By Patrick Dennis
I am an artist and I’ve been thinking…
It’s entirely possible that spending several days with my beautiful, single daughter and my two angelic grandchildren in the sleepy seaside town of Apalachicola, Fla. has given me new perspective on art.
This is quite unexpected in view of the fact that the sum total of their artistic curiosity lies hidden in the shelves of Dollar General or in the case of Apalachicola, the wax lips and mustaches found on the tourist trapping shelves of the Old Time Soda Fountain on Market St. where one can buy a seashell treasure box, snapping turtle head on a stick, aforementioned wax lips, “I left my husband on the boat” t-shirts, dried baby alligator heads and gooey ice cream confections. Yes, a dazzling display of uselessness that helps make Florida famous.
We wandered around town with Anita, the Chamber of Commerce Director (apalachicolabay.org), who has been living there since time began, as our guide. We discovered more than 25 independent galleries and art-centric shops within one square mile of coastal bliss along a causeway with docks and houseboats. I found seascapes that were museum quality and experimental mixed media pieces that could start a revolution. This is the town that time forgot but art remembered.
How did it happen that this town of 2,000 slow souls attracted the talents of so many fine painters and entrepreneurs? Could it be that they found each other using some kind of built in art radar like survivors of a nuclear calamity? I mean, I’ve seen that in movies but I never thought it was a real possibility until now.
As my own art radar was beeping like crazy, I filled my calendar with art gatherings back home in Atlanta hoping to hone in on a local connection before my radar got jammed with static, which is another way of describing my daily life. I found some likely possibilities.
So, in the compassionate interest of introducing you, dear readers to the water I have been drinking like a thirsty St. Bernard, I would like to steer you to the pool of local resources I have found.
Feb. 5: The 12th annual Art Papers Art Auction at Mason Murer Fine Art (199 Armour Dr., masonmurer.com). This event features 300 artworks and benefits Art Papers programs to support the arts. If you know anything about Mason Murer, you know that their innovative display “pods,” “portals” and their support of a wide range of emerging talent is impressive. The collaboration is an irresistible mix.
Feb. 12: The Decatur Gallery will host a group show: “New Beginnings – Expressions of Love.” This non-Valentine offering will showcase the sublime charms of silverwork jewelry, organic mixed media construction, photography and painting from 20 local artists. The event parties are always delicious and the mood is cool. (153 Ponce de Leon Place; decaturgallery.com)
Feb. 25: The Sandler Hudson Gallery will show new works by Corrine Colarusso, “Measuring Brightness, Fixing Shadows.” These large-scale abstract landscapes just wake me up! (1009 A Marietta St.; sandlerhudson.com) Check Ms. Colarusso’s website at corrinecolarusso.org.
Feb. 26: The Marsha Wood Gallery will put up two solo shows at once: Frances Barth and Mernet Larsen. If you liked the glib, modern vibe from the Kai Lin gallery shows, you’ll love this Castleberry Hill experience. (263 Walker St. SW, Atlanta 30313; marciawoodgallery.com)
If these offerings don’t make you thirsty to drink that “special water,” I brought back from Apalachicola, then clearly you need to put down your Co-cola, hop in the car and head to the panhandle, dive into the gulf and swim until you realize that you need to find your compatriots or at least a school of like minded fish. They are waiting for you back in Atlanta with that crazy look in their eyes that all artists have that says, “feed me.”
Patrick Dennis is an artist, gallery owner and President of the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces. He lives in Atlanta. Email him at Patrick@affps.com.