For Art's Sake - Blossoming Blogs

Atlanta's got the art-blog fascination

Art blogs are sweeping the nation, offering gossip, insight, navel-gazing introspection and a refreshing new take on a scene filled with enough ideas/pretense/gossip to keep Tom Wolfe typing into eternity.

Perhaps the art blog arrived just in the nick of time to counteract the obsession with trendiness and the oodles of mad cash that often pass for the heartbeat of the art world. The best blogs express the genuine fire in the belly people feel for the arts, thus these blogs go where much bloodless art criticism and institutional butt-covering fail to tread.

Atlanta has been getting in on the blog jones. The View From the Edge of the Universe - Visual Arts in Atlanta (www.chromogenia.typepad.com/artatlanta/) is an art blog helmed by Atlanta collector and curator Erik Schneider that's already been linked to other well-known art blogs.

Schneider's art blog is a well-written, nicely produced package with attitude that straddles the line between criticism and diary.

Schneider's topics include hints about good buys in contemporary art, fun gossip about which Atlanta artists fly first class and which gallery owners fly coach, rants against the High Museum of Art for its failure to show contemporary work, rages against the blockbuster phenomenon in museum exhibition, discussions of his travels to New York art shows and shout-outs to local artists.

Sure, Schneider's own interests dominate, including his friendship with Saltworks Gallery owner Brian Holcombe (a frequent companion in his blogs) and plugs for the work of his own boyfriend/artist, Bryan Schellinger. But after all, it is a blog, and Schneider makes no claim to journalistic objectivity.

Schneider was inspired to start his blog by critic Tyler Green's acerbic, smart Modern Art Notes blog (www.artsjournal.com/man/).

"It was very personal. And [Green] posted lots of rumors and gossip, which was very interesting," says Schneider, speaking from his Midtown townhouse, where he works as an accountant by day and a blogger by night.

"When I'm sick of doing accounting, I just stop and post," Schneider says. "It's a lot more work than I expected."

But blogging has its own rewards. Schneider has about 150 readers a day. And he's started getting calls from galleries, asking him to come to art openings. "My level of credibility in the Atlanta art world went up immeasurably just because I started writing this blog," Schneider says.

Speaking of blogs, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne keeps one on his various gambols across the country(www.davidbyrne.com/journal/). Byrne has some choice snarkiness worth reading about his March 4 meta-PowerPoint performance at Atlanta's Woodruff Arts Center. Befuddled by the omnipresence of Elton John cropping up on billboards and in discussions during his Atlanta visit, Byrne wonders, "What is it with Elton John and this town?"

David, FYI: We worship Elton John as a god.

Other notable blogs: Gallery Hopper (www.galleryhopper.org); Digital Media Tree (www.digitalmediatree.com); From the Floor (www.fromthefloor.blogspot.com); and Artopia(www.artsjournal.com/artopia/).

CARTOON NETWORK'S talented, irreverent illustrators and graphic designers (including Jacob Escobedo and Brandon Lively) will stage a one-night exhibition, Ham Hands and You: Art from Inside Cartoon Network, at the Five Spot in Little Five Points, May 6. 404-223-1100.

FOR FIRE FANATICS, the annual RIPE event (www.ripeatlanta.com) returns May 7. There will be a plethora of fire play and kooky getups at the Historic Candler Smith Warehouse District on the city's west side. The event runs from sunset to sunrise, or as long as your body paint holds out.

FOR KIDDIE ART FREAKS in your life, several local events might provide diversion. Though the Carter Center was crawling with the elderly set during a recent tour of Hand to Hand: Two Grand Masters of Suzhou Embroidery (through June 11), the absurdly complicated embroidered renditions of kitties, Bengal tigers and vases of peonies are visual crack to kitsch-receptive kiddies, and the technique is equally trippy for their adult companions, who will marvel at the degree of patience and skill (and the inevitable back problems) entailed in creating these remarkable works. Another surefire bet for children is the Atlanta Botanical Garden's whimsical Locomotion in the Garden exhibit (through October) featuring a tiny train-centric village modeled from plant materials including fungi, moss and pine cone bits. The miniature renditions of Atlanta's Capitol building, CNN Center and the Fox Theatre loop-de-looped by ever-circling trains make Atlanta look like something out of J.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth.


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