For Art's Sake - When Worlds Collide

Art, Beats and Lyrics brings street culture to the High

If you hear a sudden explosive thud coming from the Midtown vicinity on Fri., April 8, don't be alarmed. It's just the sound of two worlds colliding when the High Museum plays host to Art, Beats and Lyrics, a smorgasbord of hip-hop's trickle-down influence on the visual arts.

Playing subcultural concierge in this funkadelic détente is Jabari Graham, 25, ice cube cool amid the flurry of activity going down in a noisy, chaotic studio space in the West End's Candler-Smith Historic Warehouse District.

While Graham hangs, the five artists he has picked from Atlanta's underground art scene are smoking, painting, chewing the fat and contemplating the strange thrill of bringing their slice of the street art subculture to the terra firma of the High Museum.

For one night, 7 p.m. to midnight, a veritable food court of hip-hop-influenced pop culture, from DJs to breakdancers, will be shaking the walls of Meier's white cube on the hill. The evening's main event will be work by five artists - MICHI, UrbanMedium, Dosa, Dubelyoo and Fuze Green - who will each contribute freestanding walls painted with their work and then hung with smaller artworks. (The High stipulated that no art be hung on the museum walls.) That layering of imagery promises to, in its own way, articulate the influence of hip-hop's cultural bricolage, frenetic energy and close-to-the-streets vibe. The general consensus among the artists gathered at Candler-Smith is that showing at the High is crazy. But cool.

"I think it's really funny and a great opportunity," says Dubelyoo, who, like many of the artists in Art, Beats and Lyrics, has found success translating the hip-hop aesthetic for a bevy of commercial clients. "They're trying to branch out to a different demographic and we're trying to do things on a larger scale.

"It's going to be a very interesting mix. ... You're going to have the High crowd, and then you're going to have people from the punk scene, the skateboard scene, the breakdance scene, other artists, painters, DJs, all the people in the music scene, whether hip-hop or rock."

Puffed up as they may be at the prospect of crossing the threshold from street to shrine, even the golden glow of the High hasn't quenched the desire to bomb the system. MICHI will provide a series of framed curse words on his wall, and Dosa, a graphic designer and animator, plans to tackle topics as diverse - and potentially controversial - as the immigrant experience, the tsunami body count, the global domination of America and Saudi Arabia, and copulating rabbits in a Sanrio-cute style he uses to disarm his audience with double-entendre adorableness.

"I don't know how people are going to take it. I hope they don't take it the wrong way," he says, anxious to bring the street home to meet the parents, but nervous about whether Mom and Dad will love the street as much as he does.

The High Museum has announced a new curator of photography. Julian Cox, currently associate curator in the photography department at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, will join the High's staff in June. Cox, 41, fills the slot left vacant when former curator Tom Southall left the museum in September for a position at the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida.It was "a combination of Julian's personality and his work" that made Cox stand out among several candidates, says the High's chief curator David Brenneman. Cox, whose work has often centered on the history of photography, co-authored Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs, which The New Yorker called "a sumptuously presented monument of scholarship." This catalogue raisonné focused on the important 19th-century photographer who created some of early photography's most striking portraits. Cox, who was educated in Wales and Manchester, England, has also organized shows at the Getty devoted to Cameron, Edmund Teske and the forthcoming exhibitions of Frederick Sommer and Robert Adams.

Atlanta artist Bobby Abrahamson, with the help of a publisher in Belgrade, has created the handsome bound edition One Summer Across America, a visual record of a changeable mood of loneliness and wonder captured during the photographer's three-month odyssey across the country via Greyhound in summer 2001.Abrahamson has already chronicled the frenzy of marketing and hype that accompanied the Atlanta Olympics with a shrewd, funny, often lacerating sense of humor. But One Summer Across America is gentler stuff, full of unspoken affection for the human condition as expressed in the mixture of innocence and zealotry so typical of Americans.

Abrahamson will sign his book from 7-10 p.m. on Fri., April 15, at the Photography Center of Atlanta, which is also exhibiting a selection of the work through May 15. www.magicsilver.com.


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