Atlanta Contemporary invests in engagement with free admission

Since starting as the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center’s executive director a year ago, Julie Delliquanti has instituted a series of moves to make the four-decade-old Westside institution more welcoming and to raise it on the radar of metro Atlantans interested in visual art.

The Contemporary took another big step in that direction with the recent announcement that it will eliminate admission fees beginning Sept. 1.

“By removing cost as a barrier we hope that people who don’t know us yet will visit soon and those who do know us will deepen their engagement and visit regularly,” Delliquanti said in the announcement.

Strong public response to Free Thursdays launched in 2009, which along with other free programs has helped driven attendance over the last six years, planted the seed for making admission free every day.

It helped that the Contemporary received a $200,000 capitalization grant from the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund along with a $60,000 general operating support grant in May 2014. The capitalization grant, the largest award ever made by the Arts Fund to a single arts organization, was part of a pilot program aimed at helping mid-sized metro groups achieve financial stability while generating enough capital to carry out their artistic missions.

Contemporary board president Tim Schrager told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution then that the board’s goal was “to really increase and diversify our audience and our donor base.”

In the announcement, he added, “We all strongly believe in the power of art and that art has the ability to foster dialogue and enrich the quality of life in our community. That is why our new initiative … is so critical.”

The Contemporary will be closed July 26 to Aug. 28 for exhibit installation and will reopen with its annual Art Party fund-raiser, 7 p.m. to midnight Aug. 29.

Admission through July 25: $8, $5 students and seniors, free for ages 5 and under, free to all on Thursdays. 535 Means St. N.W., Atlanta. 404-688-1970,


New stage for singer Anthony David

One of the stars of the Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company production of "Chasin' dem Blues: The Untold Story of Paramount Records," opening July 10 at Southwest Arts Center, looks familiar onstage, just not one of a theater.

Atlanta-based R&B singer-songwriter Anthony David, in his first professional theater performance, will play the role of bluesman Blue.

Written and directed by Kevin Ramsey, "Chasin' dem Blues" is a musical about the history of Paramount Records in Grafton, Wisc., in the 1910s. The multimedia production conveys how this small Midwest town changed American music, ushering in the sound of the early 20th century.

Joining David, known as a songwriter, producer and duet partner of India Arie whose fourth studio album is “Love Out Loud,” is Jeremy Cohen, Brad Raymond, Maiesha McQueen and Che Marshall.

Previews July 7-9. Through Aug. 2. 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays (also 8 p.m. July 10. 11 a.m. July 15). 915 New Hope Road, Atlanta. Tickets, $15-$60, 1-877-725-8849,


Exploring ‘Race and Representation’

Race relations in America have been one of the hot topics on the year, which makes the Birmingham Museum of Art exhibition opening July 11, "Black Like Who?: Exploring Race and Representation," perhaps even more relevant than when it was planned.

The exhibit of 28 works by 19 white and black artists surveys a variety of historical and contemporary works, and explores how representations of blacks in American art have been influenced at particular moments by political, cultural and aesthetic interests, as well as the motives and beliefs of the artists.

The works range from a romanticized Civil War scene completed in 1909 by the painter Gilbert Gaul that glorifies the myth of the "loyal slave," according to the museum announcement, to contemporary photographs by Atlanta artist Sheila Pree Bright. Bright's images blend imagery of Mattel's Barbie doll with photographs of black women, commenting on the power of white beauty standards.

Through Nov 1. Free. 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd., Birmingham. 205-254-2565,

Women artists in the news

  • "Women's Path," a collection of 25 bronze tiles created between 1989 and 1994 by notable Atlanta female artists including Tina Dunkley and Lisa Tuttle, was recently transferred from the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center to the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia's collection.

Conceived by the late Thomasine Bradford in 1989, the collection of 15.5-inch-square tiles was installed on the front plaza of the Contemporary in 1994.

President-CEO-director Annette Cone-Skelton, one of the Women’s Path artists, said, MOCA GA “looks forward to protecting and exhibiting this work. As one of the artists of that era, I am thrilled to know that the collection of tiles will remain intact as a unit and be recognized in our archives as an important achievement for women artists of Atlanta.”

1250 New York Ave. N.W., Washington. 202-783-5000,