For Art’s Sake - Gallery on the move

Marcia Wood finds her thrill on Castleberry Hill

Atlanta’s answer to Manhattan’s Chelsea art district is Castleberry Hill. Located west of downtown between I-20 and MLK, the community is poised to become the city’s contemporary art hub. And it’s about to get an infusion of more art-world action when Marcia Wood Gallery moves to the area in December.

The neighborhood has been, at various times, an industrial hub, a residential community and a raunchy Tenderloin district known for violence and sex trade. Now it’s Atlanta’s “only true loft neighborhood,” Wood says, and a home to chichi restaurants, funky gardening stores and quirky boutiques.

Castleberry got an infusion of art and artists in the mid-’90s when husband and wife artists Carolyn Carr and Michael Gibson turned an 1897 horse stable into a loft and began leasing portions of the building to studio artists and indie galleries. Then came artist Diane Haus3TEN Haustudio and art collector Bill BoundsTy Stokes Gallery. Earlier this year the investment-oriented art proffered at Skot Foreman Gallery arrived in the neighborhood.

Wood will trade her narrow 1,200-square-foot gallery on Peachtree Street, where she’s been for the past three years, for new digs more than double the size at 263 Walker St. The granite building that will house the reborn Marcia Wood Gallery is owned by Bounds, whose gallery and residential loft space is next door.

The increase in space will allow Wood enough room to feature two exhibitions simultaneously as well as use a posterior 500-foot terrace for installations and performances. Her Castleberry gallery’s Jan. 16 opening will feature a site-specific work by Atlanta artist Danielle Roney and the debut of Canadian (now Atlanta-based) artist Kim Ouellette, who sews quirky landscapes onto fragments of vintage wool blankets.

Wood’s opening coincides with the citywide ATLart04 event, in which a wildly divergent group of 29 gallery members from Timothy Tew to Saltworks, have created a slate of coordinated art openings, talks and auctions for January. Kubatana Moderne owner Jason Wertz, whose own Peachtree gallery shares space with Wood, has also announced his intention to relocate his gallery to a former meatpacking building in Castleberry in September 2004. He is working with New York City architect Gordon Kipping of GTECTS (Frank Gehry’s protege) and Atlanta architect Amy Landesberg.

Several other galleries have also been sizing up the area, suggesting Castleberry could be Atlanta’s new hot art destination.

Clothing is never just clothing. But sometimes it takes a show like Gone With the Girdle: Freedom, Restraint and Power in Women’s Dress at the Atlanta History Center (through April 18) to drive that point home. Girdle traces women’s roles as expressed through clothes from slavery through the hardly reassuring progress of dowdy maids uniforms.

One of the most sensorially satisfying exhibitions to come through Atlanta, Corsets is full of eye candy like Elsa Schiaparelli’s signature hot pink hatbox and posie-festooned vintage chapeaux, captured beneath glass like the touch-me-not marzipan in a fancy candy shop.

The show is the culmination of two years of work on the part of Susan Neill, curator of textiles and social history. Dressed in her own chic version of the postmillennial power suit, Neill leads visitors through the space, stopping to talk about the historical climate that marks each shift of a hemline or tweaking of the corset.

“You really have to talk about the underwear,” says Neill about the gizmos that once shaped a waspwaisted ideal and now show off the emancipated, jiggle-free New Woman’s wares.

Many words come to mind when you mention Picasso’s name. Genius. Revolutionary. Tyrant.

But when Jake Rothschild thinks Picasso, he thinks in far yummier terms. He imagines crystallized rose petals. And rosewater-flavored sweet cream. The delicate pink of a maiden’s blush.

Rothschild is the alchemist who turns milk and sugar into frozen ecstasy as the owner and recipe-maestro at Atlanta’s Jake’s Ice Creams & Sorbets. Rothschild has created a new flavor, called simply “Picasso,” developed to celebrate the opening of Picasso: The Artist and Model, an exhibition of 22 prints and etchings (ranging from $3,800 to $39,000) at Thomas Deans & Company gallery in the Tula Bennett Street complex through Dec. 20. “Picasso: The Ice Cream,” available at Jake’s on Highland Avenue, is inspired by the artist’s rose period from 1904-1906 when Picasso favored an array of vibrant pinks and mauves with images of harlequins and acrobats in a distinct emotional shift from the melancholy-infused shades of his blue period. Gallery owner Deans thought the everyman appeal of a creamy Jake’s creation would be a means of fostering “accessibility and inclusion” while taking some of the “snooty” mystique away from fine art.