Friday, June 24, 2016

New Work Room showcase boasts serious diversity

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 4:08 PM

HOLD TIGHT: Claire Molla and Melissa Word perform in "OneAnother" by Blake Beckham. - KELLY BLACKMON
  • Kelly Blackmon
  • HOLD TIGHT: Claire Molla and Melissa Word perform in "OneAnother" by Blake Beckham.

The Lucky Penny's Work Room opened in East Point last year as a place for contemporary dancers to, well, work. A new showcase at Emory's Schwartz Center reveals what these talented folks have been up to. It spans nine productions of various stages of incubations (some months in the making, others in very nascent form).

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Woodruff Park chess court shut down 'until further notice'

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 3:10 PM

CHECKMATE: Downtown official says the city closed the chess court due to a recent spike in 'undesirable activity.' - MEAGAN MASTRIANI
  • Meagan Mastriani
  • CHECKMATE: Downtown official says the city closed the chess court due to a recent spike in 'undesirable activity.'

One corner of Downtown’s Woodruff Park is much quieter than usual. At the chess court in the park’s southwest tip, the sounds of plastic pieces clicking against stone tables and grizzled men taunting each other over heated games have disappeared. The space has been chained off and closed down “until further notice,” according to signs. Newly installed chess tables bearing the park’s logo now sit under tarps.

David Wardell, Vice President of Operations and Public Safety at the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, says the city closed the chess court due to a recent spike in “undesirable activity.” ADID is part of Central Atlanta Progress, the Downtown civic group that helps maintain the park and fund area improvements. For the next 30 days or more, the area will be off limits except for scheduled events.

Officer Lukasz Sajdak, a spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department,  told CL that there have been at least 14 arrests in Woodruff Park in 2016, with reports including drug charges and “suspicious persons.”

A chess player who frequently visited the court and who asked not to be identified out of safety concerns says he noticed an uptick in violence and gang activity at the tables during May and June. Before ADID closed the court, he recalls seeing multiple fights between regular players and younger men who brought knives and guns. Some players stopped coming altogether.

However, he says, tension calmed during special events such as Atlanta Streets Alive, when sponsors and staff were on hand to monitor the games. He believes the city should consider hiring a part-time or full-time chess proctor to oversee the court and enforce the rules. This person – potentially a volunteer – could also help match opponents and offer lessons if needed. Similar positions exist in other major cities with public chess courts, including New York City’s Bryant Park and St. Louis’ Chess Pocket Park.

“I don’t know what title you would give them, but they could orchestrate people who really want to play chess,” he says. “Then other people would have no reason to be in that vicinity.”

GAME OFF: Newly installed chess tables bearing the park’s logo now sit under tarps - MEAGAN MASTRIANI
  • Meagan Mastriani
  • GAME OFF: Newly installed chess tables bearing the park’s logo now sit under tarps
As the chess court remains vacant over the next month, ADID hopes the hotspot will cool down. During that time, officials will reevaluate the court’s configuration and purpose. Wardell says they may decide to split up the chess tables and distribute them throughout the park, or they may simply keep that nook roped off except for special events.

It’s also possible that the city will find an entirely new use for the space. Southwest Airlines and the Project for Public Spaces awarded Woodruff Park a $200,000 grant in April to fund improvements. CAP has been gathering community feedback about how to revitalize the park, which may affect the chess court’s future. Current plans for the area include a live music series on Friday afternoons in July.

In the meantime, Atlanta’s “guerilla chess” buffs will have to find a new place to set up their boards. The player who spoke to CL says he hopes the city can find a solution that doesn’t require closing down the court permanently.

“That’s like if you let terrorists win,” he says.

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Beltline light rail, Krog Street MARTA station, and express bus routes make city's transit tax wishlist

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 11:01 AM

Plans for light rail connecting the Westside Trail to Downtown and the Eastside Trail were one of many projects on the list. - ATLANTA BELTLINE INC.
  • Atlanta Beltline Inc.
  • Plans for light rail connecting the Westside Trail to Downtown and the Eastside Trail were one of many projects on the list.

Light rail connecting the Atlanta Beltline's Westside Trail to Downtown and Armour Yard? Yep! Bus rapid transit on Northside Drive? Indeed. New MARTA stations at Krog Street, Mechanicsville, and Murphy Crossing, improvements to other stops, and a number of bus upgrades? Yes, yes, and yes. Sky Buckets along Moreland Avenue? Not yet!

These are just some of the projects that the Atlanta City Council on Monday said should be eligible to receive cash from a half-percent sales tax voters will decide in November (the full list is below). If approved, that cash — a conservative estimate says it would generate $2.5 billion over 40 years — would help expand MARTA and build new transit in the City of Atlanta, plus maybe a rail line from Lindbergh to Emory University. (That is, if DeKalb County opts to join the fun.) 

If the selection of projects looks familiar, that's because the list is nearly identical to the collection of options city officials presented to voters just a few weeks ago, when the lightning-fast public-engagement process began. However, the $2.5 billion won't be enough to fund all the rail lines, bus routes, and new stations. 

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Laughing for love

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 10:29 AM

Event Organizer Kia Comedy - KIA COMEDY
  • Kia Comedy
  • Event Organizer Kia Comedy
In wake of the recent tragedy in Orlando, LGBT comic/activist Kia Comedy organized a group of queer and allied artists to raise money for the OneOrlando Fund, recently announced as a way to help respond to the needs of Orlando after the shooting. Deeply affected by the deaths of those at the Pulse nightclub — a location that Kia Comedy is deeply familiar with from her time living in Orlando — the group has joined to put on the More Love Less Hate Benefit, proceeds of which will go to efforts to help and heal the people of Orlando, particularly its LGBT and Hispanic communities. Featuring a series of local comedians alongside multiple musical performances, including Blu Mutha, Tyra B, and Steezo Da Champ, the show seeks to bring laughter to a dark time.

Hosted by Diamond Keshawn, editor-in-chief of Raynbow Affair, the benefit will be held at the ILounge. While there is a minimum donation for entry, attendees are encouraged to donate as much as they can, to stand with Orlando and Pulse against anti-LGBT violence. All are welcome.

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Exploring the creative seasons of Maddy Barreto

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 9:50 AM

FREE FROM THE WHACK: Visual artist Maddy Barreto makes work for herself. - COURTESY MADDY BARRETO
  • courtesy maddy barreto
  • FREE FROM THE WHACK: Visual artist Maddy Barreto makes work for herself.

Curled up on the stool of a wooden table and hidden behind a pile of clay, you can  find artist Maddy Barreto, working tirelessly on one of her latest projects. Barreto, a lifelong Atlantan, is carving an unconventional path for herself as an artist. After her illustrations graced the cover of a recent Creative Loafing cover (see her process in a video after the jump), it seemed fitting to get to know more about her and her creative process.

By day, Barreto is a nanny, which not only helps fund her growing art career but also adds a lighthearted vibe to much of her work. From her airy illustrations, to whimsical pipes, it’s evident she never lost her child-like wonder.

Although she has no formal art school education, Barreto gravitates to educational environments, taking advantage of learning new tricks from creative friends whenever possible. She calls illustration her “building block for all things creative,” but still strives to grow her artistic repertoire. Barreto took classes at WonderRoot this past year, watching and learning from some of her closest friends. Although her focus lies on screen printing and metalsmithing, Barreto’s booking serious hours in WonderRoot’s ceramic studio, which she also helps manage. She first started at at the DIY institution with a Intro to Ceramics class, where she says she fell in love with the medium.

For now, Barreto is taking some time away from “creating art for the sake of people buying it” to rechannel efforts into personal projects. She says it’s important to her to focus more on periods in her life she calls “creative seasons.” These seasons do not directly reflect those on the calendar, but instead symbolize certain events, emotions, and relationships in her life. For her, it is important to recognize these seasons in order to better remember these specific periods of her life.

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First Slice 6/24/16: Sandy Springs hates Cobb's "nightmare" Braves traffic plan

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 8:44 AM

"Why sit in traffic on the highway when you could sit in traffic on a local street?" - ATLANTA BRAVES
  • Atlanta Braves
  • "Why sit in traffic on the highway when you could sit in traffic on a local street?"
Cobb County announced a plan this week to direct Braves traffic off I-285 and onto local streets in Sandy Springs. The idea is to use "dynamic" signs that urge drivers to reduce highway congestion by exiting earlier and taking Northside Drive and Powers Ferry to get to the game. Sandy Springs (and most of metro Atlanta) thinks the plan is a nightmare.

Democratic lawmakers led by Congressman John Lewis, D-Atlanta, ended their House chamber sit-in for gun control measures after nearly 26 hours. The protesters were unable to secure a pledge from Republican leaders to take action on two firearms-related bills, but Lewis says the fight will continue. "We got in the way," he says. "We got into trouble. Good trouble, necessary trouble. We must keep the faith and come back here... more determined than ever before.”

Remember those 30 Glocks that Atlanta Public Schools feared were stolen? Don't worry, says APS. No weapons are missing, although school officials aren't totally sure how many firearms they actually have.

The Beltline Eastside Trail has a new access point at The Plaza at North Avenue, where pedestrians and cyclists can also take a load off and rest on track-side benches. Another access point is under construction at Ralph McGill Boulevard.

Britain has voted to leave the European Union. The value of the pound has taken a hit, and Prime Minister David Cameron is stepping down.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

No 'wild and crazy' state golf plans in Buckhead, GBA honcho says

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 2:51 PM

You wild and crazy golfers - JOEFF DAVIS/CL FILE
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • You wild and crazy golfers

“We’re hearing rumors of all kinds of all kinds of wild and crazy plans. There’s not any wild and crazy plans."

— Steven Stancil, executive director of the Georgia Building Authority, on reports of the state planning to build a nine-hole golf destination to replace the 18-hole Bobby Jones Golf Course in Buckhead. The GBA board formally agreed today to iron out the transaction details with the City of Atlanta, which owns the course and is aiming to swap the links for a state-owned parking deck downtown. The city wants to bundle the Wall Street parking properties in a deal to sell Underground Atlanta. Stancil said at today's GBA meeting that the agency, which oversees the state's real-estate portfolio, will "meet with folks and [decide] what the best course of action is for the operation" once it owns the course.  Stancil said the deal with the city is in its "infancy" and he does not know when it might get done. 

To save CL time from painstakingly documenting every comment people say, we've created 'Soundbites' to call attention to their remarks.

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Time and Place: Trump game

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 1:48 PM

11:27 a.m., June 15, 2016, 659 Peachtree St. - STEVE EBERHARDT
  • Steve Eberhardt
  • 11:27 a.m., June 15, 2016, 659 Peachtree St.

During my lunch break I walked over to the Fox Theatre a little while before Donald Trump was scheduled to speak. I knew there would be protesters and the scene outside would be more interesting than what would be happening inside the rally.

When I got there the sidewalk was full of protesters opposing Trump, but there were also a few Trump supporters walking through the crowd.

The young man in the center of this photo was one of the Trump supporters. He was arguing with a man who was there to protest against the Trump rally. I was attracted to the scene for the same reason the other cameras were: That is where the action was.

The two men were arguing about whether or not Trump was racist. I didn't think either of them made their points well and wished all of the cameras were recording a more substantial and meaningful exchange.

I like this photo because it captures the emotion of the moment and shows just how much attention was being paid to the conversation.

I knew that my presence and that of the others with cameras was adding to the tension of the moment. The encounter between the two men might have ended with just a few passing comments if they hadn't been surrounded by all of us.

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New group show promises to pop off

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 11:59 AM

"Sparkling Pop Art" by Cold Tony - COURTESY COLD TONY
  • courtesy cold tony
  • "Sparkling Pop Art" by Cold Tony
Although many have tried, no one can conclusively pinpoint the cause of seltzer's recent surge in popularity in the States. Publixes across the city go from boasting actual La Croix 12-pack box forts only to show bare shelves an hour later. But you know what? That's totally fine. Why do people holding phones ask others what time it is? Do fish get cramps after a large meal? Is ZAYN being iRoNic? We don't always get to understand some of life's most beautiful mysteries, seltzer's newfound demand included. 

"It's a really weird phenomenon because it's just water with bubbles, and it's been around for a long time in Europe and other countries but here it's like… I guess we're all trying to get healthy and stuff," visual artist Cold Tony says.

Instead of further questioning this bubbly boom, Cold Tony votes we celebrate it. In recognition of a fizzy favorite, he organized Saturday's Effervescence: Sparkling Water Inspired Art show, including works from artists like Sara Santamaria, Mary Stuart Hall, SQuishiepuss, and more.

Tony, like most humans, wasn't an immediate convert to that seltzer lifestyle. It took a few hard years of living to really learn proper bubbles beverage appreciation. "As a small child I became infatuated over the Mountain Blackberry Clearly Canadians my mother enjoyed yet was not willing to share," he says. "In my mind they seemed to be a sophisticated forbidden fruit that I needed to mature into."

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