The much-anticipated Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, has made its debut at Atlanta’s historical industrial complex, Pratt-Pullman Yard. Atlanta’s the first place in North America to host the exhibition, which gained international notoriety in Europe and Asia and will open around the country in the coming months. Part museum, part immersive 360-degree digital spectacle, and part hands-on activity, the show takes guests on a journey through the Dutch post-impressionist artist’s life, including his inspiration, struggles, and contributions to the art world.
While he considered a variety of cities to launch stateside, Mario Iacampo, the show’s producer and CEO of Exhibition Hub, who once lived in Atlanta, felt that it was ideal. And, while the first time he visited the 20,000-square-foot building at Pullman Yard, there were no doors on the 100-plus-year-old building and the roof was leaking, it fit his vision (and has since been repaired and is now climate-controlled).“It reminded me so much of many of the cathedrals we’ve done in Europe,” he says of the space. “[The room in] the center of the Pullman Yards building gives you that cathedral-like feeling with the high ceilings. The building adds a level of texture to the experience.” Want to see what has visitors buzzing? Here’s what you need to know before you go:
Don’t sleep on scoring a ticket Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience Atlanta will run through the end of 2021, and everyone who plans to experience it needs to have a timed reservation. There’s so much buzz around this spectacle that tickets are going fast: more than 225,000 have been sold so far. Standard tickets start at $19.10 for children and $32.20 for adults and are available at https://vangoghexpo.com/atlanta/. Digital tickets are distributed through the Fever app, available via Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
Take your time Plan to spend up to an hour and a half soaking it in. Those interested in the educational elements may want to spend extra time reading the detailed history of Van Gogh’s life and inspiration. The pièce de résistance is the 35-minute immersive portion, which runs on a loop. Guests can find a spot in the cathedral-like center room and watch as more than 300 of Van Gogh’s works of art come alive as they’re projected onto the two-story-tall walls, set to an original score by Dutch composer Thomas Sohet. Looking for something extra? Pay a $5 upcharge (or spring for a VIP ticket) for a 10-minute virtual reality experience that takes you through a day in the artist’s life to see the places that inspired some of his most iconic paintings, including Cafe Terrace At Night and Starry Night.
What to leave behind “I don’t like rules,” says Iacampo. “I tried to design an exhibit so that once you’ve got your tickets, you can come through at your own pace.” Still, there are a few ground rules, including no food or drink and no smoking or vaping inside the building. Photography is allowed without a flash. And small umbrella strollers are welcome, but parents are asked to forgo bringing anything larger.
Covid-19 precautions Organizers have designed the experience to minimize Covid risk, including strictly limiting the building’s capacity (via timed tickets) and frequently sanitizing high-traffic areas. Guests are required to wear a mask while inside, and hand sanitizer stations are available. For the virtual reality experience, VR goggles are sanitized between uses, and guests receive a disposable google liner for extra hygiene.
Michele Stumpe’s list of charitable contributions and professional accomplishments is so lengthy, it reads like fiction, but the truth is that she’s built her life around making a difference. Partner at the Taylor English law firm, Stumpe also is a co-founder and board member of Atlanta’s the Giving Kitchen; co-founder and CEO of Children of Conservation, a humanitarian organization in Africa; board chair of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, a coalition of wildlife centers; and a board member for the Chimpanzee Wildlife Sanctuary and Conservation Trust, among others. Her love of wildlife started early when, at 12 years old, she began volunteering in the primate nursery at a zoo in Brownsville, Texas. As a teen she worked as a camp counselor for children battling cancer and volunteered with Camp Twin Lakes for more than a dozen years before joining the charity’s board.
While her efforts to make the world a better place span the globe, she also focuses on improving opportunities close to home. She and fellow attorney Ilene Berman started a thriving mentor program for women at their firm.
Though giving back is its own reward, in 2018 famed conservationist Jane Goodall presented Stumpe with an award recognizing her commitment to conservation in Entebbe, Uganda. “She’s been such an icon throughout my whole life,” Stumpe says. “To not only meet her, but to have her call me out in gratitude for work I’ve done was a special memory that will stay with me.”
Philanthropy is a family affair: Stumpe’s husband, Kerry, is an architect and serves as president of Children of Conservation, and their daughter, Kourtney, serves on the junior board. And Stumpe is not slowing down. Next up? A model community project in Uganda designed to address all 17 of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. It’s a massive undertaking, but for Stumpe, such projects are life-affirming. “[Giving back] lets you get so much perspective and so much more out of life,” she says.
If you’ve noticed the “Heroes Work Here” billboard overlooking the Downtown Connector, you’ve seen the handiwork of Lindsay Caulfield, chief marketing and experience officer for Grady Health System.
“Grady has always thrived in a crisis. It’s what we do. We rise to the occasion,” she says of the 8,000-member team. The large-scale display was a way to honor their contributions and sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
On staff since 2012, Caulfield is tasked with telling stories that set the hospital apart (she pioneered the memorable “I wouldn’t be here without Grady” campaign). Armed with a master’s in health communication, she joined Grady after working at a global marketing and public relations agency. Caulfield is also responsible for optimizing every Grady patient’s experience from start to finish.
“We have amazing physicians, nurses, clinical staff, and support staff. And every one of those people also needs to be amazing at delivering an exceptional patient experience because that’s a big part of delivering the best possible outcomes,” she says. “It means that at every point of entry into our health system, we have to be 100 percent patient-centered.”
Caulfield makes it her business to walk the halls, talking to patients and staff at every level, from C-suite executives and surgeons to facilities and security team members, looking for ways to make the hospital experience even better. For her, it’s not just a job, it’s a way of life. “Grady’s mission and Lindsay’s calling are the same—to champion Atlanta’s underserved,” says her colleague, Leigh Reece, who serves as executive director of marketing.
In her off time, Caulfield frequents farmers markets in and around the Inman Park home she shares with her long-time partner and enjoys creating home-cooked meals from the bounty. “Getting to be a part of something so big, so important, and so meaningful is what keeps me going back every day,” she says.
Travel is multisensory by definition, and after months at home living in a two-dimensional world of screens, a visit to the Joseph in downtown Nashville is a welcome jolt. The new luxury hotel in the city’s SoBro neighborhood (that’s “south of Broadway”) is a treat for the eyes from the moment you pull into the porte cochere, which is lined with a living wall of plants and a floor-to-ceiling video installation featuring a trio of galloping Spanish horses. Prominently parked in front is a Burberry-trimmed black London cab ready to take guests anywhere within a three-mile radius—though once you step inside the modern twenty-one-story glass building, chances are you won’t want to leave.
The hotel’s owner, Joel Pizzuti, and his family made their fortune developing real estate around the country for the last five decades, and they are world-class art collectors. (The hotel’s namesake is Pizzuti’s grandfather, Joseph.) The property showcases more than 1,000 pieces from their private collection, including a Tennessee Portfolio dedicated to local artists. The South’s maker culture is well represented too: Smart uniforms were created by Alabama-based designer Billy Reid, the reception desk features hand-tooled leather paneling by Texas boot manufacturer Lucchese, and in-room minibars are stocked with Nashville-made treats like Olive & Sinclair chocolates and beer from Bearded Iris Brewing.
The food here also awakens the senses. The hotel’s flagship restaurant, Yolan, is led by James Beard Award winner and Michelin-starred chef Tony Mantuano (you might also know him from Bravo’s Top Chef Masters) and turns out exquisite Italian dishes like saffron risotto topped with lobster, or delicate handmade pasta stuffed with North Georgia candy roaster squash. Each plate is a colorful masterpiece in its own right.
For a different type of visual treat, claim a Technogym or Peloton station in the twenty-first-floor gym and prepare to be dazzled by the Nashville skyline. The top floor is also home to Rose, the elegant full-service spa, and Denim, the rooftop lounge and pool deck serving Mediterranean-influenced fare and craft cocktails (the Branching Out, featuring brown-butter bourbon, packs a punch).
The 297-room property marries large-hotel standards with small-property perks, creating a best-of-both-worlds experience. Crisp Frette linens and in-room iPads for booking reservations and requesting amenities are paired with charming elements that make the Joseph feel like a boutique hotel. Suites might come outfitted with an Audio-Technica turntable and vintage records, a plush sofa with cowhide pillows, and espresso cups emblazoned with a line drawing of Lou, the hotelier’s beloved French bulldog. From the stunning decor to the gracious staff (many of whom recognize guests—even behind their masks—and address them by name), this Music City property is a sensational escape.
Pay a visit to Hatch Show Print, one of America’s oldest letterpress print shops, housed in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum—just a three-minute walk from the hotel. Started in 1879 by brothers Charles and Herbert Hatch, the brand has created iconic posters for stars like Duke Ellington, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, and Etta James. Take a behind-the-scenes tour or score a signature poster to take home.
This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2021 issue of Southbound.
“I wanted to feel something again,” vampire Damon Salvatore once said in The Vampire Diaries. “And when I decided to come back home, it all came rushing back, just like I hoped it would.”
Life imitates art for actor Ian Somerhalder, who played Salvatore for eight seasons on the hit show. Though he has lived in sizable metropoles including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Toronto (where he’s filming his current sci-fi horror series V Wars), nothing comes close to the allure of the tiny towns in southeastern Louisiana that provided the backdrop for his formative years. “There’s something magical about going back,” says forty-one-year-old Somerhalder, who is based in Southern California with his wife, actress Nikki Reed, and daughter Bodhi. “There’s nothing like it.”
Somerhalder grew up in St. Tammany Parish on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, opposite New Orleans. Money was tight, but he says he has only fond memories of that time. “The bayous and rivers that snake through those places—they are all part of my being,” he says. He and his brother Robert used to set crab traps at the mouth of Bayou Lacombe before the sun came up and fish for trout, sac-a-lait, and amberjack to cook for family meals. “We had an abundance of life, energy, family, and culture,” he says. “Most people don’t get to grow up with that.”
These days, when his plane lands in New Orleans, his dad picks him up and hands him a strong cup of coffee and a beignet before they take the twenty-four-mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway home. Depending on Somerhalder’s mood, his first stop might be the Mandeville lakefront (“It’s stunning, with hundred-year-old trees”), Covington’s 1876 H.J. Smith & Sons General Store (“We used to get our horse feed there; when you live in a big city, you forget that these places still exist”), or Roy’s Knife & Archery Shop (“I used to buy my pocket knives there—back then, an eight-year-old could ride his bike to a shop and buy a pocket knife”).
Somerhalder loves a good meal, and he heartily recommends the food in St. Tammany Parish. When he’s away, he dreams about bayou staples like trout amandine and Louisiana blue crab cakes, which he orders at Morton’s Seafood Restaurant and Bar in Madisonville, situated on the Tchefuncte River. He also has fond memories of digging into hand-tossed pies with friends at McClain’s Pizzeria in Mandeville, which his sister Robyn once co-owned and operated. And he says Sal & Judy’s Restaurant in Lacombe is one of the primary reasons the parish has become a food lover’s destination. “It’s a tiny place that sells burgers and pasta, but it’s so good, people come from New Orleans to eat there,” he says.
When he’s not eating his way through his trips home, Somerhalder loves to get outdoors. A vocal environmentalist and creator of the conservation-focused Ian Somerhalder Foundation, he regularly heads to Covington’s thirteen-acre Bogue Falaya Park, tucked along the river of the same name, to simply look out on the water. For a bit of exercise, he bikes along Tammany Trace’s thirty-one miles of trails, which follow an 1810 railroad line connecting the parish’s towns. (He recommends pausing at Abita Brewing Company for a root beer before getting back on the trail.) He also enjoys taking the Honey Island Swamp Tour in the nearly 70,000-acre preserve of the same name. “You float through vast swaths of swamp and marshland,” he says. “From boat level, you see alligators, herons, and ducks.”
While Somerhalder stays with family when he’s home, he recommends out-of-towners try the Southern Hotel, housed within a historic 1907 building in the heart of downtown Covington. For those who want to spend a night or two on the water, he’s a fan of the cabins and campsites at Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville. He calls this 2,800-acre former sugar plantation “a magical place, because it’s right on the lakefront, where you can see the area’s biodiversity.” Somerhalder suggests casting a line or setting a crab trap to catch your own meal.
Years of fame and living on the glossy West Coast haven’t polished away Somerhalder’s love of Louisiana’s murky bayou water, moss-draped trees, and amber glasses of sweet tea. “Talking about all of this makes me miss home so much,” he says, adding that he’s grateful for regular trips back to Louisiana that give him something to look forward to. Thanks in part to his conservation work, Somerhalder can trust that the sights, sounds, and tastes of St. Tammany Parish will always be there to reinforce his love of home.
Take a Bite Out of the Peach State
Somerhalder lived in Georgia’s capital from 2009 to 2017 while filming The Vampire Diaries. “Atlanta is as much a part of my life as Los Angeles or New York,” he says. Here are some of his favorite food finds:
Victory Sandwich Bar For casual nights out, he and his friends (including his now-wife) rode bikes to the original Inman Park location of this low-key eatery to “play ping pong and drink Jack-and-Coke slushies.”
Rathbun’s and Krog Bar High-end restaurants by chef Kevin Rathbun (“He’s a good buddy”) were in Somerhalder’s regular rotation. “I love Rathbun’s, and we practically lived at Krog Bar,” he says.
Highland Bakery Somerhalder fondly remembers sprinting on the Atlanta BeltLine to earn his best-loved brunches at this morning staple. “The peanut butter French toast is stupid good,” he says.
This article appears in our Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Southbound magazine.
In Athens, architect–turned–furniture designer Kelley Bishop has opened a wonderland shop of handmade goods centered around her rustic but contemporary furniture, including walnut waterfall dining tables and solid plank platform beds. But it’s not just about the big stuff: A wide array of textiles, art, lighting, and ceramics cozies up the historic warehouse space. Makers include Atlanta ceramicist Charlotte Smith Studios, Athens’s boho stone-focused Mineral Forest, and Hudson Valley–based Minna, which creates colorful, graphic, Bauhaus-inspired textiles. @steelandplank
Longtime collectors Heidi and Ramsey Maune made their new Miami Circle gallery stand out from stiff competition by focusing on limited-edition prints and multiples by blue-chip contemporary artists. The opening exhibition in September made a big splash with pieces by uber-cool nonagenarian pop artist Alex Katz, including an original oil painting.
Atlanta scored a new auction house with the opening of Chicago-based Hindman on Miami Circle last spring. Since then, it’s sold Parisian haute couture worn by Olivia de Havilland and the Estate of Charles Ackerman, a collector and Atlanta commercial real estate developer. A Wilfredo Lam oil on canvas, a highlight of the Ackerman collection, brought in upwards of $200,000—more than four times the presale estimate. Someone else who’s sold? Michael Shapiro, former director of the High Museum, who serves as a senior advisor.
Just six months after British furnishings brand Julian Chichester (by the designer of the same name) opened its ADAC showroom, it doubled its 5,000-square-foot space due to demand. The eclectic offerings—case goods, upholstery, lighting—feel like the meeting of an 18th-century European estate and a clubby cocktail lounge. The showroom also offers a studio for creating bespoke furnishings.
Kevin O’Gara has been a local design fixture since he started his blog, Thou Swell, in 2013 when he was just 16 years old. Now 22, he’s got a bamboo silk, labyrinth-inspired rug collection under his belt and more than 20,000 Instagram followers. After studying interior design and hospitality management at Cornell University, he’s back in Atlanta to focus on Kevin Francis Design.
With a design by Cara Cummins of TaC Studios, Farrow & Ball paint colors, and Kravet fabrics, the Lola at Southern Dairies isn’t your average co-working space. Founded by Eileen Lee, a former corporate consultant, and Martine Resnick, who was a senior brand manager at Turner, the Lola is a women-only professional and social club with a podcast studio, private meeting rooms named after notable Southern women, a mothers’ area, and a chic powder room. “We were thinking women first—we wanted it to feel soft, feminine, welcoming, warm, and not like an office at all,” says Resnick. “We wanted it to feel like a members’ club or a nice hotel lobby.”
The old is new again as Englishman’s Fine Furnishings—a long-time resource for antiques and reproductions—adds a location at ADAC in addition to its original Vinings storefront. Clients can scout for historical pieces, customize them, or build something new to order. “Expanding to ADAC makes sense because it’s where designers go to shop in Atlanta,” says Anita Vreeland, president of marketing and design. The showroom, which stands among modern neighbors like Habachy Designs and Showroom 58, also showcases new additions like reclaimed wood flooring and barn doors.
After nearly 35 years on Huff Road, Atlanta’s go-to fabric shop Lewis and Sheron has relocated to a new 18,000-square-foot design center on Collier Road. “Our goal was to create a design center that changes the way people shop for furniture and fabrics for their home,” explains Sam Sheron of his vision for the next phase in the 75-year-old, family-owned company’s evolution. The center offers more than 40,000 yards of in-stock fabric, plus many thousands more to order from mills around the globe.
Influenced by French modern style, Atlanta interior designer Amy Morris released a new eight-piece lighting collection this year with Charleston-based manufacturer Avrett. “I often found myself challenging Avrett to make custom pieces at almost twice the size of what they had,” she says. “Eventually, owner Peyton Avrett approached me about a collection.” The fashion-forward offerings include geometric sconces and sculptural chandeliers that play with scale to add interest.
Take down this name. After years at boutique firm Square Feet Studio (best known for restaurants like Kimball House and the General Muir), and a stint at MT Studio (Mashburn, Brother Moto), designer Laura W. Jenkins struck out on her own. Since then, she’s rolled out designs for Alpharetta’s Restaurant Holmes (which features a howling wolf mural) and Never Enough Thyme (cheery and colorful). Her residential work is just as much fun.
Designer Arrival: Jessica Davis
Atlanta can add to its roster of top-notch interior and product designers with the arrival of Jessica Davis of Nest Studio and Atelier Davis from the New York City area. Her whimsical, artisan hardware, including colorful Bauhaus-inspired curved pulls, brass figurine knobs, and glazed ceramic pieces, can be found at Matthew Quinn Collection at ADAC West. Next up? Expect collaborations with local artisans, and an expansion of her interior design work in the area.
The man who wrote the veritable bible on kitchen design has done it again. This fall, Matthew Quinn of Design Galleria released the second volume of Quintessential Kitchens and Spaces (Parrish Press), three years after the first. Drool over stunning photography of 15 kitchens, plus baths, dressing rooms, pantries, laundry rooms, and bars in recent projects ranging from a Nashville Tudor renovation to a whimsical retreat in Vero Beach, Florida.
With an expanded space dedicated to British designer Tom Dixon’s avant-garde creations at Switch Modern, Atlantans can see samples of all of his furniture and lighting in person. “It shows how impactful his work can be when shown in clusters of like designs,” explains store co-owner Doug Henderson. The Melt and Opal suspension lights hung in clusters are one such showstopper.
Hotel Upgrade: The St. Regis Atlanta
When the hotel got a series of interior overhauls in honor of its 10th anniversary, its restaurant, Atlas, landed the highlight: a sort of secret garden in a 3,000-square-foot solarium with retractable walls, designed by the Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry as a casual complement to the main dining room. Decor includes a floating bar with a laser-cut metal facade and a mosaic interpretation of Gustav Klimt’s unfinished Portrait of Ria Munk III in Italian glass tile.
It’s long overdue: With the opening of Curated Home Brands, Katrena Griggs is the first black female principal of a showroom at the 7.2-million-square-foot AmericasMart. The former vice president of Codarus launched her showroom softly at summer market, with plans for a grand rollout in January. Her 2,500-square-foot space hosts 12 lines of furnishings, bedding, and accessories, including the local SmithHonig’s splashy textile collection Boho Luxe and MooMoo Designs’ earthy global goods of horn, wood, resin, and bone. This year, Griggs was bestowed the Kimberly E. Ward Icon Award from the Black Interior Designers Network in honor of its late founder.
Tabletop Finds: The Clay Shop
The local ceramics studio with the nationwide cult following, Courtney Hamill’s Honeycomb Studio, has expanded in a big way this year with the opening of a brick-and-mortar called the Clay Shop. Part workspace, part boutique, the new Chattahoochee Avenue shop carries not only Hamill’s own work—her famed gold-dipped bud vases and matte black plates—but also that of other artists, including L.A.’s A Ways Away and local artists like Courtney Tate’s Sandwich Shop.
It would be easy for Vince Gill, to quote from his chart-topping 1995 ballad, to “rest high on the mountain” of his forty years of success. Instead, he takes pleasure in the everyday trappings of the life he shares with fellow singer-songwriter Amy Grant—including their blended family of five children and two grandchildren.
“Our youngest daughter, Corrina, has graduated from high school, so Amy and I will be empty nesters for the first time in our marriage,” says the sixty-two-year-old musical icon, who tied the knot with Grant in 2000. “I’m about to have my best buddy to myself.”
Though he still plays about ninety dates a year on various tours, including as the Eagles’ lead singer (a post he filled upon Glenn Frey’s passing in 2016), he relishes time at home in their Belle Meade neighborhood, just west of Nashville (“It’s the real well-to-do part of town with the prettiest homes. I’ve always loved the architecture.”).
When he’s in town, most mornings neighbors will find him at the counter of Noshville, his favorite restaurant in the Green Hills suburb. The New York–style deli serves breakfast all day—hearty eggs Benedict, omelettes, corned beef hash, griddle cakes—but Gill never needs to scope out the menu. “My buddy Sherman, the main chef, has gotten to know what I love. I just show up and a plate of food appears,” Gill says. “He says, ‘You should eat this today.’ I love having breakfast, and I love that they take such good care of me. The counter rats that come every day call the place ‘Cheers with eggs.’”
While his musical tastes run the gamut, his food preferences are less diverse: “I’m not a very adventurous eater. I’m kind of a meat-and-potatoes kid.” To get his steak fix, you might find him and Grant at Bob’s Steak & Chop House, known for its generous prime cuts and spuds that come baked, smashed, or skillet-fried. The downtown Nashville eatery is just steps from the Country Music Hall of Fame (300 feet away on 5th Avenue South), into which Gill was inducted in 2007.
While it’s often cited that Gill has won more Grammys than any other male country music artist (twenty-one, if you’re counting), his diverse musical proclivities—membership in the rock band Pure Prairie League in the 1970s, a collaboration with jazz star Diana Krall, and the bluegrass ditty “High Lonesome Sound,” which he recorded with Alison Krauss—mean he doesn’t self-identify as a country star. “Country is where most people found me, but I just call myself a musician,” he says. “I’ve always played music I liked. I don’t have to define it.”
Ask Gill how many instruments he plays, and his answer is straightforward: “Anything with strings on it. I could play the drums, but you wouldn’t want to hear it.” It’s this love of plucking and strumming that made him an ideal spokesperson for the launch of Chattanooga’s Songbirds Guitar Museum in 2017, which features a rotating display of more than 1,500 vintage and historically significant pieces. “It’s an astounding collection, one of the greatest in the world,” he says. “There’s just something magical about old instruments, where they’ve been, the lives they’ve led, music they’ve played. That’s my obsession.”
His other life-long obsession? Golf, which he picked up as a child in Oklahoma, playing with his dad. “If I’ve got spare time, I usually wind up on the golf course somewhere,” he says. One of his favorite spots to hit the links is the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a collection of championship-caliber courses spread across the state of Alabama. He also plays just about every course in and around Nashville. (“I played yesterday, I’ll play tomorrow.”)
Much like the highs and lows of a good country song, the notoriously fickle game has the potential to be a heartbreaker. “Every day is hard, every hole is hard,” he says. “It’s such a mysterious game. Some days you can’t miss, some days you can’t find it, but it’s always fun trying.”
While Gill loves chasing his best score, he tries to save plenty of time to connect with his wife. Each year, they return to the roots of their relationship for a series of Christmas concerts at the Ryman in Nashville. (“That’s how we met, doing Christmas music way back in the early nineties.”) Though they don’t record and perform together regularly (“We both had twenty-five-plus-year careers on our own, so we thought it was not wise to become Sonny and Cher”), his new album, Okie, includes a deeply personal tribute to his soulmate. “One of the standouts is ‘When My Amy Prays,’” he says. The song was inspired by other people’s preconceived notions of his beliefs, especially having married Grant, a well-known Christian vocalist. “I didn’t have much of a church life, but the premise is when my Amy prays, that’s when I see Jesus’s face and feel grace. It was a vulnerable song to write, but beautiful to honor her. I think that’s the best thing you can do, to honor someone else.”
When friends come to visit, Gill encourages them to hit the top spots in Music City: The Ryman (“It’s important to hear music in there—they have all different kinds of music, not just country”) and the Country Music Hall of Fame (“It’s staggering how beautiful it is”). For party-seekers, Gill suggests the bars and honky-tonks of Broadway, where spots like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Ole Red, and Legends Corner are renowned. But you won’t find him there; he’s a teetotaler. “I just enjoy the charm of the South,” he says. “That’s its own kind of intoxication to me.”
Raise a Hallelujah
Heading to Nashville? Don’t miss seeing a concert at the Ryman Auditorium, which Vince Gill considers his favorite venue to play in Music City, as well as his place of worship. “It’s so historical and spiritual to be in that building—it was built as a tabernacle,” he says. “When people ask, ‘Where do you go to church?’ I say, ‘The Ryman. I do a little preaching in there every now and then.’” Besides Vince’s Christmas concerts with wife Amy Grant (taking place select dates throughout December), upcoming shows at the Ryman include:
October 29 and 30 Ray Lamontagne
November 4 Elvis Costello & The Imposters
November 18 The Doobie Brothers
December 2 The Brian Setzer Orchestra
January 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21 Brandi Carlile
This article appears in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue ofSouthbound.
When John and Greer Tirrill discovered a 1930s Buckhead estate by famed Southern architect Lewis Crook, they saw its beautiful bones, beyond some obvious quirks—sloping upstairs showers, a dungeon-like basement, and a dilapidated cabin on the 2.3-acre lot among them. To achieve a livable, family-friendly home that both paid homage to its history and worked for modern living, they embarked on a significant renovation with the help of architect Caroline Reu Rolader and interior designer Alice Cramer.
“It was major,” says Alice, who had worked with the Tirrills on a previous house. “People lived differently back then.” Over the course of the project, the team reconfigured the main level for better flow, created dual master bathrooms, and reduced the upstairs bedrooms from four to three to allow for larger bathrooms and closets, all while preserving the majority of the original structure and footprint. The result is a light-filled property with ample space for the family to entertain, relax, and enjoy their extensive collection of art and family heirlooms.
At first glance, the living room looks formal, but Alice designed it to be comfortable and not overly precious, with a casual-feeling shag rug and durable fabrics. The custom club chair and ottoman are by RJones, the plush sofa is Charles Stewart, and a stylish Julian Chichester cabinet conceals the television. “I wanted to make this room feel inviting, like you could sit down and watch a movie without damaging something,” says Alice.
Arguably the most dramatic room in the house, the library-turned–dining room serves as both an entertaining space and a gallery of sorts, showcasing a sculpture entitled Confluence by metalsmith and friend John Medwedeff and a family collection of engraved silver. The high-gloss, moss-hued pine paneling makes the room a statement piece in itself.
Built during the same era as the house, the detached 500-square-foot cabin—called the “scout house” because former owners once hosted Boy Scout meetings there—exemplifies the Tirrills’ vision. Though it was nearly falling in, they worked to save its original windows, pine walls, and wooden floors hidden under asbestos-filled tiles and added a small kitchen and bathroom. Outfitted with period-appropriate vintage furnishings, it now serves as a guesthouse as well as a retreat for Greer, who is writing her second book. Says Alice of her clients: “They were patient, trusting, and saw the property for what it could be.”
The first philanthropic project that I was involved in was through Athena’s Warehouse, the nonprofit that my sister Bee Nguyen (State House Representative, district 89, and the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Georgia’s General Assembly) started in 2009. Athena’s served high school girls at under-resourced public high schools: largely women of color, immigrants, or children of immigrants. We saw the ways in which our laws make it difficult to be undocumented. Even if one of the girls we worked with excelled academically, her options for higher education were significantly restricted and often economically infeasible.
Bee has always followed her passions and her heart in a way that wasn’t always to the liking of our parents, who wanted us to pursue more traditional career paths. We grew up in a household where politics weren’t spoken about; I was actually the one who registered my mom to vote for the first time in 2016. Seeing Bee created space for me to do the same—pursue projects and jobs that create social impact.
That led to spearheading Vietnamese Voices in 2016, in collaboration with Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta (AAAJ-Atlanta). We registered around 600 Vietnamese-American voters four months ahead of the presidential election. Eventually, I joined AAAJ-Atlanta full-time in 2017 to do civil rights litigation, then coproduced a web series, Wake Up Atlanta, to engage Asian-American millennial voters. The more community work I was doing, particularly with immigrants, the more I understood how policies shaped the ways people were able to live their lives. Or not able to live their lives, as the case may be.
QAADIRAH ABDUR-RAHIM 41-year-old CEO of Future Foundation, giving underserved youth the skills to thrive
My brother and I, born and raised in Atlanta, both went to the University of California, Berkeley on athletic scholarships. When we got there, we were completely unprepared to compete academically because we hadn’t gone to the best schools. We both made it, and my brother, Shareef, decided that, if given the opportunity, he would create a place that could help underserved children. He went to the NBA, played for the Atlanta Hawks, and when he came home, he reminded me of our dream to help kids. I’d just finished my first master’s, so I moved back to help build the nonprofit in 2003. We started with about 15 children. I took over as CEO in 2005 and from then to 2010, we grew to serve 5,000 kids and their families, and we kept growing. We’re focused on helping kids access five key activity categories: academics, healthy relationships, health information, life skills, and family engagement. Philanthropy wasn’t a category for me growing up, but someone who has changed my life through her mentorship is Ann Cramer, who served as IBM’s corporate citizenship director. The fact that someone so established has been an amazing champion has encouraged me along the way. Ann is courageous and has inspired me to continue this work, which can be tough.
40-year-old founder of Kate’s Club, which empowers children after the death of a loved one
Next-gen philanthropy isn’t about amassing a lot of wealth and giving it away. It’s really about valuing your life and impacting others. When I started Kate’s Club in 2003, I had no money and I didn’t know anybody in Atlanta, so I just started cold-calling CEOs. Doug Hertz (United Distributors CEO) was the first to take my call and invite me to his office to give my pitch for the nonprofit. Doug and his wife, Lila, are some of the most well-known philanthropists in Atlanta. He listened to my pitch, pulled out his personal checkbook, and wrote me a check for $100. It was an emotional transaction because that $100 gave me confidence that I could succeed. Later, as executive director for the Arby’s Foundation, I had the resources to contribute to other organizations. We made the first corporate donation to the Center for Civic Innovation. Now they’re bringing up the next generation of social entrepreneurs. Whenever someone gives you the gift of believing in you, you’re going to look for how you can pay it forward. Doug’s check was an ignition point, breaking the seal for me to confidently approach other donors and believe I could accomplish the big dream of creating Kate’s Club.
BLAKE CANTERBURY 35-year-old founder of Purposity, the app that allows users to fund local needs in real time
In 2016, while working at a creative agency, I got an email from a homeless liaison at a local school who told me it could take weeks or months to get basic resources for kids in poverty. Some developer friends and I moonlighted to create a basic piece of technology to solve the problem. It worked and made us realize the solution to solving similar issues was in the billions of people on the planet with phones in their hands. We wanted to create the easiest way to help other people, believing individuals would want to meet needs in their communities, if only they knew and had a way to contribute. That’s what Purposity—the intersection of purpose and generosity—allows you to do: Users download our app, see a real-time list of nearby needs, and donate. We collect the money, purchase the items, communicate with the vetted partner agencies, and the items are delivered within two days. One hundred percent of the funds go to meeting needs, thanks to donations and corporate sponsors. We have a pretty incredible board, including former Home Depot CEO Frank Blake, who has been a mentor. The fact that someone like him believed in us, investing time and money, means everything. Purposity is growing fast, and we’ll surpass 100 cities by year’s end.
I grew up outside of Atlanta and worked in communications for then-President Obama, but wanted to make an impact locally. I started CCI in 2014, because Atlanta was, at the time, the most unequal city in the United States. We want to change the way people think about investing in social impact work in our city and create an economic case for it. I work with incredible people who are investing in interesting community-based solutions, focusing on improving public participation. So many have come alongside CCI and me. There’s Asif Ramji, formerly of Paymetric, who was the first person to write a check, and Tené Traylor, who has been an advocate for neighborhoods in Atlanta for years and is constantly thinking about how we can better invest our dollars and time into strengthening community voices. Cherie Ong let us use almost 15,000 square feet of space in the old Rich’s department store for our groups. Clark Dean, who runs Transwestern, has opened every door he could for us in the business community. And Sara Blakely of Spanx has been a champion for our fellowship program. We want to see the system shift, taking these ideas to the next level, so when you think about investing in Atlanta, you don’t just think about tech companies, you think about social companies because they’re just as valuable to our local economy. Ultimately, we’re in the business of putting problems out of business.
On the same day that millions of young activists led protests for climate change worldwide, Dr. Jane Goodall hosted a private “fireside chat” in Atlanta. In actuality, the conversation overlooked the backyard pool at the home of Delta Air Lines’ chief marketing and communications officer. Tim Mapes and his wife, Mary, who serves on the board of the Jane Goodall Institute, hosted the exclusive Friday night fundraiser that drew nearly 200 guests.
Goodall, who rose to fame in the 1960s for her up-close study of primates in Tanzania, sat down for a conversation hosted by CNN International anchor Natalie Allen, discussing everything from her early fascination with animals, going to Africa at just 26 with no college degree (“What a crazy idea,” she said), and her mission to engage today’s youth in practical, action-oriented ways.
When asked about the World Climate Strike, which happened to fall on the same day as Friday’s event, Goodall expressed cautious optimism. “The young people marching as they are [raises] awareness. There’s no question about that,” Goodall said. “I just want them to march and to raise awareness and to act. How many of those kids are actually doing anything themselves?” She went on to advocate for practical, action-oriented programs like Roots & Shoots, which she founded in 1991. The program, which hosted a series of youth workshops at the Delta Flight Museum on Saturday, helps kids and teens connect with meaningful projects like trash cleanups, creating solutions for food waste, conserving energy, and protecting animals.
Friday’s $500-per-person fundraiser drew noteworthy guests including Spanx founder Sara Blakely, Delta CEO Ed Bastian, businessman and philanthropist John Hope Bryant, and Chase Pickering, who was involved with Roots & Shoots as a child and now serves as its director. The event concluded with a live auction of several wildlife photographs by award-winning nature photographer Thomas Mangelsen, a trip to Gombe in Tanzania, and two sets of two round-trip Delta One tickets. The auction’s highlight came when Goodall offered her own 14-carat gold and tanzanite brooch, crafted from chimpanzee sketch she drew, pulling it right off of her sweater to share with the highest bidder. In all, the evening raised approximately $250,000 for the Jane Goodall Institute.
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