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.