Atlanta art blogging and the history of ThoughtMarker

Around this time last year, I was attending art shows regularly at a handful of galleries. I had just watched Beep Beep Gallery move out of their house and into the real world and I was beginning to realize that the art scene in Atlanta was more than just a bunch of galleries in Buckhead serving champagne to people wearing shiny shirts. I was also reading magazines and blogs such as Juxtapoz and Wooster Collective that were exposing me to thriving scenes of street, lowbrow, and DIY art in New York and San Francisco. I knew their level of success couldn't be reached by the typical word of mouth/flyer strategy that underground art generally employs. I wanted to create an outlet for the promotion and celebration of art in the scene which interested me. Thus ThoughtMarker was born; a blog focusing on promoting upcoming local shows in particular venues or by certain artists, with the occasional street art photo, lowbrow observation, local film critique, or art journalism rebuttal. I started the kind of blog that I wanted to read, a combination of what I was interested in and what I thought Atlanta needed.

Since then a number of other atlanta art blogs have surfaced, each with a similar overall goal, but widely varying approaches. The most similar at first glance is Artlanta Artnews, utilizing the most obvious combination of the words art and Atlanta that I thankfully past up months before. This blog posts flyers and press releases for seemingly random shows and events with no apparent agenda or theme. Attempts to contact them have failed. As far as I can tell it's run by an arbitrary art post generator. [I just examined the site more closely and realized that it is more or less an open forum that posts it's access info so anyone to contribute. That certainly explains my observations but changes my thoughts completely. It provides a forum for promotion that is the most democratic and self sufficient possible.]

The next closest blog to ThoughtMarker showed up this May in the form of Local Ephemera. The goal here is not so much to promote the art shows, but to give the artwork a longer lifespan and more attention through documentation and discussion. The author is generally light on critique, but intelligent and analytical in his observations. He also veers towards a slightly higher class gallery than I do, but there is good deal of overlap. Overall an essential piece to the Atlanta art blog puzzle and a blog I was very happy to have discovered.

Even more recently, a handful of promotion websites have reared their heads. The most interesting of these is Plug Atlanta. The central idea and major strength of Plug Atlanta is the commitment to showcasing flyers as art. The only problem is that the site becomes an internet junk pile, littered with too many flyers to sift through visually, and many made by people who have forgotten that flyers should be art. Since its launch, the site has already been revamped once, so my hope is that with more tweaking, Plug Atlanta will find the balance between current flyer art gallery and open promotion forum that it aspires to be. The other two sites, Out of the Tube and Art Relish, are visual art focused and, in my opinion, too comprehensive in terms of listings. Out of the Tube is a blog that posts short (but not short enough) video features of gallery shows. Out of the Tube also features an event calendar, gallery listings, and links to other blogs etc. Art Relish is essentially the exact same site only it appeared later. It literally pulls content directly from Out of the Tube. Why somebody felt the need to make a duplicate site to accomplish the same thing, I know not.

In terms of photographically providing exposure for artists, there is a fine line between documentation/journalism and visual art. Atlanta Creatives Project is the only blog in Atlanta to stand firmly on the art side of the line. By doing photo shoots of local artists and bands, ACP (why did they have to end up with the same acronym as Atlanta Celebrates Photography?!) looks to connect local artists visually with the community. Name and face recognition will lead to a stronger and more supportive scene. I sometimes wonder if dragging the artist into the realm of celebrity won't have adverse effects as well, but that discussion is for another time. Apart from anything else, the idea of supporting art by creating art is one to be celebrated to no end.

We all have our role to play in shaping and exposing the growing and changing art scene in Atlanta. Blogging is but one of the factors that will determine the future of our community. If you made it through this whole thing, leave a comment, its what makes blogging a conversation and hence more effective in connecting with an audience than old world journalism. The posters of the first few comments will get free ThoughtMarker shirts that I will be unveiling and giving away throughout December. Thank you Atlanta, for everything.


ben said...

Thanks for spelling it out for everyone. Communication (publicity) and connection are at the surface of every healthy (art) community.

I'm down to play Galaga anytime.

Erica said...

Can I get a MINT shirt?

Victoooria said...

thanks for cleaning up my apt by organizing the piles of flyers I used to gather to stay in touch and involved with this blossoming community. i've def maximized my experiences this year. you've inspired me to work on one geared towards film & video. look out for the dailies blog called venture out - coming soon. your tips & feedback would be awesome!

Bethany said...

I think what you're doing is very important, and thank you for doing it. This is a really exciting time for our city.

2byoung said...

TM...A great posting indeed. I can remember when i found Thoughtmarker it was a great day. Finally another person who was trying to compile and organize art events in atlanta...atleast the "emerging" shows. It was hard to keep up with flyers and this was a great place to double check that i wasnt missing out on a show. Kudos and Thanks.

As for some of the other sites, I am a huge fan of Local Ephemera. What they are doing, in my opinion, is well needed in the atlanta art scene. A participant who verbalizes a critique and, in turn, promotes viewing and discussion of the work. As light as the critique may be right now, its a necessary step in the evolution of our art scene. And i am excited about its future. I would venture that as LE matures we will start to see more critical reviews.

However, I have yet to really see any usefulness of PlugAtlanta. Atleast with Artlanta Art News its comprehensive-ish. PlugAtlanta is spotty at best and a site with unnecessary bells and whistles... unless you like that sort of thing. But its bookmarked and we will keep a watchful eye on them.

I agree with your thoughts on Out of the Tube...and i think with some tweaking they could provide some useful insight to collectors. Its great that many of the galleries want to do "artist talks"...but who really has time to get to all of them. This format (albeit a bit long right now) is informative and easily accessed. Note...they are very open to suggestions right now.

And where OOTT stops, Atlanta Creatives Project, picks up with interviews...I just hope they keep
a eye on substance and not get caught up in the cute. It could become very 6degreesish.

Hopefully the momentum of all of these efforts will propel an upswing in the purchasing of art in atlanta. This would be the ultimate show of support so that our artists can continue to create...and eat.

may i have a t-shirt please :)

mike said...

Thanks for the comments. I'll hook you each up with a ThoughtMarker shirt for reading and responding. The only thing better than a free shirt is getting to pick from 4 super limited TM shirts that are being printed as we speak. I'll post them soon.

ALLison REntz, dictator said...

Howdy Mike,

I am glad for your blog. I discovered it when you added ThoughtMarker to the artlanta blog [it is great to see others posting to artlanta! -please post stuff there too].

Artlanta stems from a Karen Tauches brainstorm about an open web-site for performance. Also, Artlanta is based on the artnews list serv that a lot of the art community subscribed to by many atlantans and a hand full of people from all over the world. You should consider subscribing to artnews, I think you might enjoy the discussion:
Go to http://www.pd.org,
click on artnews,
and follow the instructions.

[1] I post a lot of stuff from artnews on artlanta--especially things that I am interested in.

[2] As a performance artist, the pr machine is often very crucial to making my art [without an audience, some of my pieces can not exist].

[3] Atl has carsuvs, bumpin' beats, art pockets, pistol whippers, nice weather, fiery tongues wrapped in smiling reds, and virtual connections.

coowuh cwwooooh