10 Art Spaces Contributing to Atlanta’s Progressive Creativity

ATLANTA — Atlanta is one of the most vibrant, diverse art cities in the country. The art in this city moves. It pops up everywhere, from gallery walls to street tunnels, from museums and warehouses to sidewalks and fences. In the hands of some of the city’s most talented artists, old buildings and new storefronts here become large-scale canvases for breathtaking murals, for paintings that celebrate the legacies of homegrown icons like John Lewis, Stacey Abrams, and Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Unlike some places, Atlanta’s fragmented sprawl means there’s no one central location or one district where art lives. From the Westside to East Atlanta, from Downtown to Cabbagetown, each neighborhood contributes its own unique thread to a tapestry of progressive creativity. 

This list of art spaces offers just a small snapshot of Atlanta’s varied visual art scene. And while celebrated venues like the High Museum are included, you’ll also find smaller galleries, quirky art collectives, and the grassroots art spaces that often go un-sung, but that help make Atlanta one of the South’s most culturally impactful cities. 

The High Museum of Art

High Museum of Art (photo courtesy High Museum of Art)

Where: 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 10am–5pm; Sunday, 12pm–5pm

Atlanta’s most celebrated art museum is home to over 18,000 permanent works. Founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, the High Museum’s first permanent location was located on Peachtree Street, as the donated home of Harriet Harwell Wilson High. Its current building, where the museum has been housed since 1983 as part of the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown, was designed by American architect Richard Meier, and later expanded by Italian architect Renzo Piano. 

Alongside special exhibitions, like Calder-Picasso, on view now through September 19, visitors can also experience contemporary photography exhibits, a staggering collection of historical works, African art collections, and decorative art. The High Museum also boasts an impressive collection of folk and Southern art, featuring works by artists with roots in states such as Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. 

Don’t miss: Gatecrashers: The Rise of the Self-Taught Artist in America, on view August 20–December 11. Gatecrashers celebrates the rise of 20th-century painters who redefined what it meant to be called an artist in post-WWI America, and features the works of movement figureheads including John Kane, Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses, Horace Pippin, and Josephine Joy.

SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film

Ruth E. Carter, Afrofuturism in Costume Design at SCAD Atlanta (photo courtesy SCAD)

Where: 1600 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta
Hours
: Thursday–Friday, 11am–5pm; Sunday, 12pm–5pm

With a focus on cinematic fashion and photography, the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film, located on the Atlanta campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design, curates exhibitions featuring the works of some of the most esteemed designers, artists, and creators in the industry. SCAD FASH celebrates fashion as a conduit of culture, shining a light not only on the designs of fashion industry titans, but also on the work of SCAD’s talented fashion and design students. 

A must-visit museum for art lovers, movie buffs, and fashion mavens, SCAD FASH has previously played host to such special exhibitions as Alaïa-Adrian: Masters of Cut and Dressing for Dystopia: The Handmaid’s Tale Costumes by Ane Crabtree. 

Don’t Miss: Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design, a joyful retrospective celebrating the career of Academy Award-winning Black Panther and Do the Right Thing costume designer Ruth E. Carter, on view now through September 12. 

Poem88 Gallery

Poem88 with David Robinson (image courtesy Poem88)

Where: 1123 Zonolite Road, Suite 8C, Atlanta
Hours: Tuesday–Friday, 11am–4pm, by appointment only

Owned by artist Robin Bernat, Poem88 gallery opened in 2010 with a curatorial mission of celebrating emerging and mid-career contemporary artists, with a specific focus on female artists and artists from a cultural or ethnic minority background. Currently, 68% of the artists represented by Poem88 are women, and 42% are 50 years of age or older. It’s an intimate, inviting gallery space with art that feels intellectual, progressive, and compelling.

Don’t miss: Kimberly Binns: HomeFront, on view from August 21 to September 11. In HomeFront, Binns presents a collection of works that explores home as a sacred place for African Americans through the lens of her own personal experiences during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

MINT Gallery 

MINT Gallery (photo by Luke Beard)

Where: 680 Murphy Ave SW, Unit 2095, Atlanta
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 11am–6pm; third Thursdays of the month, 5pm–8pm

Founded in 2006 by a group of undergraduate students from universities across Atlanta, MINT Gallery, a nonprofit art space, champions diverse, emerging artists whose work often goes unsung in larger institutional conversations. The MINT team works outside conventional economic and commercial frameworks to provide holistic support to local artists in the form of exhibition opportunities, affordable studio space, artist mentorships, and continuing education classes. 

Exhibitions are unpretentious and community-driven — a true snapshot of the dynamic local art coming out of the city. 

Don’t miss: The MINT 8th Annual Juried Exhibition, running now through September 25. 

The Bakery Atlanta

The Bakery gallery entrance (photo by Willow Goldstein)

Where: The Bakery South Downtown: 92 Peachtree Street SW, Atlanta; The Bakery East Atlanta: 1526 E Forrest Ave, East Point, Atlanta
Hours: See calendar for specific exhibition hours

Artist Willow Goldstein founded the Bakery, a DIY multi-use art collective, with her mother, Olive Hagemeier, and a cadre of volunteers in 2017 around the ethos that “art is pivotal to existence.” The first iteration was a 23,000-square-foot warehouse and former commercial bakery in Southwest Atlanta. Shuttered in 2020 as a result of COVID-19, Goldstein has since secured two new Bakery locations, one in the city’s South Downtown neighborhood and a new hub in East Atlanta. 

The Bakery is a grassroots effort that plays host to a variety of quirky pop-up art shows and permanent installations. Goldstein opened the space in response to a lack of homegrown art spaces helmed by non-white men, and she has since created a collective with a true punk aesthetic.

Don’t miss: No Place Like Home, on view from August 19 through August 29. In this exhibition, artists explore the significance of “shelters, dwellings, roots and uprootings,” while looking at themes that include displacement, the shifting cultural definitions of ‘home-maker,’ and the genealogy of home. 

Atlanta Contemporary

Juneteenth Celebration at Atlanta Contemporary (2021) (photo by Stanchez Kenyata)

Where: 535 Means St. NW, Atlanta
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 12pm–5pm; Thursday, 12pm–8pm; Friday and Saturday, 12pm–5pm; Sunday, 12pm–4pm

Atlanta Contemporary was founded in 1973 as a grassroots artists’ cooperative. It has since evolved into one of the region’s most vital contemporary nonprofit art venues, hosting over 200 artists in programs, performances, and exhibitions each year. Fifty-six percent of Atlanta Contemporary artists are BIPOC and 76% are women, and admission is free and open to all. 

Works at Atlanta Contemporary are celebratory, evocative, and provocative. It’s a gallery that feels engaged and responsive to the needs of its artists, offering, among other things, on-site subsidized studios for working artists.

Don’t miss: Atlanta Contemporary’s fall exhibitions series, opening September 18. These exhibitions will include Lucinda Bunnen’s Inward, Outward, Forward, curated by Allison Grant, and Adrienne Elise Tarver’s Underfoot, curated by Jamie Steele. 

Whitespace Gallery

Whitespace, Shedspace (photo courtesy Whitespace Gallery)

Where: 814 Edgewood Ave, Atlanta
Hours: Thursday–Saturday, 11am–5pm or by appointment

Tucked away on a tree-lined street, Whitespace, founded by Susan Bridges in 2006, is made up of three unique galleries on the lush, green grounds of an old Victorian house located near Atlanta’s Krog Street Market. The main gallery is located inside a two-room historic carriage house, and the two smaller art spaces, Whitespec and Shedspace, were converted from an old gardening shed and basement storage space on the property. 

At Whitespace, visitors can expect to see experimental, playful, innovative works ranging in media from photography, sculpture and video projection, to avant-garde soundscapes and large-scale installations. 

Don’t miss: Mimesis by Hanna Israel and Sarah Hobbs, on view now through September 4. In Mimesis, the artists reimagine Whitespace’s Shedspace, creating a “deconstructed Wunderkammer,” a psychological space inviting viewers to contemplate the nature and permanence of objects, the intersection of the real and simulated. 

The Krog Street Tunnel 

Krog Street Tunnel (image via Josh Hallett on Flickr)

Where: 1 Krog Street NE, Atlanta
Hours: open 24 hours

The Krog Street Tunnel isn’t an art gallery. It’s a literal street tunnel. But it’s also a kind of underground Atlanta institution, festooned with an explosive, ever-changing display of cutting-edge public street art. Built in 1912, the underpass connects Cabbagetown and Inman Park, and acts as a kind of nexus for local street artists to create the socially conscious graffiti that’s been its staple since the 1960s. 

Visitors to Krog Street Tunnel, or drivers passing through, can expect all sorts of murals, graffiti tags, quotes, and political statements on the walls and pillars of the tunnel. It’s a vibrant hub of Atlanta’s visual art scene that serves as a democratic canvas for community conversation.  

If you’re interested in exploring more Atlanta street art, this map is a great place to start.

September Gray Fine Art Gallery 

Paintings by Frank Schroeder at September Gray Fine Art Gallery (photo by Likisha Griffin)

Where: 764 Miami Circle NE, Suite 150, Atlanta
Hours: Tuesday–Friday, 11am–5pm; Saturday 12pm–5pm

Founded in 2012 by the gallery’s namesake, September Gray Fine Art Gallery (SGAG) showcases contemporary works by both emerging and established African American and African diasporic artists. SGAG seeks not only to celebrate African and African American culture, but also to act as a steward of the historic cultural legacy in which that work exists. Visitors can expect both solo and group shows by artists working across genres, styles, and subjects, including mixed-media, landscape, and portraiture. SGAG also currently offers virtual exhibition tours on its website. 

Don’t miss: The opening exhibition for artist Antonio Carreño on view beginning September 9. This will be the grand opening show of SGAG’s new location, in partnership with Mason Fine Art and the Marcia Wood Gallery. 

Museum of Design Atlanta

(photo courtesy Museum of Design Atlanta)

Where: 1315 Peachtree Street Northeast, Atlanta
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 12pm–7pm

The Museum of Design Atlanta, located inside the Midtown Arts Corridor, has been celebrated since 2011 as the Southeast’s only museum dedicated exclusively to all things design. 

MODA’s exhibits often encourage dialogue around issues such as race, gender, climate change, and sexuality. Its exhibitions are provocative and grand in social scope, its classes and workshops inviting students and art appreciators of all skill levels to participate in activities such as ‘craftivism’ — the act of creating embroidery, cross-stitching, and needlework as a form of protest.    

Don’t miss: Survival Architecture & the Art of Resilience, which opened August 26. Survival Architecture is a traveling exhibition created by Randy Jayne Rosenberg of Art Works for Change that includes visionary pieces by both artists and architects interpreting potential solutions for climate catastrophe. Survival Architecture asks viewers to consider questions such as what it might look like to survive and thrive amid climate change. 

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