Elevate makes art accessible by bringing it to city streets

In the Atlanta of the past, you had to buy a ticket for a dance performance or attend a gallery opening to see what the city’s creative class was up to. But no more.

The city’s art scene has gone dramatically up close and personal, with a variety of public events bringing the arts onto Atlanta’s streets. No ticket required. The summertime Living Walls street art exhibition brings international artists to town to paint artworks directly onto walls around the city. The one night only Flux event each fall showcases visual artists, video work, dance and performance art on the streets and in the storefronts of the Castleberry Hill neighborhood. The Atlanta dance group gloATL has made their reputation by performing on building steps, around park fountains and even across the intersections of Atlanta.

Now there is Elevate, which combines elements of many of these popular, more established public art events. But, instead of being organized by individual cultural movers and shakers committed to bringing art into the city’s landscape, Elevate originates with the City of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Elevate’s stated mission is to bring large scale public artwork, performance, events and educational opportunities to the public.

Last fall, Elevate/Art Above Underground, a 66-day event, brought murals, contemporary dance, performance art and video work to the streets and some of the vacant storefronts above Underground Atlanta. The success of that event was the inspiration for this year’s Elevate, said Courtney Hammond the Project Supervisor of Outreach and Education for the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program.

Elevate is an eclectic immersion in a variety of art forms that unfolds over nine days beginning October 19 in downtown Atlanta. All events are free and open to the public, and unfold on the city’s downtown streets. Days are devoted to tours of the city’s public artworks in Elevate Walking Art Tours originating at Peachtree Center Plaza Courtyard and nights to events like the Imaginary Million Creative Tie Gala. Imaginary Million happens October 24 at the old Macy’s building on Peachtree, and is a kind of conceptual art auction in which 100 Atlanta artists each use $10,000 in play money to bid on artworks by fellow artists. The event was created in collaboration with the Atlanta nonprofit community arts and advocacy organization WonderRoot. Says WonderRoot’s executive director Chris Appleton, “We were trying to do more to celebrate artists as stakeholders in the arts economy.” Instead of the usual art auction formula, in which artists are asked to donate work to support some cause, the artists taking part in Imaginary Million donate work, then bid on and take home a work by a fellow artist.

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Also included in the Elevate lineup is “Banho de Luz,” a collaborative work created by sculptor Lillian Blades, photographer Linda Costa and video artist Roni Nicole Henderson in which four translucent quilts studded with LED lights will be hung at the beaux-arts Carnegie Education Pavilion in Hardy Ivy Park from 8-11 p.m. October 19. A combination of light and sound will create what Elevate organizers are calling a dramatic “light painting” set against the nighttime sky. Part of Elevate’s mission is to bring attention to public art works.

Movement seems a major theme of this year’s event, from the play of light upon surface in “Banho de Luz” to kinetic art walks to the work of contemporary French choreographer Pierre Rigal. Rigal is known for his infusion of hip-hop into his performances. Rigal’s troupe will perform as part of Elevate’s October 27 closing night event the South Broad Festival, a kind of street party featuring food trucks, vendors and musical entertainment by the Atlanta Music Project and DJ Kemit.

That closing night festival will also allow viewers to celebrate the debut of five permanent art works created especially for Elevate. Four Atlanta street artists — Hense, Tilt, Sever and Born and one Los Angeles artist, Push — will create large-scale murals on the facades of four South Broad Street buildings. The mural project is intended to revitalize a part of the Atlanta landscape that has fallen on hard times. Said Hammond, “Many businesses have closed on this street within recent years, and the buildings, although drenched in history, need a lot of work. We see this project as not only supporting the needs of the local community (business owners and residents) but also an opportunity to implement excellent contemporary permanent artwork into the downtown landscape.”

Info Box

Elevate, October 19-27 at selected sites in downtown Atlanta. www.ocaAtlanta.com/ElevateAtlanta.

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