Atlanta Contemporary Art Center
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(current location since 1989)
|Location||535 Means Street NW
Atlanta Contemporary is a nonprofit, non-collecting institution located in the West Midtown district of Atlanta. It 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.
Atlanta Contemporary presents 6-10 exhibitions per year featuring consequential artists from the local to international art scenes and is one of 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. It organizes approximately 50 diverse educational programs a year, as well as provides on-site, subsidized studio space to 14 local artists through its Studio Artist Program. Atlanta Contemporary offers free admission every day.
Founded in 1973 by a group of Atlanta photographers, Atlanta Contemporary was originally called "Nexus" and began as 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 to reflect 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. In 1989, the organization began a phased renovation program. Completed in1994, Nexus became a catalyst for urban renewal in the historic industrial district of the Westside.
In 2000, Nexus was renamed Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, asserting its pride of place in the Southeast and acknowledging a peer relationship to arts venues in other cities. Locally known as The Contemporary, it became one of thirty-one organizations selected in 1999 to participate in the multiyear 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 more than 150 titles, each exploring the formal and conceptual possibilities of the book as a work of art.
A rebranding effort shortened the institution's name in 2015. Known today as Atlanta Contemporary, it 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 among the district’s numerous art spaces.
The unique mission of Atlanta Contemporary 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.
Atlanta Contemporary 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 website.
Studio Artist Program
Atlanta Contemporary's Studio Artist Program supports local working artists by providing subsidized studio space and fostering a collaborative environment that encourages the creative process. This unique program fills a critical need in the Atlanta arts community: affordable studio space and career development opportunities for artists. The program seeks 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.
Emerging, mid-career, and established Atlanta-based artists are invited to apply through an open call process; a panel of current board members, staff, and representatives from the Atlanta art community review the applications. Selection criteria include consistency with the institutional focus on contemporary art, level of activity as a working artist, and history of community involvement.
Atlanta Contemporary 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, as well as rare recordings.