Burnaway > Reviews > Preview: Recollections at the L.P. Grant Mansion

Preview: Recollections at the L.P. Grant Mansion

Left: Architectural detail of the L.P. Grant Mansion. Right: Artwork by Nancy VanDevender. Diptych photos by Karley Sullivan.

Opening at the Atlanta Preservation Center this Friday, January 11, is Recollections: Five Artists Respond to the L.P. Grant Mansion, an exhibition curated by Poem 88 in collaboration with the APC’s staff. Exploring connections between the mansion’s rich cultural past and its current status as historical artifact-turned-gallery space, this exhibition in the mansion’s Drawing Room Gallery features the work of five artists—Jon Ciliberto, EK Huckaby, Al Matthews, Sharon Shapiro, and Nancy VanDevender—responding to and mining this fruitful terrain with provoking outcomes.

A spare and well-considered show, curator Robin Bernat of Poem 88 worked closely with each artist in commissioning these new works (all are dated 2012 and 2013). Interested in expanding programs beyond her gallery’s walls, Bernat was excited for the opportunity to work with the Atlanta Preservation Center, mentioning shared sensibilities between these artists’ practices and the center’s mission.

Left: Artwork by Jon Ciliberto. Right: Architectural detail of the L.P. Grant Mansion. Diptych photos by Karley Sullivan.

Jon Ciliberto created a suite of site-specific drawings and watercolors, contextualizing the current architectural state of the Grant Mansion and its surroundings rather than focusing solely on its past. This quiet grouping speaks voluminously through delicate and directed mark making. Ciliberto believes that freehand drawing can be a conceptual and even radical practice.

EK Huckaby, Table of the Fallen, 2013. Photo by Karley Sullivan.

EK Huckaby (whose current solo exhibition on view at Poem 88 was reviewed here yesterday) presents Table of the Fallen (2013), a large and tactile oil painting that responds to the home’s function as a military hospital in 1864. His methodology of concocting Old World glazes serves the subject matter well, evoking a ghostly and emotional response.

Diptych photos by Karley Sullivan.
Left: Sharon Shapiro’s Tenterhooks, 2013. Diptych photos by Karley Sullivan.

Al Matthews’s site-specific audio work, Woodpile (2013), is a socially-engaged piece informed by the artist’s research into the story of five slaves who lived at the Grant household in 1860—a history that can easily be pushed under the proverbial rug. Matthews brings it to the surface in a poignant yet matter-of-fact manner.

Not believing that “Beauty and the Beast” are mutually exclusive, Sharon Shapiro’s works explore heroines who are both beautiful and feral. In this recent body of work, Shapiro appropriately draws inspiration from old Hollywood and characterizations of females in Gone with the Wind, bringing to light social constructions of gender roles in pop culture throughout history.

Artwork by Sharon Shapiro. Photo by Karley Sullivan.
Artwork by Nancy VanDevender. Photo by Karley Sullivan.

Nancy VanDevender’s large-scale works of heavily-layered, printed wallpaper incorporate historical artifacts, documents, and ephemera from the Grant Mansion. She creates narratives that focus on Grant’s outreaching railway holdings and the daily lives of the home’s inhabitants. VanDevender takes inspiration from Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence and introduces us to both historical objects from archived artifacts and period relics from imagined sentimentalities.

Photo by Karley Sullivan.

Built in 1856 by railway magnate Lemuel P. Grant on his own 600-acre estate, the mansion boasts a rich Atlanta history. For example, Robert “Bobby” Jones, one of golf’s greats, was born here in 1902 in a back bedroom, an interior room with a wonderfully original floor-to-ceiling window. And it was well known that Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind, had a strong affinity and vested interest in the property. Originally a three-storied Italianate home, fires and the elements took their toll on the property. It fell into severe disrepair before the Atlanta Preservation Center purchased the property in 2001.

The APC is developing a great history of collaborating with local art institutions and curators to produce exhibitions in the Grant home. Connecting disparate fields of research increases awareness to each party’s mission and individual passions. These collaborations also allow for new creative processes and problem-solving attitudes when standard modes of operating and funding simply aren’t enough.


Recollections: Five Artists respond to the L.P. Grant Mansion
January 11-February 16, 2013
327 St. Paul Avenue SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30312

Opening reception: Friday, January 11, 2013, 6-9PM
Artist talk: Saturday, January 26, 2013, 2PM with musical performance by Sarah Henson
Gallery hours: Monday-Friday 10AM-2PM, Saturdays 12Noon-4PM

A portion of all sales will benefit the Atlanta Preservation Center.
There is ample street parking, partially accessible to individuals with physical disabilities.
For questions please call 404-688-3353.


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    Don Donaldson
    January 15, 2013 at

    The exhibit was interesting but the organization, Preservation Center, is a real zero. Someone at the house told me this organization has spent over $1million REBUILDING 2 rooms and a porch – not preserving, rebuilding from scratch with all new materials. How much of that money would it have taken to give more effort to advocating for Atlanta’s historic buildings that were/are intact and actually eligible for the National Register (which the Grant home is not, becaue there’s almost nothing of the original building left).

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