Underground Atlanta Hires Award Winning Creative Directors to Bring More Art Installations to Downtown Atlanta
Wednesday, November 15th, 2023
Underground Atlanta is making a bold stride towards solidifying its status as Atlanta's foremost arts and entertainment district with the appointment of two new Creative Directors, Marina Skye and Mike Stasny, who are leading figures in the arts community. Nestled in the heart of Atlanta, Underground Atlanta is poised to elevate the artistic experience for its patrons and the entire community, reinforcing its commitment to fostering creativity, innovation, and artistic excellence.
Marina Skye, a nationally known set designer who’s worked with Jimmy Kimmel, the BBC and SZA to name a few, and Mike Stasny, a Rust Belt born artist, musician and Underground gallery owner who works in the sculptural realm, will be joining forces to help curate better arts experiences at Underground, both for the property itself and through large scale installations, small moments and partnerships.
“Expect Skye and Mike to bring large scale activations and pure moments of art to Underground,” said Lyle Baldes, Underground Atlanta’s Activations & Events Director. “They will help create a more focused direction for our art community, beautify the property and represent us to other arts and nonprofit institutions locally, nationally and globally.”
Underground Atlanta already has become a steward of the arts, with six galleries beneath the street level and two at street level. The monthly First Friday events are attracting thousands of arts lovers as well as activations from Dance Canvas, Living Walls, Atlanta Fashion Week and more.
“The arts have an incredible power to shape communities," said Mary Turner, Underground Atlanta Senior Vice President. "Our mission is to transform Underground Atlanta into a true epicenter for arts and culture, where imagination and diversity is celebrated. Stay tuned for exciting news announcements to come for 2024. Underground is more than just a venue; it's a canvas for the arts.”
Stasny and Skye are bringing their own brands of curation and experience to Underground.
Stasny has 15 years of experience in the arts. At Underground, he’s an artist-in-residence and operates the Mom Said It’s Fine gallery. The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design grad received numerous awards for his viral YouTube video “what what in the butt.” He was the first artist to open an art gallery at Underground after Lalani Ventures bought Underground in 2020. One of his pieces, an art installation at CNN Center called Tricerabytes responded to internet activity. His early years in the Rust Belt and his roots in Chicago exposed him to an industrial ecosystem in decline, where vast square miles of once-thriving industry had evolved into a poignant form of “American Ruins.” Stasny says he’s not drawn to ‘nice’ things’ but he rather cherishes “the art of infusing new and enduring love into ‘scratch and dent’ artifacts.”
Baldes said of Stasny, “He’s steadfast to the movement at Underground. He’s not only talented as a curator but he’s also a friendly face on the property.”
Skye is a Clio Award winning set designer and creative director who’s taken her talents coast to coast. Some of her latest projects include Summer Walker album artwork, tour stage designs for Wale and 6lack, and creative consulting for Backwoods Cigars, 21 Savage and Atlanta’s Trap Music Museum.
“As a proud resident of Atlanta, I’ve seen the evolution of this beautiful city over the years and I’m honored to be a part of a project that further establishes Underground Atlanta as a go-to destination for both local residents and tourists alike.” Skye said. “I’m joining a talented team and together we are bringing an experience never seen before to our community.”
The Los Angeles born-Creole creative has worked with some of the biggest brands and clients, including Jordan, Janelle Monae, Budweiser, 6lack and the High Museum of Art. Along with working with major brands, Skye has her own set design and creative direction agency Set by Skye.
“There’s no other Skye,” Baldes said. “She has incredible experience in the Atlanta market as well as with national tours and shows. She works really well with brands and large institutions. Her creative direction already has made a huge name for her in Atlanta and the country at large.”
Underground Atlanta has been steadily adding new, experiential tenants. Pigalle by Paris on Poncerecently opened its burlesque theater and speakeasy at the property, joining other former Ponce de Leon Avenue refugees that have been displaced by redevelopment: MJQ Concourse, the famed Atlanta nightclub has begun renovations of the former Dante’s Down the Hatch space and The Masquerade music and events venue has three venues in Underground’s Kenny’s Alley.
CEO of Lalani Ventures Shaneel Lalani said, “Our early decision to fill Underground with artists has created an incredible energy and momentum here. I can’t wait to see what Mike and Skye will think up to further our vision of making Underground the premiere arts experience in Atlanta.”
Underground Atlanta’s current art galleries include:
ARTLANTA Gallery by Tyree Smith – a place to connect people through a multisensory playground.
EMMCDEE Gallery by Maria McDowell - a photographer, curator, philanthropist and artist living where people come to share their lives.
The Inner Space by Carl Janes – is an art and music venue inside Carl Janes Studio that provides a platform for the local, national, and international DIY scene.
Future Gallery by EuGene Byrd III - best described as realism and romantic around the Black experience.
MSIF Gallery by Mike Stasny - the Mom Said It’s Fine gallery was Underground’s first in the modern era. Stasny cherishes “the art of infusing new and enduring love into ‘scratch and dent’ artifacts.”
Public Art Futures Lab by Fulton County - a physical and online space to exhibit, experiment, educate and experience the role of technology and its intersection with public art.
Railroad by EuGene V Byrd III – Live music venue where Art & Music connect. Curated vibes featuring Jazz, Funk, Blues and Soul. Motto: “Let’s get Free!”
SUBSUME by Dedren Snead - is a creator-first startup fostering education and empowerment through Gaming and AI. This visionary Afrofutures technology salon in Underground Atlanta strives to demystify emerging innovations and prepare a new generation for a future where technology, art, culture, and entrepreneurship are accessible to all.
Underground Atlanta’s growing list of tenants also includes FUTURE Showbar and Restaurant, a 14,000-square-foot, two-story LGBTQ restaurant and bar; iScream Ice Cream, an old time ice cream parlor with modern desserts; Common Grounds Coffee Shop, an eclectic cafe with a community-minded atmosphere; Dolo’s Pizza Co., a classic pizza joint with a Caribbean twist; and Atlanta Comedy Theatre, Atlanta’s premier upscale comedy club venue.
Other tenants also include Fulton County’s Public Arts Future Lab, an innovative artist residency funded by Microsoft; MARTA Artbound (MARTA’s public art program) and Arts & Entertainment Atlanta; YELLE Beauty, a Black woman-owned and operated beauty concept by Yandy Smith-Harris; Dancing Crepes, a new dining concept also by Yandy Smith-Harris; and Daiquiriville, a 2,200-square-foot indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar with karaoke and other entertainment, owned and operated by Colombian-native Luisa Duran.