Established in early 1976, the Atlanta Art Workers Coalition Ltd. was a non-profit organization dedicated to the exchange of ideas and information among Atlanta-based artists. The first issue of the AAWC Newsletter (see photo), published in February 1977, was a single-page, hand-typed flyer containing several classified ads for items such as studio space, exhibition listings and opportunities. The second issue was similar but contained a photocopied reprint of an article from the Medical Tribune on lead and toxemia risks for artists. By mid-1977, AAWC received long-awaited grant money for two staff positions: the NEA-funded Director of Activities, to which Julia Fenton was appointed, and a curatorial position funded by CETA, for which Dan Talley was hired. Consisting of a gallery space and informal offices, the coalition held regular meetings to discuss local, regional, national and international art issues while organizing exhibitions of artists from Atlanta and beyond. The newsletter continued to be published almost monthly, and by the end of the first volume it had expanded to several pages and contained a significant amount of information including employment opportunities, workshops and classes, and news from similar Southeastern organizations.


Atlanta Art Workers Coalition staff members Julia Fenton and Dan Talley were particularly interested in expanding the coalition‚s modest newsletter begun the previous year into a legitimate publication for the second volume. Thus the Atlanta Art Workers Coalition Newspaper was established in the bimonthly, tabloid-size format that the publication would maintain for the next 24 years. As Founding Editors, Fenton and Talley shared a mission to cover art in the Southeast region within a broader national or international context. They did so by running „Artist to Artistš interviews along with articles on the controversial „Artists in Georgiaš exhibition at the High Museum of Art, the Arts Festival of Atlanta (see photo), and, less close to home, performance art in Southern California. The newspaper also expanded the information sections from the original newsletter, running an extensive listing of Atlanta gallery opportunities and a special issue on funding guest edited by Gary Sipe, which included an article on Jimmy Carter‚s CETA employment program and the American Artists Congress. Also published were the first Artist‚s Pages, in which chosen artists such as Marcia Cohen were given a page of the newspaper to turn into an original work of art, and a call for writers to accommodate the newspaper‚s growing needs. Already active as a volunteer, future Associate Editor and current Surviving columnist Barbara Schreiber made her writing debut that year.


The Atlanta Art Workers Coalition Newspaper took on an ambitious editorial direction in volume three under Founding Editor Dan Talley and new Editor Laura Lieberman. The „Artist to Artistš series continued with a dialogue between a very young John Turturro and Laurie Anderson, and other youthful interview personalities included artist Alan Sonfist and critic Peter Frank, who is currently a member of the magazine‚s Editorial Advisory Board. Many topics at this time highlighted Atlanta‚s rising cultural scene thanks to the growing Arts Festival of Atlanta, public art in the new MARTA transit system and at the expanding Hartsfield Airport, which included a rejected proposal by Dennis Oppenheim, and the beginning of the Fulton County Art Council, a major funder of the publication to this day. Also included were articles on George Trakas (see photo), Nancy Spero, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Mary Beth Edelson, the latter three visiting Atlanta and having exhibitions at such venues as the Women‚s Art Collective. Particularly relevant were the published transcripts of a critical symposium on regionalism in which Donald Kuspit and John Howett espoused various theories on this growing issue. Other key topics included artists books, the 19th century Atlanta art scene and the history of the world famous Atlanta Cyclorama, and a series of articles on black and white artists in the state including „Georgia Expatriateš Benny Andrews. The publication‚s first review section appeared in the JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1979 issue.


Ending the affiliation with the Atlanta Art Workers Coalition in order to gain editorial autonomy, with the March/April 1980 issue the Atlanta Art Workers Coalition Newspaper became the independent non-profit organization Atlanta Art Papers Inc. The „newš publication, Atlanta Art Papers, continued the editorial mission of Dan Talley and Laura Lieberman, focusing throughout volume four on an international art dialogue within a local and regional framework. Memorable interview subjects include William Wegman, Kenneth Anger, and Cecile Abish (see photo), whose work was included in an issue on an ambitious program of site-specific sculpture at the Arts Festival of Atlanta and subsequent discussions of critical issues in sculpture. Continuing was a series of articles begun the previous year on avant-garde music by Dick Robinson, while originating in this volume were the first reviews by New Orleans Contributing Editor D. Eric Bookhardt, the magazine‚s longest serving writer. Of particular interest was a two-page published proposal for an environmental project by noted artist team Helen and Newton Harrison.


Early in volume five Atlanta Art Papers absorbed the regional Atlanta-based arts journal, Contemporary Art Southeast, and in so doing dropped the word „Atlantaš from the publication title but added the subtitle „Covering the Arts in the Southeast.š Containing all color covers, the publication strengthened its local and regional base with special issues on art in Mississippi (see photo) and the Arts Festival of Atlanta along with major articles on crafts and the history of photography in New Orleans. At the same time, however, substantial articles on film and music, including one on composer Steve Reich, were run along with interviews with Duane Hanson and Vito Acconci, who had recently completed an installation at the Atlanta Art Workers Coalition Gallery. Other articles focused on architect Richard Meier, whose High Museum design had recently been accepted, and Suzi Gablik, the critic who would later become a contributor to the publication.


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