Scenes from the Atlanta Contemporary’s Art Party on Sat., June 24. Photographs by Isadora Pennington.

The Atlanta Contemporary celebrated their 50th anniversary with a wild and joyous celebration of the arts during this year’s Alchemy-themed Art Party on Saturday, June 24. 

The Atlanta Contemporary is Atlanta’s only free museum, with 14 subsidized studio spaces through their Studio Artist Program and offering 50+ educational programs in addition to producing art exhibitions each year. Their regular programming includes Contemporary Kids, Contemporary Cocktails, and Contemporary Talks. 

Art Party is the Atlanta Contemporary’s annual fundraiser, and this year they set a lofty goal of raising $50K to establish a 50th Anniversary Endowment Fund which will support the next 50 years of artistic innovation, collaboration, and change-making. Lynne Tanzer, SHOP Curator, told me that they exceeded their financial goal and that nearly 1,000 visitors came to the event.

“Everybody had so much fun,” said Tanzer. “It was the first time that we didn’t have art on the walls; everything was so interactive. In the Atlanta Meme Sketchbook Room everybody left their mark on the Contemporary. If you ever wanted to have a piece of art at the Contemporary, that was your night.”

The night’s festivities included interactive elements such as a movable box sculpture by Mike Stasny and Parks Miller as well as live painting in the Atlanta Meme Sketchbook Room. Sponsored by Binders and Splatter Studio, in the Sketchbook Room guests were invited to contribute to the exhibition by drawing directly on Atlanta Contemporary’s walls. 

Other elements of the night included Aura Photography, tarot and palm reading, curated cocktails, small bites, a costume contest, live music by the Susi French Connection, and of course the Studio Artist Open Studios. 

The Atlanta Contemporary’s studios house the workspaces of ten artists: Chloe Alexander, Kate Burke, Namwon Choi, Sabre Esler, Jane Foley, Carol John, Casey McGuire, Donna Mintz, Ato Ribeiro, Tokie Rome-Taylor, Dianna Settles, Sergio Suarez, and Jeffrey Wilcox Paclipan. Partygoers were able to tour their spaces and get glimpses of the artists’ processes up close and personal. 

DJs T-Bone and Santiago were spinning outside in the courtyard while Mike Stasny manned the DJ booth inside. At the end of the night, Patrick Toups lit up the Sparkle Furnace, which Tanzer described as essentially contained fireworks. Visitors were encouraged to dress up, and they certainly did. When I was walking through the galleries I saw some incredible costumes that evoked the glitz and glam of this year’s Alchemy theme.

“In past years people have come and gone, but everybody who came stayed because there was so much to do,” explained Tanzer. “We heard a lot of people saying they wish they had more time because there was so much to do. That felt really nice.”

Here are some photographs from the night’s festivities. Enjoy!

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.