Cullum’s Notebook: Seduction, the Old West, seahorses, ceramics and more

How appropriate that this January, as we say farewell to the old and welcome the new, we mark the closing of one gallery and the growth of others that are relatively new to Atlanta’s art scene.

378 Gallery will close permanently on March 1. Penultimate, its next to last exhibition (through January 28), features abstractions painted on glass that represent the return to the art world of 1980s celebrity Rosser Shymanski, better known to old RuPaul aficionados as the public access television drag star DeAundra Peek. Despite having a couple of works on a 2021 thematic show, this is his first full-scale art exhibition since 1985.

“Onion AF” by Lacey Longino, at Echo Contemporary Art (Photo by Lynn Tanzer)

Jim Wakeman and Gibbs Hasty, familiar with alternative-space gallery goers of the same era, present new paintings that demonstrate why their accomplishments deserve more attention than they usually get. Wakeman continues in a Pop Surrealist vein, mingling Old West stereotypes with vintage mass-media images in irony-laden scenes. They remind us what the 1950s could have been if it had understood the lessons of Salvador Dali a little more deeply.

Hasty contributes unsettling realist images of seahorses and other creatures, plus a formal portrait that reminds us that he is another whose talent should have been better rewarded (as is true about many Atlanta artists of every generation).

Brannon Gullatt is the least known of this quartet of artists, but his combination of Catholic devotional imagery with Barbie dolls blends well with Wakeman’s brand of sincere irony. Most notable in this show is the weeping doll head titled Sign of Divine Providence.

If 378 is going out with updates on unjustly neglected artistic careers, Echo Contemporary Art is hosting through January 28 a show featuring some of Atlanta’s emerging younger artists alongside midcareer ones, the guest-curated Into Me I See.

Lucy Luckovich’s biting sense of symbolic critique, disguised as gorgeous photorealist painting, has become a source of increasing enthusiasm among viewers with every new exhibition. Lacey Longino, most recently known for large wall murals, returns here to easel painting, and Hannah Helton presents striking cyanotypes on silk that are instant attention-grabbers. Truett Dietz, Roberto Navarrete, Rebecca Payne, Kamryn Shawron, Jasmine Best and Leela Hoehn complete a roster of artists that reveals a dynamic range of styles and subjects.

Their individual works, however, have been selected by curator Lynne Tanzer with a specific psychological purpose in mind: what CG Jung called the confrontation with the shadow. Tanzer invites viewers to journey with these artists who have, she believes, confronted their own darkness on a journey to light.

The show is only one of the offerings in Echo’s side galleries; the paintings of Autumn Nelson’s Sologami are in a nearby studio, works in which male and female figures engage in their own psychologically fraught interactions. They are rendered in a vivid high-key palette.

Michelle Laxalt’s ceramic work “Instar (a ripple in the wound)”

On January 20, these shows will be joined by a main gallery exhibition, The Necessity Of Seduction: Cuba And Eros, featuring works by Karen Graffeo, Esteban Jiménez Guerra and Rolando Vazquez Hernandez that explore the shifting destinies of “the feminine principle as personal and cultural gestalt.”

Coupled with Kassondra Friedman’s “fashion-driven, dreamy narratives” in the paintings of Fashion ImpressionsEddie Farr’s Rain on a Tin Roof installation, and the two previously mentioned shows, it should make for a remarkable survey of the human condition.

Also opening this weekend, on January 21, is Michelle Laxalt’s new ceramic exhibition Instar at HiLo Press. Fans of Laxalt’s psychologically charged biomorphic shapes in ceramic should be delighted by these new works, with such titles as Instar (a ripple in the wound). Instar, the stage between two successful molts in insects, is a moment of transition that Rebecca Solnit has called a metaphor for the unstable opposites of change overall.


Dr. Jerry Collum’s reviews and essays have appeared in Art Papers journal, Raw Vision, Art in America, ARTnews, International Journal of African-American Art and many other popular and scholarly journals. In 2020 he was awarded the Rabkin Prize for his outstanding contribution to arts journalism.

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Andrew Naughtie

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