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ArtsATL

Your Source For The Arts In Atlanta

FANTASTICAL. One intentional word. One intentional show. “What we say is as important as what we do,” Yu-Kai Lin, owner and director of Kai Lin Art, told ArtsATL, “and hopefully they’re aligned.”

Recently awarded TripSavvy’s Editors’ Choice Award for Best Gallery in Atlanta 2021, Kai Lin Art is aligned, indeed. Lin opened his gallery doors in 2008 to create a space that was inclusive, inviting and diverse. He is as engaging as the artwork. “You shouldn’t feel like you need to read a thesis to understand what you’re seeing,” he said.

Yu-Kai Lin

Lin opened his gallery in Midtown in 2008.

Lin used to hold eight shows each year pre-pandemic. Now, there’s a group show that continually evolves and changes depending on what’s being sold to collectors and what’s being pulled by interior design firms, art consultants, museums and major institutions. There’s some continuity with what’s being presented as a collective, a curated collection of works that complement one another.

Most of the gallery’s artists are from the Southeast, creating work that has parallels in terms of aesthetic, palette and content. One artist of note, who died earlier this year, was Larry Jens Anderson. The last piece of Anderson’s art, Learning to Fall, is on show at the gallery, and Lin is planning a retrospective of his work in 2022.

THE PARTICULARS: 999 Brady Avenue, NW, Suite 7, Westside Arts District, Midtown Atlanta. Thursday and Friday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.; Saturday, 12 p.m.–5 p.m. By appointment, 404-408-4248, or email info@kailinart.com. Lin and his team, Luke Hamilton and Aidan Gorey, gladly welcome all. Masks are strongly suggested. Follow on Instagram and Facebook.

THE LOOK: The gallery is on the corner of 10th Street and Brady Avenue, in what was known as the meat packing district. It’s a 3,000-square-foot space, with lots of wall space that accommodates 50 to 80 pieces of art. It’s in the midst of other places worth exploring, including Out Front Theatre Company and Miller Union restaurant.

ON VIEW NOW: FANTASTICAL, through November 12, is kind of a homecoming show. It’s the gallery’s first exhibition after a 18-month hiatus, and it features work from more than 20 artists whom the gallery has represented for the last decade. Note: The artwork that’s up right now isn’t the exact show that first opened in September. Once work is sold, Lin said, it’s replaced by another piece of work, typically from the same artist.

FANTASTICAL exhibit at Kai Lin Gallery

“FANTASTICAL” is the gallery’s first show since the pandemic shutdown.

COMING UP:  A small-works show will be up for the holidays. In 2022, look for The Larry Jens Anderson retrospective as well as the Atlanta Printmakers Studio Print Biennial.

SPECIALTIES: Mainly 2D and 3D work, mixed media, or paintings on canvas next to works on wood panel or paper. Some photo-based realism, as well as photo-based illustrative work that’s elevated beyond just a photo. The work is unique, original art, reasonably priced and created in the Southeast. Most of the artists are Atlanta-based or from other parts of Georgia. “Artists have something to say. They create through their rich tapestries of experiences, histories and ancestry that brings them to this time, this place and this piece of art,” Lin said. “You can’t pin down why you feel what you feel, but that’s what makes art soul stirring and really compelling.”

MORE ABOUT LIN: Lin graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music: piano performance. But the visual arts, it turned out, are his first love. “I’m actually an educator broadening the understanding of what it means to be human,” Lin said. “We’re all a work in progress learning from each other through the eyes and ears of composers and the eyes of artists who are creating and allowing people to feel serendipity, to feel inspired and to feel the sublime in the things that they’re experiencing.”

Larry Jens Anderson, "Learning to Fall"

Detail from the late Larry Jens Anderson’s “Learning to Fall.” Anderson was a mentor to Lin.

MOST MEMORABLE: Anderson (1947–2021), represented by the gallery since its inception, passed away in August. He was one of Lin’s mentors in life with his words of wisdom, such as sometimes the decision is to not make a decision; sometimes the decision is to do it all. Lin was in Bentonville, Arkansas, at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art when he received the news. “It was very poetic to be in a gorgeous museum when I found out my mentor’s gone, but I don’t feel lonely,” Lin said. “The things that we create are the things that are our legacy. [Larry’s] legacy is seen through the lines and the mistakes that became happy accidents: Treasured art on the walls of people’s homes, and in institutions and museums all over the world.”

LAST WORD: “Art is elusive, art is temporal and art is not to be contained. We’re stewards of art. Through history, time and culture, you’ll find it’s the artists who create culture. They create work that really matters to them and that’s what takes us beyond our understanding.”

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