By Patrick Dennis

I am an artist and I’ve been thinking…

I had a phone call this week from my gallery manager Mali Harrell (who is also my good friend/talented glass artist/insanely compulsive taskmaster and workaholic) from Cape Cod.  She had just arrived for a one- week vacation on the Cape with friends and had several “urgent” things that needed attention at our Decatur Gallery.

Of course, none of them were really urgent. She was just having a hard time relaxing.  I considered recommending an immediate dose of alcohol as a cure but worried about how that would effect her good judgment as she romped joyously carefree on the beach.  When she called the next day, I could hear that she was already slowing down because her voice was just perceptibly slurred, so apparently the cure was working.  After that, no word until she was back in town. Asked how her trip was, all she said was, “You need a vacation. It does wonders.” So I started thinking… yes, I do.

We all seem to work harder these days, and in this supersonic age of electronic communication we need to move at a pretty good clip to keep up.  As a businessperson I often find myself working on a laptop or my iPhone until late at night, forgetting to eat.  This is bad for me the artist, because all work and no paint (never mind vacations) makes me very cranky.  Plus I just get skinnier and flabby, which is not an attractive combination.

When my grandkids came to visit this week I found myself with a telephone headset on as I combed their hair and did their laundry and played hide and seek, plagued by guilt for enjoying a few moments of recreation.  Mali was right, I need to drink. I mean, I need a vacation. We all do.  So the question is, how do you take a vacation and successfully take your work with you when you go?

One of the friends Mali was visiting in Cape Cod is an artist who just moved there from Atlanta. The second thing she thought after moving was to open a gallery like ours and wanted to know if I could add one more thing to my “plate.” The first thing was the obvious: brain goes to mush as one absorbs the smell of the ocean.  I completely understand.  So I pondered this as a potential solution: take a vacation to a desirable location (read: anywhere there is ocean) and open an art gallery for undervalued local artists.  The formula goes like this: work plan + plane ride to ocean paradise = guilt free vacation.  It sounds deceptively simple, but I’ve got to try it, because it simply will not do for my friend who works even more hours each week than I do to be ahead of me in the relaxation category. I need to lead by example after all, so it’s important that I figure this out.

Artists are lucky in this regard. We can take our work and literally apply our skills anywhere. Want a change of scenery?  Take your paints and go.  Find out where you can paint on site and you can possibly pay for your trip.  Or stay home and take a mental vacation by taking off your headset.  There is plenty to do.  Or of course if you are a dedicated professional like me, who prefers planning over hostels, you can choose from a number of art events both local and around the country to engage your skills.  But that sort of takes the vacate out of vacation if you ask me, so I’ll just keep living through my friends until I get to Cape Cod.

Here are some excellent art events and opportunities for artists and art supporters this month (and I hope you appreciate that there is not a single mention of Halloween except for Youngblood Gallery which always has skeletons):

Oct. 1: “Caroline Pyle” at U Space Gallery – a funky joint in the Old Fourth Ward.  439 Edgewood Ave.

Oct. 3: “Bohemian Circus: An Art” – an interactive art evening at the Apache Café.  64 Third St.

Oct. 8: “Oakhurst Arts & Music Festival at Harmony Park – always fun and easy to enjoy. Corner of East Lake Drive and Oakview Road.

Oct. 8: “Fallen” – a group exhibit and opening reception at the Decatur Gallery.  153 Ponce de Leon Place.

Oct. anytime: “Bruce Brainard at Mason Murer Fine Art” – all I can say is “wow.” 199 Armour Drive.

Oct. anytime: “Monsters 2.0” at Kai Lin Art – welcome them to their new home!  3096 Roswell Road.

Oct. anytime: “No Posers” at Youngblood Gallery.  636 N. Highland Ave.

Patrick Dennis is an artist, gallery owner and President of the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces. He lives in Atlanta.  Email:

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.