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Blue Rat Gallery collection, 1983-2007 [bulk 1983-1987]

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322



Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/rqs9t

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Blue Rat Gallery (Atlanta, Ga.)
Title: Blue Rat Gallery collection, 1983-2007 [bulk 1983-1987]
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1369
Extent: 1 linear foot (2 boxes), 2 oversized papers boxes (OP), 1 bound volume (BV), and AV Masters: 1 linear foot (1 box, CLP2)
Abstract:Collection of materials documenting the Atlanta, Georgia, arts cooperative Blue Rat Gallery including administrative records, artwork, audiovisual material, photographs and scrapbooks, and promotional material.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Use copies have not been made for audiovisual material in this collection. Researchers must contact The Rose Library at least two weeks in advance for access to these items. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder the Rose’s ability to provide access to audiovisual material.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Gift of Stephanie Ayers Dean, 2016, with additions purchased in 2016.

Custodial History

Dean is former patron of Blue Rat Gallery.


[after identification of item(s)], Blue Rat Gallery collection, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Appraisal Note

Acquired by Curator of Political, Cultural, and Social Movements Collections, Randy Gue, as part of the Rose Library's holdings in Atlanta history.


Arranged and described at the folder level by Sarah Quigley, August 2016.

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Collection Description

Historical Note

The Blue Rat Gallery, an Atlanta, Georgia, art collective, was founded in the Pershing Point Apartments in 1983. Pershing Point residents and artists Stephanie Ayers [Dean], Clark Brown, James Farmer, Karen Hennessee, and Chick Lockerman rented a vacant apartment in the building where they hosted the gallery's first show. They held only one exhibition in the apartment before moving temporarily to a vacant stable underneath Peachtree Street; after three shows in that location, they moved back to Pershing Point, this time to the basement. With demolition of the apartment building looming, the group moved one final time to 1044 West Peachtree Street, where they continued to live and host exhibitions, performances, and other events until 1987 when the group disbanded.

Popular with punks and other counter-cultural elements of Atlanta's Midtown neighborhood, shows at the Blue Rat frequently featured local artists working in a variety of genres and media. Such events as "Hang It and Show," where artists were invited to bring their work and display it on a first come, first served basis until the gallery was full, and a show where the gallery was opened and guests were invited to graffiti the walls, promoted the group's do-it-yourself ethos. Though the core collective consisted of the original five founders (later joined by Tim Barrett), numerous Atlanta artists exhibited or performed regularly at the space including Jay Wiggins, Bob Burden, Phreddie Vomit, The Nightporters, Kennan Raines, D'Angelo Dixon, Bobby Burns, Oliver David, Arms Akimbo, and Chris Wood along with his band The Restraints. The gallery also hosted an exhibition of works by nationally known folk artist Howard Finster and family members.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of materials relating to the Blue Rat Gallery from 1983-2007 and includes administrative records, artwork, audiovisual material, photographs and scrapbooks, and promotional material. Administrative records contain artist agreements and biographies, financial records, a small amount of correspondence, meeting notes, and a guest register that includes names of visitors to numerous gallery shows. James Farmer's audiovisual recordings are primarily of gallery events, including audience footage; performances by The Nightporters, Teenz n Heat, and the Section Eight Dancers; poetry readings by Jay Wiggins, Phreddie Vomit, and Kennan Raines; and numerous exhibition openings. One film, "Carrot Man," was an attempt by Bob Burden, along with Clark Brown, James Farmer and others, to experiment with a live-action version of Burden's comic book Flaming Carrot.

Photographs and scrapbooks include both photography by Blue Rat artists and candid snapshots of events in various gallery spaces. The scrapbook includes photographs, clippings, and promotional material from Blue Rat events from 1983-1987. It was originally created by Karen Hennessee, then reformatted by Clark Brown after Hennessee and Farmer moved to Paris in 1986. Promotional material contains clippings, fliers, post cards, stickers, and other items advertising events at the Blue Rat Gallery.

Arrangement Note

Arranged by record type.

Selected Search Terms

Personal Names

Topical Terms

Form/Genre Terms

Container List

Administrative records
Box Folder Content
1 1 Application for 501(c)(3) status, undated
1 2 Artist agreements, 1983-1987
1 3 Artist biographies and resumes, undated
1 4 Bills and receipts, 1983-1986
1 5 Budgets, circa 1985
1 6 Business license, 1984-1985
1 7 Correspondence, circa 1983-1986
1 8 Floor plans and maps, undated
1 9 Gallery guest register, 1983-1987 [1 of 2]
1 10 Gallery guest register, 1983-1987 [2 of 2]
1 11 Grant application, City of Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs, undated
1 12 History of Blue Rat Gallery, circa 1984
1 13 Insurance policies, 1984-1985
1 14 Lease agreement, 1983
1 15 List of exhibitions, 1983-1987
1 16 Meeting notes, circa 1983-1984
1 17 Price lists, undated
1 18 "Ratroactive" exhibition planning documents, 1989
1 19 Burden, Bob, "Bob Burden con Sketch," The Atlanta Fantasy Fair, 1986
OP1 1 Farmer, James, "Corset Series," 1982
1 20 Hennessee, Karen, original artwork from "Short Stories" exhibition, 1986

During processing, the glass panes and hair clips that formed part of the artwork were mistaken for frames and discarded. Images of the pieces in their original form can be found in box 1, folder 32: Hennessee, Karen, "Short Stories," exhibition opening, 1986.

Audiovisual material
CLP2 Arms Akimbo, untitled, 1984 [photography by Clark Brown, layout and design by Chick Lockerman] [original: phonograph]
CLP2 Dharma Bums, "Heaven Alone" and "Life Goes On," 1986 [photography, design and layout by Blue Rat; removed from Karen Hennessee scrapbook] [original: phonograph]
AV1 Farmer, James, Atlanta Aquarium exhibition, Nightporters performance in basement gallery, and Chick Lockerman's apartment at Pershing Point building, 1984; 1044 West Peachtree barbeque and "Hang It & Show" exhibition, 1985 [original: Mini-DV]
AV1 Farmer, James, cleaning and constructing basement gallery; Bob Burden's "Carrot Man" film shoot; Christmas Party, 1983 [original: VHS; copies: Mini-DV
AV1 Farmer, James, development and remodeling of 1044 West Peachtree, 1984 [original: Mini-DV]
AV1 Farmer, James, edited compilation of Blue Rat Gallery videos, 1983-1986 [original: Micro SD card]
AV1 Farmer, James, exhibition, "Rat Piece," audience recording [original: VHS]
AV1 Farmer, James, footage used for edited compilation; James Farmer and Karen Hennessee apartment, undated [original: VHS]
AV1 Farmer, James, Graffiti exhibition; Kennan Raines performance; Nightporters performance, circa 1985-1986 [original: Mini-DV]
AV1 Farmer, James, Kennan Raines performance; Karen Hennessee exhibition "Cocktails," circa 1985-1986 [original: Mini-DV]
AV1 Farmer, James, Phreddie Vomit and Teenz n Heat performance in basement gallery; audience recording, 1983 [original: VHS; copy: Mini-DV]
AV1 Farmer, James, Poetry Reading 1 and 2, featuring Jay Wiggans and Phreddie Vomit, 1983 [original: VHS]
AV1 Farmer, James, Rat n Roll exhibition; Nightporters performances in stables gallery and basement gallery; First Anniversary Show, 1983-1984 [original: VHS; copies: Mini-DV]
AV1 Farmer, James, Unknown footage of homeless men, undated [original: Mini-DV]
AV1 Hennessee, Karen, "Short Stories" exhibition opening, 1986 [original: Hi-8]
CLP2 The Nightporters, "Mona Lisa" and "Get the Feeling," undated [photography by Clark Brown; removed from Karen Hennessee scrapbook] [original: phonograph]
CLP2 The Restraints, "Wacka-Wacka" and "Roll Over Ronnie," 1982 [cover by Clark Brown; removed from Karen Hennessee scrapbook] [original: phonograph]
Photographs and scrapbooks
1 21 1044 West Peachtree Street, undated [photographs by Clark Brown]
1 22 1044 West Peachtree Street, events and people, circa 1984-1987 [photographs by Stephanie Ayers Dean]
1 23 Blue Rat Hotel, basement gallery music room, circa 1983-1984 [photographer unknown]
1 24 Blue Rat Hotel, events and people, circa 1983-1984 [photographs by Stephanie Ayers Dean]
1 25 Blue Rat Hotel, group photographs and unidentified audience, circa 1986-1987
1 26 Brown, Clark and Bobby Burns with unidentified person in kitchen of Blue Rat Hotel, undated
1 27 Dean, Stephanie Ayers, undated
1 28 Farmer, James, contact sheet with photographs of Clark Brown, James Farmer, Chick Lockerman, and D'Angelo Dixon, undated
1 29 Farmer, James, contact sheets and collages for Architecture Show, 1983
OP1 2 Farmer, James, photographs for Cocktails at 7, undated
1 30 Hennessee, Karen, photograph album pages, including images of The Restraints and others outside Blue Rat Gallery, undated [photographs by Clark Brown]
BV1 Hennessee, Karen and Clark Brown, scrapbook, 1983-1987
1 31 Hennessee, Karen and Clark Brown, scrapbook, loose materials, circa 1983-1987
1 32 Hennessee, Karen, "Short Stories," exhibition opening, 1986
1 33 Hennessee, Karen, stables gallery, 1983
1 34 Promotional photographs of Blue Rat artists holding blue rat masks, 1983 [photography by James Farmer; masks by Karen Hennessee]
1 35 Section 8 Dancers, undated [photography and added color by Karen Hennessee]
2 1 Stables gallery exhibition, circa 1983 [photography by Clark Brown]
2 2 Teenz n Heat, basement gallery, circa 1983
2 3 Unidentified artwork, undated
2 4 Wiggans, Jay, in front of graffiti wall, undated [photograph by Clark Brown]
2 5 Wood, Chris, circa 1984
2 6 Wood, Chris, paintings, circa 1984 [slides]
Promotional material
2 7 Annual report, 1984 [concept and design by Karen Hennessee]
OP2 1 Banner, undated
2 8 Brown, Clark, "My Life as a Rat," exhibition cards, Kool Korner Gallery, circa 2007
2 9 Calendar, "Year of the Rat," 1984 [design by Karen Hennessee; Clark Brown's personal copy]
2 10 Calendars, events, 1985-1987
2 11 Clippings and articles
OP1 3 Clippings and articles, oversized
2 12 Fliers
OP1 4 Fliers, oversized
2 13 Matchbook, Karen Hennessee, "Short Stories" exhibition, 1986
2 14 Mock-ups and printing negatives
2 15 Post cards and invitations
2 16 Press releases, circa 1983-1986
2 17 Programs, 1984-1986
2 18 Stickers [design by Chick Lockerman]
OP2 2 T-shirt, undated