Pop-ups, parties and talks fete first Atlanta Art Week

Organizer Kendra Walker hopes to bring cohesion to city’s scattered arts scene.

Sipping a La Croix through a straw and breaking into spontaneous giggles during an interview, 26-year-old Kendra Walker might not at first glance seem like the architect of one of the Atlanta art scene’s most ambitious fall events.

But the art advisor and writer has pulled off the not unimpressive feat of creating the first Atlanta Art Week, a four-day series of lectures, art tours, gallery exhibitions and pop-ups meant to highlight Atlanta’s rich, diverse art landscape.

Walker’s rationale for the event sounds like a Hollywood tagline: If you build it, they will come.

“Having friends in the art space in a lot of different cities, they would always ask me, ‘Hey, what’s the art scene like in Atlanta?’” But without a signature event like London Art Week or New York Art Week or an art fair like the Armory Show or Frieze, Walker said it was hard to inspire people to visit for an amorphous art scene.

“We don’t have (an art-centric event) that’s really a good time for people to come in town and to really experience all that Atlanta has to offer.”

Atlanta Art Week is Walker’s effort to remedy that situation. The event is Sept. 29-Oct. 2, and it moves around the city, from the Westside to artist studios south of the city, to Buckhead, Emory and Inman Park.

Galleries will host talks and receptions like one at Temporary Studios in Sylvan Hills that offers a window into Atlanta’s community of emerging artists. Curated by Sarah Higgins, the editor and artistic director of Atlanta-based magazine Art Papers, the opening reception for the exhibition “Oneness, That is Too” at Temporary Studios looks at ideas of nature and the world outside the humanmade. The exhibition incorporates animals and microbes in an inspired nod to the non-human.

Credit: handout

Credit: handout

Atlanta Contemporary presents a “Meet the Makers” gathering where artisans will have wares for sale. Other events include guided tours of the Coca-Cola Collection, which features work by Frank Stella and Andy Warhol, and a brunch reception at the new West Midtown art gallery Wolfgang Gallery.

A large number of events during Atlanta Art Week are free, with some ticketed events like a tour of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium Collection, which includes site-specific works by artists Radcliffe Bailey, Mr. Brainwash, Sanithna Phansavanh and Hungarian sculptor Gábor Miklós Szőke who created the 36-ton steel Falcon outside the stadium, and an opening night party at Buckhead Village for Gallerie 88 Design House.

A native of Warner Robbins, Walker graduated in 2019 from Georgia State University with degrees in art and psychology. She has worked as an intern at Arnika Dawkins Gallery and as an arts writer for publications including Cultured Magazine, The Art Newspaper and Artsy. As an arts advisor, her niche is working with Black collectors and artists. “It’s just what I like and what I’m passionate about.”

In April, Walker created Black Art Experience, an event tailored toward fostering Black art collectors and introducing schoolchildren to art during the Expo Chicago contemporary art fair. The success of that event gave her the confidence to create Atlanta Art Week.

“Atlanta’s art community has been longing for a central point of connection,” says Alex Delotch Davis, whose online publication Gallerie 88 will host pop-ups during Atlanta Art Week in Buckhead Village.

Credit: Christy Bush

Credit: Christy Bush

Denizens of Atlanta’s art scene have often lamented the lack of cohesion in the city with galleries and museums spread throughout the city and no dedicated art neighborhood, making coordinated art openings and art crawls seen in other cities hard to pull off.

“All of these individuals and organizations are doing outstanding work, but it is spread out over a sprawling metro area. It is very difficult to see the forest for the trees,” says Davis.

As part of Atlanta Art Week, Delotch has created Gallerie 88 Design House, which will feature photography from Wulf Bradley, Sydney Foster and Chrisean Rose, furniture designed by James Williams III and fashion from O. Studio designed by El Lewis.

“The coolest part of all of this is that all of these creatives have made Atlanta their home and the place where they want to build their craft,” says Delotch.

Walker hopes that presenting the arts, galleries and institutions in a less formal way will make people not familiar with the arts in Atlanta more comfortable entering these spaces.

“For those of us who live here, we know what has been going on for decades and the people who have been doing the tireless work of cultivating our vibrant cultural community,” says Delotch.

“But the rest of the world is just now learning about this part of Atlanta. Atlanta Art Week captures that energy in a concise way that invites people from around the country to come and see what we have to say.”

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Atlanta Art Week highlights

Meet the Makers. An emporium of indie art and artist-created goods, SHOP at Atlanta Contemporary will spotlight artist-made products and the artists themselves to celebrate the store’s first anniversary. Grab a cocktail, watch some pottery being thrown and contribute a piece to a puzzle in process at this fun event curated by Lynne Tanzer. 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29. Atlanta Contemporary, 535 Means St. NW, Atlanta. 404-688-1970, atlantacontemporary.org

“Mary Henderson: Being Together.” The Philadelphia-based artist creates arresting hyper-realistic oil paintings steeped in the vernacular of the everyday that feel fresh and immediate and related to our own reality. Her subjects mill about in crowds in public spaces and speak to a collective identity that feels hopeful, communal and anticipatory in our post-Covid world. The artist’s reception will also feature a preview of exhibitions to come. 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29. Marcia Wood Gallery, 764 Miami Circle NE, Suite 150, Atlanta. 404-827-0030, www.marciawoodgallery.com

“Oneness, That is Too.” Curated by Art Papers editor Sarah Higgins, this group show (Sept. 29–Oct. 22) at the Temporary Studios complex has an unusual premise. The show looks at how internal, imaginative journeys are expressed in visions of nature, the wilderness and the cosmos. Reception 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1. Temporary Studios, 1910 Murphy Ave. SW, Atlanta. 404-827-0030, artpapers.org

“Virgo.” New to the Atlanta art scene, Wolfgang Gallery in the booming West Midtown neighborhood is located in a 4,000-square-foot former lumber mill, Chattahoochee Docks. Co-owned by Benjamin Deaton and Anna Scott King, Wolfgang will focus on showing artists from art hubs like New York and Los Angeles. Its debut group show, “Virgo,” is centered on the maiden at the center of that astrological sign and features seven artists from Los Angeles, New York and the Czech Republic. Brunch reception 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1. Wolfgang Gallery, 1240 Old Chattahoochee Ave. NW, Suite H, Atlanta. 404-549-3297, wolfganggallery.com


ART EVENT PREVIEW

Atlanta Art Week. Sept. 29-Oct. 2. Multiple venues. www.atlantaartweek.co