Tag: atlanta artists

Talk Art to Me: You’ve Got Mad Skills by Vito Leanza


Vito in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in a costume he designed and built.

“Any acrobatics? Tell us more about your rope spinning.”

How many of you have gone to an audition and have been asked similar questions by the folks behind the table at your audition? For me, personally, it happens all the time.

When I first moved to New York City in 1995 to pursue a career in Musical Theatre, the buzz word flying around was “Triple Threat.” For those who don’t know what that means, it refers to being a Singer, Dancer and Actor. What more could Producers and Directors want? That was the whole package!

Back then (and still true today) many dancers, were strictly dancers, some could sing, but their forte was dance. They were known as Dancers who
sing. Singers on the other hand, same scenario, were Singers who could dance or Singers Who Move Well. No one really asked you if you could act, they just assumed you could. They would know more if they handed you sides to study.

In todays competitive world of Musical Theatre, Film and Television, its almost demanded that we have a special skill to make us stand out, to land that role. This is true especially in Musical Theatre where shows are much more flashy, technical and exciting! Take the recent revival of Pippin! You get the picture? Our special skills are just as important as our singing/dancing and acting lessons.

Before I found my way into musical theatre, I just happen to have many special skills. I learned because I was interested in them, not because I needed them for my resume. Here’s my list of special skills that I love to rattle off to folks for fun, but they are all true.

I am a Singer/Dancer/Actor/ Acrobat/Puppeteer/Stilt Walker/Unicyclist/
Juggler/Improv Actor/Writer/Costume Designer. In fact at one point, below
my special skills on my resume, I was bold and wrote “Creative Beyond

Vito as an acrobat in Joseph and the
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

I learned all these skills bit by bit as time went by. I learned how to ride a unicycle at age 9 because a unicycle club came and performed at my elementary school. As a kid, I was also a springboard diver. I competed in high school and was a scholarship athlete in college. I had always been acrobatic and one day, while hanging around my church gym, I took those diving skills and transferred them into tumbling skills, which lead me to being a Varsity Cheerleader for 3 years. After college, I worked at Walt Disney World where I learned how to be a puppeteer and stilt walker, which were jobs within my job as a character performer and dancer. Eventually that lead me to dance classes and Musical Theatre.

When I moved to NYC and had a real resume, I would be at auditions and the producers would glance down and look at my special skills and almost always ask about my acrobatics. In fact, I got 90% of my jobs because of my special skills.

In 1997, I auditioned for the national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I went in and sang and they asked me to return for a call back. Before I walked away, something compelled me to speak up about being an acrobat. It’s important that when you have the opportunity to sell what makes you unique, you do it! The folks behind the table lit up and said when I returned for my callback, I could tumble for them. The next day at the dance call, they asked me to tumble and I did a few tricks for them. I got the job and spent 15 months on the road.

I am now in the Atlanta Gay Mens Chorus and currently working at Stone Mountain Park during their Pumpkin Festival. I was called in to audition at Stone Mountain Park after I was seen at Unifieds. I was asked to prepare a comedic monologue and a song. I did my monologue then sang my song. They (and there were 4 folks behind the table that day) looked down at my special skills and began to ask about each special skill one by one. One director literally said “Stop, I didn’t hear a word after you said Costume Designer.” He was still trying to process that when the others where already asking about my circus skills and my puppeteering. Clearly I got the job. But I actually got 3 separate jobs from that one audition. I was hired as a Puppeteer, an Improv Actor and a Costume Designer. Here’s the kicker, I am also riding my Unicycle in a parade as well as Juggling. 5 skills utilized!

Life is a journey. We learn new things that lead us to other new things. As performers, we have a world of opportunity to learn new special skills.
Atlanta has more and more quality theaters opening all the time, plus more tv shows and movies filming here. I encourage you to seek out a
Puppeteering class, an acrobatics/tumbling class, a circus skills class. Make yourself more marketable. There’s a reason it’s called a Play.

Vito holding a Shrek Dragon Puppet that he made.

Connect with Vito:

Email: vitoworld@yahoo.com
Website: http://vitoworldproductions.com/

Five Ways to Optimize Your Website


With the continous rise of social media, creatives often wonder why it’s important to still have a website. Instagram allows you to collect your profiles data analytics,  connect with your audience , sell ads, and essentially expand your brand. However, there are still many incidents where popular influencers pages have gotten hacked and they’ve had to start all the way over. Your website is YOURS! This is where people are coming to learn about you. The question becomes, why should your audience visit your website? They can visit your Instagram , Facebook, and Snapchat to see what you’ve been up to.  Here’s five ways that you can optimize your website and keep your audience coming back for more.

  1. Update your website frequently –
    Keeping your audience engaged with what your doing is very important. Make sure that whatever new projects you’ve been working on or new achievements you’ve made in your career are featured on your website. Some artists have content that is exclusivley for their website. When you update your website frequently, you’re giving your audience a reason to constantly check your page for new content.

2. Offer discounted prices or promotions for people who join your mailing list through your website – 

People LOVE discounts! They’re also intrigued by recieving incentives for actively engaging with your platform. Once you’ve collected contact information from your audience you now have the power to engage with them more frequently. You’re able to see what they like, what they care about, and invite them to your shows/events outside of social media.

3. Use social media to drive traffic to your website – 

Whenever you post a new video,  put new artwork up for sale, post a blog, or an article that you like, let people know on your social media pages that there’s something new up on your website.. As a performing artist, I will often post a teaser performance video and tell people to view the entire video on my site. Make sure that you’re utilizing your Instagram and Facebook stories along with posting on your page.

4. Use your data analytics from your website to create your own marketing strategy – 

Knowing what your audience is interested in and how many times their visiting your site isn’t enough when you don’t know how to use the data to expand your brand. Anaylze your site data and come up with marketing strategies based off of what your audience wants. For example, if my unique visitors

5. Sell ad space/ offer ad space in exchange for sponsorship – 

When I started reaching out to potential sponsors for my debut concert, I created a sponsorship package which included ad space as perk for sponsoring the event. This is a way to generate income based off of how many people view your site. It provides an incentive to create new business realtionships.


Whether you’ve had your website for years or just starting out, these are great tips to help you stay up to date in the constantly changing digital world. People are interested in receiving information and content in real time! These tips can help to make your website the go to place for content in your artistic field.  If you’re thinking about starting a website or revamping your own, sign up for our Website Bootcamp class happening Tuesdays, Sept 25 – Oct 16, 2018 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.


Thanks for reading!

The Candidates + Artists (Part Three) – City Council

Yesterday, we posted the candidates for Mayor of Atlanta responses to our questionnaire. You may also download the PDF version of their responses HERE.

We also collected responses from candidates for city council. We received a number of replies from almost all of the districts. This was a little tougher to collect. We received bounce-back emails, some candidates didn’t have a website, or no email information was available on their Facebook pages. After qualification, we culled down our list and used the email contact info found on the city’s site. The initial outreach took hours because of the amount of sleuthing it took to find contact emails for candidates. I mention all of this to explain why we don’t have a majority of responses; however, we do have feedback from some viable candidates (about 15 of them).

I am not going to copy city council replies within the body of this blog–it is a lot of pages. However, we created a handy-dandy PDF with city council candidate responses: City Council Candidates’ Responses on the Arts (PDF)

Image of Atlanta
Photo by Ibstidham0. Courtesy of pixabay.

Just a note from me – nobody owns arts advocacy. Not us. Not anyone. In my opinion, the more voices the better. The more artists are engaged, the better. After this election (and very likely runoff(s)) we know one thing will be true: we will have a new mayor and we will have a city council that looks much different than what we have now.

Stay engaged. Stay engaged. Stay engaged. 

Our elected officials work for you. Volunteer. Join your local neighborhood association and NPU. Your voice matters. I know many in our city have been left out for years. I hope to see those people reclaim their voices in local politics. Look around your local meetings. Who is there? Who isn’t? How can you, as an artist (or arts supporter) use your privilege (education, social status, etc.) to widen the circle of inclusion? Diverse cities are stronger.


We often ask: “how do we keep artists in Atlanta?” This is a complex question that requires a comprehensive-solution based approach. Education, jobs, affordability, transportation–these are part of the solution for artists and other sectors. But often we leave out civic engagement. Making space for artists to create ties to a city–to strengthen their social cohesion also helps retain artists.  That is C4’s interest. We want to see artists call Atlanta home. This is why we entered with more fervor the advocacy space two years ago. We also support artists self-organizing without institutions within their own networks. Together, we can build the Atlanta that truly supports art workers. Having said that, we are happy to continue to reach out to elected officials on policy matters that affect artists. We will keep doing this now and after the election. So! Onward and upward…and into 2018 which will usher in the gubernatorial race! (I need a nap)

Please vote on November 7th. #ArtistsVOTE

Leading Lady : Aviva Kessler

Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.

For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions. 

We are proud to introduce the next Leading Lady for March 2017: Aviva Kessler

Atlanta musician and activist, Aviva Kessler.

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a full time musician – activist
I have a band called Aviva and the Flying Penguins and a youtube channel “Avivasingsout” where I have a weekly show “Sunday Songwriting” and write and perform a new song every week often about current events, activism and local art. I also teach exercise classes at the YMCA as well as music lessons.
I founded the Georgia Hemp Economic Revival Organization in 2013 and work tirelessly speaking about how hemp can help our environment, as well as meeting with our legislators and traveling.
I also teach communities how to build with hemp hurd and earthen, sustainable materials as well as upcycling.
I built a little earthen playhouse at Atlanta’s Wylde Center with and for children who now have a real life example of a house they can build with there own hands that is from and kind to the earth. I regularly teach workshops on how to mix this earthen concrete and create as a team.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
My whole life. I always cared about the earth. In fourth grade I asked my teacher if I could go study in the library instead of stay for social studies, found a book on recycling and got totally absorbed. She had to send another student to get me because I stayed there fascinated reading for so long. I had never heard of recycling until then, the machine pictured was so big it took up a whole big warehouse room. That book became more important than so much in that moment. I felt its power. Since that day I saved my paper which finally began getting recycling in our town five years later. Music began even earlier, as young as I can remember. I won a national contest when I was 8 and performed for so many people, maybe thousands. It was one of the scariest things I ever remember doing. It was an instrumental song on piano called “Purple Blue” about the mountains. As a multi-intrumentalist and triple thread performer I studied music, dance and acting all of my life.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?

Aviva leads a re-plastering of Ox the Earthen Playhouse which was built at the Wylde Center. The earthen plaster is made out of lime, sand, and hemp.

I wanted to be a singer but just one day a week. I always saw the importance of staying connected to community. I wanted to be a different thing every day of the week. As a child I remember choosing 6 occupations for each day of the week with one day off- it was Doctor, Farmer, Singer, Dancer, Mommy, Chef.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I am not as keen on just talking as much as doing an activity together, like dancing or singing or mountain hiking or playing trivia, painting, or cooking a meal together. Just eating and talking isn’t as much of an experience. I would want an experience with Sarah Vaughan. (Though I would want Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday to be there too) The talent, depth of soul and truth in their voices melts me. I would just want to learn their life, their favorite recipes, things to do, etc. I would want to sing with them :). I would want to know their dreams and songs they never could sing within the limits of the industry.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
God. I learned who God was when I traveled to Israel by myself at 12 years old. I learned how to overcome fear with love because of God’s presence. I felt God with me and I recognized this support in ways I cannot explain. It gave me courage, a sense of self, humility, and so much compassion in my heart. Struggle with ego is daily and it takes effort, kind of like scheduling lunch dates, doctor’s appointments, etc., and it takes a series of tools even, to sit still and connect with God and this is what directs me every day. God holds my hand, or maybe sends angels to, as I write about my past, get through obstacles from my past effecting my present situations, write music, practice, take risks, whatever it is I feel I am not alone.. I feel guided and accompanied and I know it’s not all about me. I have met so many people along the way who have taught me so many tools and inspired me- and ultimately what I got most from all of these inspirations was coming home to God, to come home to me.

How is art a passion for you?
Art is as important as food and fresh air for me. It allows me to get outside of myself and grow. It gives me space for emotional processing and jumping into the mysteries of life. It gives me a platform to express what I cannot express in any other way. It gives me peace. It frees me from the illusion of mental prisons. It allows me to challenge societal norms. It also give me tools to train my body mind and soul into a joyful avatar, as it were, of poignant messages. It makes me a better person and hopefully inspires other to feel better about their lives as well.

Aviva portrays a lemon for “500 Songs For Kids” with her band Aviva and the Flying Penguins.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I think good intentions are there, however there is a lot of ingrained male dominance. I appreciate anyone, man or woman who has the skills to contribute to a project, I think a lot can be bettered for communication skills between men and women. I think this has posed limitations in the music business especially. I don’t like generalizing, but it makes a whole lot of sense that Women as a whole, I believe, are still finding our voices, still finding that permission to take up a lot of space, still have different sensitivities than our male counterparts. I enjoy working in solitude a LOT, because of the connection I feel to spirit in this peace, but also perhaps because it’s easier and “safer”. Growth in collaboration takes a lot of communication, persistence, overcoming painful triggers, and compassion. Learning to trust our own guidance is key. Music can require long late hours in all of its aspects and that makes family life challenging, but you can say that for a lot of professions, like doctors and reporters. I think having a support team is key.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I love the tangibility of the music industry. So many great musical artists have cultured here… the indigo girls, India Arie, Janelle Monae, Blind Willie, Outkast, the list is endless really. I love that any night of the week I can find a jam or performance with someone from the horn section, percussionist, drummer, violinist, etc. that works with well-known artists. I love that I’ve gotten to work with such talent. I love the studios and engineers here. Some of the best! I also love the many artists here. There really is a constant state of creation in Atlanta almost anywhere you look for it and quite a bit of activism too. I love all the urban gardens and organic farmers markets that have their own art status and accumulate local artists for their events. There are so many movers and shakers here and its a privilege to rub elbows with them.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
So many dreams here.
I would love to see an earthen artist sustainable village created here.
(More affordable housing for artists in general would be ideal)
I would love to see music stay and thrive in our educational systems here.
I would love to see a bigger hub for artist-activists – perhaps even an artist-activist “coffeehouse”
I would love to see more agents and local venues cultivating local talent by pairing them with well-known touring acts and music-business mentorships.
I hope to keep providing inspirational ear-candy with my musical contributions and collaborations.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?

Facebook Groups: mudbuildersofatlanta and georgiahempeconomicrevivalorganization

Leading Lady : Lennie Gray Mowris

Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.

For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions. 

We are proud to introduce the next Leading Lady for March 2017: Lennie Gray Mowris

Lennie poses with one of her letterpress machines, Fly. — Photo credit: Nate Dorn Images

Where do you work and what do you do?
I work for myself through my own design and printmaking studio, lenspeace. Through this space I create letterpress art that is focused on our relationships to ourselves and others, empathy and community building.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I have always been interested in the art, but they were never supported as a viable path to follow, so I became more involved in science early in life. My aptitude was always between science and humanities, so it makes sense that the arts I fell into are all very machine-based, letterpress printing and photography primarily.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an ethnobotanist and travel through rain forests to discover natural cures for diseases. Instead, I became obsessed with learning about self-care, which led me to study the social systems and environmental systems we rely on for care and how we can innovate them for healthier communities. I enjoy using graphic art and design thinking as means of engaging ideas of healthy lives and relationships.

Lennie Gray Morwis — Social impact design strategist, letterpress & printmaker.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
She’s actually still alive, Angela Davis. I would want to talk about what we can realistically do right now to engage in truly impactful change within our society, and how the threats of today compare to the threats she faced during the original civil rights movement.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My biggest influence has been my partner Kevin. When I met him I was 17 and a bit broken inside. He made me a promise he’s never broken, that he would take care of me and help me grow into the potential he saw within me, as long as I would do the work of personal growth. I said yes, and it was the best decision I ever made. I owe everything I have to his support, and the support of his family. They taught me what it means to love and be loved, and to build community with heart.

How is art a passion for you?
I do it even when it’s hard, it hurts, and I want to give it up… because the moment I break through that space of pain, something amazing always opens up on the other side for me.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I believe it’s improving, but we have a long way to go before we fully accept women’s leadership and overcome systemic sexism. I experience sexism all too often to believe that we’re truly evolved or embrace women as equals. We aren’t treated equally, and often aren’t taken seriously, but in some ways that makes us more powerful if we can use that awareness and leverage equality and to help leverage what power we do have to elevate others. It gives us an opportunity to bring light to inequality among all marginalized people in the creative workforce.

Lennie is hard at work in lenspeace studio. — Image Credit: Nick Burchell

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The collaboration, generosity, and community-mindedness. There’s so much support, care, and nurturing of one another as we collectively grow, and it’s inspiring. To have that on a mass-scale in an urban area is beautiful. I feel like I have family in this town everywhere I go.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
A space where those without a voice can find one, those with an open heart can find a home for it, and those who want to work together to create change can find a family of collaborators to do it with.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?

Leading Lady : Tiffany Latrice

Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.

For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions. 

We are proud to introduce the first Leading Lady of March 2017:

Tiffany Latrice

Nominated by Jennifer O’Shea AND Victoria Allen

Tiffany Latrice stands next to one of her paintings entitled “Blossoms”. Oil and flowers on canvas, shown at TILA’s first all female art show.

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am an emerging artist and Founder, Executive Director of TILA Studios, a visual arts incubator for emerging female artists in Atlanta. I founded TILA in September 2016 after enrolling in the C4 Ignite Program. I realized that by combining my extensive art practice with my astute business acumen, I could help women in Atlanta become trailblazers in the art world. While practicing in Atlanta, I noticed that there are barriers to entry glass for women who are artists, especially women of color. Experiencing those barriers myself, I created TILA Studios to provide women with a safe space to create ambitious art projects, receive professional development and art management services, as well as exhibition opportunities with our on-site gallery.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I became interested in an art career when I realized that I had not created an original piece of work in 3 years and felt completely drained and unmotivated. It was 2013 and I was living and working in New York City at one the most influential media companies, NBCUniversal. You could say I had everyone’s dream job working at 30 Rock, running into Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, Brian Williams and the SNL cast members, but I was completely exhausted and spent most of my time underground on subway trains. When I decided to quite my job and pursue art full time, I felt like I was finally doing something for myself. As I was driving for 2 days in my uhaul from New York to Powder Springs, GA, I knew I had to make it work. I spent the first 9 months of my time in Georgia painting. I created a body of work titled “When Fire Gives You Sunshine.” I wanted to know if I painted everyday for at least 6 hours a day could art be what I really wanted? I realized yes. I also realized that Atlanta was great for a young minority artist and entrepreneur. Moving to Atlanta has rewarded me in so many ways. I am excited to be living in Metro Atlanta and to be doing the work I am doing for women and the community.

Tiffany Latrice celebrates with Vicoria Allen, Poet & Student, at #GardensATL Opening at TILA Studios.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I fell in love with art when I was 8 years old. I decided to enter an art competition in 1st grade. It was a regional competition and the first place winner would receive a bank bond of 500 dollars. I entered the competition and won. From then on, I knew I always wanted to be an artist. My grandfather is a well-known abstract artist in the south east region and has even had the opportunity to paint Ray Charles and other famous jazz musicians and influencers. Growing up, my mother had his art work all around our house. My grandmother was a seamstress and my great-grandmother was chef. Everyone in my family was great at creating with their hands. It was inevitable for me to be in a line of work where I did the same thing. I chose a paintbrush instead, and haven’t looked back since. Now I am using my talents and skills to give women the opportunity to do so as well.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I would have lunch with Meta Warrick Fuller a sculptor from Philadelphia that practiced in the 19th Century. I discovered Meta Warrick Fuller’s work while studying Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College. I was enrolled in the masters program and during a meeting with my thesis adviser, I was saying that I wanted to find someone that looked like me and interested in the things that I was interested in in the 1900s. She told me, “Well you got your work cut out for you.” I didn’t know what that meant but I soon found out that there was very little literature written about African- American women practicing art in the 19th century. After digging deeper and visiting the Library of Congress in D.C., I realized there was a whole segment of history and art history that had been overlooked. My thesis discussed Meta Warrick Fuller’s robust art practice and how she was able to attain success by leveraging her female friendships. I would talk to Meta about the importance of female friendships and why sisterhood is necessary for our survival.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My mother. My mother, Dr. Jacqueline Cothran is the most brilliant, resilient women in the world. She is beautiful, wise, and just an ethereal human being. She raised 3 children as a single mother, drove two hours while I was in high school to get her PhD, worked more than 3 jobs at a time to be where is she is today. Not to mention put my siblings and I in the best private institutions and colleges. So when people tell me my business or my art will not make money or be successful, I think of my mother and I hear her saying “For every “No,” there’s a “Yes” waiting for you around the corner.

How is art a passion for you?
Art is more than a passion. It is my way of communicating to the world when I no longer have the words. By leveraging art as a way to facilitate change or discuss something that is uncomfortable is one of the most timeless and greatest forms of activism. I want to use my voice and art to create dialogue and unite people from diverse backgrounds. By using something that I am completely invested in to give back and shape the community is the best way for me to share my passion with the world.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I believe that there are a lot of women of all backgrounds working in the creative workforce but they are not getting written about. This is why I think this blog is so important because it highlights the dynamic women art influencers. As I grow and build my business, I speak with local gallery owners (mostly male) and surprisingly some female owners that ask, “Where are the women painters in Atlanta” and I respond “Well let me tell you!” Do you know of Sara Santamaria, Yanique Norman, Tracy Murrell, Shanequa Gay, Diamond Bradley, Taylor Bailey, Sierra King and the countless number of other amazing female artist practicing in Atlanta. I am very well aware of my female contemporaries practicing locally and nationwide, but I realize that there are few institutions that do so as well. I hope to shed light on not just women in the creative workforce in the administration capacity, but also women artist practicing in the area.

Tiffany LaTrice, owner of TILA Studios.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The opportunity! The countless opportunities! Anything is possible in Atlanta. There is so much diversity, excitement, and artists working in the city that Atlanta is quickly growing to be one of the best places for artists to practice and for art organizations to be established. I don’t think I could have started TILA Studios anywhere but Atlanta. It is so easy to pick up the phone and talk to someone at C4, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, or the MOCA GA. This is a place where people don’t just say that want to create and or build a dynamic art scene, THEY DO IT! I am excited to join in and be a part of the movement.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I want emerging female artists to look to TILA as their safe space and home for their careers. I want them to know that I see them, that I want them to succeed within their artistic practice and that I am willing to go on the journey with them. Too often we steer young women from taking creative jobs because of “risks” established by society’s expectations of us. I want women to know that an art career is possible and feasible. For the world, I want them to know that Women Artists are Here. Women Artists Have Been Here. Women Artists are staying and plan to shift the art world so it can be more inclusive.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?


C4 Welcomes 14 Artists to its Hatch Program

At the end of September, we announced that we would be receiving funding from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation to launch a new program called Hatch. This program was not conceived last month, or even last year. Hatch is a program that has been in development for a little over two years. The original program (explored three years ago) was not intended to be a program about community-based art. The decision to focus on “working in community” came from hours and hours of research, noticing trends locally and nationally, and exploring new challenges facing artists in our professional development courses–as many of them were already navigating this field.

Michael Jones
Image courtesy of Michael Jones

The political and economic climate has changed over the last decade…heck, even over the last two years. We can’t ignore it. This program seemed, well, like the right thing to do. We have focused in the past on arts-entrepreneurship and because we are working with artists, that began to look little more like social entrepreneurship.

It is written into our core values that we believe in the power of the individual artist to help transform communities–with communities.

Teller Productions
Scottie Rowell, Teller Productions, stitches a puppet.

Hatch will explore the many facets of working in community: from the “soft” skills of budgeting and planning to leveraging assets to community organizing. We will talk about equity, inclusion and privilege.

The definition of “community” will be deconstructed. It isn’t limited to social activism, or public art–although, those will not be excluded. Community may include: k-12 audiences, healthcare, neighborhoods, working with planners and more.

The first phase of the program is building the curriculum. The first cohort of artists have agreed to be apart of the “pilot” phase. We don’t want Hatch to be created in a vacuum. This group of very talented and dedicated artists will help us explore what learning/teaching models work (and don’t work), what content artists really need to fulfill their artist goals, and to create a support network for artists working in community.

Shannon Willow
In Progress: Shannon Willow works on a mural in the East Atlanta Village.

So. Without further ado, It is my honor to introduce the 2015/16 Atlanta Hatch artists:

Jessica Caldas
Orion Crook
Michael Jones
Angela Davis Johnson
Danielle Deadwyler
Nick Madden
William Massey
Charmaine Minniefield
Lauren Pallotta
Shelia Pree Bright
Kris Pilcher
Scottie Rowell
Hez Stalcup
Shannon Willow

Introducing ‘Tension’ Artists

C4 Atlanta’s first ever Ignite graduate show will kick off May 11, 2013. The opening reception/fundraiser Arts Fuel will be on May 11, 2013 from 7pm – 10pm. Tickets for Arts Fuel are on sale now.

Opening for 'Tension' is May 11, 2013
Opening for ‘Tension’ is May 11, 2013

We wanted to keep the theme of our first show, ‘Tension,’ germane to our mission. For this show, Atlanta artists explore the dual identities of “the artist” and the “business person.”

Many of us can relate to this struggle or tension. In our own lives, we balance work and life, children and relationships, and the pursuit of emotional well being while living in a results-driven world.

The work in ‘Tension’ will range in medium, price and technique. This is a great opportunity to collect from some of Atlanta’s most talented artists. More information about gallery hours to come, but if you want the opportunity to purchase first, please attend Arts Fuel, May 11th. Discounted tickets for arts professionals are available.

It is with great pleasure that I give you the list of Atlanta professional artists who’s work will be featured in ‘Tension:’

Yun Bai
LaMar Barber
Rose Barron
Stephanie Coulibaly
Kathy Rennell Forbes
Vanessa Huang
Machiko Ichihara
Kerry Jackson
Igor Korsunskiy
Beth Lilly
Katy Malone
Corrina Mensoff
Mia Merlin
Barbara Nesin
Stacie Rose
Cat Rogers
Maria Sarmiento
Nathan Sharratt
Catherine Shiel
Amber Singleton
Deborah Sosower
Karley Sullivan
Gina Thompson
Diana Toma
Lisa Tuttle

Featured Artist – LaMar Barber

Image of LaMar's work. Painting.
Adam, Courtesy LaMar Barber

LaMar Barber is good soul. I really mean that. I developed an affinity for LaMar during our Ignite class last spring. He has a really great smile that makes you smile right back. LaMar’s Ignite classmates bonded with one another quickly. They even held a reunion weeks after the class had ended. LaMar started a FB page for that group of artists because LaMar values connection with fellow human beings. It is C4 Atlanta’s honor to feature LaMar Barber as September’s C4 Atlanta Artist. Here is a little about LaMar in his own words…

JH: Are you an Atlanta native?
LB: I left Detroit Michigan to attend Atlanta College of Art just months after graduating high school. The best part of residing in Atlanta is the city’s ability to be in tempo with the resident vs. the resident being in tempo with the city.
JH: Describe your artwork.
LB: My work creatively interacts with the viewer to develop communal culture.
JH: What are you current projects?
LB: Continuing the dialogue from “American Nude”, a summer solo exhibit at GA Tech, examining social vulnerabilities of the American culture, I turned my attention to the American woman.This series, Perspective of Women (P.O.W.), is a discussion of perspectives; inspired by the youtube series ‘in(HER)view’. Each work, five in all, will articulate my perspective of the woman’s perspective of her life in America.
JH: How can people learn more about your work?
LB: I favor artist’s talks and panel discussions because I tend to believe all sensory processors are necessary to comprehend the opaque perspective of the artist. However, to simply become aesthetically aware of the work, the World Wide Web is the most convenient method.
JH: How do you see “the arts” helping Atlanta?
LB: Acting as substituents for topics too taboo to discuss, the Arts assist Atlanta in becoming the most progressive city southern of the United States.(Additionally the Arts create opportunities, via murals and public works of art, for residents to measure and address their communal sense of beauty.) 

Image of LaMar's work. Painting.
Family, Courtesy of LaMar Barber
JH: Describe an Ah-Ha! moments you may have experienced during Ignite.
LB:  Understanding how the Arts appear “on paper” and how it exist in the economic atmosphere laid the foundation for my “Ah-Ha” moment; which is that the latter aren’t always same. The epiphany came when the instructor simplified, through comparison of other professional disciplines, the Arts’ financial contribution to America’s economic structure.This insight enhanced my ability to qualify events and properly forecast the impact of potential projects.
JH: Any take-aways from Ignite?
LB: The opportunity to attend the Ignite professional practice course came with the help of friends and a scholarship from C4, all of which I am forever grateful. Having been equipped to wear different managerial caps I comfortably managed social outings, my art exhibitions, completed a public art commission and more.The successes from these attempts have encouraged me to begin strategizing my micro business Contributing Culture. Contributing Culture is a business resource serving communities through philanthropic efforts.
JH: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
LB: As an “artrenpreneur” having maintained a successful micro business my hope in ten years is to be organizing a new set of decennial goals.
LaMar was recently chosen to be a part of the Atlanta Beltline’s fall season of public art. To learn more about Atlanta artist LaMar Barber, visit lamarbarber.com.
Image of LaMar's painting, the WAY home
the WAY home, courtesy LaMar Barber

Jason Kofke – June Featured Artist & C4 Atlanta Member

Our June featured artist is Jason Kofke. Jason is a relatively new C4 Atlanta member. I had the pleasure of meeting Jason at one of our programs several weeks ago. He is a humble guy with great enthusiasm for learning. I don’t pretend to know Jason well, but he seems like a really cool guy and an artists with clear vision.


A little about Jason Kofke and his work in his own words:


JH: Describe your art and what you are currently working on, please.


JK: The entry point for my work begins at the media we use to communicate with each other and the devices we use to record, remember, or recall events. I am a pseudo-expert of moribund media and use this interest in old machines to consider the recent past. One of the defining occurrences of these particular decades is the rapid changes in technology and understanding of the physical world we have developed through the sciences. But this enlightenment occurs just as humans gain a sense of ‘self’ though the consciousness of globalization and the decay of the idea of ‘nation’. With my work, I revisit the inimical and inefficient events of the recent past such as the Cold War arms race or the gamble of human life during the space race, Knowing full well that it is a futile ambition, I question the recent past in teleological terms with the hope that unnecessary risk, failure, and disaster can be avoided in the present. Consciousness – words of ideas or images of feelings – is at times the best defense from uncertainty.Currently, I am preparing for an exhibition with Christopher Chambers at Kibbee gallery. We will exhibit our ideas on change and processing. I’m also getting ready for a solo show at the Brest Museum in Jacksonville in October as well as a residency in the Arctic Circle. As I type this, I’m on my way to Spain for a printmaking residency in Barcelona.


JH: Are you originally from the Atlanta area?


JK: I was born (appropriately) in Media, PA. But I grew up in Vero Beach, Florida. I moved to Atlanta in 2007 as a result of following a few of my favorite professors who transferred to SCAD Atlanta. 


JH: How long have you been practicing your art?


JK: I was one of those kids who was always drawing. All through primary school, my classmates knew me as the kid who could ‘draw the best’. I fell into the stereotype of the artist early in life, and never strayed. I had my first illustration job when I was 15, and have been ‘working’ as an artist since then. Now that I have the MFA in Painting, there is no escape…


JH: Who inspired you to create?


JK: It would be unfair to many influences to say that one person inspires me to create things. Being creative is very much an act of seeking out creative people to inspire creative thinking. If I had to deduce my decision to live my life as a person who relies on their creativity as a means of living, I would have to chose my father: He was an amazingly gifted and self-disciplined amateur photographer.  I took his passion for his work as common, believing that most ‘dad’s’ likely had passions in a comparable vein. Only in art college did I realize that my father was in fact an artist. However, he was in many ways trapped – aside from the photography he was passionate about, he was a family man. And further, a small family-business owner who had many people relying on him. He was never free to explore his world and his craft to a degree that was appropriate for his abilities. In the final year of my Master of Arts degree, he died of a sudden heart attack while under a lot of financial and family stress. His life and death demanded me to commit to a lifestyle that he would have wanted of me – freedom to explore the world, and the means to react to living life via the creation of images. I have since this decision fully embraced living as a contemporary artist. My travels are always project-based, my work always involves a creative process. I carry my father’s ashes everywhere in the world that my work takes me. So far he is part of the Grand Canyon and the Gobi Desert; He is at Mt. Fuji and on Mt. Everest; in Red Square in Moscow and the Great Wall in BeiJing. This month he’ll be at the Colosseum in Rome and soon after on the North Pole. Unfortunately, he’s seen much more of our world in death than in life. If events did not occur as they had for my father and me, I would not have arrived at the decisions I made to pursue life as an artist.


JH: Who or what inspires you today?


JK:  Today, what inspires me is human events and human relationships. All you really are is the memory of you in the minds of others who knew you before you died. What we are known for – and thus remembered of – and thus recorded as, is all we really are. So I am interested and inspired by how we record and remember people and events. What memories are lost when a medium is outdated due to ‘progress’ or ‘advancement’ is something to be considered in the present. I believe if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to see it fall, then the tree never fell.


JH: What is the greatest challenge facing Atlanta artists today?


JK: The greatest challenge artists in Atlanta are facing today is mediocrity. Noteworthy novelty and craft are difficult to manifest. We must deny ourselves the luxury of accepting mediocre accomplishment whenever we are conscious of it. (I say this knowing full well I am guilty of mediocrity as well.)


JH: What does Atlanta have to offer artists like you?


JK: Atlanta has a very supportive – though small- arts community. This network of generous and inclusive individuals are the reason I can even claim to be an artist while living in Atlanta. Aspiring artists and students of art can feel confident that, though they may not gain international notoriety, untold riches, or historical relevance simply by being an artist in Atlanta, they will be supported. And this support is a prerequisite to all other artistic aspirations.


JH: Do you have a local favorite (artist)?


JK:  Cousin Dan, Craig Drennen, Chris Chambers…it seems a lot of my favorites end up moving to New York…


JH: What advice do you have for a young person thinking about being a artist?


JK: Don’t be too romantic. Thought it can be used when available to you, don’t use angst exclusively to fuel the drive to make work. Read often.


JH: Do you have a favorite quote? What is it?


JK: This would be a perfect opportunity to interject  ‘everything will be ok’ But this phrase is becoming outdated. How about a classic and a favorite: memoria praeteritorum bonorum. (forever)


Thank you, Jason, for your honest and thoughtful perspective. Best of luck on your travels and artistic adventures. To take a look of some of Jason’s projects, visit http://www.jasonkofke.com/projects (I actually enjoyed seeking the web for more info about Jason Kofke. Cool videos and thought provoking work).