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As you walk around Atlanta’s diverse loft neighborhood Castleberry Hill during its aptly named monthly “Art Stroll”, you’ll find a surprise almost every block. On one corner there’s a surprisingly good street musician playing a song you recognize; down the road a loft for sale morphed for the day into a gallery featuring an emerging artist; a couple of other artists display their paintings outside the door of a shop closed for the evening. All this is a feast for the senses, but the real treasures can be found behind the doors and most of all, after dark.
You may wander by photographer Calvin Lockwood’s Granite Room, 800 sq. ft. of gallery space with 14’ ceilings and granite walls, a mere speck in the 17,000 sq. ft. turn-of-the-century warehouse he purchased in 1993. He and his partner live above the Granite Room; Castleberry Hill is all about live/work lofts. Tonight he’s rented the Granite Room to the Atlanta Photography Group, and their members’ work lines the walls. Complimentary wine is poured in one corner, and the place is alive with throngs of lookers.
Next stop is the Besharat Gallery, a stunning multi-level space where owner Massoud Besharat lives in the private back area. The bottom floor of the gallery is lined with granite from Besharat’s quarry in Elberton, GA. Numerous artists are represented, but the spacious upstairs is devoted to a show by Anthony Palliser. A party’s going on in Besharat’s living quarters, wine is flowing, and the chatter and good feelings are contagious.
As you head toward the Elliott Street bar for the culmination of the evening, the Iron Pour, you duck into Wineshoe, a new wine store owned by Nora and Shannon Wiley. When asked about the name, Nora simply says they chose it because “it fits”. Tonight, Nora’s throwing a private party for her Castleberry Hill neighbors. Amidst the racks of wine and under the towering chandelier there are two tasting tables, and the long antique table in the middle of the room is overflowing with cheeses and breads and fruit. People with glasses of wine spill out onto the interior patio of the surrounding Castleberry Pointe development.
It’s getting dark, and it’s time to go to Elliott Street, a tiny cool bar in an old building tucked away in the shadow of the Georgia Dome. Brothers Mike and Pete Jakob own the place and—of course—live above it. They’re having an art exhibition in the basement and the bar is buzzing, but the attraction tonight is in the side yard: the Iron Pour. Castleberry Hill sculptor Dan Timms orchestrates molten hot iron that’s poured into molds and available-for-purchase scratch blocks. They call it “performance art”, but it serves as an urban modern day bonfire that unites a neighborhood. The vibrant colors and sparks and spectacle of pouring iron is the perfect culmination of the spectacle that is Art Stroll.