Trickle up theory
It seems our recent conversation with Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Michael Rooks was quite timely. During the interview, I joked with Michael, that his appointment to the High Museum was an exciting one for the local art scene in Atlanta since many had dismissed the institution as it has done a poor job of engaging artists and institutions locally. A recent article on ArtsCriticAtl.com reports that High Museum is not only “interested” in engaging the local art scene, but that Director Michael Shapiro has already been meeting with heads of smaller institutions and in some cases local artists as a means of connecting with the community in a more meaningful way.
In recent years, the High has gone to great lengths to enhance its national and international pedigree by partnering with major institutions like the Museé de Louvre in Paris, France to bring in major exhibitions. These big budget productions have been criticized in the local scene as not being much more than circus attractions. The exhibits, though highly publicized and attended have been rather hit or miss and done little to connect the High with the dynamic community of artists and institutions based here in Atlanta. However, despite not having received much support or attention from the region’s most notable institution, Atlanta’s art community is doing amazing things locally, nationally and world wide. In the last 2 years alone, the introduction of the Artadia Award and Hudgen’s Prize has provided local artists with substantial funding and exposure opportunities that until recently were unheard of in the south. Additionally, institutions like The Contemporary, Spelman College Museum of Art, SCAD, Flux Projects and others continue to champion the work of local and national contemporary artists with engaging projects and off-the-beaten path exhibitions and ideas that provide a youthful (though not always consistent) pulse in the city. Artists like Scott Ingram, Sheila Pree-Bright, Jiha Moon, Rocio Rodriguez, Tristan Al-Haddad and many others continue to maintain active exhibition schedules in the U.S. and abroad. While underground productions like the WWAF ignite the scene with a dose of art turned theatre as local artists create characters and art-battle each other live in front of cheering fans. Billed as Bob Ross meets Randy “Macho Man” Savage, the WWAF represents what happens when a community seeks to fill its own void.
While the city has not been waiting on validation from “on High”, it is great to know that the High is now taking notice and realizing that one doesn’t have to stray far from home to find the treasure it seeks. Sometimes its right under your nose.
See the full article on the High Museum’s “emerging new era” ArtsCriticAtl
Get to know some of the local artists, events, institutions etc right in your backyard: