“I feel like I’m in my second childhood,” says Susan Bridges, director and owner of Whitespace Gallery in Atlanta’s Inman Park neighborhood. “It’s been a time of creative activism.”
Bridges opened Whitespace in September 2006 with photographer David Yoakley Mitchell’s Old South. Passion is what connects the gallery’s eclectic history with its contemporary present. The property was six apartments in the 1970s and has been transformed — with time, hard work and craziness — into Whitespace (formerly a garage), Whitespec (formerly a basement) and Shedspace (formerly a plant shed).
Two exhibits are on view in through December 5: photographer Stephanie Dowda DeMer’s Sandbagging (a field manual for care) in Whitespace, and Dorothy O’Connor’s A Long Walk in Whitespec. O’Connor’s Talisman, an installation in Shedspace, runs through January 23.
Mask up if you go. Whitespace admits only four visitors at a time; Whitespec and Shedspace admit one each. There’s plenty of room to wait — and hand sanitizer — outside in the courtyard and garden area. You’ll experience a lovely balance of quirkiness, including critter sculptures, headless statues and a Virgin Mary bathtub shrine.
LOCATION: 814 Edgewood Ave. N.E. Open 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Thursday–Saturday. Visitors must follow COVID-19 guidelines. You can schedule a visit, too, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 404.688.1892. There’s plenty of free street parking. Gallery assistant Emily Sorgenfrei will answer your questions and Jac, the gallery cat, will greet you. Follow Whitespace on Facebook and Instagram.
SPECIALTY: Contemporary work by established and emerging artists that has an edge, including photography, mixed media, painting, drawing and some sculpture. It’s art you have to stop, look at and think about. Shows typically change every five–six weeks.
WHY WHITESPACE: “Whitespace” is a design term, but it’s also a dance term that describes the area between audience and performer. Bridges once helped artist Alex White find a pop-up space that had been a carpenter shop. Everything inside was white. Alex’s name last name was White. Something had to go on a press release. “Whitespace” stuck.
WHY WHITESPEC: Whitespec is more of a project room for emerging and grad-student artists. It was named by a Georgia State University grad student who needed a space to exhibit photography. The student called the cleaned-out basement just a “spec of a space.”
WHY SHEDSPACE: Shedspace includes a plaque dedicated to artist Joey Orr. For a time, he’d go around the city each August looking for tool houses and sheds in backyards. He’d turn them into little party sites. He saw Bridges’ plant shed. New art space. Done.
NEXT: Opening December 12 is Drawn by Elizabeth Lide (Whitespace), with more than 100 drawings on handmade paper she created before and during the pandemic; in Whitespec, photographer/printmaker Abby Bullard’s The Secret Garden (Whitespec) will showcase layered silkscreened prints on paper and fabric with her ancestors’ notes and letters. Both will be in view through January 23. Shedspace will be empty.
MOST MEMORABLE: The annual December show in 2014 that opened with a drag-queen Christmas pageant. “It was totally wild,” Bridges says. The opening of The Garden of Hieronymus Bosch in the 21st Century in 2016 featured scantily clothed performers; an art-piece table with molded Jell-O, fruit and flowers, and a signature, event-specific fragrance called Les Fleurs de Bosch.
LAST WORD: “It’s important that artists continue. It’s important that all of us continue. The pandemic’s our toughest time, but it’s given time for us to reflect. It’s about perspective. What do we really want? Trust me, now people walk in glad to get out of their houses seeking more than banal posters. They need to see and feel something that’s authentic. Once you tap into that creative process, there’s just no stopping it.”
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