Tag Archives: Books

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

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Clark Atlanta University Art Collection: Ivory Tower or Battlefield?

Perhaps this is old news to many, but Atlanta Art Blog insists on repeating the news: There’s a luscious book out about Clark Atlanta University’s collection of art!

It’s called In the Eye of the Muses, is edited by Tina Dunkley, and contains beautiful color plates displaying the art that the University has collected over the past seventy years.

Enough said.

No, not yet.

Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta) began collecting the art in conjunction with holding its . . . . brace yourself for a string of adjectives . . . . annual national juried art competition and exhibition. That event came to an end in 1970, the year that the jury was all black for the first time at this all black competition.

“The Black Knight,” by Geraldine McCullough. The image above is a scan from the book, which was published by Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries.

“The Black Knight,” by Geraldine McCullough. The image above is a scan from the book, which was published by Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries.

Continue reading

The Sketchbook Project at the Goat Farm

The art of the book may be fading in the digital age, but the Sketchbook Project now in brief residence at the Goat Farm proves that the book will always be around.

The feel of a book in one’s hands is different from the feel of a Kindle or Nook or iPad. Yet the book’s unique feel is not easy to define. I have heard several literary people with great nostalgia for the book reach a kind of verbal brick wall when they begin to describe why they want to hold a book in their hands. Maybe it’s because the book has been around for a long time, and we have taken it for granted.

While the book seems to be under threat from electronic readers, it would seem useful to understand and describe in words what the value of the book is. The simple, handmade books of the Sketchbook Project are of use in this effort.

The organizers of the Project provide the blank sketchbook, a small thing of simple paper, though the artist is really only restricted to the format size, not the material. All are invited to participate, so anyone with $25 becomes an author. Samples are available from around the world. When you look inside the finished sketchbooks, you see a bursting of energy that seems to be propelled by the very limitations of the small, paper format with its repeated pages, its center-fold, its front cover and back cover.

Excerpt from Creatures! Observations, by Shari Moore, The Sketchbook Project

Excerpt from Creatures! Observations, by Shari Moore, The Sketchbook Project

In Decatur artist Shari Moore’s “Creatures! Observations,” each page is filled with a carefully composed pen-and-ink drawing of one or more whimsical characters and humorous text. The bareness, the suggestiveness and the simplicity of the well controlled lines allow for beautiful interactions between the artist’s imagination and that of the reader. Imagination and ink on paper—it’s a kind of purity at play.

Cover of Farewell Cliffdene, Gareth Watkins, The Sketchbook Project

Cover of Farewell Cliffdene, Gareth Watkins, The Sketchbook Project

British artist Gareth Watkins’ “Farewell Cliffdene” provides a similar pleasure, with affectionate drawings of a beloved chalet on a cliff in Dover, along with photographs. Watkins’ work also contains examples of the purely tactile potential of the book, as it contains remnants of wallpaper and other bits of the chalet, whose demolition is mourned. In touching this one, you’re really touching part of Dover and part of Gareth Watkins himself.

Excerpt from Dream of Creatures, Mary Blaney, The Sketchbook Project

Excerpt from Dream of Creatures, Mary Blaney, The Sketchbook Project

Mary Blaney of Michigan takes the tactile potential of the book even further, filling “Dream of Creatures” with thick animal shapes, beads, and all manner of glued in, glittery cut-outs.

What about words? In the eight samples I viewed from the Project’s traveling library, I didn’t happen upon the wordy artist. Did the Goat Farm’s goats eat them? We’ll have to return in search of more words.

From what we did see today, it’s apparent that the book is so rich with potential and challenge, and also with cup-and-saucer simplicity, that it can’t help but survive and thrive.

The Sketchbook Project, presented by MASS Collective and Goat Farm Arts Center, is on display at the Goat Farm through March 17. See also http://www.sketchbookproject.com.