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Visual Arts

Visual Arts


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  string(2891) "Some artists are like the proverbial scientist in his laboratory. How apropos, then, that LIMITLESS at Agnes Scott College’s Dalton Gallery is a tribute to Galileo, one of history's greatest scientists. The show features six artists and is a study in contrasts as much as art’s endless possibilities.

One is immediately transported to a Barbie doll world upon entering the gallery. You can smell the vinyl on Didi Dunphy’s large padded seesaws rendered in pale muted olive, Kelly green, Pepto-Bismol pink and baby blue. Dunphy's big, brilliantly colored signature polka dots decorate a nearby wall, which sports skateboards in Crayola’s brightest colors, and a swing — something no self-respecting playground can be without. These full-size functional objects are meant to be played on, not simply looked at. 

Klimchak, too, exhibits objects intended for use. His homemade musical instruments are displayed with videos of the artist performing on them. The most magical is the Theremin, an antenna-like object you run your hands up and down to produce eerie, phantasmal sounds. The instruments are visually compelling, but Klimchak's fluid performances are crucial to understanding their capabilities. 

LIMITLESS is all play, and Joe Peragine’s “Invasion at Dawn” — a room-sized military diorama made of cardboard, plaster and mixed media — is no exception. Here, however, the artist plays on the dark side of life. War with guns and bombs is a favorite boy’s game, and Peragine’s cardboard battleships rubbed with color are ready to engage.  The sun sets beyond the horizon and all is aglow in an airbrushed mural made onsite. There’s both beauty and sadness in Peragine’s scary game, and the dichotomy makes it all the more powerful. 

E.K. Huckaby’s small diorama, “Hotel Bacteria,” is a masterpiece of decrepitude. The artist layers collected paint chips to create the small white bed and table of a seedy hotel at which we peer like giants. His 20 paintings, all titled “XINX,” are of institutional bathroom sinks. The sinks float in space and have rich patinas, layered with tar, linseed oil and other hardware store stock. Splayed like Francis Bacon's portrait of Pope Innocent X, their smeared edges radiate from the works.

Architect cum artist Lee Kean needs to find a fresher way to create a dialogue between her architecture and her artworks. Showing architectural models is certainly not “limitless” for an architect. Martha Whittington channels da Vinci with two small, elegantly moving flight machines that are studies for the two larger works: “Untitled Horizon” and “Pulse Extractor.” “Untitled Horizon” has an eraser attached to remove marks from the wall, and “Pulse Extractor” busily chews up the wall in a circular motion. 

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E.K. Huckaby’s small diorama, “Hotel Bacteria,” is a masterpiece of decrepitude. The artist layers collected paint chips to create the small white bed and table of a seedy hotel at which we peer like giants. His 20 paintings, all titled “XINX,” are of institutional bathroom sinks. The sinks float in space and have rich patinas, layered with tar, linseed oil and other hardware store stock. Splayed like Francis Bacon's portrait of Pope Innocent X, their smeared edges radiate from the works.

Architect cum artist Lee Kean needs to find a fresher way to create a dialogue between her architecture and her artworks. Showing architectural models is certainly not “limitless” for an architect. Martha Whittington channels da Vinci with two small, elegantly moving flight machines that are studies for the two larger works: “Untitled Horizon” and “Pulse Extractor.” “Untitled Horizon” has an eraser attached to remove marks from the wall, and “Pulse Extractor” busily chews up the wall in a circular motion. 

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Klimchak, too, exhibits objects intended for use. His homemade musical instruments are displayed with videos of the artist performing on them. The most magical is the Theremin, an antenna-like object you run your hands up and down to produce eerie, phantasmal sounds. The instruments are visually compelling, but Klimchak's fluid performances are crucial to understanding their capabilities. 

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E.K. Huckaby’s small diorama, “Hotel Bacteria,” is a masterpiece of decrepitude. The artist layers collected paint chips to create the small white bed and table of a seedy hotel at which we peer like giants. His 20 paintings, all titled “XINX,” are of institutional bathroom sinks. The sinks float in space and have rich patinas, layered with tar, linseed oil and other hardware store stock. Splayed like Francis Bacon's portrait of Pope Innocent X, their smeared edges radiate from the works.

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Article

Thursday February 18, 2010 04:00 am EST
Exhibit is a study in contrasts as much as art's endless possibilities | more...
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  string(41) "Run for Cover showcases the art of design"
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  string(43) "Iconic album artwork covers Spruill Gallery"
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  string(3415) "The line between art and design traditionally has been a precarious tightrope walk for artists, as it's difficult to work in the commercial world and retain credibility as a fine artist. Many artists now ignore the distinction, placing their work on handbags, wallpaper, salt and pepper shakers and other consumer goods. The 432 album covers on display in Run for Cover at Spruill Gallery are distributed among six different categories: History Replayed, Artist Designed, Art Inspired, Musician Designed, Typography and Georgia. To accommodate the sheer quantity of work, the gallery's hallway has been turned into a floor-to-ceiling installation of a mishmash of covers. The Artist Designed section, in particular, demonstrates that artists turning their hands to record sleeve design is a precedent for the current crossover between art and design.

Not surprisingly, Andy Warhol is heavily represented. His earliest design here is for his Factory's house band, The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967). The cover's iconic yellow and black-outlined banana has become a coveted symbol in the art world. Thomas Baumgärtel, aka the "Banana sprayer," has tagged approximately 4,000 museums and galleries around the globe with it as a seal of approval. Geometric slices of red, blue and yellow transform a straightforward portrait of Billy Squier for Warhol's vision of the musician's 1982 album Emotions in Motion. In 1976, Warhol drew a portrait of Paul Anka for his album The Painter. While not Warhol's most interesting work, Anka never looked so hip as when flattened by the pop artist.

Less known is Salvador Dali's design for Jackie Gleason's Lonesome Echo (1955). Unfortunately, the show includes no background material, so you'll have to refer to Google to find out how some of the matches came into being. Bauhaus artist Josef Albers designed covers for Enoch Light, but his involvement is less surprising as Albers was of an artistic generation for whom design and fine art often blended. His cover is minimalist: black dots on a blue ground in a pattern across the square of the sleeve. Talking Heads, who began as an art school band, had several artists do their covers, including Georgia's own Howard Finster. Finster supposedly hated rock music but said he put 26,000 sermons on the cover of Little Creatures (1985) (also in the exhibition) in an effort to save the souls of those who listen to it.

Local designers Flournoy Holmes and Susan Archie bring a distinctly Southern flavor to their work. Holmes' design for the Allman Brothers Band's Eat a Peach (1972) typifies Southern rock. Charley Patton's Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues box set (2001) and Goodbye, Babylon (2003) show off Archie's elegant packaging in front gallery vitrines. Goodbye, Babylon's CDs come in a wooden box with an image of the tower of Babel burned onto its top. Packed with cotton and a foldout insert of a cotton plant, it evokes a Joseph Cornell box. In her design for Screamin' and Hollerin', Archie reworks 1920s 78 record packaging for the CD era. Archie's designs are the only things in the show to suggest that innovative vinyl design lives on past the LP's heyday, but the chronic lack of explanatory material makes it difficult to place her achievement in context.

That painters can be illustrators and package designers can be artists are notions worth exploring. Run for Cover starts to scratch the surface."
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Not surprisingly, Andy Warhol is heavily represented. His earliest design here is for his Factory's house band, ''The Velvet Underground and Nico'' (1967). The cover's iconic yellow and black-outlined banana has become a coveted symbol in the art world. Thomas Baumgärtel, aka the "Banana sprayer," has tagged approximately 4,000 museums and galleries around the globe with it as a seal of approval. Geometric slices of red, blue and yellow transform a straightforward portrait of Billy Squier for Warhol's vision of the musician's 1982 album ''Emotions in Motion''. In 1976, Warhol drew a portrait of Paul Anka for his album ''The Painter''. While not Warhol's most interesting work, Anka never looked so hip as when flattened by the pop artist.

Less known is Salvador Dali's design for Jackie Gleason's ''Lonesome Echo'' (1955). Unfortunately, the show includes no background material, so you'll have to refer to Google to find out how some of the matches came into being. Bauhaus artist Josef Albers designed covers for Enoch Light, but his involvement is less surprising as Albers was of an artistic generation for whom design and fine art often blended. His cover is minimalist: black dots on a blue ground in a pattern across the square of the sleeve. Talking Heads, who began as an art school band, had several artists do their covers, including Georgia's own Howard Finster. Finster supposedly hated rock music but said he put 26,000 sermons on the cover of ''Little Creatures'' (1985) (also in the exhibition) in an effort to save the souls of those who listen to it.

Local designers Flournoy Holmes and [http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/culturesurfing/2010/01/21/a-few-questions-with-susan-archie/|Susan Archie] bring a distinctly Southern flavor to their work. Holmes' design for the Allman Brothers Band's ''Eat a Peach'' (1972) typifies Southern rock. Charley Patton's ''Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues'' box set (2001) and ''Goodbye, Babylon'' (2003) show off Archie's elegant packaging in front gallery vitrines. ''Goodbye, Babylon'''s CDs come in a wooden box with an image of the tower of Babel burned onto its top. Packed with cotton and a foldout insert of a cotton plant, it evokes a Joseph Cornell box. In her design for ''Screamin' and Hollerin''', Archie reworks 1920s 78 record packaging for the CD era. Archie's designs are the only things in the show to suggest that innovative vinyl design lives on past the LP's heyday, but the chronic lack of explanatory material makes it difficult to place her achievement in context.

That painters can be illustrators and package designers can be artists are notions worth exploring. ''Run for Cover'' starts to scratch the surface."
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  string(3681) "    Iconic album artwork covers Spruill Gallery   2010-02-15T21:00:00+00:00 Run for Cover showcases the art of design   Deanna Sirlin 1306460 2010-02-15T21:00:00+00:00  The line between art and design traditionally has been a precarious tightrope walk for artists, as it's difficult to work in the commercial world and retain credibility as a fine artist. Many artists now ignore the distinction, placing their work on handbags, wallpaper, salt and pepper shakers and other consumer goods. The 432 album covers on display in Run for Cover at Spruill Gallery are distributed among six different categories: History Replayed, Artist Designed, Art Inspired, Musician Designed, Typography and Georgia. To accommodate the sheer quantity of work, the gallery's hallway has been turned into a floor-to-ceiling installation of a mishmash of covers. The Artist Designed section, in particular, demonstrates that artists turning their hands to record sleeve design is a precedent for the current crossover between art and design.

Not surprisingly, Andy Warhol is heavily represented. His earliest design here is for his Factory's house band, The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967). The cover's iconic yellow and black-outlined banana has become a coveted symbol in the art world. Thomas Baumgärtel, aka the "Banana sprayer," has tagged approximately 4,000 museums and galleries around the globe with it as a seal of approval. Geometric slices of red, blue and yellow transform a straightforward portrait of Billy Squier for Warhol's vision of the musician's 1982 album Emotions in Motion. In 1976, Warhol drew a portrait of Paul Anka for his album The Painter. While not Warhol's most interesting work, Anka never looked so hip as when flattened by the pop artist.

Less known is Salvador Dali's design for Jackie Gleason's Lonesome Echo (1955). Unfortunately, the show includes no background material, so you'll have to refer to Google to find out how some of the matches came into being. Bauhaus artist Josef Albers designed covers for Enoch Light, but his involvement is less surprising as Albers was of an artistic generation for whom design and fine art often blended. His cover is minimalist: black dots on a blue ground in a pattern across the square of the sleeve. Talking Heads, who began as an art school band, had several artists do their covers, including Georgia's own Howard Finster. Finster supposedly hated rock music but said he put 26,000 sermons on the cover of Little Creatures (1985) (also in the exhibition) in an effort to save the souls of those who listen to it.

Local designers Flournoy Holmes and Susan Archie bring a distinctly Southern flavor to their work. Holmes' design for the Allman Brothers Band's Eat a Peach (1972) typifies Southern rock. Charley Patton's Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues box set (2001) and Goodbye, Babylon (2003) show off Archie's elegant packaging in front gallery vitrines. Goodbye, Babylon's CDs come in a wooden box with an image of the tower of Babel burned onto its top. Packed with cotton and a foldout insert of a cotton plant, it evokes a Joseph Cornell box. In her design for Screamin' and Hollerin', Archie reworks 1920s 78 record packaging for the CD era. Archie's designs are the only things in the show to suggest that innovative vinyl design lives on past the LP's heyday, but the chronic lack of explanatory material makes it difficult to place her achievement in context.

That painters can be illustrators and package designers can be artists are notions worth exploring. Run for Cover starts to scratch the surface.             13037814 1429864                          Run for Cover showcases the art of design "
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Monday February 15, 2010 04:00 pm EST
Iconic album artwork covers Spruill Gallery | more...
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  string(2626) "Painter Jiha Moon, who lives in Atlanta but was born in Korea, invokes the vertical composition of traditional Korean painting, but opens up her work to the most American of abstract expressionists – Jackson Pollock – and the fluidity of his drips and splatters.

Zigzags and curlicues draw the eye up through the flattened space of Moon's "Blue Peony," now on view in her solo show, Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts, at Saltworks Gallery. "Yalari-Yala" pops with hot fuchsia and a cool thalo green mixed with white to make a color you'll probably recognize from your toothpaste. A lovely dark cloud blends a clear cobalt blue skyward into the darkest of indigos. Moon flings around bold colors in her work with such abandon, the combinations can be startling.

The artist professes a love for Philip Guston. A respected abstract painter, Guston made an abrupt 180-degree turn to pictorial imagery well into his career. Large heads and eyes painted in a limited red, gray, and green palette stack up on his canvases like the cigarette butts and light bulbs found elsewhere in his work. Moon doesn't evoke Guston's style so much as his spirit. While the pieces in Blue Peony don't carry the emotional weight of Guston's oil paintings, they similarly incorporate and rework cartoons, pop-culture tidbits, and the stuff of everyday life: Tigers leap small paintings in a single bound and Astro Boy comes in for a landing.

Moon's work evokes the natural landscape as much as the cultural one. Nature for her can be angst-filled, as in "Painter's Argument" in which thunder and lightning and wind and rain blow about as false teeth clatter and smoke rises above the miasma.

Quieter is "Good Place," a small tondo rubbed black and overlaid with black, blue, or red and white cartoon-like peaches that float over the surface like little time bombs.

"Storehouse," a large installation tucked into the back of the gallery, is composed of kitschy objects culled from toy stores and gift shops. Small, fastidiously arranged objects such as Pez dispensers sit just beneath eye level on exuberant red, green, blue, yellow and pink shelves. On the floor below sit five little sacks and some balls. The whole thing is like a code key to the rest of the show. Several of her small paintings rest on the shelves as if taking refuge from the turbulent world she's created outside the nook. For the onlookers, however, Moon's paintings are delicious forays into chaos.

Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts Through March 6. Free. Wed.-Fri., noon-6 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saltworks Gallery, 664 11th St. 404-881-0411. www.saltworksgallery.com."
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Zigzags and curlicues draw the eye up through the flattened space of Moon's "Blue Peony," now on view in her solo show, ''Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts'', at Saltworks Gallery. "Yalari-Yala" pops with hot fuchsia and a cool thalo green mixed with white to make a color you'll probably recognize from your toothpaste. A lovely dark cloud blends a clear cobalt blue skyward into the darkest of indigos. Moon flings around bold colors in her work with such abandon, the combinations can be startling.

The artist professes a love for Philip Guston. A respected abstract painter, Guston made an abrupt 180-degree turn to pictorial imagery well into his career. Large heads and eyes painted in a limited red, gray, and green palette stack up on his canvases like the cigarette butts and light bulbs found elsewhere in his work. Moon doesn't evoke Guston's style so much as his spirit. While the pieces in ''Blue Peony'' don't carry the emotional weight of Guston's oil paintings, they similarly incorporate and rework cartoons, pop-culture tidbits, and the stuff of everyday life: Tigers leap small paintings in a single bound and Astro Boy comes in for a landing.

Moon's work evokes the natural landscape as much as the cultural one. Nature for her can be angst-filled, as in "Painter's Argument" in which thunder and lightning and wind and rain blow about as false teeth clatter and smoke rises above the miasma.

Quieter is "Good Place," a small tondo rubbed black and overlaid with black, blue, or red and white cartoon-like peaches that float over the surface like little time bombs.

"Storehouse," a large installation tucked into the back of the gallery, is composed of kitschy objects culled from toy stores and gift shops. Small, fastidiously arranged objects such as Pez dispensers sit just beneath eye level on exuberant red, green, blue, yellow and pink shelves. On the floor below sit five little sacks and some balls. The whole thing is like a code key to the rest of the show. Several of her small paintings rest on the shelves as if taking refuge from the turbulent world she's created outside the nook. For the onlookers, however, Moon's paintings are delicious forays into chaos.

Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts ''Through March 6. Free. Wed.-Fri., noon-6 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saltworks Gallery, 664 11th St. 404-881-0411. [http://www.saltworksgallery.com/|www.saltworksgallery.com].''"
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The artist professes a love for Philip Guston. A respected abstract painter, Guston made an abrupt 180-degree turn to pictorial imagery well into his career. Large heads and eyes painted in a limited red, gray, and green palette stack up on his canvases like the cigarette butts and light bulbs found elsewhere in his work. Moon doesn't evoke Guston's style so much as his spirit. While the pieces in Blue Peony don't carry the emotional weight of Guston's oil paintings, they similarly incorporate and rework cartoons, pop-culture tidbits, and the stuff of everyday life: Tigers leap small paintings in a single bound and Astro Boy comes in for a landing.

Moon's work evokes the natural landscape as much as the cultural one. Nature for her can be angst-filled, as in "Painter's Argument" in which thunder and lightning and wind and rain blow about as false teeth clatter and smoke rises above the miasma.

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"Storehouse," a large installation tucked into the back of the gallery, is composed of kitschy objects culled from toy stores and gift shops. Small, fastidiously arranged objects such as Pez dispensers sit just beneath eye level on exuberant red, green, blue, yellow and pink shelves. On the floor below sit five little sacks and some balls. The whole thing is like a code key to the rest of the show. Several of her small paintings rest on the shelves as if taking refuge from the turbulent world she's created outside the nook. For the onlookers, however, Moon's paintings are delicious forays into chaos.

Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts Through March 6. Free. Wed.-Fri., noon-6 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saltworks Gallery, 664 11th St. 404-881-0411. www.saltworksgallery.com.             13031456 1286691                          Jiha Moon's candy coated chaos "
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Sunday February 7, 2010 10:00 am EST
Saltworks Gallery pops with Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts | more...

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  string(59) "The promises and pitfalls of Atlanta's art-collecting ethos"
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  string(10548) "Sam Gilliam's "Atlanta 2003" is a massive draped canvas, pinned, tied and hung loosely on the wall like a structure in an advanced state of collapse. Though most likely made in the artist's Washington, D.C., studio, the title is a self-referential shout-out. Its folds and edges are indistinct. Its masses are infiltrated with hidden recesses. It's riven with shocking juxtapositions of color and brilliant light. "Atlanta 2003" is a cipher of the city itself.

This landmark of color field painting is one of the centerpieces of More Mergers and Acquisitions, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center's follow-up to last year's widely praised Mergers and Acquisitions. The earlier installment was famously curated in a state of emergency when a previously booked show fell through at the last minute. To fill the gap, the Contemporary raided some of Atlanta's most prominent private collections and gallery back rooms. In the end, the institution threw a spotlight on the local art-collecting scene while pulling off one of last year's most thrilling exhibitions.

"It was so much damn fun last time," says the Contemporary's artistic director Stuart Horodner, "and it seemed to have worked so well on a bunch of levels that I shamelessly wanted to do another version."

The current show contains fewer daredevil curatorial flourishes, but nonetheless follows the same method of pulling works out from behind closed doors. In the process, More Mergers and Acquisitions again racks the focus on both the promises and the pitfalls of Atlanta's art-collecting ethos.

As important as the artists' names in the exhibit – Frank Stella, Ron Gorchov, Gilliam – are the names of their respective collectors: Missy and Wesley Cochran, Lauren and Tim Schrager, Yolanda and Greg Head.

More Mergers and Acquisitions is as much about who owns the objects as it is about what they are.

EXTRAORDINARY COLLECTIONS

By many accounts, the modern phase of serious art collecting in Atlanta began with art dealer Fay Gold, who ran Buckhead's iconic Fay Gold Gallery from 1980 to 2009. The grande dame of the Atlanta art world houses her own collection of blue chip works in her Buckhead home, a spacious, angular, modernist structure that looks as though it's been airlifted from the Hollywood Hills.

"I'm in Fay's world," she declares, "and I create it the way I see it. And that's how the gallery always was as well. I showed controversial photographer Andres Serrano, and I showed 'Piss Christ.' And I got many threatening calls. But I had the freedom and the guts to show Robert Mapplethorpe and Joel-Peter Witkin and everything that I believed in."

Over the last three decades, Gold has sold work into many of Atlanta's premier collections: the Rubinsteins and the Wielands, for example, names that raise eyebrows in the international coterie of art wheeler-dealers.

But pushing the art market forward wasn't always easy for a Brooklyn girl in a Southern town. "The South is a different culture," says Gold. "I will make some generalizations now. They don't like change. They want what their grandmas and their great grandmas had. They want their homes to look that way. They want a sense of heritage. It's difficult to make them more eclectic, to put a contemporary painting mixed in with their antique furniture."

This conservative sensibility has often meant an uphill battle for the dealer, but Gold and others have been part of a decades-long influx of Atlanta immigrants from the likes of New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, who have added vitality and variety to the local collecting scene.

Today, important major collections are no longer a rarity. "There are fabulous collections here," says Gold. "Mind-boggling contemporary photography. Ashcan School. In-depth, valuable collections. But ... ." Here she pauses. "They're not buying in Atlanta."

SEEKING VALIDATION

One of the ironclad laws of collecting in the upper reaches of Atlanta's art world is that location equals prestige. Collectors willing to drop tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars at a go will pay a premium for the privilege of purchasing a work from a New York or Miami gallery by the same artists available in Atlanta from Solomon Projects or Jackson Fine Art, for example.

Sam Romo, whose eponymous gallery was a Castleberry Hill fixture from 2005 to 2008, noticed this trend. "When I started doing the art fairs," says Romo, "I had some Atlanta people buy there. I mean, they never once came to the gallery, but they saw me at the art fair, so that somehow provided some validation. That happened in Chicago and then in Miami."

"Art is a society," says Gold. "Part of being a collector is moving up in art society, and it's very competitive and very appealing." That often means buying art from the "right" places: California, not Castleberry; Manhattan, not Midtown.

This trend hasn't escaped the notice of Atlanta's artists, either. "I was sad when I realized that," says one artist who didn't want to be identified. "It's not all about the art or the artist. It's all about how fabulous the collectors think they are."

"There's a whole long history of Atlanta collectors who love buying Radcliffe Bailey in New York," says Horodner. "They look to New York to see what's OK.

"The local collector who isn't supporting the best of the local scene for the most part isn't buying from the best of the local galleries. And so there's an ecology that's not happening. And you want it to happen. I can't tell people what to buy; it's their money. They can do whatever they want. But as a piece of advice ... it would not cost a lot of money, compared to significant kinds of dollars, for a local collector to make a major difference in the life of the local arts ecology in Atlanta."

Horodner hopes the Contemporary's current show demonstrates the kind of collecting he thinks is important: integrating local and regional artists with artists of national and international renown. It's something he says he doesn't see happening nearly enough.

Then again, some in Atlanta have already taken up the call.

A RACIAL DIVIDE

Greg and Yolanda Head's Stone Mountain home has one of those extremely vertical living rooms that demands big art. When asked about their favorite pieces, Greg gestures toward the row of nails that, until recently, held the Sam Gilliam drape painting now on view at the Contemporary.

But what's perhaps most notable about the Heads' collection of African-American abstract art is its mixture of artists occupying every rung of the art world ladder, from those with local to national to international reputations. Atlanta residents Freddie Styles, Paul S. Benjamin and Eric Mack share wall space with Chakaia Booker, Shinique Smith and Howardena Pindell, all bona fide international art stars.

"I think what's really nice about collecting in Atlanta," says Yolanda, "is the relationships you develop with the artists. ... They've been in our home, we've had dinner with them, they stay over the weekend. You really get to know them intimately. So as you begin to know more about them, you begin to enjoy the piece even more. It's nice to be able to call up Kevin Cole. Those relationships that we've developed in Atlanta are somewhat unique and it makes the collection that much richer."

It's precisely this intimate style of collecting Horodner claims is vital for a strong local art scene. But like much of Atlanta's culture, a history of segregation has led to two distinct, and sometimes incompatible, cultures: a white collecting culture and a black collecting culture. According to Gold, it's the black collectors who tap into the local scene, while top-tier white collectors usually go elsewhere.

Karen Comer Lowe has been consulting on art collections since 2003. When asked about support among her clients for local artists, she offers a hard look. "Well, you know I consult mainly with African-American collectors. I do see support for local artists. But I assumed that was true across the board."

Comer Lowe often has to begin from scratch, guiding clients into thinking about art seriously and looking at art critically, and it's the local community of artists that's most available. After surveying the work in the local market, Comer Lowe encourages clients to consider national figures such as sculptor Elizabeth Catlett and photographer Carrie Mae Weems. To Comer Lowe, these artists are seen as an extension of learning about locally based artists.

Non-black collectors with significant mixtures of locally based and international artists are fewer. Andrea Weyermann and Tim Goodwin count multimedia artist Larry Anderson and Athens-based artist Kathryn Refi among a collection that also includes photographer Sally Mann and numerous L.A. artists. But according to Gold, such collections are the exception rather than the rule at the top of the art world food chain.

MORE LOCAL SUPPORT

According to Horodner, a stronger connection between collectors and local artists is essential for validating the Atlanta art scene at a national level. "Can you imagine a British collector not owning work by the YBAs a set of famous British artists that includes Damien Hirst?" Yet, he maintains that is exactly the situation when it comes to artists such as Jiha Moon, who sells to major collections in D.C. and North Carolina; Scott Ingram, whose sales soar in Madrid; and Fahamu Pecou, whose Dallas gallery at one time couldn't keep up with demand. All three get more recognition outside of Atlanta than within.

The exceptions are rare and apply mainly to a few Atlanta art superstars, past and present. "You go to black and white homes," says Horodner, "and you see Kojo Griffins of a certain period, when everybody knew they had to buy a Kojo Griffin. And that was a perfect example of a moment around an artist locally who was getting traction. Everybody jumped on that bandwagon."

Contemporary photography collectors also constitute a subculture particularly devoted to local artists. According to Kirsten Tagami, whose popular, long-running AJC series My Favorite Piece profiled Atlanta's top collectors, almost all serious photography collectors own an Angela West, for example.

But a general culture of collecting has yet to be firmly established in the city. "I think Atlantans buy art," says Romo. "They buy art from galleries, they buy from auctions, they buy from the artists. ... But a culture means a common bond. Yes, people do buy art. It is collecting. But is it a culture? Hmm ... that's a bit of a stretch.""
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  string(10690) "Sam Gilliam's "Atlanta 2003" is a massive draped canvas, pinned, tied and hung loosely on the wall like a structure in an advanced state of collapse. Though most likely made in the artist's Washington, D.C., studio, the title is a self-referential shout-out. Its folds and edges are indistinct. Its masses are infiltrated with hidden recesses. It's riven with shocking juxtapositions of color and brilliant light. "Atlanta 2003" is a cipher of the city itself.

This landmark of color field painting is one of the centerpieces of ''More Mergers and Acquisitions'', the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center's follow-up to last year's widely praised [http://atlantahappenings.creativeloafing.com/gbase/BestOf/BestOfAwards?Award=oid:544080|''Mergers and Acquisitions'']. The earlier installment was famously curated in a state of emergency when a previously booked show fell through at the last minute. To fill the gap, the Contemporary raided some of Atlanta's most prominent private collections and gallery back rooms. In the end, the institution threw a spotlight on the local art-collecting scene while pulling off one of last year's most thrilling exhibitions.

"It was so much damn fun last time," says the Contemporary's artistic director Stuart Horodner, "and it seemed to have worked so well on a bunch of levels that I shamelessly wanted to do another version."

The current show contains fewer daredevil curatorial flourishes, but nonetheless follows the same method of pulling works out from behind closed doors. In the process, ''More Mergers and Acquisitions'' again racks the focus on both the promises and the pitfalls of Atlanta's art-collecting ethos.

As important as the artists' names in the exhibit – Frank Stella, Ron Gorchov, Gilliam – are the names of their respective collectors: Missy and Wesley Cochran, Lauren and Tim Schrager, Yolanda and Greg Head.

''More Mergers and Acquisitions'' is as much about who owns the objects as it is about what they are.

__EXTRAORDINARY COLLECTIONS__

By many accounts, the modern phase of serious art collecting in Atlanta began with art dealer Fay Gold, who ran Buckhead's iconic Fay Gold Gallery from 1980 to 2009. The grande dame of the Atlanta art world houses her own collection of blue chip works in her Buckhead home, a spacious, angular, modernist structure that looks as though it's been airlifted from the Hollywood Hills.

"I'm in Fay's world," she declares, "and I create it the way I see it. And that's how the gallery always was as well. I showed [controversial photographer] Andres Serrano, and I showed 'Piss Christ.' And I got many threatening calls. But I had the freedom and the guts to show [Robert] Mapplethorpe and Joel-Peter Witkin and everything that I believed in."

Over the last three decades, Gold has sold work into many of Atlanta's premier collections: the Rubinsteins and the Wielands, for example, names that raise eyebrows in the international coterie of art wheeler-dealers.

But pushing the art market forward wasn't always easy for a Brooklyn girl in a Southern town. "The South is a different culture," says Gold. "I will make some generalizations now. They don't like change. They want what their grandmas and their great grandmas had. They want their homes to look that way. They want a sense of heritage. It's difficult to make them more eclectic, to put a contemporary painting mixed in with their antique furniture."

This conservative sensibility has often meant an uphill battle for the dealer, but Gold and others have been part of a decades-long influx of Atlanta immigrants from the likes of New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, who have added vitality and variety to the local collecting scene.

Today, important major collections are no longer a rarity. "There are fabulous collections here," says Gold. "Mind-boggling contemporary photography. Ashcan School. In-depth, valuable collections. But ... ." Here she pauses. "They're not buying in Atlanta."

__SEEKING VALIDATION__

One of the ironclad laws of collecting in the upper reaches of Atlanta's art world is that location equals prestige. Collectors willing to drop tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars at a go will pay a premium for the privilege of purchasing a work from a New York or Miami gallery by the same artists available in Atlanta from Solomon Projects or Jackson Fine Art, for example.

Sam Romo, whose eponymous gallery was a Castleberry Hill fixture from 2005 to 2008, noticed this trend. "When I started doing the art fairs," says Romo, "I had some Atlanta people buy there. I mean, they never once came to the gallery, but they saw me at the art fair, so that somehow provided some validation. [That happened] in Chicago and then in Miami."

"Art is a society," says Gold. "Part of being a collector is moving up in art society, and it's very competitive and very appealing." That often means buying art from the "right" places: California, not Castleberry; Manhattan, not Midtown.

This trend hasn't escaped the notice of Atlanta's artists, either. "I was sad when I realized that," says one artist who didn't want to be identified. "It's not all about the art or the artist. It's all about how fabulous the collectors think they are."

"There's a whole long history of Atlanta collectors who love buying Radcliffe [Bailey] in New York," says Horodner. "They look to New York to see what's OK.

"The local collector who isn't supporting the best of the local scene for the most part isn't buying from the best of the local galleries. And so there's an ecology that's not happening. And you want it to happen. I can't tell people what to buy; it's their money. They can do whatever they want. But as a piece of advice ... it would not cost a lot of money, compared to significant kinds of dollars, for a local collector to make a major difference in the life of the local arts ecology in Atlanta."

Horodner hopes the Contemporary's current show demonstrates the kind of collecting he thinks is important: integrating local and regional artists with artists of national and international renown. It's something he says he doesn't see happening nearly enough.

Then again, some in Atlanta have already taken up the call.

__A RACIAL DIVIDE__

Greg and Yolanda Head's Stone Mountain home has one of those extremely vertical living rooms that demands big art. When asked about their favorite pieces, Greg gestures toward the row of nails that, until recently, held the Sam Gilliam drape painting now on view at the Contemporary.

But what's perhaps most notable about the Heads' collection of African-American abstract art is its mixture of artists occupying every rung of the art world ladder, from those with local to national to international reputations. Atlanta residents Freddie Styles, Paul S. Benjamin and Eric Mack share wall space with Chakaia Booker, Shinique Smith and Howardena Pindell, all bona fide international art stars.

"I think what's really nice about collecting in Atlanta," says Yolanda, "is the relationships you develop with the artists. ... They've been in our home, we've had dinner with them, they stay over the weekend. You really get to know them intimately. So as you begin to know more about them, you begin to enjoy the piece even more. It's nice to be able to call up Kevin Cole. Those relationships that we've developed in Atlanta are somewhat unique and it makes the collection that much richer."

It's precisely this intimate style of collecting Horodner claims is vital for a strong local art scene. But like much of Atlanta's culture, a history of segregation has led to two distinct, and sometimes incompatible, cultures: a white collecting culture and a black collecting culture. According to Gold, it's the black collectors who tap into the local scene, while top-tier white collectors usually go elsewhere.

Karen Comer Lowe has been consulting on art collections since 2003. When asked about support among her clients for local artists, she offers a hard look. "Well, you know I consult mainly with African-American collectors. I do see support for local artists. But I assumed that was true across the board."

Comer Lowe often has to begin from scratch, guiding clients into thinking about art seriously and looking at art critically, and it's the local community of artists that's most available. After surveying the work in the local market, Comer Lowe encourages clients to consider national figures such as sculptor Elizabeth Catlett and photographer Carrie Mae Weems. To Comer Lowe, these artists are seen as an extension of learning about locally based artists.

Non-black collectors with significant mixtures of locally based and international artists are fewer. Andrea Weyermann and Tim Goodwin count multimedia artist Larry Anderson and Athens-based artist Kathryn Refi among a collection that also includes photographer Sally Mann and numerous L.A. artists. But according to Gold, such collections are the exception rather than the rule at the top of the art world food chain.

__MORE LOCAL SUPPORT__

According to Horodner, a stronger connection between collectors and local artists is essential for validating the Atlanta art scene at a national level. "Can you imagine a British collector not owning work by the YBAs [a set of famous British artists that includes Damien Hirst]?" Yet, he maintains that is exactly the situation when it comes to artists such as Jiha Moon, who sells to major collections in D.C. and North Carolina; Scott Ingram, whose sales soar in Madrid; and Fahamu Pecou, whose Dallas gallery at one time couldn't keep up with demand. All three get more recognition outside of Atlanta than within.

The exceptions are rare and apply mainly to a few Atlanta art superstars, past and present. "You go to black and white homes," says Horodner, "and [you see] Kojo Griffins of a certain period, when everybody knew they had to buy a Kojo Griffin. And that was a perfect example of a moment around an artist locally who was getting traction. Everybody jumped on that bandwagon."

Contemporary photography collectors also constitute a subculture particularly devoted to local artists. According to Kirsten Tagami, whose popular, long-running ''AJC'' series ''My Favorite Piece'' profiled Atlanta's top collectors, almost all serious photography collectors own an Angela West, for example.

But a general culture of collecting has yet to be firmly established in the city. "I think Atlantans buy art," says Romo. "They buy art from galleries, they buy from auctions, they buy from the artists. ... But a culture means a common bond. Yes, people do buy art. It is collecting. But is it a culture? Hmm ... that's a bit of a stretch.""
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  string(10902) "    More Mergers and Acquisitions is as much about who owns the objects as it is about what they are   2009-12-21T16:00:00+00:00 The promises and pitfalls of Atlanta's art-collecting ethos   Cinque Hicks 1306447 2009-12-21T16:00:00+00:00  Sam Gilliam's "Atlanta 2003" is a massive draped canvas, pinned, tied and hung loosely on the wall like a structure in an advanced state of collapse. Though most likely made in the artist's Washington, D.C., studio, the title is a self-referential shout-out. Its folds and edges are indistinct. Its masses are infiltrated with hidden recesses. It's riven with shocking juxtapositions of color and brilliant light. "Atlanta 2003" is a cipher of the city itself.

This landmark of color field painting is one of the centerpieces of More Mergers and Acquisitions, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center's follow-up to last year's widely praised Mergers and Acquisitions. The earlier installment was famously curated in a state of emergency when a previously booked show fell through at the last minute. To fill the gap, the Contemporary raided some of Atlanta's most prominent private collections and gallery back rooms. In the end, the institution threw a spotlight on the local art-collecting scene while pulling off one of last year's most thrilling exhibitions.

"It was so much damn fun last time," says the Contemporary's artistic director Stuart Horodner, "and it seemed to have worked so well on a bunch of levels that I shamelessly wanted to do another version."

The current show contains fewer daredevil curatorial flourishes, but nonetheless follows the same method of pulling works out from behind closed doors. In the process, More Mergers and Acquisitions again racks the focus on both the promises and the pitfalls of Atlanta's art-collecting ethos.

As important as the artists' names in the exhibit – Frank Stella, Ron Gorchov, Gilliam – are the names of their respective collectors: Missy and Wesley Cochran, Lauren and Tim Schrager, Yolanda and Greg Head.

More Mergers and Acquisitions is as much about who owns the objects as it is about what they are.

EXTRAORDINARY COLLECTIONS

By many accounts, the modern phase of serious art collecting in Atlanta began with art dealer Fay Gold, who ran Buckhead's iconic Fay Gold Gallery from 1980 to 2009. The grande dame of the Atlanta art world houses her own collection of blue chip works in her Buckhead home, a spacious, angular, modernist structure that looks as though it's been airlifted from the Hollywood Hills.

"I'm in Fay's world," she declares, "and I create it the way I see it. And that's how the gallery always was as well. I showed controversial photographer Andres Serrano, and I showed 'Piss Christ.' And I got many threatening calls. But I had the freedom and the guts to show Robert Mapplethorpe and Joel-Peter Witkin and everything that I believed in."

Over the last three decades, Gold has sold work into many of Atlanta's premier collections: the Rubinsteins and the Wielands, for example, names that raise eyebrows in the international coterie of art wheeler-dealers.

But pushing the art market forward wasn't always easy for a Brooklyn girl in a Southern town. "The South is a different culture," says Gold. "I will make some generalizations now. They don't like change. They want what their grandmas and their great grandmas had. They want their homes to look that way. They want a sense of heritage. It's difficult to make them more eclectic, to put a contemporary painting mixed in with their antique furniture."

This conservative sensibility has often meant an uphill battle for the dealer, but Gold and others have been part of a decades-long influx of Atlanta immigrants from the likes of New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, who have added vitality and variety to the local collecting scene.

Today, important major collections are no longer a rarity. "There are fabulous collections here," says Gold. "Mind-boggling contemporary photography. Ashcan School. In-depth, valuable collections. But ... ." Here she pauses. "They're not buying in Atlanta."

SEEKING VALIDATION

One of the ironclad laws of collecting in the upper reaches of Atlanta's art world is that location equals prestige. Collectors willing to drop tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars at a go will pay a premium for the privilege of purchasing a work from a New York or Miami gallery by the same artists available in Atlanta from Solomon Projects or Jackson Fine Art, for example.

Sam Romo, whose eponymous gallery was a Castleberry Hill fixture from 2005 to 2008, noticed this trend. "When I started doing the art fairs," says Romo, "I had some Atlanta people buy there. I mean, they never once came to the gallery, but they saw me at the art fair, so that somehow provided some validation. That happened in Chicago and then in Miami."

"Art is a society," says Gold. "Part of being a collector is moving up in art society, and it's very competitive and very appealing." That often means buying art from the "right" places: California, not Castleberry; Manhattan, not Midtown.

This trend hasn't escaped the notice of Atlanta's artists, either. "I was sad when I realized that," says one artist who didn't want to be identified. "It's not all about the art or the artist. It's all about how fabulous the collectors think they are."

"There's a whole long history of Atlanta collectors who love buying Radcliffe Bailey in New York," says Horodner. "They look to New York to see what's OK.

"The local collector who isn't supporting the best of the local scene for the most part isn't buying from the best of the local galleries. And so there's an ecology that's not happening. And you want it to happen. I can't tell people what to buy; it's their money. They can do whatever they want. But as a piece of advice ... it would not cost a lot of money, compared to significant kinds of dollars, for a local collector to make a major difference in the life of the local arts ecology in Atlanta."

Horodner hopes the Contemporary's current show demonstrates the kind of collecting he thinks is important: integrating local and regional artists with artists of national and international renown. It's something he says he doesn't see happening nearly enough.

Then again, some in Atlanta have already taken up the call.

A RACIAL DIVIDE

Greg and Yolanda Head's Stone Mountain home has one of those extremely vertical living rooms that demands big art. When asked about their favorite pieces, Greg gestures toward the row of nails that, until recently, held the Sam Gilliam drape painting now on view at the Contemporary.

But what's perhaps most notable about the Heads' collection of African-American abstract art is its mixture of artists occupying every rung of the art world ladder, from those with local to national to international reputations. Atlanta residents Freddie Styles, Paul S. Benjamin and Eric Mack share wall space with Chakaia Booker, Shinique Smith and Howardena Pindell, all bona fide international art stars.

"I think what's really nice about collecting in Atlanta," says Yolanda, "is the relationships you develop with the artists. ... They've been in our home, we've had dinner with them, they stay over the weekend. You really get to know them intimately. So as you begin to know more about them, you begin to enjoy the piece even more. It's nice to be able to call up Kevin Cole. Those relationships that we've developed in Atlanta are somewhat unique and it makes the collection that much richer."

It's precisely this intimate style of collecting Horodner claims is vital for a strong local art scene. But like much of Atlanta's culture, a history of segregation has led to two distinct, and sometimes incompatible, cultures: a white collecting culture and a black collecting culture. According to Gold, it's the black collectors who tap into the local scene, while top-tier white collectors usually go elsewhere.

Karen Comer Lowe has been consulting on art collections since 2003. When asked about support among her clients for local artists, she offers a hard look. "Well, you know I consult mainly with African-American collectors. I do see support for local artists. But I assumed that was true across the board."

Comer Lowe often has to begin from scratch, guiding clients into thinking about art seriously and looking at art critically, and it's the local community of artists that's most available. After surveying the work in the local market, Comer Lowe encourages clients to consider national figures such as sculptor Elizabeth Catlett and photographer Carrie Mae Weems. To Comer Lowe, these artists are seen as an extension of learning about locally based artists.

Non-black collectors with significant mixtures of locally based and international artists are fewer. Andrea Weyermann and Tim Goodwin count multimedia artist Larry Anderson and Athens-based artist Kathryn Refi among a collection that also includes photographer Sally Mann and numerous L.A. artists. But according to Gold, such collections are the exception rather than the rule at the top of the art world food chain.

MORE LOCAL SUPPORT

According to Horodner, a stronger connection between collectors and local artists is essential for validating the Atlanta art scene at a national level. "Can you imagine a British collector not owning work by the YBAs a set of famous British artists that includes Damien Hirst?" Yet, he maintains that is exactly the situation when it comes to artists such as Jiha Moon, who sells to major collections in D.C. and North Carolina; Scott Ingram, whose sales soar in Madrid; and Fahamu Pecou, whose Dallas gallery at one time couldn't keep up with demand. All three get more recognition outside of Atlanta than within.

The exceptions are rare and apply mainly to a few Atlanta art superstars, past and present. "You go to black and white homes," says Horodner, "and you see Kojo Griffins of a certain period, when everybody knew they had to buy a Kojo Griffin. And that was a perfect example of a moment around an artist locally who was getting traction. Everybody jumped on that bandwagon."

Contemporary photography collectors also constitute a subculture particularly devoted to local artists. According to Kirsten Tagami, whose popular, long-running AJC series My Favorite Piece profiled Atlanta's top collectors, almost all serious photography collectors own an Angela West, for example.

But a general culture of collecting has yet to be firmly established in the city. "I think Atlantans buy art," says Romo. "They buy art from galleries, they buy from auctions, they buy from the artists. ... But a culture means a common bond. Yes, people do buy art. It is collecting. But is it a culture? Hmm ... that's a bit of a stretch."             13031160 1285690                          The promises and pitfalls of Atlanta's art-collecting ethos "
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Article

Monday December 21, 2009 11:00 am EST
More Mergers and Acquisitions is as much about who owns the objects as it is about what they are | more...
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  string(2324) "Through an adventurous combination of kung fu heroism, Civil Rights struggle, pop culture humor, and political self-empowerment, Dawolu Jabari Anderson’s current exhibit at Saltworks Gallery creates a fictional story that’ll make you think twice about real-world history. 

Ten Panthers of Kwangtung begins with Anderson's “Frederick Douglas Self-Defense Manual,” a series of drawings of six fictitious fighting techniques secretly developed by slaves on Southern plantations. The crinkled, artificially aged pages each bear a ridiculous title, such as "2nd Technique: Fetch'n Calamus Root and Chinkapins" and "6th Technique: Duck'n Behind dis Here Oak so'as Patter-rollers Don't Sees Me." The turns of phrase poke fun at stereotypes of black speech, and situate Anderson's Asian fantasy within a familiar black history. The figure in "3rd Technique: Negro Picks Cotton" strikes a praying mantis pose; his fingers gather to a deadly point, turning a lowly plantation chore into a proud weapon of liberation.

But what does kung fu have to do with being black? Although Anderson's mythology calls to mind the genre-splicing antics of Quentin Tarantino and Wu-Tang rapper RZA, one of the artist's chief inspirations was his 2006 meeting with indie filmmaker Charlie Ahearn. Ahearn's 1979 urban karate flick, The Deadly Art of Survival, plays on repeating loop near the back of the gallery. The film was a kind of community collaboration, created on a threadbare budget at the request of teenagers living in some of New York's poorest boroughs. To them, action heroes like Bruce Lee were a sensational alternative to the Caucasian norm. Kung fu was sexy — and it symbolized a power anyone could achieve with hard work.

Unfortunately, the exhibition is over all too quickly. The self-defense drawings are reserved – an austerity that appropriately nods to traditional Chinese painting, but also subtracts from the excitement. Even the nearly 6-foot-tall painting "Seoul on Ice" lacks the feverishly high-octane imagination of some earlier works from the Gullah Sci-Fi Mysteries series, which featured a superhero Uncle Remus and a character Anderson called "Mam E." Although Anderson's vision comprises only a handful of original 2-D works, Ten Panthers remains a promising example of intelligent contemporary pop. "
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  string(2336) "Through an adventurous combination of kung fu heroism, Civil Rights struggle, pop culture humor, and political self-empowerment, Dawolu Jabari Anderson’s current exhibit at Saltworks Gallery creates a fictional story that’ll make you think twice about real-world history. 

''Ten Panthers of Kwangtung'' begins with Anderson's “Frederick Douglas Self-Defense Manual,” a series of drawings of six fictitious fighting techniques secretly developed by slaves on Southern plantations. The crinkled, artificially aged pages each bear a ridiculous title, such as "2nd Technique: Fetch'n Calamus Root and Chinkapins" and "6th Technique: Duck'n Behind dis Here Oak so'as Patter-rollers Don't Sees Me." The turns of phrase poke fun at stereotypes of black speech, and situate Anderson's Asian fantasy within a familiar black history. The figure in "3rd Technique: Negro Picks Cotton" strikes a praying mantis pose; his fingers gather to a deadly point, turning a lowly plantation chore into a proud weapon of liberation.

But what does kung fu have to do with being black? Although Anderson's mythology calls to mind the genre-splicing antics of Quentin Tarantino and Wu-Tang rapper RZA, one of the artist's chief inspirations was his 2006 meeting with indie filmmaker Charlie Ahearn. Ahearn's 1979 urban karate flick, ''The Deadly Art of Survival'', plays on repeating loop near the back of the gallery. The film was a kind of community collaboration, created on a threadbare budget at the request of teenagers living in some of New York's poorest boroughs. To them, action heroes like Bruce Lee were a sensational alternative to the Caucasian norm. Kung fu was sexy — and it symbolized a power anyone could achieve with hard work.

Unfortunately, the exhibition is over all too quickly. The self-defense drawings are reserved – an austerity that appropriately nods to traditional Chinese painting, but also subtracts from the excitement. Even the nearly 6-foot-tall painting "Seoul on Ice" lacks the feverishly high-octane imagination of some earlier works from the Gullah Sci-Fi Mysteries series, which featured a superhero Uncle Remus and a character Anderson called "Mam E." Although Anderson's vision comprises only a handful of original 2-D works, ''Ten Panthers'' remains a promising example of intelligent contemporary pop. "
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  string(2634) "    Ten Panthers of Kwangtung combines kung fu, Civil Rights and pop culture   2009-12-04T21:00:00+00:00 Dawolu Jabari Anderson makes Saltworks his dojo   Jeremy Abernathy 1306449 2009-12-04T21:00:00+00:00  Through an adventurous combination of kung fu heroism, Civil Rights struggle, pop culture humor, and political self-empowerment, Dawolu Jabari Anderson’s current exhibit at Saltworks Gallery creates a fictional story that’ll make you think twice about real-world history. 

Ten Panthers of Kwangtung begins with Anderson's “Frederick Douglas Self-Defense Manual,” a series of drawings of six fictitious fighting techniques secretly developed by slaves on Southern plantations. The crinkled, artificially aged pages each bear a ridiculous title, such as "2nd Technique: Fetch'n Calamus Root and Chinkapins" and "6th Technique: Duck'n Behind dis Here Oak so'as Patter-rollers Don't Sees Me." The turns of phrase poke fun at stereotypes of black speech, and situate Anderson's Asian fantasy within a familiar black history. The figure in "3rd Technique: Negro Picks Cotton" strikes a praying mantis pose; his fingers gather to a deadly point, turning a lowly plantation chore into a proud weapon of liberation.

But what does kung fu have to do with being black? Although Anderson's mythology calls to mind the genre-splicing antics of Quentin Tarantino and Wu-Tang rapper RZA, one of the artist's chief inspirations was his 2006 meeting with indie filmmaker Charlie Ahearn. Ahearn's 1979 urban karate flick, The Deadly Art of Survival, plays on repeating loop near the back of the gallery. The film was a kind of community collaboration, created on a threadbare budget at the request of teenagers living in some of New York's poorest boroughs. To them, action heroes like Bruce Lee were a sensational alternative to the Caucasian norm. Kung fu was sexy — and it symbolized a power anyone could achieve with hard work.

Unfortunately, the exhibition is over all too quickly. The self-defense drawings are reserved – an austerity that appropriately nods to traditional Chinese painting, but also subtracts from the excitement. Even the nearly 6-foot-tall painting "Seoul on Ice" lacks the feverishly high-octane imagination of some earlier works from the Gullah Sci-Fi Mysteries series, which featured a superhero Uncle Remus and a character Anderson called "Mam E." Although Anderson's vision comprises only a handful of original 2-D works, Ten Panthers remains a promising example of intelligent contemporary pop.              13031068 1285339                          Dawolu Jabari Anderson makes Saltworks his dojo "
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Article

Friday December 4, 2009 04:00 pm EST
Ten Panthers of Kwangtung combines kung fu, Civil Rights and pop culture | more...
array(80) {
  ["title"]=>
  string(50) "Photographer Oraien Catledge remembers Cabbagetown"
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  string(50) "Photographer Oraien Catledge remembers Cabbagetown"
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  string(12) "Chad Radford"
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  string(73) "New book and exhibit show the old neighborhood in its gritty, grimy glory"
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  string(73) "New book and exhibit show the old neighborhood in its gritty, grimy glory"
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  string(60) "Content:_:Photographer Oraien Catledge remembers Cabbagetown"
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  string(5035) "Oraien Catledge first stumbled upon Cabbagetown while sitting on his couch one evening in the fall of 1978. He was flipping through the local news channels when he came across a town meeting in which citizens were discussing the fate of their community. The nearly 100-year-old Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills had closed their doors for the last time, and a lot of the locals – vestiges of an honest-to-goodness factory town that stood in the mills' shadows – were destitute. Many of the people living in Cabbagetown in the late '70s were direct descendents of the laborers imported from Appalachia to work at the mills since their construction in 1881. But much of the property would soon be up for sale to the rest of the city, and it seemed that the tight-knit community would unravel. "As they used to say, that was preee-sactly the moment that I learned about Cabbagetown," Catledge chuckles through a bushy, snowy white mustache.

Catledge, 81, is an Oxford, Miss., native who moved to Atlanta in 1969 while working as a regional consultant for the American Association for the Blind. "I wasn't a photographer back then and I knew nothing about photography, but I had an urge to do something creative," he says. "I tried painting but the canvases just wouldn't dry fast enough, so I went out and I got a camera."

Catledge is legally blind, but dismisses his condition as a disadvantage. In a soft, grandfatherly voice, he says, "Oh ... I can see a lot better than most people think I can."

Soon after seeing the televised town meeting, Catledge set out in search of Cabbagetown, camera in hand, and by 1980 was documenting the fast-disappearing community. Over the next 20 years, he spent many of his weekends and free moments in the impoverished neighborhood, photographing the people, faces, and mostly the children, living in the crumbling houses and buildings. 

The resulting body of work is a collection of approximately 50,000 negatives. The images present accidental landscapes disguised as portraits, as scene after scene of children and adults personifies the dilapidated surroundings. These stark black-and-white and rich sepia-toned photos are imbued with a quality that transcends time, capturing an era that feels much further away than the late ’70s and early ’80s. Much like Dorothea Lange’s Dust Bowl photos or Walker Evans’ Great Depression imagery, Catledge’s photographs embody the suffering and celebrations of a poor, undereducated white haven on the brink of disappearance. 

Catledge's Cabbagetown work is the subject of a self-titled exhibit at Opal Gallery presented in conjunction with the new book Oraien Catledge: Photographs (University of Mississippi Press). Many of the kids and places that appear in Catledge's forthcoming book and show appeared previously in other photos featured in the long out-of-print 1985 publication Cabbagetown (University of Texas Press).

Catledge was a fixture on the neighborhood's streets and knew all of his subjects personally. Because of his intimate relationships with the Cabbagetown residents, a genuine sense of character emerges from each shot. More importantly, his visual impairment forced him to get physically closer to the people just so he could see them. As a result, he captured every smudge of dirt on the children's faces, every bottled-up ounce of depression or elation, and every crumbling foundation in the background.

"I was there so frequently for 20 years that everybody knew who I was," Catledge says. The kids and even some of the adults would just swarm when I would pull up in my white station wagon. A lot of them were very low-income, and they didn't have access to a camera or any photography at all," he continues. "A lot of them didn't even have any family photos. So if I took a picture of someone, I made every effort to give it back to them, and I think that's how I earned their trust and really got to know them."

Catledge continued to take photos in Cabbagetown throughout the '90s, but his visits became less frequent as gentrification set in. In '96, his eyesight had deteriorated so much that he stopped driving altogether, which meant no more regular trips to the neighborhood.

These days, the brightly painted houses, manicured lawns and hipster hangouts are a far cry from the decaying mill town seen in Catledge's photographs. Cabbagetown still maintains a strong sense of character, but the gruff, working-class scene its original inhabitants fostered has been painted over. All that remains now of old Cabbagetown are the buildings.

"I stopped going there when no one knew who I was anymore," Catledge says. "All of the people that I used to see there are all gone and it just wasn't the same Cabbagetown that it was. It disappeared. Where did it go?" He shakes his head, "I don't know, it just went away."

chad.radford@creativeloafing.com

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  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(5087) "Oraien Catledge first stumbled upon Cabbagetown while sitting on his couch one evening in the fall of 1978. He was flipping through the local news channels when he came across a town meeting in which citizens were discussing the fate of their community. The nearly 100-year-old Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills had closed their doors for the last time, and a lot of the locals – vestiges of an honest-to-goodness factory town that stood in the mills' shadows – were destitute. Many of the people living in Cabbagetown in the late '70s were direct descendents of the laborers imported from Appalachia to work at the mills since their construction in 1881. But much of the property would soon be up for sale to the rest of the city, and it seemed that the tight-knit community would unravel. "As they used to say, that was ''preee-sactly'' the moment that I learned about Cabbagetown," Catledge chuckles through a bushy, snowy white mustache.

Catledge, 81, is an Oxford, Miss., native who moved to Atlanta in 1969 while working as a regional consultant for the American Association for the Blind. "I wasn't a photographer back then and I knew nothing about photography, but I had an urge to do something creative," he says. "I tried painting but the canvases just wouldn't dry fast enough, so I went out and I got a camera."

Catledge is legally blind, but dismisses his condition as a disadvantage. In a soft, grandfatherly voice, he says, "Oh ... I can see a lot better than most people think I can."

Soon after seeing the televised town meeting, Catledge set out in search of Cabbagetown, camera in hand, and by 1980 was documenting the fast-disappearing community. Over the next 20 years, he spent many of his weekends and free moments in the impoverished neighborhood, photographing the people, faces, and mostly the children, living in the crumbling houses and buildings. 

The resulting body of work is a collection of approximately 50,000 negatives. The images present accidental landscapes disguised as portraits, as scene after scene of children and adults personifies the dilapidated surroundings. These stark black-and-white and rich sepia-toned photos are imbued with a quality that transcends time, capturing an era that feels much further away than the late ’70s and early ’80s. Much like Dorothea Lange’s Dust Bowl photos or Walker Evans’ Great Depression imagery, Catledge’s photographs embody the suffering and celebrations of a poor, undereducated white haven on the brink of disappearance. 

Catledge's Cabbagetown work is the subject of a self-titled exhibit at Opal Gallery presented in conjunction with the new book ''Oraien Catledge: Photographs'' (University of Mississippi Press). Many of the kids and places that appear in Catledge's forthcoming book and show appeared previously in other photos featured in the long out-of-print 1985 publication ''Cabbagetown'' (University of Texas Press).

Catledge was a fixture on the neighborhood's streets and knew all of his subjects personally. Because of his intimate relationships with the Cabbagetown residents, a genuine sense of character emerges from each shot. More importantly, his visual impairment forced him to get physically closer to the people just so he could see them. As a result, he captured every smudge of dirt on the children's faces, every bottled-up ounce of depression or elation, and every crumbling foundation in the background.

"I was there so frequently for 20 years that everybody knew who I was," Catledge says. The kids and even some of the adults would just swarm when I would pull up in my white station wagon. A lot of them were very low-income, and they didn't have access to a camera or any photography at all," he continues. "A lot of them didn't even have any family photos. So if I took a picture of someone, I made every effort to give it back to them, and I think that's how I earned their trust and really got to know them."

Catledge continued to take photos in Cabbagetown throughout the '90s, but his visits became less frequent as gentrification set in. In '96, his eyesight had deteriorated so much that he stopped driving altogether, which meant no more regular trips to the neighborhood.

These days, the brightly painted houses, manicured lawns and hipster hangouts are a far cry from the decaying mill town seen in Catledge's photographs. Cabbagetown still maintains a strong sense of character, but the gruff, working-class scene its original inhabitants fostered has been painted over. All that remains now of old Cabbagetown are the buildings.

"I stopped going there when no one knew who I was anymore," Catledge says. "All of the people that I used to see there are all gone and it just wasn't the same Cabbagetown that it was. It disappeared. Where did it go?" He shakes his head, "I don't know, it just went away."

''[mailto:chad.radford@creativeloafing.com|chad.radford@creativeloafing.com]''

?