternoon’s attendees was local artist, and Hudgens Prize winner, Gyun Hur.

We contacted Hur and asked her to recount her experience at Arts Advocacy Afternoon, including what she learned and whether or not she considered it effective.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Alive! Rafael Lozano-Hemmer Brings Art to Life at The High

Posted By on Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Pulse Room (2007) by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.
  • Photo Credit: Antimodular Research
  • "Pulse Room" (2007) by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.
Whether it's the light beams of 20 searchlights controlled by heart rates, a computer program generating 55 billion unique questions, or converting a person's presence into a wave of moving chairs, the work of Mexican-born artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer offers art lovers an opportunity beyond sight, but to interact and influence his art as well.

This modern-day Frankenstein of the arts (sans the death and destruction), artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer will discuss his art and career at the High Museum of Art tonight at 7 p.m.

The electronic artist—whose works have been shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the 50th Anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver—specializes in interactive installations that blend technology with performance art and architecture.

The lecture, Antimonuments and Subsculptures, is presented by ART PAPERS LIVE! and co-sponsored by the High Museum of art and the Délégation du Québec à Atlanta.

Tickets to tonight's lecture is free and open to the public. Limit two tickets per patron. For more information call 404-733-5000 or visit For more on Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's work, visit his site at

Curious what a wave of moving chairs and searchlights controlled by heart rates looks like? Take a peak at the videos of Lozano-Hemmer's work below the cut!

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Culture Grab: An Atlanta Taskforce on Play?

Posted By and on Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 2:55 PM

Photographer Nikita Gale, whose solo show is now on view at MINT Gallery
Did you know there's an official Atlanta Taskforce on Play? "It's all about playing," says CL resident monkey bar expert Thomas Wheatley. The organization recently announced the winner of its Playable10 playground competition. ArtsCriticATL’s Cathy Fox has pictures and info about the winning ATL-shaped apparatus designed by Canadian Jeff Santos. (Insert joke here about ATL being where the players play.) [ArtsCriticATL]

Art Nouveau's Kendrick Daye reflects on photographer Nikita Gale’s debut solo exhibition, BooleSh1t, at Mint Gallery. On view until Nov. 27, Daye calls the exhibit “sometimes shocking and always precise and thought provoking.” [Art Nouveau]

Susannah Darrow digs into Daniel Biddy's "endless visual conversation" for BurnAway. The abstract painter's foray into collage will "suck you into every frame," says Darrow. The show, Out of Context, was just extended until Nov. 27 at Barbara Archer Gallery. [BurnAway]

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Culture Grab: Tacky NYC street art - literally

Posted By on Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 12:49 PM

  • Luna Park via The Huffington Post
In a ratable, 30-photo slideshow, the Huffington Post provides (street) art lovers with a glimpse at "The Underbelly Project," one of the largest street art exhibits ever. Located in an abandoned New York City subway station, the illegal project has been a work in progress since 2008 with more than 100 contributors. [Huffington Post]

ArtsCriticATL's Cathy Fox reviews the Contemporary's three concurrent exhibits by Laura Poitras, Mia Feuer, and Jaimie Warren and Steve Aishman. She calls Poitras' contribution "an intense experience of the personal and political fallout of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the toxic cycle of suffering and revenge." [ArtsCriticATL]

"And black velvet everywhere rejoices for no longer being the most low-rent of painting surfaces," comments Gawker reader "Atilla the Bun" after learning about London street artist, and "minor" South Korean celebrity, Ben Wilson, who paints miniature scenes and designs on chewed and discarded pieces of gum. How tacky (couldn't resist!). [Gawker]

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Culture Grab: This week's links to local and national A&E matters

Posted By on Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Amber Got her Girls Back And Now They Live In  The Abandoned Restaurant by Chris Verene.
  • Photo Credit:
  • "Amber Got her Girls Back And Now They Live In The Abandoned Restaurant" by Chris Verene.
ArtsCriticATL's contributing writer Jason Francisco reviews Chris Verene's new show Family. The exhibit, currently at Marcia Wood Gallery, features a quarter century's worth of photographs Verene took of his extended family in Illinois. Francisco calls Verene "a tragedian without an underlying faith in tragedy." [ArtsCriticATL]

New York Times Magazine praised
Atlanta's cultural scene this week with shout outs to the High Museum of Art's Peter Sekaer exhibit, the Dust to Digital record label, and Michael Schmelling’s forthcoming book Atlanta, which chronicles the "city’s ever-shifting hip-hop landscape" in photographs. The mag says the local art scenes "exert an illuminating influence over the rest of the country’s cultural landscape." [NY Times Magazine]

Local artist Gyun Hur asks the question, "How do we make this city of Atlanta a great center of arts and culture?" The answer, she suggests? "Consider staying in Atlanta." An analysis on why Atlanta has the potential of becoming a great city of arts, who the latest local visionaries are and why its worth giving this city a shot. [Gyun Hur]

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