The title of It’s Not Us, It’s You, Beep Beep Gallery’s farewell show running through December 19, refers to the artists whom owners James McConnell and Mark Basehore credit for having given the scrappy alternative gallery the cachet that few could have predicted when the space opened in August 2006, sandwiched between a dry cleaner and an alterations shop and bearing signage and a name referring to the sound of a sci-fi robot.
The sense that soon arose among emerging artists that a Beep show was an achievement to which to aspire is validated by the reputations of the artists in this invitational exhibition. For instance, Jason Kofke — whose meticulous pencil drawing Iran Air 655 references technology and historical tragedy — has garnered a 2011 Artadia Grant, a 2009 Idea Capital Grant and residencies around the world.
Ranging from Steven Dixey’s unnervingly realistic cockroach painting to Born’s classic Schwitters-like geometric collage, the works suggest the range of artists Beep championed. Most of the artists have contributed work exemplary of their oeuvre. Joe Tsambiras continues his contemporary transmutation of fantasy motifs (a female Fairy clad only in boots sprouts mushrooms in lieu of wings). Mike Germon presents his customary collage mash-ups of religion and science with a virgin crowned with the rings of Saturn instead of a halo.
In contrast, Alex Kvares, known for meticulous grotesque drawings, contributes a piece in which silhouetted figures dance across a shimmery Mylar surface.
Text pieces by Ann-Marie Manker and Michi Meko recall Beep Beep’s transgressive heritage, though Manker’s It Hurts to Wipe my Ass, written in letters of spiny cacti, is more plaintive than transgressive: She broke both of her wrists in a bike accident.
McConnell writes in the exhibition notes, that are a work of art in themselves, the gallery’s supremely theatrical moment may have been Jason Kofke’s 1984 Pontiac Fiero parked in the middle of the gallery. But there were so many wonderful exhibitions over the past 9 1/2 years that this exhibition offers only a rich but faint recollection of the evolution of a DIY space into an Atlanta institution that will be greatly missed.
Aubrey Pope’s three-part miniature cityscape, whose central piece replicates the block Beep occupied, says it best. The title: It’s Hard to Say Goodbye.
Final days: noon-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.