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Kenney, Moneyhun, and Volta at Stanley Beaman Sears

Super convenient, super interesting art situation last night at Stanley Beaman Sears, an architecture firm in the heart of downtown Atlanta that hosts quarterly exhibits in its super fine space.

Gallery 180 at Stanley Beaman Sears, open during regular business hours.

Gallery 180 at Stanley Beaman Sears, open during regular business hours.

As explained by Burnaway, Steven Williams of Jacksonville’s Florida Mining gallery, who is the spitting image of Stanley Tucci in The Devil Wears Prada, brought three of his artists to Atlanta to give our city “a try.” Last night’s opening gathered the artists, Mr. Williams, and a compelling exhibit for a delicious, uncrowded, and memorable night of viewing.

Marcus Kenney before his work composed of box springs and vintage jewelry.

Marcus Kenney before his work composed of box springs and vintage jewelry.

Marcus Kenney gave an amusing talk about his work, and made himself accessible for chatting with all comers. The entertainment value of his work here is far higher than a Hollywood movie. Mr. Kenney’s resume is notably full, you collectors. He also shows his work at Marcia Wood Gallery.

Hiromi Moneyhun's "Doppelganger."

Hiromi Moneyhun’s “Doppelganger.”

Hiromi Moneyhun’s paper-cut works generated a lot of buzz in the gallery. Many viewers in attendance last night were architects who marveled at the extended concentration and perfectionism that Moneyhun’s work demonstrates. The conversation seemed never quite to reach the imagery that Moneyhun pursues, full of flowing hair and curvilinear garments.

Kedgar Volta’s video works stand on a firm set of ideas that Volta enjoyed discussing. The works on display are understated, stripped of color, and in this gallery, lacking sound. Better for you to visit Volta’s website and watch his work on your home system.

Not sure what we think about gathering all of these artists under the banner of “Southern artists,” though we advocate the South finally admitting the diversity inherent in its artists and art.


Revealed: Potters Around Atlanta

After visiting the American Craft Council’s Craft Show last weekend, we want to share some images from the Show of ceramic art by potters in the Atlanta area.

Cups by Barry Rhodes

Cups by Barry Rhodes

Barry Rhodes is based in Decatur.

Vase and pitcher by Nancy Green

Vase and pitcher by Nancy Green

Nancy Green’s studio is called Wolf Creek Ceramics, and is located in Watkinsville. She can be found on the Long Road Studios website.

Vessel by Timothy Sullivan

Vessel by Timothy Sullivan

Timothy Sullivan owns Creekside Pottery, located in Marietta.

Pedestal by Beth Tarkington

Pedestal by Beth Tarkington

Beth Tarkington is based in Marietta.

Lora Rust of Avondale Estates also exhibited her work at this show. Her website is

Pottery in a Glass Tower World

Atlanta is no New York City. Also, Atlanta is no Asheville, North Carolina.

While metro Atlanta’s population is about 5.5 million, and Asheville’s is about 433,000; and while Atlanta’s gross domestic product is about $269 billion, and Asheville’s is about $17.2 billion, . . . .

. . . Atlanta doesn’t measure up to Asheville for ceramic art. Unlike Asheville, we don’t have places like Blue Spiral Gallery or the Folk Art Center. We don’t have the pottery studios, such as East Fork Pottery.

But some cool stuff is on view in Atlanta, even apart from this weekend’s craft show at Cobb Galleria.

Mark Hewitt is a potter in North Carolina, and his work is in the collection of the High Museum. If you prefer not to wait till the High decides to display it, you’d better get to the Signature Shop and Gallery in Buckhead.

Maria Martinez was a Pueblo Indian from San Ildefonso, New Mexico. She and her family of potters made big names for themselves through methods surrounded by the rituals of life in a reservation village. A place in Avondale Estates called Ray’s Indian Originals offers Martinez work for sale.

Another place for fine ceramics is Mudfire Gallery, also a busy studio, near Avondale Estates. Jeff Campana’s work is on display there. He has a distinguished resume and currently teaches ceramics at Kennesaw State.

See you at the craft show.

Looking at Atlanta’s Art with the “Creative Class”

On the subject of exploring for art in Atlanta, the first question is, What do you mean by Atlanta? Well that question is related to our identity at Atlanta Art Blog. On our “About” page we make reference to “metropolitan Atlanta.” That means we go outside the Atlanta city limits. We venture into Decatur. We sneak into Jonesboro. We’ve heard that there may be some art in Chamblee, hidden behind some antiques.

Poster by unknown artist. Private collection. Location: Sandy Springs, white couple 40-45 years old.

Poster by unknown artist. Private collection. Location: Sandy Springs, white couple 40-45 years old.

In the snow-induced apocalypse of January 28, 2014, it became very clear to the world that our “area,” that is, the “Atlanta area” is divided, as Maria Saporta reported. She’s talking about politics. It’s also true that we’re divided by race, and divided by socio-economic class.

Is the Atlanta area divided by art? Good question. In wealthier households you might expect to find higher-end art. The more interesting question would be, how does socio-economic class affect how a household views and uses the art that it has?

RA MIller, "Blow Oskar," image courtesy of A version was observed in PIne Hills home, white couple 50-60 years old.

RA MIller, “Blow Oskar,” image courtesy of A version was observed in PIne Hills home, white couple 50-60 years old.

Richard Florida has gained renown in recent years for his socio-economic studies, and his identification of something called the “creative class,” as distinguished from the “working class” and the “service class.” Florida defines the creative class as the people “who work in science and technology, business and management, arts, culture, media, and entertainment, law and healthcare professions.”

In a story last year, Florida used census data to show that in Atlanta, members of the creative class “make up 36.3 percent of the metro’s workers (above the national average of 32.6 percent). They average $73,272 in wages and salaries, better than the national average of $70,890, and over $25,000 more than the average wages ($46,442) for the metro.”

Al Jacobs, "Kosher" (detail). Private Collection. Location: PIne Hills home, white couple 45-55 years old.

Al Jacobs, “Kosher” (detail). Private Collection. Location: PIne Hills home, white couple 45-55 years old.

So where is this creative class? Answer: north. Florida mapped out, by census tract, where each of the classes resides in metro Atlanta. You can see the map here.

Of course it’s highly significant that the classes are somewhat separated from each other. The area directly southeast of downtown (around East Atlanta) is clearly a place of the creative class, but most of that class lives to the north of middle Atlanta, ranging from midtown Atlanta into a wide swath from Kennesaw to Suwanee and up into Alpharetta. Combining population density with this class-based map, the center of the creative class may be around Dunwoody or Sandy Springs. (In case you were wondering, Atlanta Art Blog’s offices are not in a creative part of town.)

It so happens that we checked out some of the art we saw in the homes of the creative class over the past several weeks. For the sake of having fodder for speculation, this post includes images that we observed.

The New Year is Clay. Let’s Make Something Good.

Where will you look for art in 2014? Sometimes we wonder if, in Atlanta, we only hear about a certain set of well marketed, media-anointed galleries, museums, and events. If so, we are allowing ourselves to be limited. We may even be allowing other people’s preferences to inhibit our own natural curiosity and wonder.

David Drake, "Jug," 1836, and "Jar," 1858. Collection of the High Museum of Art.

David Drake, “Jug,” 1836, and “Jar,” 1858. Collection of the High Museum of Art.

We were happy to see the ArtsATL website review an exhibit that is currently on view at the Hodge Podge Coffeehouse and Gallery in East Atlanta. Hodge Podge is an amazing place for its abundant natural light and its spaciousness. Over time, the quality of art there has been uneven. The ArtsATL review noted that Hodge Podge is not perfectly set up as a gallery. But then, it’s not supposed to be.

Atlanta Art Blog strives to find art in unexpected places. In 2013, for example, we fell for awhile under the influence of Free Art Friday. Our review reflected the open-mindedness that the Decatur event inspired.

David Drake, "Jar," 1858, detail. Collection of High Museum of Art

David Drake, “Jar,” 1858, detail. Collection of High Museum of Art

Lately the decorative arts have attracted us, especially ceramics. For example, we read the book Carolina Clay, by Leonard Todd (WW Norton & Co.: 2008). The book explores the life and times of the potter Dave Drake, who was a slave in Edgefield, South Carolina. The High Museum of Art exhibits work by Dave in its permanent collection.

But the term “decorative arts” seems a ridiculous term to use for the pottery that Dave created under the violent and volatile conditions of slavery. It’s not that the pottery Dave created lacks elegance or  Continue reading

Lyndon House Arts Center’s “Big” stuff, plus art of Ossabaw Island

We promise not to stray from the capitol very often. That was our promise when we launched the Atlanta Art Blog. But the fact is, the term Atlanta covers a multitude of suburbs.

On June 15, we opened our eyes in Athens (no one calls it a suburb), where the Lyndon House Arts Center hosted an opening reception for an exhibition of work by a handful of artists with southern connections: Duane Paxson, Scott Stephens, Judy Majoe-Girardin and Briana Palmer. This show is apparently entitled “BIG,” which refers to the larger scale of the works.

"Memorial to a Slug," by Duane Paxson

“Memorial to a Slug,” by Duane Paxson

We viewed the work on display in the Center’s Atrium gallery a bit after the lunch hour. The Atrium insisted that its own personality be heeded, dressed in the splashy orange glow of the mid-day sun as it poured through the glass ceiling and electrified the brownish orange wood floor of the gallery.

Perhaps all of that tinted sunlight was appropriate for the artists’ biological references: Briana Palmer’s work referenced cell biology, Paxson insects and slugs, and Majoe-Girardin and Stephens the arboreal realm. Paxson’s large sculptures hung from the ceiling and managed to command both awe and a childlike curiosity.

"Behind the Dunes," by June Ball

“Behind the Dunes,” by June Ball

One can almost escape the Atrium’s orange light in the upstairs gallery, where the Ossabaw Artists’ Collective displayed extensive and perhaps repetitive portrayals of skeletal beach trees, driftwood, herons, and saltmarsh moonrises. Notable works included certain oils by June Ball in which a sky’s freedom is so vividly re-created, and works by Paula Eubanks in multiple media that see Ossabaw as not just an island landscape but a place that holds a human history that is worth the struggle.

“BIG” works are on display at Lyndon House Arts Center through September 27, 2013, as is “Ossabaw Island: Holy Ground.”

Landscapes, idylls and ideas: three artists at Poem 88

At Poem 88 you get something extra, a lagniappe. It’s not a cheapie thrown in like a thirteenth beignet, though. It’s something fully nourishing, a dish in itself. During the current show, it’s the title theme, “Et in Arcadia ego.” Even in that idyllic village, people die. Poem 88 refers you to the paintings that address this idea, and then draws a connection to the works currently on display. It’s delicious.

The three artists in the show make works that refer to a kind of idyllic village.

Allyson Ross shows sculptural works on paper, and they depict scenes from the Yosemite Valley.

Half Dome, detail, by Allyson Ross, via

Half Dome, detail, by Allyson Ross, via

Ted Fair shows photographs that seem to be from a spirit of purposeful wandering to find the strange juxtapositions in the American landscape.

Untitled, by Ted Fair

Untitled, by Ted Fair

Sean Abrahams shows drawings that manifest an artist’s imagining of a specific cartoon-like wilderness.

Landscape, by Sean Abrahams

Landscape, by Sean Abrahams

Continue reading

Free Art Decatur: indulging our worst/best impulses

Atlanta Art Blog abandoned all objectivity last Saturday and indulged our deep and unholy greed by participating at the Free Art Decatur event. Free art would be hidden around Decatur. We would find it. And keep it.

The event was supposed to begin at 2:00 p.m., but we were scanning Twitter (#freeartdecatur) for clues immediately after our cheapskate lunch in the industrial workshop known as the cafeteria at DeKalb Farmers Market.

Death head by @DeadATL

Death head by @DeadATL

As we turned onto Church Street, we scored: Right in front of Java Monkey, a death’s head by @DeadATL. Awesome. This was just the beginning. By the end of the day we would most assuredly possess enough art to fill the bleak and barren break room.

Then suddenly there were no clues, and we were on foot next to Decatur’s strolling families, its students, its yuppies. We searched everywhere for art. Is that free art there?

Unknown artist, door behind Eddie's Attic

Unknown artist, door behind Eddie’s Attic

Is that free art over there?

priority whale, by Ghost, behind The Artisan building

priority whale, by Ghost, behind The Artisan building

We took a break in front of the Seen Gallery. It calmed us, just sitting on the bench outside its locked door.

Cycloptopi, by @larryholland1

Cycloptopi, by @larryholland1

Completely clueless, we strolled. We began to notice twenty-somethings snapping photos of strange corners. Was that an artist? We snooped into the back alley next to the dance studio on Decatur Square. And there in the alley, adjacent to a large mural by S. Parker, we found our second piece, a Cycloptopi by @Larryholland1. The Cycloptopi is the great symbol of Art Greed, with its all-seeing eye and its arms for grabbing.

Collector extraordinaire, Britney, holding a recent acquisition

Collector extraordinaire, Britney, holding a recent acquisition, believed to be by @evereman

Alas, all sorts of mental distractions soon interrupted our hunt. But not before we met the great art hunter known as Britney. The hour of Two O’clock had barely had enough time to stand up and yawn, and Britney had already found about six different pieces, was talking a mile a minute, and couldn’t contain her excitement for more. Her friends, Paris and Nate the bearded one, cruised closer to our speed than Britney did.

Funerary graffiti in Castleberry Hill

How does a concrete block wall double as a time machine?

Stencil on wall on Larkin Street

Stencil on wall on Larkin Street

This graffito at ankle-height in Castleberry Hill, on Larkin Street, may be easy to overlook. Since it’s across the street from the Carl Williams Funeral Home, your mind may turn to the fragility of modern life. But once you fall under that royal profile’s spell . . . Continue reading

Duncan Johnson’s Wood Paintings at Marcia Wood Gallery

Duncan Johnson’s works on display at the Marcia Wood Gallery put me in that certain mood when walking out into the woods, for no other reason than to be among plants and animals, and noticing that I hope to find some treasure there, some little lost cache of jewels, or a gold coin, or a letter from Walt Whitman. All of the things in the woods are jewels in themselves–if you know something about them. When it comes to gold coins, though, you don’t have to know anything. It’s gold and you’ve hit paydirt.

In that act of finding, there’s also the beauty of a story. “I was just walking along in the woods enjoying the trees and plants, and I saw this glint of light on the ground.”

Johnson’s works are composed of wood that he has reclaimed, not from the woods, but from landfills and construction sites. He forms the found wood into rectangular strips and assembles them into flat collages. He adds straight pencil lines and nails. If you look at photographs of the works, they look like patchworks of varying rectangles that either have painted surfaces or the natural wood surface.

Bend, by Duncan Johnson, 2012, 24 x 21

Bend, by Duncan Johnson, 2012, 24 x 21

At first they seem impenetrable, like a color field. The opportunity for play comes when you look at the work in person and see the variations in grain patterns, the paint in its varying styles and states of decay, the natural wood punctuated by knot holes and nail holes and perhaps gunshot holes. Portions of the works, with their colorful stripes, sometimes resemble flags.

The wood that provides the material for these pieces is of course three-dimensional, but Johnson has made these pieces flat like paintings. On the other hand, the pieces are three-dimensional in one important way: beneath the knot holes and nail holes the viewer sees the darkness of space rather than the material to which the wood strips are attached. As I wandered visually among the knot holes and bullet holes, the faded colors, the flecking, I imagined I could peer into those holes and see something behind or under the surfaces. What would I see? Surely it would be some of my fellow human beings, having some sort of drama, or making something.

Colorcode, by Duncan Johnson, 2012, 48 x 60

Colorcode, by Duncan Johnson, 2012, 48 x 60

This brought to mind Leo Steinberg’s theory that some of the work of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns reflected a desire to use the picture plane differently. Instead of using the picture plane to serve as a kind of window onto another world, it would serve as a work bench that can hold any conceivable object and explore any operational process. Steinberg called this the “flatbed picture plane.” The work bench analogy is critical. In referring to Rauschenberg’s “Bed” of 1955, in which the artist had applied paint to his own bed and then hung it on a wall, Steinberg says, “The horizontality of the bed relates to ‘making’ as the vertical of the Renaissance picture plane related to seeing.”

Johnson’s work plays out this theory. In the colored rectangles and rusted holes where bolts and nails once fastened together the pieces of a house or an office floor, it is possible to peer into the making of human wooden structures. This includes the ideas that guide those acts of making: Johnson’s superimposed geometrical lines and shiny nail heads suggest a reference to design drawings, the process of preparing to build, to occupy and to “civilize.”

Firetower, by Duncan Johnson, 2013, 18 x 16

Firetower, by Duncan Johnson, 2013, 18 x 16

What is also present that is not manmade is the wear and tear of time that is visible on these flat surfaces. What time does, what time works upon objects, is intensely present in the beautiful breaking down of old maroons and yellows, the tiny bloating of ambient moisture in natural wood, and the holes that form where the wood is weak.

I am glad I wandered into the woods and discovered Duncan Johnson’s work. It has the capacity to suggest both an exploration of the manmade and also an exploration of what is not.

Duncan Johnson’s work is at Marcia Wood Gallery through May 25, 2013.