Picture That: Art Society is a Black-Owned Art Gallery at Southlake Mall – Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia 2021-07-24 08:15:54 –

Outside the South Lake Mall Art Society, where ribbon cuts will take place on Tuesday, August 10 (Photo courtesy of Donnell Suggs / The Atlanta Voice)

A self-portrait of a black woman who fascinated a female customer one Friday afternoon, this painting is a topic for discussion the next day as art society owner Shema Woodruff took some time to tell the story behind the work.

“I was in the dark of my life and art was my exit,” she said.

The painting “Complexity of Complexion” outlines her profile and has a roadmap of arteries through her face and neck. Woodruff’s eyes in the picture can only be said to be impressive. 29-year-old Woodruff quit his job as a restaurant manager in April looking for the next challenge and chapter in his life.

“I knew what I was doing wasn’t what I was trying to do,” she said. “I wanted to work in a gallery, but it was hard.”

Then she had one of the crazy ideas that when all the stars were aligned and everything went according to plan, it felt like a genius stroke. Want to open an art gallery? That’s why art societies, art galleries, art collectives, and multipurpose custom art studios were born.

The only art gallery in Southlake Mall, Clayton County is here.

The work of Tupac and Biggie Smalls by artist Travis 18 (Photo courtesy of Donnell Suggs / The Atlanta Voice)

“This is an art society. We will leave a place for artists to come together and realize their vision,” says Woodruff.

Surrounded by traditional American mall cuisine. Whether it’s a sneaker store, a fast food store, a jewelry store, or a T-shirt store, art societies may not come to mind when considering a mall tenant.

Woodruff signed a lease in May with a space of 8,100 square feet. The moment she came up with the idea of ​​opening an art gallery, she joked, “I didn’t know what I was thinking.”

Artists interested in exhibiting paintings, sculptures, photographs and other works in the Art Society need to experience auditions and broad explanations.

They can bring samples of their work to Woodruff and her business partner Stephen Benitez, 27, a cinematographer, a photographer, a videographer, and a versatile ideaman. You can pass the master.

“We don’t necessarily have a standard of art,” Woodruff said. “The black and white sign behind her says,” Art is everything, everything is art. ”

Everything sold at the Art Society is split between the gallery and the artist.

“We want to make it a place where artists can build their brand,” said Benitez, who also attends Artes, who combines the word “art” with his name. “This is a community and about the relationships we are building.”

Introduced by mutual friend Picasso Black, owner of the Picasso Splatroom, the pair has worked together to build the Art Society into something that South Atlanta residents and visitors can be proud of. .. I came into contact with art at her local mall, or elsewhere she often visited as a kid.

Self-portrait “complexity of complexion” by Shema Woodruff, owner and operator of the Art Society. (Photo provider: Donnell Suggs / The Atlanta Voice)

“I wasn’t shown how to build a career in art until I was in my early twenties,” she said. “I love to see little kids and young people coming here and enjoying art. You don’t have to make dollars that day. It’s worth it.”

Asked why he didn’t open a gallery in art-friendly areas such as Inman Park, Grant Park, Midtown, and Backhead, Woodruff learned that Clayton County didn’t have anything like an art society open to the public. Said he was. I was proud of her challenge.

“”[Clayton County] Primarily black, we feel we need to invest in ourselves, “Woodruff said. “Originally I wanted to pop up [art] It’s a shop, but the mall said no, so instead I made space for the artists. “

Both she and Benitez say they have a strong level of support. The Art Society also provides graphic design and photography services to its customers. Woodruff shared the story of a customer who came to the store last week hoping to put a photo of his deceased boyfriend on a T-shirt. She and Benitez were able to do more, enhance the photo and get the job done in less than an hour.

“I love clients coming in less than an hour and getting what they need,” Woodruff said.

“We want the Art Society to be a hub where all artists can connect and collaborate,” Benitez said. “We all believe that it was created by the Creator.”

Monday is Art Hanging Day at the gallery, and Woodruff is ready to showcase some of the new works he recently received. First, let’s take a look at the work with gallery curator Andre Thompson. Andre Thompson is another artist who supports the activities of the Art Society. “I wouldn’t hang art here without contacting him,” she said.

The music was played in the background while the patrons were wandering around. Woodruff and Benitez have returned to guest support. The gallery was lively. An art gallery in South Lake Mall on Saturday afternoon. That picture.

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