I am an artist and I’ve been thinking…
Recently I joined up with my daughter, who was fresh from Nicaragua, and my brother, who lives in Hawaii, to make the bi-annual pilgrimage to California for the purpose of seeing Fay. She is the matriarch of my family. She’s extremely well preserved and active for someone in her age bracket. Fay lives in a virtual bubble of protected California coastline surrounded by people with lots of leisure time. We all come from extremely different worlds. Almost literally. Thankfully, we all have one thing in common: art.
When Fay heard we were coming, she got in gear to pressure her friends to host a series of “events” to show off her family and their respective talents. We knew this in advance because we are familiar with her maneuvers and prepared by practicing our drinking skills.
First, we met in San Francisco, wandered Sausalito, then met up with our exotic friend Jan, who lives in Oregon but can disappear at any moment and the next thing you know you get a postcard of her in front of the Sphinx or the Eifel Tower. We decided to head to Calistoga and “take the waters.” This means you can sit in large pools of mineral water for several hours, alternating your beverages in time with the many semi-alarming German tourists in very small bathing costumes until it gets dark and you head back to the Inn feeling very limber and lightheaded.
In preparation for the eventual rendezvous with Fay, we made our way through Napa Valley and several wineries to stock up on mobile provisions. This was a very good idea since we would have exclusive bottles of wine to share with our hosts as peace offerings to assuage our potentially damaged reputations or at the least offset the disappointment.
Our first meeting was in Carmel. This is an artist enclave owned by Clint Eastwood and Doris Day I think. We had brunch at the Eastwood ranch, then hit the galleries. The single product of Carmel is art. The gallery directory is larger than most phone books. I was salivating non-stop but that could have been in anticipation of dinner at a private restaurant, Dimitri’s. We were greeted like family at this Greek/Italian stop, but not like our family. There was actual hugging and kissing and they mostly have luxurious dark hair.
In fact, one good quote from Fay that we all immediately typed into our phones was, “If you need a good hug, go to Dimitri’s, (read: because you won’t get it at home.)” We had a few more “events” before going our separate ways but despite our differences, we agreed on one thing: art is good for you.
After this social immersion, some reflection on family dynamics and a quick stint in rehab, I looked around to see how Atlanta compares. Although there is no beach cove to watch the sun set like in Carmel, where people bring a bottle of wine, their little dogs and stylized children to sit on handmade blankets, then clap when the sun finally sets, we can actually claim artistic progress here.
Unfortunately there is no more outdoor artist market at Atlantic Station since new owners felt it was not in line with their vision, but there are tons of artist opportunities this summer, and a variety of diverse ways for visitors to get their art fix and possibly realigned with their family members.
The “Pop Up” trend of opening vacant commercial buildings continues in Midtown. The Artist Market (facebook.com/MidtownArtistMarket)is housed in 805 Peachtree. Great exposure for new and established artists and crafters.
The First Thursdays Arts Walk (downtownfirstthursdays.com) downtown can be a great way to get reacquainted with Atlanta, art and whoever you’re with.
One of my favorite galleries, Kai Lin Art (kailinart.com) opened “Flora” on April 15, running through May 27. The exhibit features local artists Anne Elser, Drew Watts, Karen Divine, and Lucha Rodriguez in this colorful show.
The Buckhead Spring Arts & Crafts Festival (buckheadartsfestival.com) at beautiful Chastain Park is May 14 – 15.
There are two new festivals this summer. The first is the Festival on Ponce (festivalonponce.com) on July 23 – 24 in the Olmsted chain of parks along Ponce de Leon Avenue. where you can see firsthand the talents of this famous landscape architect surrounded by local artists. Next up is the Piedmont Park Summer Arts & Crafts Festival (piedmontparkartsfestival.com) on Aug. 20 – 21 This brings back “the old days” of local art in the park and is a great way to relax, wander and discover.
So set your differences aside. You might need a fan this summer, but you’ll have plenty of choices to find the one thing that brings us all together whether you’re an artist, traveler, or matriarch.Based on very personal experience I can say with conviction that art can bring us together, at least for two years at a time.
Patrick Dennis is an artist, gallery owner and President of the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces. He lives in Atlanta. Email: Patrick@affps.com