BURNAWAY’s Best of 2016: Movers, Shakers & Newsmakers

We asked our contributing curators, artists, collectors and critics who and/or what has made a significant impact on their local art scene in 2016, and what they remember most in 2016.

Among the movers and shakers are Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine ArtsWassan Al-Khudhairi, curator at the Birmingham Museum of Art, while ATLBNL, galleries coming and going, and the election are still on a lot of minds.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS IN THE SOUTH

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Yanique Norman

Yanique Norman, artist

Cosmo Whyte, Atlanta artist, was definitely the breakout star this year.

Cosmo Whyte in front of his drawing Golden Kicks.
Cosmo Whyte in front of his drawing Golden Kicks.

Michi MekoMichi Meko, artist

I’m not sure there is one thing but I know that it’s time for Atlanta to get serious.

 


Megan MosholderMegan C. Mosholder, artist

I think the city as a whole has made an impact on the local art scene. The fact that Atlanta has grown exponentially (just in the few years I have been based here) is pushing artists to reflect on that change artistically, helping to make Atlanta a more viable contender in the global art scene.


Krista ClarkKrista Clark, artist

The emergence and development of artist-run studio spaces in Atlanta.

Joe and Rachel Bigley plan on turning this industrial space in East Point into a community for artists.
Joe and Rachel Bigley turned this industrial space in East Point into a community for artists.

Logan LocknerLogan Lockner, BURNAWAY Assistant Editor

The new curatorial studies program at Spelman, which launched in January, is such an exciting development for Atlanta and, more broadly, the next generation of curators and art workers. Andrea Barnwell Brownlee’s ambitious and innovative leadership of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts continues to be an indispensable force in Atlanta, and this program is a prime example of a bold leader gathering resources and taking direct action to address a systemic lack of diversity in the art world. Museum directors, curators, and university administrators around the country should be taking notes.

Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, director of the Spelman College Museum of Art. (Photo: Taryn Lee Crenshaw)
Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, director of the Spelman College Museum of Art. (Photo: Taryn Lee Crenshaw)

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-48-17-pmEric Mack, artist

Superwoman Jessica Caldas and her socio/political engagement has crossed borders of art into activism within our local government.

Art AIDS America at the Zuckerman Museum, Kennesaw State University: This was a well done and enlightening exhibition. It was disheartening to witness the amount of government and public disapproval surrounding such a relevant issue.

Installation view of "Art AIDS America," closing Sunday, May 22, at the Zuckerman Museum of Art.
Installation view of “Art AIDS America” at the Zuckerman Museum of Art.

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Didi Dunphy

Didi Dunphy, artist

David Hale and the Birdsong mural in downtown Athens. Just on the heel of the Lyndon House Arts Center, Athfest Educates launched the Hale mural and the Athens Mural Map publication; two more murals popped up the following month!

Mural titled "Birdsong," by David Hale, in conjunction with Athfest Educates, Lyndon House, and Philanthropy Fashion in Athens, GA.
Birdsong mural by David Hale, in conjunction with Athfest Educates, Lyndon House, and Philanthropy Fashion in Athens.

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Pete Schulte

Pete Schulte, artist / co-founder of The Fuel & Lumber Company

In the evolving Birmingham neighborhood of Avondale, Saturn/Satellite, music venue / bar / coffee shop not only hosts concerts from national and international touring acts, it also serves as a vital hub for inclusive cultural and community events, conversation, yoga, and cereal. Quickly becoming a Birmingham institution, Saturn/Satellite is a perfect example of the difference between honest change and gentrification.

Saturn (music venue) and Satellite (coffee and cocktail bar) is a facility located in Avondale just east of downtown Birmingham.
Saturn (music venue) and Satellite (coffee and cocktail bar) is a facility located in Avondale just east of downtown Birmingham.

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Jordan AmirkhaniJordan Amirkhani, Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

I am so excited to see what Public Art Chattanooga’s new director, Katelyn Kirnie, has in store for the future of the organization, and am looking forward to a more expansive dialogue about the role and impact of public art in our city.

Konstantin Dimopoulos, "The Blue Trees", October 15 - November 15, 2016; Chattanooga, TN ©Dave Brown Photography
Konstantin Dimopoulos, “The Blue Trees”, October 15 – November 15, 2016; Chattanooga, TN ©Dave Brown Photography

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Jaime de SimoneJaime DeSimone, Curator, MOCA Jacksonville

TEDxFSCJ is always offering and engaging in timely dialogues in the community. This fall, they organized “Art (Re)Defines Usthat addressed how many modes of art—painting, poetry, spoken word, and historic neighborhoods—contribute to the flourishing of communities. 


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Amy White, artist and writer

Timely and vibrant, the North Carolina arts community stepped up at a time when the McCrory administration caught national and international attention for its policies of bigotry and discrimination—most notoriously in the form of HB2–but also for election gerrymandering, dismantling public education and other legislative acts to disenfranchise low-income and marginalized citizens. Curators Linda Dallas and Mike Williams went all-in for the Black on Black show at the VAE (Visual Arts Exchange) in Raleigh. The exhibition’s central offering of ten local artists (Dare Coulter, Jamila Davenport, Darryl Hurts, Andre’ Leon Gray, Carrie Nobles, William Paul Thomas, Saba Taj, Lamar Whidbee, Antoine Williams, and Charles Williams) served as a conceptual hub around which numerous gallery talks, cultural events and community engagement circulated.  The show conveyed a sense of the immediacy and made a case for the power of art practice as a conduit for social dialogue.  

The Carrack in Durham “This is Not Yours / Al Maghrib Ghareeb”

The Carrack in Durham presented This is Not Yours / Al Maghrib Ghareeb, an exhibit that gave voice to the work of young seekers, practitioners, and questioners of Islam and Muslim identity, including Qasima Wideman, Saba Taj, Heeva Kadivar, Zaina Alsous, Nureena Faruqi, Laila Nur, Sufia Ikbal Doucet, and Sijal Nasralla. The show was a welcome expression given the tendency toward renewed islamophobia and the ongoing failure to meet that phenomenon with enlightened communication. Language and translated meaning was a central tenet of the show, which included phrases in English and Arabic in bold lettering on the gallery walls.  

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Durham-based artist, Stacey Kirby, ongoing interactive installation project, Bureau of Personal Belonging.

Durham-based artist, Stacey Kirby, won the jury award of $200,000 at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for her ongoing interactive installation project, Bureau of Personal Belonging. In the installation, a fully-immersive and detailed bureaucratic office space, visitors engage with performers who officiate various departments such as the Department of Declarations, the Civil Validation Department, the Board of Elections, and the Facility Permit Office (the performers in the Grand Rapids version included NC artists and members of the Grand Rapids LGBTQ community and allies).  The installation is tricked out with vintage office supplies including bespoke stationery and rubber stamps that—contrary to many of our experiences in such spaces—validate and affirm the humanity and identity of visitors. Suffice to say a resonant work from a North Carolina artist who has inspired and raised the community up at a dark time.  

Installation view at L.O.G.,
Installation view of Pilot: Maria Britton/April Childers at the Low Occupancy Gallery.

On a more modest (but aesthetically kick-ass) scale, artists Maria Britton and April Childers set up a temporary exhibition space called L.O.G. (Low Occupancy Gallery) in an abandoned shack up the road from this writer.  They’ve since been unceremoniously disinvited from that site and Lump Gallery has hosted the first of a series of three L.O.G. exhibitions, a spare presentation of single works by Lauren Clay, Julia Gartrell, and Angelina Gualdoni (with subtle spatial/ architectural interventions gallery that included ratty gray carpeting), while they search for their next space.  

If that weren’t cool enough proximity-wise, artist Andy Berner (who also happens to be this writer’s across-the-street neighbor) initiated Guest Room–an ongoing curated space based in an actual guest room in his home.


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Miranda LashMiranda Lash, Contemporary Art Curator, Speed Art Museum

It has been a year of museum re-openings between the Speed, the Filson, and KMAC.The Speed reopening after three years of closure has been a long awaited event in the community. Kudos to Teddy Abrams, director of the Louisville Orchestra, and Robert Curran, director of the Louisville Ballet for their groundbreaking work.


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Mary Addison Hackett

Mary Addison Hackett, artist

Vanderbilt’s Studio VU Lecture series, Seed Space’s Insight? Outta Site!, the Nashville Fine Arts Program, and artist-run spaces.


Jim Sokol and Lydia Cheney ©Jean Allsopp / Garden Gun Magazine)
Jim Sokol and Lydia Cheney ©Jean Allsopp / Garden Gun Magazine)

Lydia Cheney and Jim Sokol, Southern Folk Art Collectors

Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the BMA.

Wassan Al-Khudhairi is the curator of modern and contemporary art at the Birmingham Museum of Art.
Wassan Al-Khudhairi is the curator of modern and contemporary art at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

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Rebecca Lee Reynolds

Rebecca Reynolds, Assistant Professor, Department of Fine Arts, University of New Orleans

Between the Platforms Fund (funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation) and the Spillways program, Antenna is taking the lead in giving away money and serving the local art community.


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Lauren Ross 330x200Lauren Ross, Curator, Virginia Commonwealth University

The first outing of the CURRENT Art Fair is, I believe, a big deal for Richmond.  If you are wondering why the world needs another art fair, I’ll point out that there are many art lovers, artists, and galleries who don’t do the established fair “circuit.”  The first time out of the gate is always risky, but CURRENT seems to have exceeded expectations in terms of attendance and, yes, even sales.  I can’t wait to see this venture grow in the future.


IN THE NEWS

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Logan Lockner, BURNAWAY Assistant Editor
This year Atlanta said goodbye to the Low Museum, the provocative artist-run space that introduced me to many of the young local artists I admire, but it also witnessed a surge in exhibitions being hosted in people’s basements, apartments, and studios. (The common threads of rising rent costs and concerns about displacement that connect these incidents should be clear to anyone with an ear to the ground in Atlanta or any other city where artists attempt to live and work.) I’m curious to see what 2017 holds for artist-run spaces like SpeciesGood EnoughDay & Night ProjectsBig Green House, and Nasty Cowboy.


Yanique Norman, artist
I really loved the many ways publications handled the “Sharratt-Gate” controversy between Pastiche and Nathan. I loved the simultaneity of the multiple points of view that were given. And while publications gave us the hard facts they also gave us samples of “truths” seen on both sides of the ideological spectrum. As a reader I just couldn’t get enough … writing was sooo good. It felt like a real-life “art” soap opera for intellectuals.

Nathan Sharratt, hashtag art war hashtag, laser cut acrylic hashtag used by the artist during #artwar with Chicago artist Dominic Sansone.
Nathan Sharratt, hashtag art war hashtag, laser cut acrylic hashtag used by the artist during #artwar with Chicago artist Dominic Sansone.

Michi Meko, artist
The Atlanta Biennial finally came back. Let’s hope it grows some legs and becomes an event for the world to travel and celebrate Atlanta for change. If we get serious it could be like Prospect in New Orleans—hell, even ArtFields in South Carolina. Big money!!!

Installation view of ATLBNL.
Installation view of ATLBNL.

Eric Mack, artist
Police brutality. Public protests. Unjust court rulings. When, if ever, will these types of horrible events be a thing of the past?

ATLBNL at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center- It was great to see the return of such an important survey after it had been on hold for so long.

Sheila Pree Bright, Baltimore: Freddie Gray protest, 2015.
Sheila Pree Bright, Baltimore: Freddie Gray protest, 2015.

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Didi Dunphy, artist
Athens is preparing to launch the first Public Art Master Plan having hosted three artists as residents: Seitu Jones, Matthew Mazzotta and Wing Young Huie, all artists who work with social and civic practice.

Athfest Educates celebrated their 20th anniversary of contributing to the arts and music education in Athens with a mural commission by David Hale located downtown Athens.

Mural titled "Birdsong," by David Hale, in conjunction with Athfest Educates, Lyndon House, and Philanthropy Fashion in Athens, GA.
David Hale, Birdsong, 2016; AthFest 20th Anniversary Mural Project, ©David Hale

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Jaime DeSimone, Curator, MOCA Jacksonville
President Obama spoke at the University of North Florida (MOCA Jacksonville is a cultural institute of the university). I wasn’t able to attend and still regretting that I missed him!

President Obama speaks at the University of North Florida Arena; Image: Jerry McGovern, digital photographer for WJXT
President Obama speaks at the University of North Florida Arena; ©Jerry McGovern, digital photographer for WJXT

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Lydia Cheney and Jim Sokol, Southern Folk Art Collectors
Announcement of the Third Space opening exhibition in January highlighting the Birmingham Museum of Art’s collection of contemporary Southern art.

Installation view of Third Space exhibition; José Bedia, Mpangui jimagua (Twin Brothers), 2000; mixed media, 122 by 355 by 188 inches, Birmingham Museum of Art, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Collectors Circle for Contemporary Art in honor of Pauline Ireland
José Bedia, Mpangui jimagua (Twin Brothers), 2000; mixed media, 122 by 355 by 188 inches.

Pete Schulte, artist / co-founder of The Fuel & Lumber Company
Certainly not a highlight, the tragedy of November 8 sadly reigns as the most significant news story of the year.

An image of Donald Trump by Phillip Kremer.
An image of Donald Trump by Phillip Kremer.

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Rebecca Lee Reynolds, Assistant Professor at University of New Orleans
Pelican Bomb, which started out as a website for local art criticism, now has a physical space, Gallery X on O.C. Haley Blvd., where they have been curating thematic exhibitions with online tie-ins to the writing on their website.

Installation view of "2 Freaky 2 Friday" at Pelican Bomb Gallery X, New Orleans. Photo by Roman Alokhin
Installation view of “2 Freaky 2 Friday” at Pelican Bomb Gallery X, New Orleans. (Photo: Roman Alokhin)

Confederate Monuments: despite the city’s resolution to remove them, they are still here. Take ‘em Down Nola is still trying to get rid of them.

Bill Fagaly, beloved local art world figure and the curator of African art at the New Orleans Museum of Art, retired after 50 years of working at NOMA.

New Orleans Airlift found a new home and opened a permanent site for their Music Box Project in the Bywater. The “village” (their word) of musical sculptures is part playground, part performance space. I saw their exquisite preview performance, featuring the cultural diplomacy program OneBeat and conducted by local fave Quintron, and this month I enjoyed the Cajun band The Lost Bayou Ramblers with special guest Rickie Lee Jones.


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Joe Nolan, critic, columnist, and intermedia artist
The musical chairs game in the Nashville gallery scene was at the top of my news cycle for mos of the year. In a nutshell, the avant garde outposts in the downtown Arcade continued to migrate to the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood which is doubtless the city’s new art capital.

David Lusk Gallery's Nashville space.
David Lusk Gallery’s Nashville space.

East Nashville was mostly in chaos this year, but its fragile gallery scene is still anchored by Red Arrow and Platetone Printmaking, Paper, and Book Artss move to the East Side, bolstered the creative cache on the “other side” of the Cumberland River.


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Amy White, artist and writer
After 20 years of bringing relevant, challenging, experimental art to the Triangle, representing the best of the local scene and connecting the region to the greater national and international art world, Lump Gallery is transitioning from its gallery model to a nonprofit. Gallery director and artist, Bill Thelen, and Flanders Gallery’s Kelly McChesney announced that they would be pulling their resources to re-envision new modes.  

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Exterior of Lump.

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Lauren Ross, Curator, Virginia Commonwealth University
I have amnesia for any news story in 2016 that didn’t pertain to the election. Especially with local champion Tim Kaine on the ballot, the Richmonders I know were extremely invested … and then completely crushed.

Caricature of Trump by Illma Gore.
Caricature of Trump by Illma Gore.

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Miranda Lash, Contemporary Art Curator, Speed Art Museum

Speed Art Museum
Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY

The Speed Art Museum in Louisville reopened to the public in March 2016 following an extensive expansion and renovation. Designed by Kulapat Yantrasast of wHy architecture, the new North Building includes 16,000 additional square feet of exhibition space, including a floor dedicated to the Speed’s contemporary collection. Part of the new Speed includes the launch of a film program and a new cinema facility, run by curator of film Dean Otto, formerly of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

The Filson Historical Society opened a significant new expansion, designed by DeLeon and Primmer Architecture Workshop.

The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft completed an extensive renovation including newly revamped gallery exhibition space.

Sadly the arts have seen a marked lack of support by Governor Matt Bevin, who has reorganized the Kentucky Arts Council, reduced the number of council members, and forced the resignation of its longtime Executive Director, Lori Meadows.

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