Fay Gold returns to Atlanta’s swirling gallery scene

In the ever-shifting world of the Atlanta visual arts scene, any departure or arrival would seem possible.

But few would have anticipated that Fay Gold, who had a prominent, nearly three-decade run before closing her Buckhead gallery in 2009, would return to the art-exhibition biz.

Yet at age 81, she and the Fay Gold Gallery are back, anchoring the new Westside Cultural Arts Center, a converted 10th Street warehouse in which the gallery merges seamlessly with a space for performing arts and event rentals.

“My colleagues all say, ‘Opening a gallery? What? We’re shocked. You gotta be crazy,’” Gold recounted with a chuckle this week.

She mentioned this as drills drilled, saws sawed and dust flew amid final preparations for this week’s opening of the building that announces itself gregariously with a wildly colored abstract mural wrapping around three sides by Atlanta street artist Hense.

The return of the gallery that helped acquaint Atlanta with so many stars of a now-bygone, high-rolling art era — including Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres Serrano, Helmut Newton and Sandy Skoglund, the photographer and installation artist whose work is featured in the debut Westside show — is but one change on the Atlanta gallery scene as summer sets in.

In fact, Gold first rebuffed James Chappuis, the orthopedic spinal surgeon whose dream it was to craft a cultural center out of a weary Westside warehouse. But the doctor persisted until Gold became invested in his vision. It didn’t hurt that he offered her virtually no-risk terms for the first six months, even covering all build-out costs.

“How can you say no to that?” Gold said. “I just call him my patron.”

For his part, Chappuis said he wouldn’t have proceeded with the project, which was delayed several times by contractor and permitting issues, without her. “Oh, I think she’s just the absolute ingredient” to make the cultural center fly, said the doctor, who had dabbled in commercial real estate and enjoys the arts but has never pursued a role in them. “Fay’s belief in the dream of what it could be motivated me to continue.”

Designed by Smith Hanes of Flags of Origin (whose credits include slick looks for the Optimist and Watershed restaurants), the space boasts a silvery, industrial feel, with high ceilings, polished concrete floors and a large concrete bar in the events area.

Chappuis has had many inquiries and conversations about renting or programming the performing arts/events facility, where the catering kitchen is amid installation, but hasn’t begun to book it yet.

In the meantime, Fay Gold Gallery is open.

“Magic Time” is the title of the Skoglund show, but it might also speak to the gallery owner’s state of mind.

“It’s so much fun,” Gold said. “It’s what I know.”

Grand opening and artist reception: 6-9 p.m. Thursday. Through Aug. 30. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays. 760 10th St., Atlanta. 404-625-9094.

Saltworks

When Saltworks gave up its 11th Street location last August, director Brian Holcombe said he wanted to concentrate on the contemporary art gallery’s online presence and meet with collectors wherever they live, and he lamented the burden of operating and paying rent on the 1,800-square-foot space.

Less than a year later, Saltworks has popped back up with a pop-up show, “Four Atlantans,” in a temporary 3,500-square-foot space in Westside’s White Provision building.

What gives?

Holcombe explained that he wanted to capitalize on the synergy of the High Museum of Art’s “Drawing Inside the Perimeter” group exhibit of 41 Atlanta artists, including four represented by Saltworks. (Not coincidentally “Four Atlantans,” like the High show, opens Saturday.)

The Saltworks exhibit explores the “cultural convergence” of the quartet of resident artists who all hail from elsewhere: Alejandro Aguilera (Cuba), Brian Dettmer (Chicago), Craig Drennen (West Virginia) and Jiha Moon (South Korea).

Opens Saturday (reception 6-8 p.m.). Through Aug. 3. Noon-5 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. White Provision, 1100 Howell Mill Road, Suite A06-07, Atlanta. 404-865-1523, www.saltworksgallery.com.

Barbara Archer Gallery

The folk and contemporary art gallery, an Atlanta fixture since 1998, is closing its doors Saturday. But owner Barbara Archer resolutely said, “We’re not done yet.”

The Inman Park complex that the gallery, Dad’s Garage theater troupe and other businesses have shared is due to be demolished and replaced by a large mixed-use project. But Archer, who wants to downsize, has not yet found a suitable new home. Still, she plans to mount “Serving Face,” an exhibit by Atlanta embroidery artist Aubrey Longley-Cook, this fall.

At 11 a.m. Saturday, the gallery will host a talk by artists of the final show, “4 X 4,” which Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributing art critic Felicia Feaster called “deliriously odd and delightful.” There also is a moving sale of art, books and related gallery items.

11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. 280 Elizabeth St., Atlanta. 404-523-1845, www.barbaraarcher.com.

Atlanta Contemporary Art Center

The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center recently closed its Westside home since 1989 for a $500,000 renovation designed by the Atlanta architectural firm Bldgs, with reopening set for Oct. 19.

In the meantime, find out about programming being held at various locations by visiting www.thecontemporary.org/programming/current.

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