The last few years in Atlanta have seen an influx of the under-30 crowd starting galleries, organizations, collectives, and journals. It’s time to add another one to the bunch: Dashboard Co-op. Dashboard is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to a list of jobs that includes virtual gallery, promotion site, and cheerleader for artists. So far, they have engaged a huge spectrum of talent ranging from sculptor Patrick Toups to illustrator Baxter Crane. Their website is preparing for its launch party this Saturday, March 20, from 8PM-midnight, at the Blue Tower Gallery, but in the midst of the chaos, founders Beth Malone and Courtney Hammond sat down with me to talk about their plans for the site’s future.
So, tell me about the site.
Beth: Essentially it’s an online artist gallery, and we have been working on it for about a year now. It’s been trial and error. We started with a few web designers who were our friends, and then the project got put on the back burner because we had full-time jobs and didn’t have time. Then we tried to do it ourselves for a little while and realized we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. And then we just decided to pay somebody, and we found the greatest pair of dudes to design it.
Courtney: Together they are the monolith.
B: They are the monolith. They are amazing. We met with Chris and were like, “We want to do all this stuff and don’t know if its possible,” and within a week he whipped it into shape. We both kept saying, “It’s happening!”
We have 10 artists right now, all of whom are amazing and great. We show stills of their work and then do an interview with them to tell who they are; it’s cool. I think we try to keep our personalities in the interview because they are big and fat. And then we also include a lot of art happenings in the city, and then any kind of art news that we think is cool, like WonderRoot just put art all around the BeltLine.
C: Right, so I took a whole day with a couple of people and we all dispersed to go find the art. We took photographs and put them on Flickr and then wrote an article about what it was about. It’s all about awareness. Essentially, what I want is for people to be able to go to the website, and also to be able to do for art what Creative Loafing does for music. We would even like to host underground art parties and get to the point where people just send us their shows for us to post them. Just anything we can do in the art community.
B: I guess essentially we want to be an artist empowerment site, connecting folks that otherwise wouldn’t be.
C: I feel like there’s a huge disconnect between the titan galleries and the Beep Beeps of the world. The Beep Beeps of the world are great but the way you find out about them is through friends of friends of friends, so they have these great shows but only a handful of people know about them. Only 100 people will know about them, and those aren’t necessarily the people who will buy the work. I want to make information accessible for people who have the dough to buy the work, and who will go to these shows and create a network so it’s not this huge disconnect where these artists are making really great work but aren’t selling it.
B: I think people in Atlanta really are turning. People like us who are the Average Joe’s who really do want to support the artists are starting to do it.
Who are some artists that you’re really excited about?
C: Statisfaction, Sister Louisa
B: There’s a painter I really like, Fatimah Abdullah, and she’s really kind of undiscovered. She’s kind of meek about it. When I told her to send us stuff she was so giddy. One of my favorite artists Katherine Marbury, who is one of our friends and is actually the curator for art at the airport. Her artwork is phenomenal. I don’t know if she’s creating now, but I would eventually like to have her on Dash. Incidentally, she’s engaged to John Dirga. It’d be cool to have performance art, too. I know we were talking about covering fashion eventually.
Was there a catalyst that led to starting the site?
C: I graduated from art school and when I got out I was like, I have been working so hard and I am not in the scene. I don’t know how to get things and promote my work ever, or I don’t feel like I can. I felt really lost. I have a business mind and an art mind, too. You’d think I’d be able to build my portfolio and promote myself, and I started thinking about my friends who were just creativity. I wondered how these people that make such beautiful things were going to succeed. I really think it’s a loss for the city not to see these works that I was seeing. It was just never going to be shown anywhere. I didn’t see any way around it, and [Beth and I] started talking it out and this is what we came to.
B: We hope it spurs opportunity. Lucrative opportunity, and also creativity.
C: Right, and creativity to build collectives like ours. People up until now have been disenchanted with the Atlanta art scene and that’s why they go to Brooklyn. That’s why half of Brooklyn is the Atlanta art scene. Even we were like, we don’t feel like fixing it; we just want to go to where it already is.
B: But then, we were both like, we’ve already put in so much time here. But, now I feel like it is changing.
C: I think we both had a moment at the Axiom show.
B: I remember we both looked at each other and were like, “It’s happening.” We grabbed each other’s shoulders, and, I think, said exactly, “It’s happening.” People are really catching on.
So is Atlanta kind of a jumping off point for you, or do you want Dashboard to stay here?
B: When we first started we were like, “We’re going to travel the world!”
C: “I want to get grants that will pay us to travel the world and we’re going to travel around to find really cool art. And we’re going to get paid for it.” Very drunken.
B: And then we came back down to earth and decided to start in Atlanta. And we want to start here. We have a few artists from New York but they are Atlanta natives. I think we might venture out around the state and the Southeast. But right now there are so many great artists in Atlanta we want to expose. We have the excitement and deluded ideals.
C: I do want it to grow and just the thought of moving to New York and having a New York version of Dashboard and one in San Francisco so that we can all exchange artists is exciting.
B: And we can do that with just Dashboard.