The 2009 season at Beep Beep Gallery proves that the gallery has become the Heath Gallery of the Atlanta alternative scene. (I would call it the Fay Gold Gallery, but the recent decision of Fay Gold to shut down her gallery and represent artists privately would make that a backhanded compliment.)
Everybody on the 2009 roster of solo shows is either a local superstar already or well on the way to getting there.
Dosa Kim, Michi, Bethany Marchman, Steven Dixey, Sam Parker, Alex Kvares, Born, and so on…these are clearly the names to conjure with (in Atlanta) in terms of artists who know how to make aesthetically defensible alternative art, and some of the works in the just-closed survey/preview exhibition (or it will be just-closed by the time anybody reads this) represent major breakthroughs for the artists on the list who were arguably still on the verge of local superstardom.
Some of them are even making their mark now in the national and indeed the global alternative art network, that paradoxical world of superstar fame that operates as yet another parallel network of being established, a system of recognition and reward that overlaps with but is far from identical with the global art world in general.
How artists from the realms of lowbrow and graffiti, visionary and pop surrealist, and all the other related and unrelated subcategories make it from that world into the lusted-after world of the global art fair and the global biennial…welll, wouldn’t you like to know.
Someone (and it won’t be me) ought to analyze the work that makes it and why, say, Raymond Pettibon is so obviously intelligent and multi-layered that he blows away the less complex sentiments of his competing users of text and cartoon-influenced graphic rendering. (He does, by the way.) He may also have caught the attention of an influential gallery owner early on (I have no idea) or been more marketable to some collector base than equally worthy artists of his generation, but I have no clue.
The social history of art is complex, and it’s understandable that we should perceive conspiracy where there is dumb luck, and dumb luck where there is recognition of genuine accomplishment, and recognition of genuine accomplishment where there is conspiracy.
What is curious is that the general plenitude of income and diversity of tastes among the collector bases of the planet made possible the evolution of such a curiously parallel set of art worlds in which each had no respect for the other, and that there were whole worlds of art beyond them in which work was made that got neither respect nor financial reward. There has always been work that got neither respect nor financial reward until the incessant demand for auction product gave the artists their long overdue due, but the era that may now be coming to an interruption rewarded a larger and more diverse percentage of lesser-rank artists than ever before in history, perhaps. (Perhaps. How would we know? We have no idea how many artists there were in proportion to patrons in societies we know only from their archaeological leavings.)