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Artists Fahamu Pecou, Organized Noize team for Elevate, ‘Forever I Love Atlanta’

Kwanza Hall, Camille Love, Candace Byrd, Fahamu Pecou, Rico Wade and Ray Murray (Photo by Sistarazzi for Steed Media Service)
Kwanza Hall, Camille Love, Candace Byrd, Elevate 2015 curator Fahamu Pecou, Rico Wade and Ray Murray (Photo by Sistarazzi for Steed Media Service)

“World-class cities have world-class arts and culture.” –Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed

Fahamu Pecou really is the –ish, as stated on his social media handles. An internationally-recognized scholar, visual and performing artist, Pecou was selected by the City of Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs to be this year’s curator of ELEVATE Atlanta. Pecou, whose work has been seen on “Empire” and “black-ish,” combines hip-hop, fine art and popular culture.

Hosted annually in downtown Atlanta, ELEVATE is a city-wide exhibit of large-scale public artwork/installations and offers performances, educational opportunities and cultural experiences free and open to the public. ELEVATE 2015 is set to take place under the theme, “Forever I Love Atlanta (FILA)” and will be a nine-day celebration of Atlanta’s past, present and future.

“October 15-23 is going to be an exciting and inspiring [time] due in large part to Mayor Kasim Reed’s continued commitment to the arts,” shares Candace Byrd, the City of Atlanta government’s chief of staff. She shared that Mayor Reed doubled funding for the arts to support 40 artists, projects and organizations. “As a result, Atlanta’s art and culture scene is vibrant, multifaceted and growing.”

Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall (District 2) adds, “It really touches our hearts to be able to embrace what touches our hearts in the City of Atlanta, and, the world. If it were not for the Dungeon Family, Organized Noize, we wouldn’t have the music industry, the entertainment industry that we [Atlanta] have here today. We really need to celebrate you all.” He points to Organized Noize’s Rico Wade and Ray Murray sitting on the dais during a press conference in Atlanta City Hall’s atrium on Monday, Sep. 14, 2015.

One of the most anticipated installations will be the Art of Organized Noize at Gallery 72. “The exhibit traces the legacy of Organized Noize and their Dungeon Family collective, which includes Outkast, Goodie MOB, Joi, Slim “Cutta” Calhoun, Big Rube [Witchdoctor, Cool Breeze] and my son Craig [Love, producer],” says Camille Love, director, City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “From their dirt floor basement and my garage to stages around the world … archival items from the Dungeon Family and Organized Noize includes photographs, artwork, studio equipment, notebooks, and costumes.”

“I am really excited about this year’s ELEVATE,” offers Pecou. “When I arrived in Atlanta in the early ’90s, it was not uncommon to hear people use the expression ‘Forever I love Atlanta’ and rock their FILA [sportswear] gear. Even though I wasn’t born here, I feel like I grew up here. I wanted to do a theme that reflected the great sense of pride which helped foster the artist that I am. From mid to late ’90s, I spent a great deal of time at YingYang Café. I worked very closely with a lot of great artists from musicians to dancers to poets and writers. It really shaped and informed my own work.”

The kick-off and opening celebration will be on Thursday, Oct. 15 at Gallery 72, 2 City Plaza, from 5 to 7 p.m. and hosted by Rico Wade and Ray Murray. The ELEVATE Block Party will be held Friday, Oct. 16, from  7 to 10 pm. at Woodruff Park, hosted by Emperor Searcy and will feature DJ Jelly, Speakerfoxxx, JIVA, Wabi Sabi and Atlanta Stilt Dancing. Art in the Park will take place at Woodruff Park during lunchtime on Oct. 17, 19, 21 and 23 and will feature installations and performances by Max Henry Woo, Lionel Daniels and Bent Frequency. There will also be live music on the Atlanta Streetcar during Art in the Park. On Monday, Oct. 19, you can join curator Fahamu Pecou for a guided walking tour of ELEVATE FILA installations. The one-hour tour begins at Woodruff Park at 1 p.m. There will be also be panel discussions with prominent Atlanta artists. 

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