BURNAWAY's Best of 2015: The Newsmakers

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BURNAWAY asked our experts to tell us about the most memorable highlights and significant news stories in their region. Making the list is Joe Nolan’s ongoing series about Nashville’s pikes for Nashville Public Radio, New Orleans’s 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and the Atlanta Contemporary establishing free admission for visitors. 
(Don’t miss our Best Exhibitions of 2015Favorite Reads, Cultural Experiences, and Movers & Shakers!)
Let us know what your favorites were in our Comments section!


Joe Nolan, Eagle, Landed, from Nolan's "Charlotte Pike" for Nashville Public Radio.
Joe Nolan, Eagle, Landed, from Nolan’s “Charlotte Pike” for Nashville Public Radio.

Erica Ciccarone (Nashville)
Writer
BURNAWAY contributor Joe Nolan has been collaborating with Nashville Public Radio on a series about the city’s pikes. He contributes a poem or invites the listener to ride along the pike with him in his old pickup as he points out things like the best place to get kebabs, a favorite hand-painted sign, or a corrugated wall he likes. He includes a photo essay on the station’s website for each pike, and to read them is to find out just how many weird facts Nolan knows, whether it be the history of a storefront or which road eventually turned into the Trail of Tears. You also feel like you’re getting to know him, too, as he presents the eccentric, hidden gems of his city. He’s only done three of our many pikes so far, so stay tuned.


Sara Emerson at work on a mural in Atlanta for "Living Walls: The City Speaks" in 2012. By putting an emphasis on public art projects, Atlanta's reputation has been enhanced as a cultural city.
Sara Emerson at work on a mural in Atlanta for “Living Walls: The City Speaks” in 2012. By putting an emphasis on public art projects, Atlanta’s reputation as a cultural city has been enhanced. (Photo: Dustin Chambers)

Lisa Tuttle (Atlanta)
Artist
Smaller municipalities like East Point, Roswell, and Suwanee stepping up to the plate of ambitious public art programs.


Regions Park, home of the Birmingham Barons.
Regions Park, home of the Birmingham Barons.

Amy Pleasant (Birmingham)
Artist
I would have to say that the biggest highlight in my immediate region is the revitalization of Downtown Birmingham and its surrounding neighborhoods. My neighborhood of Avondale is exploding with new restaurants and bars. The new Region’s Park for the Birmingham Barons baseball team and Railroad Park has completely changed the city, bringing together folks from all over. There is so much energy here right now and I am excited to be a part of it.


The statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee centered in a traffic circle, named Lee Circle, in New Orlean's Central Business District, and which was voted to be removed this year by the city's lawmakers. (Photo: Gerald Herbert for New York Times)
The statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee centered in a traffic circle, which was voted to be removed this year by the city’s lawmakers. (Photo: Gerald Herbert for New York Times)

Rebecca Lee Reynolds (New Orleans)
Writer, assistant professor of art history at University of New Orleans
Debate over removing Confederate monuments in the city: it all began when the Confederate flag came down in South Carolina, removed from the state capitol grounds. Mayor Landrieu then endorsed the removal of four Confederate monuments in New Orleans, including local landmarks Gen. Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle and Gen. Beauregard at the entrance to City Park. As I write, the City Council is hearing arguments pro and con, with an anticipated vote set for Dec. 17. For an overview, see here.
Opening of the Joan Mitchell Center: After a few years of pilot programs, the Joan Mitchell Center is now officially up and running, its Artist-in-Residence program bringing in 76 artists over the 2015-16 season for 1-5 month residencies at a brand new studio building on their Bayou Road property in the 7th ward. I wrote about it here.
After 3 months of exhibitions all over town, Prospect.3 closed in January; they announced that they are officially triennial now instead of biennial; and they announced the curator for P.4 in 2017, Nasher Museum at Duke curator Trevor Schoonmaker (read my post here).
Sophie Lvoff's St. Claude Avenue (Saturn Bar I), 2014, which was included in the Ogden's "The Rising," the museum's exhibition that set out to reflect the city's transformation during the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Sophie Lvoff’s St. Claude Avenue (Saturn Bar I), 2014, which was included in the Ogden’s “The Rising,” the museum’s exhibition that set out to reflect the city’s transformation during the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina: It seemed like every art show in town last August was about Katrina. Most locals wanted to just ignore the day, and worked hard to do so amid all the media attention. I chose to spend the morning at the breach site in the Lower Ninth Ward to pay my respects to a disaster that I did not experience but that has shaped the city I now call home. There was a healing ceremony at the site and a second line parade. My favorite Katrina anniversary bit was the episode that This American Life did in the Lower Ninth Ward, “Lower 9 + 10.”
Discovering that we have a Lynda Benglis that we didn’t know about: her 1984 fountain The Wave of the World was found at a suburban sewage treatment plant after years of neglect. The Helis Foundation, who’s become a major player in local arts funding this past year, sponsored its restoration, and now it’s on view in City Park near the New Orleans Museum of Art (read about its rediscovery here).


Megan Barry became Nashville's mayor this past year after winning the city's September 10 runoff election.
Megan Barry became Nashville’s mayor this past year after winning the city’s September 10 runoff election.

Vesna Pavlović (Nashville)
Artist, assistant professor of art at Vanderbilt University
Nashville elected Megan Barry, its first female mayor.


 

The Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center
The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.

Daniel Fuller (Atlanta)
Curator at Atlanta Contemporary
Us, the Atlanta Contemporary, becoming the only free admission art museum in Atlanta. This is part of why I took the position. It has been absolutely transformative for us, with out attendance skyrocketing and the amount of visitors we serve with our programs going through the roof. It is the one bright spot that distracts me from the sad truth that the Braves are moving to Cobb County. I took so many artists from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, Berlin, London … We are not driving to Cumberland at 6pm. (More on this later.)


ABC's Nashville ended season 4 with Avery (Jonathan Jackson) filing for divorce and Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) heading to rehab. (Photo: Bob D'Amico for ABC)
ABC’s Nashville ended season 4 with Avery (Jonathan Jackson) filing for divorce and Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) heading to rehab. (Photo: Bob D’Amico for ABC)

Mary Addison Hackett (Nashville)
Artist
Avery filed fror a divorce. Juliette’s in rehab. ; )


Be sure to check back in the coming days for BURNAWAY’s final Best of 2015, as we look ahead to what is on the radar for 2016!