Midtown is the center of the arts in Atlanta, and that’s never been truer than right now. A recently opened exhibit at the High Museum of Art features the works of such luminaries of the art world as Georgia O’Keeffe, Grandma Moses, Hale Woodruff, Ansel Adams and Thomas Hart Benton. In addition to the quality and historical value of the paintings and photographs on display, the sheer number of works – 200 pieces by more than 80 artists – makes a memorable outing.
Grab your spouse, make plans with your best friend, take your mom. You won’t regret it.
Go in the morning, enjoy the show then stop for lunch in Midtown. Plan your visit for late afternoon then stay for a play at Alliance Theatre with a Midtown dinner in between.
Here are a few highlights:
Big and Bright
Atlanta-based Hale Woodruff painted huge colorful murals depicting the 1839 slave uprising on the ship Amistad and also the founding of Talladega College in Alabama and the struggle for freedom, education and equality for people like Woodruff, a black man in the Jim Crow South. You’ll see one of Woodruff’s murals in the new exhibit and five more on the Skyway Level of the Anne Cox Chambers Wing. And if something is tugging at your memory, then you may be recalling that in 2012, the museum featured the exhibit, “Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College.” Even if you have seen them once, they are well worth another look.
All Ansel Adams photographs tend to take your breath away, but one particular photo in the High exhibit really grabs attention because it is so much larger than what is frequently displayed. Don’t miss “Yosemite Valley from Inspiration Point, Winter,” Yosemite National Park, 1940.
“Tobacco Sorters” by Thomas Hart Benton depicts a tobacco farmer teaching a young girl about tobacco leaves. From the pig-tailed girl to the farmer with his floppy hat and the scene in which they find themselves, the painting plucks the heartstrings.
Some paintings in the collection are on loan from the Clark Atlanta University Art Museum. The double portrait of John N. Robinson’s grandparents draws inspiration from Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” Two Clark Atlanta paintings in the exhibit – "The Mourner” and “Man with a Brush” – were painted by Atlanta-based artist Frederick Flemister. The Walker Evans photograph “Barber Shop Atlanta," 1936, is here also.
Andrew Wyeth’s “Black Hunter," 1938, is a powerful portrait of Wyeth’s childhood friend, David Lawrence.
And on and on it goes.
“Cross Country: The Power of Place in American Art, 1915-1950” is on display through May 7. It may be awhile before another chance arises to see the works of so many famous artists in one place so if you love art you'll want to go.
Midtown Atlanta is chock-full of museums. After you see the new High exhibit, perhaps you would like to go Museum Hopping in Midtown.
Journalist Carol Carter writes and edits for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.