Art NotesArts & Culture

Art at AthFest and Beyond

ATHICA: After 16 years in the Chase Park warehouses, the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art is relocating to a new home. Aware of the potential sale of its current space, ATHICA’s board began a lengthy search process to find a new gallery, luckily landing a multi-year lease with the option to purchase a suite in the Leathers Building at 675 Pulaski St. ATHICA will host a “Farewell to Tracy Street” celebration on Thursday, June 21 from 5:30–7:30 p.m. The event will honor founding director Lizzie Zucker Saltz, who oversaw approximately 45 exhibitions and 900 artists and performers during her leadership. The development group FiveArts, whose current members include Valerie Aldridge, Linda Henneman and Mitch Rothstein, will also be recognized for their crucial role in founding ATHICA. Through their generous offer to host the gallery rent-free for the first three years with only a $50 yearly increase to bring rent up to market level, the gallery was able to quickly land on its feet and grow into a contemporary art powerhouse.  

ATHICA will take the next two months to settle into its new location just a mile away, a historic factory warehouse similar in aesthetic since, like Chase Park, it has been renovated into an adaptive mixed-used center. The gallery will officially reopen on Saturday, Aug. 18 with a reception from 6–9 p.m. for “The Golden Record,” an exhibition inspired by “Sounds of Earth,” a collection of images and recordings currently traveling through space aboard the Voyager spacecraft for extraterrestrial life forms to find. 

ART AT ATHFEST: Amidst all the food vendors, beer gardens and live music swirling through the air, the AthFest Music & Arts Festival will include an artist market on Washington Street between Hull and Lumpkin streets. Over 50 vendors will set up shop with both fine arts and crafts for sale, including McShawn Gem Works, Manami Art, Grateful Beads Jewelry, Star Thread Pottery, RockBelly Minerals, Wild Pony Studio and South Indigo. Items range from paintings, drawings, photography, jewelry, clothing, sculpture, bath and body products, furniture and ceramics. As a juried market, cash prizes will be awarded for Best in Show, second place and five honorable mentions. The artist market will be open on Friday, June 22 from 5–10 p.m., Saturday, June 23 from 12–10 p.m. and Sunday, June 24 from 12:30–8 p.m. 

As part of the festival’s fundraising efforts, AthFest Educates is auctioning a Gretsch guitar painted by world-renowned illustrator and tattoo artist David Hale, who also painted AthFest’s 20th anniversary mural in 2016. Nicknamed “Song Hawk,” the instrument is a Gretsch Historic Series G3100 acoustic guitar and features Hale’s iconic style of nature-inspired imagery and geometric details. Over the past decade, AthFest Educates has raised close to $35,000 from auctions of donated Gretsch guitars. The bidding is currently underway at and will be open through June 24 at 11 p.m. 

GET ARTISTIC: Coinciding with AthFest weekend, Creature Comforts will officially launch Get Artistic, its newest community outreach initiative. Similar to Get Comfortable, the brewery’s campaign that fundraises for local organizations that address hunger, homelessness and poverty, Get Artistic will be a year-round effort towards supporting the arts in Georgia. In addition to expanding the various art exhibitions, performances and creative events that have been hosted since 2014, the initiative and associated nonprofit fund plans to introduce strategic grant opportunities, long-term patronage and partnerships, and enrichment activities for the arts community. 

One hundred percent of profits from Get Artistic beer and merchandise will go into a fund that will be disbursed among creative community projects and the endeavors of local artists. Inspired by just about every art gallery’s most classic drink offered at receptions—white wine—the Get Artistic beer is a tart wheat beer brewed with Sauvignon Blanc grape juice.

The brewery will host free hands-on art activities like live screen-printing and mural painting throughout the weekend, as well as puzzle solving with Very Good Puzzle Company on Sunday. La Michoacana will be on site serving all-natural ice cream and other treats. The Get Artistic launch will run June 22 from 3–7 p.m., June 23 from 12–6 p.m. and June 24 from 1–6 p.m. 

BUS SHELTERS: The long-awaited opportunity for artists to create new bus shelters has arrived. The Athens Area Arts Council commissioned 11 bus shelters a decade ago as part of a public art collaboration with Athens Transit called “You, Me & the Bus.” Now, the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission is continuing the project with additional funding from Athens Transit and SPLOST. Individual artists and teams can submit design proposals for two types of bus shelters: those that are fabricated with unusual materials—think the school bus shelter on Atlanta Highway—or those that incorporate artist panels. The deadline to submit proposals is Sunday, July 27 at 11:59 p.m., and more details can be found at