Atlanta Has Culture Down to a Fine Art
by Amanda K. Brown
Famed French painter and sculptor Henri Matisse once said, "Creativity takes courage." If that is truly the case, then welcome to the most courageous city in the Southeast: a cacophony of poetry in motion, echoes of the vibrant visual and performance art scene resonate daily through the acoustics of the capital.
From paintings and sculptures by the Masters to regional premieres of works by up-and-coming playwrights, the expanding number of fine arts offerings in Atlanta seems limited only by the physical space containing them. Here's a peek at some of the city's rising stars and constant favorites.
- 7 Stages Theatre [404-523-7647, www.7stages.org]
With an emphasis on international works and new plays, playwrights and methods of collaboration, 7 Stages promotes productions concentrating on the social, political and spiritual values of today's society. The theatre also shelters burgeoning theatres-in-residence such as Synchronicity Performance Group and Fly-By Theatre.
- Actor's Express Theatre [404-607-SHOW, www.actors-express.com]
From its home in the King Plow Arts Center, Actor's Express takes pride in nurturing new plays. The theatre's upcoming season includes, as usual, several regional and world premieres that are anything but usual, including Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning Three Tall Women.
- Alliance Theatre [404-733-5000, www.alliancetheatre.org]
The Alliance sets the standard in Atlanta for classic dramas, comedies and musicals, but isn't afraid to think outside the black box with world premieres and electrifying productions on its smaller, 200-seat Hertz Stage. Season highlights include the comedy Moonlight and Magnolias, the musical Jelly's Last Jam and Bluish, written by Atlanta's own Janece Sha
- Broadway in Atlanta [404-817-8700, www.broadwayacrossamerica.com]
Under the direction of Clear Channel Entertainment, Broadway in Atlanta brings award-winning Broadway shows to The Fox Theatre and will wow audiences this season with productions such as The Phantom of the Opera and smash-hit Wicked.
- Georgia Ensemble Theatre [770-641-1260, www.get.org]
The resident company of the Roswell Cultural Arts Center burns up its suburban stage this season with an eclectic mix that includes a screwball comedy, musical productions, a suspenseful thriller and an American classic, Our Town.
- Georgia Shakespeare Festival [404-264-0020, www.gashakespeare.org]
The professional theatre-in-residence at Oglethorpe University, Georgia Shakespeare celebrates its 20th anniversary this year by delivering fresh, relatable takes on the Bard and other classic playwrights. This fall, Verona's tragically doomed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, take center stage.
- Horizon Theatre Company [404-584-7450, www.horizontheatre.com]
Specializing in new works by contemporary playwrights, Horizon Theatre's productions embrace and challenge the diversity of life in the urban Southeast. This season's Blue, for example, musically chronicles a family who runs a small South Carolina town's only African American-owned funeral home.
- PushPush Theater [404-377-6332, www.pushpushtheater.com]
Unafraid: an adjective to describe this entity that has evolved from a small workshop theater into a thriving venue in Decatur where the boundaries of artists-and audiences-are pushpushed with edgy versions of classic works and new, experimental productions.
- Theater of the Stars [404-252-8960, www.theaterofthestars.com]
The resident company of The Fox Theatre, Theater of the Stars produces lavish renditions of classic American musicals, new works from Broadway producers and innovative revivals. Audiences will get to hear "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" when Tony Award winners Evita and My Fair Lady play this fall.
- True Colors Theatre Company [404-588-0308, www.truecolorstheatrecompany.com]
While this up-and-coming, ambitious theatre company's mission centers on providing African-American classics to a new generation of theatergoers, True Colors also cultivates new talent and embraces plays and playwrights from diverse time periods, cultures and perspectives. Don't miss The Wiz this December!
- Radio City Christmas Spectacular
The Fox Theatre
Nov. 17-Dec. 4
Back by popular demand, this Christmas tradition features high-kicking Rockettes in dance numbers such as the incredibly in-synch "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers."
- Jelly's Last Jam
Mar. 15-Apr. 9, 2006
This three-time Tony Award-winning, foot-stomping, tap-dancing extravaganza chronicles the controversial life of the self-proclaimed "inventor of jazz," Jelly Roll Morton, playing for the first time in Atlanta since its sold-out Broadway run.
- Jewish Theatre of the South [770-395-2654, www.jplay.org]
Entering into its 11th season, this company has successfully created a venue for lesser known, quality productions and regional premieres of works featuring Jewish content.
- Onstage Atlanta [404-897-1802, www.onstageatlanta.com]
Don't miss this Decatur company's ambitious production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway darling Angels in America before it wraps up mid-August.
- Atlanta Ballet [404-892-3303, www.atlantaballet.com]
Despite being relatively old (this is its 76th year!), the Atlanta Ballet's offerings are as fresh as ever. The dance company grand jetes (fladd accents) from classic to classic, including Puccini's Madame Butterfly and the Tchaikovsky holiday favorite, The Nutcracker.
- Atlanta Opera [404-881-8885, www.atlantaopera.org]
One word can describe the Atlanta Opera's 2005-06 offerings: passionate. From Verdi's heart-wrenching La traviata to Mozart's pulse-racing The Abduction from the Seraglio, this season is sure to have audiences singing arias all the way home.
- Atlanta Symphony Orchestra [404-733-5000, www.atlantasymphony.org]
Now in its 60th season, the ASO will play to the tune of more than 250 performances this year, including a 72-concert classical season, light classical concerts, family concerts, annual summer festivals, outdoor summer pops concerts and free concerts in city parks.
- Ballethnic Dance Company [404-762-1416, www.ballethnic.org]
This classically trained, culturally diverse dance company creates fusion footwork by combining traditional ballet with ethnic dance forms, especially African-American. Audiences especially love Ballethnic's annual Urban Nutcracker, a twist on the holiday favorite.
- Callanwolde Fine Arts Center [404-872-5338, www.callanwolde.org]
The fine arts get hands-on at Callanwolde, with its breadth of classes and workshops available for all ages. Furthermore, this center is a leading venue for talented local performers, from the Delta Air Lines Jazz on the Lawn series headliners The Bernard Linnette Interactive Sextet to purveyor of the "beatnik blues," Kodac Harrison.
- Ferst Center for the Arts [404-894-9600, www.ferstcenter.org]
Georgia Tech's fine arts venue will host multiple Atlanta premieres and audience favorites in the upcoming season's popular jazz, classical, dance, theatre and variety series. This year's selections run the gamut from the comedy of Horatio Sanz and his comedy troupe to internationally acclaimed dancer Julio Bocca and his Ballet Argentino.
- Rialto Center for the Performing Arts [404-651-4727, www.rialtocenter.org]
The tagline for the Rialto's upcoming season, "more than a show-an experience," says it all. Indeed, the 2005-06 Rialto Series consists of 15 shows featuring the best in national and international jazz, world music and dance, including bluegrass hall-of-famer Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, and Spain's scorching Noche Flamenca dancers.
- Several Dancers Core [404-373-4154, www.severaldancerscore.org]
Known for its creative, contemporary choreography and experimentation, Several Dancers and its professional dance ensemble, CORE Performance Company, celebrate their 25th anniversary this year.
- Chris Botti
Ferst Center for the Arts
Let trumpeter Botti's smooth jazz prove to you that he's rightly famous for being something more than Katie Couric's former arm-candy.
- Porgy and Bess
Nov. 17, 19-20
George and Ira Gershwin's sultry tale of the South is perfect for those who love jazz and eschew super titles.
- Funny Farm Comedy Club [770-817-4242, www.funnyfarmcomedyclub.com]
To lighten up with a few laughs, you can't beat the gut-busting talent of the comedians gracing the Funny Farm stage.
- Kennesaw State University's College of the Arts
KSU cultivates culture outside the perimeter with Broadway stars, jazz sensations, emerging stars and world-renowned showstoppers.
- Spivey Hall [770-960-4200, www.spiveyhall.org]
Clayton State University's perf
ormance hall provides an intimate, visually captivating setting for its acclaimed jazz, choral, chamber and instrumental music series.
- Zoetic Dance Ensemble [678-966-0253, www.zoeticdance.org]
These dynamic dancers have been turning heads since 1999 with their graceful use of athletic, innovative choreography and mixed media productions.
Gallery A Go-Go
- High Museum of Art [404-733-4400, www.high.org]
The leading art museum in the Southeast, with more than 11,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High will open its expanded facilities to the public in November. "Andrew Wyeth: Memory and Magic," a retrospective of the American artist's work, kicks off the celebration.
- Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia [404-881-1109, www.mocaga.org]
Concentrating on art produced from the early 1960s to the present, MOCA GA's permanent collection and exhibitions represent works by Georgia artists in multiple media, including photography and installations.
- Museum of Design Atlanta [404-688-2467, www.musuemofdesign.org]
MODA, the only museum in the Southeast dedicated to design, features an eclectic mix of form and functionality. This fall patrons can enjoy "Graphic Noise," an exhibition of concert poster art, and "Raymond Loewy: Designs for a Consumer Culture," works by one of the most prominent industrial designers of the 20th century.
- Savannah Gallery [404-816-0247, www.thesavannahgallery.com]
The latest gallery from the Savannah College of Art and Design, which just opened its Atlanta branch in March, showcases the work of the institute's students, alumni, faculty and distinguished artists. Upcoming shows include "Site Unseen," an unorthodox look at traditional landscape painting, and "Show Horse," art inspired by equines.
Here are a few of Atlanta's independent galleries that have transformed exhibition production into a fine art.
Artists' Atelier of Atlanta
800 Miami Circle, Ste. 200
Fay Gold Gallery
764 Miami Circle
Mason Murer Fine Art
199 Armour Dr.