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Meet Karen Comer Lowe of Chastain Arts Center in Chastain Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Comer Lowe.

Karen, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I studied Art History at Howard University in Washington DC. During that time I worked in the Education Department of the National Portrait Gallery and immediately after graduation I spent the summer in New York in the education department of the Whitney Museum of American Art. My first fulltime job in the arts was in the Education Department of the Museum of African American Art in Tampa Florida, from there I worked as Curator at the Tubman African American Museum in Macon, Georgia. After my time there, I came to work with the City of Atlanta as Curator of City Gallery East in the Bureau of Cultural Affairs. During this time, I pursued my Master’s degree from Bank Street College in New York. I left city government and started an arts consultancy business, Comer Art Advisory. In that occupation, I worked with businesses, educational institutions, and private clients to provide art services. This allowed me to see the many aspects of how art can affect community.

I returned to city of Atlanta government in 2008, as Manager of Chastain Arts Center.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The arts center is a place that offers visual arts classes to adults and youth and we also offer art exhibitions of professional artists. The perennial challenge has been building awareness of the center and our offerings. With the shift from printing materials to digital media, it has been a slow transition for our adult students who are mostly retirees.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Chastain Arts Center – what should we know?
Chastain Arts Center is part of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and has been offering art classes and exhibits for over 50 years, making it Atlanta’s oldest fine arts centers. We have classes for all ages and for all skill levels, in a variety of fine arts and crafts mediums. There are four sessions each year, with classes that usually last for ten weeks. Many shorter workshops are also offered.

Curated exhibitions in the adjacent Gallery showcase both the work of professional visual artists, and artwork created by instructors and students of the arts center. The Center is located in historic Chastain Park, in northwest Atlanta in a facility that was formally an Alms House. The building has been standing for 100 years.

I am proud of the sense of community we have built with our patrons. We have repeat customers who show dedication to the center and are engaged in helping us grow. I am also proud of the quality of programming we offer. This center has built a reputation of excellence and as an arts destination in the city.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The Chastain Arts Center is part of City of Atlanta’s Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Our support and leadership comes from the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. We also receive great support from The Chastain Friends of the Arts.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Gallery and arts center photographs are taken by Chastain Arts Center staff. The gallery image with the audience and  Karen Lowe at the podium was taken by renowned photographer Sheila Pree Bright

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