Major prizes and local artists in the spotlight

The Atlanta art scene sometimes measures itself against the larger, buzzier art worlds of Manhattan or Los Angeles, but 2013 proved that Atlanta artists could hold their own against nearly any yardstick. An astounding survey of area talent strutted their stuff in the High Museum’s groundbreaking show, “Drawing Inside the Perimeter.” In the commercial realm, husband and wife artists Whitney and Micah Stansell represented for the home team in the national Herradura Tequila Barrel Art competition, taking the $100,000 prize for their artful homage to early cinema. Longtime Atlanta artists Pam Longobardi and Katherine Taylor delivered impressive exhibitions, and Taylor was one of three female artists — including Shara Hughes and Jiha Moon — chosen as Working Artist Project prize winners at MOCA GA, illustrating the presence of some powerhouse female artists in the city’s midst.

Pam Longobardi, Hudgens Prize winner

At the Hudgens Center for the Arts, Atlanta artist Pam Longobardi was matched up against some accomplished Georgia artists in the second “Hudgens Prize Finalists Exhibit,” in which four artists selected by a national jury of art professionals competed for one of the largest cash awards for a visual artist in the country. Longobardi’s elegant, disturbing sculptures made from trash washed up on international beaches combined formal beauty and social commentary. It justifiably took home the $50,000 prize.

“Drawing Inside the Perimeter”

At the High Museum of Art, 41 metro artists demonstrated why Atlanta is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to nurturing talented, inventive, diverse artists. Featuring both newbies and established artists, this show organized by the High’s Michael Rooks also did much to illustrate the necessity of showing and supporting local talent in the city’s most prominent arts venue.

“Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting”

This large-scale exhibition at the High featuring more than 120 works created by one of art history’s ultimate power couples showed the fascinating commonalities in these Mexican artists’ work. But it also showed the singularity of their visions. The noble, honest exploration of both creativity and coupledom was equal parts pain and passion.

Katherine Taylor: Spillover”

Longtime Atlanta-based talent Katherine Taylor brought her significant painterly gifts to bear in this solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, highlighting the artist’s fascination with disasters including hurricanes and floods, and how easily nature can encroach upon the security and serenity of the human world.

George Georgiou: Fault Lines/Turkey/East/West”

Jackson Fine Art strikes a nice balance between showing talented locals and the kind of international photographers audiences in Atlanta need to see to stay in-the-know. Case in point in the latter camp: British photographer George Georgiou, whose photos of the clash of old and new in modern-day Turkey offer virtual sightseeing through pictures, with all of the things you expect from travel — enlightenment, transformation and discovery.

“4X4: Linda Hall, Lydia Walls, Benjamin Jones, Joseph Kurhajec”

Delightfully off-kilter, this group exhibition at Barbara Archer Gallery (which recently moved to 364 Nelson St., Atlanta) featured an array of young and old, local and national artists. Two standouts steeped in a spirit of enchantment were Lydia Walls’ adorable, wacky 6x6 portraits of notable Southerners from Gucci Mane to Thomas Jefferson, and Linda Hall’s creepy-cute fabric animal sculptures.

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