Discretely tucked into an 1893 carriage house behind an Inman Park Victorian, Whitespace Gallery is an inviting, elegant space that feels far from a traditional art gallery. Like a speakeasy in the bright sunshine, you have to know it’s there.
Whitespace’s proprietress, Susan Bridges, is also not your typical gallery owner. Fun-loving, spirited, a font of amusing anecdotes, the ageless Bridges has a zest for life that puts the twenty-something skinny-pants set to shame.
Bridges opened her backyard art gallery in 2006, following decades spent in advertising and raising children. The Atlanta architecture firm Bldgs reconceptualized her space, creating a salon that feels at once eggheady and accessible—with clean, refined lines but also exposed brick and old wood that speak to the building’s history. Known for festive openings with themed cocktails, drag queens, and food trucks, Whitespace’s zeitgeist is undoubtedly grounded in Bridges’s experience staging pop-up art shows at underground spaces and warehouses in the 1990s, a trial run for her gallery ownership.
Whitespace spotlights a diverse roster of talent, including many emerging artists. It specializes in creatives with hyphenated job titles and far-ranging interests in multiple fields, like stand-up comic Cassidy Russell, bookshop and gallery owner Robin Bernat, and Emory physics department chair Fereydoon Family.
From photography to video to sculpture, the space is known for giving untested artists a shot. “I allow the artists a lot of freedom,” says Bridges, whose well-reviewed shows of work by taxidermy photographer Jody Fausett, psychedelic naturalist painter Sarah Emerson, and multitalented filmmaker, muralist, sculptor, and painter Matt Haffner have gained those artists significant footholds in the local art scene.
“I can’t imagine ever telling an artist, ‘You’ve got to keep making this work because this is what will sell,’” says Bridges. Whitespace recently hosted the Atlanta Ballet and has a film festival and literary events planned for summer. Gin and tonics will be served.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.