I received a cryptic text message on a damp October afternoon. The miscellanea of my purse jostling against the phone’s keyboard managed to type “Search for the reek”. The word “reek” enthused me. The rain thickened the air – this made the dirt, asphalt, and plant smells heavier. I sniffed dutifully, and kept my eyes peeled.
When routinely scrolling through emails later that day, I checked the clutter folder. The name “Brandy Wednesday” blazed in a headline – how could I not click? In the ensuing email, Brandy explained that she was on a mission to find a troop of Georgia-based woman-identifying artists to highlight at her gallery in Adair Park, Atlanta: StrangeMatterATL. Activating the Apparatus was the pilot show. This artist, Brandy Wednesday, scoured the Internet, took a leap of faith and contacted me, a complete stranger. I had just finished a series of grey dinosaur women drawings that melded sensualist, reptilian motifs from The Brothers Karamazov with my own post-break-up anxieties. I was eager for camaraderie and was thrilled at the chance to meet this cool, inclusive Atlanta artist and her friends.
I dropped off my art at the first StrangeMatterATL venue, a defunct auto-repair shop turned art gallery just off the MARTA track. A warm, down-to-earth couple greeted me – Brandy and JJ. After taking my art to a room in the back, we sat down on some chewed up couches and talked. Brandy told me about The Clover’s bizarre “Rotten Cocksuckers Ball” doo wop. Brandy, decked in all in black, kind of looked like Beatnik- I was hooked! More artists came in, I eavesdropped on conversations about how women could revitalize Atlanta’s art scene.
Then came the Activating the Apparatus opening. StrangeMatterATL’s entrance was wide open garage door. Yellow light and red cigarette ends illuminated the brisk outside air. The MARTA’s soothing roar occasionally overlapped the gallery-goers happy murmurs. Inside, woman artists, their friends and families kicked back and enjoyed the art up on the walls. I met Makeda Lewis who wrote and illustrated Avie’s Dreams, a graphic novel exploring race and relationships. I met Julie Fordham, a painter captivated by dark fairy-tale lore. I met Marcy Starz, who juxtaposed animal-woman hybrids with quilt patterns. I saw Brandy’s art – figurative drawings with iron-set line and luminous jewel tones. It was a fantastic night.
I am thrilled that artists who live outside of Georgia will be able to have the same experience with an Activating the Apparatus Vol. 2.0 opening! Details dropping soon on applying for Volume 2.0!