Atlanta’s art galleries: from indie to highbrow

The Bakery is very much a DIY space that relies on the contributions of gallery volunteers shown here.
Courtesy of Willow Goldstein
The Bakery is very much a DIY space that relies on the contributions of gallery volunteers shown here. Courtesy of Willow Goldstein

Credit: Willow Goldstein

Credit: Willow Goldstein

Gallerists lay out the red carpet to share their love of art with newcomers and insiders alike.

From Buckhead galleries where works run into the five digits to scruffier indie art spaces populated by Gen Z-types in mom jeans, Atlanta gallery owners can sometimes seem more anxious to chew the fat about the art on the walls than sell it. Hospitality and accessibility are hallmarks of Atlanta’s art scene, which makes it easy to dip a toe in, no matter what your art education. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests the following art galleries to get you started.

Arnika Dawkins Gallery

Just a hair outside the perimeter in the leafy Cascade neighborhood, Arnika Dawkins Gallery opened in 2012 and highlights owner Arnika Dawkins’ twin interests in photography and Black artists. “I didn’t see a lot of reflections of me, or people I knew or my family,” when she looked around the art world, Dawkins says, and her gallery is an effort to fill that void. With her belief that “photography is the medium of our time,” Dawkins has shown heavyweights like Gordon Parks and Builder Levy alongside emerging artists including Ervin A. Johnson and Najee Dorsey. 4600 Cascade Road, Atlanta. 404-333-0312, adawkinsgallery.com

The Arnika Dawkins gallery combines the approachability of a residential home with cutting-edge contemporary photography including work by Ervin A. Johnson. Courtesy of Arnika Dawkins
The Arnika Dawkins gallery combines the approachability of a residential home with cutting-edge contemporary photography including work by Ervin A. Johnson. Courtesy of Arnika Dawkins

Credit: Arnika Dawkins

Credit: Arnika Dawkins

Gallery owner Arnika Dawkins in her Cascade gallery.
Courtesy of Arnika Dawkins
Gallery owner Arnika Dawkins in her Cascade gallery. Courtesy of Arnika Dawkins

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Because of the gallery’s out-of-the-way location, the elegant, engaging Dawkins says “I have to find creative ways to get the work out to be seen by a wider audience.” Dawkins has staged pop-up shows in Washington D.C. and Beverly Hills, hosted dinner parties in the gallery, and during COVID-19, arranged virtual studio visits with collectors around the world to bring attention to her artists.

The gallery has adopted a hybrid model, with some work for sale on Artsy, and on their website and in-person visits available by appointment. Extended through May: “Najee Dorsey | Southern Crossroads,” and stay tuned for “Black Girl Magic” from July 15-August 27.

Spalding Nix Fine Art

“As I always say, ‘Start with the art!’” advises gallery owner Spalding Nix. “You will always remember the art on the wall, but no one remembers the sofa underneath it.” An Atlanta native, Spalding Nix studied art history and studio art at the University of Virginia before a stint at Sotheby’s in New York. In 2003, he returned home and opened his gallery Spalding Nix Fine Art which currently specializes in work by Southeastern and women artists. A true Renaissance man Nix is also a lawyer and an art appraiser who has assisted in the authentication of lost paintings by John Singer Sargent and Norman Rockwell. During the pandemic, Nix has pivoted and connects with art lovers utilizing Tuesday morning Instagram artist interviews that often end with Nix strumming a tune by the Stones or Bowie on his guitar. Once you crack the preppy surface, Nix reveals the heart and soul of an artist and an infectious joie de vivre. Visit the gallery from May 21-July 16 for the group show “Over & Under” featuring talented local Jerushia Graham and a host of other Southern women artists. 425 Peachtree Hills Ave., NE, Suite 30-A, Atlanta. 404-841-7777, spaldingnixfineart.com.

Athens artist Susan Hable's work featured in "Wellspring" at Spalding Nix Fine Art. Courtesy of Spalding Nix
Athens artist Susan Hable's work featured in "Wellspring" at Spalding Nix Fine Art. Courtesy of Spalding Nix

Credit: Spalding Nix

Credit: Spalding Nix

Longtime Buckhead gallery owner Spalding Nix has seen many changes in the Atlanta art scene.
Courtesy of Karen Pagano
Longtime Buckhead gallery owner Spalding Nix has seen many changes in the Atlanta art scene. Courtesy of Karen Pagano

Credit: Karen Pagano

Credit: Karen Pagano

Artist Carlyle Wolfe Lee's work will be featured in the group show "Over & Under" opening May 21 at Spalding Nix Fine Art.
Courtesy of Spalding Nix
Artist Carlyle Wolfe Lee's work will be featured in the group show "Over & Under" opening May 21 at Spalding Nix Fine Art. Courtesy of Spalding Nix

Credit: Spalding Nix

Credit: Spalding Nix

Day & Night Projects

An artist-run space founded in 2016, and community-run by artists William Downs, Megan Castro and Steven L. Anderson, Day & Night Projects straddles the West End and Mechanicsville neighborhoods and can boast of a rare achievement for independent art spaces: its fifth anniversary. Opening Day & Night was a way for the co-organizers to enrich the local art scene.

“I feel like we’re helping create an ecosystem of artists in Atlanta,” says Anderson, “of artists, audiences, critics and everything that makes for a robust and layered art scene.” To that end, Day & Night Projects exhibits often highly conceptual, cerebral work by a mix of local and national artists. “We’re giving the artists [a chance] to expand upon something, an idea that they want to try, without selling the work top of mind.” Though the past year has certainly tested the mettle of most art galleries, Anderson notes that 2020 was the space’s best year in terms of sales. And since August, they’ve been back in business with in-person shows. “So if you want to run into artists, come to one of our openings,” says Anderson. “We’ll have a cold beer waiting for you.” Up next is Georgia State University grad Kelly O’Brien in a solo show opening June 3. 585 Wells St. SW, Atlanta. 404-623-7289, daynightprojects.art.

An opening at the artist-run gallery Day & Night projects located southwest of downtown Atlanta.
Courtesy of Day & Night Projects
An opening at the artist-run gallery Day & Night projects located southwest of downtown Atlanta. Courtesy of Day & Night Projects

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Work by Maggie Hayes on view at Day & Night Projects.
Courtesy of Day & Night Projects
Work by Maggie Hayes on view at Day & Night Projects. Courtesy of Day & Night Projects

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Work by Raul Valverde at Day & Night Projects.
Courtesy of Day & Night Projects
Work by Raul Valverde at Day & Night Projects. Courtesy of Day & Night Projects

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Wisconsin-based artist Kelly O'Brien's work will be featured beginning June 3 at Day & Night Projects.
Courtesy of Day & Night Projects
Wisconsin-based artist Kelly O'Brien's work will be featured beginning June 3 at Day & Night Projects. Courtesy of Day & Night Projects

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

The Bakery gallery director Willow Goldstein in her downtown space.
Courtesy of Willow Goldstein
The Bakery gallery director Willow Goldstein in her downtown space. Courtesy of Willow Goldstein

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

The Bakery

Owner Willow Goldstein’s charmingly gallery-slash-utopia is a group effort. Everyone from medical and law student volunteers to Goldstein’s own mom, Olive Hagemeier, helps out to drill, spackle, sweep and make the Bakery’s DIY vision of giving emerging artists a chance, a reality. The seed of the Bakery seems very much in Goldstein’s own life experiences growing up with an artist mom. “She let me paint our house in Cabbagetown bubble gum pink when I was seven,” Goldstein laughs.

“Our core values are experimentation, collaboration and accessibility,” she says of the ethos behind the Bakery. “It’s a lot about taking a risk in giving someone their first solo show.” After debuting in 2017 in a cavernous Oakland City warehouse, the Bakery has transitioned to a far smaller downtown Atlanta space where Goldstein is able to work more closely with artists to fulfill their vision. Look for Georgia Tech industrial design student Ian Harmon’s solo show “Looking Glass Self: How the Mind Shapes the Body,” from May 27-29, 6-9 p.m. and May 30, noon-3 p.m. The Bakery South Downtown: 92 Peachtree St. SW, Atlanta. The Bakery East Point: 1526 E Forrest Ave., East Point. thebakeryatlanta.com

Camayuhs

In her neon pink glasses, School of the Art Institute of Chicago grad Jamie Steele is a whipsmart, witty figure on the Atlanta art scene known for creating exhibitions of top-notch contemporary art. Steele caught the art bug early. “I started going to painting summer camp at Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church when I was maybe 5 or 6. I always painted cats.” Her current gallery Camayuhs is in a large white wall space in the rear of her Peachtree Hills home, though she’s currently renovating a new home close by and will reopen the gallery there. Like others in the Atlanta scene, Steele has basically created the art world she wants to see, “pairing local artists with artists from larger art centers in an effort to strengthen relationships between Atlanta and the national/international art dialogue.” For now, Steele has put her own art-making on the backburner but doesn’t seem to mind. “It was a weird identity shift going from artist to showing other people’s art, but I am very content and don’t feel a need or desire to make anything right now. The two-person show “Bed Rock” will be on view through June 5 and features MaDora Frey and Vanessa Thill. 137 Mobile Ave. NE, Atlanta. camayuhs.com

Gallerist and artist Jamie Steele's Peachtree Hills home is also the site of her gallery Camayuhs, here featuring work by Atlanta artist Alexis Childress.
Courtesy of Jamie Steele
Gallerist and artist Jamie Steele's Peachtree Hills home is also the site of her gallery Camayuhs, here featuring work by Atlanta artist Alexis Childress. Courtesy of Jamie Steele

Credit: Jamie Steele

Credit: Jamie Steele

Camayuhs_Alexis Childress, The Teknohlogia of Blackness, Oct. 2020/Photo caption: Gallerist and artist Jamie Steele's Peachtree Hills home is also the site of her gallery Camayuhs, here featuring work by Vanessa Thill (sculpture on the left) and MaDora Frey (photograph on the right).
Photo credit: Jamie Steele
Camayuhs_Alexis Childress, The Teknohlogia of Blackness, Oct. 2020/Photo caption: Gallerist and artist Jamie Steele's Peachtree Hills home is also the site of her gallery Camayuhs, here featuring work by Vanessa Thill (sculpture on the left) and MaDora Frey (photograph on the right). Photo credit: Jamie Steele

In Other News