Atlanta Contemporary Art Center
|Atlanta Contemporary Art Center|
(current location since 1989)
|Location||535 Means Street NW
|Website||Atlanta Contemporary Art Center|
The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center is a non-profit, non-collecting institution located in the West Midtown district of Atlanta. ACAC is dedicated to the creation, presentation, and advancement of contemporary art by emerging and established artists. It creates a diverse cultural landscape for artists, arts professionals, and the art-interested public through its exhibitions, educational programs, and studio artist program. ACAC presents 6-10 exhibitions per year featuring consequential artists from the local to international art scenes, and is one of the few Atlanta institutions that commissions new works by artists, paying particular attention to artists of note who have not had a significant exhibition in the Southeast. ACAC organizes approximately 50 diverse educational programs a year, and provides on-site, subsidized studio space to 14 working artists through its Studio Artist Program. Thanks to corporate sponsorship, ACAC is free to the public every Thursday with extended hours and programming removing time and cost as barriers to participation.
Founded in 1973 by a group of Atlanta photographers, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center began as Nexus in a storefront cooperative gallery supported by member dues and staffed by volunteers. In 1976, the organization leased an old elementary school and began to expand its programs, formalize its infrastructure, and house a number of resident organizations. In 1984, the name was changed to Nexus Contemporary Art Center reflective of the organization’s mission and role in the community. Nexus Press, dedicated to creating unique publications by invited artists, was begun, and studio spaces for working artists became a core part of the organization.
In 1987, seeking a permanent home, the Board completed a $1.95 million capital campaign to renovate a 35,000 square foot warehouse complex on Means Street, near the Georgia Tech campus. As a result of the phased renovation program from 1989–1994, Nexus was a catalyst for urban renewal in the historic industrial district of the Westside.
In 2000, Nexus was renamed the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, asserting its pride of place in the Southeast and acknowledging a peer relationship to arts venues in other cities. ACAC became one of thirty-one organizations selected in 1999 to participate in the multi-year Warhol Initiative, receiving a significant grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to undertake long-term institutional planning. In 2003, Nexus Press closed leaving an internationally-known legacy of some 150 titles produced, each exploring the formal and conceptual possibilities of the book as a work of art.
ACAC continues to play a role in the redevelopment of the Westside, through community-based initiatives. In 2009, it helped found the Westside Arts District, featuring monthly Saturday art walks with educational programming coordinated amongst the district’s numerous art spaces.
The unique mission of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center ensures that it plays a crucial role in the ongoing development of the Atlanta arts community as an exhibitor, presenter, convener, educator, collaborator, and champion of artists.
The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center is a membership-based organization. There are a variety of membership levels from $25 to $5,000 and each level comes with specific, and increasing benefits. All membership levels include free admission to exhibitions, educational programs, and non-ticketed events, all institutional mailings plus the e-newsletter, access to the 15 Minutes Program, discounts at select Westside restaurants and art supply stores, plus a discount in ACAC's SHOP.
The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center exhibits art by consequential emerging and established artists from the local to the international, working in all media and addressing a wide-variety of subject matter. Information about current, upcoming, and past exhibitions can be found on the ACAC website.
 Studio Artist Program
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center’s Studio Artist Program supports local working artists by providing subsidized studio space, and by fostering a collaborative environment supportive of the creative process. This is a unique program that fills a critical need in the Atlanta arts community – affordable studio space and career development opportunities for artists. The goal of the Program is to provide local artists the opportunity to create in a setting that supports their artistic development and provides them with the resources necessary to advance their careers. Twice a year, ACAC throws a party around the Studio Artist Program. Called Open Studios, this event provides a fun way for studio artists to share their work with the general public.
Emerging, mid-career, and established Atlanta-based artists are invited to apply through an open call process; selection is made by a panel of current board members, staff, and representatives from the Atlanta art community. Selection criteria includes consistency with the institutional focus on contemporary art, level of activity as a working artist, and history of community involvement.
ACAC has a retail shop on-site that specializes in artist made and locally produced merchandise such as art books, including Nexus Press Books, exhibition catalogues, artist-made jewelry and artist multiples, and rare recordings.