BURNAWAY's BEST: Who and What to Keep an Eye On in 2014

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Here’s a sampling of what’s on the radars of these Southerners in the know.
 
Brett Levine, independent writer and curator

Franklin Sirmans, contemporary curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and organizer of the upcoming Prospect.3 biennial in New Orleans.
Franklin Sirmans, contemporary curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and organizer of Prospect.3 in New Orleans.

All eyes are on Los Angeles County Museum of Art curator Franklin Sirmans as he prepares for the Prospect.3 biennial in New Orleans. Hopefully, he’ll bring the magic of his “NeoHooDoo” exhibition to the land of voodoo for Prospect.3. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
If it were possible to simply paint the ethereal, Amy Pleasant would have already finished. Whether she is making a universe of the mundane in a thousand individual ink drawings or creating a sky so much like marshmallows that you can almost hear Rickie Lee Jones and Orbital singing “Little Fluffy Clouds” in the background, Pleasant is as at home working on a piece of paper the size of a postcard as she is creating an installation so engaging it overwhelms you. An integral part of the Birmingham art scene for over a decade, she shows regularly throughout the Southeast and in New York. Pleasant flies below the radar but is someone you should know, and know well. [Pleasant’s solo show opens at Whitespace, Atlanta,  January 10.]
The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, designed by Randall Stout, opens in early 2014. Ten years in the making, this is the single most significant enhancement to museum-quality exhibition spaces in the region in recent memory. Since the opening is still two weeks away [January 16], why not take the time to read Daniel Buren’s Four Functions essays or Brian O’Doherty’s Inside the White Cube. Nothing says university exhibition space like a hearty round of the “critique of institutions” that curators know and love. [The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts recently donated  six Warhol prints to the institute.]
Rendering of the new Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Art in Birmingham.
Rendering of the new Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts in Birmingham.

Perennial Properties

Michael Straus, board chair, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; trustee, Birmingham Museum of Art

Amy Pleasant in her studio, 2013. (Photo: Jason Wallis)
Amy Pleasant in her studio, 2013. (Photo: Jason Wallis)

Mid-career artist Amy Pleasant of Birmingham continues to develop and expand the scope of her work, which now includes site-specific paintings with both playful and serious conceptual elements.


Michael Rooks, curator of modern and contemporary art, High Museum of Art

Artist Rebecca Hanna’s association with the forward-looking programming at Mint Gallery combined with her own discursive practice = great potential.

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Bethany Collins in front of her work at the Hambidge Art Auction at the Goat Farm, 2012.

Bethany Collins’s residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem will inform her practice in a way that is unpredictable and will provide an enormous boost in her personal development.
Fahamu Pecou, because he is the shit.
Harrison Keys’s highly idiosyncratic and fantastic imagery gets at the collective anxieties and ennui that inform contemporaneity. They’re also a joy to look at.
Artist and Mint curator Henry Detweiler has organized some of the most exciting and scrappy shows since the gallery relocated to Highland Avenue.
Lloyd Benjamin of Get This! has not wavered in terms of professionalism and the sheer excellence of programming, and he has ratcheted both up in the gallery’s new space).
Twin Kittens. Interesting and sharp sensibilities drive the gallery’s program.


Lisa Tuttle, director, Fulton County Department of Arts and Culture

Robin Bernat with artist Stewart Ziff.
Robin Bernat with artist Stewart Ziff.

Ben Goldman and Preston Snyder of Kibbee Gallery are both curators and dealers to watch. They’re always giving talented emerging artists a chance to show.
Artist Robin Bernat has a solid program of exhibitions, films, and books at her gallery {Poem 88}.
Curator Hope Cohn, whose ambitious exhibition SCORE opens February 1 at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia.


Alexandra Sachs, assistant curator, Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta

Orly Genger's Red, Yellow and Blue, Madison Square Park, New York, 2013.
Orly Genger’s Red, Yellow and Blue (detail), Madison Square Park, New York, 2013.

Orly Genger‘s monumental public art installation was impossible to miss in Madison Square Park in New York City last spring/summer. The artist used rope collected along the Eastern seaboard to hand-knot and paint the material into undulating layers of color and texture. I love her choice of material and the sheer ambition of her scale! Two of Orly’s Donald Judd-influenced stack sculptures and a selection of recent works on paper will be on view in the exhibition Undertone at SCAD Atlanta in January.
I am also looking forward to Whitespace’s upcoming exhibition with SCAD student, Alexander Hajidakis, who employs a variety of vintage and alternative photo processes to create images of melancholic beauty.


Anne Lambert Tracht, art consultant, Atlanta

Danielle Roney (Photo: Joeff Davis)
Danielle Roney (Photo: Joeff Davis)

Danielle Roney is taking her work to the next level over the next 6-12 months. She’s really pushing the envelope not only conceptually but also technologically.
Karen Paty, director of Georgia Council for the Arts, has big plans for turning around GCA and for improving the state of arts and arts education throughout the state.


Louise Shaw, curator David L. Sencer CDC Museum, Atlanta

Installation view of Cardinal at Twin Kittens.

Curator who needs to be put to work: Rachel Reese, whose two-part exhibition Cardinal at Marcia Wood Gallery and Twin Kittens Gallery was conceptually rich, visually compelling, and beautifully installed.  (Note to the Contemporary.)


 
Veronica Kavass, contributor, Nashville Scene; professor at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, Nashville
Curator Susan Sherrick recently moved to Nashville from San Francisco. She runs the pop-up gallery The Joint, which features American photography along with leather jackets. While that could be a disaster, Sherrick has the street smarts and panache to pull it off.
Artist Christine Rogers just returned to her native Nashville after doing a Fulbright in India, where she photographed the “Switzerland of India.” One of the more compelling pieces is a video in which Rogers filmed her driver in front of a landscape with his eyes closed, and asked him to imagine the landscape behind him. He hardly moves but his closed eyes twitch now and then. This is what a still portrait sounds like when it is moving: ice melting.

Jessica Wohl, The Brown Family, 2012; embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 10 inches.
Jessica Wohl, The Brown Family, 2012; embroidery on found photograph, 8 by 10 inches.

Chattanooga artist Jessica Wohl will be featured in numerous exhibitions in the South in 2014, including Mint Gallery in Atlanta and the Knoxville Museum of Art. Her work personifies the home through such motifs as staircases covered in human hair and other creepy allusions to suburban upbringing. In a climate of foreclosed homes, abandoned neighborhoods, and forgotten dreams, Wohl’s work explores the still life remaining in these structures and questions the American dream.
I cannot keep up with Tony Youngblood‘s numerous curatorial enterprises. Between his podcast Theatre Intangible, his house-turned-venue Noa Noa and his yearly Circuit Benders Ball, he seems to be at one moment omnipresent and, then, vanishes. During the Wedgewood Houston art crawl of the fall season, he curated Bring Your Own Beamer in th warehouse Track 1. When I walked into the DIY exhibit consisting of multiple projections of short films, crossing paths, through giant cloudy transparent sheets, I felt like I had stumbled through a warp into Berlin.


Megan Voeller, columnist for Creative Loafing, Tampa
Last April, the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg announced the hiring of Katherine Pill as assistant curator of art after 1950. Her first projects included organizing a respectable survey of 20th-century works from the permanent collection. Later this month, Pill will announce the museum’s acquisition of a new video work—the second in 2013 after Michael Bell-Smith’s Waves Clock (2012), which she proposed. Meanwhile, she’s part of the MFA-TMA team working on My Generation with Pollack.
The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota will feature a solo show of New York-based genre-bending, artist-composer-programmer-performer R. Luke Dubois, from January 31 to May 4, 2014. It will survey his work from the 1990s to the present and will feature a commissioned project created in collaboration with Circus Sarasota. During the show’s run, a three-month long performance and public talk series will bring a bevy of experimental dance and music performers to Sarasota.

R. Luke DuBois, Acceptance, 2012; generative video.
Still of R. Luke DuBois’s  Acceptance, 2012; generative video.

Longtime independent curator Jade Dellinger landed a new gig in 2013 as director and curator of the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Edison State University in Fort Myers. In January, the space hosts the traveling exhibition Yoko Ono Imagine Peace, including such favorites as Wish Tree and Imagine Peace Map. Farther into 2014, look for exhibitions curated by Dellinger, including shows featuring the Art Guys, and JEMA, the transportable John Erickson Museum of Art.
The Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, grabbed headlines when they announced in August that they would collaborate, for the first time, to co-host My Generation: Young Chinese Artists. Curated by New York critic Barbara Pollack, the exhibition will feature works by 27 Chinese artists born after 1975.


Andrew Alexander, freelance arts critic, Atlanta

Gravity and Other Myths will perform at the 2014 Spoleto Festival.
Gravity & Other Myths will perform at the 2014 Spoleto Festival.

The Spoleto Festival remains the Southeast’s most significant performing arts festival, drawing in major artists from around the world for two weeks of performances in Charleston, South Carolina, at the beginning of every summer. There should be stronger connections between art-loving Atlantans and this world-class event. Get there in 2014.


Rebecca Dobrinski, contributor, Weld for Birmingham

In addition to being a part of the Magic City Mural Collective, Bonard Hughins’s work has appeared in a variety of gallery shows in the city. His distinctive style is recognizable and his mural work continues to be in demand. You can see his recent exterior work in the revitalization districts of Avondale and Second Avenue North as well as at the Alabama Power Company’s corporate headquarters.

Birmingham Skyline from Railroad Park, 2012; acrylic on canvas, 65 by 40 inches.
Bonard Hughins, Birmingham Skyline from Railroad Park, 2012; acrylic on canvas, 65 by 40 inches.