Phil Elie – impresario extraordinaire – flew in from his home in Paris last week to organize this event with some old friends in the Pillowtex warehouse. Now used as headquarters for the non-profit group, Give Us Names, the founders graciously allowed us access for the evening.
I discovered the space in 1980, while looking for a larger apartment. A loft space seemed ideal, as I was beginning to think about doing larger paintings at the time. When the realtor/owner told me about it, I was thrilled at the light and the square footage – 7,000 square feet on each of 3 completely empty floors right in what is now the Castleberry Arts District. A huge space with fabulous casement windows on two sides. But I couldn’t afford the rent by myself; $350 at the time. Since I had lived in communal houses in both urban and rural settings during my early twenties, that idea was out for me. I told my pal Arthur and we looked at it by flashlight one night, there was no electricity in the building at the time. The rest of the story is history.
Phil and the artist Arthur Matthews (Theo), who was the first person to live in the space.
The historic real estate transaction included other background characters; I was working as a printmaker at Odyssey Studio in 1978 – from a contact via Jonny Hibbert (see below), and knew Arthur from his relationship with Kathleen, a co-worker in the frame division at the studio. They had split up and Arthur was looking for a place to live. Phil was hired at Odyssey in 1981 as a young printmaker, he was still in school at the Atlanta College of Art and was moving out of his place on St. Charles Avenue. The coincidental part of the tale is that I had lived right next door to Phil on St. Charles, from 1977 to 1979 – before I ever met him.
It was great to see Phil again. I had last seen him in San Francisco during my dotcom years from 1997-2001, and visited when he, Sally and the boys lived in Oakland.
Three cut and painted wood pieces by Theo (Arthur Matthews).
Malcolm Fordham, photographs of dogs circa 1995.
Malcolm briefly lived with Phil on St. Charles, along with other characters from my past – the arts writer Tom Patterson and artist Cornel Rubino. Tom had a crazy pal who used to bring moonshine down from the NC mountains and Cornel and his wife Linda ended up being neighbors at my next place over on Virginia Avenue, in the VA/Highlands neighborhood.
Malcolm and his wife Cindy came all the way from their generational farm in Dublin, Georgia for Saturday’s extravaganza. They left their 30 newly hatched chicks in a neighbor’s heated closet.
Some of Phil’s old pals from the Atlanta College of Art showed their work at the event.
Anne Cox, sculptures.
Tom Zarrilli setting up his assemblages and his wife Cindy’s drawings and paintings.
Tom recently had a show at Callanwolde with his photography of yard sales.
I met Bill Rea when he played with the Glenn Phillips band, and have always adored his exquisite bass playing. We discovered that we both revere the bassist and composer Steve Swallow. Bill has worked with the Atlanta Symphony, composes, and he and Roxanne run a predominately classical sheet music store, Hutchins and Rae.
Brookhaven was another mecca for innovative young musicians in the 1970s; Glenn and Dan Baird lived out there, along with Philip Stone, David Michaelson, Jeff Calder and Neill Bogan…and so many others. Gina and I shared a house for a time in the neighborhood and it’s how we got to know so many of the characters. Bill and Roxanne still live there.
Phil’s theme for the soirée incorporated Gluck’s opera, based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Heaven, hell, love and transformation – along with nymphs and furies, were all part of Saturday evening’s entertainment. The Rae duo’s performance on electronic instruments provided the necessary transcendence.
Some of the performances and installations were by Cindy Zarrilli, Terry Coffey, Deborah Heidel, Eloise, Stan Woodard, Elaine Ward, Charlotte Scott and Lisa Clark McKnight. I don’t have names for everyone, please add if you know anyone I left out.
My two paintings – Night on 22nd Avenue, oil on canvas 1999 and Nocturne, oil on canvas 2011.
Phil’s sublime drypoint etchings.
Quilt by Theda Bara.
Phil and David Dean, who also lived at Pillowtex.
Arthur and his wife Casey Green – a wonderful quiltmaker.
Jonny Hibbert, Kevin Haller, David Dean.
Jonny Hibbert, Jules Perry and Elaine Ward.
Jonny Hibbert was my first friend in Atlanta – we met at a Weather Report concert in mid 1977 when the great late Jaco Pastorius was in his full glory. Jonny introduced me to Atlanta’s world of young musicians, blossoming at the time. He happens to be the original producer for REM’s first singles on his own Hibtone label. My sister Gina, a freelance writer in Atlanta, was also pals with David Dean, his seatmate at that early concert. I think Jonny must know every artist and musician in Atlanta.
David and his lovely wife, Colleen.
Ann Cox, ACA grad.
Chris Edmonds, a local musician who had a band in the ’80s – with Kathleen Maher and Phil. Kathleen left Odyssey Studio in 1981, after having her son Rijn. His father – and the connection to Pillowtex – is Arthur Matthews.
Some older photos from back in the day. Arthur holding Rijn with Philip Northman and Rosa.
Arthur and Rijn, Philip, Sally Elie and Rosa in foreground, Stan Woodard with unidentified woman, Phil and a man I can’t place:
Rosa and Phil formed the space ‘TV Dinners’ together, an early model for live entertainment and dinner. The space offered screenings of art films and had a former strippers’ runway for avant fashion shows.
Phil tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. We missed seeing his wife Sally this time. Hopefully she’ll come with him on the next jaunt to Atlanta. Thanks, Phil – we’ll always have Pillowtex!