The Thinking Artist: Personal Experience
I am an artist and I’ve been thinking…
You know how when it gets really hot outside and you cringe at the prospect of leaving the AC behind to venture outdoors even if it’s going the few steps from your car to a restaurant?
I think it’s the same frame of mind that my ex-wife had when it came to leaving the house. She swore that she could not walk in flat shoes and that her feet were molded to heels, insisting on wearing the most impossible stilettos at all times. Her version of exercise was to totter from the car to a building and finding a seat. Let me be generous in saying that her peripheral vision was limited.
And that’s what happens to art lovers when it’s hot.
The Virginia Highland Summerfest, one of my favorite local art shows was big, and hot. There were some terrific artists there doing their best to engage visitors, but it was hard for people to stay long and see it all because their peripheral vision was limited due to the heat.
As I was standing under a tree, I noticed a young man walking with determination to his car carrying a new painting he purchased. I commented that I recognized the piece done by Atlanta artist Jim Afroukhteh and offered my congratulations. He stopped for a moment to say that he bought it because the subject of a lone rowboat on the water with a dramatic sky made him feel cool and calm and he wanted that feeling in his home.
So I got to thinking, perhaps if an artist creates a personal experience for the collector, it can expand and stimulate their field of vision. This does not apply to my ex- wife, however, because she was quite happy to sit quietly until a martini arrived, and only then was her peripheral interest stimulated.
There are a great many art venues in the metro Atlanta area from the big daddy High Museum to local, independent galleries and some ambitious investors in Atlanta’s Westside. They are all geared to stimulate the senses. But do they make a personal connection?
The groundbreaking of the Westside Cultural Arts Center on May 21 included local celeb Fay Gold, who will incorporate a permanent gallery in the 12,500 square foot space at 997 Brady Ave. when it opens this fall. “We want to push into new territories and blur the distinction between art and life,” says Nicholas Miller, the marketing and media liaison for the Center. “Art is not just for art’s sake but for people to influence people. That is the vision for the Westside Cultural Arts Center.”
This ambitious vision speaks volumes to the need for artists to connect with people in a personal way. It’s a way to effect positive change through art and enhance our social fabric.
I stumbled upon this quote from ARTnews, 2009: “When Marc Chagall came from Paris to Tel Aviv to help open the city’s first art museum in 1931, he compared art to a golden thread running through society’s fabric and stressed that if it were not woven from the beginning, it could not be added later.”
Atlanta’s artistic fabric is more like a patchwork quilt woven with many personal stories. Artists and art lovers have the unique opportunity to make a personal connection here since we are a “young” arts community. One can actually meet the artist and hear their story. Me? I’m making house calls to complete a painting commissioned by a very nice family for their beach house. We talk about the ocean and drink a lot of iced tea. They chose me because they know I paint the ocean and sky they love. And I am glad to swap stories and create the finished piece they will live with.
You’ve got lots of choices to get up close and personal with art this summer. Don’t let the heat slow you down!
Through Aug. 14: High Museum of Art collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art in New York includes 150 works of furniture, glass, ceramics, lighting, etc. by 120 artists. Not to be missed. high.org
Aug. 19 – 21: The Slotin Folk Art Auction is the world’s largest folk art show and sale. Self-taught, outsider and folk artists, and galleries representing unique artistic voices at the North Atlanta Trade Center in Norcross. There is a $7 fee for admission. I guarantee you will be stimulated, if not soothed by what you see. slotinfolkart.com
Aug. 20 – 21: The Piedmont Park Summer Arts & Crafts Festival will bring back “the old days” when art festivals celebrated local talent. piedmontparkartsfestival.com
Patrick Dennis is an artist, gallery owner and President of the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces. He lives in Atlanta. Email: Patrick@affps.com