Well-known for its chic antiques and home furnishings stores, Atlanta is perhaps less recognized as a destination for art. However, despite its lack of a designated “art district,” the city has a thriving art scene, and a number of high-end galleries have popped up alongside fashionable home décor stores in the past few years to serve the city’s stylish citizens. Eager to find out more about Atlanta’s artsy side, we asked Susie Pryor, artist and owner of Pryor Fine Art, to give us an insider’s tour of her city, from her favorite galleries to a must-visit museum to restaurant recommendations. An artist since the age of fourteen, Pryor has lived and worked in Atlanta for the past 30 years, and opened Pryor Fine Art just six months after moving to the city. As a consumer, a creator, and a dealer of art, Pryor is the perfect tour guide for an art-centric trip to her hometown; here are her recommendations:
Miami Circle Gallery Tour
Located in Buckhead, Miami Circle, Atlanta’s emerging fine art destination, is a special place to go to look for art because you can find anything from pieces by unknown, up-and-coming artists all the way to upscale, blue chip works. Begin your tour at—where else?—Pryor Fine Art (764 Miami Circle, Suite 132, 404.352.8775), one of the premier destinations for art and design in the city. A staple in the Atlanta fine art community, Pryor Fine Art was previously located on Bennett Street, but has called Miami Circle home since 2011, and continues to be a go-to for collectors.
PFA’s 5,700-square-foot space feels open and fresh, with window wall exhibits that are always changing, and what you find in the first quadrant of the gallery changes every month as well. Pryor strives for balance in the gallery, and wants visitors to see many of the artists they represent on the walls at the same time. In dividing the gallery into a show space and display space, she and her team are able to present works from a variety of artists while still showcasing one at the front. It would not be uncommon to walk in and see, for example, Jeff Faust’s realism along with Dusty Griffith’s translucent, ethereal, depth-conscious creations.
After perusing PFA, Pryor recommends making your way up the street, where you’ll find some of the best galleries in the South. She suggests visiting Alan Avery Art Company (656 Miami Circle, 404.237.0370), which features household-name, blue chip artists like Chuck Close, as well as some masters from the midcentury. Another notable gallery on the circle is Thomas Deans Fine Art (690 Miami Circle, Suite 905, 404.814.1811), which specializes in contemporary art, historical works on paper, and selected photography. If you’re looking for additional older works, definitely go to The Madison Gallery, located inside of Foxglove Antiques & Galleries (699 Miami Circle), which is a wonderful place to scope out 19th- and early 20th-century pieces.
Visiting art lovers simply can’t skip a trip to the High Museum of Art (1280 Peachtree St NE, 404.733.4400), which sits in the heart of Midtown at the Woodruff Arts Center and is itself a modern architectural gem. According to Pryor, one of the best things about the High is the contrast between the old work and the new. You can find anything from tremendous, large-scale contemporary pieces to small, exquisitely worked classics to Deborah Butterfield horse sculptures, and the range of work is visually exciting for consumers and creators alike. “I like to come here when I need to be re-grounded,” Pryor says. “When I look at all of this art, I remember what it is that I connect with, and why.” Classic painting techniques like chiaroscuro are inspiring for the artist, and tend to take form in her new works after visits.
Following a stroll through the old works, new works, sculptures, and featured exhibitions at the High, a little bit of lunch is warranted. An elegant and delicious option is Le Bilboquet (3027 Bolling Way NE, 404.869.9944), one of Susie’s favorite restaurants in the city. The French eatery is located in The Shops Buckhead Atlanta, and walking up to the restaurant feels like you’re exploring a hidden nook in a European square. Inside, it feels purely Parisian, and you’ll likely want to treat yourself to a glass of Champagne to go along with your fabulous meal. Afterward, explore the surrounding shops, restaurants, and galleries, including the recently opened Buckhead Art & Company (288 Buckhead Avenue, 404.458.4181), run by artist Hutton Snellings.
For a fun and unique Atlanta evening experience, Pryor recommends heading to dinner at tapas restaurant Eclipse di Luna (764 Miami Circle, 404.846.0449), which is literally around the corner from Pryor Fine Art. This restaurant has been voted “Best Tapas” by local publication Creative Loafing for 15 years running, and according to Pryor, it never disappoints. They have live Latin music and dancing, and it will undoubtedly give your trip to Atlanta a little extra spice.
A Trip to the Market
If you’re looking for a more low-key experience in Atlanta that will also lend itself to inspiration, Pryor’s favorite Saturday morning activity is going to the farmers market at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip. In the same vein as The Shops Buckhead Atlanta, Pryor says, the farmers market feels like Europe. While there, she always buys a bunch of beautiful cut flowers that she often uses to paint from, along with a fresh baguette. “A stroll through this market would strike anyone’s fancy, and is a great prelude to a day of browsing art,” she says.
Since 1990, gallery owner Susie Pryor has cultivated a luxurious and welcoming environment for art viewing. Pryor represents more than 50 exceptional artists, carefully selected from emerging and established talents across the U.S.