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The Westside Arts district – four Atlanta galleries

I spent a brilliant and unseasonably cool Saturday afternoon exploring the Westside Arts district in downtown Atlanta. Several gallery spaces and the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center are all within walking distance of each other. Add a great coffee  house and a few restaurants that seem very popular with a young clientele et voilà – a burgeoning arts scene.

I have old history with two of these spaces; ACAC is in the original Nexus Press building, an early artists’ cooperative in whose Biennales and exhibits I participated during the 1980’s. I also showed work at Portfolio Gallery, now Sandler Hudson and run by the same two founders; Robin Sandler and Debby Hudson.

Sandler Hudson is exhibiting an ambitious young artist, Yanique Norman, whose graphite and wash works the High Museum of Art had exhibited in a 2010 group show in conjunction with the Dali exhibit, ‘Persistence of Memory’. Catherine Fox wrote a blurb about Norman’s work on ArtsCriticATL, in her post about that show. The museum also recently picked up a couple of her pieces from the SH show. I missed Yanique’s artist’s talk but had a chance to speak with her yesterday. Largely self-taught, she has spent the past six years exhibiting and is now returning to school. Her work has obvious surrealistic imagery, she admitted to being influenced by Magritte and Kara Walker. Watch a video of her discussing her ideas and a 2009 exhibit here.

Photo courtesy Sandler Hudson Gallery.

My next stop was the Kiang Gallery and the summer show, Small Pieces Loosely Joined, nicely curated by Karen Tauches. Find the ArtsCriticAtl review here. I particularly liked Amandine Drouet’s untitled piece constructed of piano keys strung together, one of the elements hanging  from the ceiling and the other four grounded to the concrete. Audio of a toy piano tinkling out notes might have added to the information/digital theme of the show.

I also liked Annette Gates ‘Cross Pollination (Veiled Diffusion)’, a grouping of what looked like exquisite surrealistic sea creatures made of porcelain.

The Emily Amy Gallery, across the street, is a wonderful open space. A young gallerist, Amy has an experienced eye for painterly gestural abstraction and color – and she carries a favorite artist of mine, the late Carl Plansky. He had been scheduled for an interview on this blog shortly before his untimely death in 2009. Three of his works were hanging in Amy’s summer show. All are highly gestural and textured, with the chroma befitting a painter with an allegiance (at least in the paints he once made for her) to Joan Mitchell. Photos were difficult, because his works were placed either close to a window or without enough room for me to grab a full frontal shot from afar. A savvy collector should snap up both these oversized floral works and the smaller landscape on paper. Stunning.

Carl Plansky, Carnival in  Venice. Oil on canvas 72″x48″.

Carl Plansky, Carpathia. Oil on canvas, 60″x48″.

Dorothy Goode, Paintings I Wrote on. Egg Tempera and gesso on wood.

Melanie Parke, Between Midnight and Noon. Oil on canvas 60″x72″.

The Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center is now one of the best spaces in town to see innovative and striking works of art. A 30,000 square foot warehouse built in the 1920’s, the outside terrace ringed by rosemary and plantings offers an urban industrial feel, while the outdoor sculptures and artist made stepping stones echo ACAC’s past as a co-op.

Curator and Artistic Director Stuart Horodner coordinates the space’s exhibits and even offers monthly 15 minute artist critiques to members. Horodner has held director and curator positions at art centers and universities including the Atlanta College of Art Gallery, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art in Oregon, and Bucknell University Art Gallery in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.  I think we’re lucky to have him.

Currently up until mid September are two exciting shows. The first is Material Deposits, in tandem with the Artadia Awards, a San Francisco arts endowment non-profit.

Material Deposits is a group exhibition focusing on the physical world—what it is made of and how it can be experienced and understood. The participating artists work in painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, and video, and they each combine elements of the real and the represented.

Material Deposits features four recipients of the 2009 Artadia Award in San Francisco (Nornberg, Rosch, Shows, Teruya), alongside artists from Atlanta (Reilly), Los Angeles (Billera), and New York (Shaw). This is the second exhibition at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center developed in partnership with the Artadia Exhibitions Exchange program.

The second exhibit, Inside & Out, was developed in association with the National Black Arts Festival. It showcases two artists in their mid-seventies; Melvin Edwards and Peter Saul.

I especially responded to Edwards’ welded metal sculptures – ‘that may suggest African masks’ but ‘carry with them… the memory of function’. His work is elegant, emotionally charged and moving. His wall series begun in the 1970’s is called Lynch Fragments. The artist was at ACAC talking to Horodner when I first arrived. I sure wish I could afford just one of those wall sculptures.

Peter Saul is a hoot. I was reminded of all the old Robert Crumb Zap magazines my brother ‘borrowed’ from me, back in the late 1970’s.

Finally, the NY programming director, Ute Zimmerman, was at ACAC yesterday afternoon, offering an informational session about the Artadia Awards 2011, which will feature 7 Atlanta artists. I had to leave early, but the application is online and open to any artist living in the area. Deadline to apply is September 15th.

One Response to “The Westside Arts district – four Atlanta galleries”

  1. laura Says:

    Great tour Victoria! Enjoyed seeing these spaces through your eyes.

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Victoria Webb, a life in paint

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