Eyedrum endures: The grandmother of Atlanta’s DIY scene reboots, but the mission remains

Just when it looked like it might be gone for good, Eyedrum announced a new headquarters on Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard, set to open next spring

Eyedrum returns
Willow Goldstein (left) and Deisha Oliver hope to transform this space on Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard into Eyedrum’s new HQ by spring 2021.

Photograph by Martha Williams

Before there was the Bakery, Mammal Gallery, WonderRoot, or any of the other scrappy DIY art spaces where young and established artists could experiment, thrive, and fail, there was Eyedrum. Over the past 22 years, the hybrid exhibition and performance venue, art gallery, and community space has called several locations home, from its roots in a downtown storefront to a warehouse off Memorial Drive to its most recent spot, a 101-year-old building on Forsyth Street.

After being forced to vacate that South Downtown space in 2018, Eyedrum seemed to be going the way of its peers and closing its doors for good—until this fall, when it announced a new HQ on Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard.

The location features a 3,000-square-foot interior with a gallery, an outdoor stage, and a courtyard for programming and performances (for whenever we can safely socialize again). To meet their goal of opening spring 2021, the organization’s team has launched a fundraising campaign with virtual programming and a membership drive, with perks like free music downloads from Eyedrum Media (a live-recording show archive).

“With the demise of a lot of our spaces here in town, it’s more important than ever that we have creative, critical thinkers that are community-minded to fulfill the mission of Eyedrum,” says board of directors member Deisha Oliver. That mission is to provide resources, support, and exposure to Atlanta’s emerging talent. “Part of our fundraising is making sure that those creatives are paid and that they’re working towards this idea of the greater good,” which, Oliver explains, means supporting their work and creating an environment where they can push the boundaries of thought, process, and presentation.

Willow Goldstein, founder of the Bakery and another board member, says Eyedrum’s goal remains as steadfast as ever. Eyedrum will present concerts, art shows, multimedia installations, and short-term residencies, she says. It will also serve as an incubator. “It’s a lot about capacity-building, both in the physical space and in the resources we have, like the wisdom that the network of Eyedrum can bring to younger artists.”

This article appears in our December 2020 issue.