We got to check out the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Tuesday. We were mostly interested in the art that’s been commissioned for the Atlanta Falcons’ and Atlanta United’s new home, but we have to admit, it was pretty cool. The food we sampled along the way—from Fox Brothers BBQ, Gamechanger, Sublime Doughnuts, Antico Pizza, Molly B’s and West Nest—almost made up for much of the art we didn’t get to see because it’s installed in places that we didn’t, and the public won’t, have access to.
The Falcons partnered with the Savannah College of Art and Design to fill its halls with sports-themed art. The collection features over 200 works by 55 artists, including nine who were selected from a brief 10-day call for artists. According to press materials, 35 percent of the artists are from Georgia, 75 percent are from the U.S., 25 percent are international, 25 percent are female (really?), and 15% are African-American (seriously?). There is talk of offering tours of the art collection, just as AT&T Stadium does for its notable collection, which set the gold standard for placing a fine art collection in a stadium. That’s largely due to the Dallas Cowboys’ owner, Jerry Jones and his wife Gene being serious art collectors.
For the record, here is the complete list of artists with works in Mercedes-Benz Stadium: Gabor Miklos Szoke, Matt Hebermehl, Jimmy O’Neal, Michael Porten, Nari Ward, Adam Cvijanovic, Dario Escobar, Radcliffe Bailey, Jake Messing, Melody Postma, Steven and William Ladd, Humans Since 1982, Antoine Rose, Gregory Eltringham, Hank Willis Thomas, Ivan Navarro, Spier Arts Academy, Shelter Serra, Jon Moody, Miya Ando, Random International, Joseph Guay, Mark Dorf, Amanda Weil, Adam Gabriel Winnie, Sandee Oliver Bartkowski, Marcus Kenney, Vibha Galhotra, Daniel Arsham, Teresita Fernandez, Laurent Grasso, Chris Beas, Richard Sullivan, Chas Underwood, Monica Cook, Wendy White, Hsu-Jen Huang, DL Warfield, Christopher Stevens, Nancy Lorenz, Justin Ward, Amiri Farris, John-Patrick McChesney, Doug Aitken, Chul Hyun Ahn, Will Penny, Elizabeth Winnel, Rebecca Gouldson, Hugo Dalton, Dan Vanlandingham, Ed Cohen, Artemus Jenkins, Gittel Chase Price, Kysa Johnson, Studio Rosa.
Here are the works we were able to see, many of which are in areas or lounges reserved for high-dollar ticket holders or suite owners.
(Photos by CC Calloway and Stephanie Cash)
Gábor Miklós Szőke’s Falcon stands, clutching a football with massive talons, at the entrance to the stadium.
Michael Porten’s “illuminated” installation of Hillel the Elder’s quote, well-known for being used by John F. Kennedy. It really gives you a moment to think before ordering your food at Molly B’s, named for Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s mother.
Dario Escobar’s soccer ball installation near the entrance. Its position next to the escalator allows you to see it from every angle.
Radcliffe Bailey has two massive pieces across from a bar that is open to the public even when games aren’t happening. Titled Conduits of Contact, it reflects the forced migration of Africans to America and the historical movement of African-Americans throughout the states. The vintage football photos come from the archives at Emory University.
Though Jake Messing’s huge painting looks like a crazy ad for the Foot Locker, its scale is impressive, and it wraps around a corner.
A mirrored mural by Jimmy O’Neil looks like a copper plate etching but is actually acrylic paint on acrylic panels. Very large and reflective.
Remember that call that went out asking for donations of used shoelaces for Nari Ward’s stadium installation? Voilà! One Voice contains more than 8,000 shoelaces, many of which were collected from the Atlanta Falcons and local high school football teams.
Steven and William Ladd’s mixed-media piece Lessons of Encouragement was created in collaboration with over 900 members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. It’s composed of 10,000 hand-painted, papier-maché beads, but really reminds us of those Jelly Belly display cases.
A piece by one of our favorite artists, Hank Willis Thomas, hangs near the Hall of Fame Suites.
Hsu-Jen Huang documented the construction of the stadium, and a series of his photos are hung in the Hall of Fame Suites.
This is just Budweiser “art,” but we predict it will be all over Instagram.
Four large-scale photos by Antoine Rose hang in the bowels on the lower level of the stadium.
You can Joseph Guay’s triptych of glistening black “mixed media” if you have seats in the 100s sections, practically on the field.
This light fixture goes with the flickering LED installation.
Many of the works hung in private areas and hallways are a bit meh and too literal, more “sports art” than Art.
Kevin Gillespie, one of the chefs with a restaurant at Falcons Stadium, talked about the local breweries that will be featured at his cleverly named Gamechanger, alongside the familiar stadium brands. We got to sample his delicious BBQ sandwiches and these adult slushies.
Michael Bertozzi of Two Urban Licks is the executive chef of Molly B’s. It’s located right at the entrance and has a great view of the field, and will be open for lunch even when there are no sports events.
West Nest is an eatery staffed with workers from the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium who completed culinary training through Westside Works, a long-term program focused on creating employment opportunities and job training for residents of the Westside.
The view of the city from the building is really quite stunning.
View of the field and the “halo screen.”
Here’s some swag from the press preview. We love it! Kudos to the Falcons for giving us metal takeaways instead of plastic!