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Westside Cultural Arts Center Opening Sizzles with Sandra Hall and Taylor Hicks

Opening night review and photographs by Jennifer Jacobs
Full building mural photography courtesy of HENSE

The Westside Cultural Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia held its Grand Opening ceremony Thursday night, September 19th, 2013.  The brainchild of local arts supporter Dr. James Chappuis, the new facility is located in a converted 12,000 sq ft warehouse in Atlanta’s revitalized Westside.  The aim of the facility is to provide an arts and performance space for the Westside community and Atlanta at large.  The completed two year development and renovation finds the interior of the facility remodeled into a first class meeting space with a full service catering kitchen, two bars, and performance stage with state of the art sound system.  The centerpiece is a gallery space, curated by renowned Atlanta art dealer Fay Gold, who featured at the opening “Art in the Streets”, a collection of photographs that celebrates graffiti art around the world.  Co-Founder Anthony Liggins will be the artist in residence.

The featured musical artist of the evening was American Idol winner Taylor Hicks.  A friend of founder Dr James Chappius, Taylor agreed to the appearance and flew into Atlanta from his headlining residency in Las Vegas to help promote the WCAC, and the arts in general.  During a morning television appearance on Fox 5 news, Taylor explained: “I’m always about moving the arts forward.  It’s a very important part in our society to keep the cultural arts in the forefront.”

As the opening evening guests arrived before sunset, they were greeted by vibrant mural wrapping around the 12,000 square foot building.  This colorful transformation was the work of local artist HENSE (Alex Brewer) to represent the rebirth of the area as a vibrant residential neighborhood.  The mural took about a month to complete.  Says HENSE, ” It was a very spontaneous process with focus placed on color, line and shape, building up layers and painting over large portions of areas to achieve the final painting.”

The hundreds of invited guests in attendance were treated to heavy hors d’ouevres catered by Talk Of The Town.   Performing for the opening ceremonies were a local Atlanta R&B band and blues singers, with special guest Sandra Hall.  The center has partnered with the National Blues Foundation and hopes to attract touring artists and performers.

After a brief opening ceremony, special guest Taylor Hicks took the stage for a song medley that included Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With”.  Taylor then called Sandra Hall back to the stage for a sizzling harp & blues duet.  There was a definite mutual admiration society between the two powerhouse vocalists as the guests in attendance crowded around the stage for a better view, taking photos and videos to capture the moment.  Taylor also mingled with the guests before and after his performance, chatting and taking photos, leaving his harmonica with one of those guests.  Says operations manager William Rader, “Taylor Hicks is a class act.”

The party continued on Friday night when WCAC opened its doors to the community.  In addition to special performances, the space is also being made available for corporate events, parties, weddings and other private events as “fine arts meets the social hour.”

The Westside Cultural Arts Center is located at 760 10th Street, Atlanta, GA 30318

Photographs: Full building mural wrap, Sandra Hall and Taylor Hicks perform, Brushes up!, Two year renovation timeline displayed, Completed full building mural, Blues harp master, Gallery opening reception

To enjoy more of HENSE’s award winning public art, please visit his official website.



11 Comments Post a comment
  1. ontapblog #

    Wow. Thanks for this wonderful look at the Westside opening. I would loved to have been there to see Taylor with Sandra Hall! Thanks to Jenni for being on-the-scene and bringing back these goodies. Great work by all!

    September 23, 2013
  2. Linda T #

    Very nice write-up and I’m glad Taylor got to be a part of this. I love the mural!

    September 23, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thank you, Linda. Taylor said he’s all about promoting the arts. I think it shows in his willingness to donate his time to promote the opening of a major arts center like this in a major city. HENSE did a wonderful job on the mural. Loved seeing how it all came together!

      September 23, 2013
  3. medolark #

    Thanks OTB and Jenni for keeping us up to date on ‘all things Taylor’. It’s great to know that we can count on the SP to be almost everywhere Taylor goes. Ü

    September 23, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, medolark. Our pleasure. So fortunate to have Jenni there at the opening. Looking forward to more from Taylor Hicks in the near future!

      September 23, 2013
      • caroljean #

        Great article ,so glad JJ was able to be there !

        September 23, 2013
  4. tishtx #

    I enjoyed reading about the opening and seeing the photos. That mural is impressive!

    September 23, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, caroljean and tishtx!! Yes, that mural is so bright and cheerful and…..energizing! Really appreciate Jenni sharing her experience with us.

      September 23, 2013
  5. Thanks for the great write up and pics, JJ. Would love to see the street art photo exhibit.

    September 23, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, Peg. The art displays did look interesting. If I’m ever in Atlanta, this is one place I would love to see in person.

      September 24, 2013
  6. Jenni Jac #

    Thanks everyone. I am sorry I wasn’t able to get a few words from Taylor, but he had many admirers that wanted to talk to him that night. He was very gracious to everyone who wanted to chat and take pics. I also want to thank Holley for getting some great photos of the exterior from Hense himself.

    September 23, 2013

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