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Gallery notes: Andi Steele’s disorienting “Intermix,” Athos Menaboni’s murals

Athos Menaboni: a 1939 mural on mirrored glass, from the Mirador Room, Capital City Club, Atlanta
Barely there: A detail of Andi Steele's "Intermix," made of intersecting lines of monofilament, at Chastain Gallery.

In an era of spectacle, Andi Steele‘s subtle installation “Intermix” is a welcome anomaly.

You might even say that the exhibition, at Chastain Gallery through May 5, is barely there. At least that’s the first impression upon entering the darkened room. Soon, however, thanks to carefully positioned lighting, visitors will notice the presence of lines zipping through the space.

Steele, who earned an MFA at the University of Georgia and now teaches at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, has strung the large rectangular gallery with monofilament. Strips of parallel lines extending between various points in the ceiling and walls, sometimes intersecting, subdivide the room into unexpected and barely discernible paths and spaces. In fact, viewers may realize the lines’ existence only when they walk into them or, more likely, catch themselves just in time. As in a carnival funhouse, the effect is pleasantly disorienting. It puts the senses on high alert — a much more corporeal version of the buzzword “interactive.”

There seems to be metaphor floating in there as well. The piece, which put me in mind of the late Gretchen Hupfel’s drawings, suggests the presence of the unseen, those forces (governmental power? spirits? energy? emotion?) that manipulate us and interfere with our intentions, and the vigilance required to negotiate the fraught mental and physical spaces we — and they — inhabit.

ATHOS MENABONI AT KENNESAW STATE

The late Athos Menaboni is best known as Atlanta’s John James Audubon. But his beloved paintings of native birds represent the second phase of a long, productive career. The first, and equally fruitful, period is the subject of “Room With a View: Murals by Athos Menaboni,” at Kennesaw State University’s Don Russell Clayton Gallery through June 28. 

Athos Menaboni's 1939 mural on mirrored glass, from the Mirador Room of the Capital City Club, Atlanta.

The Italian-born artist fortuitously met Philip Shutze, Atlanta’s premier classical architect, when he moved to Atlanta in 1927. A mutual appreciation society developed, and Shutze gave Menaboni his first important commissions.

Menaboni would create murals in residences, offices and restaurants in Atlanta and environs for the next 30 years. This exhibition, curated by director and chief curator Teresa Bramlette Reeves, includes four major pieces, all of which are sure to take some Atlantans down memory lane.

For my full review in the AJC, click here.

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