Even MORE Hot Atlanta Art! … part 2

Yeah, at 9:00 am, and it was approaching 90 already. Muggy too. I did get all around the city in about 36 hours … despite all that heat.  You have heard of a gallery walk, we did the gallerry RUN. Atlanta folks will figure out that I missed some galleries. I did. My list was selective and … because they were setting up new shows and there were a few that were closed for all or part of the month of July. Imagine that a vacation from Atlanta’s hot summer … smart folk those art dealers and artists!

Well, despite not seeing the inside of EVERY gallery on my very selective list., there were some amazing works that we got to look at.

Abandon, by Matt Haffner, at Whitespace

The work by Matt Laffner was arresting in a action movie or a crime novel kind of way; the content was intended to grab hold of the viewer. And the flattened, almost silkscreen layered look of the image was a perfect choice to back this up. It reminded me of comic books and the covers of pulp fiction novels … in a wonderfully sophisticated way though. Laffner is tapping into our memories of pop images and updates them to fit his narrative. If you don’t ” cotton” to the comic book aesthetic,  think Golub without the tortured paint surface.

Another artist that caught my eye was the landscape painter Megan Lightell. Each of her works was square, four feet square. That format isn’t one that is traditional in landscape circles. We all know that; every time we turn on our computer printer we have to tell it if it is supposed to print in landscape format or not (usually not). Well the scale and format worked for Lightell. So did the painting of light. Whether she was giving us a bright clear light day, a thick southern day in the fields or a morning before the mist clears, I could see the light brightening up the and moving through air. In one I could almost taste the thick air of the coastal swamps and tidal rivers I grew up with in Georgia and Florida.  Here were the Southern landscape made anew that I had hoped to find.

Megan Lightell, Morning Creek

A direction that I am always pleased to find is an area that I like to explore, the visually intimate image. The ones with a grace and a charm that isn’t about the subject, ones where it is the artist’s choice of color and tone, or the artist’s material that sets up a sensual response. Something quiet that we can explore slowly and deeply.  I found that in two artists whose work I had never seen before. They were Stephanie Hargrave and Terri Dilling. Hargrave’s images are a delight; a delight in the same way that sweet, ripened fruit and Crème Brûlée make a perfect close to a meal. Each would be a perfect dessert, but if put together well … well you know.

Stephanie Hargrave, Floating series #9, 9×9

Hargraves’s range of opacity to transparency is SO nicely played in these works; there is a deliciousness found as you melt your way through the layers, past the clearly defined lines and shapes and down into a fog and haze of tone. These are not bold or dynamic works. They are delicate visual treats that you want to spend a bit of time enjoying. They really are worth the time, even when they are competing with larger works or 104 degree summer heat.

Terri Dilling, Littoral Zone series #2, cyanotype & gouache

Another artist who plays with images that flirt with fog and haze is Terri Dilling. These works get their complexity from a wonderful and unexpected pairing disparate materials … cyanotype and gouuache. Cyanotype is a old photographic technique. The invention seems to  go all the way back to 1842 for blueprinting, but Anna Atkins made the first photographic prints using the method in 1843. Unlike Anna Atkins, Dilling seems to be using a a layering of exposures to work up her images. And Dilling is also using Gouache? Gouache is of course a version of watercolor most often thought of from the designer world (animation and graphic designers) of the 1940s to 1980s. If you have a world art turn of mind, you also remember that Mughal and Persian miniatures often used a gouache type of watercolor.

But maybe we should look closer to home to see why Dilling is using gouache. Remember watercolor is usually transparent. Gouache can be too … in thin layers. It can be opaque. So gouache can hide and reveal what is below … it can tease us with glimpses, illuminating or shielding. Just like the layering of the photogram process Terri Dilling is using. Now I see why those material belong together. Evocative and a bit mysterious.

Now I will wrap up. But I have one final thing to mention … one of the biggest reasons I made this trip to Atlanta. To see Kevin and his work which is on display  at several venues in Atlanta … work that I think you will really like. Here is a taste. I’ll post a bit more in a day or so.

Ties? Oh yes!


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One Response to “Even MORE Hot Atlanta Art! … part 2”

  1. jean sampson Says:

    Thanks for the tour, John. I loved the last artist and also the landscape painter. I imagine your head was about to burst after that day! Great to see you the other day!

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