Atlanta Gallery Hop

One week of rest or one week of work-thats the coin toss that is "Spring Break 2017".


The break doesn't officially start until tomorrow, but already I have taken advantage of the down time and caught up on some things I've neglected around my house and my studio. I washed the floors of my studio space and wiped down the dust that had accumulated everywhere. I finished my largest sculpture and set it up to dry at a slow and even pace...hopefully. I slept in for a change and tried to use the day light savings to my advantage and readjust my internal clock by just sleeping through the time change. Most importantly though I made it a point to use the first weekend of the break to make my way up to Atlanta with some of my fellow grads for a day of gallery hopping around town.

I picked up Usman early at 6:15am on Friday and we headed for Midtown down I-16 for the long three hour and twenty minute drive. We left early to avoid traffic and ended up getting there much earlier than planned, so we had breakfast at West Egg. Afterwards we drove over to our first scheduled stop of the day, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. It didn't open until eleven so we walked down to Amélie's French Bakery for a coffee while we waited for Jessamy, Cyndy, and Josie (Cyndy's daughter) to arrive. While we waited we looked at all the different Mona Lisa portraits on the walls and made the joke that one of Zak's paintings would fit right in with the theme of the place. Once the rest of the crew showed up and it was closer to opening time we made our way down to the see the current exhibition on display by outsider artist Lonnie Holley called I Snuck Off the Slave Ship, on display until April 2nd. The gallery director walked us through a few of the pieces and got rid of Josie's hiccups for her. We even got to meet her dog Monster, a mix between a pit bull and a dachshund. The show is described as:

Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (Atlanta Contemporary) is pleased to announce a solo exhibition with Lonnie Holley. Holley is a man of many myths and talents. Born in Jim Crow-era Birmingham, Alabama, as the seventh of 27 children, Holley traveled across the South and held a wide array of jobs before making his first artwork at the age of 29.

Well known for his assemblages, Holley incorporates natural and man-made objects into totemic sculptures. Materials such as steel scrap, sandstone, plastic flowers, crosses, and defunct machines commemorate places, people, and events. The exhibition will feature a selection of sculptures and drawings on loan from the artist. In addition to these works, Holley will create site specific installations reflective of the spontaneous and improvisational nature of his creative process.

Curator Daniel Fuller says “Lonnie Holley is one of the most influential artists and musicians of the 20th/21st centuries. His powerful work is improvisational and free in that it goes beyond the autobiographical and chronicles daily life and history of people all over the South. It is as much concerned with all of mother earth as it is cosmic.”
— Atlanta Contemporary Art Center Wedsite

Afterwards we went to a few galleries downtown to include the Hathaway Gallery, the Sandler Hudson, and the KAI LIN gallery. We had planned on going to the MOCA but we ran out of time and opted to just go to White Space gallery instead where we met the gallery assistant Emily Sorgenfrei. We talked to her for nearly an hour about how she got her job in the gallery, the things she did along the way, and how we could propose our work to the space. (Unfortunately, Marcia Wood, one of my favorite galleries was between shows and wasn't open.) I also made my way to the Signature Gallery in Buckhead, which ended up being the highlight of my weekend. The Signature Gallery, run by Carr McCuiston located on Roswell Road NE Atlanta, GA houses contemporary ceramic works by just about all the artist that I am interested in currently. It was cool going into the gallery and meeting SarahBeth Merritt, the gallery assistant, and talking to her about all the works on display. She graduated from Georgia State three or four-ish years ago and has been working at Signature, as well as the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. My sisters friend Abbey Hull also works there currently and she's been a greta help in answering my questions about the studio and how it's run.

Basically, I got a lot out of this weekend. I made some great connections with the staff at the galleries I would like to show at in the future. It's all about making those small one on one connections, and really pushing forward with getting your work out in the world that matters. I feel like this weekend might have helped that "snowball" get rolling.

After all the gallery fun Cyndy and Josie left and the rest of us went to Krog Street Market for a beer and some small eats. We ended up eating at this place called Nexto, where my sister works. It's a Japanese Noodle restaurant and we ate our weight in ramen deliciousness.

Saturday morning I went to Davens Ceramic supply store for some things for my studio. It's basically an adult toy store if you're into clay. I also acquired a long list of new books to purchase after perusing the selection at Davens. I took the opportunity to go to the Atlanta Barnes and Nobles and glanced through their craft ceramic section for books and ended up getting the three listed below on glazing and making. Very exciting stuff to introduce into my work.

As for studio time, here is a few snippets of whats been happening. Most things are still in progress, drying, or getting ready for more firings.

Art in the Big City

What a week this has been.  This past week was my first Spring Break in over 3 years, my first of my graduate career, and although I had planned to fill it with relaxation and easy going days...very little of that happened.  The first weekend of my break I went and saw The Lady Chablis in Savannah, she is the Drag Queen featured in the famous book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.  It was her 59th birthday celebration and I somehow managed to get the entire crowd to sing her happy birthday while she was on stage.  And in doing so I was brought on stage and received a gift from her in return, a photograph of her and John Cusack which she kissed with her bright red lipstick and gave me a hug.  What a night that was!

The middle of the week was full of work however once I returned to Statesboro.  I spent all day Monday throwing bowls for the Club mud sale coming up near the end of March and then Tuesday consisted of trimming, loading two glaze kilns, and a bisque kiln.  I made new porcelain tests, recorded all of my fabric tests in my journal, and made a five gallon bucket of porcelain to work with later.  I also unloaded two of my newest pieces from the kiln, which are total tests in my book.  They are both made from stone ware and cotton, coated in white engobe, and then coated in a porcelain overlay.  In my mind, this should give me the white-blue color I am dying to see, but in almost a cheating sort of manner.  It'll be porcelain, but not actually a porcelain piece, just an exterior shell of porcelain.  Pretty sneaky if I do say so myself.  Those two pieces will get glazed and fired for my upcoming critique on the 30th, so stay tuned for photos of them soon.

Art wise I made my way up to Atlanta to see the last day showing of Ceramics at the Marcia Wood Gallery on Monroe Street.  This trip was so worth the drive up.  The ceramic work on display was amazing and actually gave me numerous ideas/solutions to questions I had about my own work.  I saw ceramics with hair, ceramics made from hair, ceramics made from slip casting, ceramics on shelving, ceramics on bases, ceramics made from porcelain and stoneware....I saw it all.

While I was gawking at the delicate works on stone bases by Dawn Holder, I met her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Holder.  They were in town to see their daughters work on the last day of its showing and I by chance began talking to them about how much I appreciated her use of a base, with ceramics.  Her father said "I have not clue why she uses stones to place the work on, probably because they look bad on a shelf alone and thats just what she wanted to do." (This answer made me think of my own father, who would also give a similar non-invasive answer to a question he had no clue how to respond to.) Her mother was just as welcoming to my inquiries, and we talked about Sister Wendy, and what the difference in viewing a 2D work is to viewing a 3D work.  She also asked me about my work and to see images, which I gladly, and as calmly as I could muster, showed her on my phone.  We came upon my bubble wrap, hair piece called Wrap and she insisted I giver her my information, seeing as she worked at UPS.  She had just met the people who make bubble wrap, the creators, and told me she would forward my work along to them seeing how I transformed their product completely but retaining it's original integrity.

Then the unthinkable happened.  A woman walked up, who I had thought was an employee of the gallery (due to my ignorance) and began talking to us.  I didn't recognize her as Marcia Wood herself, the gallery owner.  I told her I was a student of Komatsu, one of the ceramicist on display in her show, and how I had enjoyed speaking to Mr. and mrs. Holder about their daughter Dawn's work.  She graciously walked us around the gallery and explained some of the processes behind the works, answered my questions, and listened to the three of us babble on about the layout and overall aesthetic of the show.  We finished speaking and I asked if there was any type of printed media I could take with me, since there were not labels on the walls.  I was handed a printout, I thanked her for sharing her information with me.

And seeing the art, made all the difference!  Dawn Holders work was very inspirational.  She uses stone bases for her slip cast ceramics.  Which actually look perfect with the pieces.  They seem like barnacles laying on rocks, but she too uses natural materials in ceramics and then burns to material out in the kiln.  So it's a different kind of slip casting, more like slip bunking...which is pretty much what I do, just with different materials.  I've seen her grass works in person too before, but her work at Marcia Wood was much better in my opinion (probably because I could decipher the process behind them!)

Tomorrow though, I must return to school and get back to work.  I've spent the week running like crazy, while inserting a little fun, food, and laziness along the way but now I've got to head back to Statesboro.  It's a three hour drive from Atlanta, could be longer depending on traffic.  I celebrated my sisters 25th birthday, saw a drag show, ate copious amounts of food, saw some fantastic art, and received notice that I made it into my third conference and will be going to Ireland 100%.  I'd say it's been a pretty solid, productive, and crazy awesome week.

Trip to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta GA

The weekend before my second semester of MFA classes kicked back in session, I ran away to Atlanta for one last visit to the outside world.  After traveling four long hours in my car while listening to a podcast by Tales of a Red Clay Rambler, I made it from Statesboro, GA to the ATL.  All I wanted to do was get out of my car and have a hot cup of coffee at Cafe Intermezzo on Peachtree NE along with some cheesecake and possibly some real food, but mostly just cheesecake.

Molly Hatch Physic Garden, 2013-2014
Earthenware and Glaze
456 plates, each 9.5 inches in diameter

Aside from that, the biggest to-do on my checklist of adventures was to make a visit to the High Museum of Art.  I particularly wanted to re-examine a piece called Physic Garden that I had written a research paper on the previous semester by the ceramic artist and self made sales woman, Molly Hatch.  See my original plan was to go inside, take a seat on the log bench just opposite the plates and with my new found knowledge and rehash all of the original questions I had before I started to do research on her.  Needless to say, that did not happen.  Instead I became a walking encyclopedia for the plates on the wall and began explaining in detail about how they were made, where they came from, and what inspired their creation.  My friend who I was visiting the High with was unenthused by my excitement and walked off while I continued to spout interesting facts about Hatch's process.  As I continued to ramble not realizing the my friend had since left me, some museum visitors who clearly were interesting began to crowd me.  An elderly lady in the small group of six or seven people actually asked me some questions regarding how the glazes on the plates were made, as well as "where is the restroom ma'am?"  Clearly I had been mistaken for an employee of the museum due to my eagerness to spill the knowledge born from an intense eight page research paper.

All in all, what I got from this experience is simple.

I now have a greater appreciation for the modest looking plates on display at the High first and foremost.  Had I not been forced to stand in line at the coat check due to rain on my previous visit, I would have never taken an interest in them.  At first glance they just look like a large number of colorful plates on the wall as you enter the High through the revolving doors.  But now I know that there is actually an entire row of plates in storage and not on the wall due to a measuring mistake on behalf of the museum.  (The High Museum of Art actually mis-measured their own gallery wall...really guys, come on!)  I also now know that the physical plates are not even the original ones that Molly Hatch tried to order from overseas and that the original order was canceled a few days before delivery due to international shipping port authority issues.

It's tiny quirky facts like these that made me want to come back for another visit.  I wanted to see the piece with new eyes.

I also am slowly learning that I should always do a little research on the pieces of art that I see or read about.  In the past I would visit a museum as "something to do to pass the time" instead of visiting as a "way to gain new knowledge".  This has always been a big problem for me, and I believe it is a problem with most people these days.  Like any random stranger, I too enjoy mindlessly walking around the galleries, reading small captions, and occasionally getting yelled at by the guards for getting too close to a priceless piece of art.  It makes me feel good when I can come up to an artwork and I know something about it.  I feel like a genius for a brief moment...please tell me who doesn't love that feeling?  I'll go ahead and apologize in advance for butchering this recount of Art critic and Nun, Sister Wendy and her description of "what art is to people" through her description of Piss Christ by Andres Serrano. She basically says that "people are ok with art most often because it gives them something to relate to.  When it's not approachable or they don't have an moment of comfort because of its familiarity, it isn't held as good art and it gets forgotten."...just like most of the art I have viewed over my life time while aimlessly wondering through the museum.  Now I make it a point to do even a small google search on an artist name, a title of a work, or a gallery I walk past or hear of.  Like writing something by hand, I remember it better after taking the time and putting in the effort to actually look it up and read a few quick lines.

Inspiration Plates from Chelsea Factory ca.1775 in Permanent Collection at the High Museum of Art

Moral of this adventure:  Everyone should do this more often.  We have the world in our hands and who doesn't appreciate some instant gratification via the web.  But what we need to do differently, and I am retraining myself in this aspect daily... I am making it a point to do my "homework" and retain what I read rather than letting that insta-knowledge escape me.  No more drive by captions in the museum galleries of life, I want to learn about what I am seeing/hearing/reading/watching/doing/experiencing.

I pose a question to my readers who I have made it this far in my blog---when is the last time you actually took the time to look something up with the intent of learning about it, rather than just instant gratification?

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