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Michael Rooks (Photo by Joeff Davis)

Michael Rooks (Photo by Joeff Davis)

The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center has chosen Michael Rooks, the High Museum’s Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, to receive its sixth annual Nexus Award.

The award celebrates “local leaders who are instrumental in making Atlanta a vibrant arts community,” and considering the herculean effort he has made to support the local artists, his selection was inevitable.

Rooks arrived at the High in January 2010 with a mandate to repair the museum’s frayed relationship to the art community. Since then he has made every effort reconnect town and gown, as it were. Rooks signaled his intent almost immediately — by showing up. He became a constant public presence, cheerily attending openings and social events, visiting studios and jurying exhibitions.

A view of the High's Inside the Perimeter, June 2013.

A view of the High’s Inside the Perimeter, June 2013.

Using the Lambert Fund, a gift from the Judith Alexander Foundation and related donations, he worked with the fund’s namesake, Marianne Lambert, to select 52 drawings by Atlanta artists for the High’s collection. Drawing Inside the Perimeter, an exhibit of most of the pieces in summer 2013, was cause for great excitement and pride. Thanks to a gift from the Antinori Foundation, he has continued to acquire drawings, which will be displayed this summer in Sprawl: Drawing Outside the Lines.

Rooks has also mounted solo shows of locals Susan Cofer, Medford Johnston, Jim Waters and Alejandro Aguilera and is showing the work of Fahamu Pecou in an exhibition complementary to the museum’s current Wifredo Lam retrospective.

As noted by ACAC executive director Julie Delliquanti, “he has also been instrumental in invigorating the creative and intellectual landscape of Atlanta by presenting the work of nationally and internationally recognized artists.”

Commissions from Sarah Sze and Aaron Curry, a major acquisition of painting by Alex Katz are some examples. Alex Katz, This Is Now will open in June.

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