Just a few miles east of Downtown sits Candler Park, a neighborhood that was established surrounding a 55-acre city park and greenspace. The community was established in 1922 when the land was donated to the city by Coca Cola co-founder Asa Candler. The area is incredibly popular with families and young adults, making it a relatively peaceful and quiet community. A small retail district on McLendon Avenue features a few family-friendly restaurants, a market, coffee shop, and shops, while the proximity to more bustling parts of town such as Little 5 Points and Decatur allow for it to be an incredibly accessible neighborhood for young creatives. Here are a few of the area’s visual artists who shared their stories with INtown.
Rose M. Barron
Multi Media Artist, Part-time Professor of Foundations and Photography at the Art Institute of Atlanta. rosembarron.com
Originally from Indiana, Barron moved to South Carolina when she was a teen. “I fought it for a while, but I ended up coming around.” Growing up, she spent a lot of time painting and drawing with her older sister. Later, she moved to Athens to attend the University of Georgia to get her BFA in Graphic Design. She enjoyed working on logos, but found some of the work to be tiresome and repetitive. “I didn’t like it, most of it was kinda grunt work,” she laughed. As the industry turned more to digital work, she lost interest. “I’m more of a tactile, hands on artist, which is interesting because now I’m using digital photography and taking it back to make it look like it’s old school.”
Barron married her college sweetheart and had a family, spending much of her time pursuing other creative projects. She put on plays with her kids, got involved in modeling and acting, but eventually she started missing the actual making of art, and wanted to be behind the camera. “I had been taking just some hobby-type photos, but they were pretty good, and I just took one course at the Atlanta College of Art, and decided that was my passion, so I went back to get my masters.” At the time, she was teaching full time at a private school, but took a leap and enrolled at Georgia State University where she got an MA in Art Education, and later got her MFA in Photography at SCAD Atlanta, where she also took foundational arts and printmaking.
These days, Barron spends her time both teaching and her photography projects. “I take classical art pieces, work with symbolism, find stories and folklore allegories, and mix them together to build a set like a film still.” Her pieces are larger than life photographed portraits that she then colors by hand, mixing old techniques and new technology in a refreshingly new way. “Right now, and what I’ve done in the last year is kind of a continuation of the Madonnas,” she said, referencing one of her recent series. “I’ve been taking a darker turn and branching out into what I’m calling now the Madonnas, Monsters, and Saints.” An element of psychoanalysis, thorough art history research, and a combination of set design, art direction, photography and painting all contribute to the pieces.
Girl in the Forest is Barron’s next big endeavor, which will occupy a space near her studio on Octo. 20, with a cast of characters, live painting, and projections. The performance is based on the original Sleeping Beauty story from medieval times. The event, hosted by Barron and studio-mate J William Hill, will take place at the B Complex Gallery from through Nov.1.
Christy Bardis Petterson
Textile Artist, Co-founder of Indie Craft Experience. Instagram: @christybardispetterson
“I’ve definitely dabbled in many, many things throughout the years,” said Christy Bardis Petterson, a textile designer and artist who works in Candler Park. Though organizing ICE and being a mother are commitments that take much of her time, she has always felt a strong drive to make art. For many years I was doing both; making things to sell them and also organizing events and I had a full time job, and at some point you have to realize you have too many irons in the fire.”
After a hiatus, Petterson is back to her love for textile design. “I always come back to printmaking, no matter what I was working on.” Originally from Decatur, and having attended Chamblee High School which is a magnet school, her path led her to enrolling at Agnes Scott where she got her BA with a major in English Literature-Creative Writing and squeezed in as many art classes as she could along the way. “I got a really good foundation on that in going to Agnes Scott where I did a lot of printmaking. I do relief printing and screen printing, just simple repeating patterns is what I’m interested in.”
The designs that Petterson produces harken back to classic techniques, which have always fascinated her. “I’ve gotten into Adire Eleko, which is an African resist technique, and I’ve been doing that with Indigo,” she explained. “They are definitely sort of primitive. I’ve also in the last year gotten into Shibori dyeing with Indigo, Shannon and I got into that together, and I’ve been teaching workshops in that,” she ssaid. Shannon Mulkey Green is Petterson’s business partner at ICE, and they also work together in the education department at the High Museum where Petterson teaches a few days a week during the school year and jumps on board with camps during summer break.
As for what’s next for Petterson? Most likely, a little bit of everything. “Who knows what I will get busy with, but I think I’d like to get back into making art to sell eventually since I think it is really important for people to buy things that are handcrafted. Teaching is a new thing for me, I started working at the High about three years ago, and I had dabbled in teaching previously but it is the first time I’m doing it really seriously,” she said.
Currently, you can see Petterson’s work and learn alongside her at workshops at the ICE headquarters in Candler Park, and come out to a monthly art and craft night at the space on the first Tuesday of every month, which routinely fills up with participants. “A lot of adults have this perfectionist thing, so it’s nice to be able to draw them out and get them to loosen up a bit,” she said, explaining that kids often jump in without question while adults get caught up in perfectionism. “Overall, I love teaching because I love to encourage people to try things and jump in and be creative, even if they don’t feel like they are very creative.”
Anthony “Ant” Sims
Animator and Illustrator at Misc. Entertainment. Misc888.tmblr.com
“I draw reflections of things I see every day, just life and living,” explained Ant Sims. For him, the push to create is constant. “When you have a vision, you just feel obligated to share it with other people.” His animations are rich in color, heavily character driven, and steeped in surrealism. The stories feature adult humor, stylized animation, and are intended to be relatable for his audience.
The sense of humor that Sims brings to his animations helps to highlight some of the problems and pleasures of daily life in a lighthearted way. “I don’t mind making fun of myself,” he said. While he has always been an artist, he’s walked a winding path to find himself where he is today. Once a student at Georgia State in the Journalism program, he quickly determined that he needed to change paths and dropped out to pursue animation as a self-taught artist. “I didn’t finish, but it’s cool. Animation should have been my major in the first place. I thought I wanted to be a journalist but art is my first calling, it’s my passion.”
His approach to creating these animations is a multi-step and multi-media process. Starting with pencil sketches, which he then inks on paper, the images are scanned and digitally colored. Additionally, the duo brainstorm on plot ideas, develop storylines and write their scripts, and then later have to edit and process the video files.
Though there are plenty of other methods for creating animation without the steps on paper, Sims is committed to his personal touch with the craft: “I couldn’t imagine not hand drawing it.” Together, the duo puts out not only animation, but also screen-printed tees, and you can learn more about Misc. by visiting rockmisc.blogspot.com.
Found Art Sculpture and Assemblage Artist. WilliamMasseyArt.com
Originally hailing from Marietta, William Massey the third is somewhat of a local celebrity in the local art world. Many know him for his large-scale assemblages that have popped up on the Beltline as part of four years of Art on the Beltline under the overpass near the skate park. “It’s just such a cool little haven,” he said, noting that having some kind of shelter has been necessary for displaying his sculptures. “There is color and life and graffiti and bands and music all around.” His sculptures are community driven works comprised of found and discarded objects. “I have this mission to take what others think is worthless and reestablish worth.” The process for creating these pieces includes input from the community who help with physically assembling the sculptures, as well as serving as inspiration for the figures.
Massey has admittedly been very affected by some of his travels when it comes to his artistic pursuits. “I went to Europe right after graduating from Valdosta State,” he explained, citing that he had completed two and a half years of classes in Communications and Business. “I was miserable. I hated it. I thought, I like to doodle, I’ll just do art. I’d rather be happy than rich.” In traveling to Asia, Africa, India, and Saudi Arabia, he fostered a love for travel and all the people who live here.
That shift marked a profound change in Massey’s path, and he hasn’t looked back. “Everything in my life changed after that. I have been just so much more joyful and purpose-driven.” In his work, he seeks to evoke awe and whimsy for those who see the pieces. “The push is to stir the creative spirit in people who maybe haven’t felt that way in a while,” he said.
“I’m definitely interested in taking a heap of trash and worthless items and creating an impactful image of someone,” he continued, explaining that sometimes even he has trouble explaining the emotional impact of his assemblage works. “I think we are all broken people and we all have baggage, and imperfections, and junk, but somehow we can be made whole. So, I just like to point to that. The human condition is limitlessly intriguing.”