The idea for BURNAWAY originated from a front-porch conversation about the need for more dialogue about local art. Please welcome Brian Holcombe, owner of SALTWORKS, and Robin Sandler, partner of Sandler Hudson Gallery, as today’s guest writers of Our Front Porch. BURNAWAY reached out to Holcombe and Sandler to speak on the Drawing Inside the Perimeter effect—specifically how their gallery artists, clients, relationships and programs have been affected, and if/how the Atlanta art community’s growth is due to this purchasing fund and subsequent exhibition.
Brian Holcombe, SALTWORKS:
Over the last several years, we have been very fortunate that the High Museum has acquired works by all of our local artists. As a dealer, it is my role to place artworks in collections that matter. Placing works by Atlanta artists in the High Museum is the highest platform for the artist in the city.
A museum acquires works to fill gaps, and, like any seasoned collector, works placed in the collection are vetted and researched over time. Acquisitions not only are selected for the individual work’s quality but how they relate contextually to the museum’s collection as a whole.
There are many routes to the High’s permanent collection, but when the museum stands behind the acquisitions with an exhibition, the public gets to experience the larger story behind the collection. By exhibiting such a robust collection of local artworks, the museum states that the acquisitions were not just a gesture but a valuable part their mission.
Drawing Inside the Perimeter inspired the timing of our latest exhibition at SALTWORKS entitled Four Atlantans. As a private gallery, we have the ability to align our programming quickly to any momentum and take advantage of the moment. It is a wonderful opportunity to tell visitors walking through the gallery that each artist in the exhibition currently has a work on view at the High Museum of Art. This statement resonates with our new and seasoned visitors to the gallery, connects us to the museum programming and illustrates the beauty of collaboration.
Robin Sandler, Sandler Hudson Gallery:
Drawing Inside The Perimeter is a pivotal exhibition for many reasons: it is an inclusive exhibition celebrating our community; it validates Atlanta artists; the insidious attitude that nothing of any value was being done here has suddenly lifted; there is an excitement now that has been lacking for decades.
Judith Alexander was a pioneer in the support of Atlanta artists and was a major force in Atlanta’s art community. She developed very strong relationships with artists and helped them both financially and emotionally. Marianne and Judith became close friends in part due to their passion for local artists. Judith made her gift to the High in Marianne’s name not only as a result of their personal relationship but because she trusted Marianne to be thorough and objective. Judith brought Abstract Expressionism to Atlanta in the late 1950’s showing Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns and Ad Reinhardt. She became just as passionate about the work of local artists and had the first folk art gallery in Atlanta.
Taking initiative, Michael Rooks with Marianne Lambert worked tirelessly to build the collection. They were ever-present at openings, exhibitions and studios over the past few years. This is the first time in years that a curator from the High has engaged the local scene. Without a curator’s support, an artist is forced to look to other cities for validation. This is no longer the case for Atlanta. Rooks and Lambert bring different but equally important points of view to the conversation: Because Marianne is so passionate about local artists and has made it her mission to help them gain recognition for over 30 years, she provided Michael Rooks with a history of the work being done in Atlanta. Michael brings art historical knowledge as well as an ability to put work in context that is being done on a national and international level. So, they make a great team in their comprehensive overview. Michael Rooks is making a strong impact in Atlanta in every way. He is genuinely excited about the work being done here. A common view held in the past, by curators in particular, was that local artists’ work was not worth collecting. Michael altered this prior climate and he should be lauded for this shift. His attitude has changed the way art being made here is perceived.
Obviously, from a practical standpoint—from dealer’s perspective—having an artist’s work enter the High’s collection makes our job easier. And validation by a major institution builds confidence with collectors and other institutions. A collector will be more likely to purchase something if the work has been validated by a museum. It gives them confidence in their selection and for the possibility of selling the work down the road if they desire. A work with a strong provenance is more likely to sell than one without.
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