On this past Saturday, there were five art shows in Atlanta that I wanted to attend. One edge of the sword is a small and diverse underground art scene that seems to be expanding and improving. The other, bloodier side of my underground art sword metaphor is my inability to experience all of it. So when the rare but hopefully increasingly more regular planetary alignment occurs, and all of my favorite galleries have shows on the same night, I will be forced to choose. I believe that on Saturday night, my choices were right on the mark.
First stop - Foundation One Studios - Tes One solo show
This guy is amazing. Tes One is a street artist from Tampa whose work combines graffiti aesthetics with very graphic design inspired compositions. The result are large, layered spray paintings that sprawl from one wooden canvas to the next like a metropolis. The images are pretty standard street art fare, but the design is what sets the work apart. The standout piece would have been an electro-futuristic design routed out of quarter inch acrylic on a bright orange background had it not been for some less than perfect craftsmanship. All in all an amazing show that I urge everyone to go check out, it should be up for the rest of the month at least. And if you've never seen a show at Foundation One, go see how an art show should be presented. They always manage to blow me away with the amount of time they put into presenting the work and hang all of the work wonderfully. They also have a good deal of prints by local artists for sale as well as some shirts and some really cool books.
Next up - Yo Yo Boutique - Steven Dixey/Matt Relkin works on paper
Steven Dixey is a local artist that I've become familiar with: shields, hearts (quasi realistic), ribbons, antiquated scientific devices such as balances and some sort of old school navigational device (my girlfriend told me what it was called but I can't put a finger on it now), and candles all show up in his work. From his pool of imagery, Dixey manages to create heraldry style semi symmetrical compositions as well as a few curve-balls from his signature format. He ends up displaying varying amounts of skill depending on the medium. His colored pencil work, often on black paper, is seemingly limited by the process and lacks the dynamics of some of his other work. On the other hand, his pen and ink work, usually with a light wash to add a bit of color, are where his tremendous drawing ability declare the canvas his and show the great detail that his imagery deserves. Matt Relkin's work relied on repetition rather than detail. Several pieces revolved around a geometric, building with windows motif that left me wishing that he's used his meticulous, obsessive style to convey something that I found more interesting. Then I came to his last several drawings that made me feel guilty for doubting his others. One was simply a rat on its back, yet amazingly depicted with a pen thinner than any you own. A lonely landscape occupied a lonely corner of the gallery, also incredibly small details with a loose style that I much preferred to his geo-repetitious buildings. My pick for the show however, was what at first glance appeared to be an overly textured skull. Upon closer examination, the skull was constructed from what must have been thousands of little worms (this piece was quite small, 8x10 at best). Maybe not for everybody, but I thought it kicked ass.
Last show - Mint Gallery (at TUBE) - Open submission post card show
This was the one show that I felt I had to attend (I was a contributing artist, one of many). This was the first show in the new space and the biggest crowd of the night. Of the hundreds of post cards, there were a lot of styles represented. I love seeing shows like this because its such a chance for casual/outsider artists to be shown along side the usual gallery fare. I often find these artist's work to be even more interesting. I think that all the training and practice in the world may not stand up to a little bit of creativity. More so than the art, the environment was amazing with so many people there just to appreciate a bunch of postcards and to celebrate making art. A friend of mine there said that he was recently told that Atlanta did not have the culture/scene/interest/whatever to support underground art. We looked around. That may have been the craziest thing either one of us had ever heard.
If anybody else saw any of these shows over the weekend, please comment. I really want to know what everyone thinks about everything.