This monthly survey highlights some of the more notable Art+Design happenings in metro Atlanta. Jerry Cullum, the winner of a 2020 Rabkin Prize for arts journalism, has written about visual art for decades.
There are several shows closing soon, plus one event happening this weekend that warrant your attention.
Two alternative galleries in nearly the same neighborhood are presenting distinctly diverse perspectives on the question of just who we think we are, culturally speaking. The End, a project space curated by Craig Drennen, presents the paintings of Kevin Peart’s Unspecified Unit through July 30.
These scenes of persons, objects and architecture, suggesting plot lines that aren’t entirely clear, are described in Peart’s statement as part of “a liminal, mental exercise in world-building” starting from an effort to “reimagine a potential past in the gaps in prehistoric narrative.” The bigger issue raised by his mysterious images is how the remnants left by a society’s actions influence the shape of later societies.
That notion of the past shaping a difficult present is also — in a very different way — one of the topics investigated at the ArtsXchange Community Cultural Center‘s Sinclair Gallery in Whose America Is It, Anyway?, juried by Fahamu Pecou and on view through September 30.
This weekend (July 24–25), in partnership with Pecou’s provocative look at the social and ethnic issues of today, the ArtsXchange will stage “Reimagine Democracy,” an art-and-social justice festival with a marketplace, poetry, performances, live music, food vendors and more. It runs noon–9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free.
Although the immediate crisis dominates the art in Whose America . . . , the exhibition asks its questions in a variety of frameworks. Timothy Short’s immense painting After One Thousand Years deserves to be singled out as an impressive placing of our present displacements into almost as large a historical frame as can be imagined.
Swan Coach House Gallery’s Summer Invitational touches on our present cultural discomforts only with the witty melting floral arrangements flowing down Ode to the Dutch Painter and Exotic Delicacies, a diptych of canvases by Niki Zarrabi. The exhibition’s carefully chosen range of work explores any number of larger artistic issues. Note: The works will be viewable online through August 12, but unanticipated roof repairs will close the gallery to the public on July 31.
The summer exhibition has traditionally focused on craft media; this year it raises the question of when and how functional ceramics border on becoming the kind of sculpture that also is well-represented. The emphatic nudity of the figure in Sonia Rose McCall’s Kore, Wall Vase, for example, combines a functional object with a comic transmutation of a familiar figure from classical art.
As always with large group shows, there are more outstanding works than a brief mention can comfortably incorporate. Huey Lee’s The Life of the People is a ceramic sculpture in which an open-topped vessel encloses a memorable variety of portrait heads. Laurie Steele has enlarged the form of her usually intimate ceramic Moodstones into full-scale sculptures arranged in an exquisite installation. The list could go on and on.
It’s important to note that MOCA GA’s From Then to Now survey of Diane Solomon Kempler’s stunning ceramic sculpture ends Saturday (July 24). It encompasses more than 20 years of work that alludes to natural history and the archives of human activity. The exhibition is documented in a video artist’s talk and an online 360-degree virtual tour, but the full impact of Kempler’s achievement can only be experienced in person, in the presence of the objects themselves.