written by JENNIFER COLOSIMO | photo by KELLE MAC PHOTOGRAPHY
If she were an artist, Rhonda DiMatteo would do installations. She’d take hundreds of brightly colored, giant gumballs and execute something truly inspiring with them inside four walls of an empty room.
Perhaps it stems from choosing art history over her pre-med degree or from teaching at the Art Institute of Atlanta for several years, but using her hands to transform blank space is where DiMatteo would find her escape. It may raise an eyebrow to think of one of the city’s most talented curators as a gumball fanatic, but it mirrors her belief about art in the community. In fact, that’s why she moved with R. Alexander Fine Art outside the Perimeter. She believes they’ve created a place where anyone with a love, an appreciation or a curiosity for art can spend time.
“There’s this idea that if you want to immerse yourself in good culture, you have to go into Atlanta,” DiMatteo said. “We wanted people here to have that opportunity. We want it to feel like this is their place as much as it is ours.”
DiMatteo packs the calendar with events that welcome the entire neighborhood, often benefitting different nonprofit or education-based groups. “Cocktails in the Garden” give greenery afi cionados or couples looking for a date night a reason to visit the museum’s grounds, while the gallery’s collaboration with Atlanta nonprofi t Reading is Essential for All People (REAP) and The Schenck School for its “Reading Between the Lines“ exhibition gives young children exposure to fine art.
“I love this idea that kids are into art,” DiMatteo said. “They respond visually to it in a way that’s as important as reading a book.” A prime example was artist Pat Hobaugh who worked with students dealing with dyslexia to recreate famous works of art and illustrate how art has its own visual language used to tell a story.
“It’s the idea that people can read a painting and transform their minds,” DiMatteo said. “That’s why any art has value.” The kids’ works were hung alongside Hobaugh’s and works by several other notable artists, bringing together awareness for dyslexia and raising money for specialized teacher training in all public schools.
“Through art, you realize you can learn more about yourself,” she added. “It makes you say, ‘I don’t know why I like this painting,’ but then dig deeper within yourself to figure out why, in fact, you do.”
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