The High’s popular “Drawing Inside the Perimeter,” the most community-embracing show the museum has mounted in a long time, will not go down in history as a one-off gesture of goodwill thanks to a major grant from the Antinori Foundation. Philanthropists Susan and Ronald Antinori have given $50,000 to the High specifically for another DITP show, says Michael Rooks, the High’s curator of modern and contemporary art.
“’Drawing Inside the Perimeter’ was one of the most exciting shows I’d seen at the High in many years,” says Susan Antinori, who has collected works by some of the artists that were in the exhibition. “If you travel, you’ve already seen much of the work the High brings in,” she says, referring to the imported blockbuster exhibitions the High is known for, “but Michael’s show was so fresh and new.”
Antinori subsequently took a trip to New York with Michael last fall and was “very impressed with his contacts, friends, and knowledge. He’s such a treasure.”
The genesis for the first show was the Lambert Fund, a $50,000 pot left to the museum by Judith Alexander, in the name of Marianne Lambert, for the acquisition of works by local artists. Until Rooks joined the museum in 2010, the funds languished, having been used for only a few purchases. Rooks saw an opportunity to bolster the local community and strengthen its connection to the High by spreading the wealth to as many artists as possible. That meant buying works on paper, most priced between $1,000 and $1,500.
The Antinori gift will be supplemented with funds raised during the High’s Monster Drawing Rally, which garnered about $8,000 specifically for new acquisitions. The Judith Alexander Foundation has kicked in another $5,000 for the cause.
The next “Drawing Inside the Perimeter” may be a little less ITP, says Rooks, who is eager to begin studio visits with artists in the Atlanta metro area as well as such cities as Athens and Savannah. He’s aiming to bring in a whole new crop of artists, though he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of some repeats.
The first round of acquisitions was made with Lambert’s guidance, per Alexander’s wishes. Rooks says she’ll still be his sidekick, but less hands-on for the second exhibition.
Will DITP become a biennial of sorts? That depends on funding, says Rooks. Though depleted, the original Lambert Fund still exists, should anyone care to make contributions. Or other donors could step forward with designated funding, as the Antinoris have.
In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s recent story on the sale of the 14th Street Playhouse by the Woodruff Arts Center to the Savannah College of Art and Design, Woodruff president and CEO Virginia Hepner cites “Drawing Inside the Perimeter” as an example of the type of initiative the center might support with the proceeds from the sale.
That kind of sustained institutional support is long overdue in Atlanta. It’s a win-win.