Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Thinking Artist

I recently spent some time with Patrick Dennis, owner of the Decatur Market & Gallery and one of the most creative people I know. In addition to being a successful painter, Patrick writes a regular column for Atlanta InTown and is also the co-founder and president of the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces, which works in partnership with the communities and cities in the metro Atlanta area to expand public access to art. The AFFPS provides emerging artists with venues and, such as the Piedmont Park Arts Festival and Sandy Springs Artsapalooza.  


When did your interest in art begin?
I began drawing at a very young age, but my primary interest in art was music. I've played several stringed instruments since I was 7 years old and made some recordings in my teens. I began to be more serious about art in my twenties, influenced by several artists who circulated through L.A. where I grew up. I focused on collage and watercolor for several years and had a piece accepted to a museum. After that I switched to oils, and then had my first solo show when I moved to Atlanta ten years ago.

How did your interest evolve into a career as an artist?
After a long career as a lobbyist I transitioned to art as a business because there was a need for more opportunities for artists in Atlanta. I used my lobbying connections to help "loosen up" the city ordinances in Atlanta and then opened a series of open air public markets. The Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces was born from that in 2005. From there, the opportunities just multiplied.

What influences your personal and artistic style?

I have a beach in my head and it comes out on canvas a lot. This is a good thing because I can rarely ever get away to enjoy the real thing. Sweeping streaks of sand and sky and colors where marshes glow in the afternoon bring out the beachboy in me. I even like sand in my shoes because, like a sunburn, it keeps the beach with me that much longer. Growing up in southern California, I never though I'd live anywhere away from the ocean, hut here I am, landlocked in Atlanta. so, to exercise my memories, I recreate my favorite beaches in paint. Dog Island, Florida, Sapalo Island, Georgia, and Laguna Beach, California all take shape in my work.

Do you have any advice on how to turn a passion such as art into a career?
The weakened economy has weeded hobbyists out of art as a career. It's now a much more serious endeavor. Careful planning and knowing your audience make a huge difference. I also strongly recommend branding. Artists need to be identifiable
for what they do best. Customers need to know from a glance that, "Oh, that is Wade Lincoln's work."


What are 5 things you’re looking forward to this Fall?

Only 5? I have a million things on my mind as usual. First, the Artist Information Courses begin at the Decatur Gallery with Mark Karelson of Mason Murer on Sept. 12. Then we have the Fall Festival on Ponce Sept. 15-16 at the beautiful Olmsted Linear Park. Then, I'm managing the Artists Market for the Sandy Springs Festival on Sept. 22-23. Then, we're planning a gallery renovation at the end of Sept. to freshen our look and install new artists. After that is the next Artist Information Course with Frederic Payet on Oct. 10. Then the Chastain Park Festival on Nov. 3-4. This fall I'm also working on plans for ArtSSpring that involve a dozen different art events in Sandy Springs next April and May. And finally I'm working on fleshing out the education programs for the Georgia Foundation for Public Spaces for 2013 and seeking a supporting a grant to launch a major effort in Stone Mountain Village. These things are on my mind and I'm one busy, lucky guy.


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