Arts

Pinning Art Down At MINT Gallery

The MINT Gallery
The MINT Gallery
Credit Myke Johns

Each year, the MINT Gallery hosts a Postcard Pinup Show. The rest of the year, the nearly decade-old art gallery hosts carefully curated exhibitions, group shows, and runs various programs for developing artists, but for this one night, anyone can come and hang art on the walls. WABE’s Myke Johns was there and has the story.

The MINT Gallery is down a long hallway tucked next to the Young Blood shop on North Highland. That’s where I found Executive Director and Founder Erica Jamison and Gallery and Creative Director Candice Greathouse running around making last minute preparations for the show. The show features around 70 artists this year, Jamison estimates. And many artists contributed three or four pieces to this one-night-only exhibition, so even though the art hanging up is small, there’s a lot of it.

This is MINT’s 9th annual Postcard Pinup Show. It’s a non-curated exhibit, meaning anyone can come hang up work.

This deviates slightly from the traditional gallery show in that is eschews things like proposals and studio visits and selecting work and months of planning… none of that stuff MINT normally does for their exhibitions. It’s not complete anarchy though, there are some limitations.

“We give them instructions,” Jamison explains, “they have to be 5-by-7 or smaller.”

“And they do a lot with this postcard definition,” Greathouse adds, “even though size-wise they’re limited, we’ve got photographic works, we’ve got tiny canvases, we actually have a vibrating kind of light piece.”

As long as the work fits in the prescribed dimensions and can be hung with a push pin, it qualifies for the show. 

So this is a cute idea, right? Tiny art, anyone can bring stuff. But the Postcard Pinup Show is how the MINT Gallery got started.

“This was actually the first exhibit we hosted,” Jamison recalls. In 2005, she was working at a video production studio in the Old Fourth Ward and her boss allowed her to take over the space for a night

“We had no idea what we were doing!” Erica laughs. And that’s where the parameters for the show came from. Not being curators, they threw the doors open to anyone who wanted to participate, and limiting the size of the works meant they could accommodate as many people as possible. 

We had probably fifty artist show up and pin their work,” Erica says. “We probably had two or three hundred people come to the exhibit. And I think that was sort of the catalyst to see that I wanted to do Mint long-term.”

So the show began as a postcard show out of necessity. Why is it still a postcard show?

Candice Greathouse cites the nature of December shows as centering around the holidays and gift purchasing.

“It’s not overthought” she says. “It’s the one time of the year that anyone can submit anything to MINT. And that maintains our accessibility.”

What I love about it,” Erica adds, “is not only are we supporting emerging artists, but we’re also supporting emerging patrons. And this work is all at a very affordable price point, so anyone can afford to purchase a piece.”

How affordable? The smallest piece on display—a postage stamp-sized work—was listed for five dollars. More elaborate pieces were around a hundred, but most of the work was going for right around 20 bucks.

As MINT’s “emerging patrons” browsed the gallery, some of the artists mingled with them.

“The first year, my pieces sold before the show opened and I was very shocked!” artist Nadia Marie says. She’s participated in the show for a few years now. “That’s why I think it’s great for new artists to do this. It definitely boosted my confidence and made me realize that I can sell work. And it’s fun, it’s fun to be out there.”

Among the established artists who submitted work was Ashely Anderson, who recently sold work to Atlanta’s High Museum of Art. Anderson was in the crowd, checking out the work with everyone else. I asked what it was that kept him coming back to the postcard show year after year.

“The experimentation, the fun,” Anderson said, “also MINT’s kind of my artistic home because they’re the first gallery I ever participated in after moving to Atlanta. So I have a strong connection and history with them.”

For many artists, that connection starts with the postcard show. So this one simple idea that birthed a gallery by opening the doors to everyone is how MINT, in a way, gets reborn every year.