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Laney Contemporary brings unique art space to Savannah

  • Interior of Laney Contemporary Fine Art. Works shown are by artists Jowita Wyszomirska, left, Betsy Cain and Will Penny. (Courtesy Atlantic Archives/ Richard Leo Johnson)
  • Laney Contemporary Fine Art at 1810 Mills B Lane Blvd.
  • Jack Leigh’s “Nets and Doors,” 1986, will be on display at the grand opening of Laney Contemporary Fine Art. (Provided image)
 

Laney Contemporary brings unique art space to Savannah

26 Sep 2017

On Sept. 28, Susan Laney will reveal her newest venture to Savannah. Laney Contemporary Fine Art will celebrate its grand opening with an exhibition of exceptional artistic talent along with a few surprises.

Laney has been a fixture of the Savannah art scene for more than two decades. She received a photography degree from Savannah College of Art and Design and pursued her own artistic path for some time. Along the way, she connected with the iconic photographer Jack Leigh and eventually ended up running his gallery for many years. They forged a close bond and ever since Leigh’s death in 2004, Laney has been instrumental in maintaining the legacy of the internationally heralded photographer.

Laney closed the Jack Leigh Gallery just before the recession and went on to open Oglethorpe Gallery in 2010, which she still maintains. Over the years, Laney has worked with various galleries around the country, but her core competency is as a curator, consultant and representative for some of the best and brightest regional and local artistic talent.

Laney Contemporary Fine Art represents a new milestone in Laney’s career. While Oglethorpe Gallery exists strictly as a rental gallery, Laney Contemporary is an opportunity for Laney to showcase the artists she loves and works with in an environment unlike any other in the city.

“I wasn’t necessarily planning on opening another gallery,” says Laney. “I was pretty happy and everything was going fine.”

The clarion call came when Laney’s husband brought her to see the second-floor space of a unique stand-alone building he’d purchased with a partner on Mills B Lane Boulevard, near Ogeechee Road and I-516.

“I think it was the space that dictated to me, OK this is actually perfect,” explains Laney. “It felt right. The vibe was right.”

Though it seems slightly off the beaten path, the location is only a hop, skip and a jump from the former location of The Florence and the Victory Drive corridor. Artist Daniel E. Smith is also a tenant, along with independent designers and others.

“I want to be a destination,” says Laney. “I want to have parking. Downtown, it’s hard to get around. This is quiet. It has parking out front. Everything was perfect for me.”

The grand opening is an opportunity for Laney to showcase her distinctive gallery space, which includes, improbably, a wall-to-ceiling mirrored back room bar leading out to a second-floor balcony. Laney had design doubts about the mirrored room, which includes the ceiling itself, but when she found out the history behind it and the fact that Jesse Jackson likely partied there back in the day, she decided to keep it, with a few minor changes.

“Everybody has a white box gallery room,” says Laney. “We’ve seen that before… It does create some challenges, but it also is just something that you’ve never really seen before. It’s really different and fun, so I’m working with it.”

There is a more traditional, large exhibition space that is central to the gallery, but the back room will surely provide some interesting opportunities.

The grand opening itself will include many never-before-seen works from a who’s who of regional and local artists, including Katherine Sandoz, Betsy Cain, Marcus Kenney, Todd Schroeder, Pamela Wiley, Stephanie Howard, Will Penny, Benjamin Jones, Elizabeth Winnel, and select photographs by Jack Leigh. There will also be an outdoor light installation with projection mapping from Penny, and Big Bon Pizza will provide delectables as a tribute to the pizza nights Laney and Leigh used to have.

“I follow whatever I’m excited about,” says Laney. “I’m doing this because I really love these people and I love what they’re doing. As an artist, I really enjoyed making work, but I ended up finding that networking with people and connecting people with work they love and can live with every day, that makes their world more beautiful or a more interesting place, is what makes me really happy. And that’s the point.”

IF YOU GO

What: Gallery grand opening

When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Sept. 28

Where: Laney Contemporary Fine Art, 1810 Mills B Lane Blvd.

Cost: Free

Info: laneycontemporary.com

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