Our Favorite Happenings in Atlanta's Art Scene This Season

BY GIANNINA BEDFORD, WENDY BOWMAN AND LAUREN FINNEY | March 27, 2018 | Feature

Atlanta has a creative spirit, which likes to reveal itself in unexpected ways. From thought-provoking exhibitions and forward-thinking artists to venues that merit a visit and a newcomer you need to know, here’s a curated sampling of the culture season ahead.

THE VISITOR
A London import lands in Atlanta.

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Pencil in a stop by Jackson Fine Art this month to see London-based artist Karen Knorr’s India Song & Metamorphoses exhibition. Showing through Dec. 23, Knorr’s work is at the Buckhead-based gallery in collaboration with New York City’s Danziger Gallery. Think birds and monkeys congregating in ornate hallways in Samode Palace in Jaipur; giraffes kissing the walls of Palazzina Cinese in Palermo, Italy; and more. “This idea of wildlife photography and architectural photography meet in this hybrid methodology,” she says. “I wanted to focus on these cultural ideas—the fact that these places are quite fragile: Th ere’s mass tourism now, and animal life is disappearing. So I decided to only photograph Indian animals and place them in these interiors digitally.” It was Knorr’s first time in Atlanta for the opening of her show, along with Dennis Dinneen and Susan Worsham at Jackson Fine Art. Knorr muses, “When I came for the opening, I discovered how Atlanta is changing. I had no idea how worldly Atlanta is and how outward looking and diverse it’s becoming.” 3115 E. Shadowlawn Ave., jacksonfineart.com

THE INNOVATOR
A groundbreaking video app delivers art.

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Founder and former Apple software marketer Dot Bustelo began formulating the vision for art application Loupe while working in the music technology industry. During long hours in the recording studio, she’d turn on 1940s movies or classic sci-fi films with no sound to create visual inspiration. “I began thinking about the 150 million people streaming music at home. What are they doing with their TVs while they’re listening to music?” she says. “Why not apply similar technology to visual art?” Loupe launched in 2015 exclusively with Apple TV. Today, it’s available through any computer or mobile device. Users can stream the masterpieces from more than 100 artists—including more than 30 from Atlanta—as well as create private online galleries and instantly purchase pieces. “It’s a beautiful way to see if the art will work in your home,” says Bustelo. Along with genrespecific channels, Loupe offers other filters by color, safety and more. There are also guest-curated channels, including one by Buckhead gallery photographer Parish Kohanim. Now it’s the most downloaded lifestyle app on Apple TV in 40 countries.

THE COLLECTOR
Real estate becomes art’s perfect canvas.

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Andy Isakson fell in love with art while contemplating the interior design of his first home, leading to him realizing the importance art can have on a space. (The first piece that started it all was a William Jameson he picked up from Lagerquist Gallery.) Isakson—the brother of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson—went on to collect contemporary paintings, sculpture, photography, glass and folk art. Today, his personal collection includes about 50 works, mostly purchased from Atlanta galleries such as Fay Gold Art Advisory and Alan Avery Art Company. Because there are only so many walls in his home, his job as managing partner of Isakson Living fortunately enables him to select art for the company’s retirement communities as well. A highlight are some 150 pieces of original works found at the Park Springs in Stone Mountain. “We probably invested $500,000 to $750,000 in art at Park Springs. … And we get a lot of positive comments. We probably spent over $2 million on retaining walls, and I never get any comments on those at all.”

THE ICONIC PIECE
Downtown Atlanta’s newest statue.

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Atlanta sculpture artist Martin Dawe was inspired to capture Martin Luther King Jr.’s strength, dedication and foresight for his new statue at the Georgia state Capitol. “I was also determined to sculpt a perfect likeness since many previous portraits have been criticized,” says Dawe. The piece was completed in May 2017, and was unveiled this past August on the 54th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963. The result? A larger-than-life portrait that stands 8 feet tall and rests on a 3-foot granite base. More than a thousand people attended the dedication ceremony—including Gov. Nathan Deal, other political leaders and members of King’s family, even making the national and international news. “The unveiling became a positive and optimistic solution in the conversation about Confederate monuments,” says Dawe. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stands in equal stature on the Capitol to Herman Talmadge and Gov. Gordon. The scale, location, pose, direction of his glance, expression and the patina color were all specifically designed to send a particular message. … This sculpture represents inclusiveness, justice and love.”

THE NEXT GEN
Street art makes a statement in the city.

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One street artist has emerged as a symbol of Atlanta’s next wave. Kyle Brooks—also known as “BlackCatTips”—is poised to take the city by storm with nary a spray can or midnight cloak in sight. He’s a street folk artist who deals in street poems, whose goal is to “paint the world happy,” says his gallerist Spalding Nix. He continues, “There’s no pretense—his imagination is unlimited.” Brooks himself describes his work as “lighthearted on the surface with some Southern touches.” He says, “I’ve spent most of my life here in Atlanta. It’s part of my soul. So anything I make has an honest Southern tinge to it.” That includes collaborations with the World of Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, and in his solo show at Spalding Nix Fine Art. “I have always been obsessed with airplanes, and to paint at the Delta Flight Museum was quite a thrill,” says Brooks about the 27-footwide painting unveiled in front of 88,000 employees. You can also catch him around town, from the BeltLine to the Georgia Conservancy to MailChimp—although still always on his own terms. Spalding Nix Fine Art, 425 Peachtree Hills Ave. NE, spaldingnixfineart.com; blackcattips.com

THE VISIONARY
Spelman College’s Art-iversary

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As director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Andrea Barnwell Brownlee leads an under-the-radar space that has presented some of the city’s most thought-provoking exhibits that fulfi ll the mission of presenting art by women of the African diaspora. “We have a small but mighty team that consistently boxes above its weight class,” Brownlee says. Brownlee, who became the museum’s first full-time director in 2001, eight years after graduating from Spelman herself, says, “Museums haven’t always been welcoming places for people of color, and we have a rare opportunity to whet students’ appetites for art right here. We mentor and encourage students and also prepare them for graduate programs and to pursue museum professions.” Brownlee says her biggest challenge is getting the word out about the pioneering museum. “We are creating exhibitions and projects that are beyond people’s wildest imaginations, but many don’t know that behind the gates of Spelman is an incredible gem of a museum,” she says. “Letting people know that the museum is here and that all are welcome has without question been our greatest challenge.” 350 Spelman Lane, spelman.edu

THE EXHIBIT
Head to Alan Avery Art Company for a provocative look at race and class.

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Gallerist Alan Avery does not shy away from provocation or controversy, and his newest exhibit, Rewriting History, from Brooklyn-based artist Fabiola Jean-Louis, is no exception. Through the power of social media, Avery found Haitian-born Jean-Louis and signed her immediately, and now represents her on a national level. Her exhibit, up at Alan Avery Art Company until Jan. 5, melds together not only her talents in photography and fashion, but also her purpose: to mimic garments worn by female European nobility between the 15th and 19th centuries, juxtaposing and celebrating the African-American females, who at the time were denied access to such clothing. Look closely—the dresses in which Jean-Louis photographs these women are actually handmade by her from paper, creating an intricate painterly photograph that evokes thought, emotion and ultimately leads to discussion. It couldn’t be more in line with what Avery is doing. “I am working to make my mission and legacy to break down the dividing lines that exist in Atlanta that separate ethnicity and class through my programming in art. I think that I have made great strides in this area—my two top collectors currently are African-American,” he says with pride. His draw to Jean-Louis doesn’t stop at race though: Avery is a huge champion of female artists as well. “Women have been underserved in many arenas. This is no different in art. For years, women artists have not had the same billing nor acclaim as their male counterparts. Highlighting these facts and attempting change is another important part of my programming.” To put it in Avery’s terms: “Fabiola and I were just sort of meant to be together. It’s been an evolution of me and an evolution of the gallery.” 656 Miami Circle NE, alanaveryartcompany.com

Photography Courtesy Of: the artists