“I thought you said this was a travel blog.”
Whoa. Slow down, gentle reader. If you give me a minute, I just need to set up this post...
“But you wrote some trite, esoteric, wannabe-paean to surprise moments from the road (see “What’s All This Mambo Jahambo?” post), where you blabbed exhaustingly about vignettes and silver spurs or some such nonsense. You would have benefitted greatly from an editor clipping your metaphorical dewclaws. ‘This is how I roll.’ Seriously? You’re going with that? Now you patronize me Harriett Beecher-Stowe style (gentle reader; ugh!) and show me this brutish monster of a football player who is sticking his tongue out...”
Shut it, reader.
Here’s the deal: I was in Castleberry Hill, a neighborhood on the western side of downtown Atlanta that is experiencing the brakes and accelerations of gentrification. Artists started buying up and moving into the abandoned warehouses and loftifying these wonderful brick structures along Walker and Peters Streets. Shells of old businesses that once thrived because of a proximity to the railroad tracks.
Now the neighborhood has several art galleries and a handful of really good restaurants.
A photographer and I were walking up Walker peering in windows. The owner of the Emergence Gallery, Pierre Leon, invited us into his place and gave us a quick tour. He’s a multi-medium artist from Haiti who first opened galleries in New York and the Poconos. Paint, pottery, furniture. You name it, and he’s probably used it for self expression.
He was telling us about his life and work and mentioned off-handedly that he just landed a pretty famous client. Then there was a big, coy grin on his face, and he moved on to talking about living in Atlanta and Castleberry Hill. It was such juicy bait. But I let him keep talking. We moved through other subjects, and as the conversation lulled a bit, I looked him in the eye and said, “So, you’re not gonna tell me who your famous client is, are you?”
Of course he told me, and with that he threw up his hands and his face lit up, and he launched himself into giddy excitement explaining how he was about to fill the client’s house with several pieces of his own work. And his deadline was the client’s birthday party, an event attended by other equally famous people with lots of money who would almost certainly have a mutual interest in Pierre’s art.
He shared this with me off the record, so I’m sure you understand my keeping his confidence.