MINT’s now former gallery space occupies a small area tucked in between a collection of shops on North Highland Avenue. The nonprofit is leaving that hard-to-find location behind to seek out a new one that can hold multiple exhibitions. In conjunction with the relocation, MINT is simultaneously rebranding with the help of Mindpower, Inc., a brand strategy agency.
For the past two years, Candice Greathouse has been the creative director and curator at MINT. Greathouse received her MFA in photography and a master’s in contemporary art history from Georgia State University. Greathouse has curated many exhibitions throughout Atlanta and has exhibited nationally in Miami and Chicago.
ArtsATL sat down with the Greathouse to discuss the search for the right home for MINT and the forthcoming changes to the arts organization. MINT will also host a Move-Out Party and fundraiser on Friday, April 1.
ArtsATL: So as of April 1, MINT is moving — I hope this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.
Candice Greathouse: No, it’s not [laughs]. I think my board would kill me. That’s funny that you say that now that we get close to it, but we’ve known about it internally for a while. It’s been like, “Do we commit or not?” I’m excited about moving but I’m really nervous about it because we will be without a space.
ArtsATL: What’s spurring on the change now?
Greathouse: We love this space, there are really great things about it. I love that it’s tucked away back here and it feels really open and bright. It’s just too small. You know, every year with our juried show, we try to be really inclusive, reach out to the whole country and bring work in nationally. It’s so hard to do that in a smaller space, be it with numbers of artists or with large compelling work. Even for solo shows like Dana Haugaard, getting his table in and out of the hallway; we had to dismantle it in the hallway.
When we first moved here we had a relationship with Young Blood, which has since moved next door, so it’s just not as accessible. I’d love a storefront, to be able to promote our work and see it from the outside. If people don’t know us, they cannot find us to save their lives. This is also a shops district, which doesn’t feel like such a good fit for us.
Since I’ve been on for the past two years I’ve been really trying to think about community. We want to be near other organizations. Especially since everything is so spread out in Atlanta, we want to be a little bit closer to somebody so it’s not so much of a destination.
ArtsATL: How important then is visibility and accessibility to your future location?
Greathouse: It’s very important. We try to be a destination that’s really accessible to emerging artists, and the word emerging is really problematic, but let’s just say artists who aren’t really familiar with the arts scene (or from out of town). We want to go somewhere where they can find us with ease, and come and go.
ArtsATL: Along with the move, I was really intrigued to learn that MINT is rebranding. Can you tell us more?
Greathouse: One of our board members knows Mindpower, which is a group of the smartest, coolest people I’ve ever met. We’ve never thought about the brand of MINT, Erica [Jamison] and I have always operated the space by just doing it. Rebranding became a conversation that came up organically and started to make a lot of sense.
We had been talking with our board about moving for the last year and a half. So in conjunction with a rebrand, we could really shift gears and have a chance to think about what we do best and be more visible in a new space simultaneously. In terms of rebranding, to try to enhance what we do best and maybe even get community or outside input as to where is the right space for us as well. It’s important to be in a place that fits for us and for others, wherever that is in Atlanta.
ArtsATL: How do you anticipate MINT changing?
Greathouse: We want to focus more on our outreach. MINT is more than a gallery, we are an arts organization. We do youth outreach, we have the Leap Year program, we are in and out of the community, we do off-site ventures. We are much larger than a gallery. Having a large space physically and a larger presence will make that more evident. The gallery is just a small component of what we do.
For example, our Invest-MINT program is our youth outreach. We go to Title 1 schools where they don’t have much arts funding. We do day trips with the students, work service and workshops. The students are able to purchase art at the end of the day and that’s something that’s huge for us, but we don’t get to do it very often because of funding and time.
Education is something that over that last two years I’ve realized is really important to our mission. Not just showing works but educating people because a straight-up gallery can be really exclusionary. And again, accessibility is a word that we use a lot in our conversations. At the heart of MINT is getting in touch with students, children and artists that are up-and-coming.
ArtsATL: How is MINT partnering with the Goat Farm Beacons project?
Greathouse: We aren’t really partnering with them; they are helping us in our search for sure. They are doing a lot with Beacons, so it makes sense to check in with them. We’ve looked at some spaces with them.
We have similar goals and interests in supporting non-commercial art so it does make some sense, but we aren’t ruling out other locations right now. The only place we are not looking is West Midtown because of price and the amount of commercial spaces over there. Even if we thought it was a good fit, it’s not financially reasonable.
ArtsATL: In addition with the move, MINT will be raising funds for a new space. Can you share more details on that?
Greathouse: I think as a nonprofit, we are always raising funds.We are looking for a more permanent space though. We’ve been open for 10 years and this is the third or fourth time we’ve moved. That’s a lot of moving in 10 years. Part of remaining visible is about having a dedicated space. So this fundraising will be for a larger space and potentially renovating.
ArtsATL: You’ve briefly mentioned space as a challenge in this location but is there anything else that has been difficult in this space?
Greathouse: We used to do music on Samson Street and while I’m not sure that is something that we would even do at this point, it’s difficult to do late-night music events. With these nice shops around us, noise is always an issue. We’ve done some performances where stuff has leaked downstairs, so we can’t even mop the floors because it leaks into the antique store. I would love to be able to clean.
We have a permanent collection and we have a storage facility offsite for it. It’s really hard for that to grow because it’s tucked away in a storage unit. It would be great to have that in a backroom. Also, I love solo exhibitions, they are my favorite thing in the world and to be able to give someone a project space would be great.
ArtsATL: What kind of timeline do you have for this move?
Greathouse: We would like to be in a space this year but we aren’t in a rush. Since we have partners in Atlanta to host off-site exhibitions, we have the potential to do that whenever we want to. We are saving a lot of money by not having a space for a few months that we can put into a better space, outreach programs or Leap Year, those sorts of things. If it doesn’t work out that we end up in a space this year and if it’s next year I think we will be okay.
ArtsATL: So we can expect more MINT SATELLITES for the Leap Year solo exhibitions in the fall?
Greathouse: So we’ve always done Leap Year exhibitions in MINT SATELLITES, before last year it was at Erikson Clock, year before that it was at Rodriguez Room. The Goat Farm helped with those two spaces and without them our Leap Year artists would not have free studio space.
But yes, we will have the Leap Year exhibitions in a MINT SATELLITE and maybe a few other things. I’m really trying to take this time to refine our programing, future exhibitions and meet new people and artists.
ArtsATL: What are you looking forward to the most in this process?
Greathouse: Being somewhere that is a good fit for us and the community. I’ve always felt this area has been a little bit isolating for us. So thinking about somewhere like Little Five Points or East Atlanta, I think we’d do really good in someplace walkable that you don’t have to wear nice clothes to. Coming into MINT and buying art is not what it’s about, so having somewhere where people can come in and feel like they are a part of it, even if they’ve never heard of us before.
I feel like this is a really good time for MINT. William Downs is our newest board member and our board chair Nick Madden, are these powerhouses in Atlanta. Being able to hang out with them and talk with them and plan MINT’s future is literally the most fun. It feels like the possibilities are endless. There is so much potential, but I’m also kind of nervous because we got to make sure we find the right space. This is not a lateral move, but a move for bigger and better things.