Atlanta Magazine :: September 2009 :: Cabbagetown
September 2009

Neighborhood Watch

A new look at Cabbagetown’s quirky characters
By Candice Dyer

At first, Atlanta artist and filmmaker Rose M. Barron wanted to title her new film Satyritown, as a wink at Federico Fellini’s 1969 film and an indicator of the wondrous strangeness of her subject: quirky intown neighborhood Cabbagetown. Nevertheless, she went with a more straightforward title instead: SurREEL Cabbagetown. “I was first struck by the yard art and became intrigued with the way each person has created his or her own wonderland, with tree houses, mausoleums, doll heads mounted on fences. So I wanted to go deeper into each little world.”

Barron is known for her provocative multimedia work, which usually explores issues of identity, particularly gender. With this project, though, she focused her lens on a community known for its indelibly quizzical character—and characters. Cabbagetown, once an insular, poor but proud mill village of Appalachian transplants, offered sanctuary to bohemians in the 1970s before spiffing up in the nineties wave of intown gentrification. The arugula crowd, though, has not yet stamped out C-town’s offbeat old guard, lovingly showcased in Barron’s production. For the film, which opens amongst the Krog Street tunnel’s philosophical graffiti, Barron used old-fashioned Super 8 to capture the nubby, grainy texture of the community. “People here are known as the Jester, the Reverend, the Doc, the Bike Doctor. One man makes furniture and carves ‘Jesus’ inside each piece.” Supervising it all is the “Wood Wizard,” she says, pointing to her photo of an intense-looking bearded man perched high in a tree. “He views himself as a sort of superhero who watches over the neighborhood.”

Barron will screen the film next month at Opal Gallery in Little Five Points and later will exhibit its still images there as well. Opal director Constance Lewis sums up Barron’s work: “Rose gets right into the lives of people who too often have been overlooked.”

Photograph by Rose M. Barron