The newly formed Westside Arts District will hold their monthly art walk every third Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. This past Saturday some compatriots and I took said stroll to sample WAD’S fare. WAD is composed of the Contemporary Art Center, a contingent of urban frontier galleries, a recently relocated Saltworks, and Get This! gallery, formerly of Castleberry Hill. A myriad of boutiques and a handful of lesser-reputed galleries also populate the burgeoning scene. Visitors to the area can also enjoy some of the city’s most exciting hospitality spots with Bacchanalia, Quinones, Six Feet Under, and Octane Coffee a stone’s throw from one another. Highlights of the Walk include Greely Myatt and Pat Courtney’s exhibitions at Sandler Hudson and Drew Conrad’s exhibition at Get This! Gallery.
Greely Myatt’s “Sometimes I Settle For a Chuckle” uses his affinity for “historical and vernacular influence” to create a, dare I say irreverently lowbrow take on gallery occupation. One sculpture constituted by a tie rack and accompanying shoddy cardboard piece with deer head scribbles on it says as much. In keeping with the visual punning theme, two sculptures prominently featuring empty thought bubbles adroitly riff on the high Modernist convention of meaningful emptiness. Several other sneaky sculptures adorn the periphery of the gallery, some of which, given their author’s preference for chuckling, probably contained symbolism that I wasn’t privy to because I didn’t care to look. I can tell you however, that one piece had a bunch of firecrackers in it… awesome.
Pat Courtney’s series titled “Judith’s gift” in an adjacent gallery is a serene text based meditation on the nature of nostalgia and voice. Through various intimate vantage points the photos show an heirloom pocket lexicon given to Courtney by a recently deceased friend. The narrative ambiguity which Courtney uses to show the book’s text lends itself to conveying those tiny spectral certainties that we often we take for granted, but that reveal themselves at the right time to remind us of who we are. In an ostensibly maternal voice, one of the lexicon entries, positioned strangely sideways on the page reads, “Men are never so easily deceived, as when they are plotting to deceive others.”
Drew Conrad’s “Cowboys, Lovers, Losers, & Nobodies” is an installational mix of sculptural vignettes and wall pieces that make a purported stab at characterizing America as a place of “heroes, icons, death, obscurities, anxieties, achievements, trophies, bravado, machismo, cowboys, lovers”… etc. Á la Jason Rhoades, Conrad converts the negative white space of the gallery using small beseeching neon signs, appropriated glossies of male idols, hustler magazines, cheaply ebonized tchotchkes, and strategically placed personal items into a charged psychological proxy, both lauding and censoring itself in the same gesture. The sculptures reflect very explicitly the working of the masculine id and ego that is both juvenile and unabashedly alpha. “Lady Killer” hammers home Conrad’s fractured libidinal world by offering the anachronistically climactic and strangely redoubled self referential observation, “Ladies, It’s a lonely world”.
[I spoke to Conrad at his show’s opening – Jason.]
Eric Hancock and Dave Jones are artists in Atlanta.