1. Gimme Shelter / Maximum Flavor / 5 X 5 at (respectively) Saltworks, the Atlanta College of Art Gallery and Wertz Contemporary - Although thematically unrelated, these three shows contained many of the same artists who I am convinced are what is next. Attention collectors, here is the list of who to buy now: William Cordova, iona rozeal brown (solo at Saltworks in February), Wardell Milan, Kehinde Wiley (oops too late), Mickalene Thomas, Leslie Hewitt, Hank Willis Thomas and Nicole Cherubini. Plus, two of Atlanta's better known artists, Eric Mack and Charles Nelson broke through creatively in these shows. My post on Maximum Flavor here.
2. Joe Peragine at Solomon Projects - it took the combination of three shows to best this knock-out performance. What a show off! More here.
3. The Contemporary Portrait Gallery at the New High Museum - which includes portraits by Vik Muniz, Philip-Lorca Dicorcia, Chuck Close, Jean Micheal Basquiat, Sigmar Polke and Dawoud Bey. The Muniz, new photo curator Julian Cox's first acquisition, is so great it brings me to my knees.
4. Suzhou Embroidery at the Carter Presidential Library - I was blown off my high art pedestal and humbled by the meditative skill required to create these masterworks. More here.
5. Shin-il Kim at Saltworks - Kim's embossed paper animations (done with an inked-out ball point pen) combined Eastern traditions with Western art history in a manner that added up to video art that was new, accessible and multi-dimensional. It's something you really have to see to appreciate his labor intesive process. The third video - also referencing art history with a clever twist is a perfect first video acquisiton for a collector - maybe me!
6. What Business Are You In? at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center - When you work for the man (which I did for several years) this show hits home, sometimes painfully and sometimes comically. More here.
7. Bryan Schellinger at Garage Projects Few artists in Atlanta have the guts to set the bar as high as Schellinger did in his ambitious installation that attempted to place his abstract paintings and drawings into a thematic context. Although not quite as cohesive as Peragine's (above at #2 who pulled out all the stops as well), Schellinger drew on art history, ultimate fighting and his skills as a chef to make "Sugar Monkey" the most beautiful mess of a show I've seen in quite a while. More here and here.
8. William Steiger at Marcia Wood - Remember how marginalized the 19th century great American painters like Eakins, Sargeant, Homer and Hopper were in their time? The great stuff sometimes happens at the fringes of the art world. Steiger's work is a revisiting of the 19th century Americans filtered through a century of modernism.
9. Drew Conrad at Get This! Gallery - A little Masao Yamamoto mixed with Richard Prince conceptualism and Drew's rock star good looks resulted in an unexpectedly complex yet visually engaging show. It came just at the time that my ideas about photography were expanding and really hit the mark. More here.
10. Lauren Clay at Eyedrum For some reason my taste in art is either maximal or minimal - there is no in between. Clay's cut paper sculptures are delicate, minimal and at the same time electrifying. More here.
+1. Whitez in the 'Hood - the 2005 Tour Championship at East Lake Country Club - Two things you need to know: 1. Atlanta is still a largely segregated city and 2. The East Lake Country Club is smack dab in the middle of the 'hood. I found myself completely delighted at the unintentional performance art that started at the Turner Field parking lot where thousands of mostly white golf fans stood on line in their striped polos and khaki shorts to get bused (yes bused!) into the middle of Blacklanta. It was just like the old days, only backwards! The look on people's faces was worth the admission price alone as they watched the neighborhood get rougher and rougher. Ironically, the only player they cared to follow was Tiger Woods. Me, I'm more of a Sergio Garcia fan for reasons that have nothing to do with his golfing.
Other noteworthy shows - Chris Verene, Venske & Spanle, Marcus Kenny (all at Marcia Wood Gallery), Conor McGrady at Saltworks, Scott Ingram at Solomon Projects (who will probably have the best show of 2006 with his upcoming installation at the Botanical Gardens), Epilogue, Katy Grannan, David Hilliard (all at Jackson Fine Art), Sandy Skoglund at Fay Gold, Looks Good on Paper at Spruill, Jennifer Cawley at Tew, Susan Krause at B Complex who would have made my top ten if it was a complete exhibition instead of one artist in a good-but-not-great group showcase.
Biggest disappointments - The Atlanta Biennial at the Contemporary and Fay Gold's 25th Anniversary show which amounted to nothing more than an inventory clearance sale despite all the hoopla.