I saw it from a distance. Driving on Peachtree Boulevard earlier this week, I noticed something new. The retaining wall that runs behind the Texaco where Peachtree Road splits from Peachtree Boulevard was painted in large swaths of pink and—from what I could make out-various multicolored designs. Due to the consistency of the work, it had to be a commissioned mural.
Along with the Whole Foods Market that just sprang up nearby, visible from Peachtree Boulevard, such developments show that the Chamblee Renaissance is in full swing.
For much of my first year or so of Atlanta life, I associated Chamblee and the part of Peachtree Boulevard that runs through it with car dealerships, warehouses, big box stores, and fast food chains. Utilitarian Industrial Street U.S.A.
However, when two different friends opened my eyes beyond the main drag, my curiosity about Chamblee piqued. The first friend introduced me to the teahouse Zen Tea. The second friend brought me to farm-to-table restaurant Southbound. Each establishment is located in a reclaimed building on Peachtree Road in Downtown Chamblee.
After I stopped at the Texaco to snap some pictures of the wall, a man came by and introduced himself as Peter Dyer. He informed me that along with his partner Amy Spanier, he owns the art gallery IDEA and was part of commissioning the mural for The City of Chamblee. The mural is by Atlanta artist Michael Jones, and on April 1st City of Chamblee will close Peachtree Road for its formal unveiling with an opening party at the site and a reception at IDEA. Stay tuned, because I believe there will be more of such projects in the cards for Chamblee.
Dyer and Spanier run a non profit IDEAChamblee, along with their brick-and-mortar for-profit gallery. The gallery is in a former supermarket, built in the forties with eighteen-inch thick walls that keep the artwork well-insulated.
When I entered the gallery space, I immediately felt as though I stepped into a well-decorated home rather than a more museum-like gallery. The colorful paintings are hung salon style and each room is well-appointed with tasteful furniture including lucite chairs that don’t upstage the artwork. The gallery layout bears testament to Amy Spanier’s decorating skill, as she owns the decorating firm S.N.O.B (Slightly North of Buckhead, Inc.) The gallery features art by local Atlanta artists, some of whom are well-known like Tom Francis and Elyse Defoor, and others up-and-coming such as high school student Mia Matrazzo. Around twenty artists are featured and the gallery rotates works about every two-weeks.
Along with paintings, the gallery also features sculpture and displays a variety of figural sculptures by Phyllis Kravitz. Kravitz produces some of her sculptures on a large scale and IDEA hopes to display them outdoors in Chamblee as part of other upcoming public art projects.
As Mr. Dyer states, there are “all kinds of little treasures hidden behind different doors, you just have to be around long enough to know.” IDEA is certainly one of such treasures, and with the mural as a beacon leading curious drivers onto Peachtree Road, the public will soon find many more.
IDEA is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6:00 PM Sunday through Tuesday the gallery accepts visitors by appointment only. The gallery is also available for private events.
Thank you for reading and I hope you’ve been inspired to explore!