Ice storms in Atlanta last Friday resulted in a rather quiet turnout for the citywide gallery openings. My beau and artist Bryan Schellinger braved the icky weather and saw about 15 shows.
We headed uptown first (because it's best to be downtown later) and both were pleasantly surprised by Stephanus Heidacker's paintings (at left) at Timothy Tew. Although borrowing from Picasso a little too obviously, they had real charm and have stuck with me for more than 30 minutes...a good sign. The rest of Buckhead was forgettable so we sped down to Solomon Projects only to find out that their opening is next week. This was confirmed by Joe Peragine (it's his show opening at Solomon) who we ran into at Castleberry's spankin' new Get This! Gallery.
Owner Lloyd Benjamin featured Drew Conrad's Richard Prince-inspired photo collages as well as his white-on-white uber-hip works on paper in the gallery's inaugural show. The detached coolness of Conrad's work was completely eclipsed by the artist himself, whom I had the distinct pleasure of meeting there. Conrad oozes rock-star-glam style and sex appeal from every pore of his body. That, coupled with an instantly infectious and charming personality makes one feel an almost desperate need to be a member of this guy's entourage. A soon-to-be-graduate of the Parsons School of Design, Conrad is bound for greatness so long as his talent keeps up with his persona.
Also in Castleberry, Ty Stokes showed new work by Deana Sirlin in her signature style. The mega-painting at left was particularly appealing. Also at Stokes were intimate color photos by High Museum interim photography curator Shelley Lawrence who explored the idea of travel with nighttime photos taken from airplanes that bordered on abstraction and were very beautiful and smart. Shelley and I had a brief talk about print size in photography which I plan to write about at length soon.
Next to Stokes, Marcia Wood Gallery featured delightfully unsettling marble sculptures by Venske & Spänle that just left me feeling all gooey inside. I wanted to take one with me and fondle it the rest of the night until I was reminded that they weighed about 150lbs each. Over at Skot Foreman, prints by Pablo Picasso and Romare Bearden were on display. The Bearden prints seemed to be a little bottom-of-the-barrel, but the Picasso pieces were powerful and worth a trip to the art 'hood especially to see the tan and black linoleum cuts.
A mysteriously empty Saltworks Gallery (usually the coolest art party in town) over in the Third Ward featured work by 2002 Whitney Biennial artist Conor McGrady and Atlantan Mike Wsol. McGrady's austere and minimal depictions of his homeland in Northern Ireland are based on his first-hand experience of the "violence, ideological conflict and low-intensity warfare" of the region. These works are steeped in art history, from Goya's "Disasters of War" series to the minimalism of Agnes Martin and Sol Lewitt. They are conceptual knockouts and of course I just had to have one (but only after eight months of careful consideration). Bryan liked the architectural Wsol pieces far better and I agree that they are smart and well executed, but it was McGrady who left the biggest impact of the night on me. One benefit of the nearly-empty galley was that I got to spend a good bit of time talking to the artist about his work and influences.
Capping the night off, we headed over to Salt to catch artist Scott Ingram's curatorial effort installed on the restaurant's walls. Drew Conrad showed up as we were heading in, so we knew that if he was there, we were in the right place at the right time. The artwork rocked (especially Shepard Fairey's Communist propaganda-poster inspired pieces), but the aging drunken yuppies were scaring us, so we fled to the warming warm glow of our TV and soon to bed.