If you don’t know that October is photography month in metro Atlanta, you will soon.
Thanks to the efforts of Atlanta Celebrates Photography, the home-grown organization dedicated to promoting the art of the lens, photographic work of every description reigns supreme every fall. And not just in galleries and museums across the state.
You’ll encounter it just about everywhere you look. For example: Sublime Doughnuts in Midtown, the Smyrna Public Library, the REI sporting-goods store near Clairmont Road, Backstage Restaurant and Lounge in College Park. You get the picture.
During the 11 years since its inception, ACP has evolved into one of Atlanta’s liveliest arts institutions. In addition to exhibits, its programs encompass lectures, public art projects services for professional artists and participation opportunities for amateurs.
As its scope has broadened, so has its mission. Originally conceived to promote photography, ACP now sees itself as a community-builder. Says executive director Amy Miller, “We want to make culture happen.”
That means oiling the whole system: developing new audiences, encouraging patrons, expanding knowledge — making Atlanta, Miller says, “a place where artists can thrive — and stay.”
To that end, ACP initiated a number of new programs this year. “Greenhouse,” for example, is a series of meetings in which photographers can discuss ideas, ask advice and share information. Each meeting will include all types of photographers to encourage cross-pollination.
In another new venture, ACP has recorded video interviews with 10 of Atlanta’s established photography collectors, asking how and why they became collectors and what it’s meant to them. The videos, which will be available through the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, are intended to inspire a new generation of patrons.
Miller and Michael David Murphy, program manager, operate ACP out of a converted darkroom at Showcase School of Photography. Their equally tiny budget, even smaller in this recessionary year, is $227,000, with an additional $40,000 in in-kind expenditures.
So, how does this mouse roar? “Our model is built on partnerships and collaboration,” Miller says.
The impressive guest speaker list is possible, for example, because ACP joins forces with galleries that show the artists, museums and other organizations. Gregory Crewdson, internationally known for his elaborate staged tableaux, appears at the Rialto Center for the Arts on Oct. 15 because ACP was able to partner with the Society for Photographic Education (SPE) to attract him.
“Crewdson didn’t know us, but he knew SPE,” Miller says.
In turn, SPE chose Atlanta in October for its regional meeting so that it could piggyback on ACP’s exhibits and programs. It’s this kind of synergy that has fed ACP’s momentum, buoyed the organization during these hard times and made it a role model for the benefits of pooling strengths and resources.
Catherine Fox blogs about art and architecture on www.ArtscriticAtl.com
Highlights of the month
● Atlanta artist Beth Lilly’s project merges art and daily life in an unusual way. She and her team will make surprise visits to public places and give away 1,200 limited-edition photographs through October. Recipients will be able to upload their photos on an ACP Web site (gifted.acpinfo.org ) and talk about the experience or the artwork.
● Lilly will speak at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCAGA) on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.
● Cellphone art: Explore the impact of this new and popular photographic technology in two exhibits. More than 40 artists in the U.S. and Europe are represented in “What’s Happening Now” at Cherrylion Studios, 889 Morris St., Atlanta through Oct. 16. (www.christianwest.com/cellphoneproject )
● “On the Flip Side,” a group show at Dunwoody’s Spruill Gallery, 4681 Ashford Dunwoody Road, represents a variety of adaptations of the technology for artistic purposes. It runs through Nov. 17. (www.spruillgallery.blogspot.com )
● “MOCA GA Collects” is an opportunity to see the museum’s entire collection, which has been augmented by gifts from Atlanta collectors Lucinda Bunnen and Joe Massey. The 250 images, dating from 1940 to the present, are on view Friday through Dec. 31. Meet the artists at the opening reception, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday. (www.mocaga.com )
● Westside Art Walk. Take in a broad spectrum in one fell swoop. A few examples from the nine participating galleries: Harry Shearer’s photo installation at The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, a video by Jefferson Pindar at Saltworks, photos by former punk skateboarder Bill Daniel at Get This! and Chinese artist Chi Peng’s surreal fictions at Kiang Gallery. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 17. (www.wadatlanta.org )
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