Flux Night 2015: Dream Is A Disaster

Where's the art? Photo by me, November 2015.


few years ago I fell in love with Flux Night. Here is my warning that what I have to say of what has become of Flux Night is critical and not pleasant; even what we love must sometimes be critiqued.

There is no nice way to say it, but Flux Night 2015 was a disaster. Some will blame the weather and that it was pushed back a week and then on the rescheduled night it had rained earlier in the day, but that is an excuse. Even had the weather been absolutely perfect this event was a failure. There was so little to see, there was so little to do and trying to find any of the limited art was like trying to solve a riddle that could not be solved. 

Remember that Wendy's commercial from the 1980s that asked, "where's the beef?" That was Flux Night 2015.


I arrived with with an umbrella in case and was prepared to suffer through the rain if it returned since I loved Flux Night that much. The event was off from the beginning as Flux Night was a Castleberry Hill event that was meant to be in that neighborhood and not the Old Fourth Ward. Sure, flux means change, but not all changes are equal.


I found a volunteer, pretty easy to do in the sparse crowd, and was handed a guide to the night. She hit me up for a donation in a rather rude way and I said, "I'll be back by, let me see some art first."

People standing around with nothing to see. Photo by me, November 2015.

The organization behind Flux Night took a year off in 2014 to regroup and to focus on building a better Flux Night and then produced the worst Flux Night ever. There is an old saying that you 'don't fix what isn't broken' and that is exactly what happened here. Yes, events can evolve and grow, but you do not lose the key vision of what made an event special. Flux Night was a night of the arts on the streets of Atlanta. It was a night to celebrate our thriving artistic scene. What we saw in 2015 was a mess that was haphazard, ill-conceived and dull.


A curator was brought in from New York that had no connection and I mean none to the city of Atlanta or its history and culture and you got this lame event. One of the city's most historic neighborhoods is chosen to host and this was produced? This? Really? It was awful and insulting how far Flux Night had fallen. 


It was as if an outsider said this is what Atlanta is like; a tourist who comes and spends a day downtown and pretends to understand the place like a local. Atlanta does not need people from other places for validation or to tell us how it should be done. There is plenty of homegrown talent here. I am all for bringing in artists from outside the city, but to hand over the reigns and have someone with no connection to Atlanta be the curator is to betray the event and those that love it.

Cool inflatable something bro! Photo by me, November 2015.

Where was the art? I walked up and down Edgewood and Auburn Avenues and even with a map I kept asking that question. There was a little something here and a little something there, but mostly it was bored people wandering around wondering why they had come and what the hell happened to Flux Night. You had all this space on the street so why weren't you using it? Hardly any of the street was activated by art installations or performers. Food trucks are nice for a bite to eat or grab a beer, but they aren't art and I don't come to Flux to see food trucks. I come to Flux to see A-R-T.

Part of what made Flux Night great was the character of Castleberry Hill. Not to take away from the Old Fourth Ward/Edgewood, which I enjoy and it is the trendy neighborhood du jour, but Flux Night was best suited for Castleberry Hill surrounded by the old warehouses turned lofts. Moving Flux Night was akin to taking a rose and transplanting it into the arctic tundra.


Another aspect that made Flux Night special was that it was a nighttime event. Other than nightlife or sports, most city events are daytime ones. It was great to see people out wandering the streets taking in the arts under the night sky. It reminded me of an Atlanta event that I remember from New Year's Eve 1996 that was set in Midtown. It was called First Night. It was not necessarily about the arts, but it was a cultural alternative to fireworks and partying at night and on the streets of the city. It brought out people into what would have been otherwise dead streets.

I don't think they were on the schedule but decided to do a street performance and busk for money. They were more entertaining than a dead street. Photo by me, November 2015.

Another aspect of what made Flux Night special was that it was an overwhelming and exciting experience. You could turn a corner and be wowed by the next installation or performance or the humanity. It was about the unexpected. There was always so much to see, to do, to admire to be inspired by. There was a feeling of the unexpected and sometimes you had to stand there awhile and think about what you were seeing. Nothing from 2015 had that.

To repair Flux Night it needs to be local again, involve local artists, thinkers and performers and embrace what makes Atlanta unique. People that understand this city need to be running Flux Night and they need to bring life back into it and put it back in Castleberry Hill. Make it overwhelming again, make it exciting and unexpected again, but never ever do what was done in 2015.

Photo by me, November 2015.

This was the Yoko Ono installation. It was at least interactive and went along with the notion of world peace that she and John are known for however it was nothing more than a world map that you could stamp. Photo by me, November 2015.

A larger view of the Yoko Ono installation. Photo by me, November 2015.

Photo by me, November 2015.

This is where we went down into a mud hole on a vacant lot for something that was doing nothing until much later in the night.
Photo by me, November 2015.
Photo by me, November 2015.

Sparse crowds with nothing to do related to the event. 


Photo by me, November 2015.

The most interesting things I saw all night were the things that already make the Old Fourth Ward interesting, the old Fire Station number six and the King Center.
Photo by me, November 2015.
Photo by me, November 2015.

My face summed up how disappointing the night was from beginning to end.