By Patrick Dennis
I am an artist and I’ve been thinking…
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there’s a lot more art being pushed out to the public lately in weirdly innovative ways. I love the trend because as a gallery owner I get bored real easy seeing yet another exhibit on walls by extraordinarily talented artists waiting to see if anyone comes to see it. Or maybe it’s because I like being outdoors. Either way, traditional exhibits are a little like going to see your grandma, loving her and dreading it just a little. She has a real nice house and it’s clean as a whistle. She’s dressed in a nice outfit and has powder on her face and has been sitting by the window waiting for you to get there. You know she’s told all her lady friends that you’re coming and will probably fix that leak in the sink. It’s not really huge pressure, but it makes the visit seem a little “precious” somehow and not in a good way no matter what she’s been baking. So when art groups demonstrate a little forward thinking to make art more accessible and enticing, I’m all in.
When Fay Gold retired I thought it was the end of an era foreshadowing an exodus of art collectors taking their business north, but she came back to life on the Westside with a bang, showcasing HENSE, the graffiti artist, and hasn’t slowed down yet. I thought she might be a hologram since I hadn’t seen her in person lately, but she was real and solid at the recent opening of the “Art in the Streets” exhibition opening (which continues through Nov. 9 and is not to be missed) at Fay Gold Gallery.
Then the Living Walls conference was held in August, bringing film, block parties, lectures, a bike tour and dozens of artists ready to paint outdoor artwork on literally any surface made available. I’m not necessarily advocating artistic graffiti but you have to admit it gets the dialogue started and grabs your attention. Are on the BeltLine continues has a line up of of over 70 works along 8 miles of the trail that continues through November. Even the venerable High Museum offered “Vermeer with a Schmear” in August with bagels, coffee and a discount on admission.
It seems like everyone has pushed the art envelope just a bit closer to the edge of the table, so in a typical fit of artist self doubt I caught myself wondering if I was staying current. Then I realized that several months ago my company embarked on an enterprise that is right on trend. We turn our entire office building into a gallery every two months. We select an artist and curate the show. We hold a casual ‘after office hours’ party to launch it, and for two months, no matter who shows up for countless meetings, the artist’s work is right in their face. No invitation required, but viewing it is. Since we started this I’m pretty sure I’ve given two thousand tours and I’m only exaggerating a little. The artists agree to donate a portion of any sale to our non-profit foundation. The office looks great. In every way it speaks to making art more public, and without using graffiti.
How can you open your walls? First, artists don’t work in offices. Okay, they might have jobs there but their ‘real work’ is done in the studio. Second, everyone knows one. And last, who could deny the need to enliven your office environment? I propose this challenge that is much less strenuous than painting a mural on the outside of your office building, which would be fun but messy. Simply put, turn your office into a gallery. It’s very easy to do with minimal skill as I can attest. In this way you are supporting local artists and appear to be much more sensitive than you probably are. So before you get all excited from the effects of street art in Atlanta and grab a can of spray paint, try this first. If my own office is any indication, you will make more people smile every single day.