In the MIDDLE of something new
Candice Greathouse discusses changes at MINT and its exhibit at Gallery 72
Big things are happening at MINT Gallery. The nonprofit recently named Candice Greathouse as its gallery and creative director, putting her in charge of its exhibitions and events, artist mentorship program, and youth outreach project. The new position also grants full curatorial control to Greathouse, but this change isn't simply one in personnel. Instead, for Greathouse, this is an opportunity to build upon the organization's success by taking it in a new direction.
MINT is a modest operation, run by a board and two staffers — Greathouse and the gallery's founder and executive director, Erica Jamison. Since its inception in 2006, the organization has established itself as a home for Atlanta's emerging artists, earning a reputation for DIY music performances, film screenings, and readings. But as newer spaces, such as Dashboard Co-op and Mammal Gallery, have entered the scene, support for emerging artists has started to come from multiple sources around town. Greathouse says that this is a good time for those artists. "We have showcased a lot of fun, cool artists from the Atlanta community [but] now we're seeing them ... all over the place," Greathouse says. "It's incredible. These people have grown into being prominent Atlanta artists."
But in this climate, MINT is also in a position to redefine its role in the art community. "It's left us ... to be able to now look nationwide for artists, bring them to Atlanta, and showcase their work," Greathouse says.
Earlier this year, the organization opened up Here to GO, its second annual juried exhibition, to emerging artists nationwide. On the surface, this move might appear to run counter to MINT's mission "to cultivate a stronger creative community in Atlanta and throughout Georgia." But for Greathouse, it boils down to pushing against the boundaries that encase the local art community. "I want to branch out and show things that no one in Atlanta has seen yet, be it from Atlanta artists who haven't been represented anywhere ... or from artists outside Atlanta," she says. Greathouse also intends to expand MINT's service programs — Leap Year and Invest-MINT — and to develop its permanent collection, which has significantly grown over the past year.
MINT, though, hasn't gone nationwide yet. Last week, it opened MIDDLE, an exhibition of photography, video, and sculpture from Georgia artists at Gallery 72. Curated by Greathouse, the show provides a sense of the organization's new attitude through partnering with the mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA). MINT caught the attention of the OCA at a recent pop-up exhibition in conjunction with Atlanta Photography Group and Atlanta Celebrates Photography, prompting an invitation to organize a show at the former AJC headquarters at 72 Marietta St., Downtown. A few days later, Greathouse proposed MIDDLE, which met with the OCA's open arms. "[The OCA] thought it was an interesting idea, and they wanted us to show something that we thought would be representative of MINT," Greathouse says. "Sometimes if you work with a governmental office, you're nervous about being told, 'No, this is impossible.' But they were receptive to all of it. It's very encouraging."
As an artist herself, Greathouse says that the concept for MIDDLE came from an idea that intrigues her. "I'm interested in artists who don't really fit into one category, conceptually, content-wise, or even if we're talking about materials and process," she says. The show combines different media in a way that Greathouse hopes will pique visitors' interest. "All of it is very dissimilar," she says. "I just want them to be excited to see something they haven't seen before." Greathouse also points out that the six artists behind the exhibition are in between various career stages.
"There are emerging artists, mid-career artists, established artists, amateur-professional artists, and very often, students get characterized as amateur artists and overlooked," she says. "Hopefully this exhibition shows: Just because you're a student doesn't mean that your work is amateur."
MIDDLE might also describe the status of MINT right now. As Greathouse attempts to lead the organization in a new direction, she's quick to ensure that it remains rooted in serving the community. MIDDLE uses Gallery 72's expansive windows to make itself as accessible as possible, displaying work street-side and projecting video outdoors at night. For Greathouse, it's a reminder of MINT's mission to connect talented artists with citizens.
"Our heart is in Atlanta," she says. "I found a lot of artists that I've been interested, in for the past few years, [who] are under the radar, I think, in Atlanta." But now it's time for MINT to expand its radar and introduce new artists to the city.