By Patrick Dennis

I am an artist and I’ve been thinking…

If you are anything at all like me, and I hope for your sake that you are not because I am getting older and more tired by the minute, you are mostly relieved that 2012 is swiftly coming to a close because it’s just not possible to be everywhere at once and absorb all that’s going on in Atlanta without courting a social meltdown or at the very least a migraine episode.

With about a million art festivals, exhibits, ‘strolls,’ and openings I’ve had my hands full and my gas tank empty. Although I completely enjoy immersing myself in Atlanta’s burgeoning art scene, I have one request for the gods: please get us organized! If there is someone out there who has visions of being Atlanta’s Art Czar and has, at the very least, closet organizational experience, we need you. Events are so spread out and varied, it’s not possible to get to them all unless you, like me have a secret clone machine popping out doppelgangers that promise not to utter a word in public or risk giving up the secret. Anyway, didn’t Fay Gold hold that title once? Surely there is an heir apparent on the horizon with superpowers in art or perhaps owns an art train we can ride.

The best advice I can give to any artist or art supporter is to choose carefully when exploring art in Atlanta. If the desire is to learn and grow, there are established institutions such as Callanwolde that fit the need perfectly. If a quiet afternoon of reflection and feeling rich is the need, then visit the High Museum or the Carlos Museum at Emory. But gallery hopping and art happenings? It’s a gamble. You might stumble into a loud hip-hop exhibit you weren’t expecting or somebody’s garage if you investigate strictly via the web. Know your taste and cultivate relationships with a few venues such as the Whitespace Gallery in Inman Park or Anne Irwin Fine Art in Miami Circle.  The staff and experts will take good care of you.  I  admit to being addicted to the Besharat Gallery in Castleberry Hill ever since being introduced by none other than Fay Gold herself, who led me on a full force snooping tour of the building. The Steve McCurry photographic exhibit in November is reason enough to return. I don’t get there often enough for the reasons I already mentioned above.

Pretend for a moment to zoom into the future. Wouldn’t you like to see accessible art that didn’t require a map and full tank of gas? Maybe an art train is a bit ambitious, but don’t we expect to see a flourishing arts district that only requires our feet and curiosity? You can smell the espresso from the cafes lining the route and see the smiles on happy faces of people who live nearby knowing their real estate values have escalated in direct correlation to the vibrant galleries in the area. Their children are safer, the streets are cleaner and best of all, we artists do not have to leave town to break into the art scene because it’s already here. Wait a minute, I think I just stole the vision for the Beltline. But if you’re like me and I really do hope you’re not, you’ll channel your traffic frustration into supporting our growing culture of art so that one day that future vision will include you with a huge smile on your face, and no map required.

Upcoming Art Events

Nov. 3

Bacchanal: It’s the End of the World As We Know It

Emory University Michael C. Carlos Museum

Cocktail event to raise funds for exhibits and programs from 7 to 11 p.m.  Inspired by ancient American collections and the end of the Mayan calendar. 571 South Kilgo Circle. carlos.emory.edu

Nov. 3-4,

Chastain Park Arts Festival

The fourth annual juried fine arts festival returns to Chastain Park. 185 artists will show their work at the best holiday shopping in Buckhead!  Gourmet foods, acoustic entertainment and much more. Free to attend. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. chastainparkartsfestival.com

Nov. 7 – Dec. 1

Atlanta Celebrates Steve McCurry

Besharat Gallery

Famous for the “Afghan Girl” photo also known as “The Unguarded Moment,” this photographic gem will be loaned to SCAD. This circa 1885 building has been repurposed with a flair of European influence.  The exhibits remain absolutely the best in Castleberry Hill, 175 Peters St. Hours by appointment Tuesday  – Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. besharatgallery.com

Through Nov. 9

Callanwolde Gallery Exhibit – Georgia Naturals

Diane Kirkland exhibits a photographic collection of natural landscapes of the South as well as her more recent portfolio of images, which include the layering of textures and drawings on top of the photographs. 980 Briarcliff Rd. callanwolde.org

Patrick Dennis is an artist, gallery owner and President of the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces.  Contact him at Patrick@affps.com

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.