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ONE Music"s arts obsession

Festival looks to embrace Atlanta's creative community

When you think about ONE Musicfest, art probably isn't necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. But the truth is, the festival just wouldn't be the same without it. Since the very first event in 2010, the Art Village has been a major part of the experience.


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"It would've been very difficult to produce a festival without having the visual artists aspect included," festival founder Jason Carter says.

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While Carter points out that visual art, specifically graffiti, is one of the pillars of hip-hop culture and ONE Musicfest has always been about showcasing the culture. He recognizes that Atlanta has some of the best urban artists in the country, and he wanted to bring the two together to be properly celebrated.

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"The visual artists stimulate the actual performing artists," he explains, adding that's one of the main reasons why he's always sure that artists are creating work live and on the spot.

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Carter says that the diversity of the festival's musical lineup has to be brought to life by the visual artists as well. Last year, acclaimed artist Fabian Williams brought an early version of his popular Dungeon Family Pyramid to the festival, giving attendees a preview of the work before it officially landed at the Atlanta Beltline (it's since been moved).

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This year, the festival boasts its biggest visual artist line-up thus far with 20 artists participating.

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"We started noticing so many other artists that we wanted to showcase," Carter says, also mentioning that all 20 artists are Atlanta-based. "We had to examine how much space we had on the grounds to see if we could expand. We had room, so we did."

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For the first time, this year photographers will also be included among the visual artists.

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"We try to find artists that have their own unique style but are still huge contributors to the visual arts movement," Carter says. "We like artists that bring something different."

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EricNine Lopez, visual artist and co-founder of branding/event planning company Allways Open Creative, says that's one of the main reasons why he's been eager to be part of the festival.

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"I'm from New York and I've lived all up and down the east coast, but when I finally made it to Atlanta, it changed my perspective on life," Lopez says. "When I'm at ONE Music, I see obvious growth. It represents Atlanta. To me, it's an Atlanta destination."

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This marks Lopez's fifth year of showcasing at ONE Musicfest and this go-around he's doing a villain theme, a continuation of the recent art show he curated, "Heroes and Villains." He says he's even bringing out a few never-before-seen pieces for the festival, mostly because he not only gets an opportunity to showcase his work to fresh faces, but people come to buy.

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"I've always sold more than half of my work and last year, I sold almost everything," he says.

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So yes, art in all forms is celebrated and appreciated but at the end of the day, the festival aims to boost the financial aspect of the culture, as well, because it's vital for sustainment. Leading up to the 2014 festival, ONE Musicfest organized an arts panel that brought out some of the city's prominent artists, curators, educators, and officials to talk about how to grow the arts scene in Atlanta, both creatively and financially. This year, there was another cultural panel leading up to the event, curated by Bem Joiner of Center for Civic Innovation.

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"Too often, urban art is an element that's overlooked or left out," Carter says. "We wanted to find a way to bring it together to all be celebrated."

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To that end, Lopez says that as the festival has gotten bigger and better, so has the response to his work.

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"The live piece I did was sold before I finished," he says. "People are out there to support and have a good time, so I treat exhibiting at the festival just like I would an opening at any of my shows."

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But mostly, Lopez says he just digs the idea of contributing to Atlanta's art scene.

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"The festival is a great representation of the city's talent. People come from all over the country for this and I feel that the festival is really giving something back to the city in that sense," he says. "The thing that's most important to me is the feeling of pride I get from being part of something that impacts the city so much and is consistently on point."


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