The dark days of March, 2020, seem so long ago. I remember a glorious Thursday evening attending a retrospective of Larry Levow’s paintings at the Marshall House and Josie Ray’s celebratory “Pollen” show at the [tragically] defunct Grand Bohemian Gallery at the Mansion on Forsyth Park. Then, ‘POOF!’ the city and its art scene were shut down for the pandemic. Now, three years later, things are hectic and early September is feeling vibrant and glorious all over again. Here are some shows you won’t want to miss:
“Paper Cuts: An International Collage Exchange with Axelle Kieffer” is opening on Friday, September 1 from 5-9 pm at ARTS Southeast’s Main Gallery at Sulfur Studios, 2301 Bull Street. French-born Kieffer now lives in Savannah and tells me says her collaborations came together in a very organic fashion. “It started when I began to share my collages on social media. Out of the blue, a collage artist contacted me, saying he likes my work and asking if I want to participate in an ‘Add & Pass’ -a collage going through the hands of several artists via mail.”
She continues, “Since that first collaboration, when I love an artists’ work I ask if they want to do collaborations and vice versa…Over the past eight years, I have been exchanging and collaborating with 48 artists across the world, becoming part of a network of visual correspondence. I have met some of them in real life, and some became close friends. This process may seem unusual, but the Mail Art/ Collage community is a very dynamic community - it’s very fluid, constantly proposing projects and ideas. After all these years, and with the agreement of all the artists, I have decided to show all these beautiful works and to share them with my adopted home of Savannah.
"One of the rules of mail art collaborations is each artist ends up with an equal number of pieces - this means my artist collaborators and I have made twice as many pieces as seen in the exhibition. The other half are in the possession of the other artists. This is the basic rule, but this can also vary and be flexible. The exhibited pieces in Sulfur’s main gallery are a mix of pieces started by me and a mix of pieces finished by me.”
Kieffer sums up: “It’s a great opportunity to see works by artists from 12 different countries with different backgrounds, different cultures, and different source material for the collages. I hope this exhibition shows our ability to converse through art and collaborate across those differing backgrounds and cultures.” In celebration of the exhibition, ARTS Southeast is producing a full-color, limited edition Exhibition Catalog, and Kieffer will give a Curator Talk on Saturday, September 16 at 2pm.
Also, on Friday, September 1, head over to Laney Contemporary at 1810 Mills B. Lane Blvd. from 6-8:30pm to see “Goose,” the gallery’s first solo exhibition with New York-based artist Michael Scoggins whose signature style adopts the youthful alter-ego Michael S. as an autograph for large-scale drawings in the form of a monumental, hand-written notebook page. Gallerist Susan Laney says, “A hand-written note may be scribbled on a piece of scrap paper or carefully composed, but in Scoggins’ work every line, hole, tear, and image is carefully composed with each word or image drawn on the surface loaded with visual and meaningful intention.”
Scoggins, born in Washington DC in 1973, earned an MFA in Painting from SCAD in 2006 and has since gained international recognition and gallery representation, with work included in such prestigious institutions as the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Laney continues, “With a multilayered studio process, ‘drawings or paintings, sometimes become sculptures,’ as Scoggins refers to them interchangeably. Each hole is carefully carved; each line is hand drawn using colored pencil and eraser, going over and over the lines, hand-producing the mass-produced. The cuts, folds, tears, bends, and smudges all become a part of the image as each is mounted on the wall, creating three-dimensionality through shadows and the play of light. The gallery’s mirror space culminates with a large-scale installation transforming the 2D into the 3D as paper airplanes fly in multiplication suspended from the ceiling.
“The works included in Goose often approach challenging, or grief-filled situations and yet they are in contact with how humor and a lightness of being necessitate healthy responses. This past spring, Michael and Alex’s daughter, Scout, whom they lovingly call Goose, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disaster called Attenuated MPS 1. The diagnosis has upended every aspect of their lives. Scout’s current treatment regimen is Enzyme Replacement Therapy (ERT) which she will undergo weekly for the rest of her life or until advancement in treatments become available. Several of the works in the exhibition are numbered in the upper corner. Each signifies a sequence number for Scout’s treatments, all of which occurred on Tuesdays. The passage of time is made tangible with each number, each drawing, each page, love notes marking a life journey.”
On Thursday, September 7, plan on visiting Location Gallery at 251 Bull Street from 6-8pm for the show “Chromatopia.” Gallery profits benefit the Maui Strong Fund with its focus on rapid response and recovery for the devastating wildfires. To get funds as fast as possible to the fund, a presale starts online on August 22 at noon at www.locationgallery.net. Gallerist Peter E. Roberts says artists Maxx Feist and Rubi McGrory, with their “hypnotic and kaleidoscopic uses of color” have teamed up “via mixed media, needlepoint, and arresting angled wood to create a dazzling display of color meditations.”
McGrory is a beloved writer, artist, chef, and mom to Patty, the bejeweled McDonald’s cheeseburger who recently celebrated her quinceañera. She has recently filled her Instagram feed with pictures of mandalas – some made from metal tools, some from flowers, magnolia pods, mushrooms, or greenery, and some from food (my favorite is “that’s nacho mandala – that’s my mandala” composed of nacho chips, avocado slices, and peppers). McGrory has drawn, needlepointed, and crocheted mandalas for “Chromatopia” because, she tells me, “I meditate with my hands.”
She goes on, “My brain is a whirling dervish of words, thoughts, ideas, images, scenes from movies, dialogue of books I intend to write, song refrains, soul-crushing current events, clever retorts that didn’t come up in a timely manner, anxiety-inducing what-ifs, useless trivia, random strings of numbers, poems I memorized in high school and all other manner of curiosities. I struggle to make this raucous parade stop or even slow. I meditate and medicate. I read all the books on mindfulness and listen to calming music….
“…But it’s my hands that calm my restless brain. The repetition of strokes and stitches slows the follow of my million sparkling and shiny multi-colored thoughts With each line drawn and each stitch worked, my breath falls back into rhythm. The hummingbird that is my attention span rests her tired wings. Thoughts and motions are intertwined. As I work on each piece, my meditative thoughts are imbued in every stitch and every mark. A sense of presence and stillness occurs during the creation of each piece, but further, the experience of the meditation is available upon its contemplation by the viewer and creator alike.”
I also want to give a shoutout to Cleo the Gallery, which has found a new home at 915B Montgomery Street and is currently showing “Strawberry, Plum, Lemon-Lime” by Nashville, TN based artist Joshua Edward Bennett and offering a series of Saturday afternoon artist talks.
And finally, later this month, grab a delicious cocktail while visiting the gallery wall at Colleagues and Lovers in Habersham Village to see work from Emily Earl’s gritty “Late Night Potoroids” series.