public art

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Ponce City Market is about to be lit

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 3:09 PM

When the sun dips this Friday, an immersive light and audio show at Ponce City Market will attempt to leave everyone's inner child aglow. Featuring 256 helium balloons with LED lights placed inside each, Cyclique is making its stateside debut courtesy of the Grenoble, France-based digital arts company Collectif Coin.

The public art installation, set to begin at sundown and repeat throughout the evening, covers 700 square meters. The balloons are choreographed to illuminate in sync with the soundtrack, creating an immersive audio-reactive light show that carries the fitting theme Child Hood. 

The inspiration for Child Hood came from Collectif Coin's set and concept designer Maxime Houot. "I like to work on a collection of simple things," he says in a press statement about the evening, which is being developed and produced by Atlanta-based integrated design and marketing organization MA! to launch this year's biennial MINI TAKES THE STATES nationwide road rally. "Each one makes something simple, not very interesting by itself. But something more emerges when you put them all together. It can be simple movements of dozen of dancers, CCTV cameras, lights, or anything." 

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rediscovering Atlanta through social media photography

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 9:26 AM

CH-CH-CHANGES: My, how the Plaza has changed over the years. - CHRISTOPHER MOLONEY
  • Christopher Moloney
  • CH-CH-CHANGES: My, how the Plaza has changed over the years.

There’s a lot of history living in these streets. Atlanta is no stranger to being the main set or backdrop for some major societal happenings, from the Civil War to RoboCop 3. In recent years, the city became home to a booming film and TV industry, lassoing in millions of dollars (and also inspiring our weekly ATLWood column). Photog enthusiast Christopher Moloney, community organization weloveatl, and Atlanta History Center teamed up to host a Historic Photo Scavenger Hunt, giving Atlantans the opportunity to artistically capture both the old and new.

Christopher Moloney, a Toronto native, had only visited Atlanta a few times before he moved here in 2014. He was surprised by what he found. “The funniest thing is before I moved here, I didn’t really know what to expect,” he says. “People would say there’s not a lot to do in Atlanta and tell me all these horror stories but then when I got here I was amazed.” Moloney is the man behind FILMography, a photographic project focused on linking scenes from famous movies with their present-day locations. He’s captured images everywhere from New York to Thailand, but he’s got a soft spot for the A, a place where over a dozen films — such as Insurgent and Identity Thief — were shot in the past few years.

Moloney’s process is simple: he takes screenshots of movie scenes on his laptop, prints the screenshot, goes to the real-life location of that scene with the print in tow, and snaps the moment with his iPod touch — like matching the fictional baby store featured in 2012’s What to Expect When You’re Expecting with one of his favorite restaurants, Inman Park's Folk Art.

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Turn on the lights! Flux Night rescheduled for Nov. 7

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 2:44 PM

  • Dustin Chambers
It was all a dream. Until Mother Nature rained on the parade. But Flux Night 2015: Dream has now been rescheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7. 

Last weekend's threatening weather forecast forced Flux organizers to turn the lights out on the anticipated return of the one-night-only public arts event after a 2014 hiatus. It was another big casualty in a weekend that also saw the cancellation of Afropunk Fest. In a press release, Flux's executive director Anne Dennington expressed appreciation for the outpouring of support for this year's reboot. 

“We appreciate the tremendous support from our community in the rescheduling of this event due to the inclement weather last weekend and we look forward to audiences experiencing Dream to its fullest,” said Anne Dennington, executive director of Flux Projects. “The event would not be possible without the amazing talent of our curator Nato Thompson and our Flux Night artists, whose commitment to their projects and the event as a whole is unwavering. Atlanta, you are in for a magical evening!”

Though the date has changed, the theme and location for the night of outside art installations remains the same. Flux Night 2015: Dream will still take place on Sweet Auburn and Edgewood avenues in the Old Fourth Ward, the neighborhood of Dr. Martin Luther King's birth. Featuring 12 original projects curated by Nato Thompson of Creative Time, NYC, the site-specific visual and performance arts spectacle will include works by Sheila Pree Bright (Atlanta), Center for Tactical Magic (San Francisco), Courtesy the Artists (New York City), Stephon Ferguson (Atlanta), Chris Johnson (Oakland) + Hank Willis Thomas (Brooklyn) + Byete Ross Smith (Harlem) + Kamal Sinclair (Los Angeles), Jennifer Wen Ma (New York City and Beijing), Yoko Ono (Nutopia), Otabenga Jones & Associates (Houston), Pedro Reyes (Mexico City), and Jessica Scott-Felder (Atlanta).

For more details, read last week's Creative Loafing cover story on "The Return of Flux Night" by Jacinta Howard.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

ELEVATE 2015 putting proper spin on 'Forever I Love Atlanta' (event schedule)

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 2:12 PM

STRAIGHT OUT THE DUNGEON: ELEVATE 2015 curator Fahamu Pecou, City Councilman Kwanza Hall,  and City Council President Cesar Mitchell (far right), with Rico Wade and Ray Murray of Organized Noize at City Hall. - RODNEY CARMICHAEL
  • Rodney Carmichael
  • STRAIGHT OUT THE DUNGEON: ELEVATE 2015 curator Fahamu Pecou, City Councilman Kwanza Hall, and City Council President Cesar Mitchell (far right), with Rico Wade and Ray Murray of Organized Noize at City Hall.

The Dungeon is coming Downtown this October for the City of Atlanta's fifth annual ELEVATE public art festival. The curator for 2015, celebrated Atlanta visual artist Fahamu Pecou, previewed his plans yesterday for the nine-day fest, centered around the theme "Forever I Love Atlanta (F.I.L.A.)," in conjunction with the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs.

The acronym F.I.L.A., of course, was cemented with the 2004 Lil Scrappy song of the same name. But the sentiment is has remained a definitive part of the city's creative consciousness. With Atlanta pride rising as the core of the city continues to make a comeback, this year's theme doubles as a show of appreciation to the cultural elements that helped make Atlanta a city of international renown over the past two decades.

"In the last couple of years, we've seen a great resurgence in terms of creative communities that are here," said Pecou. "And we wanted to do something that celebrated Atlanta [for] what makes Atlanta special and not just constantly comparing it to other places. Atlanta is Atlanta. It's a very unique place and we wanted to have this year's theme reflect that."

The main highlight among the announced schedule of events includes a replica installation of the oft-mythologized original Dungeon, where the members of OutKast, Goodie Mob, and fellow artists Big Rube, Witchdoctor, and Cool Breeze got their start as the Dungeon Family. Joining Pecou onstage in the atrium of City Hall for the press conference were the men of the hour, Organized Noize co-founders and legends Ray Murray and Rico Wade. Along with Sleepy Brown, their three-man production unit is responsible for putting Atlanta on the map, from East Point to Decatur, with a sound that came straight out the Dungeon.
The Original Dungeon - DUSTIN CHAMBERS
  • Dustin Chambers
  • The Original Dungeon

Nowadays, "the Dungeon is wherever we are," Wade said. But the original Dungeon was the name they bestowed upon the basement of Wade's mother's house in Lakewood Heights, due to the exposed overhead pipes and red clay walls. Out of that dank environment emerged the red clay funk that would power Dungeon Family and empower an entire generation of young Atlanta.

The Art of Organized Noize opening reception and exhibition, hosted by Wade and Murray, will use archival objects, photos, and equipment to trace the legacy of Dungeon Family. It kicks off ELEVATE from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thurs., Oct. 15 at Gallery 72.

For Wade, everything has come full circle with the rising status of the arts in Atlanta. "What we did in the ’90s as far as bringing the arts to Atlanta and making kids in Atlanta appreciate their talent and what they could do, this is equally important," Wade said. "It's different levels of the arts [and] the more forms of creative expression you have, the more balanced you are as a human being."

Alongside Pecou, Wade, and Murray stood City of Atlanta Chief of Staff Candace Byrd, Director of the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs Camille Russell Love, and City Councilman Kwanza Hall. While Love recalled her son, producer Craig Love, getting his start early on with Organized Noize, Hall reminisced on sporting FILA sneakers while growing up in southwest Atlanta.

In addition to the kick-off event, Love listed the remaining schedule of events (below) as well as many of the artists and organizations that will be contributing installations, live music, and performance art to ELEVATE. They include Chris Chambers, Jason Kofke, Gwendolyn Kitty Pope, Lionel Daniel, Heritage High School, Max Woo, Bent Frequency, Angela Davis Johnson, Allways Open Creative & Brandon Sadler, Vek Neal, and many more. Pecou also introduced his creative team, Karen Marie Mason and Kembo Tom (GTM).

Other highlights include a walking tour of all F.I.L.A. installations hosted by curator Pecou, panel discussions with prominent Atlanta artists, including an interSessions art x hip-hop dialogue hosted by Pecou, and the ELEVATE Block Party on Fri., Oct. 16, hosted by Emperor Searcy and featuring DJ Jelly, DJ Speakerfoxxx, Cheeba, Wabi Sabi, and the Atlanta Stilt Dancers.

Though the full list of events and participating artists has yet to be released, a partial event listing is below. We'll update as more information is released.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

We're finally getting some rainbows in Midtown!

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 2:49 PM

COLORFUL CROSSING: At look at the potential rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue. - COURTESY ROBERT SEPÚLVEDA JR.
  • Courtesy Robert Sepúlveda Jr.
  • COLORFUL CROSSING: At look at the potential rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue.

Since Robert Sepúlveda Jr. embarked on his mission to convince the city to install the rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue in Midtown, he's faced an uphill battle of red-tape, city bureaucracy, and kill-joys who just don't like colorful crosswalks. However, Sepúlveda's efforts, as well as the efforts of everyone at Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks, are finally paying off.

The non-profit organization has only one more meeting with the city's Urban Design Commission  before the Rainbow Crosswalks project is completely approved. After the crosswalks are completed, the City of Atlanta wants to make them  a permanent part of the city's art collection. 

"The 10th St. & Piedmont Ave. intersection has long been the epicenter of the LGBT community in Atlanta," Sepúlveda wrote on the Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks' Facebook page. "These are not just crosswalks, but a symbol of acceptance, unity and tolerance and reminds us all of how diverse our community is. It’s a very small gesture with a very large effect and is a clear message that the LGBT community is welcome and safe in this city".

In order to expand the potential reach of this project and it's benefits, Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks is partnering with Joining Hearts. Also, a Kickstarter campaign will be created to help fund the project. So, if you want to ensure that you will be walking on rainbows in the next year (and let's be honest, who doesn't?), make sure to make a donation.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

OCA lands Our Town program grant

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 2:30 PM

  • Amy Sparks Photography
It looks like the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affair's (OCA) is having a good summer. The OCA announced that it has received a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The grant comes in the form of the Our Town award. Since its inception in 2011, the Our Town program has funded placemaking projects all over the country to encourage the growth of art in communities. This year, the Our Town program awarded around $5 million in grant money to 69 applicants.

OCA will use the $50,000 grant for the development of the Atlanta Beltline Arts and Culture Strategic Implementation Plan. While this is not the first time that the Beltline has received some love from the NEA, the grant is significantly larger than what the organization has gotten in the past. OCA will partner with Atlanta Beltline, Inc. and Metropolitan Public Art Coalition to tackle the project. The implementation plan will enable strategic and coordinated development of cultural facilities and programs alike on the Beltline. 

“We are thrilled to receive this award,” said OCA Executive Director, Camille Russell Love in a comment. “The facilities, partnerships and programs developed as a result of the implementation plan will add to the Atlanta Beltline’s identity as a creative place, improving the quality of life for citizens throughout the region and driving continued economic development through the arts.”

Now in the Our Town program's fifth year of  existence, the NEA has awarded 325 grants totaling almost $26 million in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. 

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Jane Golden weighs in on the 'Power of Public Murals' and community

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 4:33 PM

Jane Golden, executive director of Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program - COURTESY PHILADELPHIA MURAL ARTS PROGRAM
  • Courtesy Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
  • Jane Golden, executive director of Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program
In 1984, Jane Golden got hired as a field director for Philadelphia's then-new Anti-Graffiti Task Force. Her salary was $12,000 and her job was to turn kids in the city from graf artists to muralists in an attempt to transform Philly's graffiti-covered walls. 

A tall task, indeed. But when Golden tells this story, as she did last month at the Atlanta Regional Commission's launch of its new Regional Public Arts Initiative, it's funny as hell. Golden may have started in over her head but she went on to lead Philadelphia's pioneering Mural Arts Program, among the first of its scope in the nation embedded within city government. 

She became the inspiration behind ARC's recent decision to start a competitive grant program for regional public art after members met her during a research trip to Philadelphia in 2014.

In case you missed the live stream of Golden's keynote address in Atlanta two weeks ago, it's starts at the 13-minute mark below. If you have a dog in the passionate debate over public art — or are still forming an opinion about whether public murals should prioritize the vision of the artist or the will of the community or incorporate both — you'll definitely want to make time to watch Golden's hour-long talk.

She starts with the story of how she landed in L.A.'s mural arts scene as a young artist with a mix of dogged determination and cluelessness straight out of Stanford University in the late ’70s. When she found herself tasked with spearheading Philly's program in the mid-’80s, marginalized communities were her main concern. That's largely where a lot of the graffiti artists helping her hailed from. And that's where the murals were going.

So she started by asking people in the community a simple question: "What do you want?"

That might seem sacrilegious considering the creative license granted in the age of street art muralists. But the response she got from residents back then sheds light on the tension that boiled over here in Atlanta between Living Walls and marginalized communities just a few years ago. 

Their response at the time, according to Golden: "'Well, no one ever asks us what we want. Things are either not done or done to us.'"

The murals the program went on to produce reflected the values and histories of the communities in which they were painted. "This was not art that was parachuted down from the sky or imposed on people," she says. "This was what is called today co-creation, co-collaboration. It was working together and it was really valuing the opinion of the people who were there."

Golden also acknowledges the criticism she and the Mural Arts Program received, characterizing it as "art snobs" who declared the murals weren't art because the neighborhoods were involved. To such criticism, she says she responded, "We answer to one entity alone. We answer to the community."

"I'm not saying that what we do cures everything cities grapple with, but I am saying to you that murals show us the catalytic role that murals can play in the life of a city and we have proof of that." 

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Elevate scores $25K NEA grant for public art Downtown

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 2:11 PM

ELEVATE 2014: The WolfPack moves the crowd in Downtown Atlanta's Fairlie-Poplar District. - ERIC CASH
  • Eric Cash
  • ELEVATE 2014: The WolfPack moves the crowd in Downtown Atlanta's Fairlie-Poplar District.

The city of Atlanta's annual Downtown public art exhibition Elevate just got a boost from the National Endowment of the Arts in the form of a $25,000 grant.

The grant is one of 1,023 awards, totaling $74.3 million nationwide, the NEA will grant in this second round of 2015 funding. In a press release, the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs Executive Director Camille Russell Love stated, “It is an honor to be recognized with this national grant as we prepare for the fifth year of ELEVATE. With the support of the NEA, we will continue to enhance resident and visitor experiences with public art in Downtown Atlanta.”

Spearheaded by former Public Art Division project supervisor at the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs and Dashboard Co-op co-founder Courtney Hammond, Elevate has literally elevated the dead-end of Downtown for one week during the past four years. Local artists including Branden Collins, Romy Maloon, Abby Joslin, the Thimblerig Circus, and Kebbi Williams and the Wolfpack enlivened MARTA and deserted-after-work spaces last year in the Fairlie-Poplar District with large-scale installations, digital, visual, musical, and performance art.

Elevate 2015 is scheduled for October.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

New Public Arts Commission launches with public mural dialogue

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 3:44 PM

Jane Golden, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Executive Director - COURTESY PHILADELPHIA MURAL ARTS PROGRAM
  • Courtesy Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
  • Jane Golden, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Executive Director
What is it about public murals that instigate such extreme reactions — from dialogue to debate, controversy to community-building? It's definitely deeper than paint. Which is the theme behind the first public event to be hosted April 28 by the Atlanta Regional Commission's newly launched Regional Public Arts Commission.

"Power of Public Murals: It Ain't About the Paint" will feature Jane Golden, the executive director of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. As the largest such program in the nation, it's been heralded for fostering collaboration between the civic and arts communities. Living Walls Executive Director Monica Campana has also been working there on a new project called Open Source since putting the annual Atlanta mural conference on ice for 2015. 

ARC's Regional Public Arts Commission hopes to build on the power that murals have to affect change "by empowering artists to work alongside neighborhood residents," according to a press release announcing the event. That's certainly proven to be a point of contention in the past, with the local public art controversies pitting artists against residents in debates that range from creative license to censorship.

In addition to stimulating positive dialogue, the Regional Public Arts Commission intends to create a "competitive grant program" toward installing public art throughout the region. Presented by the Blank Family Foundation, the April 28 speaker series takes place at the Arthur M. Blank Family Office from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. It's free and open to the public, but you must RSVP by April 21 to register for the event. It's invite-only but the general public can watch by live webcast.

"Power of Public Murals: It Ain't About the Paint." Featuring Jane Golden of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. 5 p.m. reception and collaborative arts project. Live webcast. 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Tues., April 28. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to reflect that the event is invite-only and not open to the general public, but the webcast is. More details about the application process for public art matching grants will be presented at the event.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

No Living Walls Conference for 2015

Posted By on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 11:06 AM

Boulevard Tunnel redesigned by New Orleans artist MOMO
  • Boulevard Tunnel redesigned by New Orleans artist MOMO

Living Walls announced today that it would skip programming both its Living Walls Concepts series and its annual conference in 2015.

"I think that we finished [2014] feeling really happy and thankful for the projects that we did," says Living Walls Executive Director Monica Campana. "The Boulevard [Tunnel] project was great. It probably showed the most community engagement and had the biggest impact. ... [When] the issues we're seeing with the city council and public art ordinance being talked about [came up] is when we started to talk about our our goals and impact. We wanted to make sure that whatever projects we did really had a plan from beginning to end and that we knew what we were trying to accomplish. We weren't going to figure that out by 2015. It was a reoccurring problem. Gathering all that [information] in six months is just not enough time."

Since its inaugural conference in 2010, Living Walls has created more than 100 murals throughout Atlanta, including work by high-profile international artists such as JR and locals such as HENSE. In 2014, Living Walls announced a partnership with Google to preserve street art through documentation.

But the organization has its detractors. There are many in Atlanta that think the organization should focus more heavily on local artists. A handful of the murals have sparked heated debates in local neighborhoods and raised the question of whether or not Living Walls actually serves the communities in which it works. The mural nonprofit has also repeatedly butted heads with the Atlanta City Council and the city's Office of Cultural Affairs over the process for installing public art on private property.

A committee is currently being formed to help rewrite the ordinance over the next few months. A Living Walls board member has been nominated for the committee. All nominees must be approved by City Council.

"The new [public art] ordinance will probably be written by July. We see a lot of hope for 2016," Campana says. "I think we just needed a break for a minute. In terms of people saying there's not enough Atlanta artists, we think we're doing the right thing and people are not seeing it that way. … Maybe our mission statement should be different. Maybe people are not getting it cause we're not presenting ourselves properly or we're not being clear."

Campana will be spending the next 10 months in Philadelphia working with the city's acclaimed Mural Arts Program on a new project with curator Pedro Alonzo called Open Source.

"I'm really excited to really learn about their process. They're an organization that has been doing it for 30 years," Campana says. "They've managed to create jobs for [people] to do public art. [They're] working with kids and in prisons and actually creating change and being an economic force as well."

Campana says she has every intention to bring back Living Walls in 2016 and points to local contemporary art programming organization Flux, saying "it's a great example of taking a break and coming back full force with great programming."

"[We're] really happy but we need to do it better."

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include information on the the city council's committee nomination process.

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