Location: 696 Charles Allen Drive (corner of Charles Allen and Ponce De Leon Avenue), Atlanta, GA 30307
Hours: 12 – 5 pm; closed Wednesdays and Sundays or by appointment
Operated by: Dianna Settles
Opened: January 2016
Most recent exhibitions: Yoon Nam, In my dreams I am always an antagonist; This Thing is Ours, group show curated by Y. Malik Jalal
Artist spaces have received a lot of attention lately, and are starting to be taken more seriously by artists, gallerists and collectors. Have you seen that reflected in Georgia in general or in your experiences running Hi Lo?
I feel like Hi-Lo has received a good amount of support since our inception, and it helps that Beep Beep and L’Avenue inhabited the building before us. I really appreciate the dance I’ve learned with the people and friends who come to the events and the ways they decide to engage with the space. It feels good to see so many people making themselves comfortable sprawled out on the sidewalk out front talking and also meeting folks who generally frequent the more professional galleries but are curious to see what’s happening here.
Hi-Lo recently received word that it would no longer be able to occupy the space on Charles Allen and launched a GoFundMe in response earlier this week. What has the community’s response to this news? How do you envision Hi-Lo Press continuing operations in the future?
The community has been extremely supportive. And it isn’t completely clear about what is happening to the block yet. The landlord who had owned it in the past hasn’t made any efforts to let us know what is going on, and no one has yet spoken with the new owners. So much is undetermined that it makes it difficult to have a concrete plan. There is a possibility that I will move the press equipment into more of a studio space that will function without as much of a public place since it is unlikely that I’ll be able to afford another street-front spot. I think there are creative ways of finding spaces for exhibits that will maybe only be up for one evening that could be interesting to pursue and force me to let Hi-Lo shape shift while still engaging with the community and sustaining the friendships we’ve made over the last three and a half years.
A lot of artist-run spaces position themselves against an institution or institutional idea. Is that the type of space that Hi-Lo occupies?
I think that there are plenty of things to position oneself against, a never-ending list, but I think that it’s more interesting (at least today) to talk about the things that feel good and import and desirable for the space, which is somewhere to experiment with printmaking, to gather and share snacks, poetry, movies, raise money for projects and people facing political repression, and to play with the ways we experience looking at artwork and seeking wonder and wondrous moments in common.
As Atlanta grows and the rent increases, it becomes harder and harder to maintain an artist community in the city. Are there other artist-run spaces across the South that you look to for inspiration or a successful model for the community going forward?
As Atlanta is gentrified and razed, so are other cities. It’s something that’s very sad and very scary to me. I think that it’s natural for things to exist only momentarily. It forces us to be adaptable and more creative in consideration of what things we think to ask for, what feels worth the risks of pursuing without permission. Good Enough—run by dear friend and Atlanta darling Steffen Sornpao—has always been one of the most inspiring presences I’ve been lucky enough to know. I’m fortunate to have friends like him pushing my brain out of comfortable anxieties and towards electric and unknown anxieties.