If you’re looking to pull the kids away from the television screen this weekend but can’t stand the thought of visiting the same dull museums, consider a stop into the Wren’s Nest House Museum. One of Atlanta’s oldest museums, the former home of Joel Chandler Harris educates tykes on the life of the author of the famous Brer Rabbit stories. Every Saturday afternoon, one of several local readers thrills children by re-enacting one of Harris’s popular tales. The walls of the small home are lined with mementos from the author’s life, and the rich, green brocade and period furniture give a welcoming atmosphere that your children will warm to quickly. You may find yourself enchanted by the stories as well, and you’re guaranteed to come away with a new appreciation for the classic stories of Joel Chandler Harris.
Ranked among Ticketmaster's Top 25 Most Requested Family Events for five consecutive years, UniverSoul Circus grants an interactive spectacle of acrobatic stunts, dance, and comedy set to popular urban sounds. With its swirling lights and pulsing beats, the circus's resemblance to a blowout concert tour is no accident: production designer Tom Marzullo has created internationally touring stage shows for Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, and Prince.
As hosts, a troupe of improv comics slip laughs in between the gasps and draw the crowd even closer into the action. Meanwhile, the production makes jaws drop farther with trained elephants, illusions featuring a live tiger, a head-balancing act from Vietnam, and female contortionists from Ethiopia. These make up just a few of the globally sourced performers, others of whom hail from locales as diverse as Colombia, South Africa, Russia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The art-collecting and fabulous finds events at ZuCot Gallery are like a hands-on combination of Antiques Roadshow and Night at the Museum. You'll be treated to a vast body of knowledge from a small panel of experts as they speak and answer questions on custom framing, art collecting, art theory, and art history. Bring along up to two small collectibles or heirlooms—such as jewelry, ceramics, or a small, signed first-edition lithograph of Lolcats Playing Poker—and you'll get a five-minute appraisal of each, delivered by the knowing hands, mouth, and eyeballs of an adept antiques expert (for entertainment purposes only). The event also includes a guided tour of ZuCot's in-house art collection of paintings, photography, sculpture, and more.
Matt Janke dreamed of landing the perfect glass-blowing job. After moving to Atlanta in 1986, he realized there wasn't a single glass studio in town, granting his art a ready-made niche. After settling in, he returned to grad school, earning an MFA in glass with the intent to launch his own university program and ultimately procure his own space. By the time he graduated in 1992, Matt further honed his skills, stockpiled equipment, and, in 1996, opened his own studio and hired himself.
Beyond the perks of being his own boss, having his own studio affords Matt a great deal of creative freedom. He infuses all his handblown light fixtures, tumblers, and vases with the prismatic swirls of his signature style, in which precise lines and natural variations vie for attention across undulating surfaces. A downtown gallery space facilitates sales of these works.
But the studio has also fulfilled more than Matt's original goal of finding glass-blowing employment, going on to catalyze a glass-blowing community. From single apprentices in the early days, the studio is now a full-fledged classroom, with space for five instructors, a dozen students, and the kilns that must melt their glass until they each finish their training by capturing and taming a fire-breathing dragon.
Artist and fashion designer Stuart McClean was born on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, where his lifelong devotion to creation began during childhood under the artistically trained eye of his mother. Today, after years of crisscrossing the United States, Stuart has left a multi-colored mark on Inman Park with the gallery that carries his name. Outfitted with a large collection of bright, feel-good pieces, including canvases, photography, and sculptures, the gallery reflects Stuart's Caribbean roots, alluring visitors to browse its vibrant gems amid an atmosphere that is warmer than a bear hug from a grizzly bear in a teddy-bear costume. Works from world-renowned artists snake along the walls and even lead to a second story, which is actually a dark, wooden balcony that wraps around the gallery and pours elevated views of the first floor into meandering eyes. In addition to general browsing, the gallery can also be rented out for weddings, parties, and fundraisers throughout the year.
WonderRoot fosters the next generation of artists in its Community Arts Center, including access to arts-education classes and all of the center's media production facilities. Young people ages 18 and under can enrich expressive skills in arts classes such as bookbinding and video editing and take advantage of resource spaces that include a darkroom, digital-media lab, and printing, recording, and ceramics studios. Professional development programs are also available to nurture budding artists. While membership to the center costs $60, WonderRoot strives to make their resources accessible to the community and has supported 88 young artists in the past year with free memberships.