By Catherine Fox
Call it a celebration of role models.
The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center has created the Nexus Award to honor individuals who have made a profound contribution to the visual arts in Atlanta and beyond.
The first two recipients are Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, and Jerry Cullum, editor at large of Art Papers magazine. They will be honored at a benefit event on April 21.
Cullum has been a backbone of the art community for more than 25 years. A critical voice in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, national publications and the blogosphere as well as at Art Papers, he has written countless catalog essays for local artists, often gratis, and spent so much time mentoring and encouraging them that one dubbed him the art community’s parish priest.
Brownlee has built Spelman College Museum into a nationally recognized venue, especially in the realm of contemporary female artists of the African diaspora. In addition to curating provocative exhibitions, Brownlee cultivates understanding through her easy accessibility and enthusiastic presence.
The board of directors made the selection based on a set of criteria including: significant achievement in scholarship or criticism; helping to establish or further dialogue about Atlanta art and visual culture; public advocacy and leadership; and serving as an ambassador for Atlanta arts outside the community.
“We want to recognize the people — artists, curators, dealers, collectors — who set the standard of excellence,” artistic director Stuart Horodner said.
The award is named to honor the Contemporary’s origins. It was born as Nexus, an artist-initiated gallery and press, in 1973.
Catherine Fox writes about art and architecture on www.artscriticatl.com.