Creating 'Everyday Art' in a Small Town That's All Grown Up"In some ways Atlanta is just a collection of small towns."
"I've always lived in small towns," says sculptor and painter Patrick Hanson. "I almost felt intimidated moving to Atlanta."
But seven years ago he made the leap to the big city, and … he was pleasantly surprised. His new home turned out to be more welcoming than overwhelming. "In some ways," he says, "Atlanta is just a collection of small towns."
This fortuitous convergence of small-town friendliness and major metropolitan size has been a major plus for a visual artist hoping to bring wider attention to his work. He has access to the nationally prominent galleries of Buckhead and Midtown, but also finds fertile terrain in smaller galleries off the beaten path. "Every little area and neighborhood either has a gallery or some kind of art community," he says.
What's more, he found that art here, rather than simply being enshrined in museums and galleries, crops up just about everywhere — in restaurants, in parks, even in his chiropractor's office, where some of his own work is on display. That prevalence of everyday art — works that are off the pedestal and closer to the people — is a welcome change, he says. "There's such a stigma when it comes to artwork sometimes that people are intimidated by it. But to me, if you see something and you enjoy it, you're in."
Hanson trained as a sculptor but later decided to apply his skills to painting — creating substantial, richly textured abstracts with a clear sculptural influence. His artwork has not gone unnoticed — he's won two "best of show" awards, and three of his works enliven the set of the Lifetime sitcom "Drop Dead Diva."
Hanson lives in East Point — what he calls a small, "transitional" city at the edge of Atlanta — and enjoys being in an area that's evolving from a seat of industry to an outpost of the creative economy. "I turned my garage into my studio, with floor-to-ceiling shelves for my pack-rat tendencies. I can't park my car in it, but that's all right. It's a better use." He especially likes that East Point boasts its own "funky little downtown with great restaurants."
Hanson travels frequently in his other line of work — he's a flight attendant for a charter airline that chiefly ferries military troops overseas. He appreciates the opportunity to range widely around the globe — he's been to 20 countries — but is also thankful his schedule grants him large periods of uninterrupted down time for painting and enjoying Atlanta.
"There's so much to offer that you don't even realize [it] when you move here," he says. "You could eat at a new restaurant three meals a day for a year. When you think of that, coming from a small town, that's just amazing."
Check out Patrick's Atlanta.