See below for the video, “Postcards from Atlanta Galleries We Miss,” edited and directed by John Duke and featuring Jeremy Abernathy and Mike Germon (or click here for the link).
Memorial Drive is a collaborative series by BURNAWAY and ArtsCriticATL about the history of the arts in Atlanta.
The idea for this video hatched from a late-night conversation at Beep Beep Gallery‘s five-year anniversary party at the Highland Inn Ballroom, which happened to fall on the same day as the third-annual Gather Atlanta conference held at the midtown campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
Shouting over the crashing din of subwoofers, Mike Germon and I marveled at how many new faces we saw at Gather Atlanta. Squinting through the glittery disco light, we then scanned the ballroom and realized that it was the same here: a seemingly homogeneous spectacle of saucy youth that, in truth, was an unmixed collision of age groups and backgrounds. How many of these people remember what Atlanta’s art scene was like five years ago?
In order to avoid a long boring conversation, the video focuses on galleries that closed before the first Gather Atlanta. Otherwise, we limited ourselves only to venues represented in Mike Germon’s massive collection of postcards advertising local exhibitions. What started as a nearly 15-pound heap of paper memorabilia—from literally hundreds of art shows—narrowed down to a dozen candidates. We then selected only venues that at least one of us had personally experienced, concentrating on the rarest, strangest, most exciting, and most likely to be forgotten.
Please know that any other omissions were incidental or due to lack of time. Neither of us were involved, for instance, when Fay Gold brought down Jean-Michel Basquiat from New York. The same goes for when Joey Orr curated shows at Shed Space, when Ann-Marie Manker ran ArtSpot in the Old Fourth Ward, or during the brightest days of Eyedrum Art and Music Gallery. I was, however, around to interview Sam Romo after his gallery closed. Two years later, events have now come full circle as his mentor, Nancy Solomon, moves on to new pursuits as well.
For better or worse, the video reflects the intimate smallness of the world we experienced and loved, circa 2006. Although I began my career in Atlanta’s art scene as a custom framer on Miami Circle, the galleries where I began writing criticism were clustered along the parallel, east-west thoroughfares of Ponce de Leon Avenue and Memorial Drive (the street that inspired the name of this series). Enjoy!
Putting a fresh spin on the old phrase “memory lane,” Memorial Drive also honors its namesake, the long road running from downtown Atlanta to Stone Mountain, Georgia, passing in front of Oakland Cemetery and the old stomping grounds of Martin Luther King, Jr., nearby. The series explores the theme of memory, holding that, in order to move forward, we also need to look back.
Over the next three weeks, please visit BURNAWAY on Wednesdays and ArtsCriticATL on Mondays for new articles on memory and the history of art in Atlanta! We invite readers to follow, comment, and offer ideas for further topics.
— Jeremy Abernathy and Catherine Fox