In Praise of the Arts in Atlanta
While largely in hibernation during my first months here, finally pushing myself out of the basement apartment house seems to be worthwhile. My latest discovery: Atlanta’s arts scene is really impressive. My own artistic aspirations waned after the paint-by-number mishap of ’89, but I still enjoy looking at interesting things.
On Thursday I stopped by a photography collection on the westside that was truly unique. It actually required special microscopes and a partnership with UGA instead of the usual bating of friends with tall cans of PBR to sit on ragged furniture in front of abandoned buildings. I know that I’ve seen that exact “exhibit” hundreds of times. And while the Atlanta Philosophy Film Festival may have been more rewarding if I was able to debate why a man chooses to drift through the woods for half an hour, I appreciate the opportunity existing for those who are into that sort of thing.
I traveled worlds away on Friday afternoon to marvel at the BAPS Hindu temple. Regardless of religion (or lack thereof), the architecture alone is definitely worth a ride up 85. Later that night I checked out the Castleberry Hill Art Stroll where every spot seemed filled with energy.
But what impressed me most was Inspire, Incite, Ignite at Eyedrum on Saturday. It wasn’t merely the girls dancing with flames, the homemade skeeball or the ad hoc circus acts — it was the people. I watched a man staple dollar bills to his forehead next to a couple in their 50s. And while there was certainly a great number of “those young, artsy types you’d expect to be here,” I turned one way to see a guy wearing Propagandhi, turned another to see what appeared to be a genuine Stanford alum sporting the non-thrift threads of his alma mater.
I actually smiled at those abandoned building shapshots the first few times and I understand about creating things that connect with your peers. Really, as someone whose childhood canvas was tracing paper, I’m not in a position to criticize anyone. But lacking resources (see recent DSO strike) and support (Banksy received mix reaction) and sheer manpower, it’s safe to say that innovative ideas seemed rare in Detroit. From the Good Food Truck to the mostly clean bathrooms to the emcee who kept things moving, the Eyedrum event was put together the right way. There was never fear of police busting in, impounding everyone’s cars and shutting everything down. The entire night was accessible to everyone and it showed both in its attendance and the work itself.
This was more real life “doing things” than I’ve subjected myself to in some time. I’ll likely spend the next few weeks confined to my bed, staring into the eyes of Anthony Bourdain and Tina Fey. But when I finally reemerge, it’s great to know that Atlanta offers so many original experiences. I’m fortunate to be here.