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Arts & Culture Seen Thought Leader

This Summer, Get Your Art from the Great Outdoors

Ariel Thilenius, Communications Manager for The Woodruff Arts Center

By Ariel Thilenius, Communications Manager for The Woodruff
Last week’s post on street art by Matt Terrell got me thinking: what other ways can Atlantans experience art outdoors this summer? And, more importantly, why should they?
In the infamous Georgia heat, there’s nothing better than cooling off in a museum or gallery surrounded by your favorite artists. But let’s face it: sometimes—whether it’s that same unmentionable heat or a disinterest in the art—spending the summer indoors can feel a bit stuffy. And if your museum companions are under 10, chances are it won’t be easy finding an exhibition that keeps you both captivated. So how can Atlantans appreciate the outdoors and the art this summer?
Outdoor installations are for kids (of all ages!)
The High Museum of Art is continuing its tradition of a summertime outdoor installation on Sifly Piazza with the upcoming Sonic Playground: Yuri Suzuki. Opening on June 24, this multi-piece installation will consist of works by Yuri Suzuki, a London-based sound sculpture artist.

Sonic Playground by Yuri Suzuki

Sonic Playground will challenge visitors’ ideas of playing with audio in real time while colorful sculptures of all shapes and sizes will light up the outdoor courtyard at The Woodruff Arts Center. As with installations in years past (remember Mi Casa, Your Casa and last summer’s Merry Go Zoo?), Sonic Playground can be enjoyed by children of all ages for free outside of the High. The best time to go, though? On Second Sundays, the High’s monthly program on the second Sunday of each month where admission is free between 12 – 5 PM. Now that’s music to my ears.
In Cabbagetown, another favorite (and free!) art activity is taking a stroll past the recently completed projects of this year’s Forward Warrior, an annual multi-artist mural project along Wylie Street. If you’ve never heard of Forward Warrior (or never ventured through the Krog Street Tunnel), here’s a bit about the project from their website: “Since 2010, a small portion of this half mile stretch on Wylie Street (from Carroll Street to Pearl Street, including the gateway entrance to the world-famous Krog Tunnel) gets a fresh batch of new pieces, sometimes incorporated into the older work, sometimes painting over previous favorites, or more often just finding new nooks for interesting additions to the growing monument to the prolific & talented community of Atlanta street artists, graphic designers, set dressers, place makers, dreamers, cartoonists, social justice activists, and visual poets.”
Check out a few of the newest pieces on the @ForwardWarrior Instagram.
Outdoor performances throughout the city
Speaking of music, I hope you were one of the thousands of visitors who attended last week’s free Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performance in Piedmont Park. The estimated crowd of 10,000 was serenaded by a concert of Bernstein, Tchaikovsky, and more as they relaxed on picnic blankets in the city’s most popular green space—further proving that if you build it, they will come.

Peter Pan- Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus

From Mark Gresham’s ArtsATL review of the concert: “This Piedmont experience in particular should serve as a message to arts leaders of the kind of broadly appealing event that can reach a larger slice of the public in one fell swoop with quality programming that also thoroughly engages.”
Missed the ASO’s performance but still hoping to catch some outdoor concerts at Piedmont Park this summer? See the full list here.
Theatre for all, all outside!
Some of the most compelling art this summer visits Atlanta’s stages as theatre makes its way outdoors for the season. At Serenbe Playhouse, a revamp of the beloved Peter Pan takes the spotlight on Serenbe’s stage through August 26. With the gorgeous intertwining of the set and natural backdrop, it’s a Neverland you’ll never want to leave. View more photos by BreeAnne Clowdus from this outdoor production here.

Peter Pan- Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus

The Alliance Theatre will bring its own magic to another favorite production, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, later this summer with outdoor performances at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Beginning September 5, the Bard’s most beloved comedy will set its colorful characters against a similarly colorful backdrop of Atlanta’s most spectacular flora. I can only imagine how magical this production will feel, nestled in those wonderful (but brief!) weeks where it’s not too hot and not yet fall. The Atlanta Botanical Garden is even pairing this production with a few outdoor events in September; see the full list here!
So why take the time to see art outdoors in Atlanta this summer? Because Atlanta artists—whether they construct a playspace for the tiniest audiences or paint murals to be seen from our city’s skyscrapers—find innovative, meaningful ways to intertwine Atlanta’s history and culture with their works. Invest in our local artists and art institutions this summer and take your art experiences to the great outdoors. Just don’t forget to put on bug spray!


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