I was driving through Inman Park with my roommate last month when we passed by an abandoned church at 850 Euclid Avenue. The structure has a lazy, melancholy vibe about it, as if it hasn’t decided whether to be sad or to accept its disuse as a blissful fact of life. Even now, its surroundings couldn’t be more alive, booming, blooming, and vibrating with green. My roommate pointed at the church and gleefully remarked, “We should live there. We could put so much art inside!” She was joking of course, but she was halfway serious: The location is tremendously central, visible from the street, accessible by public transportation, and so charmingly mysterious that it would be an ideal spot for a temporary art project. Little did we know that whispers were already conspiring, cogs and gears were already turning, and resources were already mobilizing to do just that. And there are even more secrets yet to be revealed.
1. Super secret art project.
This Saturday and Sunday, April 24 and 25, from 11AM–6PM, the church at 850 Euclid Avenue will become host for Skies Over Atlanta, an original site-specific project by Neil Fried, Evan Levy, Priscilla Smith, and Jerry Cullum. The collaboration will be a multimedia, three-dimensional environment of ephemeral sights and sound. The group’s latest press release puts it in their own words:
“I45 presents Skies Over Atlanta, a gallery of projections and sounds that form a garden of recollection of urban neighborhoods past. Atlanta artists Neil Fried, Evan Levy, Priscilla Smith, and Jerry Cullum combine vintage projections of the surrounding landscape; the sound of gears turning; old cassette loops from answering machines; photographic graffiti; and, a shining ball with fractured light that seems to stand between past and future. By re-contextualizing a church interior with a combination of ambient performance and reflective happenings, they create a place where we may, for a second, stop time.”
In short, it’s the kind of exhibition that defies conventional explanation but is worth every word devoted to the attempt.
2. Super secret gallery collective.
Skies over Atlanta is the first independent project presented by i45, a new collective formed by galleries located in Inman Park, the Fourth Ward, and Little Five Points. Its current membership includes Barbara Archer Gallery, Jenny Henley Studio, Wm Turner Gallery, Opal Gallery, and Whitespace. If you’ve been perplexed to see the symbol inexplicably looming in the upper-right-hand corner of our homepage, you can now know that the advertisement was intended to be a “teaser” for the as yet officially debuted organization. The collective’s launch event at 850 Euclid is planned to coincide with the Inman Park Festival this weekend, a decision meant to solidify the group’s dedication to its constituent neighborhoods and forefront its contemporary art programming in the eyes of the pedestrian crowds attending the festival.
3. Super secret art team.
In the spirit of journalistic transparency and (proud) disclosure, I should highlight the fact that one of the four collaborators, Jerry Cullum, is also a contributor to BURNAWAY. A veteran art critic and longtime observer in the metro area, Cullum has in the past confided that he considers the act of making and, occasionally, exhibiting artwork a good ethical practice for checking the ego of would-be critics. The challenge is to practice what you preach. How will his experience writing about art inform his approach to creating? What will it look like? Mysteries abound.
The work of Neil Fried, on the other hand, is mysterious and exciting precisely because we’ve already seen a glimmer of what he’s capable of bringing to life. His penchant for video production, storytelling, and creating interactive spaces might be familiar to anyone who attended last year’s Le Flash. See these articles by our colleagues Cathy Fox (at ArtsCriticATL.com) and Diana McClintock (originally published in ART PAPERS magazine) for descriptions of Fried’s video projects at Marcia Wood Gallery.
Fried describes the group’s vision further:
“There is a social element in place—space where people congregate, and contemplate elements of time and life, fissions and fusions of art and audience … frissons of a reflection pool in a projection gallery…a chance to step out of a festival and into a private conversation with self, or perhaps an old friend who may be there at the same time.”
4. Super secret … um, secret.
Fried and Cullum also mentioned a “surprise” that won’t be publicly revealed until the opening of the event, cryptically skirting the subject of “an object” to be included in the show. I get the sense that it will be a physical work of art, and not a video projection as much of the installation will be.
The team was still ironing out some last-minute details when I visited with them this weekend. However, they assured me that these adjustments would be minor; Skies Over Atlanta is coming together beautifully and will be a testament to how “Atlanta artists can rally together to create compelling public art on short notice and with limited budget when necessary.” Fried commented that it feels like a resurrection—a collective, nearly tangible remembrance of the people and events that have made our city great.
UPDATE: Join the Skies Over Atlanta‘s Facebook page here!
The Skies Over Atlanta project will be open to the public this Saturday, April 24, and Sunday, April 25, from 11AM–6PM, at 850 Euclid Avenue.