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Travel|An Upstart Art Scene, on Atlanta’s West Side

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Travel | Surfacing

An Upstart Art Scene, on Atlanta’s West Side

By SHAILA DEWANNOV. 19, 2009

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Photo Photographic works by Chi Peng at Kiang Gallery, in the new gallery district west of Midtown. Credit Erik S. Lesser for The New York Times

THE warehouses and industrial buildings to the west of Midtown Atlanta have not had the benefit of a concerted attempt by the city at urban revitalization. Instead, the West Side has lately given rise to a sort of ad hoc group of contemporary art galleries that have styled themselves as a more intellectual alternative to the city’s designated downtown art district, Castleberry Hill.

“We do our art walks on Saturday during the day because we don’t want to have that party atmosphere,” said Christina Caudill, the associate director of Saltworks Gallery, which relocated to the area in 2008. (The Westside Arts District walks are on the third Saturday of each month; www.wadatlanta.org.)

Saltworks (664 11th Street SW; 404-881-0411; www.saltworksgallery.com) shows art by locals like Kojo Griffin, a Whitney Biennial alumnus, and Brian Dettmer, who carves old books and other media into three-dimensional sculptures, as well as international artists.

With its furniture showrooms and salvage companies, the neighborhood can feel less than welcoming. Even the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (535 Means Street NW; 404-688-1970; thecontemporary.org), a pioneer that moved to the West Side in 1989, is on a side street in a former truck repair facility. In response to the increased foot traffic, though, the Contemporary recently opened a shop that sells art books, jewelry and recordings.

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Other galleries have also responded to the shift, including Get This! (662 11th Street; 678-596-4451; www.getthisgallery.com), which has stretched beyond its original skate-punk aesthetic since moving to the neighborhood, and Kiang Gallery (1011-A Marietta Street NW; 404-892-5477; www.kiang-gallery.com), which shows American and Chinese artists.

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The West Side’s transformation isn’t limited to galleries. The coffee shop Octane (1009-B Marietta Street NW; 404-815-9886; www.octanecoffee.com) serves as the meeting place for the Atlanta chapter of Pecha Kucha (from the Japanese phrase meaning chitchat; www.atlantapechakucha.com), where once a month or so members of the city’s creative class present their work.

Food has long been a West Side draw, thanks in large part to Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison, arguably Atlanta’s premier restaurateurs, who reign over a small fleet of restaurants clustered in what they call the Westside Provisions District. Their latest offering is the surprisingly affordable Abattoir (1170 Howell Mill Road; 404-892-3335; www.starprovisions.com), which serves fresh chicharrones ($4), pickled shrimp in a jar ($10) and an array of locally sourced meats and offal.

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At Flip Burger Boutique (1587 Howell Mill Road; 404-352-3547; www.flipburgerboutique.com), Richard Blais, a one-time “Top Chef” contestant, specializes in high-concept takes on classics like the foie gras milkshake ($9). Visitors can pick from 1,500 beers at Hop City Craft Beer & Wine (1000 Marietta Street, Suite 302; 404-350-9998; www.hopcitybeer.com) or join the Georgia Tech students at Sublime Doughnuts (535 10th Street; 404-897-1801; sublimedoughnuts.com) for creatively shaped offerings like the A-Town Mocha ($1.75). The goal at Sublime, said Kamal Grant, the pastry chef, is to make doughnuts good enough “for someone’s last meal on death row.”

Correction: December 6, 2009

The Surfacing column on Nov. 22, about a new arts district in Atlanta, the Westside Arts District, referred incorrectly to its location. It is west of Midtown, not west of downtown Atlanta.

A version of this article appears in print on November 22, 2009, on Page TR8 of the New York edition with the headline: New Rival to Atlanta Art Scene. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

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