Every month ArtsATL’s spotlights one of the many, many, many galleries that metro Atlanta is lucky to have. Look for this column the last Monday of every month — even as the Covid-19 virus keeps us apart. Suggestions for future columns welcome. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org. (Catch up on our March visit to ZuCot Gallery.)
“Remember, we are not shut out, just shut in,” says September Gray, for whom September Gray Fine Art Gallery is named. “Sometimes the best things come out of the worst times.” Gray is remaining positive through the pandemic. Faith, gratitude and joy have kept her going, along with trying new things like online Italian tutorials. Ciao, Atlanta!
September Gray Fine Art Gallery opened in 2012 in the Old Fourth Ward, before moving to Buckhead in 2017. “Art and ideas reflect a visual conscience of the times we live in,” say Gray and gallery manager Rachel Simon. Both have used this time to slow down and do what’s needed to stay relevant for artists and collectors. The gallery is prepping the virtual exhibition The Four Horsemen, opening May 9. Here’s a bit more about the space.
LOCATION: 75 Bennett St. N.W., in the TULA Complex next to MOCA GA. 404.907.1923.
SPECIALTY: A mix of solo and group shows of contemporary work by established, mid-career and emerging African American and African Diasporic artists. The gallery’s roster includes mixed-media artist Kevin Cole, landscape painter Richard Mayhew, and abstractionists Freddie Styles and Jamele Wright Sr.
WHO’S IN CHARGE: Owner September Gray, whose adventurous, people-loving spirit gave way to extensive world travels, courtesy of a performing arts career — and countless museum visits. Gray enrolled in Chicago’s DePaul University at age 39 and began using her signature salutation, “artfully yours.” She began an art consulting business in Atlanta after graduating with an art history degree but never saw herself as a gallery owner with overhead and inventory. Then countless others encouraged her to fill a void: a lack of venues for African American fine art.
ON HOLD: September Gray had to cancel the March 28 opening for artist-poet-author-philanthropist Danny Simmons and plans to reschedule the exhibition. And if hindsight is 20/20 for the time in which we live, note that Simmons’ new work is titled A Reckoning.
UP NEXT: The Four Horsemen opens on the September Gray website at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 9. It includes master prints by African American abstract artists as well as work from sculptor Melvin Edwards, color-field painter Sam Gilliam, sculptor Richard Hunt and painter William T. Williams. Until then, follow September Gray on Instagram for video “drippings” that introduce the artists and their work.
MOST RECENTLY: Black Politics, Act One, a solo exhibition by Frank Schroeder, who used his roots as a “black male artist to discuss black identity in America and the fight against racism.” Watch Schroeder’s FaceTime artist talk from Paris.
MOST MEMORABLE: Gray knows how artwork can impact conversation. The event was Alfred Conteh’s 2017 solo show, Two Fronts: Surface and Reason. As she spoke about the city’s gentrification, a guest talked about his upbringing and how his parents moved north “to get away” when blacks started moving in. “He felt free to speak about his family amid this safe space of art,” Gray says, “I believe he’d never have engaged in this conversation with me outside of the gallery’s framework.”
QUOTE: “Our art needs to be in historical context of what’s going on. If artists (especially African American artists) don’t have the visibility to be seen, then they don’t get the credibility they need to continue to have their work appreciate in the market. If we don’t have the work and don’t show or collect it, we’re saying we contributed nothing of significance to society. I’m working with other galleries to help move the needle forward. We can all do some good here and collect African American work.”
In times like these, when we are separated by necessity, ArtsATL is needed more than ever. Please consider a donation so we can continue to highlight Atlanta’s creative community during this unprecedented time.