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Last year the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies declared Georgia second-to-last in the nation in terms of public arts financing. That number forty-nine ranking (six cents per capita, compared with $5.77 in first-place Minnesota) may shock some Atlantans, but it surprises no one involved with the arts.
Three decades ago at her downtown Atlanta loft, Georgia artist Janet "Gogo" Ferguson first unveiled the nature-inspired pieces for what would become an internationally acclaimed, multi-million dollar jewelry business. As a descendant of Thomas Carnegie who bought Georgia's Cumberland Island in the late 19th century, the granddaughter of Lucy Ferguson spent much of her childhood growing up on coastal Georgia. Today as a year-round resident on Cumberland, Ferguson operates her Gogo Jewelry business and an artist studio there.
Five years after his death, Atlanta painter Paul Chelko's love of edgy art, the human form and empowerment of women continued to inspire the artists and models involved in Saturday night's third annual Bodies as a Work of Art charitable fundraiser.
Last weekend was packed with institutional Atlanta events such as DragonCon and the Decatur Book Festival, but this weekend marks the third anniversary of a younger civic tradition: Art on the Atlanta BeltLine, a three-month-long exhibition that brings visual and performance art to the BeltLine's twenty-two miles of trails, parks, and rail lines.
The city's charitable fundraising king/coiffure creator Carey Carter is back as co-chair this year for the 3rd annual Bodies as a Work of Art benefit for the Chelko Foundation, set for Sept. 29 at The Pilot's Country Club. And this year, the Carter-Barnes Hair Artisans curling iron C.E.O. has some able assistance in the form of Sara Wolf Mixon, a dear friend of the late Debbie and Paul Chelko.
On June 3, we remembered the fiftieth anniversary of the famed Orly crash, which killed nearly all of Atlanta's most influential arts patrons at a time when the city needed their guidance most. The Woodruff Arts Center eventually rose like a phoenix from the proverbial wreckage, so it's fitting that the Alliance Theatre thought it appropriate to immortalize the tragedy in poetry.
Last night I talked with some of Atlanta's leading experts on contemporary art, design, and architecture. During our "Atlanta Embraces Modernism" panel discussion, they weighed in on whether the city reflects a modern spirit.
Artist Radcliffe Bailey, forty-two, is as close to a celebrity as the Atlanta art scene gets, with his iconic dandyish fedoras and glamorous it-coupledom with writer and TV soap star wife, Victoria Rowell. Even the High Museum—not known for consistently exhibiting local talent—is acknowledging his achievements, staging a major survey of his work, Memory as Medicine (through September 11).