Interview with Susan Bridges of whitespace

This July, we have handed over the reins of Zeitgeist to whitespace gallery in Atlanta for an exchange show called Ineffable Domains. Gallery owner/director Susan Bridges took the time to talk to us about the difference between the Nashville and Atlanta art scenes and what we can learn from each other.

Bojana Ginn, Pete Schulte, Susan Bridges and Eric Mack in front of "As Above So Below" by Pete Schulte at Zeitgeist

Bojana Ginn, Pete Schulte, Susan Bridges and Eric Mack in front of "As Above So Below" by Pete Schulte at Zeitgeist

What makes the Atlanta art scene special?

The scene is in ATL is special because we have a tremendous number of very talented artists living within our city.  We have several schools that support the scene; Georgia State, SCAD, Kennesaw and UGA, the students and faculty are energetic and supportive. We also have the High Museum, Atlanta Contemporary, MOCA GA and Art Papers.  That said, Atlanta is much larger than Nashville but I feel you have the same vibe, just on a slightly smaller scale.

What could Nashville learn from Atlanta about how it supports art or vice versa?

I think Atlanta could learn a lot from Nashville by providing an art bus like the one you have.  Our galleries are spread out in much the same way as yours which makes it a lot less fun to attend openings when you have to navigate traffic, worry about parking, etc.  I love the idea of a bus!

What would you like to see more of in Atlanta?

Atlanta needs more serious collectors who buy locally, not in LA or NYC.  Our artists are amazing and they need support.

How has the art scene changed over the years?

The energy here vacillates from year to year but, thankfully, we have an infusion of young people at this moment who are trying to create a district in downtown Atlanta. I think they will be successful because they are creative and have youth and energy on their side.  After all these years, I thought we would have an arts district but the price of real estate gets in the way and artists don’t have the funds to pursue their dreams.  I congratulate you in Nashville for your burgeoning district and scene at Zeitgeist, David Lusk and Packing Plant….it’s exciting!

What could the community/city be doing better to support arts?                  

Our city could do a better job of providing excellent public art and I mean art on an international scale.  How do you educate the public?  You give them something to think about.  Take Chicago for example, the Anish Kapoor Cloudgate (or bean) is something everyone can relate to and enjoy.  Cabbies, businessmen, students etc. everyone can find something they like about the bean.  That’s a conversation!  A positive thing that’s taking place here this year is the re-establishment of the Atlanta Biennial at the Atlanta Contemporary.  By showing Atlanta artists alongside those in other cities, it allows ours to receive the recognition they so deserve, to know they are GOOD!

What is your favorite part of running a gallery?

Two things; I love the artists I work with, they’re just the best.  They make me laugh and they make me cry but they always give me something to ponder. I love to see a client make a breakthrough when looking at work. When the “bulb” comes on, it’s exciting. It means they have connected to something deeper than they realize and then they’re hooked.  I love it!

Other thoughts?

One last thought, I think it’s important to do exactly what you are doing at Zeitgeist, by taking local artists into different cities.  If you do fairs that’s one thing but this is a more organic concept and I’m thrilled we at whitespace could be part of it.  We are looking forward to hosting Zeitgeist/Nashville next August in Atlanta.

Learn more about the show here.