Another summer is nearing its end in the South. And while the thermostats still read in the 90s during the day, you can feel it beginning to cool faster in the evening. A breath of relief as the wind blows past, and the fabric of clothing starts to unstick from the skin. The heat has been insurmountable this summer, seeping and expanding into every facet of life. From the devastation of the senseless murders of Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, and the Dallas police, to the smoldering election campaign as the nation finds itself divided between parties and candidates, to the insatiable appetite for summer love and lust that humans seek along beaches, pool parties, and cook outs.
Finding a way to touch the human spirit with images representing what few words could contain, the ZuCot Gallery in Castleberry Hills has put on an amazing exhibit titled, “Dear Summer…” which brought in artists whose works were meant to speak on, reflect in remembrance, and encompass what this summer has said, done, and where to go from here.
Focusing on contemporary pieces primarily from African American artists, many of whom are local to the region, the ZuCot Gallery is a gem tucked away on the corner of Chapel Street and Centennial Olympic Park Drive. Each exhibit is displayed for an average of two to three months in which all works are available for sale. The gallery further engages the community and artists through public events such as Art Tastings and Artist Talks.
Currently on display are the phenomenal works of:
The center of Jamaal Barber’s display is Love. He uses the image of a pair of Dogon sculptures repeatedly on each canvas almost as the title. The sculptures are a female and her male counterpart (often found in traditional carvings from the Mali/West African region). These in particular represent the equality between the two lovers. In a era when we still fight for equality between sexes, the use of the Dogon pair reminds us that Love knows no difference.
Barber then incorporates his message with the words, “Love Is” over the canvas, which are underscored visually with traditional African tribal markings. Thus leaving the viewer to bask in its pureness of the words and emotions, visualizing within themselves their own definitions of what is Love. Some of the pieces go further with the written message of expressing love to another person, but still open to interpretation of what type of Love is being referred.
This New Orleans born abstract painter would get the attention of Jackson Pollock if he were in the building. One can here the Nawlins’ jazz band playing in his studio as he allows the music and art to flow unfiltered onto the canvas and tap in to the raw emotions of the light and darkness of the cosmos and down to human experience. But Mejia brings a science to it as well, as he experimented with mixed chemistry used in his actual paints bring about colors that cause the neurons and synapses to light up inside of the viewer.
Invoking themes of beauty and justice within his pieces, Palmer’s work draws the viewer into a series of emotions. Palmer’s use of mixed medium in the Eminent Domain series shows the story of the plight of displacement of African Americans which has been witnessed throughout history. His use of maps call upon the layout of our own city pertaining to the continuing developments of the Atlanta Beltline, and the concern for communities that won’t be able to “keep up” with the growing improvements which will raise property taxes, rental rates, etc. A point of contention at almost every Beltline conference and mayoral speech on the state of the city.
These are just a few of the artists whose works, along with Kimmy Cantrell and William Rhodes, on display for the Dear Summer exhibit, which, like the season, will be ending soon. Get down there and have your mind blown and your soul opened.
ZuCot Gallery is owned by H&T Art Partners:
100 Centennial Olympic Park Drive SW (30313)
Open M-F 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Sat. 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.; Closed Wednesday