Our Favorite Things: 2008

From a Castleberry Art Stroll. Photo by Jeremy Abernathy.
From a Castleberry Hill Art Stroll in 2008. Photo by Jeremy Abernathy.

Burn Away asked 10 Atlanta artists, curators, and reviewers to describe their “most inspiring” local art exhibition or event of the year. Contributors include Emily Amy, Mike Germon, Matt Haffner, Jerry Cullum, Robert Cheatham, Michi, Dosa Kim, Jason Parker, Stephanie Dowda, and Cinqué Hicks.

The title of this post is in part inspired by the holiday instrumental, “My Favorite Things” (as interpreted in 1960 by John Coltrane and, in 2003, appropriated in the adrenaline-fused remix by André 3000). The art shows listed below are organized according to date. Enjoy!

Berni Searle, A Matter of Time, 2003 DVD projection
Berni Searle, A Matter of Time, DVD Projection.

Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970, Part II

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
January 24 – May 24

“When Atlanta gets large groups of top-tier artists that move the needle in the art world’s cultural continuum, they’re usually of the sort that have been dead for a couple hundred years. Spelman’s show that spanned the first third of 2008 included seminal work by Lorna Simpson, Berni Searle, and Wangechi Mutu among others. It singlehandedly reaffirmed my belief in Atlanta’s capacity for museological chutzpah and curatorial élan.”

Cinqué Hicks is a cultural code reader. He is art critic for Creative Loafing and is currently researching Mapping Creative Ecologies at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Various works by Bill Daniel. Photo by Ben Grad.
Various works by Bill Daniel. Photo by Ben Grad.

BILL DANIEL: Sunset Scavenger
Get This Gallery
March 28 – April 19

“‘Sunset Scavenger’ evoked both the pang of the expelled and the jubilation of the anarchist. Void of people, Bill Daniel’s photographs of mobile houses reveals the aspects that make them home: mobility, flexibility, and most importantly, freedom. We are forced to challenge the obvious—home equals boundaries and limits—though Daniel’s subjects live on the verge of never tying those bounds. We are drawn towards the fight against restraints; though we exit the gallery to approach again what we momentarily disdained. But for a moment, we can reflect on these luminous silver gelatin mural prints…and simply be there, which in fact, is the only reason to be.”

Stephanie Dowda is an examiner of thought and logic through the lens of a camera.

Kofke, Everything Will Be OK
Jason Kofke, from "Everything Will Be OK"

JASON KOFKE: Everything Will Be OK
A Show of Good Intentions, An Exhibition of Failures

Art House Co-op
May 24 – June 4

“The obsolete technologies in Jason Kofke’s show function as testaments to the past, a dream of the future, and as dramatic failures. Kofke’s incorporation of technically complex prints and other 2-dimensional works—as well as old slides, film projectors, microfiche machine, condom dispenser, balloons, stickers and rubber stamps—gave the show a light touch too often missing from exhibitions. History is a cycle of climactic, defining moments, and yet these portents of the end, or of the pinnacle of human achievement, are eventually discarded and forgotten. The drama ebbs, the machines become relics, and we are left only with the hope that someday ‘everything will be OK.'”

Jason Parker is co-founder and editor of ArtRelish.com. Art Relish is a news source, directory, and calendar of visual arts events in Atlanta.

Sam Parker, Preemptive Strike
Sam Parker, Preemptive Strike.

SAM PARKER: The Road to Excess
Young Blood Gallery
June 7 – 29

“One of my favorites locally was Sam Parker’s show at Young Blood in June. That show made me change up my style entirely. . .[In that show] he is touching on elaborate subject matters that have some of the aesthetic qualities that you find in the tattoo world and the graffiti genre. Technically, the work is really intricate, but I think the content and the sheer volume of the work speak for itself. Not only is it visually engaging, but some of the subject matter challenges political, sexual, and religious belief systems. The show to me was a success, and I hope other artists begin to follow his lead. Skill is just one half of the picture. Sam seems to be developing both skill and content, which is why he is easily one of the best in Atlanta.”

My name is Dosa Kim, and I try to make pictures that feel funny. Ha! You can see some of my stuff at www.dosakim.com.

Road To Excess
Sam Parker, Origin of Language.

“Sam Parker’s work is like a calculated pimp hand with sugar on top of spiked nails that should ease the pain of him ‘bussing you in the face. But it doesn’t. The work is effortless, detailed, and slammed full of humor that they make other artists feel lazy for not working harder. He has finessed the pen and ink. . .The content is there too, it is not without thought. Sam is like the kid that drew too much in school and now as an adult has a serious education in people. The characters seem to come from some happy spot on the dark side. The reoccurring penis and pig symbols speak to a depth in Sam’s world that I am not prepared to go. I think he has one of the best hands in Atlanta hands down.”

The Cring of the South [aka Michi] is a front porch anthropologist and back porch hustler, a preacher with mean streak, King Kotton with a straight razor, and a whiskey-drinking, shit-talking passionate individual.

Photo by Jonathan Bouknight.
Ruth Stanford, Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology. Photo by Jonathan Bouknight.

RUTH STANFORD: Cryptoecology
Eyedrum Art and Music Gallery
August 23 – October 4

“It’s seldom that you get a scientist (Stanford was a biologist) who is also an artist (she teaches art at Georgia State; the other major example that I can think of is Dr. Feredoon Family, a physicist, who had a very interesting show at Whitespace.) It’s very difficult for an artist to do a solo show in a space as large as the Eyedrum main gallery and have all aspects of the show feel pertinent, so that in itself was impressive. The show was also a perfect blend of sculptural execution and concept. Even if you didn’t quite ‘get it’ as a concept, the show acted as a pointer, forming a gestalt which left the viewer slightly uneasy, looking deep into a large fish mouth at a tableau, or viewing what looked uncomfortably like toxic spills spread all over a winding asphalt road reproduced in the gallery. It’s also interesting to note that the discomfort level was so high for one viewer that the roadway was very purposely and extensively defaced. An iconoclastic ‘tribute’ of some sort or another, I suppose.”

Robert R. Cheatham is the Executive Director of Eyedrum and also Partner in Public Domain, Inc. Note: Cheatham had no part in the selection, genesis, or preparation of “Cryptoecology.”

Whitney Stansell, Apollo Moon Landing
Whitney Stansell, Apollo Moon Landing

A First Date, A Funeral, and Moments in Between

Gallery Stokes
September 5 – 20

“I was very fond of Whitney Stansell’s drawings at Stokes. . .The show consisted of numbered drawings and an artist’s book with text keyed to the numbers, unlike her paintings in which the text is inscribed at the bottom of the painting. . .They distinctly furthered her mythology of the actual, presenting visual conundrums in which the seemingly helpful number key identifying events and major players deliberately didn’t clarify anything.”

Jerry Cullum serves as Editor at Large of ART PAPERS Magazine, an art critic for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, and a regular contributor to ARTnews and Art in America.

Le Flash
Mind the Gap Fountain by Kristina Solomoukha, unveiled during the Le Flash one-night event. Photo by Jeremy Abernathy.

LE FLASH: Nuit Blanche
Castleberry Hill neighborhood
October 24

“I think that Atlanta is fortunate to have some really visionary curators who can bring something unexpected and fresh to the scene on occasion. This was one of those times. Part spectacle, part performance art, part public art, and part art stroll. Hopefully we’ll see more of this type of art event in Atlanta.”

Matt Haffner is a local artist whose works explore ambiguous narratives derived from film noir and comic books, often in the form of painting, drawing, and large-scale public photo installation.

Majestic Hours
Joe Tsambiras and Sam Parker, from Majestic Hours.

Majestic Hours

Beep Beep Gallery
November 8 – December 2

“In a year where Beep Beep Gallery based exhibits around combinations of artists in an attempt to create memorable collaborations, “Majestic Hours” was one of the few to completely succeed on that front. Sam and Joe’s show out-executed other Atlanta exhibits at every turn. The breadth of imagery remained astounding and varied while spanning over 70 image-heavy drawings. The extra mile was traveled time and time again, including multiple installation elements and a comprehensive book of the show. The most impressive part for me was the decision to stick to black ink on paper, a choice that left no tricks to hide behind.”

Mike Germon is a local artist, curator, designer, filmmaker, and observer whose daily art scavenges are documented at his blog, ThoughtMarker.

Meg Aubrey, Trash Day, oil on panel, 2008.
Meg Aubrey, Trash Day, oil on panel, 2008.

SCAD Open Studios Night
Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta
November 13

“Open studio night at SCAD reminded me why I first wanted to study art and ultimately pursue a career as a gallerist. There is truly amazing talent all around us, and it is critical to the culture of our city that we seek it out and celebrate it. While attending open studio night, I met and chatted with several young artists as well as professors. I was able to take a peek into their world, and they were eager to share their time and their thoughts on art. It was an evening that reinvigorated me and reinforced my chosen path. The Atlanta arts scene is fortunate to have so many talented local artists, which was evidenced by what I saw at the SCAD Open Studios.”

Emily Amy is the owner and director of the recently opened Emily Amy Gallery, which exhibits a broad spectrum of conceptually and visually stimulating art, with a focus on contemporary works that recall mid-20th century masters.

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  • Avatar
    Ben Grad
    January 1, 2009 at

    Definitely. I’d love to repeat this next year with even more respondents.

  • Avatar
    Sam Parker
    January 1, 2009 at

    This is great post, and I’m not just saying that because I get mentioned twice. I think this type of dialog between artists and critics is what Atlanta’s emerging art scene needs to progress towards a unified entity effecting change locally and nationally. Thanks.

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