The High Museum of Art exhibition “Drawing Inside the Perimeter” is a substantial group show: 56 drawings, counting two expansive wall murals, by 41 metro Atlanta artists. But as big as it is in size, it may be bigger in how it symbolizes a shift in the way Atlanta’s largest museum relates to and reflects the city’s creative community.
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“Drawing Inside the Perimeter”
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays (until 8 p.m. Thursdays), noon-5 p.m. Sundays. $19.50; $16.50, students and seniors; $12, ages 6-17; free, 5 and younger. Through Sept. 22. High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-4200, www.high.org.
Three participating artists
Bio: Alex Brewer, 34, is better known as Hense, the street-art handle he repeatedly painted in giant letters around town as a graffiti artist starting in the early 1990s. But the Atlanta native has transitioned over the last five years into a gallery artist and commissioned public artist with a growing list of credits, including recent murals at the Westside Cultural Arts Center and a building in Lima, Peru. In addition to his first piece acquired by the the museum, “Drawing Inside the Perimeter” includes a site-specific gallery wall mural (10 feet by 21.5 feet) commissioned by the High.
On his artistic identity: “A lot of this transition has to do with maturing, wanting to express myself in other ways, still wanting to work in public space, still wanting to do things that are going to be seen by a lot of people who don’t go into a gallery or museum. I wanted to break out of being known as an artist who paints his name. … I do miss those days, and do think about what it would be like to be the rebel out there illegally doing stuff. (But) the work I’m doing now speaks more to who I am truly.”
On his love of color: “For my first solo exhibit at Sandler Hudson (Gallery, in 2008), I did this body of work that was very black and white, very muted and minimalist. Most likely I thought that’s what was expected of me as a gallery artist — to create work that could be placed in collections and people’s homes. I think I started realizing recently I needed to be myself. I could actually use the bright colors I was using as a graffiti artist, using pinks and lime greens and all kinds of wild colors that I thought, I guess, would be shocking to some people. Now color is one of the most important aspects of my work. Without color, I couldn’t fully express myself.”
On being in the High’s permanent collection: “It’s a huge honor. I can’t say enough about what that means. I’ve been going to High Museum since I was a little kid, so it’s a little surreal that I’m actually going to put paint on a wall in there. It’s definitely a dream come true.”
Bio: Born in South Korea, Moon, 40, came to the U.S. in 1999 to study at the University of Iowa, where she earned her second and third master’s degrees. Though she now has what she calls “an American family” — husband Andy Moon Wilson, a textile designer who is also in “Drawing Inside the Perimeter,” and 4-year-old son Oliver — to go along with her Korean one, her work frequently speaks to the challenges of living a life in transition. The art juxtaposes Asian and Western motifs.
On always being in transition: “That’s never going to change. I think that’s the state of my mind. When I go back to Korea to visit my Korean family, I feel like I’m not safe there, this isn’t my home, my home is the United States now. But when I come back (here), I think of Korea. It’s shifting all the time.”
On making a career in Atlanta: “Whichever city you go to besides New York or Los Angeles, people always are talking about the same issue: ‘We’re not getting enough attention. We need to get out of here!’ The grass looks greener on other side. But the problem is when you move to the large city, there are other issues: You have to pay more rent, there’s too much stimulation. I think Atlanta is perfect for the artist to explore and stay and do whatever they do.”
Where to find her work: Moon is represented by Saltworks, which features her work in a pop-up show called “Four Atlantans” through Aug. 3 at the White Provisions Building (www.saltworksgallery.com). She’s also represented in galleries in New York and Washington and has ongoing relationships with ones in Switzerland and South Korea. She also will have a one-woman show at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, opening Sept. 7 (www.mocaga.org).
Bio: Styles moved to Atlanta from the family farm in Madison at age 8, but the farm never quite left him despite difficult early years. Now 69, his abstract drawings, paintings and mixed-media works express the glory of nature.
On his inspiration: “I spent the first eight years of my life in Madison, in an abusive and dysfunctional family. To escape the ugliness of my family life, I often found comfort and beauty in my surroundings — looking closely at the infinite patterns of the wood grain of the floor, the weathered wood siding of the unpainted house, the beautiful frozen condensation on the windows in winter, the awe of the energy and magic of spring, the rhythm of the raindrops on the leaky tin roof and even the pattern of the cracked dried mud on the back of a family hog. All of this, and more, still inform the visual language of my work.”
Other participating artists
Anthony Craig Drennen
Ann Marie Manker
Andy Moon Wilson
Teresa Bramlette Reeves